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Gospel and Epistles is,” says he, “ clear as the light of the sun."1 Credner, too, expresses himself to the same effect : “ Between the author of the Apocalypse and the apostle John there exists a diversity so deeply pervading, that even to the mere supposition, that the Gospel and First Epistle were the productions of the same mind, when it had attained to higher spiritual progress, which at an earlier period would have composed the Apocalypse, no place can be given; since it would be altogether unnatural and inadmissible.” ? Others, as F. Lücke, Bleek, and Schott, might be quoted to the same purpose.
At the beginning of the Reformation, as well as more recently in Germany, the Apocalypse was discarded. Luther says : “ There are many reasons why I regard this * book as neither apostolical nor prophetic. First, and principally, the apostles do not make use of visions, but prophesy in clear and plain language, as do Peter, Paul, and Christ also in the Gospel ; for it is suitable to the apostolic office to speak clearly and without figure or vision respecting Christ and his acts. There is also no prophet in the Old Testament, not to mention the New, who treats of visions throughout, so that the fourth book of Esdras is almost equal to it in my estimation; and certainly I cannot perceive that it proceedeth from the Holy Spirit. Besides, it seems to me too much for him to enjoin it rigorously on his readers to regard his own work as of more importance than any other sacred book, and to threaten that if any one shonld take aught away from it, God will take away from him his part in the book of life. Again, even if they are to be blessed who hold to what is contained in it, no man knows what that is, much less what holding to it means. The curse is all the same as though we had it not; and many more valu. able books exist for us to hold to. Many of the Fathers, too, rejected it long ago; and though St. Jerome employs big words, and says that it is above all praise, and contains as
i Comm. p. 76.
many mysteries as words, yet he cannot prove that; and in several places his praise is moderate. Finally, let every man think of it as his spirit prompts him. My spirit cannot adapt itself to the book; and it is reason enough for me why I should not esteem it very highly that Christ is neither taught in it nor acknowledged, which above all things an apostle is bound to do; for he says (Acts i.) ye shall be my witnesses. I abide, therefore, by the books that give Christ to me clearly and purely.”! Luther subsequently became more mild and reasonable in his opposition to it, although he does not seem ever to have cordially accepted it as divine: “We have,” he says, “hitherto, on account of these doubtful interpretations and hidden meanings, left it to itself, especially since one of the ancient Fathers believed that it was not written by the apostle, as is related in Lib. iii. Hist. Eccles. In this uncertainty we, for our part, let it remain ; but do not prevent others from taking it to be the work of St. John the apostle, if they choose.” 3 Others of the Reformers, as Zuingli, Carlstadt, and Erasınus, agree with Luther in denying that the Apocalypse is a “divine book."
Even Professor Stuart says: “there are so many apparent difficulties in the way of giving credit to the alleged apostolic origin of the Apocalypse, that it may easily be believed by even a fair-minded critic, who should proceed only a moderate length in the examination of the question of authorship, that grounds are not wanting to persuade one to doubt or disbelieve such an origin. Indeed we know that such is the state of the case. My own mind, if I may be permitted to speak of myself, has in the different stages of examination, gone through a process of this sort to a certain extent. I have never positively disbelieved the apostolical origin of the book; but I have, in certain states of knowledge and certain stages of inquiry, been compelled to hold myself in
Quoted by Davidson, Introd., Vol. III. 550, 551. ? This passage of Eusebius is quoted and commented upon below, in examining the testiinony of that historian. 3 Davidson, Vol. III. 551. VOL. XXI. No. 82.
suspense, and wait for more light.” If, then, anything can be accomplished in rescuing any from a state of suspense into which they may have fallen, by a brief outline of the arguments for the apostolic origin of the Apocalypse, our labor will not have been in vain. The discussion naturally falls into two general divisions, the external argument, i.e. the reception which the book received in the church of the early ages; and the internal, i.e. the declarations in the book itself, and the characteristics of form, style, and sentiment, when compared with the other works of the reputed author.
I. EXTERNAL ARGUMENT.
Proof that John the Apostle was the Author, from the Belief
and Testimony of the early Fathers and the Church itself.
Direct testimony to the Johannean authorship of the Revelation, in the generation immediately following the death of the apostle, i. e. from the end of the first to the middle of the second century, is not found, and could hardly be expected on the supposition that the apostle John is the author. Had his claim been questioned, there would doubtless have been allusion to it; but now there is merely incidental reference to it in verbal coincidences, as in other acknowledged apostolical productions.
In the “Shepherd of Hermas,” the references, which may be found in Lardner and Kirchhofer, are such as to indicate that the author of it had perhaps read and imitated the Apocalypse.
Ignatius, a contemporary of John, makes no direct reference to the Revelation or the circumstances attending the life of John, in his works now extant; but there are some coincidences of language which have been referred to as showing familiarity with that writing? Still, as Barnes
Lardner, Vol., II. 69, 87.
