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The Unseen Realm

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,113 ratings  ·  220 reviews
In The Unseen Realm, Dr. Michael Heiser examines the ancient context of Scripture, explaining how its supernatural worldview can help us grow in our understanding of God. He illuminates intriguing and amazing passages of the Bible that have been hiding in plain sight. You'll find yourself engaged in an enthusiastic pursuit of the truth, resulting in a new appreciation for ...more
Hardcover, 413 pages
Published July 1st 2015 by Lexham Press
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Christopher Kou There are a number of directions that Heiser goes in here. The underlying premise is that there is a Divine Council of heaven with the Trinitarian God…moreThere are a number of directions that Heiser goes in here. The underlying premise is that there is a Divine Council of heaven with the Trinitarian God as the king under whom the created gods rule.

I think this is sound as far as it goes. However, I believe that the direction in which he takes it is problematic.(less)
Johnnie To say this book is a game-changer is such an understatement. It has made me rethink so much about the Old Testament and how I read it. The footnotes…moreTo say this book is a game-changer is such an understatement. It has made me rethink so much about the Old Testament and how I read it. The footnotes alone are a semester worth of reading. I listened to Heisner's podcasts, went to his YouTube channels and have become a member of his fan club. Amazing scholar.

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Douglas Wilson
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a true resource, but it is the kind of resource that you are likely to read clean through, and then read through some other time, and then keep it nearby in order to refresh your memory on this or that.

Too many contemporary Christians are modernists when it comes to their cosmology, with the sole exception of their belief in the human soul. The reality of the afterlife—and a heaven populated with “angels” and what not—doesn’t really count because it is quietly assumed that that plac
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
While I found this book interesting, I was left feeling frustrated and disappointed. This is no reflection on the merits of Mr. Heiser's faith or his sincerity. The book was well written and in many cases full of profound connections.

It probably would help to start off by listing some of the author's primary theses that he returns to over and over in this book:

1) The Bible uses the Divine Assembly motif regularly.
2) Human beings were made in God's Image and are thus His "Imagers" (Heiser's word)
LaRosa Jr.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’ve learned a lot in my years as a Christian. One thing I’ve found is that your view of the spirit realm can vary greatly depending on the circles you’re a part of. One side will over emphasize the spiritual to the point that everything that happens in the physical is directly the result of some spiritual force. On the other hand you have Christians who act as if the spirit realm doesn’t exist, outside of the working of the Holy Spirit, but even limiting his influence. My own Christian journey ...more
Jacob Aitken
Writing a book on worldview is so passe. What really gets people uncomfortable is writing on the supernatural. We believe in it on paper--as long as it stays on paper. Michael Heiser, by contrast, gives a mini-systematic theology around the Supernatural.

A brief summary: God’s Household has a layered authority: high king → elite administrators → low-level personnel. Psalm 82 is the clearest example in the OT (25). The first Elohim in 82:1 is singular, since it has a singular verbal form (stands)
Derek P.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is not exaggerating to say that Dr. Heiser's work has helped me understand the biblical narrative far more clearly than I did before.

Whether you're familiar with the Divine Council or not, Mike's thorough explanation of the cosmology hidden in plain sight on the pages of the Bible will leave you wondering why you've never heard about this in church.

The Unseen Realm and Supernatural are complementary works. Supernatural is an introduction to the supernatural worldview of the authors of the Bib
David Shane
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book. Heiser's primary contention is that we have lost, or at least severely under-emphasize, the "supernaturalness" of the worldview of the Biblical authors. Heiser digs deep into scripture (especially the Old Testament) as a linguist and expert in ancient cultures, and has no problem bringing extra-Biblical sources in to help him get a better grasp of the intent and meaning of the authors of scripture. Note that he believes in inerrancy and would probably call himself an evangeli ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology, non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book, and I have to say that all the stuff on free will and eschatology was the most bizarre stuff in it for me (like CS Lewis in PERELANDRA, I don't see at all how free will and predestination can be made incompatible or opposed to one another, and Heiser opposes them pretty fiercely here). Some of what this book talked about, I'd definitely come across before - in Chilton's PARADISE RESTORED or James Jordan's THROUGH NEW EYES, for instance. In other ways, this book was a ...more
Luke Miller
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is outstanding. As a scholarly work, it is thorough, but it is still a very enjoyable read. There were times when I really did find it hard to put down. Most importantly, it is intensely exegetical. In chapter 2, he provides a list of texts that believers (even pastors and theologians) tend to abandon, gloss over, or otherwise explain away. This list functions as a table of contents for the book. Here is a sampling of what you'll find:

Genesis 3 - Why wasn't Eve surprised when the serpe
Jan 24, 2018 marked it as to-read
See Plodcast, Episode #28. This seems kind of related (where did Christ go for three days after dying?). Detailed review at Amazon.

