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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2013
If you have listened to Hank Hanegraaff's radio show (via the internet in the UK), you will probably have formed an opinion about him already. Personally, I find him endearing, for a several reasons. Firstly, he is committed to truth and to faithful exegesis. Secondly, he has a heart for making that truth accessible to those who don't necessarily have the time or intellectual capacity to do the groundwork themselves. And thirdly, while he is patient and gracious with people, there is a slightly firm and also sarcastic side to his personality!

This book confirms all of those impressions. It was not what I was expecting (which was I suppose almost a commentary on Revelation, offering an educated understanding of each verse). Instead, it is two things: a framework for interpreting difficult passages of apocalyptic scripture (which Hank brands "Exegetical Eschatology", or "E2") which is then demonstrated by unpacking a selection of such verses. Secondly, it is a fairly direct and accusative rebuttal to the works of dispensationalists, particularly Tim LaHaye.

If you are a UK reader, this may surprise you and somewhat disappoint you. There simply isn't the theological war rampaging here in regard to the various schools of dispensationalism, nor the fervour surrounding the predicted rapture. We don't have people stockpiling food and weapons. So some of this will seem irrelevant, but you learn throughout the book to look past the specific arguments directed towards Tim LaHaye and lay hold of the actual theological truths that are clarified. I think it's also fair to say that the slightly combative nature of this book - having an opposition to rally against - probably makes it more interesting rather than less, as you can see the argument being played out, rather than reading a statement and being left to wonder how one might see a different point of view.

There is no brand new, radical theology here. Hank is a partial preterist, and is very much in line with the views that, for instance, NT Wright would take - which is all for the better, in my opinion. You may disagree! As I mentioned, he unpacks this in an easy way so as to make it accessible for the common man, which occasionally means there is unnecessary repetition as he tries to get his point home, and it is also lacking on detail in a number of places.

Hank doesn't start with Revelation, he starts by introducing the system of exegesis he will use throughout the book. He then turns this to look at earlier prophecies in the New Testament, before ending up at Revelation (although it has previously been referenced) in what was certainly the best chapter for me, "The Historical Principle." He then goes on to talk a bit about the misguided basis for Zionism and Christian support for Zionism, before finishing with a brief summary.
Criticisms? Well, it sticks to the traditional sermon pattern - tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, then tell 'em, then tell 'em what you told 'em. Much as I don't consider myself a highbrow scholar or academic, even I started to tire of the repetition, and wish he would have spent that time going into more detail around some of the OT links hinted at.

I also think that more about Revelation would have been nice. Sure, he does a good job of undermining the dispensational interpretations of Revelation, but a book claiming to "reveal the code to Revelation" I think should look at more than a few highlighted verses. I think it should at least briefly address most if not all of the symbolism. For instance, he looks at the beast, and at the whore of Babylon, but he doesn't address the other weird creatures, the woman and the dragon, the angel and the little scroll and so on. This is probably because it isn't relevant to his argument against dispensational theology, but if like me you bought this book not realising it was a specific rebuttal of such, you might be disappointed by the absence of such information.

Finally, and this is not a criticism, Hank does deal some of his dispensational opponents a rough hand sometimes, and also use the odd quip to have a dig at them, as per his radio show. If you are without a sense of humour/don't appreciate vigorous debate or banter, you may find this rude. I found it very mild and quite amusing. For instance, having ridiculed LaHaye's inference that prophecies made directly to New Testament characters were meant for those in the 21st century, Hank ends a paragraph with "Armed with the grammatical principle of Exegetical Eschatology, you (and I mean YOU, not a future generation) will be an effective judge."

Overall, I feel this book is somewhat mis-sold, but is easy to read, enjoyable and is a great introduction for those delving into the world of eschatology. What it lacks in comprehensiveness with regard to Revelation, it nearly makes up for in equipping beginners with effective tools for further study. I am going to immediately re-read it and make a crib sheet of the exegetical framework he uses to do just that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2012
When I wrote this review there were two others before me. One gave the book 5 stars, the other gave it 1. It is neither that good, nor that bad!

Despite the title, clearly cashing in on the success of the Michael Drosnin book, The Bible Code: Saving the World: 3, this book has neither anything to do with a code or the Apocalypse. Neither does it actually address what it states in the subtitle, about what the Bible says about the End Times.

The book, which it claims from the start, is really an attack on the Pre-Tribulation theology of Tim LaHaye and also Hal Lindsey. That is basically it.

