book of Revelation

two helpful resources on Revelation

Let’s be honest: the book of Revelation (or, the Apocalypse) is a bit wild and even tantalizing, often resulting in confusion and debate. Unfortunately, these results persist due to the rather unhelpful (and other “un-” adjectives) interpretations of people like CI Scofield, Hal Lindsey, John Walvoord, and Harold Camping (just to name a few)–all of whom seem to find delight in debates, and who tend to read the text of Revelation through a predetermined (or pre-established) theological grid for the sake of maintaining that grid.

Fortunately, there are a handful of people who are committed to reading the text in a way that is sensitive to the history, culture, and theology of the time in which it appeared, with the hope of alleviating (some of) the confusion and debate, while allowing (most of) the wild and tantalizing bits to remain–primarily because they serve a purpose. Two of these people have written on the book of Revelation, and both now have lecture files available online for intellectual (and spiritual) consumption:

  1. The first is by M. Robert Mulholland.  These are video files of his Seminary course at Asbury (KY).
  2. The second is by G.K. Beale.  These are audio files of his lectures given at Lanesville Church (MA), back in the early-to-mid 90s, .

I cannot recommend either (or both) of these highly enough. While I have not listened to his lectures (yet), Beale’s work (especially his little pamphlet in the NIGTC series) was influential in my earlier studies and subsequent teaching of Revelation. I can only imagine that the lectures stress the needed balance between scholarship and pastoral concerns. And I can say that Mulholland’s lectures are worth every minute. He is engaging, insightful, knowledgeable, and deeply considerate of the needs of the students.

unsurprisingly well done

Between October 2006 and August(?) 2007, I led a (rather protracted) study of the book of Revelation at the chuch of a dear friend of mine. In preparation for that study, I surveyed a number of commentaries and scholarly books on Revelation–of which there are many. My aim for doing this survey was not so much to see what scholars are saying about Revelation; instead it was more about seeing how they made their case.

One of the commentaries that I initially feared using was the massive tome by G.K. Beale. I feared using it partly because of its size (over 1200 pages) and also because of its scholarly depth. (The NIGTC series tends to be one of the more technical commentaries). After nearly straining my wrist taking it off the shelf, I wondered if it would be useful for the simple study I was planning to do. Would it make things more difficult and ‘too heady’?

The more I read through the commentary, the more I found myself drawn in by how well Beale argued his case and overjoyed by how applicable his arguments were for the church.[1] Yes, there is an enormous amount of scholarship packed into the commentary, but there is also invaluable insight for the church’s mission that cannot be left to its pages. I couldn’t not use it. Beale’s commentary not only served as a informative guide for my own thinking about Revelation, it also provided an example of scholarship written from a pastor’s heart–something I hope to be able to do some day.

Move forward a few years, and several thousand miles. Yesterday afternoon, I stumbled upon this website, which contains five lectures from Beale on significant portions of Revelation. Since time was precious yesterday, I was not able to listen to anymore than 15-20 minutes of the first lecture. This morning, however, I made time to listen to one of Beale’s lectures in full, although I did not return to the first one. Instead, I checked out the final one (i.e. ‘The Two Witnesses’). Simply incredible. Beale is a scholar with a pastor’s heart.

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[1] Admittedly, Beale’s commentary was my introduction to his work.