A Slightly Different Perspective on Revelation: A Review of Victory Through the Lamb: A Guide to Revelation in Plain Language by Mark Wilson

Wilson_final (4-18-14)Mark Wilson lives in Turkey and ministers there. He has seen firsthand the trials and challenges facing Christians in Muslim contexts. Wilson brings this perspective to a new book he has written on the book of Revelation (2014, The Weaver Book Company). The book’s subtitle sets the goal of putting one of the most difficult biblical books to interpret into plain language. The author does this by laying an overarching theme of “victory” over the entire book.

The book follows a standard format. Each section begins with an account of a martyr or group of martyrs in Christian history. This is followed by the author’s translation of the text and then a section of commentary. In the prologue, Wilson gives his premise: “Christians have and always will suffer tribulation until Jesus returns at His second coming” (p. 10) in the prologue. The prologue also contains one of my biggest beefs with the book. Wilson sets up those who hold to a pretribulational rapture of the church as people who draw their theology from “popular books, novels, and movies about the end times” (p. 10). This sets up a straw man from the very start, and Wilson’s reasons for rejecting this position are weak. He accuses many Christians of reading Revelation through a particular grid of interpretation, and then proceeds to assume that the “popular” view of Revelation does just that, indicating that if Christians read Revelation “on its own literary, cultural, and historical terms” that they would never come to that conclusion. And yet one of the author’s primary stated reasons for rejecting a pre-trib rapture is the experience of the church through the years (which sort of seems to be another way of laying an interpretive grid into the book).

Despite those weaknesses, the book has some strengths that are definitely worth noting. The martyr accounts before each section really bring into focus the fact that many of our brothers and sisters have paid a major price for their faith, and it turns our attention to the One in Whom we will find ultimate victory. The translation provided by the author is sound, though the format can be hard to follow when reading the commentary section (the book is divided into long sections, and when reading the commentary sections you can lose your place easily in the text). The author does indeed put the concepts and interpretation of the book into plain language. He does a good job of tracing themes and motifs through the book, tying various aspects of the book of Revelation together. The reader must read carefully, since Wilson’s interpretations are indeed driven by his Pre-Mill, Post-Trib position. The book is too short for a thorough exegesis of the texts (this would fall outside the scope of the book anyway).

Overall, I felt like the book was a mixed bag. It had some great strengths and some glaring flaws. It would be helpful for someone trying to get a basic overview of the book of Revelation. At the end of the day, the book of Revelation may be a little too complex for a book of this length to adequately handle. However, within the restraints given, I thought the author did an admirable job and has produced a very readable volume. Just know what you are picking up when you read it.