Apocalyptic Tremors: Study The Revelation Like Never Before, by C.R. Chapman
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
I’ll have to admit that when I read this book, one of the occasional times I have dealt with biblical commentaries , I wanted to really dislike this book. I figured that the author would have plenty of pet theories, which he did, and also that the author would totally make himself look ridiculous by failing to note obvious aspects of the book, but I left the book with a great deal of respect for the author’s seriousness and thoroughness, even though it does not rise to the peaks of my favorite Revelation commentary, which is a parallel commentary including all four views of Revelation: preterist, historicist, futurist, and spiritual. This book at least manages to get some very important aspects of the book of Revelation right, it shows the author has read voluminously on ancient commentators from the early Hellenistic Church, and it takes Revelation seriously and respectfully. The fact that the book is somewhat repetitive and lengthy is something that can be forgiven, since the book actually does offer something worthwhile, even if flawed, in the study of Revelation, and will at least point the reader to the fact that the book it discusses has always been mysterious and conducive to a great deal of speculation . Best of all, the author shows a sense of humility about the material he is dealing with.
The contents of this book are a mostly orderly march through the book of Revelation from beginning to end, where the author makes his perspective and interpretive scheme clear with repetition, the use of charts, some of which fill a lengthy appendix, and additional chapters at the end that discuss two of the author’s most cherished personal speculations, his belief that the entire church will go through the Tribulation, and not merely the Laodicean brethren, and his belief in a harvest rapture of believers that happens at the same time as the bodily resurrection of the dead, where the rapture is an unfortunate choice of words for what the bible considers the first resurrection or the better resurrection or the resurrection of the blessed. The only other quirk in terms of the book’s organization is that the author does not begin with the first three chapters of Revelation but starts with a look at Revelation 4 and then flashes back to the discussion of the seven churches, which is very short and rushed, which seems odd given how long the book is as a whole and how much fascinating material there is to write about these churches in the first century, as historical church eras, as well as different types of brethren. That said, the author shows a great attention both to ancient commentaries as well as the biblical context of Revelation within the Scriptures as a whole, both of which elevate this book from the usual grist mill for personal speculation and make it a worthwhile and thoughtful read.
Given the quality of this book and its material, it seems a bit odd that this book is self-published. Perhaps it is simply that the author did not have a large body of previously written material that led to the decision to self-publish, as the work the author did is truly worthy of being released by a publisher, and only requiring some light editing to deal with matters of repetition in his approach to the biblical material. Additionally, there are some areas where the author particularly shines, both in his connecting the material of Revelation not merely to the other books of biblical prophecy but also to the larger scheme of biblical history. To be sure, this book gets a lot wrong, that is nearly inevitable given the sort of license to speculate that this immensely complicated and mysterious book gives to its readers. What is more remarkable is that even given the author’s flawed dispensationalist perspective and worldview that he manages to get so much right, and that he does not pretend to know all of what the book discusses, but leaves matters humbly up to God, including the possibility that end time society may repent and turn to God and thus avert the worst possibilities of what the book means with regards to the judgment of wicked humanity by God. That sort of charitable spirit towards the readers and material allows the book to be appreciated even where it is critiqued and even where some fault is found with the author’s occasionally off-base pronouncements and sometimes dodgy interpretation, and despite its immense length.
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