Somerset Christian College


BI 290 Interpreting the Book of Revelation

Friday 6:00 – 9:30

Spring 2004 Fast Track 1

Course Syllabus


Course Instructor


John Drury 



Contribution of this Course to the Movement of SCC’s Mission and Vision


Verse-by-Verse Study

of Revelation:

The Last Act in God’s Story


(1st Hour)





Required Texts


Upward Call - Craig S. Keener. Revelation.  NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Inward Call - Eugene Peterson. Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1988.

Outward Call - C. S. Lewis. The Last Battle. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1994.

Course Description


“An inductive study of the Book of Revelation as the representative example of apocalyptic literature of the New Testament. Procedure involves a survey of the whole book and detailed analysis of the various parts. Emphasis upon the history of interpretation and the proper understanding of this particular literary genre. Attention will also be given to the practical application of Revelation to the Christian life.”


Course Objectives


By the end of this course you will …


1.      have a basic grasp of the content of the Book of Revelation.

2.      be aware of the issues surrounding the Book of Revelation.

3.      sharpen your exegetical and interpretive skills through practice.

4.      create a thorough notebook for consultation in your future ministry.

5.      know, love and enjoy God better by studying his words and works.


Course Requirements


1. Daily Points: 10 days x 25 pts/day = 250 points


Each class session you can earn 25 points. These points will be given based on assignments, reading, quizzes, and active participation. It is essential that you come prepared every day because we will be learning from each other’s work. So do your work for the sake of others as well as your self.


One additional assignment – a survey of the basic structure of the book of Revelation – due the second week of class (Jan 28th) will be worth 25 points. 


2. Notebook Points: 2 Checkpoints x 250 pts ea = 500 points


One of the goals of this course is to provide the student with resources for future growth and ministry. In order to fulfill this goal, each student will compile a notebook containing all they are learning during the course (one’s own work, other’s work, lectures, handouts, etc.). Twice during the course (Feb 25th & April 1st), the professor will collect the notebooks and evaluate them for neatness and completeness.  It is imperative that you develop these notebooks as you go so that they will be complete and useful to your future.


3. Exam Points:  250 points


There will be a final exam on April 1, comprised primarily of essay questions. 


* See Appendices for Further Assignment Instructions

Points and Grading Scale


     250 Daily Points

     500 Notebook

  + 250 Exam

   1000 total possible points



1000 – 950  A

949 – 900  A-

899 – 870  B+

869 – 830  B

829 – 800  B-

799 – 770  C+

769 – 730  C

729 – 700  C-

699 – 670  D+

669 – 630  D

629 – 600  D-


Course Schedule


Jan. 21 – Rev. 1 & Orientation


Jan. 28 – Rev. 1-3

Keener introduction & relevant chapters; Peterson ch.1-4; Lewis ch. 1-2

Survey Due


Feb. 4 – Rev. 4-5

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.5; Lewis ch. 3-4


Feb. 11 – Rev. 6-7

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.6; Lewis ch. 5-6


Feb. 18 – Rev. 8-11

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.7-8; Lewis ch. 7-8


Feb. 25 – Rev. 12-14

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.9; Lewis ch. 9-10

Notebook due for mid-term checkpoint


Mar. 4 – Rev. 15-18

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.10; Lewis ch. 11-12


Mar. 11 – Rev. 19-20

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.11; Lewis ch. 13-14


Mar. 18 – Rev. 21-22

Keener relevant chapters; Peterson ch.12-13; Lewis ch. 15-16


Mar. 25 – Good Friday, No Class


Apr. 1 – Final Session

Notebook due for final checkpoint

Final Exam


Points Tally                                      YOUR NAME:


Jan. 21 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                         Total = ___/25




Jan. 28 – ___/25 Daily Points


                ___/25 Survey                                                                   Total = ___/75



Feb. 4 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                           Total = ___/100




Feb. 11 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                        Total = ___/125




Feb. 18 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                        Total = ___/150




Feb. 25 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                       


     ___/250 Notebook Checkpoint                                      Total = ___/425



Mar. 4 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                           Total = ___/450




Mar. 11 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                         Total = ___/475




