What do I think of John J. Collins’s book on Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Many readers might have a hard time even with the title of this book in the modern church. That first one certainly sounds like the book of Revelation at least. The second one has to be about the end of the world. That third one is some term most people just don’t know. Unfortunately, they will be lost with that kind of thinking and that is why the modern church needs to understand this more.
Collins’s book is certainly in-depth. Keep in mind, it does imply you know a lot about the underlying material so some readers could get lost at that point, but hopefully it will drive them to get more familiar with it. Since we have come across many more writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have had much more light shed on Biblical studies. Unfortunately, most people are picking something up like this expecting to hear about the end of the world.
Collins is one of the most knowledgeable people on this subject if not the most knowledgeable and he has shared that knowledge. Collins will speak about what each of these is and what difference it makes. In fact, he deals with many ideas that have popped up in the history of the study of this field. One I was pleasantly surprised by was the inscription found about a decade ago dealing with the idea that supposedly there was a belief about the Messiah dying and rising from the dead three days later. What does he say about it? Well you’ll have to get the book to read it, but he doesn’t come out in favor of that interpretation of the text.
When it comes to prophecy, he points out that too many times in our churches today, we read the prophecy passages as if they were all about the future and said nothing for their own times. Very little of the prophets was actually foretelling the future. That was a part of what some of them did, but not entirely. Much more was on the issues of the day such as getting people to turn from sin to righteousness.
The last category refers to writings that were written under other names. The books of Enoch are some of our first examples. A less well known but one that would make sense in the ancient world was the Sibylline Oracles. Many of these would be written to promote a certain view and then this would be given more authority because it had the name of a famous person or source attached to it, such as Enoch or Ezra.
This is a complex book and one not for the faint of heart. Still, if you are interested in this subject, it helps to have one of the best minds in the field in your library to guide you on it. Hopefully the reader of this book will want to invest more in the literature under discussion.