2012.04.23. Dalrymple, Revelation and the Two Witnesses

Rob Dalrymple, Revelation and the Two Witnesses: The Implications for Understanding John’s Depiction of the People of God and His Hortatory Intent
Reviewed by Russell Morton


  1. I want to thank SBL and Russell Morton for reviewing my book. I do wish, however, to make a couple of rejoinders to some of the key criticisms that Mr Morton made.

    First, the initial criticism was that the book endeavored to accomplish two objectives, one being scholaly and one being more popular. The primary aim of the book was indeed scholarly and I do believe that the book is just that. The secondary objective, namely, to determine John's hortatory function, however, was also scholarly. There is little in this book that would appeal to a popular audience. Certainly, the implications of the analysis of the people of God in Revelation has relevance for the popular Church, but that does not make this work a popular work.

    Secondly, the charge is that the book assumes the unity of 11:1-2 and 11:3-14 "against source critical analysis." This is not true. In fact, I have a section responding to source critical analysis on precisely this point (43-44), which follows from an extended look at this issue.

    Thirdly, the charge is made that "Dalrymple chooses some rather odd conversation partners." One look at the extensive footnoting of the book will affirm that my partners are consisently the leading scholars in the study of Revelation. It is true that on one occasion reference is made to Walvoord and Lindsay. But one passing reference does not make a conversation partner. To suggest that this work should be questioned because of this as to its scholarly integrity seems quite unreasonable and unfair.

    Finally, I hope that the readers of this work will find in 'Revelation and the Two Witnesses' a thorough and scholarly analysis of the people of God in the book of Revelation.

  2. Rob, thanks for your additional comments here. I agree with you about Rev 11, and have critiqued the source critical reading of this text, which I think is methodologically flawed, in my own thesis.

  3. Russell Morton17 May, 2012

    Thanks for your reply. Sometimes the limitations of space in a review leads to as certain abruptness of style, which does not allow for nuance.

    One reason I thought the book was intended for both a popular as well as scholarly audience one stemmed from some of the conversation partners. I also mentioned that there were some unusual conversation partners simply to note something unusual. I have seen very few scholarly works refer to Lindsay, for example, even to disagree. I did not say you agreed with Lindsay or Walvrood, only that they were part of your conversation. A critique of these works is very appropriate, and this is why I thought there might be a popular dimension to the book. Having a popular dimension is not a criticism, especially if it is meant to redirect people from poor readings of Revelation.

    Second, while I mentioned that there was a rejection of source critical analysis, that was meant not as a criticism, but as an observation that there was critique of this theory. I do not deny that some of the source critical analysis, particularly that of Charles, is not necessarily helpful. See Caird's comments on Charles's theory that Rev. 11:3-14 originated as a source from the time of the Jewish Revolt. Thus, this was intended as an observation, not a criticism. In short, I would agree with both you and Ian at this point. While John may have been informed by apocalyptic speculation, the final product is his, and scholars often do not note John's creativity.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Russell Morton