Alpha and Omega
- Do you know why John uses in Rev 1,8 the Greek
alphabet (I am the Alpha and Omega) and not the
Hebrew one? Why doesn`t he say "Aleph and Tau", as we
would wait from a Semitic author, or emet (Aleph,
Mem, Tau) as the later tradition used to refer to God?
Bruce Malina (On the Genre and Message) explains the
origin of this expression detailedly in its helenistic
context. Also Aune (Revelation 1-5) explains the
background of this phrase. But I didn't find why Juan
appealed to the Greek alphabet, when he writes to a
strongly marked auditory for Semitic symbols. Is it
only because he writes his book in Greek language?
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- Ariel asked
>Do you know why John uses in Rev 1,8 the GreekAune gives some very helpful background in his much earlier article 'The
>alphabet (I am the Alpha and Omega) and not the
>Hebrew one? Why doesn`t he say "Aleph and Tau", as we
>would wait from a Semitic author, or emet (Aleph,
>Mem, Tau) as the later tradition used to refer to God?
Apocalypse of John and Graeco Roman Magic' which I think would answer your
Sadly, as with many of his other early articles, this valuable stuff does
not appear to have found its rightful place in the commentary.
- Hi Ariel
I found some explanations in Aune on 1:8, 21:6, 22:13 in the paper copy. He
comments also on 'beginning and end', used in parallel. He says this is
drawn from Hellenistic religious and philosophical traditions. The comment
on 21:6 is quite extensive (vol 3 p 1127) quoting Plato alluding to an
Orphic poem on the Derveni papyrus c 350 BC - Zeus as beginning, middle and
end. In the comment on 1:8, Aune discusses the Hebrew 'emet, truth, in this
context and describes the magical nature of the 7 Greek vowels abbreviated
by A and O (vol 1 p 56-57) including some fanciful transliterations: ieou
e(stin) A (kai) O. meaning Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, and IAO as a
substitute for YHWH.
I trust you can find these on the electronic copy by verse.
You ask why the writer would not use the Hebrew letters? Surely in a Greek
ms, Hebrew letters would be out of focus.
A singer in the choir at the parish church in Patmos who gave us a tour of
the cave of the apocalypse was proud to say that here God spoke outside the
Holy Land and in Greek!
+ + + Victoria, B.C., Canada + + +
Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes that make havoc of the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in flower. (Song 2.15)