Osborne on Revelation: Introduction


Grant R. Osborne. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002

Lord willing, I am going to blog through Grant Osborne’s magnum opus on Revelation.

Date of Revelation: 3:17 alludes to an earthquake in Laodicea, which happened around 80 AD.  That’s all that Osborne writes.  I wish he had spent more time onit.

Interpretation of Symbols

There is a false dichotomy between literal and symbolic (Osborne 15). A symbolic book can still communicate literal events.  For example, 12 is a symbolic number. That doesn’t mean, however, that there weren’t 12 tribes or 12 apostles.

Methods of Interpretation

While Osborne himself is a premillennialist, he points out that earlier premillennialists (Walvord, Ironside, Gaebelin) who read church history into the seven letters were wrong.  Recent dispensationalists such as Blaising and Saucy simply read them as historical letters.

Historicist: This could be anything from reading church history into the seven letters, or with the Reformers in seeing the Pope as the Antichrist.  Osborne critiques: “Because of its inherent weaknesses (its identification only with Western church history, the inherent speculation involved in parallels with world history, the fact that it must be reworked with each new epoch in world history, the total absence of any relevance for John or his original readers….) few scholars today take this approach” (19).

Preterist: the main problem with the Gentry/Chilton school is that it limits the universal language of the book to the Jewish people.  How do events in Jerusalem signify the end of the world for fringe believers in Asia Minor?

Idealist: the main problem is that the text itself suggests future fulfillments to the prophecies, which makes a “timeless truth” approach difficult.

Osborne wants a combination of futurist, idealist, and limited preterist views (21).

Nota Bene: Bauckham suggests that the book as a whole reflects the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: hallowing the name, the kingdom coming, and will done (Bauckham 1993b: 40).

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