Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 06:2 (Spring 1997)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Book of the Revelation: A Commentary, Phillip Edgcumbe Hughes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans (1990)., 242 pages, cloth, $19.99.

This posthumous publication, the final work of the late Philip E. Hughes, takes its place alongside the author’s other commentaries on 2 Corinthians and Hebrews. Although very much an admirer of the Cambridge tradition of New Testament exegesis represented by such names as B. F. Westcott, F. J. A. Hort, and J. B. Lightfoot, Hughes departs from this tradition by bringing to his readers a spirit of devotion and practicality, along with an uncommon ability to illuminate the biblical text from historical sources. Hughes was, in fact, equally at home in both historical theology and New Testament studies.

At a hurried first glance, I must confess that I was disappointed with the size of the volume, considering the bulk of his two previous commentaries and that of many expositions of Revelation (e.g., R. H. Charles’ two-volume contribution to the International Critical Commentary). However, my initial disappointment was quickly dispelled as I began to read closely. Though somewhat slender page-wise, content-wise Hughes’ book is a ready source of information on the text and of devotional thought for its readers. In keeping with his other commentaries, there is less emphasis on the minutiae of the original language and more on the actual content of John’s book and its application. For instance, in commenting on Revelation 9:20–21, which depicts the “rest of mankind ... who did not repent of the works of their hands to give up worshipping demons and idols of gold,” etc., Hughes remarks:

The much vaunted civilization of our day may be free from graven images, but it is certainly not free from idolatry As St. Paul explained long since, the person who is covetous is an idolater (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5), and this means that virtually anything can become an idol: money, power, fame, pleasure, sex—in short, humanistic self-centeredness in all its forms. Accordingly, the idolatry of which St. John speaks here is not remote from us and irrelevant to our situation (p. 115).

Particular mention may be made of the treatment of the letters to the seven churches (pp. 33–69).

The author’s approach to the Apocalypse is the so-called “historicist” interpretation. Consequently, “the Patmos visions portray the development of the church and its affairs in a sequence of periods that stretch successively from the beginning to the end of its history” (p. 9). Hughes finds a key to understandin...

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