Creatures with Seven Heads in the Revelation of John

A History of the Motif in the Ancient Near East

  • Christoffer Theis (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The essay offers a history of the motif of the multi-headed creatures in Revelation of John 12:3 and 13:1–2. It presents hints for a transmission of these specific creatures from a common view of cultures in the Ancient Near East in antiquity. So far, the focus for explaining these creatures was mainly based on motifs from the Old Testament, or the heads were seen as signs for Roman emperors. But with inclusion of sources from various cultures of the Ancient Near East, it becomes obvious that the feature of multiple heads, as well as the specific number of seven heads, is a common theme in different cultures. The presentation was surely not invented by John and there is no need to equate the heads with Roman emperors.