Rev 4:8 Trisagion

Ben Crick ben.crick at
Fri Nov 26 18:00:26 EST 1999

On Fri 26 Nov 1999 (09:54:36), tmcos at wrote:
>   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.

 Dear Tony,

 IMHO the reason for the triple 'holy' lies in the Hebrew method of
 indicating the superlative of an adjective. The normal way of expressing
 'holy' in Hebrew is QaDoW$; for the superlative 'most holy' one would
 simply repeat the adjective 'holy holy' = "holiest". Compare "pits pits"
 in Genesis 14:10 (='full of pits'); "gold gold ...silver silver" in 2 Kings
 25:15 (= purest gold, purest silver).

 But uniquely in the MT we have at Isaiah 6:3 QaDoW$ QaDoW$ QaDoW$ YHWH,
 a triple superlative. This can be regarded aetiologically as a disguised
 highly proleptic reference to the Trinity; but it is better IMHO to regard
 it as a "super-superlative". There is a good Greek example in the GNT,
 when Paul calls himself "Less than the least" of the saints, EMOI TWi
 ELACISTOTERWi PANTWN hAGIWN. If the Apostle Paul can be "less than the
 least", surely God must be "holier than the holiest".

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 <ben.crick at>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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