Book Review: Revelation for Everyone by Tom Wright

In spite of being the last book of the bible, this was the first book of the “For Everyone” series that I have read. The only reason for this was because I haven’t really looked hard at Revelation for some time and I thought it appropriate to get back into it.

Revelation is one of the hardest books of the bible to read if you are trying to make sure you get the right end of the stick. What Wright does (as in the rest of the series) is to provide his own modern translation broken up into small sections and then he provides a commentary on each section.

One of the great benefits of having this as a study book is that it effectively forces you to read the whole thing from start to finish, which is very difficult to do in a church or housegroup. Personally, I think this is a very good approach in general, but it is especially useful with Revelation, given how any sections taken out of context could be very easily misunderstood.

 The early part of the book with the letters to the seven churches is generally OK for most people, but once the book gets into the more esoteric aspects of the vision then it gets a lot harder to try and get a handle on it.

What Wright doesn’t attempt to do is to say to the reader: “Look at this particular metaphor; it means x,y,z.” While there is some context provided, particularly with regard to what John’s original readers would have understood by some of the references, Wright constantly tries to being attention to the big picture.

Since this is “for everyone” this could never be a complete exegesis of the book. As such, there are still a lot of things that I felt Wright skipped over, which may have been quite tricky to discuss, though this is openly acknowledged. For example, throughout Revelation there are references to those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, which was famously emphasised by John Calvin, but Wright steered well away from any discussion of predestination.

Some sections, such as chapter 9, had very little commentary on them, whereas towards the end, I got the impression that Wright was trying to make up the wordcount. So his commentary on chapters 19-22 were much longer and seemed less directly to the text than it was a summary of some of Wright’s other writings. It was, however, very well written and thought-provoking.

Though Revelation contains some very unsettling imagery, this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid it. This guide is one that I would recommend to anyone who’s struggled with it and wants to try and get the first glimpses of an understanding of John’s Revelation.

4 responses to “Book Review: Revelation for Everyone by Tom Wright

  1. That very same book is at the end of my bed waiting to be read. I agree, it is a good approach to reading the Bible. It’s like eating an elephant, a little bit at a time.

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