I wish to thank IVP-Academic for sending along this review copy –
With another volume published in the Ancient Christian Texts series, IVP-Academic is again showing their great contribution to the Church and the Academy by bring into the modern times long forgotten Church writings which are relevant to modern interpretation strategies. This time, they are bringing to light two ancient commentaries on the Book of Revelation, a book with interpretative strategies as controversial as Genesis. As with other volumes, the editors bring together two different (not to mean opposing) viewpoints of the book in question and show, perhaps even passively, that differing opinions on various theological and Scriptural matters have been held by ancient Christians without severing of the ties or accusations of heresy.
Edited by ]], the work is translated by ]] who had previously edited ]] in the ]], also by IVP-Academic. Weinrich, a Lutheran, is a professor of early church history and patristic studies at Concordia Theological Seminary (back cover). While I do not have the Greek text to accompany my reading, Weinrich’s translation style is easy enough to grasp and read, digesting what is being said.
Each book in the series has a General Introduction to the series, explaining the reasoning behind the series, the use (Formation), scholarship and functions of various aspects of the book. Further, this book as a Translator’s Introduction which provides key concepts in reading the works in this volume. Covering both Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesarea, Weinrich takes us into the differing styles, theological positions, and cultural situations of both authors and their works. These works should take the reader back to a time wherein Christians were moving past the major ecumenical councils and into an era of growing established theology. Still evident is Origen’s (and older) strains of universal reconciliation in Oecumenius and the new found, but not yet completely established language of Chalcedon. This is not mirrored in Andrew’s work which is post-Cyril and exhibiting no thoughts of a hopeful reconciliation between God and the world through Christ. As a matter of fact, the rather free-will orientated Andrew is adamant that each soul will receive according to what they have done. There are, however, still very Jewish ideas of the New Creation contained in both authors. And in both is the specter of Origen. Indeed, it is difficult to get by without Origen’s ghost in interpreting the Book of Revelation.
In my opinion, the great strength of these books resides not merely in the usefulness of the translation or the resurgence of ancient Christian commentators, but in the fact that they show that two opinions of differing theological bents may be held by Christians of the same Church without a rush to burning at the stake. The Book of Revelation, like Genesis in the proceeding volume, is a controversial book to interpret because so many have invested so much of themselves into their interpretation, whether particular or peculiar, and cannot see the possibility of either themselves being wrong or someone else being right. In reading these two works, the reader will come away perhaps a changed eschatology, but that is not the point; instead, the reader should come away with the ability to see that Christians can disagree, even over controversial things, and remain Christians. Further, let us not forget that our present interpretative issue over such books as Revelation aren’t new and most likely will not be settled for a very long time. Let the readers of these books enjoy them and relish them, and I hope, work to not let these works stay hidden for so long once again.