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The Apocalypse of John

A Commentary

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In this major, paradigm-shifting commentary on Revelation, internationally respected author Francis Moloney brings his keen narrative and exegetical work to bear on one of the most difficult, mysterious, and misinterpreted texts in the biblical canon. Challenging the assumed consensus among New Testament scholars, Moloney reads Revelation not as an exhortation to faithfulness in a period of persecution but as a celebration of the ongoing effects of Jesus's death and resurrection. Foreword by Eugenio Corsini.


Foreword by Eugenio Corsini
1. Introduction
Introductory Questions
Literary Questions
The Challenge of a Literary Design
A Proposed Literary Design
2. Interpreting the Apocalypse 1:1-8
The Prologue (1:1-8)
God's Mediated Revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1-3)
The Coming of the Christ (1:4-8)
3. Interpreting the Apocalypse 1:9-3:22
Heavenly Encounters (1:9-20)
The Voice from Behind, like a Trumpet: The Revelation of God's Initial Saving Intervention (1:9-11)
Excursus 1: Witnesses to the Law and the Messianic Promises of the Prophets (1:9)
The Sight of One Speaking: The Revelation of God's Definitive Saving Intervention (1:12-20)
The Seven Churches (2:1-3:22)
Traditional Problems
Churches or the Church?
Literary Features
Ephesus: The Fall from Original Love (2:1-7)
Smyrna: Affliction and the Plagues in Egypt (2:8-11)
Pergamum: Israel in the Desert (2:12-17)
Thyatira: Sinful Rulers in Israel (2:18-29)
Sardis: The End of Israel and Judah, with a Small Remnant Remaining (3:1-6)
Philadelphia: Return of a Weak Israel and Rebuilding the Temple (3:7-13)
Laodicea: Israel's Rejection of the Messiah and the Coming of the Son of Man (3:14-22) 000
4. Interpreting the Apocalypse 4:1-8:1
Heavenly Encounters (4:1-5:14)
God and Creation (4:1-11)
The Lamb and Universal Salvation (5:1-14)
Opening the First Four Seals (6:1-8)
The First Seal: The White Horse and Its Rider--Humankind's Potential (6:1-2)
The Second Seal: The Bright Red Horse and Its Rider--Violence (6:3-4)
The Third Seal: The Black Horse and Its Rider--Toil (6:5-6)
The Fourth Seal: The Pallid Green Horse and Its Rider--Death (6:7-8a)
A Concluding Summary (6:8b)
Opening the Final Three Seals (6:9-8:1)
The Fifth Seal: The Saints of Israel, Waiting under the Altar (6:9-11)
The Sixth Seal: The Cosmic Effects of the Death of the Lamb (6:12-7:17)
The Seventh Seal: Silence in Heaven Greets the Victory of the Lamb (8:1)
5. Interpreting the Apocalypse 8:2-11:19
Heavenly Encounters (8:2-6)
Blowing the First Four Trumpets (8:7-13)
The First Trumpet: Burning a Third of the Sea (8:7)
The Second Trumpet: Poisoning a Third of the Sea (8:8-9)
The Third Trumpet: Poisoning a Third of the Springs (8:10-11)
The Fourth Trumpet: Destruction of a Third of the Earth's Light (8:12-13)
Blowing the Final Three Trumpets: The Woes (9:1-11:19)
The First Woe: The Fall of Humankind (9:1-12)
The Second Woe: God's Initial Intervention in Israel (9:13-11:14)
1. Warfare: The Severest Consequence of the Fall of Humankind (9:13-21)
2. The Little Scroll: God's Initial Intervention in Israel's Sacred History (10:1-11)
3. The Temple, the Law, and the Prophets: God's Presence in Israel (11:1-14)
The Third Woe: The Fulfillment of the Mystery of God (11:15-19)
6. Interpreting the Apocalypse 12:1-18
The Woman, the Son, and the Dragon (12:1-6)
Heavenly Warfare (12:7-12)
The Woman and the Dragon (12:13-18)
7. Interpreting the Apocalypse 13:1-18
The Beast from the Sea (13:1-10)
Excursus 2: "The Lamb That Was Slaughtered from the Foundation of the World"
The Beast from the Land (13:11-18)
8. Interpreting the Apocalypse 14:1-20
The Lamb and the First Fruits (14:1-5)
The Son of Man and God's Judgment (14:6-20)
The First Group of Three Angels (14:6-13)
The One like a Son of Man (14:14)
The Second Group of Three Angels (14:15-20)
9. Interpreting the Apocalypse 15:1-16:21
Heavenly Encounters (15:1-18)
The Literary Structure of 16:1-21
The First Four Bowls (16:1-9)
The Final Three Bowls (16:10-21)
The Fifth Bowl (16:10-11)
The Sixth Bowl (16:12-16)
The Seventh Bowl (16:17-21)
10. Interpreting the Apocalypse 17:1-19:10
The Whore Seated on the Beast (17:1-18)
Lament over the Destruction of Jerusalem (18:1-20)
The Description of Fallen Babylon (18:1-8)
Lamentations over Fallen Babylon (18:9-19)
Heaven, the Saints, the Sent Ones, and the Prophets Rejoice (18:20)
Fallen Babylon and the Twofold Rejoicing of the Multitudes (18:21-19:10)
Babylon Is Cast Down (18:21-24)
The Rejoicing of the Saints of Israel (19:1-3)
The Heavenly Court Rejoices (19:4-5)
The Marriage of the Lamb (19:6-8)
Closing Dialogue (19:9-10)
11. Interpreting the Apocalypse 19:11-21:8
Preparation for the Final Battle (19:11-16)
The First Aspect of the Final Battle (19:17-21)
The Thousand-Year Reign: Judgment and the First Resurrection (20:1-6)
The Second Aspect of the Final Battle (20:7-10)
The Voice from The Throne: Judgment and the Second Death (20:11-21:8)
12. Interpreting the Apocalypse 21:9-22:5
The New Jerusalem (21:9-21)
Dwelling in the New Jerusalem (21:22-27)
Life and Light (22:1-5)
13. Interpreting the Apocalypse 22:6-21
The Authoritative Interpretation of This Book: "Worship God!" (22:6-9)
The Authoritative Interpretation of This Book: "Come!" (22:10-17)
The Authoritative Interpretation of This Book: Warning, Promise, and Response (22:18-21)


