Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 157:626 (Apr 00) p. 227
By The Faculty and Library Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary
Robert D. Ibach, Editor
“Apocalypse Now,” J. Nelson Kraybill, Christianity Today, October 25, 1999, 30–40.
At the turn of the millennium, the Book of Revelation is receiving heightened attention. This is evident in J. Nelson Kraybill’s cover article in Christianity Today, which features the caption, “Revelation says more about church life today than about how the world will end” (p. 31). He offers little defense for the viability of the preterist view, the view that Revelation describes events in the first century, other than that he found “footprints of the Beast all over the first century” (p. 31). This interpretation reflects Kraybill’s scholarly work Imperial Cult and Commerce in John’s Apocalypse (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996). His emphasis on a cyclical view of history (there may be a beast in any or every generation) is reflected in these words: “I believe that much of Revelation describes the first century—but the Holy Spirit enables us to see a new layer of fulfillment and application for our future” (p. 32). Such a preterist view holds that John wrote descriptively in A.D. 90-95 about Rome, which destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
In this view Kraybill envisions compromise by Christians with the Imperial cult. Such a reconstruction does not account for the fact that John himself was in exile on the island of Patmos. This fact is more consistent with the New Testament portrayal of persecution of Christians in Paul’s and Peter’s ministry. One wonders if such a reconstructed view was not influenced by the shadow cast from twentieth-century American compromise.
Kraybill’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation ought to be carefully evaluated for three reasons. First, he disregards the temporal references in the introduction of the prophecies (1:19) in favor of a belief that this prophecy speaks primarily to the events and experiences of the original recipients (pp. 33-34). True, John began with a description of the vision he had seen (the resurrected Christ, 1:9–20), and spoke directly to seven churches in chapters 2–3, but his emphasis was on “the things which will take place after this” (Rev. 4–22).
Second, Kraybill’s interpretation of the Apocalypse does not consider the fact that many aspects of John’s visions are explained (1:17, 20; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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