Adamsen on Muse

Revelation Reviews ISSN 1397-2936.
Volume 2.002. Apr 1998 (Publication date: 20 Apr 1998; corredt 25 Aug 2007)

Robert L. Muse: The Book of Revelation. An Annotated Bibliography . Books of the Bible, 2; Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, 1387. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996. Pp. xxxvi + 352. ISBN: 0-8240-7394-0. $58.00.

Although e.g. Böcher has published a select bibliography and others have written some survey articles on works on Revelation (cf Muse’s #1-31), no one has attempted to publish a full bibliography on Revelation. The scholarly publications on Revelation are immense. It was therefore with great anticipation that I learned about this annotated bibliography. My hope was that it would provide a systematic and comprehensive bibliography with precise and learned annotations.

In order to evalute whether my hope may be fulfilled, I present the division of the book under review and the author’s preface and introduction in the next three paragraphs (1.1 – 1.3). Section (2) states my positive evaluation of Muse’s work. A number of difficulties have turned up, however, which is presented and discussed in sections 3ff: After an introduction to my criticial sections (3), the review deals with the chronological (4) and language constraints (5) imposed on the bibliography, with classification (6) and with problems with regard to annotation (7), various minor problems (8), omissions (9), relevance (10) and finally spelling mistakes (11). The conclusion presents my overall view of Muse’s bibliography and suggests a second edition (00).

The book provides the usual introductory section with foreword, preface, sources, an 11-page introduction and a list of abbreviations (i-xxxvi) and the annotated bibliography divided into Introductions (pp. 1-47), Historical-Critical Research (pp. 49-97), Compositional Studies (pp. 99-175), Exegetical/Expositional Studies (pp. 177-232), Theological/Thematic Studies (pp. 233-302) and The Revelation in the Life of the Church (pp. 303-332) and finally an Index of Authors and of Scripture and Ancient Texts (pp. 333-343 and 345-352). Each chapter is divided into several paragraphs which are outlined in the Contents, but there is no Index of Subjects.

The author’s preface informs the reader that the bibliography covers roughly the period 1940-1990. The reader should, Muse writes, remember “that this is an annotated bibliography, i.e. it is a listing of sources of information on various aspects and facets of a given subject (in this case, the Book of Revelation) with accompanying descriptive and/or explanatory (occasionaly critical) remarks attached to each of the sources. No attempt is made respecting commentary, comprehensive analysis, or historical-theological discussion” (p. xi). No material commenting only indirectly on Revelation has been included (p. xi). Muse asserts that the bibliography “reflects the author’s original intention to be somewhat comprehensive in his task, i.e., to treat the most important English, German, and French scholarship on the Book of Revelation” (p. xi). On the other hand, “The inclusion of foreign language works is highly selective” (p. xii). Muse proceeds to assert that he has structured the bibliography in order to provide scholars and others with “an idea of the general development of scholarly literature” on Revelation and therefore each section begin with the most recent literature (p. xii). Muse discusses the problem of classification and in doubtful cases decided to “flip the proverbial coin in order to make a decision” (p. xiii).

The author’s introduction asserts that he has undertaken to categorize and identify the history of research and exposition on Revelation (p. xvii). From a broad division of the book into six major units he proceeds to comment on their content and research problems. The bibliography, however, “represent but a small fraction of the scholarly and general interest that has developed through the last fifty-plus years”.

Muse has undertaken a tremendous work in order to provide an annotated bibliography. Basic bibliographical information is given and an often detailed description is added providing every scholar and student with a good and indispensable tool. 1407 entries are included, but the total number of works are lower because several works have more than one entry. Unpublished dissertations are normally not annotated. Nevertheless, a total of 12-1300 entries with annotations written by one person only are indeed an achievement worthy of praise.

Unfortunately, although this bibliography is indeed a good and indispensable tool, there are still weaknesses that leave room for a number of improvements. The following points should therefore be considered partly as a rather detailed information on the weaknesses in order to enable the readers to compensate for them, and partly as information probably useful for the next edition which I hope will be published including works which are excluded because of the chronological constraints of this edition.

The chronological constraint from 1940 to 1990 including however some standard works from before 1940 is surprising. Very important scholarly works have been written not only before 1940 but also before the turn of this century. Some practical reasons might be present, but the constraints of a bibliography should be defined not by somewhat arbitrary criterion, but by the research area under consideration. Some really important studies have been published shortly after 1990 and especially in due time to be included in this bibliography. I cannot really understand why 1990 has been chosen as the terminus ad quem. Perhaps Muse thinks that other works cover the period before 1940, but if so, why not tell the reader?

