Reconsidering Peter Malik and his idea of the Text of the Book of Revelation


Koot van Wyk 27 June 2020


Peter Malik (2018) and several other scholars like Lincoln H. Blumell and Thomas A. Wayment (2015), Thomas J. Kraus (2016), Pasquale Orsini and Willy Clarysse (2012), Tobias Nicklas (2012), J. Hernández (2014), G. V. Allen, and D. Müller (2018), C. R. Koester (2016) who focused on the number of the beast, M. Lembke (2012), U. B. Schmid with M. Karrer (2017), D. C. Parker (2000), M. Sigismund (2017) do not operate with the idea that an original full text of the Book of Revelation exists. As one scholar Hernández puts it: “The idea that two of the longstanding and classic text forms of Revelation’s manuscript tradition are on the verge of vanishing is an alarming prospect for traditionalists accustomed to—and comforted by— Schmid’s neat, quadrangular textual divisions. The four main text forms, each originating in the fourth century, is reminiscent of the fourfold gospel and was, perhaps, intended to be as faithful. The prospect of tampering with divine geometry is, understandably, prima facie rankling, perhaps as rankling as the notion that 616 might be preferable to 666, or that the “original” text is lost beyond all hope and that only the Ausgangstext is recoverable. That textual critics should be rankled by such changes is predictable. It is a matter of temperament, even religious conviction.”

These scholars scratch, carve, interpret with hermeneutics of suspicion instead of confirmation and end up with their negativism outlook of the manuscripts and what they offer. They try to erode the conclusions of older scientists presenting what was perceived for long as an established single text but now they are trying to argue that it never was but is only the product of different texts mixed and that it is at best the Ausgangstext, a hypothetical reconstructed text.

First one has to be clear: Any text is basically Ausgangstext. Even Irenaus that are accepted by some of those listed above uncritically needs a proper textual criticism first before he can be scooped along the biblical text for comparisons. So is Shepherd of Hermas. Josephus, Philo, any of the pseudepigrapha or the apocrypha. Even the Targums or any of the versions that one wants to use for comparison. One has to first find Jerome before you can use him for comparison.

Secondly, Peter Malik in his presentation and conclusions did not consider the historical aspects that could have influenced the form or shape of the Revelation manuscripts. The Roman Empire was burning books that foretold events. So the owners of these books had to hide them to preserve them.

Thirdly, the early church have made these books illegal or illegal to comment on. That was the case with Eusebius, Augustine and a number of others. The Book of Revelation was in trouble. Church historians have written on this extensively. Eusebius is from the third century. The format of the Book of Revelation would have been influenced by this attitude to prophetic New Testament Books. Eschatology was placed on a backburner. There are many reasons for that. The interpretations posed a problem to the church and to the Roman Empire. The scholars above did not consider this aspect at all.

There is evidence in the third century that manuscript W (290 CE) for the Book of Zechariah had obvious errors in comparable to a literal Greek retroversion of the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. Especially in chapter 4 at a number of verses. The Third century is not a period of “virgin” texts and everything afterwards deteriorated. Even the Third Century was a period of mistakes in the manuscripts as W demonstrated. Mistakes could also be found late between 850-950 and corrections were typically made between 1150-1250 and around 1450 scribes were non-commitent to goals of scribes of the corrective period. These are flinging comments by themselves and needs back-up to prove, time which I do not have in this writing.

So Papyrus Bodmer and other manuscripts discussed by Peter Malik dating to the third century all stand under this umbrella of mistakes. Take his early example of 611 instead of 666 as a case.

Scholars of manuscripts and analysis of the Greek text of Revelation needs to be alert of the modus operandi of these scholars listed above and their epistemological assertions and claims born out of their lifestyle of which we as investigators do not have access to but which strongly influence their care aspect with the Word of God. It is here where the tire hits the road, where the egg hits the fan, where the nihilist or agnostic or atheist is born. How can an atheist or agnostic study the Greek text of the Book of Revelation? Answer. They can’t. No legitimacy. They disqualify provided we find them admitting that they are agnostic.

Peter Malik is found to operate with keen observation but also with somewhat naïve logic at times that is due to not considering the aspects like the anti-eschatology twitch of Eusebius and Augustine et al and the Romans burning of books vaticinia eventu. Many articles has been written on this and even in Germany there was a paper on this a couple of years ago.

Is the Book of Revelation on uncertain terms textually? No. What scholars claim is not necessarily reality. It is assumptions and opinions and trying to build consensus for this generation with those opinions using the SBL as Toyan Horse for their destructive ideas knowingly or unknowingly. They may operate with a Galilean acclaimed rebellion to hit the church and find satisfaction out of it.



Peter Malik, The Greek Text of Revelation in Late Antique Egypt: Materials, Texts, and Social History. ZAC 2018; 22(3): 400–421.

U. Schmid, “Die Apokalypse, uberliefert mit anderen Neutestamentlichen Schriften—eapr Handschriften.” Pages 421–41 in Studien zum Text der Apokalypse. Edited by Marcus Sigismund, Martin Karrer, and Ulrich Schmid. ANTF 47. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015.

M. Sigismund and D. Müller, eds. Studien zum Text der Apokalypse II. ANTF 50. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017.

M. Sigismund, M. Karrer, and U. Schmid, eds. Studien zum Text der Apokalypse. ANTF 47. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015.

D. C. Parker, “A New Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Revelation: P115 (P.Oxy 4499).” NTS 46 (2000): 159–74.

M. Lembke, D.  Müller, and U. B. Schmid with M. Karrer, eds. Text und Textwert der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments VI: Die Apokalypse; Teststellenkollation und Auswertungen. ANTF 49. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017;

P. Malik, “Another Look at P.IFAO II 31 (P98): An Updated Transcription and Textual Analysis.” NovT 58

(2016): 204–17;

idem, “Corrections of Codex Sinaiticus and the Textual Transmission of Revelation: Josef Schmid Revisited.” NTS 61 (2015): 595–614;

idem, “The Earliest Corrections in Codex Sinaiticus: Further Evidence from the Apocalypse.” TC 20 (2015): 1–12.

J. Hernández, Jr., “The Creation of a Fourth-Century Witness to the Andreas Text Type: A Misreading in the Apocalypse’s Textual History.” NTS 60 (2014): 106–20; idem, “The Legacy of Wilhelm Bousset for the Apocalypse’s Textual History: The Identification of the Andreas Text.” Pages 19–32 in Studien zum Text der Apokalypse. Edited by Marcus Sigismund, Martin Karrer, and Ulrich Schmid. ANTF 47. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015; idem, “Nestle-Aland 28 and the Revision of the Apocalypse’s Textual History.” Pages 71–81 in Studies on the Text of the New Testament and Early Christianity: Essays in Honour of Michael W. Holmes. Edited by Daniel M. Gurtner, Juan Hernandez Jr., and Paul Foster. NTT SD 50. Leiden: Brill, 2015;

J. Hernández Jr., G. V. Allen, and D. Müller, ed. and trans., J. Schmid, Studies in the History of the Greek Text of the Apocalypse: The Ancient Stems. Atlanta: SBL, 2018.