The aim of this study is to evaluate Malina&Pilch’s Social-Science Commentary on the Book of Revelation. As stated on the cover of the book, this commentary claims to be unique: “The first social-science commentary on this extraordinary book.” The question is whether the social-scientific method enhances the understanding of Revelation for modern interpreters? The method’s relationship with traditional exegetical methods is also examined. In order to evaluate any work on Revelation, it is necessary to make a thorough study of the apocalyptic. Revelation is an apocalypse and is traditionally understood as part of the apocalyptic genre. It is also necessary to make use of findings of the historical-critical method in order to understand questions regarding the author, date and place of composition of Revelation. The social-scientific method’s presuppositions and procedures are explained, as well as criticism against this exegetical method. This is followed by a discussion of Malina&Pilch’s commentary as part of the Social-Science Commentary on…-series, as well as Malina’s original work, On the Genre and Message of Revelation. It is clear that Malina&Pilch view Revelation as astral prophecy and John as an astral prophet. They interpret Revelation in the light of the first century Mediterranean sky. A case study of Revelation 12:1-18 compares Malina’s On the Genre and Message of Revelation, with Malina&Pilch’s Social-Science Commentary on Revelation and David Aune’s Revelation. In conclusion academic reviews and comments regarding this commentary are discussed. It is my opinion that this commentary adds the best value if it is used together with traditional historical-critical commentaries. Unfortunately, Malina&Pilch has ignored modern Apocalypse scholarship in their work. Their intense focus on astrology and trying to force the whole of Revelation into an astrological mould is the greatest weakness of this work. This commentary however definitely adds a new dimension to the interpretation of Revelation. It forces an interpreter of Revelation to acknowledge the importance of John’s social situation and the first-century Mediterranean world.
Dissertation (MA (Biblical Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.