Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

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Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:46 am

So Richard Carrier:
Hm. I don’t think Revelation deep time’s the crucifixion. Did you have passages in mind? Because if it’s Rev. 12:8 [correction, 13:8], for example, that doesn’t say the lamb was slain at the foundation of the world, but that the names of those he would save were written in a celestial book at that time (theistic determinism, a la Calvinism). Just as Paul says in Galatians that scripture forewrote the crucifixion (meaning the scriptures were written before the atonement sacrifice happened). The idea of a crucifixion before time is something Robert Price has proposed; I don’t know where he gets the idea. It’s not in the NT.
It seems that Carrier's criticism is the same criticism made by Loisy against the Couchoud's idea that Rev 13:8 is evidence of a crucifixion before time.

But I find that Couchoud knew well that kind of criticism and he replied to it in the following way:
When is the sacrifice of the Lamb supposed to have taken place? A single text gives the answer: the passage where the visionary damns the idolators “whose names are not written in the book of the Lamb sacrificed from the foundation of the world” (xiii. 18). M. Loisy introduces a comma after “sacrificed,” thereby making the text to mean “whose names are not written, since the foundation of the world, in the book of the sacrificed Lamb.” The comma is not in the text and nothing compels us to place it there. It is true enough that the inscription or non-inscription in the Book of Life was determined at “the foundation of the world” (xvii. 8). All the more reason for affirming that the sacrifice of the Lamb, the cause of which inscription in the Book is effect, also took place at “the foundation of the world.” When Jesus is named “the first born of the dead” (i. 5), when he says “I hold the keys of death and Hades” (i. 18), these words are to be taken in their plain sense. He is the first Being who has both known and conquered death. The Lamb sacrificed from the world's foundation is of the same order as the Bull of Mithraism from whose sacrifice, at the beginning of time, issued the fountain of universal life. They are both mystery-images with a sacred repast as the link between them. In both cases a primeval sacrifice is the condition of salvation for the believer.
(Creation of Christ, p. 441, my bold)

According to Couchoud, the names of evil people were written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world as effect of the sacrifice of the Lamb.

If the Book is “of the Lamb sacrificed” (genitive possessive), then the existence of the Book assumes already the existence of a Lamb sacrificed, hence these names were written in that Book AFTER the death of Jesus.


Couchoud — Carrier: 2 - 1 ? :consternation:
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by neilgodfrey » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:38 am

Agreed. I don't believe the author of Revelation was all that concerned about getting right the precise semantic expressions to ensure lack of ambiguity two millennia into the future. The names in the book of life are linked to the blood of the lamb -- both were there from the foundation of the world. From the foundation of the world equates with Wisdom. The names in the book of life did not precede Wisdom, but the sacrifice of the Lamb was that Wisdom.

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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by rakovsky » Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:01 am

Revelation 13:8: And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

(1) There is also a debate among scholars and translations of the Bible on whether in Rev. 13:8 in Greek grammar the phrase "from the origin of the world" refers to "those whose names have not been written", or to the Lamb who was slain.

Compare for example:
Revelation 17:8: The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

"from the foundation of the world" uses the same Greek phrase as in Rev. 13:8, and the sense in Rev. 17:8 is that the writer is concerned about how from the beginning of the world there were certain names written in the book of life.

In English, in the phrase " whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world", there would normally be a comma after Lamb, and "slain from the foundation of the world" would describe the Lamb. Otherwise it looks like a run-on construction. In Greek (and Latin IIRC) however word order is not necessarily the same. A comma can be introduced as follows:
" whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world", and this can be reworded as:
"whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain."

Here is a good example:
ὠκεανὸς ἀπέραντος ἀνθρώποις καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτὸν κόσμοι ταῖς αὐταῖς ταγαῖς του δεσπότου διευθύνονται.
Word for word this is:
Ocean endless to|for-humans and the among|after-it worlds|systems to|for-the-same-battlefronts|jurisdictions|commands of-the-master are-continually-being-steered.

However, translation into English requires us to move the phrases around.

(2) Furthermore, it might not mean that the lamb was slain before the beginning, but that this event was "from" the beginning, referring to predestination.
What does 'απο καταβολης κοσμου' mean

But απο is the word that is yanked in different directions depending on which bible version you consult, translated variably as 'before' or 'from'. Giving the idiom as 'from the foundation of the world' is arguably neutral. But 'before the foundation of the world' brings the verse into an overtly deterministic theology (i.e. God determined, even before he made the world, who would be saved or condemned), which would not be entirely out of place in the broader stream of first-century Jewish-Christian theology.

