Dionysius of Alexandria - Johannine Gospel and Epistles free of solecisms

Steven Avery

Dionysius, "Pope" of Alexandria - (d. 264)

Dionysius grammar gramma
Dionysius solecism solecis

Early Christian Interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel: Investigations and Proposals (1997)

G. K. Beale

As early as the first half of the third century Dionysius of Alexandria (d. 264/265 CE) observed that John’s ‘use of the Greek language is not accurate, but that he employs barbarous idioms, in some places committing downright solecisms’ (cited by Eusebius, H.E. 7.25.26- 27). Other modem scholars have accused John of writing poor Greek. The most thorough and important studies of John’s grammar are those by Moses Stuart (mid-nineteenth century)2 and R.H. Charles (early twentieth century),3 as well as G. Mussies’s massive study (latter part of the twentieth century).4



Some Account of the External Government and Discipline of the Church of Christ, During the First Three Centuries (1855)
John Kaye

Charts on the Book of Revelation: Literary, Historical, and Theological Perspectives (2007)
Authorship of Revelation
Mark Wilson

Palaeoromaica: Or Historical and Philological Disquisitions, Inquiring: Whether the Helvenistic Style is Not Latin-Greek? (1822)
John Black

In fact, it is singular that Dionysius could have said of our Vulgate Greek text of John’s Gospel, that it is free from solecisms, and is pure Greek; and that John seems to have been supernaturally gifted with a good style. His Greek copy, surely, was more classical than our common one.
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism

Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy


Nathaniel Lardner

https://www.andreascenter.org/Articles/Scribes and Revelation 1.htm

Dean Furlong

In an anticipation of modern biblical criticism, Dionysius attempted to the apostolic authority of Revelation into question by contrasting its grammar and style with the Gospel of John, thus arguing for separate authorship. He was then free to posit another John, other than the Apostle, as the author of Revelation.

Dionysius thus argued that the Gospel and letters “are not only faultlessly written according to the Greek language, but are most literary, with respect to style, reasonings, and arrangements of expression. There is not any barbarous word or solecism or any vulgarism whatsoever found in it” (Hist Eccl . 7.25.24–25). Revelation, on the other hand, is written in a dialect (διάλεκτον) and tongue (γλῶσσαν) which was not used “accurately” (οὐκ ἀκριβῶς); furthermore, it used “barbarous idioms” (ἰδιώμασίν τε βαρβαρικοῖς) and “solecisms” (σολοικίζοντα) (7.25.26).

... Another proposed solution is that Revelation was originally written in Aramaic

In his commentary, Sanders offers a different view, and suggests that the author effects a Semitic style so that consequently “anyone presumably could have written” it. 14 Burney viewed the differences simply as a variation in style in the same author, informed by his Hebrew education,15 and he attributed the style of Revelation to a “first-hand imitation of Biblical Hebrew style.”16 In support of this point, R. A. Edward notes with respect to the apocalypse that “poets do not always observe the rules of syntax.”17 Caird, though in favor of separate authorship, notes that Aquila in his Greek translation of the Old Testament effected a deliberate Hebraic Greek style which differed from his normal prose. 18 Fu

Last edited:

Steven Avery

John A. Battle

(Eusebius, Hist Eccl . 7.25.24–25).
“Moreover, it can also be shown that the diction of the Gospel and Epistle differs from that of the Apocalypse. For they were written not only without error as regards the Greek language, but also with elegance in their expression, in their reasonings, and in their entire structure. They are far indeed from betraying any barbarism or solecism, or any vulgarism whatever. For the writer had, as it seems, both the requisites of discourse—that is, the gift of knowledge and the gift of expression—as the Lord had bestowed them both upon him.

I do not deny that the other writer saw a revelation and
received knowledge and prophecy. I perceive, however, that his dialect and language are
not accurate Greek, but that he uses barbarous idioms, and, in some places, solecisms. It
is unnecessary to point these out here, for I would not have any one think that I have said
these things in a spirit of ridicule, for I have said what I have only with the purpose of
showing clearly the difference between the writings.”
(quoted by Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 7:25 [NPF 2nd Series, 1:309-11])
Last edited:

Steven Avery

- 3 -
The Comma Calmly Considered
The Word in John’s Epistle
Mike Ferrando
February 15, 2022

The Comma Calmly Considered : The Word in John’s Epistle
Dionysius of Alexandria (d. 264) writes that John’s Epistle and Gospel agree.

