My Photo
Location: United States

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Christology of Revelation 1:1

H. Alford (Greek Testament) discusses the christology of Rev 1:1, responding to a objection raised in his day that Jesus Christ should be cast in the role of a recipient who was given the Αποκαλυψις from God. If Jesus Christ was fully God, why does he, even in his glorified state need to be told what to say? The notion of Jesus as a mediator of divine speech and also agent of divine works is well developed in John’s Gospel. But that was the period when the eternal Word of God was in a state of humiliation, taking on the form of a man. The question then is not what Jesus did as a man on earth but what role the exalted Christ has in regard to the revelation found in the Apocalypse of John.  

Revelation of John 1:
1  Αποκαλυψις Ιησου Χριστου, ην εδωκεν αυτῳ ο θεος δειξαι τοις δουλοις αυτου, α δει γενεσθαι εν ταχει, και εσημανεν αποστειλας δια του αγγελου αυτου τῳ δουλῳ αυτου Ιωαννῃ, 2  ος εμαρτυρησεν τον λογον του θεου και την μαρτυριαν Ιησου Χριστου, οσα ειδεν. — SBLGNT Michael W. Holmes ed.

Rev. 1:1   The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,  2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. NRSV

The standard way to read the relative clause  ην εδωκεν αυτῳ ο θεος δειξαι is demonstrated in the NRSV “which God gave him to show.” It is of course always possible to find a scholar, one or two, who advocate an alternative reading of εδωκεν. The verb  δίδωμι is extremely common with a wide range of use. Louw & Nida show sixteen semantic domains, here are two abbreviated entries:

13.128 δίδωμι: to cause to happen, used particularly in relationship to physical events

13.142 δίδωμι; παραδίδωμιd: to grant someone the opportunity or occasion to do something — ‘to grant, to allow.’ 

The dative pronoun αυτῳ makes good sense with both of these. If we were to read the genitive in Αποκαλυψις Ιησου Χριστου as one of possession (i.e. ownership) with a secondary notion of agency and δίδωμι as grant or allow, then we could perhaps eliminate the objection discussed (but rejected) by Alford. David Aune goes halfway there by translating εδωκεν “granted”. But he immediately points out the familiar Johannine theme, “God is the ultimate source of revelation, and Christ the agent of that revelation…” John 15:15 “ὅτι πάντα ἃ ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου ἐγνώρισα ὑμῖν” “for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” RSV.  Also in Matt. 11:27 we see the Son as God’s agent of revelation:

Matt. 11:27 Πάντα μοι παρεδόθη ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπιγινώσκει τὸν υἱὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ, οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα τις ἐπιγινώσκει εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν βούληται ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλύψαι. NA27

Matt. 11: 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. RSV

There appears to be an unstated assumption in most of the secondary literature that Jesus earthly role as God’s spokesman also represents his exalted role after the resurrection and ascension. This question requires more thought.   


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home