Michaels, Revelation (Guides to NT Exegesis)

Michaels, J. Ramsey: Interpreting the Book of Revelation. (Guides to New Testament Exegesis). Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker, 1992. Reprint, 1998. 150 pp.

This 150 page guide to (the interpretation of) Revelation has two parts: General Considerations (on genre, authorship, historical and social setting, and structure) and Specific Examples of Exegesis (Textual Criticism, Grammar and Style, Narrative Criticism, Tradition History (transformation of images) and theological interpretation). Footnotes give references to many useful books and articles on the topics discussed.

The size of the book does not allow for extensive discussion and argumentation which perhaps is the most important weakness in this book. On the other hand, Michaels does discuss the problems and so introduces students to the debate and lets them continue on their own. This is perhaps the most important advantage in this book.

I miss references to some important studies (among which may be mentioned the study of Mazzaferri, Genre, concerning the topic of genre (although it is mentioned later at p. 120 note 22) and to the many studies of the use of the Old Testament, although Michaels treats the topic in his 107-126 quite dependent on Caird).

Finally, Michael’s claim that “there is no particular awareness in Revelation of the church in the universal sense of Ephesians or Colossians” (p. 133) seems to me to be unfounded and in fact contrary to his own discussion of the theology of Revelation.

A select bibliography (too short, unfortunately) concludes the book. More on the book here.

Michaels writes in an easy to read and clear manner, making this book a suitable starting point for students. This guide is recommended not for what it does not say, but for what it does say.

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