Item description for Woman, Mother and Bride: An Exegetical Investigation Into the "Ecclesial" Notions of the Apocalypse (Biblical Tools and Studies 3) by Felise Tavo...
Over the past fifty years, studies pertaining to the reality of the church in the Apocalypse have, for the most part, tended to be either selective or sketchy in their treatment of the relevant material of the book. Yet in all fairness to the seer of Patmos, his portrayal of the church as a reality decidedly complex and at once profound can only be attained in a thoroughgoing study of the principal ecclesial narratives of his work, so as to allow for that indispensable 'synoptic' overview of such intentionally correlated material. Woman, Mother and Bride is such a study. It re-examines the relevant imagery of the Apocalypse but from the perspective of the seer's ecclesial 'thought-world' and on the basis of his overriding pastoral concerns for the 'seven churches' without which his work will continue to puzzle and trouble at every page. The ensuing outlook on the church is panoramic in its scope yet compelling in its appeal which further goes to confirm the Apocalypse as one of the most significant theological achievements of early Christianity.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.5" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.2" Weight: 1.85 lbs.
Release Date Jan 12, 2008
ISBN 9042918144 ISBN13 9789042918146
Reviews - What do customers think about Woman, Mother and Bride: An Exegetical Investigation Into the "Ecclesial" Notions of the Apocalypse (Biblical Tools and Studies 3)?
A Panorama of Mother Church May 25, 2010
This book is a publication of a Ph.D dissertation under the guidance of Professor Adelbert Denaux, which was defended in June 2005 at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. The author of the book, Felise Tavo, was born in the Pacific Islands. According to the preface, written by Tavo in the Kingdom of Tonga, this Ph.D is the continuation of his licentiate (Master's) thesis, which tried to identify the long disputed figure of the 'Woman Clothed with the Sun' in Revelation 12. During his work on the licentiate thesis, Tavo came to the conclusion that a more comprehensive understanding of the ecclesiology of the entire Apocalypse is the only key to identifying the 'woman clothed with the sun'. However, Tavo deliberately avoids applying the term 'ecclesiology' to the last book of the New Testament, as it might mislead the reader by insinuating yet another systematic description of ecclesial concepts, what can hardly indeed be applied to the Apocalypse. Tavo uses the expression 'ecclesial notions' instead. In spite of the fact that the term 'notions' might at first seem fragmentary, the sum of those ideas, as presented in Tavo's book, gives a clear, wholesome and panoramic, perception of ecclesial reality, reflected in each excerpt from the Apocalypse studied by the author.
The book consists of seven chapters, with a preface and summary, followed by quite an impressive list of abbreviations and quoted literature (in the non-numbered list of literature, there are 129 titles of commentaries on the Apocalypse alone, the general number of quoted works amounts to about a thousand!), as well as an index of cited authors, and excerpts from the Holy Scriptures (all together 65 pages).
The first chapter (pp. 1-24) offers a review of works on ecclesial themes in the Apocalypse, published in the period from the second half of the 20th to the beginning of the 21st century. The author stresses the fact that no monograph dating from that period could be considered a complete study of the ecclesial material of the Apocalypse. The review of the publications is based not on chronological but on thematic principle. This principle is based on seven streams of ecclesial thought in the Apocalypse suggested by the author. The topics are as follows: 1. the cross-event as the 'underpin' of the Church; 2. the Church as the eschatological people of God; 3. the Church as a 'community of equality'? (the interrogation mark is placed by Tavo himself, as he would like to point to the controversial character of the statement about the non-hierarchical character of the Church in a number of Christian communities of Asia Minor, as suggested by a number of authors; 4. the Church as a corporate community; 5. the Church as a non-additive community (this community is thus not a sum of separate constituents, and each community can be considered the Church as the whole); 6. the Church as a repent-oriented community; 7. a trans-historical vision of reality in the Apocalypse (meaning that only the combination of historical and eschatological perspectives to historical events can result in the most complete picture of reality). As far as the last topic is concerned, Tavo stresses (cf. p. 24) that this perception of reality implies the presence of faith, thus questioning whether it would be possible to understand the meaning of the 'ecclesial notions' of the Apocalypse without any faith at all, and thus, whether it would be possible for the modern exegete without faith to understand 'what the Spirit is saying to the churches' (Rev 2.7). After having read Tavo's work, we conclude that the author, without any aspiration to being a prophet, carries out his research as a conscientious Christian scientist.
The second chapter (pp. 25-45) is dedicated to the structure of the Apocalypse. The chapter is a logical introduction to the exegetical analysis of concrete excerpts of the Apocalypse we come across in the chapters that follow. This approach seems quite fair, as in the case of such a complicated and dramatic oeuvre as the last book of the New Testament, only a clear understanding of the place of each individual excerpt in the general context can help give it an adequate interpretation. Taking into consideration the complicated plot of the Apocalypse, and thus the necessity of an analysis based upon a coherent and uncomplicated structure, Tavo suggests his own scheme of the Apocalypse. According to his scheme, the Apocalypse consists of seven main chapters and six chapters having the role of 'links'. The latter play a crucial role in the general plot of the Apocalypse. In general, the correlation of the chapters of the Apocalypse is presented as a chiastic-concentric correlation, excerpt 12.1 - 14.20 being the central element. It is evident that this chapter of Tavo's book ought to be accorded one of the most prominent places among publications on the structure of the Apocalypse.
