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Monday, August 13, 2012

Read the Bible for Life: Scholar Series (on Biblical Hermeneutics) Part 5

NT biblical scholar J. Scott Duvall who is a co-editor of Grasping God's Word with Danny Hays, has put together a sequel book call Living God's Word: Discovering Our Place In the Grand Story of Scriptrue. The book is very simplistic and properly explains how to find our place at the end of the story of redemption in the Revelation, "Consummation: The Happy Ending to the Great Story." I seriously believe that everyone should read through this book to know how Scripture unfolds redemptive history from Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation. It is very relevant and refreshing!

The book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible. It was actually dismissed as Scripture in the early canonization of the New Testament. Revelation was accepted into the canon in 397 AD, and added to the canon in later 419 AD. There has been so many critics of Revelation over the past two-thousand years of Christian history, especially in the 2nd to 4th century, because many people did not know how to properly interpret because of its three diverse genres of letter, prophecy, and apocalyptic literature. Revelation was debated regarding its authenticity, scriptural support, character, symbolism, and apostolic authorship. Our greatest reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, both had questions about it. Luther supposedly rejected it as Scripture, and Calvin wrote a NT commentary on all of the books except the book of Revelation. This led to many different interpretations of the prophetic says and symbolic images over the last three hundred years as Bible scholars have tried to discover the meaning of the book. People have develop new systems and reformed old systems of interpretation to make conclusions:

Preterists see the events of Revelation, for the most part, to have been fulfilled in the first centuries of the church age, either at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD or at both the fall of Jerusalem and later at the fall of Rome in the fifth century. Preterists interpret the book as being primarily written to comfort Christians who suffered persecution at the hands of the Romans and the Jews. Many biblical scholars favor the preterist view because there are many true connections in exegesis, but today's scholarship is largely leaning to a partial-preteristic view with an eclectic perspective (because it is impossible to suggest Jesus has returned as in Revelation 19, when in fact he has not returned).

Historicists view the events of Revelation as unfolding throughout the course of history. This view meshed with the thinking of the Protestant Reformers, who equated the papal system of their day with the Apostle John’s vision of the Antichrist. This view largely has fallen out of favor due to the difficulties of matching historical events to biblical prophecy, inconsistency in interpretation, and requiring constant revision due to wrong conclusions.

Futurists argue that the events of Revelation are largely unfulfilled, especially chapters 4-22. Premillennialists tend to embrace a futurist interpretation of the Apocalypse. All events are literal and will unfold in redemptive history chronologically as written in the text. And while many scholars favor the preterist view, the masses favor a futurist view. It is the most popular view taught in the evangelical church. All dispensationalists favor a futurist view.

Idealists see Revelation as setting forth timeless truths concerning the battle between good and evil – a battle that continues throughout the church age. Instead of predicting future events, Revelation inspires and encourages believers of all times as they endure persecution at the hands of God’s enemies. Everything in the book is not taken literally, but rather completely spiritual and symbolic.

Eclectics glean the strengths of the other four views while avoiding their pitfalls. Many leading evangelical scholars today have embraced the eclectic view, arguing that it provides a balanced approach to hermeneutics, remains faithful to the text, and parallels other genres found in Scripture that are found in Revelation.

Therefore, it is historically and academically accurate to suggest Revelation has been the most misinterpreted book in the Bible because so many different perspectives. How can we know what the book of Revelation is all about?

Below are several videos explaining how to properly "understand" the overall message of Revelation. Author and scholar J. Scott Duvall makes some great points to read Revelation correctly to avoid the errors of previous perspectives. He suggests if you know the overall message of Revelation, it will help interpret the individual passages in the text. Duvall wisely cautions and encourages readers to interpret Revelation in the appropriate literary genre and context of apocalyptic. Enjoy the videos!

"Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." 
(Revelation 1:3)

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