Aug 21, 2014

Review of Victory through the Lamb

Mark Wilson, Victory through the Lamb: A Guide to Revelation in Plain Language (Wooster, OH: Weaver, 2014).

To take a challenging book in the Bible and attempt to make it accessible is a commendable exercise. Dr. Mark Wilson tries to do just that with this new treatment on the book of Revelation. In a relatively brief 223 pages, the author seeks to elucidate the book’s oft-disputed meaning in “plain language.” His main premise is that “Christians have and always will suffer tribulation until Jesus returns at the second coming” (p. 10) and that two key themes of the book are “tribulation” and “victory” (p. 13). Victory through the Lamb also includes Wilson’s own translation of Revelation. One distinctive feature not found in most treatments of the book is the introductory presentations of martyrdom accounts.

On the positive side, Wilson’s presentation is easy to read. Christian readers will also be encouraged and challenged by the martyrdom sections that introduce each chapter. The author is also to be commended for stating his positions up front. Wilson identifies himself as a postribulational premillennialist. But the real value of this work is the historical insights sprinkled throughout. Here the author’s expertise in history, archaeology, and geography shine the brightest. See for example, his discussion of hollow statues of gods/goddesses used to deceive worshippers (p. 122).

By way of critique, several points are worth noting. First, the author seems to flatten certain biblical concepts in a way that negatively affects his interpretive decisions. One example relates to his treatment of “tribulation.” Wilson seems to conflate tribulation that is part and parcel of living in a fallen world and the concept of a unique Tribulation that is associated with the Second Advent (see p. 189). The Scriptures as a whole seems to distinguish between the two. Second, there are times when it seems that the “comments” are wholly inadequate. For example, it seems that the commentary at times merely restates the details of the text as if doing so is an explanation. See the author’s treatment of Revelation 17–18, 21. Another example is the treatment of 1,260 days (11:3; 12:6). According to Wilson, “The 1,260 days/42 months/3½ seem to designate that period between Christ’s ascension and his second coming when his disciples give their witness upon the earth” (p. 92). But no explanation or validation is provided for this conclusion Third, some interpretations seem inconsistent. For example, Wilson argues that the armies of heaven present with Christ at the Second Advent represent the first resurrection of the saints in 20:4, an event that seems to follow the Second Advent (pp. 188–94). In other words, the resurrected believers coming with Christ are the same believers who are resurrected after Christ has come???

As already noted, there are commendable features associated with this work. But it is hard to know which readers might benefit most from this book. The explanatory inadequacies noted above will lead more serious students to seek more detailed treatments and the lack of study questions and the like will limit the value of this work for study groups. Perhaps the most likely beneficiary of this volume will be those who are already generally familiar with Revelation but who are interested in additional historical, archaeological, and geographical insights. 

You can read an excerpt here.

Thanks to Weaver for providing the free review copy used in this review.

Aug 20, 2014

An Ideal Seminary Student?

David Allen identifies five characteristics of his ideal seminary student here.

Aug 18, 2014

Hurtado on Writing & Pronouncing the Divine Name in Second-Temple Jewish Tradition

Larry Hurtado has a fascinating explanation here related to how the Divine name YHWH was written and pronounced in Second-Temple Judaism and what the implications that this may have for Jesus being called Lord.

Aug 17, 2014

Presentation Tips

See "20 World-Class Presentation Experts Share Their Top Tips" here.

HT: George Hillman