Re: Machen & "the language of the street."

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Mon Oct 27 1997 - 13:08:53 EST

At 07:53 PM 10/26/97 -0500, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>The biggest exception to this [i.e. my view that the NT is correct
grammatically] is the Revelation, which seems to have some
>obvious grammatical mistakes, e.g. mistakes in agreement.

No doubt about it, Revelation is mind-boggling in more ways than one. Of
course the most famous example of an apparent solecism is the use of the
nominative case with APO in 1:4 (in fact a friend challenged me on this
years ago, stating that this was bad Greek by anyone's definition). However,
I would maintain several points in defense of John: (1) Revelation probably
leads all other NT books in the use of Hebraisms, which will naturally form
comparatively awkward translation Greek; (2) we ought to give John, a native
speaker of koine, the benefit of the doubt; a quick glance shows that he
obviously knows that APO takes the genitive (see e.g. 1:4 'b' and 5, where
he uses the conventional construction). Also, note that he uses the
nominative case 6 times following APO in 1:4 'a', which indicates that he is
doing it deliberately rather than as an oversight that we would more easily
associate with incompetence. Finally, when we consider the
theological/reverential importance of the phrase in question--which also
includes the otherwise awkward construction O HN--we should take seriously
the possibility that John considers it to be so theologically charged that
here, at least, he purposely refrains even from changing the case as is
required by the grammar. Also bear in mind that one who knows the rules of
grammar is entitled to break the rules from time to time for special effect.

Don Wilkins

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