Saturday, September 23, 2017

Revelation 21:21: Random Notes

καὶ οἱ δώδεκα πυλῶνες δώδεκα μαργαρῖται· ἀνὰ εἷς ἕκαστος τῶν πυλώνων ἦν ἐξ ἑνὸς μαργαρίτου. καὶ ἡ πλατεῖα τῆς πόλεως χρυσίον καθαρὸν ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής. (Rev. 21:21-Nestle GNT)

"And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." (ESV Rendering)

Compare Rev. 21:18.

John uses ὅμοιον ὑάλῳ καθαρῷ in Rev. 21:18; ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής occurs in Rev. 21:21.

E.W. Bullinger on Rev. 21:21: "as it were. Not that it is glass, but gold of a kind unknown to us."

Robertson's WP: "Transparent (διαυγής — diaugēs). Old word (from δια — dia through, αυγη — augē ray, shining through), here alone in N.T."

Peter Pett's Commentary:

"'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each one of the several gates was one pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.'

In Matthew 7:6 pearls represented what was holy and precious, compare the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Gold again is symbolic of the holy sanctuary, where all is made of gold. The transparency may well denote total openness and honesty. The city contains all that is most splendid. We can compare many of these splendours with those which poured into Babylon at its finest (Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:12), but here it is heavenly gold, heavenly jewels and heavenly pearls of a size unknown to earth.

But in the new creation such things as gold and precious stones in their literal senses will be meaningless. They are used as descriptions here only because of fallen man’s peculiar propensities. They denote what is better far than gold. Note that only one street is mentioned and yet there are twelve entrances. As there are no buildings the whole inside may be intended to be seen as the street. The point is that all is of gold. (Not liveable in but splendid in conception)."

When explaining Rev. 21:18-21, Dr. Thomas Constable invokes 1 Kings 6:30.

Cf. 1 Cor. 3:12.

Contrast John's description of the New Jerusalem with how he saw Babylon the Great in Rev. 17:4.

Rev. 18:12 mentions gold, precious stone, and pearl, among other things.

Rev. 18:16 likewise refers to gold, precious stone, and pearls.

29 comments:

Duncan said...

"The transparency may well denote total openness and honesty." = based on?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_glass#Tesserase_and_window_glass

No evidence of window panes & the glass was not pure enough to function that way.

Edgar Foster said...

He says, "may well denote," not does denote. The commentator is making a suggestion (venturing an hypothesis), but I don't take such comments all that seriously. The bottom line for me is that we're dealing with figurative speech, and ancient imagery into which we should not read too much. I believe the commentator has a point insofar as the language is figurative.

Bullinger says it's not glass at all, but a type of gold that resembles glass. He says a kind that is unknown to us, but I don't take that suggestion all that seriously either. Nevertheless, John uses "like" or "as language. He is trying to write in a way that we can understand.

Like, as Peter Pett writes, these images "denote what is better far than gold. Lots of temple imagery here too.

Edgar Foster said...

One commentator indicates that the transparent language points to moral/ideological/spiritual purity of the city. That is not a stretch in virtue of how the linen is described in Rev 19.

Edgar Foster said...

See https://archive.org/stream/criticalexegetic02char#page/170/mode/2up/search/transparent



Duncan said...

"ancient imagery into which we should not read too much." ?

So is it a city? Does it have gates, a main street? - Like Jerusalem?

https://levendwater.org/companion/append59.html

Edgar Foster said...

In Revelation 21:2, the city is likened to a bride adorned for her husband.

Rev. 21:9: "One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'" (NIV)

So the city is really the Lamb's wife: a living polis.

John later describes those outside the gates, not permitted to enter: "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

I believe all this talk of gates made of pearls and streets (a broadway) of gold is all symbolic. Rev. 1:1.



Duncan said...

It stills comes back to the arc. Why not just a street of gold?

