On The Hermeneutics And Interpretation Of Rev 20:1-3: A Preconsummationist Perspective -- By: R. Fowler White

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 42:1 (Mar 1999)
Article: On The Hermeneutics And Interpretation Of Rev 20:1-3: A Preconsummationist Perspective
Author: R. Fowler White


On The Hermeneutics And Interpretation Of
Rev 20:1-3: A Preconsummationist 1 Perspective

R. Fowler White*

As the symposium A Case for Premillennialism: A New Consensus 2 demonstrates, the interpretation of Rev 20:1–6 continues to influence significantly the premillennial exposition of biblical eschatology. Objections have been lodged against attributing such importance to the pervasively symbolic, hence less interpretively accessible, apocalyptic literature of Revelation. 3 Premillennialists, however, have clung arduously to their views, arguing for the chronological progression of Revelation 19–20, the futurity of Satan’s imprisonment, the physicality of “the first resurrection,” and the literalness of the “one thousand year” duration of Christ’s post-second-advent interregnum. At the root of these claims is a more basic concern for hermeneutical consistency in the interpretation of the Bible’s apocalyptic and non-apocalyptic literature and of Rev 20:1–6 particularly. 4

In my view, preconsummationists ought to receive the premillennialist’s concern as an appropriately insistent call for integrity in handling Revelation 20 and the apocalyptic genre. The purpose of this essay is, therefore, to provide a partial answer to the premillennialist’s exhortation. Limiting myself to the interpretation of Rev 20:1–3, my specific aim is to identify and apply a canonical paradigm that answers the premillennialists’ call for a hermeneutically consistent preconsummationist exegesis of Rev 20:1–3. This is hardly to say that previous preconsummationist efforts are without merit; in

* R. Fowler White is associate professor of New Testament and biblical languages and dean of faculty at Knox Theological Seminary, 5554 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308.

fact, the studies of Hoekema and Poythress 5 are fitting preludes to this one, which will attempt to advance the discussion still further.

The thesis of this study is that the biblical and cognate epic ideology of victory over the dragon followed by house building constitutes a fundamental hermeneutical paradigm for the historical-grammatical, yet n...

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