Thursday, February 2, 2017

Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature

I've grown to love the books published by Kregel Academic. When offered the chance to receive a review copy of Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature in their Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series, I couldn't say no. I'm just as interested in gaining a better understanding of the visions in Daniel or the book of Revelation.

The book is divided into six chapters along with an appendix on the possible antecedents to Jewish apocalyptic literature. The first chapter clarifies what is meant by the term "apocalyptic literature" and differentiates it from "apocalypse," "apocalypticism," and other terms. Chapter two discusses major themes in apocalyptic literature. The rest of the chapters walk readers through the process of interpreting apocalyptic texts and preaching or teaching them to others.

I found the chapter on major themes to be the most helpful because of the numerous examples and analyses of Old Testament passages and extra-biblical apocalyptic texts like the book of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Abraham, the Testament of Moses, and more. By seeing the similarities and understanding how to interpret extra-biblical texts, I gained insight into the mechanics of how apocalyptic texts work.

I'm glad apocalyptic literature is getting more attention from serious scholars and not just novelists with a wild imagination. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature shows that these texts were part of a wider body of apocalyptic literature and that they carried an intelligible message for their original audiences. By studying these texts we can discover how they apply to us today, not to some future generation awaiting a literal fulfillment of all that these books describe in such graphic imagery.

Highly recommended.