ZELEUW in Rev 3:19

From: Adamsen, Georg (georg.adamsen@post3.tele.dk)
Date: Thu Oct 16 1997 - 06:47:35 EDT


I am having difficulty with the verb ZELEUW in Rev 3:19. The form of
the verb is very unusual (the usual form being zelow cf. the
apparatus in NA27). It seems to be attested only in the 5. or 6.
century and in a v.l. of a Democrit manuscript which is -
unfortunately - not dated by Liddell-Scott. Bauer-Aland as well as
Liddell-Scott 9.ed with 1996-supplement take the meaning as 'to be
zealous for' or something like that.

The standard dictionaries (e.g. Kittel's ThWNT / TDNT and Brown's
NIDNTT) have very short discussions if any.

The commentaries (e.g. Caird, Giblin, Mueller (1995), Rowland,
Charles, Bousset, Zahn (who does not translate the two imperatives at
all), Beasley-Murray, Ladd (who treats it as the opposite of the
Laodiceans' complacency but where is that indicated?) Wall, Morris and
Mounce). do not treat this problem except for very small notices.

The exception is Thomas (Revelation 1-7 p. 305f and 319f) takes it to
denote the "new habit to be embraced" in opposition to the
lukewarmness denoting indifference while hotness and coldness denotes
faith and open hostility and rejection, respectively.

I think, however, that Thomas has misunderstood the opinion of e.g.
Rudwick-Green, Wood and Hemer. The hotness and coldness are two
positive metaphors denoting usefulness, i.e. faith working through
love and are the opposite of the lukewarmness: the uselessness or -
with other words - the spiritual death, complacency, self-deceit etc.

So how can 'zealousness' function as an appropriate "answer" to the
Jesus' harsh critique? Does ZELEUW mean 'to be zealous for' at all? if
not, what does it mean then?

Bousset and some of the commentaries mentioned above take the
"present" aspect as indicating the continuous attitudem but how can
zealousness be related to their self-delusion? So what is the object
of the zealousness? is it METANOHSON so that we have in effect as kind
of hendiadys? or does it not imply any "object" ?

is the zealousness the basis of repentance or vice
versa? or is it a rather "weak" verb acting almost in stead of an
intensifying adverb? something like 'repent eagerly' or 'seriously' ?

Rev 3:19a is clearly sapiential vocabulary and is well-known. ZELOW is
also used quite often in sapiential texts but always in rather
different contexts. So the use of ZELOW in OT and NT does not help me
as far as I can see.

The classical Greek usage may indicate (LS s.v. ZELOW) a meaning of
'desire emulously' or 'strive after', but one should perhaps expect a
acc.rei if this meaning should be an option ?

Is the rather special form -EUW in stead of -OW an indication that the
meaning of the verb is rather special or perhaps different of ZELOW

Any suggestions are welcome!

Georg S. Adamsen
the Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus, Denmark

Cand.theol. Georg S. Adamsen, researcher
The Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus
Katrinebjergvej 75, DK-8200 Aarhus N
Phone +45 86 16 63 00 Fax +45 86 16 68 00
Please, use my direct number +45 86 16 66 66 ext 17
Private phone +45 86 10 72 55 Fax +45 65 25 55 44
E-mail: gsadamsn@pip.dknet.dk OR: Georg.Adamsen@post3.tele.dk
Revelation Resources WWW: http://sunsite.auc.dk/Revelation

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