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The Revelation of John

A Narrative Commentary

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"The strength of Resseguie's work lies in its holistic approach. . . . An excellent introduction to the book of Revelation. It should prove a useful tool for both beginning and advanced readers of the most enigmatic text in the NT."--Paul B. Duff, Interpretation
As the only book of its kind in the New Testament, Revelation presents interpretive challenges to scholar, student, pastor, and lay reader alike. For readers without specialized training, the historical-critical approach used in many commentaries can provide more complication than illumination. Further, that approach tends to de-emphasize the narrative aspect of the book.

In this new commentary, James Resseguie applies the easily understandable tools introduced in his primer on narrative criticism to this challenging biblical book. As he works his way through the text, Resseguie examines closely how Revelation uses such features as rhetoric, setting, characterization, point of view, plot, symbolism, and style to construct its meaning. This literary approach draws out the theological and homiletical message of the book and shows that Revelation is an organic whole with unifying themes. First, Revelation calls us to listen well. Second, the book stresses an overwhelmingly theocentric perspective we would do well to embrace. The third theme is that of an exodus of God's people to a new promised land. Here is a valuable contribution to the study of Revelation in both the classroom and pastor's study.


"As its subtitle implies, James Resseguie's 'narrative commentary' on the book of Revelation helps the reader follow in the footsteps of John the narrator. Much like John's 'interpreting angel' within the book's visions, the author allows us to hear what John heard and see what John saw, so that the sights and sounds of the book mutually interpret and enrich one another. In his hands, this last book of the Christian Bible becomes neither a coded account of first-century Roman politics nor a timetable of future events, but a story in its own right, a story of judgment and redemption to be heard afresh in every generation, not least our own. Highly recommended."--J. Ramsey Michaels, professor of religious studies emeritus, Missouri State University

"With great skill, Resseguie presents a unified reading of John's Apocalypse as seen through the lens of narrative criticism in the grand tradition of Northrop Frye. The book provides not only careful discussion of major literary concerns but also a close reading of the text from beginning to end, a reading in constant dialogue with a wide range of scholars. This is a welcome addition to the growing body of work analyzing the Apocalypse as a narrative, and whether you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing on specific points, you will find a stimulating and well-argued commentary."--David L. Barr, Wright State University

"How does one interpret the book of Revelation? The work is so fantastic, so lively and noisy and colorful, that it needs more than explanation. It needs to be experienced--and James Resseguie's narrative commentary enables us to do exactly that. Resseguie invites us to enter the story world of Revelation and to explore it from within. While remaining fully attentive to historical and linguistic concerns, he also exposes the book's literary features: its rhetoric, plot, point of view, and abundant use of symbolic and stunning imagery. Anyone who wants to understand the book of Revelation will find this book helpful, but be forewarned: you may come to regard 'understanding' as a minimal goal. This is a commentary that moves beyond intellectual understanding to profound appreciation of a classic, literary work of art."--Mark Allan Powell, professor of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

"Revelation presents its vivid portrayal of God's triumph over evil through a dynamic plot, memorable characters, and images that capture the imagination. James Resseguie's narrative commentary invites contemporary readers to venture into Revelation's literary world and to sense the transformative power of its text. Written in a clear and accessible style, this study helps readers see Revelation as a whole, guiding them through its scenes of cosmic conflict and into the New Jerusalem."--Craig R. Koester, professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary

"James Resseguie's narrative commentary on Revelation will be hard to resist even amid the large selection of commentaries now available on this book. In addition to being nicely illustrated and very readable, this book brings the advantage of careful attention to John's story. Where many commentators read the text of Revelation as though they know the story in advance, allowing their knowledge of the historical realities contemporary to the author to control interpretation, Resseguie leaves the author's story in control. A case in point is his interpretation of the mysterious number 666, a fascinating test case for most interpretations. This commentary is a breed apart, and a welcome one at that."--Sigve Tonstad, Loma Linda University

The Author

  1. James L. Resseguie

    James L. Resseguie

    James L. Resseguie (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament Emeritus at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio. He is the author of several books, including Narrative Criticism of the New Testament: An...