Mar. 18 – ___/25 Daily Points                                                         Total = ___/500




Apr. 1 –    ___/250 Notebook Checkpoint


      ___/250 Final Exam                                                       Total = ___/1000


Instructional Resource Center


The IRC at Somerset Christian College offers tutorial support services designed to help all students achieve their full academic potential and goals. The IRC as a venue of both remediation and enhancement to the coursework requirements, offers materials and tutorials in study skills such as time management, organization, and learning or test strategies; in MLA format and style;  in writing assistance such as outlining, drafting, researching, and editing; and in computer skills and information access. Conveniently located in the AK White library on campus, the IRC works to provide students with materials and skill sets necessary to carry out information access, evaluation, and application effectively.   It also offers assistance in resume building and in reference letter requests. As a supplement to the regular classroom experience, the IRC promotes quality and excellence of all student endeavors to the glory of God.

For current hours of operation, you may email the director, Dr. Beverly Busch at or call  732-356-1595, ext. 1126;  you may also call the library direct at 732-356-1595, ext. 1120; or check the SCC web page (Academics, IRC) as these hours are subject to change throughout the academic year. Blessings to you all as you follow Christ!   

Attendance Policy


In an effort to ensure that students experience the greatest return from their studies at SCC and to maintain a sense of community between and among students and faculty, the following policy about student attendance has been established:


SCC recognizes that extenuating circumstances will necessitate students missing class on occasion. Therefore, students are allowed to miss one block session (unexcused) per three credit-hour course without question and without academic penalty. A block session constitutes one class meeting (2 ½ or 3 ½ hour session) per week.


Unless approval is obtained from the instructor in advance, students missing 2-4 classes will have their letter grade lowered one full letter for every block class missed (e.g. students missing 2 block classes would have his/her grade lowered from A to B; 3 absences would reduce the letter grade from A to C, etc.). Students who accrue more than 4 absences will be assigned a grade of "F" for that course. In all cases, students have the right to appeal. Appeals must be made in writing to the instructor and the Academic Dean.


In all cases, including unexcused absences, students must make up all assignments and tests missed during any absence through arrangement with their instructor(s) in order to receive academic credit.


Snow and Other Emergency/Class Cancellation Policy


In case of inclement weather or other emergency conditions, students, staff and faculty should consult the Somerset Christian College website, voice mail, and/or STAR 99.1 for up to date information.  Call 732-356-1595 or 1-800-234-9305 and press 9, the college information line, for up to date information on class cancellation. 


Somerset Christian College Official Style Guide


SCC requires that all research papers conform to the style guide as outlined by the MLA (Modern Language Association).


Gibaldi, Joseph.  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. NY: MLA, 2003.

Four important rules to remember in order to avoid plagiarizing something:

  • Your instructor is your best resource if you have any questions regarding whether or not your information is documented accurately.
  • Put an in-text citation at the end of any idea or fact which you found in a book or article, whether or not you change the words.
  • Exact quotations should either be put in quotation marks or indented and an in-text citation should be used to indicate the source
  • When in doubt, go ahead and document the source.

*Note: Documenting sources helps your reader find more information as well as helping you avoid plagiarism.

Gannon, Jack. The Week the World Heard Gallaudet. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1989. (modified BB 1/05).





to the course syllabus of

BI 290 Interpreting the Book of Revelation




Appendix 1 – How to Survey a Book of the Bible

Appendix 2 – Instructions for Weekly Student Reports

Appendix 3 – Get Out of Jail Free Card

Appendix 4 – Notebook Checklist

Appendix 5 – Bibliography




Appendix 1 – How to Survey a Book of the Bible


The purpose of a survey is to get a bird’s eye view of a book of the Bible. 


Rule #1 – Do not consult any outside works for this assignment. The purpose is to try your best to perceive the internal themes and shape of the book.


Step-by-step Instructions to Surveying a Book:


  1. Set aside a large block of time (up to four hours for larger books)
  2. Pray, asking that God’s Spirit will open your eyes to his word
  3. Read the entire book in one sitting.  Do not mark the text or make any notes.  Just read it like a novel – enjoying the style, characters and plot. Count on about five minutes a chapter.
  4. Write on scrap piece of paper any large themes you noticed throughout the book.  Focus on things that recurred more than once.
  5. Draw on a scrap piece of paper the basic shape / structure / outline of the book as a whole.  Do not focus on the details but on the large blocks of material.
  6. Type your themes and structure into a word processor and edit them for a final copy to hand in.


