Re: Grammatical errors in Revelation?

From: Jon R. Venema (
Date: Wed May 19 1999 - 11:27:10 EDT

>Message text written by
>Out of curiosity, did any of the early Christian writers complain about
>bad Greek grammar of the book of Revelation? And if they didn't consider
>to be poor Greek, perhaps Revelation's grammar is merely a permutation of
>Koine, an example of relatively fluid grammar, because it was the
>"coin of the realm".

>Park Linscomb
>minister of the gospel
>Manchester church of Christ<


One early Christian writer, Dionysius of Alexandria (d. ca. 264) comes to
mind. He was a pupil of Origin and became head of the Alexandrian
Catechetical School and later bishop of Alexandria. He is cited at length
by Eusebius (HE 7.25.24-27). I will just repeat the pertinent ending of a
lengthy citation from the translation by J. E. L. Oulton in the Loeb
Classical Library.

"And further, by means of the style one can estimate the difference between
the Gospel and Epistle and the Apocalypse. For the former are not only
written in faultless Greek [APTAISTWS KATA THN TWN hELLHNWN FWNHN] , but
also show the greatest literary skill in their diction, their reasonings,
and the constructions in which they are expressed. There is a complete
absence of any barbarous word, or solecism, or any vulgarism whatever. For
their author had, as it seems, both kinds of word, by the free gift of the
Lord, the word of knowledge and the word of speech. But I will not deny
that the other writer had seen revelations and received knowledge and
prophecy; nevertheless I observe his style and that his use of the Greek
hELLHNIZOUSAN AUTOU BLEPW], but that he employs barbarous idioms, in some
places commiting downright solecisms [ALL IDIWMASIN TE BARBARIKOIS CRWMENON
KAI POU KAI SOLOIKIZONTA]. These there is no necessity to single out now.
For I have not said these things in mockery (let no one think it), but
merely to establish the dissimilarity of these writings."

I hope this citation provides some clarification.

Jon R. Venema
Western Seminary

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