Re: The Iliad and The Apocalypse

From: Ben Crick (
Date: Tue Apr 14 1998 - 11:39:55 EDT

On Mon 13 Apr 98 (20:38:07), wrote:
> The phrase in Apocalypse 1:8 is a neat periphrasis in its own right.
> Here of course we have a masculine participle, at least in hO WN and hO
> ERCOMENOS referring to God as "he who is" and "he who comes"--but of course
> hO HN is a barbarism from the standpoint of normal Greek grammar, even
> though it is perfectly intelligible in the context; it would not be a
> barbarism if it where hO\ HN, that is, if the hO\ were a relative pronoun,
> "he who was"--but in fact the hO as printed in our texts is an article,
> so that if we were to translate literally we must say, "the one being, the
> was, and the one coming." There's yet another way to look at hO HN, but I
> don't think it is legitimate: the very ancient original function of what
> in the historical era is the article (hO, hH, TO) was that of a weak
> demonstrative, and there are a few rare locutions retaining that sense,
> as hO D'EFH ('and he said') which one does find in those writers of the
> Hellenistic period who write polished Greek--like Philo, for instance.
> But I really don't think that's what the author of the Apocalypse is doing.
> Rather it's a grammatical anomaly which is nevertheless intelligible.


 Thank you for a most interesting exposition, so noticeably lacking in the
 popular commentaries. The phrase hO... hO... hO in 1:8 is a repeat of the
 same phrase in 1:4, "APO [QEOU]/[TOU] hO WN KAI hO HN KAI hO ERCOMENOS,".
 Some MSS supply [QEOU] and more supply [TOU], indicating that hO...hO...hO
 is to be taken as a single indeclinable noun phrase.

 Swete in his comm., after quoting Hebrew and Targum examples, writes:

 "Heracleitus: KOSMOS...HN AEI KAI ESTI KAI ESTAI, the oracle in Paus. x.12
 strikes a note familiar both to Jewish and Hellenic ears.

 "But he expresses his thought /more suo/: hO HN (Benson: 'the Was') is a
 characteristically bold attempt to supply the want of a past part. of EIMI,
 while hO ERCOMENOS is perhaps preferred to hO ESOMENOS because it adumbrates
 at the outset the general purpose of the book, which is to exhibit the
 comings of God in human history..." (/The Apocalypse of John/, page 5).

 JA Bengel, in his /Gnomon Novi Testamenti/ (now for far too long out of
 print) has an interesting excursus on the phrase in 1:8, in which he treats
 hO...hO...hO as a periphrasis of the Hebrew Proper Noun YHWH:

 "§7 Since these things are so, the /Third/ Part, hO WN KAI hO HN KAI hO
 ERCOMENOS, cannot but answer to the Hebrew YHWH: for the epithet, hO
 PANTOKRATWR, is never used, unless either QEOS or YHWH immediately precede.
 The former precedes, with an interval between, in the present: therefore
 YHWH is immediately preceding. Moreover, with the three clauses taken
 together, hO WN, KAI hO HN, KAI hO ERCOMENOS, answer to the name YHWH,
 or the third, hO ERCOMENOS, undoubtedly does so.

 "§8 He who YHWH, shall be, is called hO ERCOMENOS; and yet He is not called
 hO ESOMENOS, but with great skill, hO ERCOMENOS, lest there should appear
 to be any detraction from His present /being/, and that His coming may be
 more clearly expressed. /About to be/, in Hebrew HB', /coming/; compare
 John xvi.13; and so other languages".
 "§12 There is an incomparable and admirable compounding of the name YHWH
 from YeHiY, /Shall be/, and HoWeH, /Being/, and HaWaH /Was/. This paraphrase
 of the Divine Name by three tenses flowed on to the most ancient Greek
 poets and to the Talmudic writers. Passages are given in Wolf, T.iv.Curar.
 on N.T. p 436. But the Apocalypse has the greatest strength". (op cit, ET,
 Edinburgh, 1859, vol 5, pp 195f).
 I apologise if this is verging too much on the theological rather than the
 liguistical; but Clayton has certainly drawn our attnetion to a fascinating


 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:23 EDT