Remember, there are no right answers for this assignment (though there are wrong ones). Note that in the following examples there is more than one way to draw the structure of the same book.  So feel free follow your intuitions.  Note




EXAMPLE 1: Jonah



Themes (words or concepts or feelings that appear more than once):


  • The Word of the Lord coming to Jonah
  • Judgment and Mercy
  • Prayer
  • Repentance
  • “Going down”
  • Animals (fish ch. 1-2, cattle ch. 3, worm ch. 4)
  • Israel contrasted with Gentiles (sailors ch. 1, Ninevites ch. 3)







Example 1.A.  this version focuses on Jonah’s second chance




The Word of the Lord

Came to Jonah

(Chapters 1-2)


The Word of the Lord

Came to Jonah a Second Time

(Chapters 3-4)


Jonah Flees


To Tarshish


(ch. 1)

Jonah Prays


To God


(ch. 2)

Jonah Preaches


To Nineveh


(ch. 3)

Jonah Complains


To God


(ch. 4)




Example 1.B.  this version focuses on the Jonah’s movement


Ch. 1

Jonah flees

goes down to Joppa and down in the bottom of the Boat


Example 1.C.  this is a simple outline format


I.                     Jonah Flees (ch. 1)

II.                   Jonah Prays (ch. 2)

III.                  Jonah Preaches (ch. 3)

IV.               Jonah Complains (ch. 4)


EXAMPLE 2: Matthew




  • “Righteousness”
  • Miracles & Healing
  • parables
  • Extended teaching sections
  • Teaching about the last judgment
  • Focus on Discipleship
  • Geographical movement
  • Confusion and plots
  • “their synagogues”




Example 2.A.  Five Books of Matthew modeled after the five books of the Torah.  Subsections of action blocks and teaching blocks


The Five Books of Matthew



Book 1


Book 2


Book 3


Book 4


Book 5




Genealogy (1)

Birth (2)

Action: Ministry Beginnings (3-4)

Teaching: Sermon on the Mount (5-7)

Action: Healing (8-9)

Teaching: Sending (10)

Action: Conflict (11-12)

Teaching: Parables (13)

Action: Jesus’ Greatest Hits (14-17)

Teaching: Community (18)

Action: Debate (19-22)

Teaching: End Times (23-25)

Death (26-27)

Resurrection (28)


Example 2.B.  this version focuses Jesus’ movement through Palestine

I.               The birth and childhood of Jesus Christ (1-2)
II.              The preparation for the ministry of Jesus in Judea (3-4)
III.            Jesus in Galilee (4 -18)
IV.          Jesus in Perea & Judea (19-20)
V.           Jesus in Jerusalem (21-27)
VI.          Jesus in Galilee (28)




Appendix 2 – Instructions for Weekly Student Reports


Observation Notes:


Each week every student will be responsible for recording their own observations concerning that week’s chapters.  These will be brought to class for discussion.  These observation notes will be placed in the student’s notebook.


Rotating Special Tasks:


Starting Feb. 4th, each week every student must fulfill the duties of one of the following exegetical roles:


  • Outliner
  • Pray-er
  • Paraphraser
  • Weather Man
  • Time-traveler
  • Devil’s Advocate
  • Word Sleuth
  • Archaeologist
  • OT Cross-Refer
  • NT Cross-Refer
  • Memorizer
  • Commentary Evaluator
  • Theologian


These roles will be rotated from week to week.  Students may not do any role more than once.  Unfortunately, not every student will get to do all the roles. Students may sign up for their roles during the second class session (Jan. 28th).


It will be the student’s responsibility to follow the attached instructions for their particular task. The report of your findings may not exceed one page in length.

Student’s are responsible to make copies for every one else in the class including the professor. These reports will be placed in each student’s notebook.


If a student misses a class session, the student is responsible to e-mail me your report by 12 noon on the day of the class session so that I can make copies in your absence.  A student may also send copies with another student.





Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


The job of the outliner is to provide a representation of the basic structure of the week’s text.  This is a very important role as it will shape our discussion of the material.  Yet there need not be any pressure because the style of Revelation lends itself to various interpretations of its structure.  So just read the text carefully and folly your intuitions as to its basic shape.



EXAMPLE: Revelation 1-3



I.                     Introduction to the Book (1)

a.      Prologue (1:1-3)

b.      Greetings & Doxology (1:4-8)

c.      Vision of the Son of Man (1:9-20)

II.                   Letters to the Seven Churches (2-3)

a.      Ephesus (2:1-7)

b.      Smyrna (2:8-11)

c.      Pergamum (2:12-17)

d.      Thyatira (2:18-29)

e.      Sardis (3:1-6)

f.        Philadelphia (3:7-13)

g.      Laodicea (3:14-22)




Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


The job of the pray-er is quite simple: pray the text. Your job is to write a prayer that uses the language of the week’s chapters. You will then share your prayer with us during our verse-by-verse study.




EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


Dear Jesus,


You are the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the one who was and is and is to come.  You are glorious and beautiful in your heavenly splendor.  We are thankful that you have revealed so many things to your servants.


We thank you that you chose John to bear witness to your revelation. We ask that you will bless us as we read and hear this book. Please help us to keep it words and not forget or ignore or disobey them.


We thank you also for loving us and saving us from our sins in order to make us into a kingdom of priest.  You deserve all the glory for what happens in our lives.


We know that you are coming, and we pray for it.  Teach us to not fear it, as we are inclined to do.  But you have told us to not be afraid.  Even in our sufferings, teach us not to be afraid.


Lord, we want to see you as John saw you. Let us be in your Spirit on this and every Lord’s Day. Unfold mysteries for us, and teach us what they mean.


We pray in your powerful name which holds the keys of death and Hades.






Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


Your job is to consult at least three translations for this week’s text.  After noting the different word choices made by the different translators, write out a paraphrase of the text. Feel free to be creative and fun. You do not have to use lofty language or even “get it right.”  Just try to put God’s words into your own words.  This is a great way to internalize the spirit of the text.


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


1  This is the revealing of Jesus Christ which God gave to him to show his servants the stuff which will definitely happen soon.  These things were made known and sent through his angel to his servant John.   2 John witness everything he saw: the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.  3 Happy is the reader and hearer of the words of the prophecy, especially if they follow it, for the time is near.


4  John, to the seven churches in Asia: grace and peace to you from the one who is past, present and future and from the seven spirits who are in his throne room, 5  and also from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood,  6  and made us into a kingdom of priests to God the Father, to him be glory and dominion forever.  Amen.


7          Look, he is coming with the clouds;

            Every eye will see him -

            Even those who pierced him -

            And all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.

Even so, Amen.


8  “I am the A to Z, says the Lord God, the one who is past, present, future and is the ruler of all.”


9  I, John, am your brother and fellow sufferer for the kingdom. I am on Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard coming from behind me a huge voice that sounded like a trumpet.  11  It said, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. 


12  I turned around to see the voice that was speaking with me, and when I turned I say seven golden lamp stands.  13  In the middle of the lamp stands stood one like a son of man, clothed in a long robe and decked out in gold.  14  His head and his hair were white as wool and his eyes were like a flame of fire.  15  His feet were like bright bronze in the fire and his voice was like the sound of a waterfall.  16  In his right hand he held seven stars and out of his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.  His face was like the sun at high noon.  17 When I saw him, I dropped to his feet like a dead man.  But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last.  18  I am alive, and though I was dead, look, now I am alive forever.  And I have the keys of death and Hades.  19  Therefore, write down the things you have seen, the things your are seeing, and the things you are about to see.  20  By the way, I bet you are wondering about the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my hand and the seven gold lamp stands. Well, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches.


Weather Man


Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


The weather man is in charge of getting a “feel” for the text.  Read the text slowly, or have someone else read it to you while you close your eyes.  What emotions are evoked by the text?  How does the text make you feel?  Some Bible scholars call this the “atmosphere” of the text, hence you are the weather man.


