I would like to examine what relationship, if any, early and later Greek scribes saw between the OT angel of death/destruction and the death described by the NT as one of the four horsemen.

We see the destroyer rendered as ὀλεθρεύοντα in LXX while the author of Revelation uses θάνατος for death. So far, this is all within our expectations.

Exodus 12:23
For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
καὶ παρελεύσεται κύριος πατάξαι τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους καὶ ὄψεται τὸ αἷμα ἐπὶ τῆς φλιᾶς καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἀμφοτέρων τῶν σταθμῶν καὶ παρελεύσεται κύριος τὴν θύραν καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσει τὸν ὀλεθρεύοντα εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὰς οἰκίας ὑμῶν πατάξαι
Revelation 6:8
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
καὶ εἶδον καὶ ἰδοὺ ἵππος χλωρός καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ ὄνομα αὐτῷ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἠκολούθει μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἐξουσία ἐπὶ τὸ τέταρτον τῆς γῆς ἀποκτεῖναι ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ καὶ ἐν λιμῷ καὶ ἐν θανάτῳ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς

However, on other occasions, Greek scribes would translate/editorialize for phono-semantic effect (as described in this answer: Who is Apollyon in Greek Culture?).

While Exodus 12:23 and Revelation 6:8 seem far-removed in terms of time of authorship and subject matter, this is part of the intrigue and challenge: to construct a exegetical analysis despite the difficult nature of the task. The absence of meaningful exegesis between the two is itself informative, if that turns out to be the case.


While ὀλεθρεύοντα and θάνατος are clearly different epithets, looking at their function of these entities, they are quite similar, but the question becomes is this a distinction without a difference: can the preservation of different words here be seen as the later Greek writers, such as the author of Revelation see no common ontological connection between the destroyer angel of LXX and the "death" horseman?
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    I cannot see any relationship between the two verses. They have no significant words in common. You should provide some evidence for your question even being valid.
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


Greek scribes may well have seen some inter-textual connections between the OT verse and the NT verse in question, after the Apostle John wrote in words the visions given to him from heaven. However, the job of a scribe was to faithfully copy the manuscript before him, not to make (or even offer) a commentary on what it said. Scribal work demanded dedication to accurately making fresh copies of worn-out old copies. As Christianity grew and time passed, the work of scribes came into great demand so they would have a massive amount of writing to do, making new manuscripts.

Those scribes who wrote copies of the LXX had good reason for using the Greek word for 'destroyer' in Exodus 12:23, and the Greek word for 'Death' in Revelation 6:8 but that is not what this question is asking about. Their job was simply to copy what had already been written. Scribes who dealt with both verses may well have had thoughts about inter-texuality. They would have noticed many intriguing details in the course of their work, but we cannot know what they thought unless they wrote that down somewhere; they could not possibly add addendums to the manuscripts - that would have got them fired!

However, a link is given to another question in Stack, with various answers given about what others thought on the matter. Evidence is offered regarding a perceived link between Apollyon and Apollo, for example, and this from various scholars of ancient Greek culture, and from experts in Classical Greek. Yet neither such pagan history, nor language points from a form of Greek not used in the writing of the Bible will help answer this new question. Some who answered that old question pointed out that it was wrong and misleading to try to link Apollyon and Apollo, or even to try to link General Titus into interpreting the Revelation regarding the rider of the pale horse, Death.

If ingredients additional to those used for producing the Bible are looked to, then a new product will emerge. And what will be offered will not be what those directly involved with writing and copying the Bible manuscripts produced. Scribes stuck to the 'ingredients' before them; many later scholars, however, were inclined to scratch around for new, novel elements to add to their mixture. So, my answer to the main question is that the need is to look to later scholars, not biblical scribes, for an answer further to what those verses actually state.

The other part of the question is, "can the preservation of different words here be seen as the later Greek writers, such as the author of Revelation see no common ontological connection between the destroyer angel of LXX and the "death" horseman?" Different words are rightly preserved despite a similar but uncommon subject of an Angel of Death at the Exodus, and the symbolic rider of Revelation's pale horse, named 'Death'. Exodus describes an invisible function of destruction carried out at one particular time upon one particular group of people living in Egypt, with very visible results that have gone down in history. Revelation depicts in symbolic language what God wants all his people to know about world events from the time of Christ's ascension to his return; spiritual events that are unseen to those who take a purely material view of world events. They cannot understand the deadly effects of those symbolic riders over the centuries as being a direct result of God's judgments on much more than the mere nation of Egypt. But insofar as Death destroys, there is an inseparable inter-relatedness between the two texts in question.


Well, it's a very interesting topic, but we have to remember that these texts were written in different times, contexts, and styles. This makes it challenging to draw direct lines between the two.

In Exodus 12:23, the destroyer ("ὀλεθρεύοντα" in Greek) is God's agent, bringing judgment on the Egyptians. Fast forward to the New Testament, and in Revelation 6:8, Death ("θάνατος" in Greek) is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, symbolizing the end-of-times calamities.

You've pointed out that the Greek Septuagint uses different words for the destroyer and Death. That might suggest that the author of Revelation didn't see them as the same entity. But it's also possible that the different words simply reflect the different styles and contexts of Exodus and Revelation.

From a theological standpoint, the destroyer and Death serve similar roles but with a key difference. The destroyer in Exodus is executing judgment on a specific group of people at a specific time, while Death in Revelation symbolizes universal death and destruction during the end times. This difference might reflect the different scopes and theological focuses of the Old and New Testaments.

So, while it's possible the author of Revelation might have seen some connection between the destroyer and Death, there's no clear evidence in the texts themselves. The use of different words could reflect a conscious distinction, different literary contexts, or both. As often happens with Bible interpretation, it can depend a lot on the reader's perspective.

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