Eduard Lohse, Die Offenbarung des Johannes

Lohse, Eduard. Die Offenbarung des Johannes: Übersetzt und erklärt. 8nd ed. Das Neue Testament Deutsch, 11. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1993. 126 pp.

The author is a renowned scholar, pastor and bishop. Eduard Lohse was professor of NT in Kiel (1956-1964) and Göttingen (1964-1971). From 1971 until his retirement in 1988 Lohse was bishop in Evangelisch-Lutherischen Landeskirche Hannovers.

This commentary is the fifteenth edition of the NTD-volume on Revelation (the very first edition was written by Johannes Behm). It is the 8th edition that Eduard Lohse has seen to the press, the first being published in 1960. The publisher have printed 74,000 copies of the NTD-volumes on Revelation. At least one half of this number probably pertains to Lohse’s commentary. Due to this number, the modest size and the high readability level of this commentary, and, naturally, his general influence as professor and Lutheran bishop, Lohse must be considered as one of the very influential German commentators.

In his introduction (pp. 1-11), Lohse outlines Jewish apocalyptic, Revelation as as a Christian apocalypse, the problem of authorship (the author is a prophet) and dating (Domitianic). Lohse argues that one must combine a contemporary-historical, an eschatological, and a traditio-historical approach (see, e.g., the excursus on the birth of the child, pp. 72f). A one page very densely written bibliography concludes the introduction.

The back matters include an Index of Names and Subjects (pp. 123-126), a Table of Contents and a list of thematic excursuses (p. 127).

One of the problems that the seven messages address is Gnosis. Repentance and deeds are necessary, which, Lohse asserts, reveals the difference between Paul and John (p. 36f; cf. also p. 117). The coming parousia which is near necessitates the call for watchfulness and perseverance (pp. 36f).

Noteworthy is also Lohse’s cautious discussion of the number of the beast (pp. 82f). Lohse argues that the millennium is intelligible only in the light of its Jewish background, but he also endorses the Lutheran Confessions that warn Christians not to make use of the “speculations” of Revelation 20. These “speculations” cannot be doctrinally binding, Lohse states (p. 107).

In his summary of the message of Revelation, Lohse follows Luther’s critique as well as his suggestions as to how one can usefully read Revelation as a Christian. A scholarly approach is useful. He summarises the doctrine, emphasising that the church is living under the cross, which means that we need both consolation and warning (pp. 117-122).

One disadvantage is difficult to fail to see: The layout, especially the size of the font used, is not very reader-friendly in my opinion (cf. also here). It is too dense, in my view.

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