Brain Tabb’s All Things New aims to provide a biblical-theological commentary on the book of Revelation. While overall quite successful, one design choice frustrated me and (I suspect) will also frustrate other readers. All Things New reads like a commentary but does not comment on the text in sequence. For that reason, it may annoy those who want to see Tabb’s interpretation of a specific passage since such comments are not always easy to locate.
That said, despite this flaw or design choice, Tabb’s work ably and clearly interprets the book of Revelation, while paying attention to biblical and theological themes throughout. Tabb sees Revelation as the climax of biblical prophecy (following Bauckham somewhat, see p. 24), which finds its end in Christ’s reign (2). He calls his perspective on Revelation a redemptive-historical idealism (10). In this way, he takes an eclectic approach to Revelation (9).
While this eclectic approach allows Tabb to avoid polemical landmines, I would have preferred that Tabb placed some of the conclusions regarding Revelation in a more accessible or straightforward way. Is the beast the antichrist? What is the right millennial view? Readers want to know his view on these matters. And lamentably, the book has no subject-index to find where these matters are discussed!
If someone writes a commentary on Revelation out of sequence (and arguably this is what All Things New is), then please provide subject indices! As it stands, it is difficult to locate clear answers on these topics. At the time of writing this review, I cannot remember seeing a discussion on the antichrist. And I cannot find out where he discusses this matter by looking at the table of contents! (And the lack of a subject index doesn’t help!). This illustrates how the shape or form of the work can work against productive research into Revelation.
At times, the book feels like data overload (numbers of citations and charts). Academic works can sometimes confuse persuasive arguments with the accumulation of evidence. I cannot say if that happens here, but one only needs to compare Tabb’s work with Bauckham’s The Theology of Revelation to understand the contrast that I am drawing here. Still, as an updated work on the theology of Revelation, Tabb (I affirm) provides clear and concise arguments that end up leading to sound conclusions.
So far, I may appear to view the work negatively. I do not. I have, however, spent time reading books on Revelation over the past year or so, and I have to note areas of weakness because Tabb’s work competes with Leithart and Bauckham and other luminaries.
Tabb indeed does carve out a space in the discussion. His biblical-theological approach adds another viewpoint that can illuminate the book of Revelation. For this reason, I recommend Tabb’s work.
All Things New evinces the skill and scholarship of one devoted to holy writ. And despite my cautions or criticisms, pastors, students, and theologians should read Tabb’s contribution. He has earned his place as one of the important works on Revelation available today to understand its theological meaning.
IVP provided me with a review copy.