On the basis of the information provided in the preface, it is difficult to know whether Muse thinks that he has provided a good scholarly tool. On the one hand, I expect a bibliography to be fairly comprehensive and especially systematic, and it seems to me that Muse has set out for a goal like this. When it comes to foreign language works, however, he has been very selective. When he could not easily classify a work, he flipped a coin. Several problems of classification and systematization are involved here.

A bibliography being very selective with foreign language works is not a useful tool for scholars. Scholarship is borderless, and so it is in fact very important and one of the primary reasons to collect a bibliography to be fairly inclusive of foreign works perhaps not easily found within one’s own library. Research on Revelation is international, and so must a bibliography be.

Muse has failed to provide a good classification. Chapters on “Historical-Critical Research” versus “Compositional Studies” do not do justice to the main centres of scholarship on Revelation, and apparently assumes that historical-critical scholarship does not deal with compositional studies while “Literary and Motif Relationships” (p. 125-148) are only studied by non-historical-critical scholars. A section of the Exegetical/Expositional Studies chapter is titled “Studies of Specific Sections” while various sections in the “Theological/Thematic Studies” chapter deal with themes only found in specific sections, in effect creating an overlapping. It is also difficult to see why “Language, Grammar, Style” is found in the “Compositional Studies” chapter. Commentaries should be found in a chapter of their own, and not in the “Exegetical/Expositional Studies” chapter. Are the “Theological/Thematic Studies” considered to be non-exegetical/expositional? Muse has also divided the commentaries into two sections: Series and Individual (4, A, (1) and (2)), but I have difficulty in finding this helpful. Omissions are also significant. Although a section in the first chapter is titled “General Research of Literature and Bibliography” (p. 1-47), there is no section on history-of-interpretation (cf below). Although #19 deals with Caesarius von Arles, Gerhard Maier’s study on the history of interpretation (#1266) is found under “General works” in the last chapter which is definitely a misplacement. R.H. Charles’s commentary (#785) is included although written before 1940, but not his book on the history of interpretation, the Hebrew style and Rev 8-9 to which Charles refers in his Commentary, Vol. I, p. clxxxiiii.[1] Charles, by the way, is missing in the index.

The introductory sections might better have been divided into something like Introduction (isagogics), research history/overviews (dealing with the 20th century), history of interpretation, commentary reviews and hermeneutical approaches. Other bibliographical works may very well be placed in their own section (#15, #29).

Several works are placed in the wrong sections in my opinion. Mazzaferri’s study on the Genre of the Book of Revelation from a Source-Critical Perspectiveis not really a study on “Source and Revision hypothesis”, but on genre viewed on the basis of the many and important OT allusions found in Revelation. Although I do understand why Mazzaferri’s study is included here, it is not the most obvious section. I have already mentioned the gross mistake with regard to Gerhard Maier’s book above. Beagley’s work on The “Sitz im Leben” of the Apocalypse, Berlin, 1987, (#315) is found in #404 as an unpublished dissertation which is obviously wrong. All the many misplacements – and there are really many of them (e.g. ##53, 72, 95, 107, 109, 112, 187, 199, 201-2, 232a (!), 327, 411, 451, 464, 492, 933, 1044, 1052, 1122, 1383, 1500, 1282, 82, 213, 248, 88, 140, 90, 92, 1176, 481, 795, 804, 865, 982, 568 and 588) – make the bibliography a less useful tool than necessary. Another category might be chronology. I prefer, however, a classified bibliography, but with a more strict and systematized classification.

There are also many instances of the same works in two entries with different annotations ##789 and 738, 11 and 77, 38 and 198, 374 and 578, 331 and 574, 669 and 671 (?), 68 and 858, 706 and 906, 379 and 924 and 969 and 794, and there are probably even more than these examples which I have not noticed. The positive side is that each article is annotated differently emphasising different aspects of the articles. The negative side, however, is that it is really difficult to know what the main argument of an article is. I would prefer a single annnotation and cross-references to this entry from the other relevant sections. The cross-references, however, are not systematical, and sometimes it is not noticed at all that an article is annotated two (or sometimes more) times.