    Continue reading about James L. Resseguie


"The last book of the NT canon is a complex piece of literature with epistolary, prophetic, and apocalyptic characteristics. Its sometimes confusing but always fascinating visions have evoked many diverse interpretations of this difficult book. James Resseguie . . . helps point the way forward for interpreters with this mid-length commentary that recognizes that the Book of Revelation is also a narrative. . . . In a biblical book where it is easy to get bogged down in complex debates over details, Resseguie offers a refreshing close reading of the overall narrative that orientates the reader to the overarching thrust of John's visions. . . . His opening primer on narrative criticism as it is applied to Revelation is especially useful . . . and will provide students and pastors with a good understanding of the benefits gained by this type of reading."--Stephen B. Smith, Themelios

"Where this commentary shines is in its treatment of descriptive detail. It is rich with observations of verbal parallels and oppositions, it mines the significance of numbers deeply and is particularly strong when it comes to the elucidation of character."--Alan Garrow, Expository Times

"Resseguie offers a spotlight on the visual drama of the Apocalypse with its intricate characters and setting that cannot be overlooked if we are truly to comprehend the meaning of its mysteries."--Paul T. Penley, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Resseguie offers a carefully honed and helpful prism through which one may see th[e] astonishing book [of Revelation]. With his tutelage more readers will be better prepared to see the subtleties and wonders of the Apocalypse."--Edith M. Humphrey, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"This is not a commentary in the traditional mould, but then it could be argued that there are plenty of those already. Rather, what Resseguie offers is in many ways both more useful and more accessible. His careful attention to a narrative reading of the text opens up layers of meaning that are otherwise too easily lost, and he artfully draws the reader into John's narrative world. The extensive exploration of narrative-critical analysis provides an excellent introduction to this way of reading Revelation, and is grounded in numerous examples drawn from the text. This book deserves a wide readership, and will be of particular interest to those wanting a thematic and structural engagement with the text."--Simon P. Woodman, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"A unique commentary on the book of Revelation aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, pastors, and lay persons. . . . Resseguie offers us an exegetically sound example of the value of narrative methodology in action. . . . Resseguie has succeeded in writing a very accessible, easily understood commentary which is simultaneously grounded in the text and conversant with recent scholarly literature. This commentary deserves, and hopefully will find, a wide readership in its target audience. If so, it will surely provide an antidote to much of the popular-level nonsense written about the book of Revelation."--Alexander Stewart, Biblical Theology Bulletin

"Uniquely helpful. . . . A satisfying read. . . . Resseguie's commentary guides its readers through the clusters of cascading images and the cacophony of intrusive sounds that permeate Revelation. The commentator's guidance illuminates their meaning and contribution to the unfolding narrative drama. In so doing, he brings the underlying story to life. . . . Far fewer mental gymnastics are necessary to understand the text using Resseguie's approach; Revelation's meaning becomes both clearer and more relevant to readers through the ages. . . . I found this commentary to be a pleasant and refreshing alternative analysis that demonstrates the value and integrity of Revelation and am happy it is now in my toolbox of biblical commentaries."--John David Bowman, Brethren Life & Thought

"I very much appreciated the narrative insights of this commentary and overall found it very helpful to my sermon preparation. . . . Used along with other resources, it will enhance your studies and stimulate your thinking as you preach through the glorious last book of the Bible."--Robert Van Kooten, Logos

"This work differs from other commentaries on the book of Revelation because it focuses on what James Resseguie identifies as the masterplot of the new exodus, which gives order to the whole work. . . . The strength of Resseguie's work lies in its holistic approach to Revelation. While most commentaries tend to atomize the text, Resseguie uses the masterplot to call readers' attention to the larger context. . . . This new narrative commentary provides an excellent introduction to the book of Revelation. It should prove a useful tool for both beginning and advanced readers of the most enigmatic text in the NT."--Paul B. Duff, Interpretation

"This commentary is well written and researched. . . . New Testament professors, many pastors, and seminarians will find this work helpful."--Thomas B. Slater, Review and Expositor