Books to Read on the Book of Revelation: An Annotated Bibliography

Editor’s Note: This annotated bibliography was created by Kendra Haloviak Valentine and is shared here with permission. Click on the titles for more information about each book.

Bauckham, Richard. The Theology of the Book of Revelation. Cambridge University Press, 1993. This small book is packed with insights as it considers Revelation from the perspective of key ideas, including the “victory of the Lamb,” and the “New Jerusalem.”

Boesak, Allan A. Comfort and Protest: The Apocalypse of John from a South African Perspective. Westminster Press, 1987. A minister in the Dutch Reformed Mission Church of South Africa, Boesak considers Revelation during the midst of his country’s struggle with apartheid.

Boring, M. Eugene. Revelation: Interpretation. John Knox Press, 1989. An excellent verse-by-verse commentary for both beginners and those who have loved the book of Revelation for some time. A new paperback edition is now available (2011).

Brunt, John C. How to Survive Armageddon. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2011. An Adventist pastor helps readers prepare for the end times without fear, and by suggesting practical ways to live God’s kingdom in our present experiences.

Collins, John J. The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. 2nd ed. Eerdmans, 1998. The most demanding of the works in this brief bibliography, Collins considers the apocalyptic genre and then explores several groupings of such works, most of which are not in the Christian Scriptures.

Dawn, Marva J. Joy in Our Weakness: A Gift of Hope from the Book of Revelation, rev. ed. Eerdmans, 2002. Dawn considers the book of Revelation from the perspective of the “gift of weakness.” As one who suffers from physical challenges, Dawn finds the book of Revelation moving for its positioning of the weak, including a slain Lamb.

Gorman, Michael J. Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness. Cascade Books, 2011. This introductory work explains various ways of reading the book of Revelation and supplies helpful background material. In addition, the last half of the book goes through Revelation, applying the principles discussed earlier.

Haloviak Valentine, Kendra. Worlds at War, Nations in Song: Dialogic Imagination and Moral Vision in the Hymns of the Book of Revelation. Wipf and Stock, 2015. This work considers the sixteen hymns in the book of Revelation using the literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin in its analysis. This is the published version of a dissertation completed in 2002.

Kraybill, J. Nelson. Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics, and Devotion in the Book of Revelation. Brazos Press, 2010. Kraybill considers the subversive nature and political ramifications of Christian faithfulness, given the realities of life in the Roman Empire.

Longenecker, Bruce W. The Lost Letters of Pergamum. Baker Academic, 2003. Using imaginative correspondence between Antipas of Pergamum (Revelation 2:13) and the gospel writer Luke, Longenecker explores the cultural context of Christians living in major cities of Asia Minor at the end of the first century.

Morris, Leon. Revelation. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Eerdmans, 1987. A favorite with my students, this phrase-by-phrase exploration of the book of Revelation constantly encourages readers to consider what the images and symbols might have meant to John’s first readers.

Paulien, Jon. Decoding Revelation’s Trumpets: Allusions and the Interpretation of Revelation 8.7-12. Andrews University Press, 1988. In this published version of his dissertation, Paulien considers ways of interpreting the challenging “trumpets” section of the book of Revelation. Paulien has also published many other books on Revelation that are more devotional in their approach.

Peterson, Eugene H. Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination. HarperCollins, 1988. Peterson, of The Message Bible, shares the results of months of joint study with his congregation as they together explore the book of Revelation as the experience of worship and prayer.

Reddish, Mitchell G., ed. Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader. Abingdon Press, 1990. This volume makes sections of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature accessible to beginners. A brief introduction begins each part of this anthology.

Rossing, Barbara R. The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation. Westview Press, 2005. This work not only analyzes rapture theology, it also notes how such theology is influencing American international policy.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment. 2nd ed. Fortress Press, 1998. This work is for those who wish to go a bit deeper and explore ethical and historical issues raised by the book of Revelation.

Stefanovic, Ranko. Revelation of Jesus Christ. Andrews University Press, 2002. Written by a Seventh-day Adventist who is currently teaching at the Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University, this work seeks to maintain a Christ-centered focus within the historicist approach.

Tonstad, Sigve K. Saving God’s Reputation: The Theological Function of Pistis Iesou in the Cosmic Narratives of Revelation. Library of New Testament Studies. T & T Clark, 2006. Using “cosmic conflict” as a framework for interpreting Revelation, Tonstad argues that “the faithfulness of Jesus” defeats evil while also saving God’s “embattled reputation.”

