[b-greek] Re: Rev. 21:3,10

From: Carlton Winbery (winberyc@speedgate.net)
Date: Fri Jul 28 2000 - 15:51:09 EDT

Angela Lira wrote;

>Professor Juan Stam wrote:
>"I also agree that the present active
>particples in 21.2,10 & 3.12 as well as for angels in 10.1, 18.1 and 20.1
>is best understood as an action in process so that Juan saw the object as
>it descended, not only after its descent".
>Dear Professor Stam:
>Note that in Rev. 21:2,10 John is really seeing the city. But note that in
>Rev. 3:12 John is definitely not seeing the city, yet the same verbal form
>is used. In 3:12 KATABAINOUSA EK TOU OURANOU is just describing the city:
>it is not any kind of city; it is the city that comes down out of heaven
>from God. My point is that, since the expression KATABAINOUSA EK TOU
>OURANOU is used adjectively in 3:12 to describe the city, this can also be
>the case in 21:2,10. In my opinion he sees "the New Jerusalem which comes
>down out of heaven from God", not while it is descending, but from a point
>of observation above, where he can see inside its walls (as 21:10
>Note that Paul has his own ways of describing the city: "the Jerusalem
>above" or "from above" (Gal. 4:26), "the city of the living God, the
>heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22). In my opinion the expression
>"KATABAINOUSA(N) EK TOU OURANOU APO TOU QEOU" is the expression John coined
>to describe the city: the New Jerusalem "which comes down out of heaven
>from God" (as in 3:12).
>And of course I am assuming that the city is literal, and refers to a
>place, not to a people.
This whole discussion has intrigued me since I have translated Revelation
almost every year with a Greek class for the last 22 years. No book of the
GNT depends more on the interpretive method than the Rev. That is the
reason it is so difficult to have a discussion on b-Greek and limit it to
the phenomena of the language.

Another observation, it is difficult to talk of time in participles. When
time is evident in participles it is relative to the main verb. However,
many exceptions. You cannot use the tense of a participle to say when John
saw what. I think the adjectival ptc simply means the "come from God City."

Questions about what John "saw" are especially subject to the concepts of
how the Revelation was written. John depicts the risen Christ as coming
with a "sword protruding from his mouth." Did John "actually" see a sword
or did he understand the concept that the risen Christ conquers by his word
and depict it by using the symbol. Obviously this question goes beyond the
Greek text, but I hope it demonstrates that the fine points of the Greek
will not enable one to English "John's" Greek when it talks of what John
"saw." Did "John" "see" an actual city or did he understand God's provision
of an eternal community big enough to accomodate all who believe and
express this with the word picture of a city given by God? Again what I am
saying here is that you cannot pay *too* much attention to the tense of

Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
Foggleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off

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