Item description for Revelation for Today by James M. Efird...
Overview Revelation is the Bible's most puzzling book. Though it has inspired some of the world's greatest literature and art, to many readers the book remains a total mystery--a hodge-podge of strange, mystical symbolism and obscure references. Now James M. Efird provides a clear, readable look at the meaning of Revelation. Probing the mysterious book to its very core, Efird offers the best of modern scholarship in an accessible way. Efird places Revelation in its historical context (approximately AD 90), and explains its message for us today. Revelation for Today features an appendix on ways to teach the book, designed for pastors and church school teachers.
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Studio: Abingdon Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.3" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.4" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 1989
Publisher Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN 0687361729 ISBN13 9780687361724
Availability 0 units.
More About James M. Efird
James M. Efird is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of "How to Interpret the Bible"; "The Old Testament Writings: History, Literature, and Interpretation" (WJK); and "The New Testament Writings: History, Literature, and Interpretation" (WJK).
Reviews - What do customers think about Revelation for Today?
Solid and refreshing...all sides should read Jul 7, 2005
A commentary that either gets 5 stars or 1 star is probably worth the read. If Dr. Efird did not do a good job poking holes in the Darbyist theology, folks wouldn't spend so much space expressing their anger. If all you want is a book showing you how to find codes in Revelation pointing out exactly when the Second Coming will take place, you will be disappointed by this book. It provides a serious and scholarly look at Revelation and apocalyptic lit of John's time, and it is fascinating. It will be a challenge to folks who are a big fan of the theology at the foundation of the Left Behind series. But it is fair, and Dr. Efird uses a faithful approach to scripture to counter some of the more common understandings that many have picked up from that series. Some folks get angry when their beliefs are challenged with scripture and well-reasoned exegesis. But if you want a better understanding of the book of Revelation, this is a great choice.
Try not to contradict yourself Jul 12, 2004
Usually, it is a good idea to not contradict yourself in your own book, particularly on a key point. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Efird does in this particular work. There are a couple of instances, but a few in particular stand out as especially gross. Much of Efird's purpose is to "disprove" a Darbyist (or any type of literalist) interpretation of Revelation. Instead, he prefers a wholly spiritual interpretation that removes all place for literal fulfillment. It is additionally his assertion that literal fulfillment of Revelation is "relatively new and, in most aspects of the interpretation of Revelation, wrong," and those who espouse a literal interpretation of Revelation are also "wrong to impose into the text meaning that are not there and were never intended." (p 127-8) He tries to prove his point by arguing that all apocalyptic literature was intended to be taken as purely symbolic by appealing the vast number of first century apocalyptic works that are out there. In his view, because the high volume of works in such a genre, there is no way that it could ever have been meant as literal. Of course, such an argument ignores the numerous non-canonical gospel accounts, which few would argue were meant to be taken literally and as history by their authors. In short, volume does not take away an intent at literalness. But this is not his sole argument. It is his belief that first century Christians would have known what the "real" interpretation of Revelation was, and in fact it is the same interpretation that he has for us. How convenient. Of course, this ignores his own evidence, namely that both Ireanus and Justin Martyr both advocated a "premillennial," literal interpretation. Both of these men lived within a hundred years of the scholarly time period for the composition of Revelation (90 CE), so it seems likely that they held at least a close idea as to what those who originally read the book would have thought. After all, both of these men would have to have been taught by members of the original audience, for both of them came from the area in Asia minor where the seven churches were located (believed by many to be the addressees of the book). The spiritualization of the book did not come until 500 CE, almost 400 years after John wrote his book. Additionally, we should contend as to what the purpose might have been. It is true that John probably wrote the book to strengthen those who were being persecuted. However, there may be another current flowing underneath that. The Rabbinical counsels were meeting at this time in an attempt at trying to formulate a way to bring the disparate groups of Judaism together. One of the points was to confirm which works should be regarded as authoritative, and where they belonged in the cannon. The book of Daniel (the one that most closely resembles Revelation) was designated on of the Kituvim (writings) because of the strange nature of the work AND because the prophecies had yet to achieve literal fulfillment (another example of people expecting literal fulfillment of an apocalyptic work), in addition to Daniel, unlike other prophets, putting time constraints on his prophecies. It is possible, based on its close resemblance to Daniel, that Revelation was written as a supplement and interpretation of Daniel so that the Christian community would have a reason to maintain it's place of prominence within the church (which is why Daniel is listed after Ezekiel and before the minor prophets in Christian Bibles). Additionally, this is probably a work of propaganda. The millienial reign is likely to give Christians something else to point to in an attempt to prove Jesus is the Messiah. The peaceful kingdom demanded by Isaiah 9 did not come about with the first coming of Jesus (and nobody was beating swords into plows, either), but if he's coming back (an early church teaching) then he must be going to institute the Isaiah 9 prophecies then. In that respect, it would seem to me that the author, John (who was probably Jewish based on name) expected parts of his book to be taken literally, parts symbolically. Add that to early rabbinical tradition that the world was believed to be in a seven thousand (literal) year cycle, wherein the last thousand years the Messiah would come and institute a (literal) reign of peace and prosperity. Of course, probably the most disturbing thing is that Efird genuinely expects that people under persecution would not want to take this book literally. Tell it to Christians in southern Sudan that there will be no millennial kingdom of Christ, that he isn't literally coming back, and tell me what kind of reaction you get. I guarantee you that it wouldn't be pretty. To expect them to not only agree with you, but to then confess that they are more strengthened by a spiritual fulfillment of the prophecies of the book than literal ones is not only delusional, it's downright silly.
The really sad part of all this is Efird wants so badly to discredit Darbyism that he discredits himself. By claiming that he has the original interpretation of the book, and that it's completely spiritual and then pointing to church fathers who were centuries closer to the original readers than he ever was, and who espoused a literalist interpretation, and then to say that he's absolutely right and they're wrong is at best arrogant and at the worst is tantamount to scholarly malpractice in my mind. To hear him preach at us about how we need to have the mindset of the intended audience and then hear him say that members of that audience are wrong makes me ashamed that I paid money for this book. At least I didn't waste too much time reading it.
Todays interpretations on yesterdays message. Mar 3, 2003
The author doesn't say anything new here. He merely puts todays interpretations on yesterdays message. As those living in past Bible times could not understand our times, likewise we cannot understand theirs. For us to try and imagine what it must have been like for early Christians is a poor guess at best. God left us His word to instruct us 'for today' just as He left His word for those Christains living in that day. The Bible speaks just as clearly today as it did yesterday but the message never changes.
Apocalypse mis-understood Aug 29, 2002
Mr. Efird's fundamental premise in this book is that we should learn to understand apocalyptic literature the way people of the time would have commonly understood it. Then, we can better understand the book of Revelations. But, he admits on page 30 that the early Church regarded Revelations as foretelling Christ's return, an interpretation that differs from his own. Also, two very important people that held this view were mentioned also, Justin Martyr and Irenaus. They both believed that the Revelation of St. John was a foretelling of Christ's return and that Christ would then establish a literal millennial kingdom on earth. Both of these men were students of Polycarp and Eseubius, who both studied at the feet of St. John himself. It is reasonable to assume, as only second generation students, that their views are consistent with those of the apostle himself. Mr. Efird fundamental premise for interpretation is therefore seriously flawed and one's time and money would be better spent getting a different book.
_Revelation for Today_-enlightening and readable May 17, 2000
This book like others by Dr. Efird is very readable and informative. It is neither too scholarly to be interesting, nor too trite and schlocky. I have never read a bad book by Dr. Efird.