Johannine Authorship and the Use of Intersentence Conjunctions in the Book of Revelation -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 47:2 (Fall 1985)
Article: Johannine Authorship and the Use of Intersentence Conjunctions in the Book of Revelation
Author: Vern Sheridan Poythress


Johannine Authorship and the Use of Intersentence Conjunctions
in the Book of Revelation

Vern Sheridan Poythress

In two previous articles I investigated the use of intersentence conjunctions in the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles.1 I argued that a consistent pattern is found throughout the Gospel and the Epistles, confirming unity of authorship. Can we now draw implications for the Book of Revelation? In particular, do the uses of the intersentence conjunctions de, oun, kai, and asyndeton in Revelation consistently follow the pattern found in the Gospel of John and 1–2-3 John ? If so, it is evidence in favor of common authorship. If not, it is evidence against common authorship. Of course, whatever the result, this evidence needs to be taken together with evidence of other kinds: evidence concerning other kinds of grammatical similarities or differences, evidence from theological themes, external testimony, and so on.

1. Testing Revelation 1-3

First, let us consider Revelation 1–3. What type of discourse is this? In the Gospel of John we had to deal with two types of discourse, narrative and expository discourse. Somewhat different rules had to be applied to the use of conjunctions in the two types, as might be expected.2 But Revelation 1–3 does not fit so neatly into either category. We have (a) a prologue 1:1–3, (b) a formulaic

introduction like those found in Greek letters 1:4–5a,3 (c) a doxological prayer with other transition material 1:5b–8, (d) an apocalyptic narrative 1:9–17a, and (e) a speech by Christ including seven “letters” 1:17b–3:22 }. We might guess that 1:1–8 and 1:17b–3:22 } will be most like expository discourse, while 1:9–17a will be narrative discourse. However, the paragraphs of 1:1–8 have some special functions, so that we ought not to be too quick to demand that they conform in every respect to the patterns of expository discourse. As a matter of fact, there are no seri...

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