The annotations are sometimes fairly long and to the point. Contrary to his own assertation, however, they provide no good introduction to the history of interpretation and research. Even with some knowledge of these matters, it is often difficult to see why he has classified the way he has done. As mentioned above, Gerhard Maier’s Die Johannesoffenbarung und die Kirche is the most comprehensive study (676 pages) on the history of interpretation available, although Maier attempts to show that the interpretation of Bengel is really the best and historically most reliable interpretation, and so it might be relevant to place a reference in section on premillenialism. Other works should probably have been placed with a main entry in a history of interpretation section: ## 3, 8, 14, 19, 21, 24 (these six may be logically placed, but with an arbitrary header), 53, 72, 95, 107, 109, 112, 122, 123, 135, 187, 839, 918, 933, 1044, perhaps 1047, perhaps 1051, 1052, 1110, perhaps 1201, perhaps 1270, perhaps 1281 and perhaps 1396.

The annotations are not always precise. Especially the use of the term ‘traditional’ is subject to critique. In #758 he terms the division 1:1-20; 2-3; 4:1-8:1; 8:2-14:20; 15:1-22:5 and 22:6-21 “a traditional outline” (Sweet does not divide between 8:1 and 8:2 by the way). As there are more than 100 commentaries on Revelation as well as an immense number of monographs and articles, and several outlines have been proposed without any consensus, it is questionable whether this term is really meaningful. #772 is a 1967 reprint of a 1940 edition, but the only 1940-commentary by Kiddle is co-written with M.K. Ross as far as #782 asserts. This inconsistency should have been explained (or removed if an error in the bibliography). #778 is a “3rd unchanged ed.”, but the annotation says “Revision of 1942 original”. This may be an error, or the term “unchanged” refers to the second edition. #894 treats an article on Rev 2:8-11 by W. Schrage: “Ponders the message directed to the church in Smyrna in her Sitz im Leben, considering the fact that this phrase may have applied to the Jewish community”. Although “this phrase” probably refers to ‘Satan’s synagogue” in 2:9, the annotations fails to inform on the precise reference. #823 is not really a commentary, but a study. Three references to reviews are included in the annotation which is not normally the case in the bibliography. Reviews, however, are often very important if written by competent scholars. I hope Muse will include them in the next edition, but as entries as e.g. in New Testament Abstracts, not in the annotations. In #950 Muse describes Kik’s exposition as “a postmillennial, Augustinian interpretation” which at least to me is a somewhat surprising combination, but it depends on the definition of “postmillennial” which Muse does not define. Section I, C, (2) treats Millennialist hermeneutical positions divided between “General”, “Amillennial”, “Postmillennial” and “Premillennialism and/or Dispensationalism” which also lack precise definitions. In #601 Muse claims that Vanhoye “does not identify the specific text used by John (Hebrew or LXX)”, but this is not correct. Vanhoye concludes: “la solution la plus normale, dans l’état actuel de nos connaissances, semble être d’admettre une utilisation directe du texte hébreu.“.[2]

The annotation to Sweet’s commentary from 1979 (#758) mentions that “this reprint corrects previous views toward the imperial cult in Asia Minor based on the study of S. Price (1984)” which should have been placed under the entry containing the reference to the reprint from 1990 (#739). Caird’s second edition of his commentary is only mentioned in the annotation to the first edition from 1966 (#774), even though this commentary is still in print. Charles’ commentary from 1920 (#785) is reprinted in 1985, but this is not mentioned. These errors may perhaps indicate problems with regard to the basic bibliographical work. The basic cataloging has failed, and a systematized system of cross-references should have been used. This would also have solved the problem of classificational decision, because doubtful instances and works with more than one good place of entry might simply be cross-referenced in all relevant sections. To flip a coin, however, is the last thing I would expect in a bibliography.

The annotations are not always to the point and sometimes contain problematic statements. On #310, L.L. Thompson: The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire. New York, 1990, Muse claims that Thompson “Studies the Sitz im Leben and genre of Revelation in relation to the social life-settings of apocalyptic writing in general” (p. 73). The use of the term “Sitz im Leben” is rather strange because this is a theological term referring to the historical-critical reconstruction of the situation which formed the writings under consideration. I would classify Thompson’s study as a social-historical and perhaps sociological study, but not as a study of the Sitz im Leben and not even a study of genre if this is compared to those studies which really treats the problem of genre (e.g. Collins, Hellholm and Mazzaferri). On #759, Muse remarks that Mounce’s commentary “[o]ffers an eclectic hermeneutic that mediates between a literal and a highly subjective interpretation of each literary unit” (p. 183). Such evaluation is not very helpful.

It should also be noted that now and then Muse refers to a summary in New Testament Abstracts or remarks that he has not seen a work. Such procedure makes the bibliography less useful.

