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Re: Maurice Robinson on Rev. 5:9

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  • Daniel Buck
    ... email I received from him on Tue, 29 Aug 2006: While certainly the NA/UBS reading is problematic from my perspective due to its limited (singular)
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 20, 2006
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      David Robert Palmer referenced the following footnote:
      >> Dr. Maurice Robinson offered his take on these variants in an
      email I received from him on Tue, 29 Aug 2006:

      "While certainly the NA/UBS reading is problematic from my
      perspective due to its limited (singular) support, so also the TR
      reading is problematic due to its slim support and what appears to
      be an obvious attempt to smooth out the presumed difficulty. The
      problem, however, from my "reasoned transmissional" perspective, is
      why the great mass of Byzantine MSS (both Andreas and Q groups
      united here) would join and maintain throughout transmissional
      history a reading which, if not original, otherwise should have
      been "corrected" on the large scale in order to eliminate the
      apparent difficulty of interpretation. Since such did not occur on
      the grand scale, then within the Byzantine-priority perspective it
      would appear that there must have been some reason why the scribes
      did not balk en masse.

      So, just for the record, here is my take regarding one possible
      explanation (not necessarily the only one that could be provided):

      Context: (5:8) the four living creatures and the 24 elders fall upon
      their faces and (5:9) "they sing" a new song.

      Does "they" include both parties (i.e. the living creatures *and*
      the elders together? Or might the "they" only involve those
      comprising one or the other group at any given point?

      My suspicion is that the referent of "they" fluctuates according to
      the nature of the portion of the song cited; what one then finds is
      something in the manner of an antiphonic chorus, with each group
      taking its own proper part. Thus:

      (5:9) And they [the 24 elders] sang a new song, saying, "You are
      worthy to take the book and to open its seals, because you were
      slain, and you redeemed _us_ to God by your blood, out of every
      tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation."

      (5:10) [Antiphonic response by the four living creatures, perhaps
      joined by the great multitude of angels surrounding the throne
      mentioned in 5:10]: "And you made _them_ kings and priests to our
      God, and _they_ shall reign upon the earth."

      (5:11) [now discussing the entire mixed multitude]: And I saw and I
      heard, as a voice/sound of many angels surrounding the throne, also
      the living creatures, also the elders....[these all then continue
      (5:12-14) with the song/statement in unison, following which two
      separate reactions occur: *only* the four living creatures
      say "Amen", while the 24 elders fall down and worship, thus
      reflecting once again a separation of function and statement between
      the two groups].

      This certainly would seem to work and provide some plausible
      explanation for the Byzantine reading. It would also help explain
      why the vast majority of scribes appeared to have little or no
      problem in perpetuating that particular sequence of text.

      Others may differ in their evaluation or interpretation, but I think
      it incumbent upon whatever text anyone favors that its supporters
      offer a reasonable explanation not only for their favored reading in
      context, but also in order to reasonably explain the rise and
      dominance of the Byzantine reading (which too often is not done, and
      more so in a complex book such as Revelation). There seems to be
      enough other referent shifts within Revelation or the Johannine
      writings (e.g. Rev 16:15; 22:6-7, 11-12; cf. Jn 8:31, 44) so that
      the explanation give would find support; however, those other cases
      are not essential to the interpretation suggested above.

      Maurice A Robinson, PhD"<<

      I might add to the above that such shifts of person are quite common
      in the poetic passages of Scripture, and no further explanation is
      really necessary.

      For example, in Psalm 2 David begins by speaking of God, Christ, and
      the heathen in the third person; then shifts to the first person
      quoting the heathen referring to God; back to the third person; then
      to the first person quoting God referring to His King; then the
      first person quoting the Christ referring to God; back to the first
      person quoting God referring to the Christ; then to the second
      person referring to the heathen.

      Many of these shifts are subtle and can be determined only by
      context. But this Psalm was quoted four times in the NT with no
      question as to who was saying what in reference to whom.

      Daniel Buck
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