There are some interesting sections, particularly the part about how the Israelis systematically "disposed" of some of the populations which were occupying Palestine in the latter part of the 1940s when the state of Israel came into being. (You have to decide for yourself how illegal, or not, such actions were; this is not a debate.) But you won't find out too much about the End Times.

Another interesting section for me was the author's analysis on Hal Lindsey's Hal Lindsey Apocalypse Code. I have read not this book (neither do I want to). In Lindsey's book, he claims that God gave him "special insight" into the symbols of the New Testament book of Revelation. Lindsey states that the locusts (in chapter 9) are attack helicopters! Lindsey knows nothing! Not one of his predictions has EVER come true - and if one did, it would be by chance, not "special insight".

Has anyone seen a red heifer anywhere?
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I can confirm the accurate review by Honrus Publicus and would add merely the following few points:-

1. Hanegraaff consistently mis-quotes or mis-translates Matt 24:29, Mk 13:25, and Lk 21:26, all of which read in the Greek that the POWERS (dunameis) of the heavens will be shaken, not the BODIES of heaven (sun, moon, stars). This is a beginner's error and I am surprised to find it so frequently here.
2. His dates are wrong, though this is not uncommon.
3. He uses the NIV most of the time, which does nothing to enhance his credibility as a Biblical scholar and probably accounts for his missing the reading of the Olivet Discourse which (at least until the arrival of a flood of dispensational books from America) long prevailed on the English side of the Atlantic, namely that its first half refers to AD 70 and its second half refers to the end of the age.

However the author's rejection of dispensationism is refreshingly welcome.
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on 11 June 2012
I'm giving the book 5 stars, yes it has challenged some cherished beliefs but they needed challenging, it has drawn a distinction between the mythical and the real and in my opinion has made certain parts of the book of Revelation much easier to understand. Its great to have a book that doesn't embrace last days madness or depend on tabloid prophecy by trying to fit scripture into modern headline news. It exposes that which needs exposing and then replaces it with solid reasoning, this has been one of the easiest books on Revelation that I have ever read.
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on 1 June 2013
I thought it was a verse-to-verse hermeneutics book about Revelation; but it is rather a book that explains hermeneutics principles, citing as examples Revelation and Matthew 24 verses. A very good and doctrinally-sound book nonetheless.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
To be blunt, this book seemed, to me, to have three basic flaws - it's vindictive, it's pretentious, and it's ridiculously and completely unnecessarily, in my opinion, convoluted.

I have read a number of books over the last few years by Christian academics addressing attacks on one aspect of "Christianity" or another ("Misquoting Jesus", "The Da Vinci Code", etc.).

In each case the commentator is obviously well aware that the attack is based - by intention or through ignorance - on erroneous ideas, yet they maintain a calm and courteous manner in their responses. They act/write in a mature and tolerant manner, without being patronising or trying to score points.

All of which is in sharp contrast to the style of "The Apocalypse Code".
Amongst the "pocket" reviews at the very front of the book is one which starts:

"This book is a withering and unrelenting critique ..."

Personally I'd alter the two adjectives to "venomous" and "self-defeating".

In its most basic form, the entire contents of the 250 pages (approx.) of the main text can be summed up in just two sentences:

1. Hank Hanegraaff doesn't like the doctrine of "dispensation" and what that involves;
2. Hank Hanegraaff especially doesn't like author Tim LeHaye, whose many books on the "Last Days" scenario adhere to a dispensationalist interpretation of the apocalyptic prophecies in Daniel, the Revelation, etc.

Which are two opinions that might be enough to support two articles, but certainly aren't enough to warrant the writing of a whole book. Not this book, at least.

The first error comes in one of Hanegraaff's many attacks upon LeHaye, in this case on page 11, where Hanegraaff tries to persuade his readers that "the mark of the beast" is purely metaphorical in meaning. LeHaye's references to social security numbers or microchips, we are assured, are nothing but "the product of a fertile imagination".

Presumably Hanegraaff has no idea that a university professor in the UK already has a microchip embedded in his arm to demonstrate how useful it can be at identifying a person in various contexts. And maybe the experiment in at least one Japanese department store has escaped Hanegraaff's notice - the one where customers are given head bands with identifying codes so that they can make purchases merely by standing in front of a camera with the product without even showing a conventional credit card.

I don't know what value there is or isn't in LeHaye's interpretation of the book of Revelation, but I'm quite sure there is no value in dismissing as fantasy ideas that have already been put into practice.

Another shortcoming that characterises the book, though possibly not so important as the first, is the poor quality of the structure and presentation.

