Re: Rev 22:17--who ERCOU?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 19 1998 - 16:10:48 EST

At 5:21 AM -0600 2/19/98, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>Trevor M Peterson wrote:
>> Are there any structural or grammatical indicators that would explain the
>> recipients of the imperatives in Rev 22:17? I'm thinking specfically
>> here of the two ERCOU's. (The others are pretty straightforward, or so
>> it seems.) Contextually, it seems to be a tough call, since both the
>> idea of the Lord's coming and the invitation for the thirsty to come are
>> expressed.
>One wants to be very cautious before disagreeing with Carl so I spent some
>time on this before responding. If I have misunderstood Carl on this please
>accept my apologies in advance. Carl's arguments can be very subtle and I am
>not a subtle thinker.
>Reading the text, and it's immediate context over half a dozen times it
>appeared to me that both ERCOU's in verse 17 are directed at KURIE IHSOU of
>verse 20. One of my reasons for reaching this conclusion is that the the first
>ERCOU is spoken by hH NUMFH. It cannot be both spoken by and addressed to hH
>NUMFH. The second ERCOU is the object of another imperative EIPATW which is
>addressed to the hO AKOUWN. Again, hO AKOUWN cannot be both the source and the
>object of the command ERCOU.
>After doing my own work on this I consulted the commentaries. R.H. Charles, in
>his rather caviler treatment of the text has either moved Rev. 22:17 to some
>place where I cannot find it or he has removed it from the text entirely. I
>don't think may current commentators on the Apocalypse follow the
>reconstruction of the text offered by Charles.
>G. B. Caird, thinks that the first ERCOU is addressed to all those who come.
>He concludes that the second ERCOU is addressed to KURIE IHSOU of verse 20.
>H.B. Swete supports my conclusion, that both ERCOUS are addressed to KURIE
>IHSOU of verse 20. Swete does not use exactly the same argument that I put
>forth above but his results are the same.

I certainly wouldn't want to be dogmatic about this, although I hold to
what I wrote before, primarily because it seems to me that the sequence of
verse 17 upon verse 16 is most intelligible with 17 as a response to what
seems to me to be an invitation heralded in 16. I will agree that the three
forms of ERCOU in 17 COULD be taken as referring to the coming of Christ,
but the 3rd person imperatives ERCESQW and LABETW that follow cannot be so
taken. To me the shift of the subject of the imperatives between the 3x
ERCOU and the last two seems very abrupt, but then, on the other hand, this
author is not reputed to write the highest level of Greek either
morphologically or syntactically. Here, it appears, the ambiguity, is
almost intolerable, yet it allows for alternative interpretations.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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