The origins of Alpha and Omega

“You are Alpha and Omega” might be the Christian anthem here in Kenya. In the most recent article from the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, David Lincicum speculates on the origin of this title for Jesus:

…John, during the period of long gestation that must have preceded such a learned work as his Apocalypse, reflected on the meaning and deeper significance of various divine names. Steeped in the already considerable Christian tradition of identifying Yahweh’s predicates and actions with those of Jesus, often by means of the Greek translation of Yahweh as ‘Lord’ (kurios), John wondered what it might mean to identify Jesus by means of that alternative rendering of the tetragrammaton into Greek, IAW. He held IAW in his mind while reading or hearing Isaiah 40–48 and the temporal merisms there applied to Yahweh, ‘the first and the last’ and ‘the beginning and the end’. Knowing by Christian conviction that IAW ultimately was to be referred to Jesus, he was struck by the alphabetical merism, that is, the alpha and omega, included in the divine title, and with how well this might express and stand in continuity with the other two merisms derived from Isaiah. This left the initial iota unaccounted for; might this have been a divinely ordained reference to the initial letter of Jesus’ name? Thus: Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. Especially in tandem with the two other merisms gleaned from Isaiah, John now had a rich triad of compact statements expressing the ultimate divine identification and sovereignty of the risen Lord Jesus, and employed them accordingly in the writing of his Apocalypse…

The Origin of ‘Alpha and Omega’ (Revelation 1.8; 21.6; 22.13): A Suggestion (6 pages pdf.)

2 thoughts on “The origins of Alpha and Omega

  1. tony siew says:

    Hi Ben, this is a wonderful quote. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Simon says:

    clever guy that john.

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