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John Christopher Thomas: The Apocalypse


John Christopher Thomas, The Apocalypse: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2012), xvii + 716 pages, ISBN 9781935931270.

John Christopher Thomas (PhD, University of Sheffield; Clarence J. Abbot Professor of Biblical Studies at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, TN and Director of the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies at Bangor University, Wales, UK) has published what should be the standard for Pentecostal commentaries. Instead of offering a commentary on commentaries or commentators (as many do), he has made an original contribution to the field via his focus on the literary and theological elements of the Apocalypse. This commentary serves as a much larger account of Thomas’ interpretation when compared with his upcoming volume being co-authored with Frank Macchia in the Two Horizons Commentary series on The Revelation.

Enter the visual and audible world of the Apocalypse.

This volume should be standard fare in every Pentecostal pastor’s library and the first commentary turned to in any study of the Apocalypse. He does not offer any discussion of Dispensationalist interpretations, but instead drives to hear the text in its context. He follows particular impulses previously explored in Richard Bauckham’s helpful volume, The Theology of the Book of the Revelation (Cambridge University Press, 1993). His introduction to the commentary proper makes plain his objectives for a Spirit-empowered encounter with this Revelation where he even discusses a number of influences that the visionary elements of the Apocalypse have had upon U.S. popular culture.

John Christopher Thomas

While there are scatterings of some brief technical discussions of grammar, it remains significantly accessible for the pastor or learned lay-person. The Greek text is discussed at numerous points, being the foundation for Thomas’ work, but is always translated and discussed for the sake of those unfamiliar with reading Greek. A literary hearing (as opposed to simply reading) of the text of the Apocalypse is followed throughout the commentary along the lines proposed by Thomas’ coworker at the Centre for Pentecostal Theology, Lee Roy Martin’s work, The Unheard Voice of God: A Pentecostal Hearing of the Book of Judges (Deo, 2009). Thomas goes to great lengths to facilitate the reader of his commentary to be able to enter the visual and audible world of the Apocalypse. The text is thus intended to be experienced at multiple levels rather than simply as a “text”. He regularly emphasizes how the churches heard the text (just as John heard and saw what he recorded) and what they might have experienced as Spirit-empowered, prophetically gifted congregations. This pneumatic element is intended to offer not only the manner in which the Revelation was given, but also in which it is best interpreted for contemporary audiences.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2014

About the Author: Rick Wadholm Jr., Ph.D. (Bangor University, Wales, UK), is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Rick has pastored several rural congregations in North Dakota and Minnesota for 22 years and is ordained with the Assemblies of God (USA). He is a regular speaker for churches, camps and conferences. He enjoys reading and discussing theology and Biblical Studies, most particularly the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth. Rick is an active member of the Institute for Biblical Research, the International Bonhoeffer Society, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Society for Pentecostal Studies, and was the Executive Editor of The Pentecostal Educator published by the World Alliance for Pentecostal Theological Education (2013-2019). Rick is author and editor of numerous articles and books. He has helped found the Society for Pentecostal Studies Student Caucus. He also enjoys blogging on topics of translation, Biblical studies, pastoring and theology by contributing to four different blogs—his personal blogging adventures hosted at Facebook. Twitter.

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