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.
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
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.