Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics, and Devotion in the Book of Revelation

2010, 224 pp
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In this lively and accessible introduction, respected New Testament scholar J. Nelson Kraybill shows how the book of Revelation was understood by its original readers and how John's apocalypse is relevant to the spiritual life of believers today. Kraybill places Revelation in its first-century historical context, opening a window into the political, economic, and social realities of the early church. When placed in this context, Revelation comes into focus as a summons to follow Jesus: just as Christians in the first century had to decide whether their loyalty was with Babylon/Rome or the New Jerusalem, followers of Jesus today must make costly choices of allegiance and behavior when kingdoms come into conflict.

Apocalypse and Allegiance offers a fresh interpretation of Revelation that highlights its liturgical structure. The book includes questions and illustrations that turn readers' attentions to twenty-first-century issues of empire, worship, and allegiance. It is illustrated throughout with images of ancient sites, artwork from the catacombs, and Roman coins and with stories of modern Christians who live out John's radical vision of a New Jerusalem. The book also includes maps, timelines, a glossary, and discussion questions that invite further personal or group reflection.

Also available in Spanish.
"Nelson Kraybill has written a fresh, vigorous, imaginative, demanding exposition of the book of Revelation. He has seen how deeply political the book is and has done superb homework on the Roman governance with which Revelation struggles. But his shrewd historical analysis keeps spilling over into our contemporary life--the life of a military chaplain in Texas, a health-care practice in Indiana, prison visitors in Nebraska, peacemakers in Palestine, a poet in Japan, the police confounded in South Africa. This way of contemporaneity helps us engage this 'most dangerous book in the Bible.' Readers will be grateful to Kraybill for his agility that continues to surprise and summon as we read."--Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Few today would doubt the political perspective of the book of Revelation, but which perspective: that of fatalism or that of active witness and resistance? Writing from the distinctive perspective of the Anabaptist tradition, Nelson Kraybill creatively juxtaposes ancient and contemporary history to illuminate the way this remarkable vision both troubles the complacent and inspires resistance to conformity in the quest for a better world."--Christopher Rowland, Dean Ireland Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford

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