Questions about the original language of revelations

  1. What language was revelations originally written in

  2. Do we have access to the original writings of revelations


The Book of Revelation (not plural) was most likely written in Greek. There are some scholars who insist upon it having been written in Aramaic, though this is not the majority view. The Early Church Fathers make arguments for it having been written by someone more or less thinking in Hebrew, but writing in Greek–so that it is heavily semiticized Greek. We do not have access to the original manuscripts of Revelation or any other book of the Bible.



What is the most accurate version of the Bible


It’s really not possible to say. Any translation is going to be lacking in some way–literal meaning of each word might not convey the full range of what is intended by the author, but stray too far from literal meaning and it becomes an exercise in interpretation and not translation. I use a variety of translations of the Bible depending on what I’m doing. The RSV-CE is a safe bet if you want to know roughly what the Greek and Hebrew say without having such at hand. But there are other good ones out there too; the RSV tends to be a little hard to read at times, where other translations that are less literal might read a little more smoothly. Translation is a complicated and nuanced endeavor, so there isn’t really a way to produce a “most accurate version.” That’s just the nature of languages–nothing translates exactly.


In revelation 18:12 one of the things listed is a type of wood some versions say Citron wood while some say scented wood which version is correct?


The Greek word used there is best translated by “citrus” or “citron,” or even the English equivalent of the Greek term, “thyine.”

Why all the questions about Revelation?


It’s what I’m researching right now


Any particular focus to your research or reason why you’re doing it? Anything you’re driving at figuring out?


Who or what the whore of babylon is


The Roman Empire.

It is definitely not the Church, as some claim. This has been refuted numerous times (including in the articles people linked you to in your other threads).


Yes most of the evidence seems to be pointing to ancient Rome


Sorry for asking this but how do we know what the original Greek said if we don’t have access to the original documents


Because we have multiple manuscripts from different places and different stages of history that all say mostly the same thing. Scripture began by being handed down as an oral tradition, and then was written down by scribes in different communities in different places. We have ancient manuscripts attesting to what is said in Revelation (and every other book) and doing so consistently.


Then why do some versions say scented instead of Citron or thyine


What versions say this? It’s probably because the point of identifying the kind of wood is that citron/thyine is a fragrant wood used in making incense, but this might not be immediately understood by a modern audience. I don’t agree with this translational philosophy, as I think it would make more sense to translate it more literally and offer some explanatory note as to what citron/thyine refers to.

What does translation methodology have to do with who the whore of Babylon is? What does variance in translations have to do with that? What does this minor detail have to do with it?


Well basically citron or thyine is a specific wood used in ancient Rome scented wood is a general description the bible could be talking about scented wood in general


The Greek says “thyine.” No variant readings are given.

We have to distinguish between a variant reading, i.e. there are ancient manuscripts saying different things (not the case here) and translational variations, i.e. one English version says “citron” and another says “scented wood.” The former is a more accurate translation, but none of this has anything to do with who the whore of Babylon is. How people translated the Bible centuries after it was written down has nothing to do with who the whore of Babylon is.


Thank you yove been very helpful


I agree. Any question thatbhesngetbour heads into the times and places of scripture help to make it come alive a bit more for us.


There’s a fair amount of evidence that Revelation was not just written in Greek, but in Hebrew/Aramaic-influenced Greek, as said above. But more than that, it’s “quote the Septuagint as much as you can” Greek, as was shown in 1881 by Westcott and Hort. (They edited the standard academic text of Revelation and other books, in Greek, and there’s an appendix index that shows all the references.)

The Book of Revelation is 404 verses long, and 278 of them include Septuagint OT references. When we read Revelation without a deep knowledge of the Septuagint, we catch a lot of the OT references, but not the specific Septuagint ones.

Thyine is actually one of the bits that isn’t a Septuagint reference! The whole passage is similar to Ezekiel 26 and 27, where people lament Tyre’s sacking by Nebuchadnezzar, but those chapters talk about different fragrances. Thyine was super-popular and expensive in John’s time, though; Pliny says in his Natural History that women would rather have thyine than pearls.

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