Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Prophetic Years

The webpage that I have selected to analyze is, specifically the “Foreword to the Revelation of Jesus Christ Through the Ages”. The author, Donald A. Koenig, created this website in 1999 to express his opinion on many subjects. These subjects are not only relevant to the book of Revelation, but they also include philosophy and theology of Christianity and social issues of America, various topics on thinking and practices in evangelical and institutional churches, and on current events in the world that seem to be leading to the end of time.1
Don has a long religious background resulting in his qualifications for writing this commentary. He began his Christian education in the Roman Catholic faith and has since been an Evangelical Christian for more than thirty years. Although he has done his own background research on the end times and the book of Revelation, many may not consider him knowledgeable due to his lack of a scholarly degree. Although he states that he has long been a devoted Evangelical Christian, Don claims to write in a non bias point of view, having knowledge in many of the major denominational beliefs.2
Since it is impossible for us to travel back in time to when John wrote the book of Revelation, no one can be certain what is meant by this book. Although experts believe they have a good idea as to what is meant by the text, there is simply no way to know what John is referring to in every aspect of this book, and Don is the first to admit that he could be wrong with some ideas. Don expresses his point clearly in the foreword of his commentary when he says, “We simply do not have all the information necessary to be dogmatic on every point and I wish more prophecy teachers would just acknowledge this fact so that we all could be more credible.”3 Now that we have some background knowledge on the writer and his point of view, we can begin to assess his commentary and his opinion expressed.
The author writes this commentary as any knowledgeable writer should, breaking the text down verse by verse, analyzing every aspect of what John observed. As we well know, the book of Revelation begins with a much controversy that continues throughout the rest of the book. Who exactly is the book written to? Many denominations believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are all the same person, simply in three different forms. Koenig makes the valid point that if you interpret the first verse of revelation in this way, being a believer of the Oneness theology, God would be giving the revelation to himself, which would be pointless! Nevertheless, whoever the “him” is the book is referring to, the message still reaches the servant John via an angel.4
Don deems the one and only John, whom the book is referring to, as Jesus’ disciple John. This is one area which is very difficult for experts to agree upon. Koenig claims that John was the only apostle still living at the time Revelation was written. Others argue that, had it been John the apostle, he would have identified himself in such a way. On this matter, Don fails to present an adequate amount of evidence in his commentary to support this claim.
Verses 13-15 of Chapter 1 present the reader with an image of Jesus, the Son of man. The author of the commentary here seems to be criticizing all those who have placed images of Jesus into their churches. He says that many people claim that Jesus looked like a Norwegian, with the pale skin tone and the long lush brown hair. He feels that if you are going to show images of the Savior, you should at least be displaying the most up to date illustration as possible. This is an example of where this commentary voids relevant scholarly thoughts and simply gives his own two cents on an issue.5
In Chapter 5 of Revelation Don Koenig demonstrates that he has done some research before writing this commentary. He explains that land cannot be taken from God’s people permanently under Mosaic Law and gives historical background on the issue. This theory gives the reader an approach that personally, I had never heard of prior to reading his commentary. Regarding the seven seals, his ideas seem to fall in line with commentaries in which other scholars had written. He agrees with the idea that the judgments are considered important documents and therefore are closed up seven seals.6 Although this aspect is similar, Koenig fails to provide an interpretation on the issue of writing on the backs of the scrolls, which the text clearly states. This demonstrates that he does not try to explain in entirety what Revelation has to say, but is selective of the issues in which he wants to elaborate upon.
Many people enjoy creating theories regarding the number of the Beast and the mark from Chapter 13. Regarding the mark, Don seems to be falling into the hearsay that the government plans to do away with paper currency and everyone will have a mark to be able to complete transactions. He states that,” …a one world cashless economic system will be set up and it will be controlled by computers.” This obviously is an example of the author providing his own speculation on a topic that has minor reference to the text. I felt that Koenig had been providing an informative commentary until this point. He agrees that the number of the Beast, 666, reflects on the Hebrew and/or Greek nomenclature. Instead of linking the number to a specific historical character however, he simply says that it is a reference to a man who is incarnated by Satan.7 This is an interesting argument to bring to the table of interpretations that I had never heard of before. I feel that Don would be able to present a convincing argue to support his claim.
Being that so many people have written commentaries on the book of Revelation, there are bound to be controversies over what is really being explained in the text. It is simply up to the reader to decide which versions they prefer to believe. Some may even say that this is why the book was written in such a way. Although Don Koenig is more than willing to admit that he is not right on all aspects, he is very willing to interject his own opinion on many issues relating to the end of time. His webpage and commentary are difficult to specify as convincing or simply skepticism. He manages to be persuading on some issues, such as the public’s image of Jesus. However, he can also diverge into some completely opinionated and skeptical thoughts.
Unfortunately, there is no way to be certain of what John saw and how we are to understand the text to clarify all the controversy. Because of this, I would encourage others to view this commentary by Don Koenig with an open mind. Although he does not have a religious degree and occasionally interjects his own opinions without pervading relevant evidence, this webpage could be used as a creditable source to acquire further knowledge on the book of Revelation.

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