LEHRE UNO VVEHRE
MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-Lu TH. HOMILETIK
THEOLOGICAL Q UARTERLY-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY
Vol. XVI February, 1945 No. 2
The Mal'burg Colloquy of 1529: A Textual Study.
George John Beto 73
Syntactical Peculiarities in Revelation. Paul M. Bretscher ___ __ 95
Outlines on Gospels Adopted by Synodical Conference __ 106
Miscellanea __ _ _ ____________ __________________________ ____________ . _____ _ ... _ 113
Book Review ___________ _
Ein Prediger muss n leht allein wei-
den, also dass er die Schafe unter-
weise. wle sie reehte Christen sollen
sein. sondern aueh daneben den Woel-
fen w eh7'en . dass sie die Schafe nicht
angreifen und mit falscher Lehr e ver-
fuehren und Irrtum einfuehren.
_ _____________________ ._ _ 139
Es 1st kein Ding, das die Leute
mehr bel der Kirche behaelt denn
die gu te Predigt. - A pologie, Art, 24
If t he trumpet give an uncertain
sound, who shall prepare himself to
the bat tle? -1 C07'.14 :8
Published for the
Ev. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States
CONCORDIA PUBLlSIDNG HOUSE, St. Louis 18, Mo.
PRlNl'KD IN U. S. A.
Syntactical Peculiarities III Revelation 96
:"rntadicaJ ....,ecl~· trW : in f'evE" 'jOlL
"1 see his dialect and langl'age not accurately conforming to
GI o.~. I see hi mal' g uSe of idioms of foreign tum ld 1
and there even tending to solecism." So wrote Dionysius Magmls.1)
Since the days of Dionysius Magnus, the style and language
employed by the author of Revelation has been variously assessed.
Among modem writers on the subject the opinions of Moulton,
Swete, Benson, Debrunner, Charles, Howard, Robertson, Rader-
macher, and Lohr are particularly noteworthy.
Moulton 2) writes, "Even the Greek of the Apocalypse does not
seem to owe any of its blunders to Hebraism. . .. The author's
uncertain use of cases is obvious to the most casual reader ....
We find him perpetually indifferent to concord. But the less edu-
cated papyri give us plentiful parallels from a field where Semitism
cannot be suspected.. .. Apart from places where he may be
definitely translating a Semitic document, there is no reason to
believe that his gran>..mar would have been materially different
had he been a native of Oxyrhynchus, assuming the extent of
Greek ;education the same." In a footnote on page nine of the
same work, Moulton 1"""'>, "!+ 'vill not do to appeal to ~am:::~:
to prove t th uthu< ",as Ci ,/ ew; as far as that goes, he might
just as well have been a farmer of the Fayum. Thought and ma-
terial must exclusively determine that question."
Swete 3) does not agree with Moulton. He allows for the pos-
sibility that the early years of thinking in a Semitic language were
responsible for some of John's stylistic eccentricities in Revelation.
His final summary is: "From whatever cause or concurrence of
causes, it cannot be denied that the Apocalypse of John stands
alone among Greek literary writings in its disregard of the or-
dinary rules of syntax and the success with which syntax is set
aside without loss of perspicuity or even of literary power. The
book seems openly and deliberately to defy the grammarian, and
yet, even as literature, it is in its own field unsurpassed. No judge
who compared it with any other Greek apocalyptic work would
hesitate to give the palm to the canonical Apocalypse."
Benson 4) allows for only a few solecisms in Revelation and at-
tempts to show that the author wrote largely K(na O'U'VEClL'J (according
to the reader's comprehension of truth).
1) Eusebius, Ecclesiastical HistoTY, VII, 25.
2) J. H. Moulton, PTolegomena, 8 f.
3) H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, 115-125.
4) E. W. Benson, The Apocalypse, Essay V; A Grammar of Un-
96 Syntactical Peculiarities in Revelation
Debrunner 5) writes, "Of all New Testament authors, the writer
of Revelation writes the most commonplace style" ("am vulgaersten
schreibt der Verfasser der Apokalypse") . "Revelation, as compared
with the other New Testament books and the other writings of
John, shows a number of very conspicuous solecisms which rest
chiefly on neglect of concord." With respect to the possibility of
Semitic influence on Revelation, Debrunner believes that trans-
lation Greek is to be found 1) in the LXX and therefore in quota-
tions from the LXX occurring in Revelation; 2) in those writings
of the New Testament which probably rest on an Aramaic original
(parts of the synoptic Gospels and of Revelation) .
Charles 6) devotes ten pages to a discussion of the Hebraic style
of the Apocalypse. His position is: "While the author writes in
Greek, he thinks in Hebrew, and the thought has naturally affected
the vehicle of expression." Charles then proceeds to make out
a strong case for the contention that the Hebrew idiom lies behind
the Greek of Revelation.
Howard 7) agrees substantially with Charles, but poses the
question: "The writer's familiarity with Hebrew seems to lie be-
yond question, but why should not Aramaic be his mother tongue,
the language in which his thoughts would first frame themselves?"
He believes that the solution of the linguistic problem in Revela-
tion lies in the combinat ion of the following factors :
1. a mind that thought in Aramaic and found in the Greek
vernacular of his world many idioms sufficiently close to his mother
tongue for his purpose;
2. sources in translated Greek and Hebrew, which he worked
into his book in Hebraic Greek;
3. a knowledge of the LXX and of various apocalypses already
current in a Greek form, which supplied him with a vocabulary and
often suggested an idiom.
