The Trinity in the Book of Revelation
How should we read the book of Revelation?
Interpreting Scripture faithfully is a challenge with regard to any text and for any reader of the Bible. But perhaps no text confronts and confuses readers as much as the book of Revelation. With its vivid imagery and rich prophetic language, John's Apocalypse provokes and stirs our imaginations. Some have viewed it primarily as a first-century anti-imperial document. Others have read it as a book of prophecies or eschatological promises. Still others wonder why it is in the biblical canon at all.
Theologian and biblical scholar Brandon Smith brings clarity to this question by reading the book of Revelation primarily as John's vision of the triune God. In conversation with early church theologians, including Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, and the Cappadocians, as well as modern biblical scholarship, Smith shows how John's vision can help us worship the one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture, edited by Daniel J. Treier and Kevin J. Vanhoozer, promotes evangelical contributions to systematic theology, seeking fresh understanding of Christian doctrine through creatively faithful engagement with Scripture in dialogue with church tradition.
"Brandon Smith has written a bold, brilliant, and beautiful theological interpretation of John's Apocalypse. Smith reads with a mixture of attention to the text and the various pressures that the text exerts upon the reader to think of God in triune terms. Smith's reading of the Apocalypse is historically sensitive and theologically attuned to John's story of God Almighty, the Lamb, and the Spirit who speaks to the churches. This book sets a new bar in the theological interpretation of Scripture."
"An exciting new chapter of the history of biblical exegesis is unfolding in real time. Exegetes like Brandon Smith are leading us, with theological sophistication and evangelical zeal, beyond the tired (not to mention unchurchly) polarities of 'high' vs. 'low' Christology and 'scientific' vs. 'confessional' hermeneutics into a robustly and unapologetically Trinitarian reading of the Christian Bible. A landmark study."
"Remarkably, no significant work on the Trinity in the Apocalypse has been written, and Brandon Smith has remedied that deficiency in this astute book. Smith's study represents theological interpretation of Scripture at its best as he investigates the trinitarian contours in the Apocalypse. Still, we don't have an example of an author imposing his construct onto the biblical text; instead, Smith demonstrates persuasively that the Trinity informs and pervades the Apocalypse. Biblical exegesis and theological retrieval in this instance are illuminating dialogical partners, and we can be grateful to Smith both for providing a model for theological and exegetical work and for deepening our understanding of the Apocalypse."
"Brandon Smith's excellent book takes one of our most mystifying doctrines—the Trinity—and one of our most mystifying early Christian texts—Revelation—and illumines them both through his distillation of research on pro-Nicene theology. In this, he demonstrates how the tools and readings of early Christian authors can help us to approach Scripture better."
"Amid the twenty-first century 'trinitarian retrieval' currently underway, Brandon Smith's book stands out as the kind of project desperately needed—firmly grounded in exegetical rigor, clearly shaped by the narratival structure of the biblical canon, keenly aware of the unique literary features of John's Apocalypse, and uniquely capable of drawing out the theological implications of those textual realities. This is a model for constructive theological reflection on Holy Scripture."
"The old insult obscurum per obscurius means trying to explain one obscure thing by way of something even more obscure. Surely a study of the Trinity in the book of Revelation runs this risk, we might fear. But instead, Brandon Smith surprises us with clarity and calmness, a firm grasp of the main lines of biblical truth, and a compelling vision of the big picture of Christian doctrine. Highly recommended as an exercise in reading Scripture with classic doctrinal categories for the purpose of knowing God."
"Brandon Smith's important work furthers the recent movement to reassert the intellectual integrity of viewing the New Testament as foundational to the church's orthodox doctrinal tradition. With sophistication and care, he engages the interplay between the text of Revelation and its early interpreters as an entry into the text's divinely revealed meaning. Trinity and trinitarian, rather than being conceptual impositions on the text, are convincingly shown to be a dynamic framework for truthfully confessing God's self-offering to the church in his Scriptures. In the process the book of Revelation's historically fraught role in Christian self-understanding is wonderfully focused, enlivened, and empowered. Deploying wide scholarship and lucid writing, Smith provides readers with a rich exegetical and theological feast, on a table set by one of the Bible's most fruitful books."
Foreword by Lewis Ayres
Series Introduction: Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture
Author's Note on Sources
Introduction: Doing Theology with the Trinity
1. Toward a Trinitarian Reading of Revelation
2. Father: The One Seated on the Throne
3. Son: The Slain Lamb and Risen King
4. Holy Spirit: The Revealer to John and Speaker to the Churches
5. A Constructive Account of the Trinity in Revelation