What are we to make of the book of Revelation, with all its dramatic events and rich symbolism? Get an authoritative guide to this extraordinary work in 24 thought-provoking and enlightening lectures, divided into three parts: the historical and intellectual background of the Apocalypse; a close reading of John's text, focusing on the meaning of its images; and the wide-ranging impact of the book on Christian and Western history.
Throughout these lectures, Professor Koester focuses on what John actually wrote in the Apocalypse, what his situation tells us about his meaning, how that meaning can be applied to our own lives, and how contemporary biblical scholars relate Revelation to the modern world. He also introduces major figures in history who have been powerfully drawn to the Apocalypse, among them St. Augustine (who saw it as timeless and symbolic rather than literal), Martin Luther (who decoded it to reach a remarkable theological insight), and Sojourner Truth (who was inspired by the book to work tirelessly for women's rights and the abolition of slavery).
Describing the Apocalypse as a roller coaster that hurtles you down into the abyss amid scenes of monsters and plagues, only to send you flying upward toward views of pure light, Professor Koester stresses that if you are reading Revelation and want to despair, then you've stopped reading too soon. You need to turn the page and look to the next chapter, because there will be a wonderful message of hope waiting for you. And as you learn with this lecture series, you'll find that the Apocalypse you've heard about pales beside the real one.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
This lecture series takes on an important set of topics and handles them well. Professor Koester clearly knows his stuff, and his insights into the Book of Revelation and it's history of interpretation are a helpful corrective to the reigning popular approaches to this important biblical book. That said, Koester's lectures rarely fail to disappoint with the threadbare amount of material that is covered in each. There are several reasons for this. First, Koester's style of speaking is slow, and he pauses often. Second, his presentation of the material wastes a lot of time in belabored explanation of the obvious. He often fails to get to the meat of a particular subject because he has made a point of giving a well defended argument about everyday experience. For instance, he will spend five minutes trying to convince his listeners that troubled political times cause people to be afraid and need to hear a message of hope. Who would doubt that? Finally, he repeats himself a great deal. This pattern becomes the most frustrating in the two lectures that discuss musical interpretations of Revelation through the ages. In all, these two lectures contain about 5 minutes worth of actual material; and the listener is forced to wait through 60 minutes meandering narratives for a point that never comes. In short, this lecture series is not at a collegiate level. I imagine that Dr. Koester is more accustomed to teaching at a masters or doctoral level and has attempted to adjust his style to the college level and undershot the mark. Or perhaps the college level is not what I remember.If you're looking for a lecture series with a lot of meat, I would suggest that you buy a different lecture series from The Great Courses (they really are great) and just go read one of Koester's books on Revelation.
Absolutely. I am currently listening to The Great Courses' lecture series, "The Other Side of History," and it is fantastic.
He could have prepared the series for a more advanced audience.
I have listened to over twenty courses from, "The Great Courses." This has to be one of my favorites. I finally have a grasp of the book of Revelation, and found the professor's view of the book both interesting and enlightening.
The Book of Revelation is perhaps the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, and (by some) disregarded book of the Bible.
Dr. Koester takes you through a great review of the book, the history of its interpretation, and the impact it has had on our society and culture. Because it has been at the center of so much controversy and has driven so many people to think the end is near, it is important to look at the history of its interpretation. That's why Dr. Koester spends so much time talking about how it has been interpreted.
He does give a very good outline of the book and the events of the visions that are reported in the book, certainly enough to guide someone who is reading through Revelation itself.
His approach in the interpretation of the book is closest to what has been called the Idealist position. He sees the visions as reflections of the challenges and hopes of living in this world as a Christian. The visions were meant for both the people who were the first hearers of them and for Christians of all time. They do not tell, in some kind of code, of specific events that will happen some time in the future. Dr. Koester gives a great summary of all of the times people have attempted to do this in the past and how they have been wrong every time.
He does spend more time than necessary talking about the presence of Revelation in the songs of different musical genres, but overall I found his lectures very engaging.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
I now know the evolution of Christianity's view of the way the world ends (or, according to the book, changes.) While I don't believe it, I appreciate it as a story that many believe.
Started out slow and though it picked up a little bit when the professor began discussing the impact of the book on western civilization (and the various Antichrist predictions) I was never able to fully get into the professor’s style and the course just didn’t engage me.
I was hoping the professor would've spent more time discussing the narrative of the book in some type of chronological order. Instead, in each lecture he would seem to pick one event from one of the chapters and spend substantial time analyzing how it may be relevant to today and how there is hope behind even the worse sounding things instead of how it fit in with the other events in the chapter or the overall book.
On the surface that doesn't necessarily mean his approach was bad. What was off putting was how he would take that one event and find a way to tie it to a core Christian theological doctrine to the point where most lectures ended with it feeling like he had wrapped the entire conversation into a sermon and I was left wondering: was this just really about the book of Revelation? For example in the lecture in which he was discussing the woman in the wilderness and the dragon he took one line about how Satan was kicked out of heaven and used it to preach how God is always in control and evil's power is limited. It is a good point to make but he spent so much time on it that by the time the lecture was done I had forgotten about the story of the woman in the wilderness, what it really meant, and how that event fit in with the book of Revelation (what preceded it and what came after it?). The sermon feeling did recede when the course entered its third section: the book’s impact on western civilization.
There was no sense of how all of these singular events fit in if you are looking to study the book as a full story. In fact he doesn’t even cover the events of some chapters at all.
The professor also had a strange style I could only describe as passive-aggressive. He came off as very pleasant and like one who was a bedrock of solid old-school values. Yet there was a condescending tone in his analysis of some peoples’ interpretation of components of the book. I actually agreed with him on his assessments but the way he stated his disagreement was bizarre. Why not just come out and state it plainly rather than try to soften your statement? The tone of his voice betrayed him.
If you are a believer and are interested in how the book of Revelation is actually more about hope than an apocalyptic end of the world and want to know how it relates to today (or even what the author was trying to convey to readers of his time) then you could very well love this course. Especially if you're interested in how to pull Christian doctrine and theology from cryptic events in the book. However if, like me, you purchased this course expecting a review of the events in each chapter and how they all fit together (treatment of the book of Revelation as a literary work) I don't think you'll come away satisfied. Since I know a lot about Christian theology already, I was more interested in discussion about the contents of the book itself and the story they tell than sidebars and sermons.
Excellent overview of how people have dealt with Revelation down through ages. Many perspectives to consider. It provides opportunity for each individual to understand better ones own view of Revelation.
This course has brought me closer to understanding the book of Revelation. This course and others on theology as well as history have been excelkant.
Servant of the poor
Looking at Revelation from a literary perspective brought new understanding for me.
I wish the professor had more teachings available. I thoroughly appreciated his academic approach, presenting his understanding as well as other perspectives.
The book of Revelation is not about the future, rather a classic writing that speaks to people of any time and culture.
I couldn't help thinking that the U.S. today is very much like the imperialistic Roman Empire at the time Revelation was written. We are also a culture that embraces power and violence; which caused me to wonder if my country, the United States of America, isn't the "Whore of Babylon."
Cogent, well researched and communicated I an engaging way. The best overview of the subject I have ever encountered. Thanks
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