Chapters 3-7 (pp. 47-344) offer a thorough exegetical analysis of five crucial fragments of the Apocalypse (fragments from the Apocalypse: 1.4-3.22; 7. 1-17; 11. 1-13; 12. 1-18; 21. 1-22.5). In each case, the exegesis is preceded by an explanation of the meaning of the general context of the excerpt in the book, as well as the comparative studies of the various interpretations which one comes across in a number of publications on the Apocalypse. At the end of each chapter, there is a short review of 'ecclesial notions' of the corresponding excerpt. At the end of Tavo's book, there is a general summary (pp. 345-365). It combines the conclusions made after each of the five preceding chapters. The 'ecclesial thought-world' of the Apocalypse is presented in this chapter in a most comprehensive manner. The author succeeds in revealing the inner connections between (seemingly independent) ideas and images in the Apocalypse. A number of tables (cf. pp.356-357), both conveniently arranged and easy to comprehend, are an invaluable help to the reader.
The conclusions made by Tavo could be briefly summarized as follows: The Church is united, but in reality this unity is complex and 'multilevel'. From a historical standpoint, the New Testamental 'God's people' are successors to the Israelites of the Old Testament. From the New Testament, God's people represent the two 'forms' of the Church: on Earth and in Heaven. In both cases, the continuity is possible thanks to the person of Jesus Christ. His death and his resurrection that took place in Israel bring Satan down to earth (Rev 12.9), 'making the clothes white in the Lamb's blood' (Rev 7.14), going through the 'great tribulation' (Rev 7.14) are all the constituents of the 'victory' (Rev 3.21, cfr. also 15.2 and 21.7). The 'victory' brings a Christian to the New Jerusalem where 'the first heaven and the first earth have passed away' (Rev 21, 1-2). The period of the 'great tribulation' is the period between the two appearances of Christ (first and second coming), symbolically defined as 'three and a half' years (Rev 11.2 - 3; 12.6, 14; 13.5). The two witnesses (Rev 11. 3 - 13) represent the Church in its prophetic mission to the world. The Woman Clothed with the Sun (Rev 12), is the representation of 'God's people' in the transitional dynamics from the Old Testamental Israel to the New Testamental Church. The Church is impregnable against the attacks of the Devil. The war against the Woman Clothed with the Sun is already lost by Satan, but danger is still immense for certain children of the Church - because up to the moment of Satan's descent to the Lake of Fire, the Devil keeps 'making war upon the rest of her seed' (Rev 12.17), who - even being protected by God, are still prone to tribulation as well as a worldwide persecution. All these ideas, as pointed out by Tavo, have a pastoral dimension in the Apocalypse, as they are always directed to concrete ecclesial communities with their real everyday needs and problems.
One could not deny that these ideas are not exactly new. Similarly, even if differently represented, these ideas can be found in quite a number of research works on Apocalypse. However, the advantage of Tavo's work is its precise scale and the strong and thorough methodology upon which it is based. Thanks to those factors, even the generally known and widely accepted concepts become extremely persuading. It would not be an exaggeration to say that certain chapters of the book are simply brilliant. Thus, chapter six is a true central part of the work, as it combines both exegetical precision and a thorough knowledge of the ecclesial and scientific traditions. In chapter five, Tavo suggests that "the court which is outside of the temple" that "has been given to the nations" (Rev 11.2) as well as the "God's temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it" represent the image of the Church vulnerable in this world. We find this suggestion, based upon a number of solid arguments, to be a very interesting one. In chapter four, our attention is attracted by a table, offering twenty four lists of Israeli tribes one comes across in the Old Testament. The analysis of the table shows that the majority of specific details referring to the enumeration of the tribes (Rev 7-8) is by no means unprecedented, so that no special attention should be paid to the order of the tribes in this excerpt.
Recognizing the merits of Tavo's book, we should however point out a number of critical considerations. We would like to draw your attention to just two of them: Firstly, the list of the excerpts from Revelation analysed by the author would seem incomplete. At the very least, chapters 4-5 (the adoration of him 'sitting on the throne'), as well as the excerpt 20. 1- 6 (thousand year reign of Christ) are also part and parcel of the ecclesial material, and should therefore be considered further material to be analysed in Tavo's book. In general, the choice of the excerpts might seem somehow fragmentary. The 'thematic' principle used by the author in the first chapter does not lead to this impression, and could therefore be considered a more advantageous one. Secondly, the fact that only one and a half pages (pp. 364-365) are dedicated to the crucial question about the place of the 'ecclesial notions' of the Apocalypse in the general context of the New Testament could be somehow disappointing. We think this problem could have been analysed more thoroughly.
Those critical considerations notwithstanding, they are not meant to diminish the merits of Tavo's work. When compared to previous studies on the ecclesiology of the Apocalypse, the immense superiority of Tavo's work becomes evident, from the point of view of both methodology and content. In this way, Tavo's book makes a most positive general impression. Its scientific merits are evident while its Christian character will bring it close to the heart of the Christian believer.