However, the exact same idiom, right down to the noun morphology, is found in five places in the new testament outside of the Revelation. Because the wording is used identically in all seven instances, this greatly suggests the idiom had taken on a systematic meaning in Greek-speaking Jewish-Christian thought in the first century.

One of these is again difficult to determine the meaning: Matthew 25.34 uses the idiom, but doesn't give us any direct frame of reference for what 'απο καταβολης κοσμου' refers to.

But the other three all use the idiom with a clear meaning in mind: Hebrews 9.26 says, if his death was not truly sufficient as a 'sacrifice', Jesus would 'have had to suffer repeatedly 'απο καταβολης κοσμου', with the clear meaning being that Jesus would had to have been sacrificed over and over throughout history. Luke 11.50 applies it to the time of Abel and after (i.e. Genesis 4 onward), and Hebrews 4.3 applies it to the time God finished creating the world and after (i.e. Genesis 2.1-3 onward).

Psalm 78.2: I will utter riddles from ancient times.

LXX Psalm 77.2: I will utter riddles from the beginning [απ αρχης].

Matthew 13.35: I will utter [things] hidden απο καταβολης κοσμου.

The following verse in Psalm 78 clarifies 'ancient times' as the time of the 'fathers' of the people of Israel. LXX Psalm 77.2 calls this period 'the beginning', which Matthew 13.35 calls 'καταβολης κοσμου'.

Assuming the author of Matthew 13.35 was aware of the original context of Psalm 78, then his use of 'απο καταβολης κοσμου' refers to the early days of Israel's ancestors forward (i.e. at least Abraham onward).

In these four cases – Luke 11.50, Hebrews 9.26, Hebrews 4.3, and Matthew 13.35 – 'απο καταβολης κοσμου' is best translated as 'since the foundation of the world' (i.e. after the world was made), not 'before the foundation of the world' (i.e. prior to the world being made). The consistent usage and the exactness of the phrase implies it was a common idiom that carried a specific meaning in early Christian circles, so it's reasonable to suggest the author of the Revelation picked this up.
Conclusion

Following the above, we have two points:

If we follow the way the idiom in the third clause is used in other first-century Christian literature, as well as a parallel in the Septuagint, the phrase connotes the time after the world was made, not before.


https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/ ... lation-138
See also:
1 Peter 1:20 "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary on Rev. 17:8
"Slain from the beginning. In the foreknowledge of God; and in as much as all mercy and grace, from the beginning, were given in view of his death and passion." (Challoner)

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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by Bernard Muller » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:06 pm

Rev 13:8, YLT:
And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain[,] from the foundation of the world;
The text makes more sense if a comma is added (as shown). In that case, "from the foundation of the world" is about the names being written in the scroll of life, not the Lamb slain.
Furthermore if the lamb was slain very early on, I would expect "at" rather than "from" ('apo').
Also, "slain" is a participle, that is a verbal adjective. It qualifies "lamb" but does not suggest the slaying was "from the foundation of the world".
Maybe Ben can clarify that.

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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:16 pm

From my knowledge of Greek I would say that grammatically the most natural understanding of the text is Carrier's, that the meaning is: "the book of life of the lamb that was slain", and their "names have not been written" in this book "from the foundation of the world", unlike the righteous saints.

If the author of this passage, Rev 13:8, wanted to say "the book of life of the lamb that was slain at the time of/before the foundation of the world" he would probably have made a 'sandwich' construction with "του εσφαγμενου" ("the one slain" or "who was slain") by wrapping it around the phrase "from the foundation of the world":

The text:
του ανριου του εσφαγμενου απο καταβολης κοσμου
the lamb that has been slain from the foundation of the world

This sandwich construction would be an unambiguous way to mention the "lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world":
του ανριου του απο καταβολης κοσμου εσφαγμενου
the from the foundation of the world slain lamb

Of course this is just a grammatical argument. Also, the Greek of Revelation is generally horrible. This grammatical argument is not very weighty in itself.