The popularized version is titled Supernatural. Interesting thread (see Jay's book here). Read this to see why Enoch > Dante.

See Heiser on the Divine Council here. The Bible Project (for whom Heiser is a consultant) has several videos on spiritual beings: introduction, elohim, the Divine Council, angels and cherubim, the angel of the Lord, and the Satan and demons
G.M. Burrow
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
The most explosively eye-opening book I've read since Orthodoxy, Through New Eyes, Planet Narnia, and Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl. Ignore the chapter on free will; it's hogwash and will make you mad. But the rest is stellar, stellar, stellar.

Heiser posits that lesser elohim ("gods," "sons of God") once ruled the disinherited nations (while God adopted Israel), these elohim rebelled, were sentenced to mortality, and will be defeated at Armageddon and finally replaced by the reconstituted divine
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much I created a Facebook discussion group for it. All who are interested and have read (or are reading) any of Heiser's books are invited to come and join the conversation.
George P.
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015). Hardcover | Kindle

The Bible both assumes and articulates a supernatural worldview. From the “In the beginning” of Genesis to the “Amen” of Revelation, mention of God and divine action is heard on each page. All Bible-believing Christians are thus supernaturalists.

Modernity assumes and articulates a worldview of naturalism. In this view worldview, reality is a closed n
Jeff McCormack
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to the topic of the divine council and the unseen realm stuff, I guess I kind of felt a good majority of people already had a general grasp on it. About a year ago I was given the opportunity to preach at our church and I spoke on some basics of the divine council view (view sermon here, and found out that the understanding was nowhere near as common as I guess I thought it was.

A month or so later I was asked if I had checked out Michael H
Evan Minton
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you've been scratching your head over those weird and mysterious portions of The Bible over the years, then this book is for you. In this book, biblical scholar Michael Heiser delves into those weird parts of The Bible that preachers and theologians have typically ignored or skipped over in their sermons and Bible studies precisely because they were just that: weird.

As reviewers and Heiser himself said of this book, this book will challenge some Christian traditions. At first I was worried t
Michael Boling
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are some books that come along that truly grab my attention. Be it the subject matter or simply the quality of writing, these attention grabbers more often than not leave a lasting impression upon the reader. In the world of theology, there are some topics that while important, seem to be avoided. So to come across a book that grabs my attention while at the same time digs in with salient theological aptitude not only a subject of great importance but also something that has greatly intere ...more
Steven Pidgeon
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book... Definitely want to read it again. Together with Reversing Hermon (which I also have read) it really presented a lot of interesting data for attempting to understand the Old Testament in particular, and the Bible in general, in terms of how its original audience would have understood it.

The way I read is mostly to grasp the ideas and synthesise them with other things that I'm reading. I've also been reading Walton's books about Genesis - both the creation accounts and Adam and
Todd Miles
The Unseen Realm is a thought provoking work. It is full of interesting and insightful biblical exegesis. For that reason alone, it should be read. Here is one concern (I may add others as I find time and when I have the book in front of me):
I am fine with the idea of a divine council. If you want to call the beings and elders that worship around the throne in Rev 4-5 that, so be it. But at times, Heiser attributes the activities of creation, judgment, and salvation to the divine council. I am u
Matthew Richey
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a worldview shaking book. I'm not sure I agree with all of it, but my post-enlightenment bias for reading and filtering the Bible has been exposed and a good deal of my typical explanations and interpretations have been challenged. I need some time to process this one.

Highly recommend.
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended for Christians. It's well known that conservative churches consistently ignore the supernatural worldview of the Bible, allowing only for limited aspects such as the virgin birth, the resurrection, the Holy Spirit. This book filled a gap in offering a systematic and coherent explanation of the biblical writers' worldview, something I've never had offered before (the only exception was the Forgotten Heavens, which was more speculative and scattergun by comparison).

Having said
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I came across Heiser when my pastor was preaching in Ephesians 6. I wanted to do further research so I fired up my Logos software program and that's where I found Professor Heiser (He is a faculty member of Faith Life of which Logos Software is a part).

