Re: Rev 5:8-9 Who sang the new song?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue May 12 1998 - 07:00:50 EDT

At 2:23 AM -0400 5/12/98, Thomas Biddy wrote:
>Rev 5:8-9 Who sang the new song?
> 8
> kai ote elaben to biblion ta tessara zwa kai oi eikositessarev
> presbuteroi epeson enwpion tou arniou econtev ekastov kiyarav
> kai fialav crusav gemousav yumiamatwn ai eisin ai proseucai twn
> agiwn
> 9
> kai adousin wdhn kainhn legontev axiov ei labein to biblion kai
> anoixai tav sfragidav autou oti esfaghv kai hgorasav tw yew
> hmav en tw aimati sou ek pashv fulhv kai glwsshv kai laou kai
> eynouv
>(Rev 5:8 KJV) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four
>and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them
>harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
>The 4 beasts and 24 elders sang?
>(Rev 5:9 KJV) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take
>the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast
>redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and
>people, and nation;
>redeemed 'us' ???? redeemed the beasts and elders ???

I don't see any other antecedent of ADOUSIN in 9 than TA 4 ZWA KAI hOI 24
PRESBUTEROI. "Beasts" is probably unfortunate here as a survival of 16th
century English, since it has a negative connotation today which it didn't
then; modern versions tend to use "living creatures" for ZWA. Bear in mind
(a) that it is they (in 4:8) who sing "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
...", (b) that the customary interpretation of the "beasts" is that they
are symbolic representations of the four evangelists. As for "redeemed
us," it would appear that the singers sing not only of their own redemption
but of people of "every kindred, tongue, and nation." They sing, therefore,
as representatives of all the redeemed. Or so I think.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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