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


The text is exciting.  Seeing Jesus in all his glory sounds amazing. 


The text is also scary.  I am afraid of what is to come.  Why is God visiting?  It must have been scary for John to see the Lord of the Universe appear behind your back.


The text is also mysterious.  All the cloths and lamp stands and such make the meaning of the text unclear.  Jesus thankfully reveals the meaning of the lamp stands at the end.  Yet the significance of his clothes remains unknown.


The text is also sad.  There is talk of suffering, endurance, mourning.


The text is also happy.  People are being blessed.  God is being praised for his actions.






Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


The job of the time-traveler is to try and put themselves in the shoes of those seven churches in Asia who first heard this text read.  These were persecuted Christians who were understandably doubting God and were looking for comfort from their elder, John.  Read the text and listen for things that might be particularly meaning to those first century readers and hearers.  If you were in their shoes, what would stand out in this text?  How would this text affect you?  What would you like in the text?  What would disturb you?


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


If I were a first century reader …


I would at first be glad to know that John was someone who witnesses Jesus, since that makes him a trustworthy writer and leader.


The blessing would stand out because I know that I sometimes when listen to these letters that come from apostles I only listen, I don’t also keep the words.  If the time is near, I need to take these words about that time. 


I probably already take for granted that there is a special angel set aside for my church community in my town in Asia.  (Note that the focus is on an angel for the whole community and not on just an individual ‘guardian angel’).


The language of “dominion” and “ruler of the kings of the earth” would be dangerous to me.  These seem like the kind of things that would apply to Caesars or Emperors.  I do belief they apply to Jesus, but this is exactly what gets us into so much trouble.


It is good to know that even those who persecuted Jesus and us his church will one day see him for who he is and mourn over the suffering they caused (v. 7).




Devil’s Advocate


Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


The Devil’s Advocate job is quite fun and simple.  After doing your own observations, list on a separate sheet what bothers or even could bother you about the text.  What makes you feel uneasy?  What aspects of the text are difficult to understand?  What aspects of the text are hard to believe?  Your report will probably take the form of a list of questions.


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


Ø      How will all the tribes of the earth see Jesus?

Ø      How do we know that John really heard a voice and saw these things?

Ø      Who is this John anyways? Why should we trust him?

Ø      Does God really bother to have a special angel set aside for each church?

Ø      What does it mean to have the keys to death and hades?

Ø      If we are suffering so much because of Jesus, why continue serving him?

Ø      If he is the lord of the universe, why is he being pierced?

Ø      Why doesn’t Jesus share all that wealth with us?  We need it now.






Word Sleuth


Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


Steps to do a word study:


  1. Pick between a word that interests you in the text. 
  2. Search using a concordance or online tools ( to find all the places that word is used in the New Testament only. 
  3. Look up each text and note how the word is used. 
  4. List the different uses of the word.
  5. Choose which use fits this text best
  6. Write out your list, your choice, and your reasons.


Note: You may have to try more than one word as some words do not appear often enough to make for an interesting study.


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


testimony” v. 2, 9  - to help understand the strange phrase “testimony of Jesus”


It is used 52 times in the New Testament


Courtroom testimony

Matthew 10:18

Matthew 26:59

Mark 13:9

Mark 14:55

Mark 14:59

Luke 21:13

Luke 22:71

John 5:32

John 5:34

John 5:36

Acts 22:18

2 Corinthians 1:12

Hebrews 10:28

1 Timothy 6:13


Something that condemns

Matthew 24:14

Mark 6:11

Luke 9:5

Revelation 11:7


Positive Pointing to someone else

John 1:7
John 1:19

John 3:11

John 3:32-33

John 4:39

John 5:31

John 19:35

John 21:24

1 Corinthians 1:6

1 Corinthians 2:1

2 Thessalonians 1:10

Revelation 12:17

Revelation 20:4


The Report of an Eyewitness

Acts 4:33

Revelation 22:16


A trustworthy word on a subject

John 8:13

John 8:14

John 8:17

Titus 1:13

1 John 5:9

1 John 5:10

3 John 1:12


Vaguely Synonymous with “Gospel”

1 John 5:11

1 Timothy 2:6


Somehow used to battle the beast

Revelation 12:11


Phrase “Testimony of Jesus”

Revelation 19:10

The term “testimony” in Revelation 1 is most likely something like “a trustworthy word on a subject.”  It is also being used in the sense of the positive pointing to some else.  It clearly does not seem to have courtroom connotations, nor the report of an eyewitness.  This distinction helps use see John’s unique concept of “testimony.”




Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


The archaeologist is responsible for studying any terms or concepts that would be foreign to us as modern readers.


  1. Pick a word or phrase that is foreign to you (Hint: pick concrete things)
  2. Look it up in Keener, another commentary, a Bible Dictionary at the Library or a reliable online resource (
  3. Write a concise report on the item.  Be sure to specify how this information illumines the passage (no useless trivia please!).


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


Term: “eyes like a flame of fire” v. 14


According to Keener, these are terms used for angels.  In ancient Greek literature, eyes like fire indicated passion in humans (Keener 95).  I seems the language of fiery eyes accentuated both the angelic glory of Jesus, yet also remind us of his passion for his church.  It seems clear already in this chapter that Jesus fights for his church, so the angelic description of Jesus in v. 14-16 is not merely to statically honor him but also to reveal that he is on the side of his church.  A truly comforting thought!




OT Cross-Refer


Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


Your job is to cite references and allusions to the Old Testament throughout the week’s text.  Read them and then list the references keyed to the verse in our text. 


There are always a lot of these in Revelation.  A good study Bible will help, as well as Keener’s copious OT references.  If there are too many to fit on a page, select the most interesting and illuminating. 


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


Spirits in the throne room (v. 4)       -           Zechariah 3:9; 4:10; 6:5

Kingdom and priests (v. 5-6)           -           Ex. 19:5-6

Lamp stands (v. 12-13, 20)              -           Temple texts: Ex. 25:31-35; 37:18-21

Son of Man (v. 13)                             -           Daniel 7:13-14


NT Cross-Refer


Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


Your job is to find interesting parallels in the New Testament throughout the week’s text.  Read them and then list the references keyed to the verse in our text. 


If you are having a hard time thinking of these on your own, a good study Bible as well as Keener’s commentary will help. 


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


Grace to you and peace (v. 4)         -           Rom 1:7; 1 Pet 1:2; 2 Pet 1:2; 2 Jn 1:3

Firstborn from the Dead (v. 5)         -           Col. 1:18

Coming on the Clouds (v. 7)            -           Matt 24:30; Mark 13:26 & 14:62

Do not be afraid (v. 17)                    -           Matt 17:7, etc.





Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


Pick a verse – any verse from the week’s chapters – and memorize it.  Be ready to recite it verbally in class.  Please write out the memory verse for that week and provide copies for the others.



EXAMPLE: Revelation 1





I am

the Alpha and Omega

says the Lord God

the One

who was

and is

and is to come –

the rule of all.


Commentary Evaluator


Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


You have the significant task of evaluating three commentaries as to their helpfulness in studying Revelation and the Bible as a whole.  This is a useful practice for future reference, as you will become informed regarding the strengths and weaknesses of different commentary sets, authors, and series.



  1. Select a question of this week’s text that you would like help answering
  2. Choose three commentaries from the library
  3. Look up the relevant passages to see how they address your question
  4. Write (1) the full bibliographic information for each commentary, (2) your opinion on how each of the commentaries addressed your question, (3) and then list the above information in ascending order of worst to best.



EXAMPLE: Revelation 1



Where is Patmos?  What was it like? (1:9)


Barclay, William. The Daily Bible Study. Louisville: Westminster John Knox 1979.


Barclay had helpful comments on Patmos’ location of the southwest coast of Asia Minor and its use as a prison island.  His commentary was clear yet his information was minimal, hence he is rated lowest this time.


Aune, David.  Revelation 1-5. Word Biblical Commentary.  Waco, TX: Word Books, 1997.


Aune had considerable information on the context of Patmos and catalogued references to it in ancient literature.  This commentary series is definitely the most thorough of the three.  However, it is also difficult to use because dispersion of the categories (bibliography, notes, form, comment, etc.).  You don’t always know where to look first for a quick answer.  So although the information was solid and thorough, it is not as user-friendly as our number one rated commentary this week.


