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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ἄλλον ἄγγελον Rev. 14:6 — part 2

Rev. 14:6 Καὶ εἶδον ἄλλον ἄγγελον πετόμενον ἐν μεσουρανήματι, ἔχοντα εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον εὐαγγελίσαι ἐπὶ τοὺς καθημένους ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶν ἔθνος καὶ φυλὴν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ λαόν,

Rev. 14:6   Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; RSV

Yesterday we looked at ἄλλον ἄγγελον in  Rev. 14:6 and raised the question, who is the “other” angel, the antecedent of ἄλλον. One solution is to look back several chapters to the last mentioned angel. Another solution is to understand ἄλλον ἄγγελον in Rev. 14:6 as an introduction to a series of two or more angels in close succession. John 4:37 shows ἄλλος introducing a comparison. The first ἄλλος has no antecedent. It marks the beginning of a comparison.

John 4:37... ἄλλος ἐστὶν ὁ σπείρων καὶ ἄλλος ὁ θερίζων.
 …  One sows and another reaps.

This is not an exact parallel to what we see in Rev. 14:6 where the first ἄλλον is the beginning of a longer series[1] and the notion of comparison is not prominent. However, John 4:37 does illustrate an initial ἄλλος used without an antecedent. I’m not inclined at the moment to adopt this solution. Angels are always discourse active in the Apocalypse of John so an antecedent in the normal sense isn’t required for the expression ἄλλον ἄγγελον. The antecedent is supplied from John’s apocalyptic framework, we need not search for it in the immediate co-text.

Searching for the antecedent has lead to further confusion in regard to ἄλλος ἄγγελος in Rev. 14:15

Rev. 14:14 Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ νεφέλη λευκή, καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν νεφέλην καθήμενον ὅμοιον υἱὸν ἀνθρώπου, ἔχων ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ στέφανον χρυσοῦν καὶ ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ δρέπανον ὀξύ.  15 καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ κράζων ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τῆς νεφέλης· πέμψον τὸ δρέπανόν σου καὶ θέρισον, ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ὥρα θερίσαι, ὅτι ἐξηράνθη ὁ θερισμὸς τῆς γῆς.

Rev. 14:14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.  15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud,  “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”

M. R. Hoffmann[2] argues that ἐπὶ τὴν νεφέλην καθήμενον ὅμοιον υἱὸν ἀνθρώπου “seated on the cloud one like a son of man” must be an “angel” since this participant immediately precedes ἄλλος ἄγγελος “another angel” in verse 15. On this point I part ways with Hoffmann. Angels abound[3] in the immediate co-text, the introduction of a non-angelic participant in the midst of several angels does not cause problems for ἄλλος ἄγγελος “another angel” in verse 15. To illustrate, we could alter the narrative so that a riderless horse is introduced in verse 14. Given that scenario reading  ἄλλος ἄγγελος in verse fifteen we would not be inclined to view the riderless horse as an angelic participant since the riderless horse is not used as a symbol of angelic beings. I argue that the Daniel 7:13 allusion in Rev. 14:14 like the riderless horse opens a different scenario. This reading and Hoffman's are both controversial. 

   [1] This series could be understood as having three elements, Rev. 14:6,8,9 or five elements including 14:5,17.

Rev. 14:6 Καὶ εἶδον ἄλλον ἄγγελον …    
I saw another angel …

Rev. 14:8 Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος δεύτερος ἠκολούθησεν λέγων·
Another angel, a second, followed, saying …

Rev. 14:9 Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος τρίτος ἠκολούθησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων
Another angel, a third, followed them, saying …

Rev. 14:15 καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ
Another angel came out of the temple …

Rev. 14:17 Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ
Another angel came out of the temple in heaven

[2]Matthias Reinhard Hoffmann, “The destroyer and the lamb: the relationship between angelomorphic and lamb Christology in the Book of Revelation” Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

[3]The angelic messengers are ubiquitous, the scenario invoked by ἄλλος ἄγγελος “another angel” is always active and open, but John opens numerous other scenarios nested within the high level apocalyptic framework.      


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