Reading the Book of Revelation: A Resource for Students

Edited by David L. Barr Professor of Religion, Wright State University

Scholars Press, 2003. Purchase Information or Amazon

Introduction: Reading Revelation Today: Consensus and Innovations.

†David L. Barr

1†† The Story John Told: Reading Revelation for Its Plot

David L. Barr

2†† Ordinary Lives:  John and his First Readers

Leonard L. Thompson

3†† The Beast from the Land: Revelation 13:11-18 and Social Setting

†† Steve Friesen

4†† Wolves in Sheepís Clothing: Literary Opposition and Social Tension in the Revelation of John

†††† Paul B. Duff

5†† A Tale of Two Cities and (at least) Three Women: Transformation, Continuity and Contrast in the Apocalypse

Edith M. Humphrey

6†† Doing Violence: Moral Issues in Reading Johnís Apocalypse

David L. Barr

7†† Undercurrents and Paradoxes: the Apocalypse to John in Process Hermeneutic

Ronald L. Farmer

8†† Taking a Stand on the Sand of the Seashore: A Postcolonial Exploration of Revelation 13

Jean-Pierre Ruiz

9†† Spirit Possession:† Revelation In Religious Studies

 Leonard L. Thompson

10† The Lion/Lamb King: Reading the Apocalypse from Popular Culture

†††††† Jon Paulien

Conclusion: Choosing between Readings: Questions and Criteria

David L. Barr

Abbreviations Used

Bibliography of Works Cited


This book is intended to be both an introduction to the Book of Revelation for undergraduate students and an introduction to the various ways of reading it. The authors have worked together for eight years as members of the Society of Biblical Literature Seminar on Reading the Apocalypse: The Intersection of Literary and Social Methods. This work attempts to translate their concerns for both method and meaning into a form appropriate for undergraduate students. Each chapter attempts an overall reading of Revelation that grows out of a particular methodological approach; the authors illustrate the methods by discussing the text of Revelation rather than discussing the method with illustration from Revelation. The primary approaches include historical (Thompson), literary (Barr), and social analysis (Friesen), which are then used in combination with other reading strategies, including social conflict theory (Duff), philosophy (Farmer), women's studies (Humphrey), ethics (Barr), History of Religions (Thompson), liberation theology (Ruiz), and popular culture (Paulien). Each of these essays focuses on a specific text from Revelation and shows how the method used helps interpret that text. Beginning students will benefit from the clear explanations and discussions of key texts from Revelation; more advanced students will appreciate how methods shape our understandings of texts. All will benefit from up-to-date discussions by some of the leading scholars studying Revelation today. The main purpose of the book is to show the methods at work, revealing how method shapes meaning. However, the volume will go beyond the usual demonstration of a series of methods, trying also to relate them to each other and to show the tensions between them. The reader will gain some sense of how to use the various methods and how to choose between the readings they offer.

List of Contributors (alphabetical)

David L. Barr Professor of Religion Wright State University

Paul Duff Associate Professor of Religion The George Washington University

Ronald L. Farmer Dean of the Wallace All Faiths Chapel and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Chapman University

Steve Friesen Associate Professor and Chair Department of Religious Studies University of Missouri

Edith M. Humphrey Associate Professor of New Testament Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Jon Paulien Professor of New Testament Interpretation Andrews University

Jean-Pierre Ruiz Associate Professor and Chair Department of Theology & Religious Studies St John's University

Leonard L. Thompson Emeritus Professor Lawrence University