Fee – Revelation

Gordon D. Fee – Revelation: A New Covenant Commentary
A New Covenant Commentary
Readers of the New Testament experience something of a shock when they come to the book of Revelation—at least once they get past the first five chapters, which are quite manageable. Even the two scenes in heaven in chapters 4 and 5—which may be a bit different, to be sure—are still manageable. At chapter 6, however, with its four colored horses, souls under the altar, and great earthquake, everything changes.
At this point most contemporary readers have a sense of being thrown into a strange new world, and those who from a sense of duty keep on reading to the end find themselves in a constant struggle to stay with it. It is not difficult to understand horses or beasts as such, but colored horses and beasts with seven heads and ten horns do stretch the imagination—especially so for those who draw mental pictures as they read.
So the first task for any reader of a book is to understand (or at least anticipate) the kind of literary genre of the writing; and that is where in this case everything tends to break down. People understand what letters are, and how they function, and so have access to the New Testament Epistles. For the most part they are also able to recognize the style and poetry of the Old Testament Prophets—although with a degree of difficulty at times, to be sure. Thus the images themselves for the most part lie within the worldview of the reader, and that because the images are expressions of reality. But with Jewish apocalyptic writings (Daniel 7–11 and much of Ezekiel) all of that changes, since many of the images are intentionally bizarre and thus their meaning is uncertain.

Gordon D. Fee – Revelation: A New Covenant Commentary

United Kingdom by The Lutterworth Press, 2013 – 404
ISBN: 978 0 7188 9280 7

Gordon D. Fee – Revelation: A New Covenant Commentary – Contents

The Introduction (Revelation 1)
The Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2–3)
  • Fusing the Horizons: Christ and His Church(es)
John’s Vision of Heaven and Earth (Revelation 4–6)
  • Fusing the Horizons: Getting One’s Priorities in Order
An Interlude in Two Parts (Revelation 7)
The Blowing of the Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8–11)
The Holy War Is Engaged (Revelation 12:1—14:13)
Prelude to the (Original) Tale of Two Cities (Revelation 14:14–20)
The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (Revelation 15–16)
The (Original) Tale of Two Cities, Part 1: The Demise of Rome (17:1—19:10)
The Last Battle and the End of Evil (Revelation 19:11—20:15)
The (Original) Tale of Two Cities, Part 2: God Makes All Things New (Revelation 21:1—22:5)
  • Fusing the Horizons: The Original Tale of Two Cities
The Wrap-Up (or Epilogue) (Revelation 22:6–21)
Selected Bibliography

Gordon D. Fee – Revelation: A New Covenant Commentary - Preface

Stepping into the Revelation from the rest of the New Testament is to enter into a strange, bizarre new world; and this is true even in the days of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Instead of narratives, arguments, or plain statements of fact, the Revelation is full of angels, trumpets, and earthquakes; of strange beasts, dragons, and bottomless pits. Most believers, therefore, take one of two extremes: some simply avoid it in despair; others take an exaggerated interest in it, thinking to find here all the keys to the end of the world.
Both of these positions, I would argue, are simply wrong. On the one hand, in the providence of God it is Holy Scripture, a part of the twenty-seven-document canon of the New Testament. Indeed, it serves as the ultimate—and marvelous—conclusion to the whole of Scripture. On the other hand, a great deal of what has been written about it, especially at the popular level, tends to obscure its meaning rather than to help the reader understand it. In fact many years ago, when I was teaching a course on the Revelation at Wheaton College, one of the options for a term paper was to analyze the exegesis of Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth. Two students took me up on this alternative, both of whom independently came to the conclusion that the task was altogether impossible, since there is not a single exegetical moment in Lindsay’s entire book. John himself would surely have found Lindsay’s book as “apocalyptic” as most modern readers do John’s.
The purpose of the present book is therefore singular: to offer one New Testament scholar’s exegetical reading of the text, with very little concern for anything except to help people hear it for the word of God that it is. And therefore none of the so-called alternative ways of understanding the book will hereafter be mentioned in this book. At the same time, I would be deceiving the reader if I did not admit that I am equally concerned that the exegesis leads to theological understanding. That is, what does it mean for God and his Christ to be the one and only sovereign(s) in a universe in which others compete for sovereignty and worship; and what does it mean for contemporary people of God to be a countercultural alternative in such a world, just as John himself was, and was encouraging his readers to be? Furthermore, with theology there must be worship, because whatever else is true about this marvelous Revelation, John recognizes that truly Christian theology should lead to doxology. That is, descriptions of God that do not lead to the worship of God might be intellectually useful, but they are unrelated to biblical reality; and biblical reality is what John wants his readers to see and hear. In a form of divine sovereignty that often accompanies biblical prophecy, John wrote what turned out to be the final book in the Christian canon; and thus it serves fittingly as the climax to both the New Testament and to the entire biblical story—which begins in Eden and concludes with a restored Eden.
Finally, I should note that the biblical text used throughout is the (yet to be published) 2011 edition of the NIV, which has been used by permission of the Committee on Bible Translation who are responsible for the translation (to which I have access before publication as a member of the translation committee) and of the Zondervan Corporation who will publish it.
Gordon D. Fee


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