Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Mystery Revealed or concealed

The library received a self-published work in the mail today entitled The Mystery Revealed: A commentary on the book of Revelation in the Holy Bible by Larry Edwards. The book was self-published via XulonPress.

Larry Edwards was a medical doctor and does not attempt to mislead the reader that he is established as a theologian. In his preface he states his disagreement with much of what he has read on Revelation. This book is his offering of extensive study and thought on Revelation. Unfortunately this book fits and confirms the stereotype of self-published works. Words are misspelled, even on the back cover, wording is awkward, voices change in the middle of paragraphs, incorrect words are used, "than" instead of "then" (pg. 317) and while the formatting/binding of the book is professionally done the content does not match the container.

There is also the issue of a self-published commentary. Of all works, it seems to me that commentaries are some of the most important to be passed through the editorial process especially when dealing with prophesy or future things as Revelation seems to do. Not having the work passed through an extensive editing process results in writing and thinking that is logically and textually weak at best and misleading at its worst. The author attempts to support a reading of Revelation from an OT/NT understanding but Edwards gets in his own way by offering out-of-context citations and then suggesting direct present-day correlations.
While his readings are somewhat dubious they are easier to believe than Edwards' attempts to calculate or draw the reader's attention to present day items. Truthfully, I was immediately skeptical that any commentary on Revelation would proclaim with the title that all mysteries have been addressed but I wanted to give it a fair shot. I read through the preface and sections of each chapter. My favorite part of this book is when the author addresses the number 666. To give some context the author is working through Rev. 13:16-18 and is discussing the mark and the number.
"The number (666) is to be calculated. Since the custom of using letters of the alphabet to represent numbers was prevalent at the time of the writing of Revelation, the calculation may refer to the use of letters in an name to add up to 666 or the substitution of letters for the respective numbers. (My note: This is somewhat believable; in Potok's The Chosen there is one example of the number/letter correlation in the Hebrew langauge.) Many suggestions have been made. One has to decie whether the Greek of Hebrew alphabet should be used for such calculations. If the Lord was dictating (???) to John in Hebrew, that language would make more sense in Hebrew, the sixth letter is waw; the equivalent of 'w' in English. Thus www would be 666; this raises question of control of the international economy by using the world-wide-web." (P. 353-354)
My knowledge of Hebrew is null but even if www does equal 666, it is a enormous leap of logic to suggest that the internet would be used to control the economy. This is not to say that it cannot happen but I think it is dangerous and somewhat fruitless to attempt to assign direct meaning to items that are as ambigious as understanding 666 to be.

This work does nothing to help readers understand Revelation and does not contribute to the scholarship of the book. If anything, it adds to the large number of works that attempt to cram Revelation into a small, manageable package. While I appreciate the author's gesture this is not a book that I will add to the college library or my own library.

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