• [Burgess] Dionysius of Alexandria, who speaks so comprehensively of the entire resemblance of the
Gospel and Epistle of St. John, in their characteristics [PAGE 30] of the Father and the Son, as hardly
to admit the exclusion of the seventh verse .”For the Gospel and Epistle agree with each other
...but discuss everything under the same heads and names some of which we will briefly
mention. ...'the Father and the Son,' occur everywhere. In fact, it is plainly to be seen that one
and the same character marks the Gospel and the Epistle throughout.” (Eusebius. H.E.
7.25.18-21; Migne Graeca, PG 20.701A-C) If the attributes of the Father and the Son were represented
both in the Gospel and the Epistle so entirely the same, “under the same names” and “occur
everywhere ..and throughout", the unity of the Son with the Father, declared in John x. 30, “I and my
Father are one,” has its counterpart only in 1 John v. 7. (Burgess, A Vindication of 1 John, V. 7. from the
Objections of M. Griesbach, 1823, 2nd edition, p. 20-30)

Here is Dionysius full quote in Eusebius History of the Church.

• [Eusebius] [20.1.1] Dionysius, besides his epistles already mentioned, wrote at that time also his
extant Festal Epistles, in which he uses words of panegyric respecting the Passover feast. He
addressed one of these to Flavius, and another to Domitius and Didymus, in which he sets forth a
canon of eight years, maintaining that it is not proper to observe the paschal feast until after the vernal
equinox. Besides these he sent another epistle to his fellow presbyters in Alexandria, as well as various
others to different persons while the persecution was still prevailing. ...Afterward he speaks in this
manner of the Apocalypse of John:”[7.25.18] For the Gospel and Epistle agree with each other and
begin in the same manner. The one says, 'In the beginning was the Word'; John 1:1 the other, 'That
which was from the beginning.' 1 John 1:1 The one: 'And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among
us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father'; John 1:14 the other says
the same things slightly altered: 'Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; which we
have looked upon and our hands have handled of the Word of life — and the life was manifested.' 1
John 1:1-2 [7.25.19] For he introduces these things at the beginning, maintaining them, as is evident
from what follows, in opposition to those who said that the Lord had not come in the flesh. Wherefore
also he carefully adds, 'And we have seen and bear witness, and declare unto you the eternal life which
was with the Father and was manifested unto us. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto
you also.' 1 John 1:2-3 [7.25.20] He holds to this and does not digress from his subject, but discusses
everything under the same heads and names some of which we will briefly mention. [7.25.21] Anyone
who examines carefully will find the phrases, 'the life,' 'the light,' 'turning from darkness,'
frequently occurring in both; also continually, 'truth,' 'grace,' 'joy,' 'the flesh and blood of the
Lord,' 'the judgment,' 'the forgiveness of sins,' 'the love of God toward us,' the 'commandment
that we love one another,' that we should 'keep all the commandments'; the 'conviction of the
world, of the Devil, of Anti-Christ,' the 'promise of the Holy Spirit,' the 'adoption of God,' the
'faith continually required of us,' 'the Father and the Son,' occur everywhere. In fact, it is plainly
to be seen that one and the same character marks the Gospel and the Epistle
throughout.”(Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Book 7; NPNF02 vol 1

Dionysius of Alexandria has this allusion to the Heavenly Witnesses:

● Against the Sabellians: if they maintain that a separation is necessarily involved in the expression
‘three Hypostases,’ yet there are three - whether they admit it or no - or they must completely destroy
the divine triad. (Dionysius of Alexandria, Epistle to Dionysius of Rome, Fragment. Translation found in
Basil the Great. The Holy Spirit. 29 (72). <www.newadvent.org/fathers/3203.htm>.)
○ Greek: Εἰ τῷ τρεῖς εἶναι τὰς ὑποστάσεις, μεμερισμένας εἶναι λέγουσι, τρεῖς εἰσι, κᾂν μὴ
θέλωσιν, ἢ τὴν θείαν Τριάδα παντελῶς ἀνελέτωσαν. (Dionysius of Alexandria, Epistolae II
Dionysii Episcopi ad SS Dionysium. Fragmenta. Migne Latin, PL 5.128A-B)
Conclusion: The statements of Dionysius concerning John's doctrine of the Word in the Gospel, Revelation,
and the Epistle is clear. The deity and incarnation are revealed in all three writings to the same degree and
kind. Further, this allusion above demonstrates that Dionysius was familiar with the language of John’s
Heavenly Witnesses found in his Epistle
Last edited: