"...And he sent forth his angel and presented it in signs...."-Revelation 1.1 New World Translation
Many popular modern translations read here:
"...he made it known by sending his angel..."-New Revised Standard Version.
"..He made it known by sending his angel..."-New International Version.
"..and He sent and communicated it by his angel...."-New American Standard Version.
The question that arises then is why did the NWT Translation Committee translate the Greek here as "presented it in signs."
The Greek word here is ESHMANEN which is the aorist indicative active SHMAINW. Under ESHMANEN the Kingom Interlinear Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures(WTB&TS, 1985)tells us it basically means "he showed by signs."
This is confirmed by what we can read in The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament where we read: "[ESHMANEN]....[SHMAINW] to signify. The word strictly means to show by some sort of sign, and it is esp[ecially] used of any intimation given by the gods to men, esp[ecially] concerning the future(Hort, Aune)."-italics ours
Aune writes in his commentary on the book of Revelation:
"1c. [kai esemainen aposteilas dia ton angelon autou to doulo autou Ioanne] "which he made know by sending his angel to his servant John."...........\par The verb [esemainen], meaning "to indicate clearly"(Louw-Nida, 33.153; see Acts 25:27), occurs only here in Revelationand appears to be in tension with the symbolic and enigmatic character of much of what follows. Yet [semainein] is used in prophetic and oracular contexts where the meaning of the prohpecy or oracle is not completely clear; see the famous saying of Heraclitus about the Oracle of Delphi preserved in Plutarch De Pyth. orac . 404E: [oute legei, oute kryptei, alla semainei,"] "[Apollo] neither declares nor conceals but signifies"(Diels-Kranz, FVS 1:171; frag. B93). This refers to the fact that the Delphic oracle gave ambigous advice using images and riddles and that such advice required interpretation (see Kahn, \i Heraclitus\i0 , 121-23). [semainein] is also used in other oracular or revelatory contexts. In Greek 1 Enoch 106:13, [semainein] is used of the communication of a vision seen by Enoch, and in Greek 1 Enoch 107:2, Enoch tells Methuselah to reveal the substance of Enoch's dream to Lamech (semanon Lamech), that Lamech's child Noah is really his own child. In Ezekiel Trag. Exagoge 83, Raguel interprets a dream that Moses had by saying that [kalon soi tout esememen theos, "God signified this to you for good." In Acts 11:28 (see TDNT 7:264), a prophecy of Agabus is introduced with the phrase [esemainen dia tou pneumatos], "he indicated through the Spirit." The verb [semainen] occurs three times in John, all in the context of Jesus "indicating" by what death he would die(John 12:33; 18:32; 21:19); i.e., Jesus predicated his death by using the phrase "lifted up" as an ambiguous description of his impending crucifixion. In Rev.1.1, [semaiein] cannot mean "to indicate clearly." By using the term [semainein], the author expresses the difficulty in understanding the revelation narrated in the text that follows, and perhaps even emphasizes the necessity of informed interpretation"- Revelation, David Aune, WBC Vol.52a, p.15
Another authoritative commentary reads:
"The Symbolic Nature of the Apocalypse:
"Rev. 1: 1 introduces the book, not only
with the word "apocalypse" but also by saying that God
"made known" to John the contents of the book through
an angel. "Made known" (so RSV, NRSV, NEB, JB, NIV) is
a rendering of the aorist tense of [semaino]. The standard NT
Greek lexicon[BAGD, 747] translates this appearence of the word
as "make known, report, communicate," acknowledging
also that the word can connote "foretell," "mean,"
or "signify" in other literature. All these definitions
generally connote the idea of communication, though the precise
nature of the communication is left undefined.
To understand the word fully, its role in the immediate context must be recalled. It is part of a clear allusion to Dan. 2:28-30, 45. The clauses "revelation . . . God showed . . . what must come to pass . . . and he made known, [semaino]" together only in Daniel 2 and Rev. 1: 1.2 In the LXX of Daniel 2 [semaino] is a translation of the Aramaic yeda("make known"); Theod. has [gnorizo] ("make known"). Even with the more general terms in the Aramaic and Theod.the manner of communication is defined by the context of the vision as symbolic communication by means of a dream vision. In the LXX the symbolic nature of the communication is also signaled by the use of [semaino] For example, v 45:
"Just as you have seen a stone cut out from a mountain without hands and [have seen it]grind to powder the earthenware, the iron, the brass, the silver, and the gold, [so] the great God has signified(ESHMANE) to the king what will occur in the latter days.
