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

From: George Athas (
Date: Tue May 12 1998 - 19:22:35 EDT

Ben Crick wrote:

> [...] The early church was in no doubt as to the identity or significance of
> the
> TESSARA ZWA. The one with the face like a lion represents Matthew's Gospel;
> the one with the face like a calf (ox) represents Mark's Gospel. The one
> with the human face represents the Gospel of Luke. The one with the face of
> an eagle represents the Gospel of John. You will see these four creatures
> pictured in stained glass windows in older churches there they always
> represent the Four Gospels or the Four Evangelists.
> [...] But the ZWA represent the Four Gospels giving testimony to the
> salvation of
> our God, which is due to the life, death and resurrection of the Lamb
> (Revelation 5:9, the words of the New Song). [...]

Hi Ben!

I cannot really fathom how John would have used the four ZWA as symbolic of the
four gospels. He was living in a time when there was no real NT canon and there
were a whole lot of other gospels floating around, too. Some of the canonical
gospels may not have even been written when John wrote Revelation. *IF* it was
John bar Zebedee, then he probably hadn't written his gospel yet. This idea of
Four gospels symbolism seems rather anachronistic, doesn't it? Stained glass
windows in church buildings don't really constitute evidence of what John
intended with the images, do they? I think it's just a coincidence that there
are four ZWA and four gospels. If we are to understand the imagery of four ZWA,
we have to understand how the imagery is used in the OT since it is a basis for
apocalyptic images. Revelation is a bit like a cut-out collage of newspaper
headlines: if we want to understand what they mean, then we have to go back to
the original newspapers and read the stories accompanying each headline.

Best regards!
George Athas
 PhD (Cand.), University of Sydney
 Tutor of Hebrew, Moore Theological College
Phone: 0414 839 964 ICQ#: 5866591
Visit the Tel Dan Inscription Website at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:43 EDT