"Francis Moloney, renowned as a specialist on the Fourth Gospel, here turns to the book of Revelation. Inspired by the work of Italian scholar Eugenio Corsini, Moloney offers a vigorous challenge to readings of Revelation as an 'apocalyptic' work focused on eschatological judgment. With astute sensitivity to the rhetoric of this 'genre-bending' text, Moloney argues that Revelation celebrates the eternal victory of the sacrificed Lamb over all powers of evil. His persuasive reading of Revelation as a work of 'realized' eschatology will stimulate debate but will also inspire a deeper appreciation for this complex, visionary book, particularly relevant in an 'apocalyptic' epoch."

Harold W. Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, Yale Divinity School

"Francis Moloney offers a much-needed perspective to the interpretive conversation about the Apocalypse (the book of Revelation). Reinvigorating a long-standing mission to bring Eugenio Corsini's voice into the global scholarly discussion, Moloney, in his customarily engaging and accessible manner, challenges readers to encounter this text as a genre-bending, apocalyptic reenvisioning of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Both late first-century and early twenty-first-century churches are asked to take stock of themselves: Where do they (we) belong--in the new Jerusalem of the sacrificed Lamb, or outside, selling out to the far more immediate gratification of the status quo? It is a choice made daily, and this commentary guides us through John of Patmos's challenging scriptural counsel."

Sherri Brown, associate professor of New Testament, Creighton University

"Widely acclaimed for his narrative-critical readings of the Gospels of Mark and John, Francis Moloney now applies his considerable exegetical skills to the Apocalypse. Inspired especially by the work of Eugenio Corsini, Moloney's careful analysis of the unfolding narrative produces an interpretation which gives full weight to Revelation's conviction that the Lamb has been slain 'from the foundation of the world,' with implications for Israel's past no less than the church's present and creation's future. Even those readers unpersuaded by Moloney's overall thesis will find in his commentary a rich treasure trove of narrative sensitivity, intertextual connections, and theological insight."

Ian Boxall, The Catholic University of America

"Francis Moloney has given us a remarkable commentary that is deeply sensitive to the literary artistry of Revelation. He reads the Apocalypse in the same way that John's intended reader (the implied reader) approaches it: with a word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph sequential reading of the narrative. Challenging the traditional view that Revelation was written to address the suffering of the Christian community under Roman persecution, Moloney provides a compelling case for a divergent reading--one that sees the saving effects of Jesus' death and resurrection as the key to this enigmatic book. His commentary is a breed apart, fascinating and abreast with contemporary scholarship on Revelation."

James L. Resseguie, distinguished professor of New Testament emeritus, Winebrenner Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Francis J. Moloney SDB
    © Peter Casamento

    Francis J. Moloney SDB

    Francis J. Moloney, SDB (DPhil, University of Oxford), is Senior Professorial Fellow at Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, in Melbourne, Australia. He is the former Provincial Superior of the Salesians of Don Bosco for Australia and the...

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