The ideas are set out like a plate of well-stirred spaghetti, with ideas popping up, disappearing and then popping up again elsewhere in a way that may have made senses to the author but, I feely admit, left me totally confused on numerous occasions.

Moreover the writing itself is nothing to write home about (!). The author regularly repeats phrases and sentences, not only creating redundancies all over the place but also inducing a deju vu effect that is again confusing, and pointless other than as a way of filling space.

But the biggest mistakes are the self-congratulatory tone and the continual sniping at Tim LeHaye. I have never read any of LeHaye's work, and I doubt if I ever will. But if I ever did it would be this book - `The Apocalypse Code' - which tipped the balance in LeHaye's favour. If only to find out if any book can really be as bad as Hanegraaff implies is true of LeHaye's books in general?

What we actually get here is a classic example of preaching to the converted in a style that has much in common with zoologist Richard Dawkins at his most vehement.

It is, moreover, "divine" - but only in the sense of the Japanese WW2 "divine wind". The kamikaze/suicide pilots who turned their planes (and themselves) into not very effective, and ultimately pointless, exploding coffins.

The self-destruction might be seen as starting at the beginning of Chapter 4. In a largely irrelevant sideswipe at ex-President Bill Clinton, Hanegraaff launches into an "exposition" on linguistics that really doesn't stand close examination. He is quite wrong in his assumptions about the words "is", "here", "now", "you", "soon", etc., are as simple as the author seems to imagine, mainly because he ignores all possibility of words being used subjectively *as well as* objectively.

The first stage of the real train wreck, however, starts on page 109. Hanegraaff argues that:

"For LeHaye everything hinges on proving that the book of Revelation was written long after the destruction of the temple in AD 70. If, like the rest of Scripture, Revelation was written prior to AD 70, his entire Left Behind juggernaut is compromised."

Apparently without realising that he has just put the same "knife" to his own throat, Hanegraaff argues that the book of Revelation was written in the AD 60s. So if Revelation was written close to the *end* of the first century AD then it is Hanegraaff's own argument which will be destroyed.

This matters because the notion of early authorship is not well supported, whereas a later date is widely accepted by genuine experts on the subject. Professor Emeritus Bruce Metzger, for example, writes in his book on Revelation - `Breaking the Code':

"The book of Revelation was composed ... at some point between A.D. 69 and 96 .... Although some scholars have identified the persecutions alluded to in the book as originating from the Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68), it is more likely that the book reflects the conditions prevailing during the latter years of the Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96)."
(Page 16)

After some supporting discussion, Metzger says:

"One may conclude, therefore, that the book of Revelation was written towards the end of Domitian's reign, about A.D. 90-95. This date is corroborated by the testimony of early church fathers, such as Iranaeus (A.D. 180), Clement of Alexandrea (200), Origen (254) and Eusebius (325)."
(page 17)

Given that Metzger is a genuinely renowned Bible scholar, and seems to reflect the view of the majority of Biblical scholars, this puts Hanegraaff's "minority report" in serious doubt.

The next error occurs only two or three pages later when there is more evidence of tampering with the evidence. Thus on page 112, in a passage about Pilate and Jesus (see John 19), Hanegraaff writes that when Pilate asked the crowd "Shall I crucify your kind:

`They roared back, "We have no king but Caesar." (John 19:15)

But if we look at the text in the Bible apparently used for the quotes in this book, the NIV, we find that it actually says:

"'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests answered."

So nobody "roared" anything, and the source of the answer is incorrect. This is poor evidence of any commitment to accuracy. Especially when the author does much the same thing about halfway down page 118 where he quotes from Revelation:

"A woman on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns."

Yet at the bottom that page and the start of the next the text refers to:

"... the mother of prostitutes and the abominations of the earth covered with blasphemous names ..."

How on earth did the blasphemous names migrate from the scarlet beast to the woman? Or did Hanegraaff simply not understand that the first use of the word "and" indicates that everything after "a scarlet beast" refers solely to that beast, not the woman?

Maybe I'm being naive, but to repetitiously criticise LeHaye whilst making such basic mistakes seems a mite over the top. In fact when we add everything together - poor writing, a blinkered view of linguistics, inaccurate quoting, a poor grasp of chronology, etc., etc. there seems little point to buying this book at all.

In practice I suspect that this book will sell well to those who already agree with Hanegraaff, whilst those for whom the book is ostensibly written will be so alienated by the aggressive, confrontational tone that they are more likely to abandon it without reading more than a few paragraphs at most.
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