His statement: "More importance should be allowed to the in-
fluence of the LXX" (484) seems particularly pertinent.
Robertson 8) takes the position: "The syntactical peculiarities
are due partly to constructio ad sensum and variatio structu1·ae.
The solecisms in the Apocalypse are chiefly cases of anacolutha .
. . . Moulton denies that the Apocalypse has any Hebraisms. That
is possibly going too far the other way, for the book is saturated
with the apocalyptic images and phrases of Ezekiel and Daniel
5) Blass-Debrunner, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch,
sixth edition (1931) , 83,84.
6) R. H. Charles, The Revelation of St. John, I, 142-152.
7) Moulton and Howard, A Grammar of New Testament Greek,
II, 484 f.
8) A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in
the Light of Historical Research, fourth edition (1923), 135-36; 413-16.
Syni.dcLlca! reculiarities }n li,8velation 97
and is very much like the other Jewish apocalypses. It is not so
much particular Hebraisms that meet us in the Apocalypse as the
flavor of the LXX, whose words are interwoven in the text at
nacher 9) observe;: "No lY . 'festament writer: .. ~ards
hi fficiently free to despise w .. :....~ i~ grammatically permis-
sible. Revelation only is an exception, inasmuch as it totally dis-
regards all rules of concord ("indem sie sich ueber aUe Regeln der
Kongruenz einfach hinwegsetzt"). Following a brief discussion of
Rev. 1: 4, 5, in which he points out syntactical peculiarities in these
two verses, Radermacher says, "This style is not bound to gram-
matical rules. But its hardness is of a monumental character, and
it is not proper to compare with it crudities in the papyri letters"
("seine Starrheit ist monumental, und es empfiehlt sich nicht,
damit die Stuempereien der Papyrusbriefe zu vergleichen").
Rohr 10) concludes, "Revelation speaks the common language
of the first century with a pronounced touch of the later Koine . ...
The style reflects here and there a certain degree of poveTi;y but
also a richness which is capable of providing for every situation and
mood the corresponding form, and acquaintance with grammatical
rules coupled with a sovereign contempt of these rules. One or the
other of the stylistic peculiarities appears here and there in con-
temporary profane literature, but never with such deliberate logis.
Its peculiarity derives not only from the intimate familiaxi' • the
author with the Prophets, for he has taken over from them not
only his imagery, but also his mode of expression. And, finally, his
native tongue was, like theirs, the Hebrew. Some peculiarities may
be explained only as Hebraisms." Lohr then lists ten peculiarities
which he regards as Semitisms. Yet, so Lohr believes, the seer was
preserved from a one-sided Hebraizing tendency because of the
realistic character of his subject matter. In the Gospel we have
calm reflection, but in Revelation the excitation and ecstasy of the
seer. John continues in this mood, and, as a result of it, his native
Aramaic idiom bursts the shackles of his acquired Greek idiom"
("1m Evangelium spricht die ruhige Ueberlegung, in der Apoka-
lypse zittert die Erregung del' Ekstase des Sehers und seiner Er-
schuetterung durch das Geschaute nach, und in dieser Erregung
sprengt das heimisch aramaeische Idiom die Regeln des Angelern-
ten, des Griechischen").
From the above analyses of the style and language of Revela-
tion it is evident that investigators are by no means in entire agree-
ment, the chief contention being the relation of the language of
9) Ludwig Radermacher, Netttesta1nentliche G1'ammatik, 223.
10) Ignaz Rohr, Der Hebraeerbrief tmd die Geheime OlJenbm'ttng
des hei,ligen Johannes, 67-69,
98 Syntactical Peculiarities in Revelation
Revelation to a Semitic idiom. Though Charles and Howard have
made careful studies in this field, an exhaustive investigation is still
a desideratum. The solution of the problem seems to lie in further
researches in the LXX, and, if it were to be discovered, in Aramaic
literature of the two centuries before the Christian era.
Since I undertook this study with the purpose of gaining a
general overview of the syntactical peculiarities in Revelation,
I did not devote very much effort to a study of Semitisms in Revela-
tion. In this paper I am merely classifying and illustrating various
kinds of syntactical irregularities in Revelation, commenting on
some, and calling attention here and there to parallels in papyri
from the Hellenistic and the early Christian period. Where I be-
lieved an irregularity to be due to Semitic influence, I noted it.
In presenting my findings I am not following a pattern set by
one or more grammarians, one reason being that there still exists
some uncertainty as to what constitutes syntax. Another reason
is that the varieties of syntactical irregularities in Revelation seem
to defy all attempts at classification. I have studiously avoided
commenting on cases commonly classified by Germans under "Laut-
lehre" and "vVortlehre."
1. Violations of concord (case, gender, number, person).
Repeatedly we find in Revelation an apposition in the nomina-
tive in place of an oblique case. Such irregularities appear also here
and there in other New· Testament books, but only rarely.ll)
The participle, in particular, violates accepted standards. "Its
range in later times becomes more and more uncertain, and the
masculine nominative singular gains complete ascendancy. In
modern Greek the participle has only one indeclinable form in
-nllC; (nom)." 12)
1: 5: aJto 'ITjO"oli XQLO".oli, 0 [.to:Q.ue; 0 mO".oc;
2: 20: .11V yuvlltxll 'IE~O:~EA, f] AEY01JO"U EIlU.TJV JtQo