Keener, Craig.  Revelation. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,  


Keener’s commentary was easy to use. He provided just the right amount of information, it was in the most obvious place, and there was a map provided. The map was especially helpful in making clear that Patmos was near to the seven churches of Asia and a prime spot to begin a circulating letter.  At least this week, Keener takes the cake.




Be sure to read the text and jot down your observations first.


Your job is to reflect on the text with one simple yet complex question in mind: what does this teach us about God?  Simply list a few of God’s attributes that show forth in the text.  Try to stick with character traits rather than specific actions or complex abstractions.


EXAMPLE: Revelation 1


v     God is a giver

v     God is a revealer

v     God is capable of blessing

v     God is glorious

v     God is ruler of all

v     God is eternal

v     God is caring for the church

v     God is beautiful

v     God is powerful – more powerful than death!


Appendix 3 – Get Out of Jail Free Card


This page serves as a coupon to receive a full 25 daily points for doing nothing!


Some weeks you just get behind or can’t get it done.  This card can be used when you are absent or present.  It can be used with or without a good excuse.  Its just simply free.  It can even be used to supplement mediocre or poor work for which you were not happy about the grade.


All you have to do is fill out the information below and give it to the professor within one week of the missed points. 


You are only permitted one per course, so use it sparingly!



Name: __________________________________



Date of Missed Points: ______________________



Reason (optional):




Appendix 4 – Notebook Checklist


Mid-Term Checkpoint:



___/20  Syllabus

            ___/20  Survey


Rev 1-3:

            ___/10 Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor


Rev 4-5:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor


Rev 6-7:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor


Rev 8-11:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor



            ___/10  Good handwriting and/or typed

            ___/10  Table of Contents

            ___/10  Tabs

            ___/10  Organized and in order

            ___/10  Cover page (inside or outside of the notebook)



Total:  ___/250 points


Final Checkpoint:



___/20  Syllabus

            ___/20  Survey


Rev 12-24:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor


Rev 15-18:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor


Rev 19-20:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor


Rev 21-22:

            ___/10  Text w/ markings

___/10  Personal Observation Notes

            ___/10  Handouts from other Students

            ___/10  Notes and Handouts from Professor



            ___/10  Good handwriting and/or typed

            ___/10  Table of Contents

            ___/10  Tabs

            ___/10  Organized and in order

            ___/10  Cover page (inside or outside of the notebook)



Total:  ___/250 points

Appendix 5 – Bibliography


David E. Aune, Revelation 1-5, 6–16, 17–22 [3 vols.]. Word Commentaries (Dallas: Word Books, 1997–99). An ex­haus­tive collection of literary and historical background material that occasionally sheds light on the text. Aune is reticent about offering theological interpretations or in adjudicating historical debates.

David Barr, Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of Revelation. Polebridge Press, 1998. Readable, imagin­a­tive, with accent on the literary and narrative aspects of Revelation.

G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999). Combines extensive historical background with theological interests and sens­i­tivity. Scholarly and detailed.

M. Eugene Boring, Revelation (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching; Louisville: John Knox, 1989). An excellent commentary for bringing the best of historical background to the service of theo­logi­cal reflection and pastoral ministry.

G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (Black’s New Testament Commentaries; 2d ed.; London: Adam & Charles Black, 1984). A well-loved classic English commentary on the Apocalypse that emphasizes its pastoral mes­sage (assumes a situation of persecution).

Paul S. Minear, I Saw a New Earth: An Introduction to the Visions of the Apocalypse (foreword by M. M. Bourke; Washing­ton and Cleveland: Corpus Books, 1968). A fresh and fascinating guide to Revelation for serious study.

Frederick J. Murphy, Fallen is Babylon: The Revelation to John (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1998). A scho­lar­ly commentary that pays attention to the political, economic, social, and literary context of Revelation.

Christopher Rowland, The Book of Revelation: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections, New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 12 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1998) 501-743. An excellent commentary by someone sensitive to the ethical and polit­i­cal implications of Revelation. Also available on CD.



