Mathewson, David L. Revelation: A Handbook on the Greek Text. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016. 337 pp.
The book of Revelation is one of the most intriguing books of the Bible and the one that arises more curiosity among Christians. Many exegetical commentaries have been written on this book, varying from technical to application commentaries. The book we have in front of us today is not a commentary in itself but rather a handbook. Revelation: A Handbook on the Greek Text is a detailed study of the grammar and “problematic issues” (Mathewson, 2016, p. xxi) the book of revelation presents. This volume is part of the Baylor Handbook on the New Testament Greek (BHNTG), an initiative promoted by Baylor University Press.
The first thing readers will find inside this book is an introduction to the BHNTG series and the approach adopted in this series, which is deponency. Then the author introduces readers to the book of Revelation by addressing basic issues such as literary genre and style of Revelation, the language and Semitic influence, verbal aspects, and participles. Readers will not find discussions on authorship (though in his introduction Mathewson affirms John was the author of Revelation), audience, date of writing and other elements that are commonly found in commentaries. Mathewson stated, “I have tried as much as possible to avoid commentary on this or that verse or issue” (p. xxi). This book does not offer eschatological interpretations on the book of Revelation since that is not the purpose of the book.
The main body of the book offers the text translated into modern English as the result of the analysis and exegesis of the Greek text. The English translation is divided into sections, as if they were pericopes. After the English translation, the author proceeds to disseminate the Greek text by verses in a word-by-word approach. Mathewson does not spend too much time in presenting personal or secondary interpretations on the text. Instead he presents a grammatical and syntactical exposition of the Greek text. That requires readers to have a basic knowledge of Greek grammar.
Many scholars argue against the study of the Bible in a word-by-word basis. They claim that studying words by isolating them leads interpreters and students to decontextualize the passage. That is totally true. However, the word-by-word approach is justifiable in this work since the nature of this handbook on the Greek text is to help students and interpreters in their personal interpretation. It must be said that neither the editor not the author advocate in favor of this method as if it should be used as the general rule in studying the Bible.
In this handbook, Mathewson demonstrates his knowledge as a seminary professor at Denver Seminary and as an author of many volumes on the book of Revelation. He barely gives his voice so readers can feel they are reading and disseminating the Greek text by themselves. It can be said Mathewson accomplishes the goal as a writer of a handbook on the Greek text; to disseminate the text and inform the reader the place of each word within the text.
Conclusion: This volume is an invaluable resource for Bible students and interpreters as it offers insights on textual problems and their different interpretations. Students who are initiating their journey in the study of the Greek New Testament will find this book an excellent companion, as will do seasoned scholars. Pastors may benefit from this volume as well as expository sermons require a careful study of the biblical text and the interpretation of the passage. This book will help preachers to carefully present the text to their audience, as this handbook will help them understand the role words play within the verse, and the role verses play within the chapter. Highly recommended for the public mentioned above.I anticipate this book will be in the hands of scholars and students for many decades.
I received a copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.