Revelation 13:8


I have been pondering the eternity of Jesus’ sacrifice in the Eucharist and was pointed toward Revelation 13:8.

So I look it up in the Douay-Rheims that I have on my phone app, and sure enough: And all the dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world.

Then I go to bookmark it in my hard copy RSV-2CE, and find: and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.

Checked my NAB: All the inhabitants of the earch will worship it, all whose names were not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life, which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.

I have the NKJV on my bookshelf, so I pulled that out for a non-Catholic translation: All who dwell on the on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Were the names written (or not) from/before the foundation/beginning of the world? Or was the Lamb slain from/before the foundation/beginning of the world?

A brief Internet search quickly shows that there is much disagreement on this verse, as shown by these commentaries at They are mostly Protestant, but Haydock is included; he is in favor of the “Lamb being slain” emphasis. Several point to 1 Peter 1:20 in support of this view, but some cite Revelation 17:8 as leaning towards the “names… written” position.

Can anyone help clarify?


I think you may need to fall back to the Greek version when translations differed. . Unfortunately I don’t know Greek but I guess there will be some who are knowledgeable. Let’s wait for them to pop in.


It speaks not a predestination in the sense of how many protestants speak of it, but in foreknowledge of God because God is outside of time. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of it in his Summa Theologica:

The book of life is in God taken in a metaphorical sense, according to a comparison with human affairs. For it is usual among men that they who are chosen for any office should be inscribed in a book; as, for instance, soldiers, or counsellors, who formerly were called “conscript” fathers. Now it is clear from the preceding (23, 4) that all the predestined are chosen by God to possess eternal life. This conscription, therefore, of the predestined is called the book of life. A thing is said metaphorically to be written upon the mind of anyone when it is firmly held in the memory, according to Proverbs 3:3: “Forget not My Law, and let thy heart keep My commandments,” and further on, “Write them in the tables of thy heart.” For things are written down in material books to help the memory. Whence, the knowledge of God, by which He firmly remembers that He has predestined some to eternal life, is called the book of life. For as the writing in a book is the sign of things to be done, so the knowledge of God is a sign in Him of those who are to be brought to eternal life, according to 2 Timothy 2:19: “The sure foundation of God standeth firm, having this seal; the Lord knoweth who are His.”

Summa Theologica: Question 24 “The Book of Life”

*Just a personal note, something that only occurred to me by the prompting of your question… in the story of Esther the King of Persia kept a log of all the events of his life. He would have Hamman read him that book and it would remind him of the things that had happened so he would never forget them. Anything recorded would never be forgotten, because it was written in the book. That is how Mordecai was rewarded for saving the Kings life from a plot which lead to Esther saving the Jews etc.

So for me, when I read the book of life that’s what I get from revelation… it’s a recording of events (as we see in Revelation 20:12)… it’s a reminder that God will never forget those who have been marked by his seal. As the Prophet proclaims:

Can a woman forget her sucking child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Isaiah 49:15


The phrase “from the origin of the world” refers to “those whose names have not been written”, not to the Lamb who was slain.


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