dinsdag 29 januari 2013

Review of: Brian K. Blount, Revelation (NTL), WJK, 2009

Brian K. Blount, Revelation (NTL), WJK, 2009

Review in: The Expository Times 2010 121: 264
Door: Paul Foster
Gevonden op:  http://ext.sagepub.com/content/121/5/264.1.full.pdf+html

Brian K. Blount, Revelation, NTL (Louisville: WJK, 2009. $49.95/£32.99. pp. xxvi + 462. ISBN: 978-0-664-22121-8).

Presenting a theological reading of Revelation, Brian Blount sees the text both as envisaging violence associated with God’s eschatological judgment while simultaneously promoting an ethic of non-violent resistance. As part of this understanding of the text, Blount seeks to explore traditional introductory questions. Although it is not possible to identify a specific named figure as author, this person ‘considered himself a prophet’ (p. 7) and based on the heavy dependence on Hebrew biblical material the author was ‘most likely a Palestinian Jew who had come to the conclusion that Christ was God’s messianic agent charged with the task of ushering in God’s reign.’ (p. 8). In regard to dating, the composition of the work at the end of the Domitianic reign is supported (p. 8).

Here the two pieces of evidence are seen as being a date after the destruction of the Temple and after the emergence of the Nero redivivus concern, which Blount notes is attested as early as A.D. 69. How one moves from these twin datum to a date at the end of Domitian’s reign is not entirely obvious. In terms of social setting, the work is positioned against a tendency towards accommodation of the Roman imperial cult in Asia Minor in the last decade of the first century. The genre is taken as being apocalyptic (pp. 14-20). The introduction concludes with a discussion of the structure of Revelation (pp. 20-22) and by outlining the principal textual witnesses (pp. 22-23).

The format of the commentary section consists of a brief explanatory paragraph to each section, an English translation of the textual unit under consideration, brief notes treating textual and translational issues, followed by the detailed commentary. The comments are mainly limited to explicating the English translation with reference to Greek being brought into the discussion when there is some grammatical or syntactical issue that arises in the original language. Greek is transliterated throughout the commentary.

On the section dealing with Rev 14:1-20, Blount entitles this as ‘God Strikes Back: Visions of Judgment’ (p. 263). Specifically in relation to the 144,000 (Rev 14:1-5), it is noted that this group function as a remnant community. He states, ‘As a narrative construct, they operate somewhat like the transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 9:2-8). That event was a narrative sign that Jesus and those who follow him, would be vindicated by God. This type of ‘throw away comment’ raises a number of issues. First, is there any parallel between the narratival function of the transfiguration and the

144,000? Secondly, is the thematic meaning of the Markan story about divine vindication? Thirdly, is there a danger of reading each element of Revelation in terms of Blount’s own thematic emphasis on vindication through eschatological judgment?

While Blount helpfully provides a unified reading of the text, the central question remains as to whether this reading is an integral feature of the text of Revelation, or a slightly over-imposed hermeneutical grid. There is also a tendency to assume that narrative flow is self-evident, and that connections are both linear and carefully sequenced. Despite these concerns, this is a useful and user-friendly commentary on the text of Revelation.

School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

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