Brian J. Tabb. All Things New: Revelation as Canonical Capstone. New Studies in Biblical Theology 48. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019. 280 Pages. $28.00 (paperback)
In All Things New, Brian Tabb has made a welcome contribution to the theological study of John’s Apocalypse. Tabb serves as Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis and as editor of Themelios. His biblical-theological reading of Revelation uniquely considers John’s writing in its canonical positioning as the final book of the New Testament and the entire Bible. In view of this placement, one should expect many biblical themes to find their satisfying finales within this book. Tabb rightly highlights these various culminating themes.
After providing a short introduction to Revelation, Tabb in Part One explores the persons of the Trinity in their apocalyptic setting. In this section, he demonstrates that the distinct characteristics of each person of the Trinity are expressed in their apocalyptic descriptions. The Father is the Sovereign, the First and the Last; the Son of Man is the slain Lamb; and the sevenfold Spirit is the Revealer of prophetic vision. After aptly tracing these dramatic portraits, Tabb unveils in Part Two how Revelation depicts the proper human response to the revealed Godhead: worship and witness. John unfurls a tapestry of heavenly scenes where God is praised and his work attested by the diverse voices of witnesses. Many of these witnesses have been faithful even unto bloodshed and death (expanding the martyr word group from the legal sphere to religious suffering) as they follow in the steps of the slain Lamb. Part Three provides a capstone summary of the works of God in history to save his people while bringing judgment on those opposed to him. John’s writing allows a reflective consideration of God’s providential guidance of his people throughout history leading into the New Jerusalem where the telos is reached: God eternally dwelling with his people. Tabb concludes in Part Four with the crescendo of God’s Word being fulfilled. The scroll of God’s decree has been unsealed, and a blessing is pronounced on those who live according to the revealed vision.
In many ways, All Things New serves as an update to Richard Bauckham’s The Climax of Prophecy (1993) but without the latter’s unfortunate tendency toward preterist interpretation or undue emphasis on the Roman Imperial Studies paradigm. Tabb shows an awareness of these important issues, but he does not allow them to completely color his interpretive lens. Instead, he appropriately relies on John’s Old Testament cues to set the context and provide meaning for Revelation’s numerous symbols. By so doing, the “Revelation as canonical capstone” thesis gains compelling support. In addition, the eclectic viewpoint adopted allows the author to explore allusions and backgrounds without the predetermined theological strictures of broader eschatological systems. Tabb’s presentation of the Revelation of John is an exquisite delicacy to be enjoyed by everyone who wants to understand this difficult book. As part of the New Studies in Biblical Theology series, this book is primarily aimed at pastors and Bible teachers. However, any thoughtful Christian would benefit from reading All Things New.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. The present book notice was written by Jason Doty, a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and research assistant for the Center for Biblical Studies.