#516 only states the title of the book in which the article can be found. The annotation to #621 refers to a publication by Newsom (1985), but no further information is given. #856 gives “Evangelische Missionsverlag Je Doppelheft” as publisher, but I doubt whether this is true: “Evangelische Missionsverlag” means “Evangelical Publisher of Mission” while “Je Doppelheft” means “pr. double issue” which may better refer to some information about size or price. #879 and #881 are apparently both published in BTS
43 (1962), pp. 2-3 but this can obviously not be true. #39 treats both pp. 209-233 and 433-443 in a journal while #40 treats only pp. 203-223 and #41 treats pp. 65-72, but the three #s have different subtitles. Something seems to be out of order.

#907 is placed under [1959], but the reference says 1952 which is correct. Other examples can be found.

Muse has decided not to include the number of pages of the books included in the bibliography although he provides this information quite often in the annotation.

Some omissions may be unavoidable, but in my opinion too many works have been omitted. I cannot mention all the omissions I have found in this review, but to indicate the extent I mention some works here.

Works before 1940: Schlatter on the OT in Rev [3], and Haugg on the two witnesses [4].

Works after 1990: The published dissertations written by Laws [5] and Paulien [6], the dissertation by Friesen on the Domitianic construction in Ephesus [7] and the related article on its relevance for Revelation [8], the two books by Bauckham [9] and Mealy on the millennium [10].

Books from the period 1940-1990: Cruz on XARAGMA [11], the dissertation by McIlraith on the reciprocal love between Christ and the Church [12], the commentary by Behm [13], Huss on the ecclesiology of Rev [14], Cuss on the honorary terms and the imperial cult [15], Hanson on the wrath of the Lamb [16], Batey on the nuptial imagery [17] as well as some major works on the history and archaeology of Asia Minor written by Jones, Bean and Yamauchi [18] and Bratcher and Hatton’s handbook on translating Revelation [19].

Articles from the period 1940-1990: Dieter Georgi’s articles [20], Hahn on the structure of Revelation [21], Smith on the history of the term APOKALUYIS [22] and the article by Hartman on the form and message of Rev 1-3 and 22 [23] and Hellholm on Rev 1:1-8 [24].

Although relevance is subjective, I found a number of entries where I have difficulty in seeing why they are included in the bibliography: ## 250, 242-288 (especially 264), 603 but cf 607, 891, 895-7, 926-7 and 929.

Some misspellings are unavoidable, but Muse has done a very good job. The first word on p. 84 is Ramsey (in stead of the correct Ramsay), Gerhardsson (rightly #997) is misspelled as Gehardsson in #987 and therefore has two entries in the Index of Authors, even though Muse himself refers to the Swedish article (#997) in his annotation. The German dass is spelled as dans in #147, and manna is spelled as mana in #135. I assume that there is an orthographical error in the Italian title of #1031 (cattoliici), but I’m not sure. The series in which Bousset’s commentary from 1906 (#786) was published should not be given as “Meyer Kommentary [sic], 16”. It is published “in der Reihe Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament Begründet von Henrich August Wilhelm Meyer”. The Lutheran Siegbert W. Becker (#792) is misspelled as “Becler, S.W.”. #894 has “Meditatiion” for “Meditation”.

In my view, Muse has included good as well as other articles, some annotated, some not. Very important studies receive very little attention, even though they have initiated important and long discussions. Remarks on their importance with regard to scholarship are rarely (if ever) found. In a way, Muse is not to be blamed because he has not attempted to do that. On the other hand, a bibliography should attempt to provide the information and to be as comprehensive as the subject demands. In my opinion, this is not the case with this book. The bibliography can be used as a tool to find some contributions quickly, but many important works are not found, and so the bibliography is not the final tool with regard to studies on Revelation from 1940 through 1990.

The many omissions, questionable annotations, missing systematization and problematic classifications are severe drawbacks in a bibliography. The price is far too expensive for what is really provided. Although few other books provide as comprehensive a bibliography as this, many provide very good bibliographies, e.g. the books mentioned by Bauckham, Mazzaferri and others. The more devotional and non-scholarly expositional articles, however, may not be found there. For scholars, however, this is no problem.

I would very much urge Muse to work on a second edition and to attempt a much more comprehensive bibliography. The classification must be reworked, and several annotations should be rewritten. If so, this bibliography will provide scholars as well as other Revelation students with a very good tool. Now, it is a useful tool, but not more than that.

