Who Wrote The Book Of Revelation? (rev.4:1-2)

Who wrote the Book of Revelation? (Rev.4:1-2)

1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  

Although John’s Revelation falls into a category that can be called Jewish apocalyptic literature, there are number of distinctive features here. In this case, John gets immediate and unmediated access to the throne room of God, something that is not usually the case in other prominent Jewish apocalyptic works such as for example, The Testament of Levi and 1 Enoch.

It has been a matter of consensus that John’s Revelation displays significant literary dependence on another Jewish apocalyptic text – the Book of Ezekiel. As an interesting side note, in my earlier book “The Jewish Gospel of John” I argue (and some say convincingly) that whoever wrote John’s Gospel was very interested in the Book of Ezekiel. The amount of literary and thematic parallels is too great to deny such a connection. (But what am I doing you should buy and read the book!!!!)

The book of Revelation, authored by a person named John (a common Jewish name – Yohanan in Hebrew), also has obvious interest in the Book of Ezekiel. It was a very common thing to name an apocalyptic Jewish work by the name of some great Biblical character (for example, Apocalypse of Elijah, Apocalypse of Daniel, Apocalypse of Moses and the list can go on and on). What is unusual here is that this apocalypse is attributed to someone named Yohanan (John) seemingly without any prior notoriety, except if indeed John, the Apostle, is in fact in view.

Although evidence is certainly inconclusive (and John’s Gospel does a very good job of remaining an anonymous document although with occasional hints as to its author) it may have been John, the Son of Zebedee, who authored it. There are some very good arguments that show he belonged to a priestly lineage. If this is correct, his preoccupation with the Book of Ezekiel makes a lot of sense. One of the major arguments, however, against the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation being written by the same person (no such problem exists between Gospel of John and John’s letters) is that the Greek of John’s Gospel and that of Revelation is dramatically different. To put it another way the Greek of John’s Gospel is clearly better than the Greek of Revelation. But given that most literature was not written, but dictated to a scribe, the difference in the level of linguistic sophistication could be accounted for by different scribes doing the work, not to mention the genre adaptation from historic narrative (Gospel of John) to apocalyptic literature (Book of Revelation). In other words, if John wrote his Gospel from Ephesus (as some early traditions specify) it would make sense that he would have had access to some of the best scribes, while when he was on the Island of Patmos, even though it was not technically a prison, it is reasonable to assume that his choice of scribes was severely limited, if available at all.

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  1. jane z. mazzola

    That is ok. No apology necessary. Participation is present. Blessed, safe travels.
    Jane M

  2. yetilived

    Drs. Charles van den Berg, You mentioned in the Jewish wedding ritual “confession of sins”. Does that mean something we did wrong, or can it include something that will cause us to sin (Matthew 5:30 … and if your right hand causes you to sin) I ask because in John 3:20 it says that everyone who does evil hates the light, but everyone who practices the truth comes into the light.

    1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      yetilived ,
      This is said of Jesus:

      ‘ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’( Heb 4:15-16 )

      Temptation is not a sin. Temptation leads to sin at a wrong choice.

      1. Kat H

        Drs. Charles
        Yes, but I believe the Apostle John is the author of both the book of John and Revelations. John uses the Lord’s prayer as a pattern.

        Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

        Therefore John 21:18-29 (Page 268 in book) would foretell Peter being delivered from evil (led by the Spirit). This is what we see in Revelations. Delivered from evil would then look like: “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go”

        You might call this following Christ (denying yourself), to me it seemed like it was confessing sin (some call it convicted of sin. John 3:21 calls this living by the truth. I have to question if the Ancient Jewish wedding ceremony used the words “confession of sin”

        1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

          Kat ….Although this written record is of later date, in Talmud Jeroesjalmi (Bikkurim 3:3) is mentioned that on the wedding day chatan (groom) and kala (bride) get a general amnesty of transgressions and sins by God. The confession of sin is a general confession of sins. It’s like a personal Yom Kippur. As I previously mentioned temptation is neither a sin, nor a violation. Temptation turns into sin and transgression at a wrong choice.

  3. jane z. mazzola

    What support that you mentioned, Dr. Eli, is there that “the beloved John”, son of Zebedee, was of the priestly class?
    In that “ancient wedding tradition” of a woman being immersed while she confesses her sins to God, comment by Drs. van den Berg, was there any comparable “tradition” for the male of the wedding party? Or there again, only the woman has to be cleansed…? I understand the analogy of Christ, the bridegroom, to His church. But still maybe, offended.
    Next, Dr. Eli, what did you mean, @ “Jesus did not die”, etc.,? Did you mean being able to PROVE it? Or rather that it had not occurred before the Gospel narrative of description, Matt 18? In reading the comments from Drs. van den Berg, it appeared that you had explained to him, your intended meaning, but it did not appear in the comments.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Jane, in the book (in Bibliography I think I list an article that makes this argument very strong) about priestly class. It is complex but logical. About the wedding, I would let Charles answer this. By did not die I mean that it did not happen yet. So sorry folks for lack of participation this and next month I am very busy traveling (and prepare to travel). THANK YOU FOR KEEPING THIS DISCUSSION ALIVE.

