Sep 17, 2011

Walvoord's Revelation Commentary


Among Dispensational interpreters, John Walvoord’s commentary on Revelation has long been considered a go-to source for the study of the Apocalypse. Recently, Philip E. Rawley and Mark Hitchcock have updated and revised this standard work.

There are four changes that may make this work more appealing to a future generation of interpreters. First, the wording of commentary been streamlined through the removal of many of the long block quotes contained in the original version. While long quotes are not bothersome to me, many modern readers find them tedious and I must admit this volume is more accessible than the original. A second improvement involves updating the interaction of the commentary with work that has been done in Revelation since the commentary was first published in 1966. Obviously, much has been done in the last forty-five years. Third, this work has been improved by having a cleaner, more attractive type-setting and inclusion of some charts and diagrams. Finally, a fourth improvement involves the addition of a Scripture index that was lacking in the original version.

There is one aspect of this revision that I believe detracts from the value of this work. The revised edition lacks some of the scholarly heft of the original. Gone is the interaction with older resources. Now the oldest work consulted in this volume is from 1967. This lack of interaction can be seen in the relatively paltry bibliography of two pages listing only twenty-five sources. By way of comparison, the 1966 edition had a seven page bibliography containing over 130 entries. One might also add that there is much less interaction with works from other interpretive traditions.

In my opinion, one of the appealing features of the original edition was that it had a good balance between academic interaction and lay-friendly accessibility. The new volume shines at the latter, but has lost a bit of luster concerning the former. So if you are looking for a readable commentary written from a Dispensational perspective this revision might be exactly what you are looking for. But if you are looking for a commentary that interacts more deeply and broadly with interpretive tradition then you will probably have to go elsewhere.   

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