Reading Revelation: A Thematic Approach

By W. Gordon Campbell

A biblical-theological appreciation of Revelation using the tools of narrative criticism, showing the complex themes fit into a meaningful whole.

ISBN: 9780227173831


In Reading Revelation: A Thematic Approach Gordon Campbell presents a fresh approach to the Book of Revelation by moving away from recent scholarship to consider the text as the best interpreter of itself. Exegetes have been preoccupied with setting this perplexing book in an imagined historical context, attempting to decipher the messages of the author. Campbell focuses attention on the text itself by offering a unique thematic reading, accompanied by a detailed and valuable thematic index. He identifies several key themes around which both the present book and the Book of Revelation are structured, which include pseudo-divinity, bogus worship, messiahship and, most importantly, covenant. These themes intermingle and correlate, fundamentally shaped by parody, parallel and antithesis. Campbell elevates Revelation as the ‘crowning achievement’ of the Scriptures, demonstrating the ways in which the Book encourages the reader to reject the pull of propaganda that devalues the Spoken Word of God.

First published in French in 2007, Campbell has translated his text for this new edition. Reading Revelation is demanding yet accessible, providing as much for the clergy as it does for the Revelation specialist; it offers an innovative approach and an important contribution to Revelation scholarship.

Additional information

Dimensions234 × 156 mm

Hardback  |  Paperback  |  Paperback (reprint)  |  ePub  |  Mobi (Kindle)

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About the Author

Revd Dr. W. Gordon Campbell is Professor of New Testament Studies (since 2007) in Union Theological College, Belfast, a constituent College of the Institute of Theology in Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB). With his family Gordon lived in France for 16 years, where he was involved in parish ministry with the Reformed Church of France and later in teaching New Testament Studies at Faculte Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence, where he also served as vice-dean and dean from 1998-2005.


Foreword to the English edition
Preface to the English edition
Foreword to the French edition
Preface to the French edition
Methodological introduction

Part One: God reveals himself
Introduction to Part One
1. Divinity and pseudo-divinity
2. True sovereignty and usurped claims
     Historical detour 1: Is daily life in Asia’s cities accessible?
     Historical detour 2: Is the sea monster decipherable?
     Historical detour 3: Is christological parody decodable?

3. Legitimate adoration and bogus worship
     Historical detour 4: Is political parody detectable?
     Historical detour 5: Is the bogus worship identifiable?

Conclusion to Part One

Part Two: Humanity finds itself
Introduction to Part Two
4. Genuine testimony and counter-proclamation
5. Faithful belonging and counter-allegiance
6. Bride-city and whore-city
     Historical detour 6: Is ‘Babylon’ translatable by Rome?
     Historical detour 7: Is the woman of Revelation 12 identifiable?

Conclusion to Part Two

Part Three: When God and Humanity meet
Introduction to Part Three
7. Broken covenant and new covenant
     Historical detour 8: Is an economic critique of Rome plausible?
Conclusion to Part Three


Index of passages in Revelation
Index of other Biblical references
Index of references to ancient literature
Thematic Index
Author Index


Endorsements and Reviews

[Reading Revelation] provides many fresh insights. What Campbell has offered, is a complete and coherent biblical theology of Revelation, undoubtedly fruitful to use for theological students, teachers and researchers, so that contemporary readers become competent readers.
Rob Van Houwelingen, in European Journal of Theology, April 2013

Gordon Campbell’s impressive study … is a masterful interpretation, detailed and rigorous.
Ian Boxall, in The Expository Times, Vol 125, No 2

Campbell’s approach is to seek an understanding of Revelation from within the text itself, rooted as it is in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures. … He discerns a number of themes running through Revelation which bind the book into a coherent literary work rather than a collection of disparate elements or detailed prophecy of the future.
David McKay, in Reformed Theological Journal, 2013 Issue

… offers fresh understandings of Revelation. Its copious endnotes, rich bibliography, indexes of Revelation passages, other biblical references, ancient Greco-Roman literature, and themes enable the reader to cross-check the meanings of a specific text or a vision or an event. Readers will find this carefully researched work enlightening and rewarding.
Daniel Jeyaraj, Liverpool Hope University, in Theological Book Review , Vol 25, No 1

Gordon Campbell has written a comprehensive and useful analysis of John’s Apocalypse … Campbell’s reading of Revelation is intrusive at many points and will prove useful to students of the Apocalypse who have long pined for a fresh perspective on this perplexing book.
Andrew R. Guffey, in Modern Believing, Vol 56, Issue 1