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The Apocalypse: Controversies and Meaning in Western History | [The Great Courses]

The Apocalypse: Controversies and Meaning in Western History

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Turner 08-26-13
    Turner 08-26-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Loved it!"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff United States 12-16-13
    Jeff United States 12-16-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good material, not enough of it"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Absolutely. I am currently listening to The Great Courses' lecture series, "The Other Side of History," and it is fantastic.


    How could the performance have been better?

    He could have prepared the series for a more advanced audience.


    What character would you cut from The Apocalypse: Controversies and Meaning in Western History?

    N.A.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim 11-11-14
    Jim 11-11-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great Overview of a Controversial Biblical Book"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 12-19-13
    Saud 12-19-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

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    "Educational"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fr. Ed Jansen 06-16-15 Member Since 2014

    Servant of the poor

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    "Outstanding Scholarship"
    What did you love best about The Apocalypse: Controversies and Meaning in Western History?

    Looking at Revelation from a literary perspective brought new understanding for me.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Craig R. Koester’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I wish the professor had more teachings available. I thoroughly appreciated his academic approach, presenting his understanding as well as other perspectives.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The book of Revelation is not about the future, rather a classic writing that speaks to people of any time and culture.


    Any additional comments?

    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."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Dublin, Ireland 04-05-15
    Anthony Dublin, Ireland 04-05-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Apocalypse unfolded"

    Cogent, well researched and communicated I an engaging way. The best overview of the subject I have ever encountered. Thanks

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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