Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 2, Authorship (The Study of the Apocalypse)

Tradition says that the Apostle John wrote the Apocalypse.  Let’s take a look at the evidence.
The writer of Revelation only identifies himself as John (This is actually much better than the Gospel that is attributed to John as no author is mentioned there).  He also refers to himself as a slave of Jesus.  He in no way claims to be the Apostle John.  That doesn’t mean that he didn’t write it, it just means that he didn’t identify himself as such.  
We have a few choices from scholars.  I will put up the most plausible.
  1. John the Apostle
  2. John the Elder (1st, 2nd, and 3rd John.  This assumes that the writer of the John letters is not John the Apostle)
  3. An unknown John
Some scholars even believe that there were three writers that were close associates of the Apostle John that wrote the Gospel, the letters, and the Apocalypse, but it can’t be proven.  If it were true, that would certainly explain both the similarities and differences of the three.
The first person to write that the Apostle John was the writer of the Apocalypse was Justin Martyr in the middle of the 2nd century.   Soon after, other christian fathers also filed suit.  Among them were Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen.  There also were some who rejected it as product of John (Dionysius and Eusebius).
The language of the Apocalypse is similar to that of John, but also very different at times.  The Greek in the Apocalypse is crude at times, and seems different at times than John.  With that said, it is a fact that the only books of the Bible that refer to Jesus as ὁ λόγος (the word) is the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse.  Both also use the titles “Lamb of God” and “Son of Man”.
I can say that after having done translation work in all three, I find the writing similar in the Gospel of John, the letters of John, and the Apocalypse.  With that said, I’m still a novice at things like this and tend to be critical.  My opinion is “I don’t know”.
But in the end, I think we can rely on some of the early christian fathers and at least agree that it is plausible that the Apostle John wrote the Apocalypse.
What does your heart say?

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