Ernst Lohmeyer, Die Offenbarung des Johannes

Lohmeyer, Ernst. Die Offenbarung des Johannes. Handbuch Zum Neuen Testament, 16. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1926. 203 pp. –: 2nd. expanded ed. 1953, 208 pp. Reprinted 1970.

About the book

In his commentary, Ernst Lohmeyer (1890-1946), the successor of Bultmann, interprets Revelation as a thoroughly eschatological book.

Apart from the commentary proper, Lohmeyer provides some concluding summaries (pp. 181-203 in the 1st ed.). In part 1, Lohmeyer describes (his understanding of) the form or structure of Revelation. Part 2 deals with the content. In part 3, Lohmeyer takes a look at the sources or the traditions employed, while part 4 is devoted to the language of Revelation. Part 5 discusses the character of the seer and his work. The last part discusses the relations between Revelation and the Gospel of John. Rare quotations from ancient literature are included in an appendix (pp. 200-203). A list of excursuses concludes the book (p. 203).

Lohmeyer’s commentary is almost unparallelled in that he repeatedly emphasises the present or rather timeless character of the content of the visions. For example, Lohmeyer rejects that Babylon is Rome (p. 189). Although he does refer to the coming of Christ as a future event, his manifestation will not reveal anything new at all, it will not add anything to his dignity and nature. Nor will Christ’s coming give anything to the individual that he has not already experienced through faith; it can only reveal to the world what is already present and determined in the faith (see p. 186).

Lohmeyer’s view challenges not only a contemporary-historical interpretation, but also a futuristic approach that sees no or almost no present relevance of what Christ did and is. Lohmeyer’s career and death is also an interesting story in itself.

About Lohmeyer

As rector of the University of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Lohmeyer, who was a principled man and an original scholar, stood up for his Jewish colleagues in the nineteen thirties. As a result, the Nazi regime banished him to Greifswald. Having just been elected rector for the university, he was unjustly killed in 1946 and first rehabilitated by the Russian government in 1996 (see also a German summary here, a longer German and a longer English article).

See also Köhn, Andreas. Der Neutestamentler Ernst Lohmeyer: Studien zu Biographie und Theologie. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 180. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004 (xvi + 366 pp.).

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