Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A review of my book in The Expository Times

I've just discovered a great review of my book in the Expository Times.

Here it is:

Students of the New Testament will find an excellent and stimulating guide to the Apocalypse in Woodman’s SCM Core Text: The Book of Revelation. Woodman’s enthusiasm for Revelation shines through on every page. He skilfully engages aspects of recent culture: the capacity to re-imagine the world we inhabit, as in The Matrix, or the demand of impressionist art for us to stand back and not allow the larger picture to be obscured by the details. Failure to employ either strategy accounts for widespread misreadings of Revelation.

Woodman introduces us to differing reading strategies in a non-technical way, highlighting the merits and weaknesses of each. His sympathy for Brueggemann’s notion of ‘imaginative submission’ to the text is particularly suggestive. This does not mean that he fails to engage with the difficulties a text such as this raises.

A substantial section of his book introduces the various ‘characters’ of the Apocalypse ‘drama’, and their varying relationships to heaven and earth, the Lamb and Satan. Especially illuminating is his discussion of the bride of the Lamb. He reminds us of the promise inherent in the language of marriage: weddings normally herald beginnings rather than endings. One wonders how often interpreters of Revelation take this to heart!

Woodman is perhaps at his most interesting in his final chapters – Engaging the Imagery. Here he explores the difference that reading Revelation in a context of worship makes. He also builds on the work of scholars who have seen the potential of the Apocalypse for political and economic critique. Nor are environmental concerns lacking: though often read as a script for cosmic destruction, the Apocalypse might articulate an alternative theological view. God may be envisioned, not as a God of destruction, but of restoration and re-creation.

St Stephen’s House, Oxford

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