Rev 4:8 Trisagion

Steven Craig Miller scmiller at
Fri Nov 26 14:24:46 EST 1999

To: Tony Costa,

<< I had a question re: the 'trisagion' found in Rev 4:8. It appears 3 
times, "holy, holy, holy". This comes from Isaiah 6:3 which in both the LXX 
and MT also have "holy" 3 times. However, there is another MS or MSS which 
have "hAGIOS" appearing 9 times at Rev 4:8. This does not appear as a 
textual variant, but seems to have been added for emphasis. Any thoughts on 
why this is the case? >>

R. H. Charles (ICC commentary) cites a number of MSS and versions with 3 
holies including A 02 (5th century) and 025 (9th century); he cites a 
"Scholia of Origen" with only 1 holy; 2 MSS with 2 holies; 2 MSS with 6 
holies; 1 MS with 8 holies, namely Codex Sinaiticus, but it was corrected 
to 3 holies; finally a number of MSS with 9 holies, including 046 (10th 

I checked three commentaries: Charles, Beale, and Roloff; none of them 
comment on the variant reading of nine holies. The most obvious explanation 
is that nine is merely three sets of three, and thus nine merely adds 
rhetorical emphasis.

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
scmiller at

"... it is widely agreed that the sociological condition that most 
distinguishes modern Western societies from others (those considered 
premodern or traditional, and those of Asia, Africa, and the Latin American 
forests and highlands) is that modern ones are organized around the 
expectation of continuous change and growth" (Charles Lemert, "Social 
Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life," 1997:67).

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