ALPHA and OMEGA. First and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Whenever this pairing occurs, it expresses the idea of totality: as much as is contained, symbolically and ideally, in the infinite combination of letters from A to Z. Is 41:4; 44:6; 48:12 sets the tone for successive development with the formulation I, the Lord, am the first and the last, which explains how God can act upon and influence historical events, transcending any limit of time and space. This divine attribute appears again in Rev 1:8; 21:6, where God himself says: I am the alpha and the omega, further specified by what follows, He who is, who was and who is to come Rev 1:8, or additionally the Beginning and the End Rev 21:6. The attribute Alpha and Omega is not conceded to Christ on his first appearance; the term First and Last Rev 1:17; 2:8 is preferred, joined to the evocation of his death and resurrection so as to emphasize the infinite power that now belongs to him. In Rev 22:13 Christ receives titles that were formerly those of God: Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End, which indicate the power that belongs to him as judge. From the Apocalypse we infer the work of Christ both in the creation as Word Alpha and at the end as judge Omega. This designation of God and of Christ has analogies with the rabbinic symbol of the Shekinah, which was expressed with the initials aleph-tau or aleph-mem-tau = truth. In the Greek alphabet, the letter mu is halfway between alpha and omega, though mem is not halfway through in the Hebrew alphabet. In any case, by the letters of the Greek and Hebrew alphabets were represented the three phases first, middle and last of infinite duration Strack and Billerbeck, II, 789. When applied to Christ, this shows that he has a name like the Father’s Rev 1:18, and that he is Being par excellence. John, taking a negative attitude toward the Jewish Christians of Cerinthus and the Nicolaitans, who attributed a universal and divine power over the world not to Christ but to the series of letters stoiceia aehiouw = AW Reitzenstein, Poimandres 286, is happy to use symbols familiar in the cultural milieus of Asia Minor, Christianizing their meaning E.B. Allo, L’Apocalypse, 8. The symbolic value of the two letters alpha and omega was soon appreciated in Christian speculation, both orthodox Orig.

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