SHOULD WE READ OLD OR NEW BOOKS?

My answer to the question asked in the title of this post is BOTH! I realize some enjoy reading more than others do, but most people do some reading.

Earlier this week I was reminded that I need to be reading both new and old books. We’re calling one of the Bible studies I am currently leading “An Overview of the Book of Revelation.” To prepare for this study I ordered a couple of newer books about Revelation that I have found useful.

In preparing for this week’s discussion I remembered a set of commentaries on the New Testament I have that I had not yet consulted in our overview. The set was written by William Barclay and is entitled THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES.

In just the introduction to his commentary on Revelation I found both the first and last paragraphs powerful and worthy of sharing with those in my overview. I want to share them with you as well.

On page one Barclay writes, “When a student of the New Testament embarks upon the study of the Revelation he [sic] feels himself projected into a new and a different world. Here is something quite unlike the rest of the New Testament. Not only is Revelation different; it is also notoriously difficult for a modern mind to understand. The result is that the Revelation has sometimes been abandoned as quite unintelligible, and it has sometimes become the playground of religious eccentrics, who use it to map out celestial timetables of what is to come, or who find in it evidence for their own eccentricities.”

Twenty-four pages later he concludes his introduction, “No one can shut his [sic] eyes to the difficulty of the Revelation. It is the most difficult book in the Bible; but it is infinitely worth studying for it contains the blazing faith of the Christian Church in the days when life was agony, when men expected the end of the heavens and the earth as they knew them, and when they still believed that beyond the terror there was glory, and that above the raging of men was the power of Almighty God” (p. 24).

Barclay wrote the FOREWARD to THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES at the end of 1958 and it was first published in Scotland in 1959. My set of the series was given to me almost 50 years ago.

I’m still reading new books on Revelation (my newest was published in 2019) and doing my best to better understand this last book of the Bible. Even for those who are not particularly interested in Revelation, I recommend the first and last paragraphs of Barclay’s introduction. After some 70 years I think what he wrote is still worth reading.