Another book review:
Revelation for Everyone by N.T. Wright
London: SPCK and Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.
This brief introduction to the book of Revelation is part of a series which has the rationale that the books of the Bible should be available for everyone and not just biblical specialists. Tom Wright’s uses his own translation of the text, which is straightforward without dumbing down the text or being patronizing to the readers.
There is a useful glossary of the key theological terms that appear throughout the book. In the early sections there are paragraphs on context. However, there is none of the background material on context or authorship you would expect to find in an introduction to a New Testament book.
Wright splits the text of Revelation into bite-sized chunks following a fairly standard division of the text. Each section begins with his translation of the passage, which is generally followed by a scene-setting story. Then he spells out what he sees as the central message of the section, offering his interpretation of the text with no space being devoted to alternative readings. You will not find any references to other approaches to the interpretation of the text. The overall feel is very much that of a series of short sermons.
As you would expect of a leading Anglican evangelical, Wright takes the text seriously. He demonstrates that the Revelation of John is as relevant to us as it was to its first readers because it presents us with a clear vision of God’s ultimate purpose for the whole of creation: the overthrow of evil and the victory of God. But he sees it very much as a unified vision, rather than a history of the future, and the various episodes of the text are understood as different symbolic perspectives on that single vision.
My main reservation is that it lacks any guidance for readers who wish to take their study of Revelation any further. At the very least, it could have included a short guide to further reading. That apart, this volume is accessible, interesting and helpful.