Revelation 17-22 by D.E. Aune

Revelation 17-22 (Word Commentary) by D.E. Aune (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998).

This is the third and final volume of David Aune’s magisterial commentary on the book of Revelation.  As with the other volumes, this one is meticulous, thorough, comprehensive, and exhaustive.  With over 100 pages of indexes (modern authors, principal topics, Biblical and other ancient sources) covering the whole three volume work, detailed discussions of textual criticism and the unusual syntax of Revelation, plus the occasional excursus (there are five in this volume) on such topics as “Ancient Utopias and the Paradise Myth”, this is certainly an excellent resource for scholars of the Greek text and background of the Apocalypse.  As is to be expected, Dr. Aune interacts fully with the latest source material (some quite recent) and the full range of scholarly books and articles covering Revelation and its background; he does not, unfortunately, interact with G. K. Beale’s equally monumental commentary (in the NIGTC series) which was published a little later than this volume.

There is an immense amount of detail in the commentary, especially on the historical background and on Greco-Roman parallels to the text.  Aune is very sparing in his theological comments, and I was surprised not to find an excursus on the millenial debate.  There is too much detail, and not enough “big picture” for the busy pastor-preacher to find this volume helpful in sermon preparation.  There are a few typographical errors (including a spelling mistake in the Editorial Preface, and some mis-pointed Hebrew on page 985) and Aune’s English vocabulary is occasionally obscure.  This is not the best commentary to buy with preaching in mind, but for historical and lingusitic detail, and an especially thorough study of the difficult textual problems in Revelation, it is excellent.

This review was first published in Churchman 115/1 (2001).

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