Re: Revelation 5;10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri May 12 2000 - 22:17:19 EDT

At 7:43 PM -0400 5/12/00, john Hibberd wrote:
>I am new to the board. I am enquiring about Revelation 5:10. The greek word
>"epi" means "upon" but it can also be translated "over". What is the
>correct usage in this scripture and why?


EPI is a preposition that has somewhat different meanings depending upon
what case it is used with. It basically means "upon" or "onto." With a
dative it can even mean "on top of (x)" in the sense of "in addition to
(x)." With a genitive it tends to mean "on," "upon," "over" the area
coextensive with the noun in the genitive case: "And they will be kings
upon the surface of the (whole) earth" = "And they will exercise kingship
over the (whole) earth."

It's worth noting, however, that the Greek usage of the book of Revelation
in many respects does not conform to the Greek usage of most other NT
texts. For whatever reason (Greek being a second, less familiar language;
accommodation of the Greek written to Semitic patterns of syntax; other
possibilities . . .), it may well be that BASILEUOUSIN THS GHS is what
other Greek-speakers/writers might have put in this instance because verbs
of governance generally take a genitive complement to indicate what is
being governed: BASILEUSOUSIN THS GHS would also translate as "will rule
over the earth." And that could be what was intended. You realize that this
is somewhat speculative, but I add it because the more normal (common)
understanding of EPI THS GHS would be "upon the surface of the earth." The
Greek of Revelation, I repeat, does not conform to more common Greek idiom
at many points.


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

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