Review: Keener on Revelation

Keener, Craig.  Revelation. NIVAC.  Zondervan, 2000.

I didn’t expect much out of a commentary series that had the letters “NIV” in it, but this was well-done. Keener demonstrated mastery of the current literature and made interesting, if sometimes stretched, applications.keener

Rev. 4-5 Throne Room

24 elders: Keener says they represent all believers (172). That reading is possible, but it is more likely the divine council. Further, the picture we have of believers in heaven (ch. 6) has them pleading before the altar.
Revelation 6:9-17

Keener raises the problem of the martyrs’ prayer for justice, but doesn’t give a satisfactory answer (221-22). He notes that it appears to conflict with Jesus’s love your enemies. He doesn’t bring up the imprecatory psalms. They aren’t psalm of vengeance, but psalms against God to arise in covenantal judgment. When we pray like this, we aren’t violating Jesus’s commands, but are asking God to be faithful to the covenant.

Revelation 7:1-8

Keener seems to suggest that the events following the 6th seal aren’t chronological. In fact, he breaks with premillennialism at this point: “those who can withstand the day of God’s wrath are those whom God has empowered to withstand the previous plagues” (230). That’s certainly a true proposition but there are easier answers. Pre-wrath, for one.

Revelation 12

The Mother: faithful remnant of Israel (314). The theological source most available would have been the OT, which the readers would have known.

Reasons it can’t be Mary: We don’t have evidence of Mary’s being persecuted by the Dragon.

Revelation 20

Defense of Historic Premillennialism

1. The binding of Satan during the thousand years hardly matches Satan’s deceptive and murderous activity during the present era (12:12-13; 13:11-15).
2. The saints have already been martyred, suggesting that the Tribulation period precedes the Millennium.
3. The resurrection of the righteous is parallel to and contrasted with the rest of the dead returning to life after the thousand years (20:4-6), suggesting a bodily rather than symbolic resurrection.
4. Revelation 20 presupposes all that transpired in chapters 12-19.

Extra notes on Revelation 20.

The angel’s binding of Satan (20:2; 9:14) is a common motif throughout Jewish literature (1 Enoch 10:4-6

Gog and Magog. In Ezekiel Gog is the ruler of Magog, but here they merely symbolize all the evil nations

Other notes: it’s doubtful John had Matt. 12 in mind when he spoke of the binding of Satan. It’s unlikely his earlier readers would have had access to the Synoptics.

Criticisms

Keener utilizes a lot of material from Tony Campolo and Ron Sider. Rev. (so-called) Jeremiah Wright of Chicago (of Obama fame) also makes an appearance (194).

 

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Bible Commentary Survey

I will update this as I read more commentaries.  I will also make it a side page.

Rating: * – *****

Commentary Sets

Of course, I haven’t read every page of every set, so I am not giving singular judgments, but I think I can capture the overall tenor.

The Macarthur Bible Commentary.  I’m not a huge fan of Macarthur and you will find both strengths and weaknesses.  Each commentary is a glorified word-study. Still, the sections are well-divided.

Calvin’s Commentaries.  Harmonizes the Pentateuch, which is a huge weakness.  Still, Calvin paid attention to the original languages and his arguments, even where I think he is wrong, are always thoughtful.  I think his sermons are better.

Pentateuch as a Whole

Brueggeman and Kaiser.  Genesis to Exodus. New Interpreter’s Bible. Brueggeman has his insights from time to time, but his project is unstable.  Kaiser, of course, is outstanding. ***

Sailhamer, John.  Pentateuch as Narrative. Good in gaining an overall flow, hence the title.  Sailhamer doesn’t go into his views on creation in much detail. ***

Genesis

Bede.  Homilies on Genesis 1-3.  Ancient Christian Texts.  Great for historical value, but no exegesis.

Hamilton, Victor. New International Commentary on Genesis.  Eerdmans.  2 volumes. Good overall commentary.  Gently pushes back against Wellhausen.

North, Gary.  Genesis: The Dominion Covenant.  Zero exegesis but excellent suggestions on apologetics.

Exodus

Numbers

Wenham, Gordon.  Numbers.  Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.  Excellent rebuttal to JEDP. Sound elsewhere.  *****

1 and 2 Samuel

Leithart, Peter.  A Son to Me. Canon Press.  Very good treatment on background and biblical theology. Light on exegesis.

1 and 2 Kings

Leithart, Peter.  1 and 2 Kings. Brazos Theological Commentaries.  Similar to his work on Samuel. Good for pastoral application but needs to be supplemented.

Job

Vanderwaal, Cornelis.  Job – Song of Solomon.  More of a survey than a commentary but excellent nonetheless.

Jeremiah

Brueggeman, Walter.  A Commentary on Jeremiah: Homecoming and Exile.  While I have problems with Brueggemann, he does a fine job in handling the textual issues.

Zechariah

Klein. Zechariah. New American Commentary. Good treatment on background and good exegesis. Takes a gently premillennial approach to chapter 14.

NEW TESTAMENT

Mark

Horne, Mark. The Victory According to Mark. Canon Press.  Excellent treatment on typology and biblical theology.  Not as heavy on exegesis.

Acts

Bruce, F. F.  New International Commentary on Acts.  Eerdmans.  A true classic.  Somewhat dry reading but I can’t think of a better commentary at the moment.  Keener’s will eclipse it in time.

Romans

Moo, Douglas.  New International Commentary on Romans. Replaced Murray.  Deals with the earlier treatments of the New Perspective on Paul.  Somewhat unique take on Romans 7, but otherwise outstanding.

Murray, John.  New International Commentary on Romans. The 20th century classic.  While it has been surpassed by Moo, it still should be consulted.  

Wright, N. T. Romans.  New Interpreter’s Bible. Marvelously well-written.  Somewhat hamstrung by his so-called New Perspective.  

Galatians

George, Timothy. Galatians. NAC. Sound Reformational approach.  Worth looking into but nothing earthshaking.

Silva, Moises. Interpreting Galatians.  Not strictly a commentary, but an excellent guidebook on some of the exegetical difficulties.

Revelation

Barclay, William.  Revelation.  Well-written and Barclay’s unbelieving presuppositions don’t play too big a role.  Good on history but fairly weak beyond that.

Beale, Gregory.  Revelation.  I haven’t read it, but by all accounts the best commentary on Revelation.

Caird, G. B. Romans.  International Critical Commentary.  Caird was the archetypal British scholar.  Very strong in argument but fairly limited and dated at points.

Keck, Leander (ed). Hebrews-Revelation New Interpreter’s Bible.  I don’t know if Keck was the actual contributor to Revelation.  The book wasn’t any good. Had a bizarre fixation with William Blake.  Get Beale or Mounce instead.

Keener, Craig. Revelation. Life Application Commentary. Very good on background issues. Sound treatment of the text.  Takes a mild historic premil approach. Some odd suggestions on applications.