Book of Revelation

Theology Thursday - "Selective Literalism" & the Book of Revelation

This is a small excerpt from an article by Gordon Fee, “Preaching Apocolypse? You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!?” in Calvin Theological Journal 41 (2006).

The first question is: Why? Why in the world would one offer to do this, to give a lecture on preaching from apocalyptic texts of all things? On the one hand, one would think that in a world of Star Wars and Star Trek this should be easy. Unfortunately, it is also a world in which the creators of the Left Behind books and movies have become millionaires. These books and movies are so seriously flawed as literature and art, not to mention as impossible interpretations of Scripture, that one feels a sense of despair over the mental and spiritual flabbiness of contemporary North American evangelicalism. Read more about Theology Thursday - "Selective Literalism" & the Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation is Not Apocalyptic Literature

It may seem odd to suggest that the book entitled Apocalupsis in Greek does not belong to the genre of literature commonly referred to as apocalyptic; nonetheless that is my suggestion here. The term employed in the title of the book denotes a revelation or disclosure.1 While this particular revealing or disclosing describes a broad swathe of eschatological events, it is not its own literary genre.

Apocalyptic as a genre is described as “characteristically pseudonymous; it takes narrative form, employs esoteric language, expresses a pessimistic view of the present, and treats the final events as imminent.”2 Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge), even while arguing that Revelation is apocalyptic literature, admits that the book differs from that genre in that the book of Revelation (1) is not pseudepigraphic, (2) it engages a specific audience (seven churches), (3) has a significant church focus, rather than a purely Israel nation-centered focus, and (4) includes notes of insight and foresight that are more indicative of inspiration than is found in earlier extra-biblical apocalyptic literature.3 Read more about The Book of Revelation is Not Apocalyptic Literature