Re: Revelation and Fourth Gospel

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Mon Jun 23 1997 - 21:08:42 EDT

>I'm creeping out of the shadows to ask the experts on here for an opinion.
> I have been looking at these two books and am inclined to agree with the
>opinion that the Greek used is pretty convincing evidence that the Revelation
>was not written by the Evangelist. Can anybody comment on the pros and cons
>of this position? I still find Greek difficult and have limited confidence
>that I have made a valid judgement.

You ask a good question, Debbie. I am going to add one item to what has
already been said.

The oldest discussion of the topic you raise is found in Eusebius, Historia
Ecclesiastica 7.24-25. Eusebius records the opinion of Dionysius of
Alexandria, who became head of the catechetical school there in 231 CE, and
subsequently Gishop of Alexandria in 247. He died in 265 CE.

Dionysius was sure that the same man wrote the 1 Epistle and the Gospel. He
argues this on philogical grounds: similar vocabulary, sinilarity of style.

He is sure that the writer of the book of Revelation was John."But which
John?" He knows of two Johns, both having tombs in Ephesus.

Revelation has a different vocablular than the Gospel. "And from the
conceptions too, and from the terms and their arrangement, one might
nautrally assume that this writer was a different person from the other.:

"And further, by means of the style (FRASIS) one can estimate the
difference between the Gospel and Epistle and the Apocalypse. For the
former are not only written in faultless Greek, but also show the greatest
literary skill in their diction, their reasonings, and the constructions in
which they are expressed. There is a complete absence of any barbarous
word, or solecism, or any vulgarisms whatever. For their author had, as it
seems, both kinds of word, by the free gift of the Lord, the world of
knowledge the word of speech. But I will not deny that the other writer
[i.e. of Revelation] had seen revelations and received knowledge and
prophecy; nevertheless I observe his style and that his use of the Greek
language is not accurate, but that he employs barbarous idioms, in some
places committing downright solecisms. These there is no necessity to
single out now. For I have not said these things in mockery (let no one
think it), but merely to establish the dissimilarity of these writings."
Eusebius, H.E. 7.25.24-27.

I have cited the translation from the Loeb Classical Library edition. If
you get interested in more information, consult the standard edition of the
Greek text of the surviving fragments of Dionysius:

Charles Lett Feltoe, _The Letters and Other Remains of Dionysius of
Alexandria._ Cambridge: at the University Press, 1904. He proves a Greek
text with introductions to the separate fragments and commentary.

This is, to my knowledge, the oldest evaluation of the language of these
texts, by a native speacker of the language, the head of the closest thing
to a university in the Christian world (founded by Pantaenus, then headed
by Clement and Origen, whom Dionysius followed). His words show that the
concern with the authorhip of Revelation, based on philological evidence,
surfaced quite early. It is not surprising that Revelation had trouble
getting canonical status in the East.

This does not solve the questions you raised, but does let you know that
you are thinking along age-old lines.

*Edgar Krentz, Prof. of New Testament *
* Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago *
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