[1] Charles, R.H.: Studies in the Apocalypse. T & T Clark: Edinburgh 1913; 2nd ed. 1915.
[2] A. Vanhoye: “L’Utilisation du livre d’Ézékiel dans l’Apocalypse” in: Biblica
43 (1962), 461 (my emphasis).
[3] Schlatter, Adolf: Das Alte Testament in der johanneischen Apokaypse. (BFChTh). Gütersloh, 1912.
[4] Haugg, Donatus: Die zwei Zeugen. Eine exegetische Studie über Apok 11,1-3. (Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen 17,1). Aschendorf: Münster 1936.
[5] Laws, S.: In the Light of the Lamb. Imagery, Parody, and Theology in the Apocalypse of John. (Good News Studies, 31). Wilmington, DE., 1988.
[6] Paulien, Jon: Decoding Revelation’s Trumpets: Literary Allusions and Interpretations of Revelation 8:7-12. (Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation Series 11). Andrews University Press: Berrien Springs, MI 1988.
[7] Friesen, Steven J.: Twice Neokoros. Ephesus, Asia and the Cult of the Flavian Imperial Family. (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 116). E.J. Brill: Leiden; New York; Köln 1993.
[8] Friesen, S.: “Ephesus: Key to a Vision in Revelation” i: Biblical Archaeological Review
, 19, 1993, 24-37.
[9] Bauckham, R.: The Theology of the Book of Revelation. (New Testament Theology). Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993. – The Climax of Prophecy. Studies on the Book of Revelation. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993.
[10] Mealy, J. Webb: After the Thousand Years. Resurrection and Judgment in Revelation 20. (JSNT.SS 70). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992.
[11] Cruz, Vigil Ambrose: The Mark of the Beast: A Study of the CARAGMA in the Apocalypse. Amsterdam: Academische Pers N.V., 1973.
[12] McIlraith, Donal A.: The Reciprocal Love between Christ and the Church in the Apocalypse. Rome: Columban Fathers, 1989.
[13] Behm, Johannes: Die Offenbarung des Johannes. Übersetzt und erklärt. (NTD 11). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprect, 1953 6. ed.
[14] Huß, Werner: Die Gemeinde der Apokalypse des Johannes. Diss. München, 1967. Published Eichenried bei München 1968.
[15] Cuss, D.: Imperial Cult and Honorary Terms in the New Testament. (Paradosis 23). Fribourg: The University Press Fribourg, 1974.
[16] Hanson, A.T.: The Wrath of the Lamb. London, 1957.
[17] Batey, R.: New Testament Nuptial Imagery. Brill: Leiden 1971.
[18] Jones, A.H.M.: The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1983. – Bean, G.E.: Aegean Turkey. An Archaeological Guide. London: Ernest Benn, 1966. – Bean, G.E.: Turkey Beyond the Maeander. London, 1971. – Yamauchi, Edwin M.: The Archaeology of New Testament Cities in Western Asia Minor. London; Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis, 1980.
[19] Bratcher, R.G.; Hatton, H.A.: A Handbook on the Revelation to John. (Helps for Translators, UBS Handbook Series). New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.
[20] Georgi, Dieter: “Who is the True Prophet?” i: G.W.E. Nickelsburg og G.W. MacRae (Eds.): Christians among Jews and Gentiles. Essays in Honor of Krister Stendahl on His Sixty-fifth Birthday. Philadelphia, 1986, pp. 100-126. (= Harvard Theological Review
, 79, 1986, 100-126). – “Die Visionen vom himmlischen Jerusalem in Apk 21 und 22” i: D. Lührmann & G. Strecker: Kirche. Festschrift für Günther Bornkamm zum 75. Geburtstag. Tübingen, 1980, pp. 351-372.
[21] Hahn, Ferdinand: “Zum Aufbau der Johannesoffenbarung” i: Kirche und Bibel. Festgabe für Bischof Eduard Schick. Herausgegeben von den Professoren der Phil.-Theol. Hochschule Fulda. Paderborn/München/Wien/Zürich, 1979, pp. 145-154.
[22] Smith, M.: “On the History of APOKALYPTO and APOKALYPSIS” i: D. Hellholm (Ed.): Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East. Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism Uppsala, August 12-17, 1979. Tübingen, 1983, pp. 9-20.
[23] Hartman, L.: “Form and Message. A Preliminary Discussion of ‘Partial Texts’ in Rev 1-3 and 22,6ff” i: J. Lambrecht (Ed.): L’Apocalypse johannique et l’Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament. (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensum, LIII). Leuven, 1980, pp. 129-149.
[24] Hellholm, D.: “The Visions He Saw Or: To Encode the Future in Writing. An Analysis of the Prologue of John’s Apocalyptic Letter” in: Jennings, Theodore W. (ed.): Text and Logos. The Humanistic Interpretation of the New Testament. (Scholars Press homage Series). Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1990, 109-146.

Reviewed by:
Georg S. Adamsen

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