Kendra Haloviak Valentine is New Testament scholar and Dean of General Education at La Sierra University.

Photo by j zamora on Unsplash

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I would strongly recommend the reading Michael Gorman’s “Reading Revelation
Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Worship”.
Its premise calls for the worship of the Creator of the Universe as opposed to
worshiping Civil Empires or Religious Empires.
I believe it maintains its focus on the True Message of John to the churches of
his time, and to the Worshipers of God through the coming ages until the “I come
quickly” becomes a reality.

Thekey and assurance in Revelation is found in Chapters 4 and 5. The Lamb is the victor. With that victory one can read of principalities and powers of darkness without fear.


Amen, Tom.

That is why I took such vigorous issue with Sigve when he said, “John’s tears are not tears wept for himself — or about the future, or about assurance of salvation. They are tears of grief over God’s predicament,” as if John’s grief was not immediately assuaged by the words of the Elder about the Lamb being worthy.

The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.

There was no “predicament.”

I hoped, after the David Koresh disaster, that Adventists would be extremely careful about how they handled the Seven Seals.

While we’re reading all those books about the book of Revelation let’s remember to look at what the text actually says.

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

—Revelation 5

I have my reasons to be hypervigilant about the Seven Seals.

The Gospel can disappear down a black hole precisely there.

We need to watch and pray that we don’t go wrong about the Seven Seals…AGAIN!


Copyright 1994 by Phillip Arnold and James Tabor
(Reunion Institute, PO Box 981111, Houston TX 77098).

I don’t believe we know the meaning of the Seven Seals, but we know Who prevailed to open them, and it wasn’t my friend David Koresh. (Though he did, in my opinion, possess spiritual insight, he took a terrible turn with it.)

Confusion can be a fruitful state.

Weep not.


Interestingly, the book The Great Controversy by Ellen G White is not listed.

To this list, I’d add Desmond Ford’s Crisis series, vols. 1 and 2.


Of making books there is no end; Ellen White’s understanding of the Seven Seals:

I have a deep sense that what Ellen White said here, quoted in Tuesday’s Sabbath School lesson, is profound beyond all we presently imagine:

I think what Ellen White (or whoever wrote that) intimated there shows understanding beyond that which could possibly be exegeted by scholars, if all their combined knowledge were compiled in one weighty tome.

In reality, what she was pointing at is
inexpressible—just as the 1888 Message remains inexpressible, I believe.

Fear God and Keep His Commandments

And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.


Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations is an American religious historian who writes on the Gnostic Gospels. She is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University.

Her take on the book of Revelations.



The other revelations are universal, instead of being about the saved versus the damned.

Ah yes, universal in the relative sense.

Relatively universal. :slight_smile:

War in heaven

“The Book of Revelation is war literature,” Pagels explained.

The Bhagavad Gita comes to mind, in that regard.

War and Peace in the Bhagavad Gita

How did Indian tradition transform the Bhagavad Gita (the “Song of God”) into a bible for pacifism, when it began life, sometime between the third century BC and the third century CE, as an epic argument persuading a warrior to engage in a battle, indeed, a particularly brutal, lawless, internecine war?

It has taken a true gift for magic—or, if you prefer, religion, particularly the sort of religion in the thrall of politics that has inspired Hindu nationalism from the time of the British Raj to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.

The Gita (as it is generally known to its friends) occupies eighteen chapters of book 6 of the Mahabharata , an immense (over 100,000 couplets) Sanskrit epic.

The text is in the form of a conversation between the warrior Arjuna, who, on the eve of an apocalyptic battle, hesitates to kill his friends and family on the other side, and the incarnate god Krishna, who acts as Arjuna’s charioteer (a low-status job roughly equivalent to a bodyguard) and persuades him to do it.

Maybe there is something else afoot…?

Just my opinion.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.



Pagels on the Gita:

Reading the Bhagavad Gita , one might sometimes mistake it for a Gospel:

I am the Way, and the Master who watches in silence; thy friend and thy shelter and thy abode of peace. I am the beginning and the middle and the end of all things: their seed of Eternity, their Treasure supreme.
[9:18, Juan Mascaró translation, Penguin, 1962]

Revelation 22:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the last, the beginning and the end.

I am wondering how Kendra decided on her list of Revelation commentaries.

Craig Koester’s Revelation and the End of All Things, is a good introductory read. He’s also authored the Anchor Bible Commentary volume on Revelation. Would like to pick that up, as well.



Super interesting…thanks for posting. What do you think about her POV?

This topic was automatically closed after 30 days. New replies are no longer allowed.