I recently wrote a review of Bart Ehrman’s book Armageddon: What the Book of Revelation Really Says. My review is subtitled, “How This Book Failed to Help This Pastor and Why Atheists Cannot Trust Bart Ehrman.” The complete review is available here: A Review of Bart Ehrman’s Armageddon_ What the Book of Revelation Really Says (2), and my introduction is posted below.
With this latest volume (Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says About the End. Bart D. Ehrman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2023. 250 pp. $27.99.) Bart Ehrman returns to what he does best, questioning the Bible enough to raise doubts in the heart of some, but not really providing any new insights for those to whom the Bible really matters. The review at hand is not from a “historical scholar” as Ehrman quite often likes to refer to himself, but from a pastor of a church in the Bronx, New York City. The question to be answered is: did Ehrman’s book help me understand what the book of Revelation really says, as the subtitle promises? Did it give any answers (I Peter 3:15) or did it primarily minister questions (I Timothy 1:1-4)?
In reality, the subtitle of the book reveals the philosophical Nicolaitanism of which Ehrman has long projected over his audience, and which, ironically, the book of Revelation records that Jesus hates (2:6 & 15), namely, that Ehrman is finally going to let the rest of us know what the book of Revelation really says. This comes across as a sort of sensationalism that is more designed to help sell books and make money than to assist the humble student of the Bible to understand the truth.
We are reminded at the outset of the words of the Apostle Peter, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old…” And we also think of Paul’s warning regarding those with a feigned faith which they have swerved from and have ended up on the trajectory of empty words, despite the fact that they have a desire to teach the Word of God, though they lack understanding (cf. I Timothy 1:4-7). We certainly want to give Mr. Ehrman the benefit of the doubt that he is no scoffer and that he is not being willingly ignorant of the word of God; we will not be the ones ultimately to judge him. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit who indwells us has warned us that this sort of scoffing and wilful ignorance will corrupt the minds of some.
There are 8 chapters in the book, with endnotes (unfortunately) and no bibliography, although there is an index. There is also an acknowledgements section, and a notice that Scripture quotations are either from the NRSV or Dr. Ehrman’s own translation. The reader should note that the New Revised Standard Version is not to be confused with the other updated RSV, the English Standard Version. Both the NRSV and the ESV are based upon the RSV of 1952.
Note also that my review will aim to reflect the structure and organization of the book, or the lack thereof. This is particularly true in the section dealing with the preface.