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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Alpha and Omega

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ALPHA AND OMEGA . A title of God in Revelation 1:8; Revelation 21:6 , of Jesus in Revelation 22:13 [its presence in Revelation 1:11 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] is not Justified by the MSS]. Alpha was the first, and Omega the last letter of the Greek, as Aleph and Taw were the first and the last of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Talmud, ‘From Aleph to Taw’ meant ‘From first to last,’ including all between. Cf. Shabb . 51. 1 (on Ezekiel 9:6 ): ‘Do not read “My Sanctuary,” but “My saints,” who are the sons of men who have kept the whole Law from Aleph to Taw.’

This explains the title. In each instance St. John defines It. Revelation 1:8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘the beginning and the ending’ is an interpolation from Revelation 21:6 , Revelation 22:13 ), i.e. the Eternal, the Contemporary of every generation. Revelation 21:6 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’; Revelation 22:13 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last (cf. Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12 ), the beginning and the end,’ i.e. He who comprehends and embraces all things, from whom all come and to whom all return, the fons et clausula , the starting-point and the goal of history (cf. Colossians 1:17 ). The ascription of this title to Jesus as well as to God in a writing so early as the Apocalypse strikingly attests the view of our Lord’s Person which prevailed in the primitive Church.

Aurelius Prudentius makes fine use of the title in his hymn on The Lord’s Nativity (‘Corde natus ex parentis’), thus rendered by Neale:

‘Of the Father’s love begotten

Ere the worlds began to be,

He is Alpha and Omega,

He the source, the ending He,

Of the things that are, that have been,

And that future years shall see,

Evermore and evermore.’

David Smith.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Alpha and Omega'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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