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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:53 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:06 pm
Rev 13:8, YLT:
And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain[,] from the foundation of the world;
The text makes more sense if a comma is added (as shown). In that case, "from the foundation of the world" is about the names being written in the scroll of life, not the Lamb slain.
Furthermore if the lamb was slain very early on, I would expect "at" rather than "from" ('apo').
Also, "slain" is a participle, that is a verbal adjective. It qualifies "lamb" but does not suggest the slaying was "from the foundation of the world".
Maybe Ben can clarify that.
There is no grammatical problem with interpreting the line as suggesting that the lamb has been slain from the foundation of the world. The ἀπό is fine, because the participle is in the perfect tense. In Greek, the perfect tense normally indicates that a present state of being has been achieved by a past action. For example:

Luke 8.20: 20 And it was reported to him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing [ἑστήκασιν, literally "have stood"] outside, wishing to see you."

Other languages would probably employ a different tense for this action, but in Greek the sense is that the mother and brothers have stood (have taken a standing position) outside (in the past), and are still in that standing position (in the present). That past action of taking a standing position outside has effects in the present: they are still standing there.

Or:

Leviticus 14.51: 51 "Then he shall take the cedar wood and the hyssop and the scarlet string, with the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird [τοῦ ὀρνιθίου τοῦ ἐσφαγμένου], as well as in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times."

The bird has already been slain (in the past) and is therefore still slain, or dead (in the present).

The sense of the ἀπό in Revelation 13.8 is similar to what we find elsewhere:

Matthew 13.35: 35 ...so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world [κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου]."

The word κεκρυμμένα is a passive participle, just like ἐσφαγμένου from Revelation 13.8; the sense is that somebody (presumably God) hid these things (in the past), and they are still hidden (in the present, from the point of view of the prophet being quoted, for whom their revelation is still future).

Our verse runs as follows:

Revelation 13.8: 8 καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, οὗ οὐ γέγραπται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου τοῦ ἐσφαγμένου ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου. / And they shall worship him, all those dwelling upon the land, whose name has not been written in the book of life of the lamb who has been slain from the foundation of the world.

That is my own quick translation, following as closely as humanly possible the word order of the original Greek. For many or even most purposes, the word order in Greek is flexible, because nouns and adjectives have to agree with each other in case, number, and gender; therefore, their interrelationships can be traced across various phrases and clauses. However, this is not the case with prepositional phrases, since prepositions are neither declined nor conjugated, nor in any other way inflected. Word order does usually matter for prepositional phrases, and they usually modify closer words rather than more distant words in the sentence. Here it is more natural, objectively speaking, to link "from the foundation of the world" with "slain," the verbal notion which immediately precedes it, rather than jumping back 13 words to link it with the next available verb, γέγραπται, with the sense of something having been "written" from the foundation of the world.

That said, not every writer of Greek always placed prepositional phrases with the utmost felicity. Sometimes the referents for prepositional phrases do jump back a few words or phrases. And the Greek of Revelation has been called barbaric; Greek was probably not the author's first language (a Semitic tongue probably was).
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:16 pm
This sandwich construction would be an unambiguous way to mention the "lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world":
του ανριου του απο καταβολης κοσμου εσφαγμενου
the from the foundation of the world slain lamb
It is true that this sandwich technique would be unambiguous. But the lack of such a technique is hardly uncommon:

Matthew 25.34: 34 τότε ἐρεῖ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῖς ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ· δεῦτε οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου, κληρονομήσατε τὴν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.

Luke 11.50: 50 ...ἵνα ἐκζητηθῇ τὸ αἷμα πάντων τῶν προφητῶν τὸ ἐκκεχυμένον ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης....

Luke could have written τὸ ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ἐκκεχυμένον, and Matthew could have worked ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου into his phrase about the kingdom, but neither did so. We do find something similar to your example of the sandwich technique in Hebrews 4.3, but elsewhere the prepositional phrase tends to stand alone.

The result, then, is a sentence which, if it has been clearly written, states that the lamb has been slain from the foundation of the world. But not all sentences are clearly written.

R. H. Charles, in his magisterial treatment of the book of Revelation, takes ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου in the most natural manner with ἐσφαγμένου, as do other exegetes whom he names, but he thinks it is meant to express the sense that Christ was ordained from the foundation of the world to be slain, which of course the verse does not say. Charles also avers, however, that most exegetes take the phrase with γέγραπται; but of course none of them envisions the possibility of the slaying having actually occurred so long ago.

Elsewhere in Revelation we do have to skip a few words to find something to which to connect ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου:

Revelation 17.8: 8 Τὸ θηρίον ὃ εἶδες ἦν καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν καὶ μέλλει ἀναβαίνειν ἐκ τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ εἰς ἀπώλειαν ὑπάγει, καὶ θαυμασθήσονται οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὧν οὐ γέγραπται τὸ ὄνομα ἐπὶ τὸ βιβλίον τῆς ζωῆς ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, βλεπόντων τὸ θηρίον ὅτι ἦν καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν καὶ παρέσται.

But in this case we are not skipping over another verbal concept (like ἐσφαγμένου) in order to do so. If the intent is that it is the writing that has occurred from the foundation of the world, and not the slaying, then we would have to admit that 17.8 has been clearly written while 13.8 has not.
From my knowledge of Greek I would say that grammatically the most natural understanding of the text is Carrier's, that the meaning is: "the book of life of the lamb that was slain", and their "names have not been written" in this book "from the foundation of the world", unlike the righteous saints.
I disagree with this. On a strictly grammatical/syntactical level, it is more natural to take the prepositional phrase with the verb or participle which immediately precedes it.

I have noticed that Richard Carrier can be sloppy at times with the Greek, for whatever it may be worth.

Giuseppe's point in the OP is interesting, since, if the title of the book is Book of the Slain Lamb, then of course it is named after the slaying of the lamb. This does not have to mean, however, that the slaying itself took place before the book was entitled; merely that it was known (predicted or predetermined) before the book was entitled.

The big whopping thing that stands against us taking this verse in its most natural sense, however, is that it apparently stands alone. If it were missing from our copies of Revelation, what else would serve to clue us in even to the bare idea that the lamb had been slain since the beginning? I included this notion in my recent and experimental mythicohistorical reconstruction of Christian origins, but only because there was an easy place to plug it in; it was certainly not because of the overabundance of evidence we have for such a view, which amounts to the contested reading of a single verse.
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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by Bernard Muller » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:33 pm

to Ben,
What do you think of my comma? Could it have been thought by the author or Revelation (but not indicated, because texts then did not have any punctuation).
What about Rev 5:12: The RSV put a comma after "Lamb who was slain".
Matthew 13.35: 35 ...so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world [κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου]."
The word κεκρυμμένα is a passive participle, just like ἐσφαγμένου from Revelation 13.8; the sense is that somebody (presumably God) hid these things (in the past), and they are still hidden (in the present, from the point of view of the prophet being quoted, for whom their revelation is still future).
But in the case of the lamb, he is not slain anymore but alive in heaven, on the throne of God.

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:59 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:33 pm
to Ben,
What do you think of my comma? Could it have been thought by the author or Revelation (but not indicated, because texts then did not have any punctuation).
What about Rev 5:12: The RSV put a comma after "Lamb who was slain".
The comma is not relevant to the Greek word order. Yes, the author could have been mentally linking the prepositional phrase back to the writing. (I thought that was clear from my post.) The only issue is that it is less natural to do so than to link it to the slaying, which immediately precedes it. But, then again, the Greek of this book is very rough.
Matthew 13.35: 35 ...so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world [κεκρυμμένα ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου]."
The word κεκρυμμένα is a passive participle, just like ἐσφαγμένου from Revelation 13.8; the sense is that somebody (presumably God) hid these things (in the past), and they are still hidden (in the present, from the point of view of the prophet being quoted, for whom their revelation is still future).
But in the case of the lamb, he is not slain anymore but alive in heaven, on the throne of God.
And yet, in some sense, still slain:

Revelation 5.6: 6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.

Even if the lamb is seen as raised from the dead, the author may think of him as still "slain" in some sense, so that the sacrifice still applies.

Make no mistake, Bernard; you are not being foolish to read this verse in the way you do. It stands alone, and, even if its "most natural" reading is rejected, that may not be a problem at all, given the difficulty of the Greek of this book across its entire length; the "less natural" reading is still possible; it is awkward, not solecistic. People sometimes just do not say quite the right thing in their second language.
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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by rakovsky » Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:01 pm

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:16 pm
From my knowledge of Greek I would say that grammatically the most natural understanding of the text is Carrier's, that the meaning is: "the book of life of the lamb that was slain", and their "names have not been written" in this book "from the foundation of the world", unlike the righteous saints.
Thanks for sharing your Greek knowledge here.

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Re: Carrier and Couchoud about Revelation 13:8

Post by rakovsky » Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:11 pm

Could it be that the slaying of the lamb was an existential or metaphysical event that took place both in time (33 AD) and outside of time? In Revelations, Christ is called the Alpha and Omega, certainly existing before, after, and outside of time.

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