τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ

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Tim Evans
Posts: 88
Joined: July 10th, 2015, 1:40 am

τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ

Post by Tim Evans » August 30th, 2015, 11:06 pm

Hi Guys,
Revelation 1:8 Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ ⸆, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός
Does anyone know why alpha is spelt out and omega is not? It is not explained in any of the commentaries I have, if you know of a commentary that might help clarify things like this, I'd love to know about it.

I assume its something to do with the fact original manuscripts were written without spaces between the letters? Or perhaps "A" was reserved for some other meaning?
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Stephen Hughes
Posts: 3323
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 31st, 2015, 3:44 am

There is some variation in ἄλφα /Ἄ, so it may not be significant. Look at Alan Bunnig's site and dial in your verse.

I think that having the article in front of it - regardless of whether it is spelt out or not - makes it clear enough that it's a letter. If the article were masculine "ὁ" then it may have been read as πρῶτος "first". The symbolic significance of ὦ would be ἔσχατος "last (in a sequence)", or τέλος "last (without anything following)".
LSJ ὦ wrote:The name of the letter was τὸ ὦ (perispom. acc. to Hellad. ap. Phot.p.530B.), cf. Achae.33.3, Pl.Phdr.244d, Cra. 420b, Tht.203c: after the loss of the distinction betw. long and short vowels, ο and ω had the same pronunciation; they begin to be confused in Papyri of iii B. C. (“οἰκωνόμου” PRev.Laws 50.22 (iii B. C.)), but the name ω μέγα appears first in later Greek, Theognost.Can. 13; “κατὰ σχῆμα διπλοῦ ω_ ἤτοι μεγάλου” Eust.869.26; “οἱ δὲ περὶ Ἀρίσταρχον αὐτὸ τὸ ποτήριον ω_ μέγα εἶναί φασιν, ὁποῖν ἴσως τὸ κατὰ δύο υ_ ἐσχηματισμένον” Id.869.29; ἐν τῷ ω_ μεγάλῳ under omega (in a lexicon), Id.1828.49: “διὰ του^ ω_ μεγάλου” Hdn.Epim.208.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

klriley
Posts: 22
Joined: May 31st, 2011, 1:20 am

Re: τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ

Post by klriley » September 1st, 2015, 7:45 am

The names for omicron and omega where originally simply their sounds: ο and ω. When the distinction was lost between short and long vowels, the first was referred to as o micron, and the second as o mega. So the name of ω is spelt out, just as alpha is.
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