Page images
PDF
EPUB

of sin: “ Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee,” i.e. worse than the impotence of which he had been cured, So death is the result of sin. For in viii. 21, 24, “ Ye shall die in your sins," implies “ that the sins which lead into death are, at the same time, to be regarded as the cause of death," as " appears from a comparison of the Old Testament phraseology that lies at the foundation."

The Apocalypse is distinguished from all the other books of the New Testament by its symbolic, dark, and mystical character. But the Gospel and Epistles of John have more of these same characteristics than any other of these books except the Apocalypse. The dipping of the sop and giving it to Judas (xiii. 26); the symbolical character of the act of healing the blind man, as annonnced by Jesus himself (ix. 39); the washing of the disciples feet (xiii. 5); the occasional complaint made, according to the relations of John, that the sayings of Christ were dark (vi. 60); the frequent misunderstanding of them (viii. 27; x. 6; xiv. 5; xvi. 18); the designations of Christ as "the light of the world,” the “ bread of life,” “the water of life,” “ the good shepherd,” “ the wine," etc., are examples of these peculiarities.

It has been objected to the Johannean authorship of the Apocalypse that there is an air of severity and sharpness in it that is not found in the Gospel and Epistles of John. There is not the same affectionateness in the mode of address of the seven Epistles as in the acknowledged Epis. tles of John. Such designations as “ My children," and “ Beloved," are entirely wanting. Those who make this objection seem to forget that John is not only “in the Spirit,” but that these Epistles contain not his own words, strictly speaking, but those of him at the view of whose glory and majesty the seer falls as dead (i. 17). Could we expect that he who is “the first and the last;" " who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand ; " " who hath the sharp sword with two edges;" "eyes like a flame of fire ;” and “the seven spirits of God,” would adopt a familiar and commonplace form of address, or a tender and brotherly strain of VOL. XXI. No. 63.

71

exhortation or rebuke? In such a number of Epistles, designed merely as introduction to what was to follow, what reason or propriety would there be in "a circular sort of movement,” or a repetition or expression of any fundamental thought? We should expect (whoever penned these epistles) that the admonition in them would be pointed and authoritative; the rebukes decided and without softening epithets; the encouragement dignified and with something of majesty in it; the whole style of expression vivid, direct, without circumlocution, strong, sharp, and almost bald, as we find it to be. Is there anything in the acknowledged writings of John, or in his character, inconsistent with this? Those who contend that there is, must forget or have overlooked the “ fiery, enegetic, decided ” temperament of that apostle, who wished to call down fire from heaven upon a village of the Samaritans because they did not pay suitable respect to his Master (Luke xix. 52).

Do not the same characteristics also appear in the Gospel ? Schultze says : “ We cannot fail also, from the polemical spirit that appears in nearly all the discourses of Jesus preserved in John's Gospel, and from the reproaches which Jesus continually casts on the Jews, to draw unfavorable conclusions regarding the weakness of the historian, especially as in John, other persons speak in similarly bitter and polemical tone." Kaestlin also

says:

6. The contrast in which John places Christianity to the two other religions of his day is much sharper and more decided than in the other writers of the New Testament. With him Christianity alone is the truth, as opposed to • lies ;' it is 'the life, out of which there is nothing but death ; ' the light,' which is surrounded on every hand with darkness.'..... Everything with John falls into two opposite spheres : the one of which contains whatever is divine, the other whatever is the reverse." The very nature and design of the Apocalypse would naturally bring out more sharply and sternly the

"Der Schriftst. des Joh., p. 328.
% Schultze, p. 40 ; quoted by Hengstenberg, Vol. II. 480.

contrasts between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan; and yet in the second Epistle, verse 10, it is easy to recognize the same spirit, where it is said: “ If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” So that Hengstenberg is not wrong when he affirms that “the decision which is shown in rejecting everything which does not carry on its front the seal of Christ, and sets itself up against him, is a bond that unites most clearly the Gospel and Epistles of John to the Apocalypse.”This very appearance of severity is a result of the strong attachment of John to the Saviour, and his cause which he had so heartily adopted. The Manner of quoting from the Old Testament in the