E.g. Ep. ad Romanos : “In the patience of Jesus Christ," Rev. i. 9; Ep. ad Eph., sect. 9:“ Stones of the temple of the Father, prepared for the building of God,” Rev. xxi. 2-19; and, as added by Mr. Knight in his “New Argument
says:1 “ It must be admitted that this coincidence of language does not furnish any certain proof that Ignatius had seen the Apocalypse, though the language is such as he might have used if he had seen it. There was no known necessity, however, for his referring to this book if he was acquainted with it, and nothing can be inferred from his silence."
Of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was in part contemporary with John, we have only one relic — his epistle to the Philippians. There is, however, an epistle of the church in Smyrna to the churches in Pontus, in reference to the martyrdom of Polycarp, in which Elliot and others claim that there is allusion to the Apocalypse, but without much evidence. Polycarp is here, however, referred to as furnishing indirect testimony to the apostolic origin of the Apocalypse. “ As Polycarp was the personal friend and attendant of John, so was Irenaeus of Polycarp. Now Irenaeus everywhere, and on all occasions, testifies his full belief in the apostolic origin of the Apocalypse. Could he have done so if Polycarp had not believed the same? And must not Polycarp have certainly known what was the fact in regard to the authorship of the Apocalypse?” 2 A remark of Irenaeus upon the reading in xiii. 18. X&s, as substantiated by those who had seen John face to face (εκείνων των κατ' όψιν τον 'Iwavvnu ewpakotwy, Lib. V. 30. 1.) gives additional force to this testimony, since Polycarp is doubtless prominent in the mind of Irenaeus in this remark, and he could not have failed to refer to it if he had differed with him in his general opinion of the whole book.
Papias, who is declared by Irenaeus to be a hearer of John and a friend (étalpos) of Polycarp, is evidently supposed by that author 3 to have derived his millenarian views from the
for the Genuineness and Authenticity of the Revelation of John,” Ep. ad. Phil. adel., sect. 6: “If they do not speak of Jesus Christ, they are but sepulchral pillars, and upon them are written only the names of men,” Rev. iii. 12. Quoted by Davidson and Barnes.
1 Introduction to Comm., p. 12.
8 V. 33.
Apocalypse. The same thing is implied in a remark of Eusebius, with the additional idea that the work from which his views were derived were of apostolic, i. e. Johannean origin, for no other apostle than John was ever thought of by the ancients as its author. But we have direct testimony in the latter part of the fifth century and the beginning of the sixth, from Andreas, bishop of Caesarea, and his successor Arathos, that Papias received the Apocalypse as inspired : “ In regard now to the inspiration of the book, we think it superfluous to speak further, since the blessed Gregory the Jeolóryov, and Cyril, and moreover those of an earlier age, Papias, Irenaeus, Methodius, and Hippolitus, bear witness to the credibility of this work." 2 Andreas not only thus refers to Papias, but in commenting on Rev. xii. 7 cites two passages from him. This inspiration is equivalent to Johannean authorship, as none but apostles and those who wrote at their dictation were counted worthy of the appellation inspired.
Melito, bishop of Sardis, “ wrote a work exclusively upon this book," calling it the Apocalypse of John (ins útokaNúfews 'Iwávvou). Barnes sums up the value of bis testimony thus : “(a) Melito was bishop of one of the churches to which the Apocalypse was directed; (6) he lived near the time of John; (c) he was a diligent student on this very subject; (d) he had every opportunity of ascertaining the truth on the subject; (e) he regarded it as the work of the apostle John ; ) and he wrote a treatise, or commentary, on it as an inspired book. It is not easy to conceive of stronger testimony in favor of the book.” 4
1*Α και ηγούμαι, τάς αποστολικά και παραδεξάμενου διηγήσεις, υπολαβείν, τα εν υποδείγμασι προς αυτών μυστικώς ειρημένα μη συνεωρακότα, κ. τ. λ. Ηist., ΠΙ. 39. Sce a full discussion of the testimony of Papias in Hengstenberg's Commentary, Vol. II. 395 scq.
2 Περί μέντοι του θεοπνεύστου της βίβλου περιττόν μηκύνειν τον λόγον ηγούμεθα, των μακαρίων, Γρηγορίου φημι του θεολόγου, και Κυρίλλου, προσέτι δε και των αρχαιοτέρων, Παππίου, Ιρηναίου, Μεθοδίου, και Ιππολίτου ταύτη προσμαρτυρούντων το & cóniotov. Comm. on Apocal. Quoted by Stuart in his Introd. and by Hug in Introd., Vol. I. 652. 3 Euscbius, Eccl. Hist., p. 26, quoted by Davidson. * Comm., Introd. xvi.