Smalley, Revelation

Smalley, Stephen S. The Revelation to John: A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2005. xviii + 633 pp. RRP $65.00

According to Smalley, Revelation is a grand drama that must be understood in the light of John’s Gospel and letters and in the context of the Johannine community (cf. his Thunder and Love: John’s Revelation and John’s Community from 1994).

According to the publisher, “Smalley demonstrates that the Apocalypse speaks directly to any situation in any age and offers a portrait of God’s loving justice that is relevant to our own society” (here).

The Table of Contents reveals a structural analysis that is surprising in the light of recent decades scholarship. The following sections are labelled as “intervals”: Rev 4f; Rev 7; Rev 10f; Rev 15; Rev 17f and Rev 21:1.

In his Review of Biblical Literature review, Chris M. Smith takes issue with Smalley’s contention that Revelation is a drama. “But to declare clear or conscious adherence to the constitutive form of a Greek play apart from its leading motifs and conventions (e.g., the stage, chorus, and ongoing dialogue of chorus and characters) is certainly questionable.” Indeed.

Smith also states that “In the scheme of Revelation, Smalley rightly views theology as more important than chronology and the eschatological climax of the Apocalypse neither at the end of a timetable nor at the book’s end (109).” The fulcrum of Revelation is found in Revelation 4-5 rather than in the parousia or a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21-22). If, however, Revelation 4-5 narrates the beginning of the very parousia, as I have argued in my doctoral thesis, then it is not an either-or.

This volume is reviewed by David A. deSilva in: Biblical Theology Bulletin, Winter (2007).

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