Textual Commentary on Revelation 1:11
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
The Text of Revelation 1:10,11
KJV - 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, [I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and,] What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
(The bracketed, emboldened portion of the above KJV text was not in the original text of verse 11, as explained below. The NRSV and TEV versions of this verse accurately reflect in English what was written in the original Greek text of this verse.)
NRSV - 10 I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, "Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
TEV - 10 On the Lord's day the Spirit took control of me, and I heard a loud voice, that sounded like a trumpet, speaking behind me. 11 It said, "Write down what you see, and send the book to the churches in these seven cities: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
Virtually all modern translations do not include in Rev 1:11 the following words that are in the KJV version of that verse:
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and,
This wording at the beginning of the KJV's version of Rev. 1:11 is not found in virtually any ancient texts, nor is it mentioned, even as a footnote, in any modern translation or in Bruce Metzger's definitive A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994, phone: 800-322-4253).
(The New King James Version [NKJV] does include this wording; but the NKJV is not a modern translation; it is only a modern-English rewording of the the original KJV, minus the Aprocrypha, since the Aprocrypha was in the original KJV.)
It should be noted that the phrases "Alpha and Omega," "the first and the last," and/or "the beginning and the end" are found in the original texts of Rev. 1:8, 1:17, 2:8, 21:6, and 22:13. (These phrases are allusions to the wording in Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12.) Of these five verses Rev. 22:13 is closest to the KJV's wording in the beginning of Rev. 1:11, but even in Rev. 22:13 the KJV needs some correction. The errors in both Rev. 1:11 and Rev 22:13 are due to the inaccuracy of the so-called Textus Receptus, the Greek text upon which the KJV's New Testament was based.
(According to Bruce Metzger (in The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1968), the Textus Receptus was hastily and haphazardly prepared and was based mostly upon unreliable 12th century manuscripts. It was the work of a Dutchman by the name of Desiderius Erasmus and was first published in 1516. Though what became known as the Textus Receptus was inferior in accuracy to the very first complete Greek New Testament, the so-called Complutensian New Testament that was published only two years earlier in 1514, Erasmus' text was marketed much more effectively and was used as the basis for all the principal Protestant translations in the languages of Europe until 1881, when the English Revised Version [RV] was first published. For a complete explanation of the basis for the errors in the King James Version and its impact on biblical studies, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/kjv-tr.htm.)
Regarding Rev 22:13, the Textus Receptus' rendering of that verse had some of the Greek wording and word order incorrect; thus, in that verse the KJV translation does not exactly represent the original text. Based upon the much more reliable editions of the Greek New Testament that are available today, the New Revised Standard Version [NRSV] does accurately (and quite literally) represent the correct wording and word order of the original Greek text of Rev. 22:13, which reads,
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
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Copyright 1997-2001 Robert Nguyen Cramer