Thestrup Pedersen, Johannes’ Åbenbaring

Thestrup Pedersen, Ebbe. Johannes’ Åbenbaring: Kommenteret og fortolket [The Book of Revelation: Commentary and Interpretation]. Valby: Forlaget Aros, 1999. 183 pp.

Professor Ebbe Thestrup Pedersen (1914-1998) was a Danish theologian and professor of education. This volume was published posthumously. Pedersen asserts that serious readers of Revelation must learn from the scholarly, historical-critical interpretation (p. 9).

Pedersen provides a synopsis of Revelation (pp. 11-15), a summary (pp. 154-159), a discussion of its message for us (pp. 159-166), and a short history of the reception of Revelation (pp. 166-173). He also offers a brief overview of the use and abuse of Revelation (pp. 15-17), and he outlines six unsolved problems: order and unity of composition, authorship, visionary genuineness, the interpretive approaches, and a lot of concrete passages (p. 17-19).

Revelation is a prophetic-apocalyptic book with genuine visions (pp. 19-22). The author was not the apostle John, but another John, unknown to us (pp. 22-25). Pedersen rejects Irenaeus’ testimony as to the authorship, but not as to dating (p. 26).

The main purpose of Revelation was “a blazing protest against the imperial cult in the Roman empire,” expressed in obscure imagery (p. 25f).

Pedersen discusses the various scholarly approaches, described by Holger Mosbech in his monograph on the history of intepretation. He emphasises the views of Luther (p. 30f), Grundtvig (p. 63-67) and criticises Holger Mosbech for his one-sided contemporary-historical approach. Pedersen airs some sympathy with Ernst Lohmeyer’s idealistic approach (pp. 27f). Pedersen seems to favour a combination of the eschatological and the contemporary-historical approaches.

One cannot avoid the impression that Pedersen’s introduction ignores what has happened by and large since the Second World War. In the commentary proper, Pedersen often quotes Eduard Lohse’s commentary from 1971.

In his commentary proper, Pedersen states that “All the chapters of the book deal with the sole, great theme of the coming of the Lord in order to strengthen the perseverance of the congregations in the coming events of distress before the fulfilment of the promise,” i.e. of Christ’s parousia (p. 34f). However, Pedersen also quotes Mommsen with approval: “The entire Apocalypse is a polemical treatise against the worship of the Roman Emperor as God” (p. 36; perhaps cited from Bousset’s commentary p. 386; see p. 114). Pedersen also mentions that the visions of the Apocalypse are mighty images illustrating the prayers and the Amen of the Lord’s Prayer (p. 130; cf. pp. 151f and 155f).

The “angels” are probably bishops, and the many texts in Revelation 2-3 that use words for ‘coming,’ are interpreted sometimes about the parousia (e.g., 3:3, 20), sometimes about immediately preceding events (e.g., 3:10), sometimes about other events (e.g., 2:5).

Pedersen prefers the recapitulationist view on the structure of Revelation (p. 78), and he asserts that the plagues are warnings of the coming Last Judgement and calls for repentance (p. 79).

This volume is a decent communication of the problems involved in the interpretation of Revelation. Pedersen’s emphasis on its lasting eschatological message is valuable.

Students of education will benefit from this work.

Dansk
Ebbe Thestrup Pedersens kommentar blev hans sidste bog. Kommentaren rummer mange gode observationer og tolkninger, og den fører ind i mange af problemstillingerne, som man må forholde sig til i tolkningen. En del steder er Pedersen noget tilbageholdende med at konkludere, hvordan et afsnit skal forstås.

Særligt i indledningen kan det ikke nægtes, at kommentaren virker til at være blevet til for mange år siden. Mange af de vigtigste samtalepartnere i kommentaren var mere fremtrædende under og efter Anden Verdenskrig, hvor Pedersen holdt nogle forelæsninger om Åb, end de er nu om dage. Pedersen har tilsyneladende kun i begrænset omfang konsulteret nyere forskning. Stort set citerer Pedersen af nyere litteratur kun Lohses kommentar fra 1971.

Der er i øvrigt alt for mange trykfejl og brydningsfejl.

Ovenstående kritik skal bestemt ikke afholde f.eks. lærerstuderende og “interesserede læsere” fra at bruge Thestrup Pedersens kommentar. Der er meget at hente.

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