Brian Fulthorp posted a video of Richard Bauckham and Ben Witherington discussing the Book of Revelation. You can access it here: “Bauckham on the Book of Revelation”.
Also, if you missed it, I shared a video of Ian Paul introducing the Book of Revelation: “Ian Paul introduces the Apocalypse”.
We need thoughtful exposition of the Book of Revelation, especially to counteract all the terrible eschatology available today.
Part 1 of my review can be read HERE.
Concerning the Author’s Approach
One of the things I really appreciate about Witherington’s approach and honesty concerning his presuppositions are helpful in evaluating the data presented and provide a framework within which his conclusions might be evaluated. Witherington acknowledges his assumption that “The Bible is both the words of human beings and, in and through those words, the living word of God.” He goes on to state his opinion that it is impossible for a person to deal with New Testament Theology and ethics without “a concept of divine revelation” (2003, p.29). Therefore one should not be surprised by his argument that, “what is historically false cannot be theologically true” (2009, p.32). It would appear that Witherington believes the New Testament to be both theological and ethical in nature while also completely historically accurate.
Witherington seeks to not only establish the historicity of the New Testament but also how the historical context informs ones understanding of the theology and ethics of the New Testament. In the opening two chapters of this volume, a large amount of time is spent dealing with various issues relating to historical Jesus studies and other matters relating to the historical criticism of the New Testament. Many of the issues which Witherington has addressed have been foundational in forming the current approach to New Testament studies (2009).
Despite his concerns that certain elements of New Testament historical study have led to a diminishing of the relationship between New Testament theology and ethics, Witherington believes a person’s understanding of the New Testament must be grounded in its historical context. Otherwise, one’s conclusions will amount to nothing more than subjective hypothesis rather than objective understanding. As he notes:
“New testament theology or ethics is also not properly done if we simply assume that our modern worldview and presuppositions are obviously better and more correct than those of the authors of the New Testament itself.” (2009, p.45)
In Witherington’s mind, the historical context provides an understanding of the context into which the theologising and ethicising of the New Testament took place. Perhaps too much ethicising and theologising is not grounded in an understanding of the New Testament witness and for far too long those responsible for the task of New Testament Studies have either demythologised the message of the New Testament to the point of irrelevance or constructed a New Testament ethic based on their own presuppositions.
 I will discuss the issues surrounding the historical critical in my critique of the book in upcoming posts.
I was going to entitle this post “Summer reading list” because it is the summer here in Australia and then I realised most of you who will be reading this will probably be trudging to work through 5 inches of snow! Over the January period things are traditionally quiet for me and I usually have 2 or 3 weeks of annual leave and plenty of time to read at leisure (as much as one can with kids).
As is my tradition I never read one book at a time, I have 3, 4 maybe 5 books on the go over the New year period. This year will be no different. So what is on the list? I am glad you asked…
Firstly, I really want to get stuck into Dale C Allison’s, ‘Constructing Jesus’. I won this copy via James McGrath and I am seriously considering a contrast and compare of this volume with Richard Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses‘ for my dissertation.
Secondly, I promised BW3 I would read and review the third of his Art West mystery novels, ‘Papias and the Mysterious Menorah‘ so I hope to get it done over the coming days….week….Seriously though, I am really enjoying this novel!
Thirdly, my wife bought me two great ‘lighter books’ for me for Christmas – David G Benner’s ‘Opening to God: Lectio Divina and life as prayer‘ along with Eugene Peterson’s ‘A Long Obedience in the same direction‘. These will make for good read and snooze sessions on lazy afternoons!
There you have it, my summer/winter reading list. All for enjoyment. Having kids limits my time to read leisurely so I savoir every moment I get (with the kids as well). So, what’s on your list this coming year?