    2. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      Jane …The mentioned wedding ritual is not a prescribed ritual in Torah. The source comes from Halakha (rabbinical Jewish law). But is is a mention of a given what all for Christ was present. And within this topic a proof that there existed already immersions in Judaism. This practice and thought is confirmed and applied to Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:25-27 :
      Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
      that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
      so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. .

  4. yetilived

    There is so much richness in one article. I think what John sees affects education or lack of it, so I hope to hear more in the future. My first Pastor promoted education /seminary yet it contradicted our theological position. The very first question I asked after my “vision’ of Christ was complete (my eyes were opened) was “What is this?” I was told it was truth from heaven (aka ”I get it”/Spiritual illumination). People who believe they have open access to heaven don’t need classes. We are spiritually illuminated. Our understanding comes from heaven, not from studying. It cultivates a“I am right” attitude and we cannot listen to others or renounce our position. This does not promote reunification like you suggest in your book. What are the 7 spirits of God? 🙂

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      My theories on 7 spirits were discussed in other Revelation articles that deal with that verse. do a search within the site and you will find them.

  5. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    !!!!!!!!! Sorry Eli, I understand that you was referring to the incorrect view that no one would be baptized for Jesus ‘ death. It’s a long time since we misunderstood each other.!!!!!!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes. that is the case… no apologies necessary Dr. van den Berg. So glad to have you participating!

  6. frankhamrick

    “Upon this rock I WILL build my church.” When Matthew 18 was spoken at/near Banias, the “ecclesia” did not yet exist – it was still future according to the text. It is no wonder that Jesus would speak of a yet future ‘ecclesia’ consisting of both Jew & Gentile.
    As to Jesus’ skillful employment, I do agree that Jesus was an ‘artificer,’ not a worker in wood – but more than likely a worker in stone. However, that has little bearing on the intended audience of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, and so doesn’t in itself minimize the argument of David Corran.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      This is a good point… ecclesia in Greek does not mean church! I know that is how everyone translates it, but the Greek word does not mean “an assembly of followers of Jesus” It is a word for a gathering, an assembly, but without further qualifications. The word “church” in contrast has a very clear connotation. The reverse would be if I said please come join us next Monday night for antiquarian book collectors church. But you sees there is no prayer, no Jesus, no religion at all, its just a gathering of book collectors. To call it church would be misleading.I should have used a neutral word – meeting. So is with ecclesial – it is a generic neutral term, not a Christian one. Incorrect terminology is a big problem because it creates a conceptual world which did not exist.

  7. John Sweeting, CWO4 USN (rret), MAEd

    Dr. Lixorkin-Eyzenberg: I would like your take on something. I have noticed over the last seven years, when I began to study and research seriously, the constant referencing to the Greek. Did Jerome not have access to Hebrew documents? Wycliffe? Tyndale? Luther? Can we prove the New Testament documents were all originally written in Greek? What about the contemporary claims of original scripture being available in Aramaic? I understand that Greek was common then. But would there not have been, especially after the Maccabean wars fought against the Greeks over cultural and religious issues, an aversion to writing such documents in Greek? Also, since all Jewish scriptural works were already in Hebrew at the time, does it not follow the original documents would have been in Hebrew. Yes, I will not disagree that the Epistles may have been written in the language of the intended recipient. But that would not all be in Greek either.
    In reading several concordances and looking at claimed translations from Aramaic, I find the Greek references, in my heart and mind, to be a bit “off”.
    Thanks for all of your works.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear John, let me see if I can answer it this way… Aramaic is certainly a much more “Jewish” language because is it is has the same eastern roots as Hebrew does. And indeed it was spoken in the eastern part of the world in Babylon, in Syria and other parts, yet not exclusively. But in other parts of the civilized world Greek was much more dominant. Can we prove that NT was in Greek? – pretty much.. at least there is more tangible proof for this than other scenarios. The logic would be the same if a person asked me if we could prove that the Dead Sea scrolls were originally in Aramaic. I would turn to physical evidence… The earliest copies of and fragments of manuscripts we have are in Greek. What about Aramaic? – much later manuscripts and all show dependence on Greek base texts. Hebrew? – no early manuscripts of NT exists. The ones that exist are all late and show dependence on Greek and later Aramaic. Would I personally love for the NT to be originally in Hebrew? – Without a doubt! But despite my wishful hopes the evidence is simply not there. So yes – Greek is the key to original text. This of course does not take away that those who wrote Greek were still thinking Hebrew!

  8. Fres Aguelo

    To me, even with certain diffences, it still points yo John the Beloved. I suspect he is of priestly descent also & remember that he was familiar with Caiaphas & others in the Temple. But most of all, I would like to focus on the Yeshua because it is His revelation!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, there are many pros and cons. Which is why it it good to think out loud.

  9. klg666

    I believe a strong case can be made that when John (the Apostle) wrote Revelation he was intentionally putting on the mantle of a prophet and mimicking OT prophetic style with his vast number of Hebraisms. That is, he intentionally wrote in an awkward, Hebraic manner for stylistic effect. This would be something like a preacher today praying in a King James Version style English (thee, thou, art, wilt, etc.) to get his biblical point across. John’s style “problems” are usually in the visionary sections for this reason (see Vern Poythress).

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Interesting idea… I think it is more complicated, but thanks for your thoughts.

  10. Paul Starks

    I am in thought of the time between Paul journey and preaching among the Greeks and his exile what difference will it possibly make with his faith and testimony with the time and condition Paul is at