I am convinced that the Book of Revelation ought to be interpreted as a prophecy and that its numbers and symbols have identifiable referents either close by or in other Books of the Bible. I have therefore given a list of works espousing the Dispensational point of view. Not that non-Dispensational writers aren’t useful, but accuracy of interpretation must come first. I have made note also of some non-dispensational works.
- Robert Thomas (2 Vols) – This is Thomas’s most important book and the one that will insure he is remembered for many years to come. Informative, technical (but not unnecessarily so). Tackles all the issues, and interacts with opposing views. A must have.
- Tony Garland (2 Vols) – Entitled A Testimony of Jesus Christ, I came across this huge work in the library of Tyndale Seminary before it was published. I read it (well, a good deal of it) in its dissertation garb and was mightily impressed. Offers some unique material hard to find elsewhere. I recommend purchasing the hard copies, but for all you tight-wads out there, Tony has it all for free here!
- Buist M. Fanning III – A new and impressive premillennial work with great exegesis. Tries to please everyone and dabbles in idealism, but still good. 600+ pages, but needed more.
- John F. Walvoord – Accurate writing and theological reflection by an expert on Biblical prophecy. One could wish it were more detailed.
- Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – A book entitled Footsteps of the Messiah, this is a study of eschatology based on the Apocalypse. Has a few questionable assertions, but it incorporates much solid exposition and should be consulted.
- J. B. Smith – Some oddments, but this is a decent exegesis with focus on words and numbers. Includes stimulating appendices. Hard to find.
- E. W. Bullinger – Hyper-Dispensationalist, although it doesn’t show much. Takes positions few will take, but for all that well worth reading because of the exegesis.
- Paige Patterson – I’m no fan of Patterson’s style, but this is a pretty good use of the space allotted him. Found in the NAC series.
- Thomas Constable – A solid compendium of the best works with reliable notes. And it’s free!
- G. K. Beale – By dint of sheer scholarship this should be near the top of the list. If you want to dive into the Greek text this is great. He’s also good at tracking down the many OT allusions in the Apocalypse. But don’t think that this translates into accurate understanding of the Apostle. Beale is amillennial and idealist. In the NIGNT series. A useful foil to Thomas.
As for other works, everyone is waiting for Michael Stallard’s contribution (EEC). Hopefully it will surpass his Thessalonians work. John MacArthur’s 2 volumes are transcripts of sermons. MacArthur can be a bit black and white, but it’s good material. Kendall Easley is pretty good but not great. J. A. Seiss’s old set of ‘Lectures’ offer sound premillennial exposiion with challenging (and not always convincing) perspectives. William Kelly’s old Plymouth Brethren commentary is worth perusing, even with his opaque word choices. David L. Cooper is very brief, Henry Morris good but introductory, Clarence Larkin is useful for the beginner, as is A. C. Gaebelein and Harry Ironside. Grant Osborne offers a well written mixture (I don’t say muddle) of the different approaches. G. E. Ladd, George Beasley-Murray, Leon Morris, Robert Mounce, and Alan F. Johnson are worth reading, but Osborne is better (with Johnson just behind).
From the symbolic camp I like Stephen S. Smalley’s study of the Greek text and the “drama” theme. I don’t think he’s close to being right, but his technical and background work is good, and he goes his own way. He’s also good to compare with Beale to show just how muddled the non-literal gets. I don’t like David Aune’s 3 volume work. From what I’ve read of it he is more concerned with the Greco-Roman era in which Revelation was written than with the Book itself.
Good introductions to the Book overall are by W. Graham Scroggie and Merrill Tenney. Mal Couch’s A Bible Handbook to Revelation is worthwhile. Several authors were involved. Finally, Steve Gregg’s Revelation: Four views, A Parallel Commentary is worth having on hand.