Review: Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature, Richard A. Taylor

Taylor wrote Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook for Kregel’s Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series, which is designed for pastors, graduate students, and others interested in the proper steps of exegesis of biblical books. While the exegetical guidelines in this book are common to other similar books, such as Robert Chisholm’s From Exegesis to Exposition, Taylor adds the pedagogical value of focusing only on apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament, especially Daniel, Joel, Zechariah, Malachi, and Isaiah 24-27.

In the six chapters of this book, Taylor covers (1) the definition of apocalyptic literature, (2) major themes and features of the genre, (3) interpretive tools needed to properly make sense of the genre, (4) some guidelines for exegeting particular texts, (5) a step-by-step method for doing so, and (6) two examples of Old Testament apocalyptic exegesis from Daniel and Joel. He ends with an appendix looking at various theories of the origins of biblical apocalyptic literature.

I thought two features of this book were particularly useful. First, Taylor spends a lot of time explaining extrabiblical literature. He does so in chapter two, looking at extrabiblical Jewish literature from the Second Temple to flesh out the features of apocalyptic, and he does so in the appendix when he looks at possible ancient Near Eastern precedents for apocalyptic literature, from Canaanite to Hellenistic to Persian literature. Although Taylor does not dive into these origin theories very fully, he provides detailed citations for the interested reader to follow.

That leads me to the second excellent feature of this book: the extensive bibliographies. Throughout the book Taylor provides annotated bibliographies covering apocalyptic literature in general, commentaries on Daniel and the Book of the Twelve, and various Biblical Hebrew resources such as different grammar and lexica. (While Taylor provides useful information for the student of biblical languages, his book doesn’t assume only an audience that has such training.) Taylor’s book can help the reader build up her scholarly library.

Taylor does a good job of explaining how to preach this often-misinterpreted genre in historical context, and occasionally gives examples of exegesis more fit for AM radio than for scholars and preachers! I do wish he had engaged the history of interpretation more. In sum, this might be a useful textbook, though it is a bit dry for fun reading.

Kregel provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. To the best of my knowledge, this did not impact my review.

2 thoughts on “Review: Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature, Richard A. Taylor

    1. Post author

      Just saw this. He spends a whole chapter defining it! However he doesn’t cover Revelation since he sticks to OT apocalyptic.


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