By David Nilsen
It’s the end of the world as we know it!
Okay, not quite. But today we’re going to look at books that at least talk about the end of the world as we know it. It’s time for another edition of Dewey Discoveries!
If you didn’t have a chance to catch the first post in this series, Dewey Discoveries gives us an opportunity to become more familiar with the books on our shelves here at GPL by looking at all the titles under a specific Dewey decimal call number. Last time we looked at 910: Geography and Travel. This time, we’re looking at 228: Revelation (Apocalypse).
Books about the Bible are housed under the 220 heading, with books about different sections of the Bible spread out between 221 and 229. With as many different literary genres and levels of historical veracity as are contained within the Bible, it wouldn’t make sense to spread out all the books of the Bible based upon how they might fit within the broader Dewey system, so they all get housed in one place to make it simpler. Today we’re dealing with books that talk about one of the most controversial, confusing, and frankly strange books of the entire Bible – the Revelation of John.
GPL doesn’t have many titles under this heading – six total, though one of those is lost (Escape the Coming Night by David Jeremiah), leaving five for us to take a look at today. Let’s get right into it.
Our oldest book in 228:
Revelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand! (228 R). This was published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania in 1988. The Watch Tower is the publishing arm of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and apparently they knew a lot of people wanted to have this book – the very first printing was for 3,000,000 copies. The book serves as an overview of Revelation according to Jehovah’s Witnesses theology and doctrine, and seems written from a fairly top-level perspective, intended to be read and understood by a wide variety of people. The book is well-illustrated in color and black and white.
Our newest book in 228:
Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation by Elaine H. Pagels (228.06 Pagels). Published in 2012, this book from Princeton professor Pagels seeks to provide a historical and cultural context for the book of Revelation and explain objectively the role Revelation has played in Christian history. Pagels won a National Book Award for her previous book of Biblical scholarship – The Gnostic Gospels – so readers can have faith Revelations is written with skill and comprehensive knowledge of the subject at hand.
First book by call number:
Revelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand! (228 R). See above.
Last book by call number:
Revelation Down to Earth: Making Sense of the Apocalypse of John by Edwin Walhout (228.06 W). This volume from 2000 is a guide for those seeking practical, present spiritual aid from the book of Revelation. Walhout, a retired Christian Reformed pastor who spent much of his life writing about Revelation, takes the interesting view that many of the much-argued meanings of the unusual images and prophecies in Revelation are about present realities rather than future events.
Best use of a flying UFO pyramid/radio transmitter as cover art:
Footnotes to the Book of Revelation by K. G. Katrensky (228.06 K). I can’t possibly do better than the back cover, so here it is: “Although Ken Katrensky may be short on theological credentials, the open-minded reader will find him long on common sense. This eclectic Canadian author/taxi driver/ex-con, who ‘finished high school with difficulty,’ has some startling things to say. A serious interest in faith and scripture and a meticulous search for truth are reflected in these pages. The myth of Academia’s monopoly on intelligence is here debunked.” That’s really what it says, I promise.
Fourth & Sycamore recommends:
A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization by Jonathan Kirsch (228.06 Kirsch). This fascinating and extensively researched book by bestselling author Kirsch looks as the way Revelation has been used and misused in the past two thousand years, twisted and appropriated by individual and institutional powers to suit their own goals. Moving through history, he looks at how the final book of the Bible, a book the Apostle John believed would be acted out during his lifetime, “has stirred some dangerous men and woman to act out their own privates apocalypses.”
Whether you are a fervent believer, a curious skeptic, or somewhere in between, these books give various interesting perspectives on a religious text that has been debated for two millennia, and are sure to provide a worthwhile read. Head on in the GPL to read more, and stay tuned for our next edition of Dewey Discoveries!
You can find all of these books in the Greenville Public Library Non-Fiction Room.