Verses normaly compared are:-

“The tongue of the righteous is like choice silver. (Prov 10:20)
“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word rightly spoken.” (Prov 25:11)
“There is gold, and many jewels, and an abundance of utensils—the lips of knowledge.” (Prov 20:15)
“An earring of gold and an ornament of gold is a wise judge to a listening ear.” (Prov 25:12)
“Who can find an excellent wife? Far better than jewels!” (Prov 31:10)

“His head is like gold, pure gold;
His locks are like clusters of dates
And black as a raven.
“His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl;
His abdomen is carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.
“His legs are pillars of alabaster
Set on pedestals of pure gold;
His appearance is like Lebanon
Choice as the cedars.” (Song of Songs 5:13–15)

is the glass gold liquid gold - reflective gold ON THE INSIDE of the city of people. There is another possible conclusion to this language.

Edgar Foster said...

The city and the Broadway are made of gold, not glass, right? But the gold resembles glass because of its transparency and the city is resplendent. Lots of possible interpretations, but we should not read too much into the text.

Edgar Foster said...

Plenty of temple imagery. Hence, the mention of gold. There is even a gold reed for measuring.

JW Apología Bíblica said...

Hi Edgar, a question about Proverbs 8:22 did the Jews believe that wisdom was created? osea I mean how the Jews understood when talking about wisdom and how could you show that when the Jews spoke of the personified wisdom created was an allusion to Christ? I understand that the Jews said that wisdom was an allusion to the Torah or to the commandments, perhaps you have some writings that can help me with my question (Omar)

Edgar Foster said...

Hi Omar,

Maybe blog readers have some information concerning your question, but to me, the answer is complex and long. I have blogged about wisdom being created by God. See Sirach 1:4, 9; 24:1-9. Compare https://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2017/06/proverbs-822-qanah-possibly-means.html

See also https://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2016/03/micah-52-ancient-days-and-first.html

We have to remember that Judaism was diversified in the Second Temple period, so there was not just one Jewish belief about anything, for the most part. It is also difficult to prove that Prov 8:22 is about Christ because there are other interpretational possibilities. One could understand 8:22 in a Messianic sense as the early Christians did, but in my estimation, we have to grant that the verse could be understood differently. At any rate, Jesus' status as a creature does not completely depend upon this verse.

JW Apología Bíblica said...

Edgar I can not open the link says it does not exist

https://fosterheologicalreflections.blogspot.com/2016/03/micah-52-ancient-days-and-first.html

Edgar Foster said...

Omar,

I tried the link and it worked for me, but you might have to copy and paste into the url. Let me know if you still have a problem, my friend.

JW Apología Bíblica said...

Yes, I was able to enter thanks

Duncan said...

An interesting point regarding πλατεια has emerged here pg79 -

https://www.academia.edu/7020386/City_Gates_and_their_Functions_in_Mesopotamia_and_Ancient_Israel

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

Are you sure that p. 79 discusses πλατεια, which is the word translated "street"" or broadway? All I saw on 79 were terms for "gate." Still an informative paper.

Duncan said...

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tE11CwAAQBAJ&pg=PA196&lpg=PA196&dq=πλατεια+square+koine&source=bl&ots=DcwDCTs41J&sig=XEowI9NKn1d0SxHX45G_3S9s36U&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjch8vHweTWAhUQPVAKHVuSBNMQ6AEIKTAB#v=onepage&q=%CF%80%CE%BB%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%B1%20square%20koine&f=false

Duncan said...

For clarification ABP translates as "the square of the city"

Edgar Foster said...

The meaning of πλατεῖα in Rev. 21:21 is debated. While the term can refer to a town square, NET Bible states: "tn The Greek word πλατεῖα (plateia) refers to a major (broad) street (L&N 1.103)."

Square is another possibility. See also http://www.academia.edu/7147967/REVELATION--Exegetical_notes_based_on_the_Greek_text

Compare Rev 11:8.

