Re 1.14-16 Epiphany (cont)
- To take the lampstands which appear in v 13 as being the menorah rather than seven separate lights seems inviting, but the representation of the lights of the tabernacle / temple in the OT are not uniform and the context here appears to demand that they be separate (see Re 2.5).
ἡ δὲ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ αἱ τρίχες λευκαὶ ὡς ἔριον λευκὸν ὡς χιὼν
hH DE KEFALH AUTOU KAI hAI TRIXES LEUKAI hWS ERION LEUKON hWS XIWN
See Dan 7.9 (LXX - Old Greek)
9 As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire.Aune (Op. cit 52a p. 94) calls attention to the fact that 1 Enoch 46.1, 71.10, 106.2and 10 have similar language regarding the hair indicating a comparison with angels and denoting wisdom. Of the 23 occurances of λευκός in the NT, 14 are in the Apocalypse.
This idea of the just being robed in white was undoubtedly influenced by the burial of the dead in white clothes, but it is hard to say how much it may also owe to the idea that white is the colour appropriate only to God and the heavenly world. Like the concept of guilt and innocence, this idea plays a role in the development of OT colour symbolism, and there is hardly any need to turn to non-Jewish parallels for its better understanding. It may be that the origin is to be sought in the idea of heavenly clothing which is one of the gifts of the future life, or which represents this life. This idea is found in later Jewish writings (esp. Eth. En. 63:14; Slav. En. 22:8), and we find it in the Rabbis, though it is to be distinguished from the reference already made. For here there is no thought of the recognition of guilt or innocence. Strong emphasis is laid on the fact that this clothing is a divine gift. Nor is there any idea of the
expression of festive joy. The main thought is that of transfiguration to heavenlyglory such as is proper to God and heavenly beings. As the heavenly colour white has become the eschatological colour. In the background one may detect the definite concept of the supraterrestrial substance of light as divine—an idea which is never so clearly evident in the OT.…
In the NT this exchatological use, which forms the conclusion of our deliberations thus far, occupies the field almost exclusively. That is to say, in the NT white ismentioned almost always in eschatological and apocalyptic contexts or as the heavenly colour.
W. Michaelis, TDNT, IV 245
See note to Re 1.13 above.
οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς φλὸξ πυρὸς
hOI OFQALMOI AUTOU hWS FLOC PUROS
Probably from Dan 10.6. Aune tends to reference Greek, Roman and other literature which appear to be similar. While I wouldn't wish to deny any relationship, I think it preferable to search for connections within the biblical tradition.
Dan 10.5-14 LXX, MT
οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ ὡς ἐν καμίνῳ πεπυρωμένης
That 1.14b is from Dan 10.6 is supported by this continuation which is also similar in thought to Daniel though quite different in wording. Aune states that
The “one like a son of man” described here is apparently barefoot, and it is worth noting that Israelite priests apparently wore no special footgear when officiating in the tabernacle or temple. In Acts of John 90, in the context of a retelling of the transfiguration of Jesus, his feet are described as being whiter than snow.
Aune, Op cit. 52a p.95
I find this intriguing. On the one hand Aune downplays the connection of the mention of the ποδήρη as indicative of the portrait of Christ as the High Priest in this vision, but he seizes on this detail. That this might legitimately be an indication of the priestly character of this image might be deduced from the facts that (1) it was the High Priest who appeared before God in the Holy of Holies and (2) in the Mosaic call narrative of Ex 3.1-4.17 he is told in 3.5 to remove his sandals "for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
hUDATWN POLLWN καὶ ἰδοὺ δόξα θεοῦ Ισραηλ ἤρχετο κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν τῆς πύλης τῆς βλεπούσης πρὸς ἀνατολάς, καὶ φωνὴ τῆς παρεμβολῆς ὡς φωνὴ διπλασιαζόντων πολλῶν
KAI IDOU DOCA QEOU ISRAHL HRXETO KATA THN hODON THS PULHS THS BLEPOUSHS PROS ANATOLAS, KAI FWNH THS PAREMBOLHS hWS FWNH DIPLASIAZONTWN POLLWN
Also cf. Ps 18.14-18 LXX, MT (Eng. 18.13-16)LXX
ἔχων ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ ἀστέρας ἑπτὰ
EXWN EN THi DECIAi XEIRI AUTOU ASTERAS hEPTA
Regarding this Charles states
This clause is to be interpreted purely symbolically and not literally. It means that these seven stars were subject to him, and wholly in his power. On the other hand the words ἔθηκεν τὴν δεξιὰν αὐτοῦ ἐπ’ ἐπ’ ἐμέ [EQHKEN THN DECIAN AUTOU EP' EME] in 17 are to be taken literally.
Op. Cit., i. 30
This is in the context of a vision. Everything in a vision is "literally seen." Usually, however, nothing in a vision is to be understood as "literal" in the usual sense of an event ocurring on earth. Even the placing of the right hand on "John" is not to be taken as a literal event but figuratively as comfort and strengthening.
I do not understand the tendency of numerous authors to try to find astrological symbolism in this and other passages in the Apocalypse. Our author tells us what his symbolism stands for; it is unnecessary and counterproductive to find some connection with astrology / astronomy. Furthermore, our author explicitly condemns that practice.
ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ ῥομφαία δίστομος ὀξεῖα ἐκπορευομένη
EK TOU STOMATOS AUTOU hROMFAIA DISTOMOS OCEIA EDPROEUOMENH
Charles and Beale assert that this goes back to Is 11.4 where the LXX has καὶ πατάξει γῆν τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ [KAI PATACEI GHN TWi LOGWi TOU STOMATOS AUTOU] and Is 49.2 which has καὶ ἔθηκεν τὸ στόμα μου ὡσεὶ μάχαιραν ὀξεῖαν [KAI EQHKEN TO STOMA MOU hWSEI MAXAIRAN OCEIAN]. See Tertullian's understanding of the sword which is here described. Note that the Apocalyptcicist does not use μάχαιρα [MAXAIRA] as in the case of other passages. The μάχαιρα [MAXAIRA] was the broad sword whereas the ῥομφαία [hROMFAIA] was the short sword. I would hesitate to draw any conclusions based on my limited knowledge of these weapons, but it should be noted that the usage in the Apocalypse is different.
In 6.4on the other hand, he uses μάχαιρα [MAXAIRA] for the sword which the rider of the red horse wields and likewise in 13.10in reference to those who are decreed to die thereby. It would appear that ῥομφαία [hROMFAIA] is used in the Apocalypse to refer to the weapon which Christ wields—1.16; 2.12; 6.8, 19.15. Christ's sword is to be understood not as a literal sword but as his word. This is most likely why there is a distinction made in regard to the designation of the sword—see Jn 18.36.
ἡ ὄψις αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος φαίνει ἐν τῇ δυνάμει αὐτοῦ
hH OYIS AUTOU hWS hO hHLIOS FAINEI EN THi DUNAMEI AUTOU
This seems reminiscent of the Matthean account of the transfiguration where we read
έ̓λαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡ̓ς ὁ ἥλιος
ELAMYEN TO PROSWPON AUTOU hWS hO hHLIOS
… search for truth, hear truth,
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
defend the truth till death.
- Jan Hus
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]