To be honest I was a bit wary of Heiser since I had not heard of him and given the title of Unseen Realm I was a bit concerned. I did some preliminary research on Heiser before buying the book and while he holds a minority opinion in evangelical C
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prepare to have your mind blown. This book will help you understand how the ancient Jews and early Christians saw the Bible through a Mesopotamian viewpoint. If you have always wondered about the supernatural aspects of the Old Testament or why various events occurred in the Old Testament, this book certainly aims to explain them. If you wonder about the Creation story and the origin of the serpent or why God says "Let us make mankind in our image" instead of let me make mankind in my image, you ...more
Matt Miller
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book achieves its purpose - to help Bible readers become more aware of the non-physical realm of creation. God's purposes in redemptive history involve far more than human dealings. Overall, I thought the book was helpful and would recommend. It is an attainable read for the knowledgeable lay-person. My problem with the book, like much scholarship, is when a "new" theme or discovery is made, it then becomes the dominating interpretive lens for the rest of the Bible. Heiser certainly does thi ...more
Sharon L. Madsen
Not your Sunday School lesson

This book opened my eyes to how to understand what the Bible truly is trying to tell us. Its a higher learning in simple layman language. As I have always said, y o u don't have to show how smart you are in wording your books to were it makes for hard reading. I enjoyed this book very much.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religious
Timothy Sikes
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, this book was an interesting read!

The core of this book is simple: Heiser finds and takes the concept of the divine council of God seriously. Starting with Psalms 82 and extrapolating from there, Heiser finds and dissects various various biblical texts that deal with the divine council.

He delves into the particulars of translations to show how common interpretations of texts (with the hyper-rational mind of a modern westerner) often become a bit muddled in terms of their otherworldly meanin
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, 2019
This is the first time I've read any of Heiser's work. I appreciated his scholarship and the risk of new suggestions regarding some obscure passages. He's made a contribution in his emphasis to read the Old Testament in its historical context. His main argument is that God had a council in the past made up of lesser divine beings. These divine beings rebelled. At the tower of Babel, God disinherited the nations (except Israel) and allowed the lesser gods to rule over them. Jesus initiated the ta ...more
Sam Fredrickson
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my favorite I’ve read this year. I started it with a bit of trepidation. Reading a book about ‘recovering biblical supernaturalism’ sounded like an invitation to the sort of paranoid, ultra-fundamental worldview that I usually shy away from. However, not only did I not find myself disagreeing with the majority of this book, as I was sure I would, but instead it challenged me with biblical conceptions that have changed the way I read my Bible and see the world at large. Regard ...more
Nathan M Duriga
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A challenging book that everyone who wants to understand the Bible's message ought to read, because it forces you to pay attention to things we "filter out" because of our modern thinking, and to think about the overall story of the Bible in a fresh way. I'm not convinced that all of his ideas are as settled as the way he presents them, but he writes in an accessible way about things that make you say, "Huh! I've never thought about it that way, but he may be in to something!"
Mark Barnes
9/10 (excellent): The Unseen Realm is a biblical theology of the what most people think of as heavenly or demonic beings. It's readable, scholarly, and theologically stimulating. Best of all, it tackles some of the most perplexing and difficult texts in the Bible (Genesis 6:1-4 and 1 Peter 3:18-22 among many others) and puts forward a single idea that makes good sense of nearly all of those texts.

When I'm reading a book, I highlight in red sections that I disagree with or have serious questions
Matthew Colvin
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and provocative treatment of OT angelology with gratifying results for the interpretation of several puzzling passages. Weak on NT, probably because the author is a Hebraist and OT scholar.
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Goodreads Librari...: Merge Books 3 20 Sep 24, 2015 10:32AM  

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Mike Heiser is a scholar in the fields of biblical studies and the ancient Near East. He is the Academic Editor of Logos Bible Software. Mike earned the M.A. and Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. He has also earned an M.A. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania (major fields: Ancient Israel and Egyptology). His main research ...more
“We are created to image God, to be his imagers. It is what we are by definition. The image is not an ability we have, but a status. We are God’s representatives on earth. To be human is to image God.” 8 likes
“Seeing the Bible through the eyes of an ancient reader requires shedding the filters of our traditions and presumptions. They processed life in supernatural terms. Today’s Christian processes it by a mixture of creedal statements and modern rationalism.” 4 likes
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