"The revelation is not abstract but
pictorial. The king saw a huge statue composed of four sections
of different metals: gold, silver. bronze, and iron. The statue
was smashed by a rock that grew until it became a mountain
filling the earth. Daniel recounts the symbolic vision seen by
the king and then interprets it: each section of the colossus
represented a major world kingdom, the last of which would be
defeated and replaced by God's eternal kingdom. The LXX
translator probably chose [semaino] to render "make known"
to underscore the precise kind of communication under discussion,
which was symbolic communication. [semaino] can overlap with the
more general and absractt idea of "make known" in the
sense of "indicate," "declare," "be
manifest." But its more concrete and at least equally common
sense is "show by a sign," "give (or make) signs (or
signals)," or "signify" (thel ast translation is
used in Douay,KJV,and NASB margin in Rev.1.1.[semaino]typically
has this idea of symbolic communication when it is not used in
the general sense of "make known." Both the abstract
and concrete senses are found in the LXX. Of its five other NT
occurrences, two have the sense of "make known" (Act 11:28;
25:27), though one (Acts 11:28) )May have the nuance of symbolic
information (if it is parallel with the prophetic mode of
symbolic revelation by the same prophet in Act,,, 21:10-11);
three others are in John's Gospel where it summarizes Jesus'
pictorial description of crucifixion (John 12:33; 18:32; 21:19).
The Gospel writers use the cognate noun semeion repeatedly to
refer to Jesus' miracles as outward "signs" or "symbols"
of his attributes and mission.
"The symbolic use of [semaino] in Daniel 2 defines the use in Rev. 1:1 as referring to symbolic communication and not mere general conveyance of information. Therefore, John's choice of [semaino] over [gnorizo] ("make nown") is not haphazard but intentional. Regardless of which Aramaic or Greek word or version is in view, however, the allusion to Dan. 2:28-30,45 indicates that a symbolic vision and its interpretation is going to be part of the warp and woof of the means of communication throughout Revelation. This conclusion is based on the supposition that John uses OT references with significant degrees of awareness of OT context, for which I will argue later.
"That[semaino] means "communicate by symbols" in Rev.1.1 is confirmed also by the paralllel use of [deixnumi]("show") in the first clause of v.1: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants." This word "show" is not a synonym with other words meaning "make known," though it could be used in that manner in other contexts. Rather, it refers here to a revelation through the medium of symbolic heavenly visions communicated through an angel. That [deixnumi] means "show" is clarified from the other seven uses of the verb in the book, in which it clearly has that sense(4.1; 17:1; 21:9-10; 22:1,6,8). In each, a symbolic vision is what is "shown," and John notes that he "saw" these pictorial revelations. (e.g., 17:3,6; 21:22; 22:8). The section of visions is punctuated throughout by the refrain "and I saw"[kai eidon]. It is fitting that [semaino]is parallel with [deixnumi] in 1:1, since virtually the same parallel is observable between [deloo] ("show" or "reveal") and [semaino] in Dan.2:28-30(LXX)."- G.K.Beale, The Book of Revelation; The New International Greek Testament Commentary(NIGTC). pp50-52.
"Esemanen is a modification of deixai [show], indicative of the signs employed, the symbolical representation"-John Peter Lange, Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.
Marvin Vincent observes: "The word is appropriate to the symbolical character of the revelation, and so in John xii.33, where Christ predicts the mode of his death in a figure."-Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol.2, p408.
Liddell-Scotts' Leixcon gives as its first meaning "show by a sign..."
Edward McDowell writes: "The author implies that the message he has received is being given to his readers under sign or symbols. Attention to this fact should save us of crass literalism in interpreting the message of the book. The Meaning and Message of the Book of Revelation, Nashville, Broadman Press, 1951, p.24
William F. Beck in his The Holy Bible: An American Translation translates:
"....and by way of symbols sent the message..."
J.B.Rotherham in his Emphasised Bible translates:
"...and he showed them by signs..."