Olaf Moe, Bibelens siste bok

Moe, Olaf. Bibelens siste bok: En utlegning av Johannes’ åpenbaring [The Last Book of the Bible: An Interpretation of the Revelation of John]. Oslo: Forlaget Land og kirke, 1960. 276 pp.

—: Johannes Uppenbarelse: Bibelns sista bok. Translated by Frithiof Dahlby. Stockholm: Diakonistyrelsens bokförlag, 1963 (reprinted by Verbum, 1968 & 1978). The Swedish translation is available as an audio book.

The author, professor Olaf Moe

Olaf Moe (1876-1963) was a reader/associate professor at the University of Oslo (1906-1916) and from 1916 professor of NT at what is now The Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology in Oslo (Det teologiske Menighetsfakultetet). Some of Moe’s theological views were discussed when he was appointed as professor (see here).

Professor Moe was a specialist on Paul, but he also wrote extensively on the Johannine writings. In 1937, professor Moe published a 630 page commentary on the Gospel of John. His commentary on Revelation – the last but one of the many he wrote – was published in 1960, while his 115 page exposition of the Johannine letters was published in 1961. He lectured until the year after, although 86 years old.

Few Norwegian commentaries

According to Moe, his commentary was the first since J. H. H. Brochmann’s 85 page commentary from 1917. Frederik Torm’s popular commentary from 1941, however, was translated into Norwegian and published in 1942. One must also bear in mind that Norwegian theologians and pastors were able to read Danish and Swedish as well as German and probably English.

Professor Moe’s commentary

Professor Moe’s introduction discusses Revelation and prophecy/apocalyptic (pp. 9-23), interpretive principles (pp. 24-33) and the structure of Revelation (pp. 34-40). He also describes briefly the history of interpretation and various interpretive approaches (pp. 41-59). Questions about authorship (pp. 51-59), the recipients and the dating are considered as well (pp. 60-64). The last introductory chapter outlines the form and the content of Revelation (pp. 65-70).

Apart from the commentary proper, Moe gives a short retrospect of the book (pp. 273-275) and a list of commentaries (p. 276). He often refers to Peder Madsen and Holger Mosbech.

Although John’s use of the Old Testament is now a research field of its own, this area was not neglected earlier. Moe focuses very much on it throughout the commentary, and he spent some pages on the use of Daniel in the introduction (pp. 14-18). He also discusses the relations between Revelation and “the New Testament prophecy” (pp. 18-23).

Moe discusses how to understand the visions. He concludes that it is often a matter of opinion whether one should interpret Revelation “symbolically” or “realistically” (p. 26). As regards Israel, Moe is more favourable towards a “realistic” interpretation than was usually the case, especially among Lutheran interpreters (cf. pp. 28-31).

Although Moe is very cautious, he does prefer the premillennial position (pp. 30f; pp. 252f). Accordingly, he also rejects the recapitulationist theory and argues for the progressive or chronological point of view (p. 38-40). Moe prefers the eschatological approach, but emphasises that Revelation has a message for the interval between John’s time and the end time (pp. 48f). Thus he also interprets the references to Christ’s comings in Revelation 2-3 as “temporary” (ad loc.).

Moe argues that the author is the apostle John (p. 59), and he dates Revelation to the nineties (p. 64). As to the structure, Moe follows the proposal of Hadorn (p. 66).


  1. I came across Moe’s work on Paul some 5 or 6 years ago and am still reading it today. It is superb work–the best on Paul in my study. Now that I know that he did other works, I plan to search for them.

    God Bless,

    Elder Alton Crapps
    Covenant Baptist Church
    Leesville, S.C. USA

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