Semitic Influence on Verbal Usage and on the Subordinate Clauses in the Apocalypse

Steven Thompson

Used by permission: the author

The final, revised and updated version of this thesis is published online and may be accessed here.


This thesis offers a consistent explanation for the peculiarities of the Greek syntax of the Apocalypse, namely that where the rules of Greek grammar appear to be broken, it is due to the influence of Hebrew and Aramaic syntax. It advances previous versions of this hypothesis, such as that offered by R.H. Charles, in three ways. First its focus is limited to verbal syntax, and the syntax of selected subordinate clauses. Secondly, by methodically comparing ancient Greek translations of the Old Testament with their Hebrew original, it tabulates and synthesises the Semitic syntactical features and the manner in which the Greek translators typically dealt with them—what may be termed conventions for translating Hebrew and Aramaic into quite literal, Semitised Greek. Thirdly, it argues that the syntax of the Apocalypse was not influenced by the variety of Hebrew and Aramaic current in the first Christian century, but by Old Testament Hebrew and Aramaic. The thesis thus suggests numerous new possibilities for translation and exegesis of Apocalypse passages that give greater attention to the influence of the Old Testament, not only as a source for the symbols and metaphors which have been imported into the Apocalypse, but also for syntactical peculiarities of its very language.