Reading Revelation 21–22

Julie M. Smith

The Book of Revelation has perplexed and fascinated readers for centuries. In particular, its final two chapters—which contain the only extended description of heaven in the canon—beg for close examination and careful consideration. In this collection of essays, six scholars theologically examine Revelation 21–22. With approaches ranging from textual criticism to intertextual readings to conceptual analysis, this book sheds new light on a most enigmatic text.

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After reading the collection, I felt less like I had read a series of short essays, and more like I had just listened to a conversation. A nice sense of back and forth, with many of the essays referencing the other essays (a clear sign these essays were composed at a seminar, of course) in ways that are charitable and reinforcing (even when disagreeing)...Overall, it strikes a nice balance between academic rigor and general accessibility. Overall, I give this book a solid recommendation.

Practically any Latter-day Saint attempting to divine the deeper meaning of the Book of Revelation would benefit from perusing this text, especially Sunday School teachers and Seminary instructors who are struggling to relate the highly colorful imagery of Revelation to real life. It turns our focus away from the vivid and sometimes disturbing imagery of death and chaos in the last days and allows the reader to instead focus on the frankly glorious message of hope and salvation present in the text.


The Book of Revelation is a rich text, both in its beauty and message, as well as its strangeness and opacity. Readers of this volume will find themselves richly rewarded, sitting around the table, as it were, with six engaging and impassioned thinkers who (with the blended care of scholarship, thought, and discipleship) uncover possibilities of interpretation, connection, and insight. Reading the final two chapters of Revelation along with them will increase your capacity to understand and experience the meanings and symbols of these chapters.

Keith Lane

About the Editor

Julie M. Smith

Julie M. Smith is the editor of Apocalypse: Reading Revelation 21–22. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in English and from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, with an MA in biblical studies. She is on the executive board of the Mormon Theology Seminar and the steering committee for the BYU New Testament Commentary, for which she is writing a commentary on the Gospel of Mark. She is the author of Search, Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels. Julie is married to Derrick Smith; they live near Austin, Texas, where she homeschools their three children. She also blogs for Times & Seasons, where she is the book review editor.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • A Book or a Tree? A Textual Variant in Revelation 22:19
  • The Beginning and the End: Echoes of Genesis 1–3 in Revelation 21–22
  • The Fruit of Eden’s Tree: The Bride, the Book, and the Water of Life in Revelation
  • Seeing Eye to Eye: Nephi’s and John’s Intertwining Visions of the Tree of Life
  • The Unveiling of Christ . . . and of Angels: Apocalyptic Mediation in Revelation
  • Overwritten, Written Elsewhere: Names, Books, and Souls in St. John’s Apocalypse
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Publication Information

  • Publication Date: July 2016
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-8425-2877-1
  • Format: paperback, epub, html
  • Price: $ 15.95
  • Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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The views expressed here and in Maxwell Institute publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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