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  • Revelation: A New Covenant Commentaryby Gordon D. Fee
  • Margaret Mollett
Fee, Gordon D. 2013. Revelation: A New Covenant Commentary. 2ded. Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press. Paperback. ISBN 978-07188928071. Pp. 332. ₤27.50.

Gordon Fee, a seasoned theologian, NT scholar and textual critic has capped the New Covenant Commentary Series with a commentary on the book of Revelation. It was first released in 2010 by Cascade Books, a division of Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, USA.

Fee’s commentary differs from other commentaries on the book of Revelation in that he does not cite any scholarly works, although he does include a selected bibliography divided into “Useful commentaries on Revelation” and “Special Studies.” After recalling in the preface that two students whom he asked to analyse the exegesis of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earthhad found that there is “not a single exegetical moment in the entire book,” Fee states his literary intention:

The purpose of the present book is therefore singular: to offer one New Testament scholar’s exegetical reading of a text, with very little concern for anything except to help people hear it for the word of God that it is. And therefore none of the so-called alternative ways of understanding the book will hereafter be mentioned in this book.


However, as an exception, Fee expressly follows the lead of Craig Koester ( Revelation and the End of All Things; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001) as a window through which analogies “between us and them” are summarised (62).

Given the intricate and colourful canvas of Revelation, a chapter-by-chapter comment on Fee’s commentary is unsuitable for this review; it is more advisable to focus on his exegetical viewpoints, concerns and expectations. These have been culled from the Preface and Introduction but also from an interview that took place before publication of the book, namely “Gordon Fee on Dispensationalists reading of the Book of Revelation” (Posted August 4, 2010. Online:

Expressing his concern that exegesis should lead to theological understanding Fee asks:

[W]hat does it mean for God and his Christ: to be the one and only sovereign(s) in a universe in which others compete for [End Page 192]sovereignty and worship; and what does it mean for contemporary people of God to be a countercultural alternative in such a world, just as John himself was, and was encouraging us to be?


He endorses John’s recognition that Christian theology should lead to doxology: “That is, descriptions of God that do not lead to worship of God might be intellectually useful but they are unrelated to biblical reality; and biblical reality is what John wants his readers to hear” (ix).

According to Fee it is imperative that the Bible not only be studiedbut also read well, and this requires knowledge of the genre one is reading, in this case Revelation. Too often, he insists, the books are all read at the same level and therefore out of context; readers using the King James version are inclined to seeing verses as paragraphs and do not think of the text as narrative, or parable or any other genre. Fee’s dictum is, “Get rid of the numbers, and you can read the Scriptures.” Following the mode of the New Covenant Commentary Series, Fee does not give a verse-by-verse commentary “but instead focuses on larger units of texts in order to explicate and interpret the story” (front matter). In overcoming a disjointed reading of paragraphs due to numbering, Fee illustrates in the chapter, “Revelation 19:11-21–20:15,” how the two paragraphs, both of which begin with “I saw” are “best understood together as an interlude between the divine overthrow of the unholy triumvirate (Satan, the empire, the cult of the emperor) delineated in 19:11–21 and the final judgment of all evil, both demonic and human in 20:7–15.” (270–280). The “thousand-year hiatus” is only there to assure the martyrs that they are divinely being taken care of (280).

But how is the commentary presented to the reader? Fee comments...


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