Apocalypse. The manner of quoting from other authors may, in some cases, be a proof of identity or diversity of authorship. In the Apocalypse and acknowledged works of John there is nothing absolutely decisive on this point, nothing, certainly, which is at variance with the supposition that they are from the same hand. We are aware that it has been confidently asserted that in the omission of őtbefore quotations from the Old Testainent, the author of the Apocalypse differs from John. But a close examination shows that this objection cannot be relied upon. In the first place, although the allusions to the Old Testament are very frequent, so much so as to give a Hebraic tinge to the style, yet a direct, formal quotation is never made. And then, when the words of the Old Testament are introduced, they appear to come from a mind fully imbued with those writings, and seem not to be sought after, but to be introduced from the suggestion of the occasion. Indeed the whole idea of the book, as composed from the dictation, if we may so say, of Christ, and under the excitement of such unusual and soul-stirring inspiration, is opposed to formal quotation. Only a bungling counter

i Comm., Vol II. 481.

feiter would introduce anything of the kind, to any extent, in a writing of the character of the Apocalypse.

But this is not all. The citations are so manifestly from memory, that commentators cannot determine whether the Septuagint or the Hebrew text is the basis of the quotations; and yet the Apocalypse, with all its peculiarities, scarcely differs more than the Epistle of John, in the manner of quotation, from the fourth Gospel. Furthermore, there are very few cases (not more than ten or twelve, Stuart says) where the őri could have been introduced appropriately, and John's Gospel has a large number of instances of its omission.'

There is, however, one passage quoted in the Apocalypse and John's Gospel quite indicative of the same hand. John alone (in Gos. xix. 34-37) gives an account of the piercing of our Saviour's side with a spear, and quotes from Zech. xii. 10 : “ They shall look on him whom they pierced.” The author of the Apocalypse quotes from the same passage (i. 7): “Every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him." What is specially noticeable here is, that both in the Gospel and Apocalypse the same word is employed (Gos. els or εξεκέντησαν; Αpoc., αυτόν εξεκέντησαν), while the Septuagint translators, probably from a mistake in a letter of the Hebrew word, use the verb katwxpňoavto.

Peculiarities of Style in the Apocalypse. In no part of the argument have the opposers of the authenticity of the Apocalypse exerted themselves so much as in that which relates to the style of the work. Here so much is uncertain, so much depends upon the taste or mental peculiarities of the writer, so much upon previously formed opinions, that there is much room for discussion. And yet a suitable regard for the peculiarities of the circumstances of the writer, the object to be attained by the book,

1 Davidson says that he usually follows the Septuagint version. “But,” he says, “ the writer has not always adopted its very words. He departs from it, or changes it, after the manner of John in the Gospel and of other New Testament writers."

See Staart, Vol I. $ 21, p. 389.

and the manner of the presentation of the different points of the revelation to the writer, independently of any forethought or plan on his part, cast entirely out of the account, with a candid critic, a large share of what has been so confidently brought forward under this head.

1. The irregularity of style, the anacolutha, the abruptness, the want of accurate finish in the Apocalypse, about which so much has been written, are easily and naturally to be accounted for from the exciting, varied, changing, irresistingly moving scenes through which the writer passed: now in heaven, now on the earth, now in the world of torment; at one time on the land, in the wilderness, in the great city, and at another in view of the sea and death and hell giving up their dead; amidst war, pestilence, famine ; before the throne of God and the Lamb, and dazzled by the splendors of the New Jerusalem, which had no need of sun or moon to give it light, since God and the Lamb were the light of it. How could a writer amid such scenes, and with the destinies of the myriads of all future time before him, write in a calm, regular, correct style ? Ought we not to expect abrupt transitions, irregular and broken constructions, and at the same time a fervor, a glow, even a sublimity of style, which would be inappropriate in a calm narrative, or in a a letter written in the moments of repose and quiet. Poetry, not in form perhaps, but in substance, must be the result of such circumstances as those in which the author of the Apocalypse wrote, especially if he had the keen susceptibilities of the apostle John.

All the irregularities of poetry too, except those that result from measure and rhythm, are to be expected in such a composition. It assumes a higher tone, makes use of rare words, and those of a concrete rather than abstract nature; loves sonorous but short sentences, which seem to burst out, rather than flow, from the overcharged breast. We should not expect personal peculiarities to appear conspicuously. While in some respects the circumstances would give peculiar activity of mind, yet there is truth in the remark

« PreviousContinue »