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Revelation! What Did The First Audience Hear?
by Rev. Roger Phillip Drews
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Reviewed by: John L. Hoh, Jr.

The book of Revelation, also known as St. John's Apocalypse, has fascinated people for centuries. What do the images in that book mean? Are the numbers literal or symbolic? Can we predict any Revelation era we might be in, or can we derive a millenium construct from the book? Does the book look forward, backward, or both? Rick Larsen believes one scene is a look at the birth of Jesus (see The Star of Bethlehem DVD).

Rev. Drews, of the ministerium of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), sets out to comment on that book. His approach is to "hear" the book as the first audience (late first century, early second century) heard it. As such he does not really debate doctrinal issues. Instead he does a running commentary and comments on words and phrases used in the original Greek.

The book starts with the author's own translation. Here I must point out that every pastor qualified in the WELS (as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, known as the ELS) has a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew so as to be able to study the Bible in the original languages. Students at the seminary in Mequon can also take the Aramaic elective (a small part of the Old Testament is written in Aramaic).

The commentary then commences. Along the way Rev. Drews pulls out words that perhaps don't display their full force and meaning in the English. He explains the word, the implications of using a word, and how that word was used among the common people at the time St. John wrote down the visions he saw.

Along the way Rev. Drews also highlights common beliefs and understandings both among fringe groups of Christians as well as among society in general. In effect, John used the language of the people to relay the truths of salvation, the Christian faith, and the struggles Christians have. In the end, the book of Revelation is about God's victory over sin and evil and the eternal welfare of God's people.

This scholarly book should be a welcome addition to any Christian's library. It also details what Apocalyptic literature was.

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