08 March 2012

review: revelation for everyone

N. T. Wright, Revelation for Everyone (Louisville: WJK, 2012).

And so The Bishop comes to the end of an eleven year project of providing a commentary on the entire New Testament accessible to those who would typically never pick up a commentary.  It appears that he has achieved this objective, as many persons (lay and clergy alike) and small groups have been using the for Everyone series to better understand and navigate through their Scriptures.  (The project was so welcome by the church that now John Goldingay is working on doing the same for the Old Testament.  I have yet to explore these, but since I have high regards for Goldingay I will assume they are quite good as well.)

I have been particularly excited about the publication of Revelation for Everyone because I have been seriously studying and teaching Revelation for the past five years.  This volume came out while I was taking a Sunday school class through the Apocalypse.  Actually, this is the first time I have ever adapted my course materials for a church environment and the fact that I could engage Wright's work as I went along was a tremendous gift.

For many in the church reading (much less making sense of) Revelation is a daunting task, in no small part to the amount of kooky interpretation that has plagued evangelicalism for years.  I have often been a self-proclaimed champion for the cause of reclaiming the truth of God's Word from the irresponsible and self-serving nut-cases that have made the powerful and poignant message of Revelation into a farce.  This volume will certainly be a welcome tool for the overwhelmed laity and clergy to listen and hear the message of faith which we should have never lost in the first place.

I posted a while back where I disagreed with The Bishop (see, I am willing to do it people!) over his interpretation of the message given to Sardis.  Beyond that, there simply was no point of significant disagreement within Wright's discussion.  This is a good and solid introduction and survey of Revelation's primary themes and message, designed to impact the reader with the challenge of faith which the first century book intended for us to experience.  Especially due to the book's formatting, it would be too difficult to survey its contents here, but I do wish to commend (and the entire series) to all believers seeking a better understanding of God's Word - and how to effectively communicate it to the world in which we live (and this latter point is one of the key strengths of this series).

Because of my own experience, I have considered whether or not I would use this book as a text for teaching Revelation.  In a more academic setting (college or graduate study) I probably would seek out a book that is more challenging to the student, pushing them into the debates and discussions that make for appropriate study at such a level.  Rather than seeing this as a deficiency in what Wright has given us, this is simply an acknowledgement of what he was written - namely, a text that does not become overgrown with such debates and discussions, but which presents the message of faith clearly and concisely to the average reader.  And on that end, it is inviting and engaging through and through.

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