History of Interpretation

Craig R. Koester, “On the Verge of the Millennium: A History of the Interpretation of Revelation,” Word & World 15/2 (1995) 128-36.

F. J. Murphy, “The Book of Revelation,” Current Research in Biblical Studies 2 (1994) 181-225.

R. L. Muse, The Book of Revelation: An Annotated Bibliography (Books of the Bible; gen ed H. O. Thompson; New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1996).

Jon Paulien, “Recent Developments in the Study of the Book of Revelation,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 26/2 (1988) 229-42.

A. W. Wainwright, Mysterious Apocalypse: Interpreting the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993).


Significant Interpretations and Background Studies

David L. Barr, “Towards an Ethical Reading of the Apocalypse: Reflections on John’s Use of Power, Violence, and Mis­o­gyny,” Society of Biblical Literature 1997 Seminar Papers (Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers Series 36; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997) 358-73.

Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1993).

------, The Theology of the Book of Revelation (New Testament Theology; Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univer­sity Press, 1993).

Brian K. Blount, “Reading Revelation Today: Witness as Active Resistance,” Interpretation 54/4 (October 2000) 398-412.

►Paul S. Boyer, “666 and All That: Prophetic Belief in America from the Puritans to the Present,” Chap. 16 in Apoc­a­lyp­ticism and Millennialism: Shaping a Believers Church Eschatology for the Twenty-First Cen­tury, ed. L. Johns (Kitch­ener, Ont.: Pandora Press, 2000), 236-56.

Adela Yarbro Collins, “Numerical Symbolism in Jewish and Early Christian Apocalyptic Literature,” Aufstieg und Nieder­gang der Römischen Welt, II (1984) 1221-87. Principat 21, 2: Hellenistische Judentum (ed. W. Haase).

John J. Collins, Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre (Semeia 14 [1979]). Ground-breaking study of apoca­lypse as a genre, along with a definition.

------, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to the Jewish Matrix of Christianity (New York: Crossroad, 1984).

------, ed. The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity (vol. 1 of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Apoca­lyp­ticism; New York: Continuum, 1998).

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, “The Followers of the Lamb: Visionary Rhetoric and Social-Political Situ­a­tion,” Dis­ci­ple­ship in the New Testament (ed. F. Segovia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985) 386-403; re­printed as “Visionary Rhet­oric and Social-Political Situation,” Chap. 7, The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment (Philadel­phia: Fortress Press, 1985) 181-203.

►------, Revelation: Vision of a Just World (Proclamation Commentaries; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).

Walter Klaassen, Armageddon and the Peaceable Kingdom: Prophecy and Mystery True to the Gospel (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1999). A hard-hitting critique of the eschatology espoused by premillennial dispensationalists.

J. Nelson Kraybill, “Apocalypse Now,” Christianity Today 43/12 (Oct. 25, 1999) 30-40.

►Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988). A devotional, nontechnical reading of the Apocalypse.

S. R. F. Price, The Imperial Roman Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). An in-depth re­view of the archaeological and literary evidence for the imperial cult.

G. Quispel, The Secret Book of Revelation: The Last Book of the Bible (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979). An excellent resource for interpreting Revelation visually. An approach to understanding Revelation through art.

B. Rossing, The Choice Between Two Cities: Whore, Bride, and Empire in the Apocalypse (Harvard Theological Studies, 48; Har­risburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1999).

Christopher Rowland, “The Apocalypse: Hope, Resistance and the Revelation of Reality,” Ex Auditu 6 (1990) 129-44.

Marla J. Selvidge, “The Book of Revelation,” Woman, Violence, and the Bible, ed. Marla J. Selvidge (Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1996) 110-28.

Leonard Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

►Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992).

Gordon Zerbe, “‘Pacifism’ and ‘Passive Resistance’ in Apocalyptic Writings: A Critical Evaluation,” The Pseude­pi­gra­pha and Early Biblical Interpretation (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series 14; eds. J. H. Charles­worth and C. A. Evans; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993) 65-95.


Popular Premillennial Dispensational Interpretations

(I do not recommend these books, but a teacher or preacher should know about them because of their impact on how Western Christians read Revelation.)

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind Series [novels] (Tyndale House, 1995– ).

Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970).