From Abbott-Smith's Lexicon:

πλατύς , -εῖα , -ύ ,
[in LXX for H7342;]
broad: Matthew 7:13. As subst., ἡ Papyri (sc. ὁδός ),
[in LXX chiefly for H7342;]
a street: Matthew 6:5; Matthew 12:19 (LXX), Mark 6:56, WH, mg., Luke 10:10; Luke 13:26; Luke 14:21, Acts 5:15, Revelation 11:8; Revelation 21:21; Revelation 22:2.†

Duncan said...

ABP Rev 11:8 And their corpses will be upon the square of the [city great], which is [called spiritually] Sodom and Egypt, where even their Lord was crucified.

My main point of interest is the ancient cities do not appear to have a single square or focal point but they had broad ways or squares inside each gate of the wall - at least in the near eastern & Hebrew model.

http://www.israelhebrew.com/wp-content/uploads/map-of-ancient-jerusalem.jpg

https://www.bibleplaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Megiddo-aerial-from-southeast-tb121704999-bibleplaces.jpg

Regarding pearls this is interesting:-

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/history-pearls.html

but what is also interesting is that pepper corns were still worth more.

I should think that a useful definition for plateia is a broad way.

Duncan said...

ABP Rev 22:2 In the midst of her square, and of the river, from this side here and from that side there, a tree of life producing [fruits twelve], [by month each] rendering its fruit; and the leaves of the tree were for treatment of the nations.

But does "εντευθεν και εντευθεν" imply more than one broad way?

Edgar Foster said...

I don't have any major disagreements with you about the composition of ancient middle eastern streets. Above, I also suggested that street or broadway might be good ways to render πλατεῖα. I will have to check out the link on pearls; it does look interesting.

I don't believe that we should necessarily infer more than one broadway from "εντευθεν και εντευθεν. Compare Ezek. 47:7-12 and see Ellicott's handling of the text. Also see the NET Bible remark on Rev. 22:2.

Edgar Foster said...

What tends to bother me about ABP is an over-reliance on etymology. Yes, the word can mean "square," but why not take context as a factor and see what lexicons have to say?

Edgar Foster said...

Daniel 12:5 (LXX): καὶ εἶδον ἐγὼ Δανιηλ καὶ ἰδοὺ δύο ἕτεροι εἱστήκεισαν εἷς ἐντεῦθεν τοῦ χείλους τοῦ ποταμοῦ καὶ εἷς ἐντεῦθεν τοῦ χείλους τοῦ ποταμοῦ

47:7: ἐν τῇ ἐπιστροφῇ μου καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐπὶ τοῦ χείλους τοῦ ποταμοῦ δένδρα πολλὰ σφόδρα ἔνθεν καὶ ἔνθεν

Edgar Foster said...

That other verse is Ezek. 47:7.

Duncan said...

What context can be applied to rev 22:2?

https://www.thoughtco.com/streets-of-pompeii-photos-of-city-169651

Roman cities were well known for running water down the Broadway & many other streets. In Italy & also the UK.

But in Jerusalem or the near eastern ?

I see much of that which is called context as being, tradition out of true context.

Duncan said...

https://www.timesofisrael.com/temple-era-pools-near-jerusalem-set-for-renovation/

Edgar Foster said...

Good questions and I appreciate the link about Pompeii. But don't forget that Rev. 21 & 22 draw heavily on imagery from Ezekiel 47, a chapter that also discusses water in connection with the eschaton. IMO, eschatology also goes beyond historical context: it has to be interpreted (at least partly) by use of the anagogical method.

On the other hand, the academic studies on Revelation are abundant. These fill in the gaps of context and historically situate the apocalyptic text. For example, see pages 177ff of this dissertation:

http://corvina.kre.hu:8080/phd/gallusz_laszlo.pdf

Edgar Foster said...

Roughly speaking, I am using the word "anagogical" in this sense: "Teachings of the Bible that relate to or lead to eternal life, including blessings hoped for and related to that future life, e.g., Jerusalem in its anagogical sense typifies the Church triumphant."

Quoted from a Catholic source.