I’ve finished reading Craig Koester’s book Revelation and the End of All Things and I thought I would share my opinion of his book.
I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be both informative and edifying. Oftentimes books written by scholars are pedantic and needlessly verbose but Koester’s isn’t. I appreciated his clarity, economy, and insight… all of which is presented in an easy to read format. This would be an excellent book for a Bible study group or a Sunday school class.
All too often books about Revelation are complex and complicated, because Revelation itself appears complex and complicated. In fact, when you read the book as a whole, which is the way Koester presents it, the book becomes a simple, repeating cycle of encouragements and warnings concerning our present situation.
If you’ve ever wondered about the meaning of Revelation, but you haven’t studied it because you think it’s too complicated to understand, get yourself a copy of Koester’s book, a copy of the Bible, and read through Revelation along with Koester’s book. You’ll be glad you did.
Craig R. Koester, Revelation and the End of All Things, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans (2001) 223 pages
From the book:
“Reading Revelation as a whole shows that the book moves in a nonlinear way. This insight goes back to the third century, when Victorinus wrote the earliest existing commentary on Revelation, and many recent interpreters have found this approach quite helpful. An outline of the book looks like a spiral, with each loop consisting of a series of visions: seven messages to the churches (Rev. 1-3), seven seals (Rev. 4-7), seven trumpets (Rev. 8-11), unnumbered visions (Rev. 12-15), seven plagues (Rev. 15-19), and more unnumbered visions (Rev. 19-22). Visions celebrating the triumph of God occur at the end of each cycle (4:1-11; 7:1-17; 11:15-19; 15:1-4; 19:1-10; 21:1-22:5). This pattern, which provides an outline for the remaining chapters of this book, looks something like this (A. Y. Collins, Apocalypse, ix-xiv):
“Those who read Revelation as a whole encounter visions that alternately threaten and assure them. With increasing intensity the visions at the bottom of the spiral threaten the readers’ sense of security by confronting them with horsemen that represent conquest, violence, hardship, and death; by portents in heaven, earth, and sea; and by seemingly insuperable adversaries who oppose those who worship God and Christ. Nevertheless, each time the clamor of conflict becomes unbearable, listeners are transported into the presence of God, the Lamb, and the heavenly chorus. These visions appear at the top of the spiral. Threatening visions and assuring visions function differently, but they serve the same end, which is that listeners might continue to trust in God and remain faithful to God.” (p. 39)
“Two reasons why Revelation can and should speak to people today can be summed up around the poles of Christ and culture. First, readers often find that their cultural situations are analogous to those of the seven churches. Although Christians in the West may not be preoccupied with questions about eating meat offered to idols, many are aware of contemporary pressures to relinquish one’s faith commitments because of the appeal of assimilating into the wider culture, the complacency that arises from prosperity, or the threat of violence. As modern readers confront such issues, Revelation continues to challenge and encourage them. Second, Revelation speaks not only of relationships to culture, but of relationships to God ‘who was and is and is to come’ (4:8). Because God and the Lamb are not confined to one period of time, Revelation’s call to fear and hope in God and the Lamb are not confined to one time period either. Whether readers live in the first century or the twenty-first century, God and the risen Christ are there.” (pp. 202-203)
Having finished Revelation, I’ve decided to begin reading through the gospel of John.
I’ll be reading the English King James Version, the Greek Textus Receptus, and Craig R. Koester’s Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community (Augsburg Books; 2 edition (2003) 368 pages