« PreviousContinue »
have been objected to in the Apocalypse, have been shown to convey the sublime meaning of the sacred writer more forcibly and effectually than a more grammatical language would have done. Of this character is απο ο ων, και
which, corrected into grammar, would not express with equal force that sublime attribute of the Deity by which he fills eternity.'
Having now advanced what I deem necessary in answer to these objections of Dionysius, repeated by Michaelis, I shall add a few words concerning another objection of later date, which, though not formally avowed, is indirectly sanctioned by this learned critic.
He distinguishes between John the Evangelist and John the Divine, as if he believed them two separate persons; and the latter to be the author, or reputed author of the Apocalypse. This mistake has arisen from the title prefixed to the book, “ The Revelation of John the Divine.” But this is not its title in the most ancient and authentic manuscripts, and is therefore rejected by Griesbach in his editions. The true title of the book is to be seen in the first verses of it: it is, “ the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” not of John, but given to John by him. “ The Apocalypse of John” was the title by which it was known in the times of Dionysius ;' and this was to distinguish it
other Revelations which were then extant, written in imitation of this, and falsely ascribed to other apostles. In the following century, when many contests had arisen concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Orthodox had found their firm support in the writings of this apostle, who alone γος Ανηρ. .
1 This is observed by Michaelis, who says: “ The very faults of grammar in the Apocalypse are so happily placed, as to produce an agreeable effect.”—Introd. vol. i. part 1. chap. iv. sect. 3.
2 Euseb. H. E. lib. vii. c. 24.
of the sacred writers had described the Son of God as Os doyos, they began to apply to this apostle the title of Theologos, a title expressive both of St. John's doctrine, and of his eminent knowledge in divine subjects. Athanasius calls St. John ó Deodo
In the decrees of the Council held at Ephesus in 431, that city is mentioned as the burial place of John the Theologus, which agrees with the accounts in ecclesiastical history, that John the Evangelist was buried there. Andreas Cæsariensis, in commenting on the Apocalypse, (ch. 17,) quotes the Evangelist John by the title of Theologus; and again in ch. iii. 21, and likewise in 1 John, v. 8; and it is applied to him as ο θεολογος κατ' εξοχην, the Divine; for other able defenders of the theologic doctrine have been sometimes so called. We may therefore be assured, that John the Divine, whenever it was prefixed as a title to the Apocalypse, was intended to designate the same person as John the Evangelist.
To the evidence here collected, I have added in my Dissertation one of a more positive kind, taken from the book itself.
In chap. i. 13. He who is ordered to write the Apocalypse, beholds in the vision “one like unto the Son of Man.” Now, who but an eye-witness of our Lord's personal appearance upon earth, could pronounce from the likeness that it was He? St. John had lived familiarly with “ the Son of Man” during
1 See the word Ocoloyia, as used in · Eusebius, H. E. lib.iii. c. 24, and applied to the beginning of St. John's Gospel. The Christians are described as worshipping Christ, with reference to this name.-Euseb. H. E. lib. v. c. 28. And the Alogi, as we have seen, received that appellation, by denying the doctrine of St. John, τον εν αρχη οντα θεων (θεου) λογον. Epiplian. Her. 54. Eusebius, quoting the beginning of St. John's Gospel, says, wde an Oeoloyer. Præp. Evang. lib. xi. c. 19.
Euseb, H. E. lib. iii. c. 1. 20.
his abode upon earth; and had moreover seen him in his glorified appearance, both at his transfiguration and after his resurrection. No other John had enjoyed these privileges; no other witness of our Lord's person appears to have been living when the apocalyptic visions were seen.
The candid reader will perhaps now think, that to an impregnable force of external evidence in favour of the Apocalypse, a considerable accession of internal evidence may be added; or, at least, that this avenue, by which its overthrow was attempted in the third century, and renewed in the eighteenth, is not so unguarded as its adversaries have imagined; and the future labours of judicious commentators will be constantly increasing the weight of this evidence; for every prediction of this prophetical book, which shall be shown to be clearly accomplished, will afford fresh internal proof of its divine original.
We will conclude with examining the pretensions of the Apocalypse, (as set forth in this short treatise,) by the rules laid down by Michaelis himself, to determine whether a scriptural book be authentic or spurious.
1. Were doubts entertained, from its first appearance in the world, whether it proceeded from the pen of St. John ?
No such doubts are recorded, in the history of the true Church, during one hundred years after its publication; all the ecclesiastical writers, who speak of its author, attribute it to St. John.
2. Did the friends or disciples of the supposed author deny it to be his?
1 Introduct. to New Test, chap. ii, sect. 3. p. 27, &c.
There is no such denial from Polycarp, Papias, Ignatius, &c., who appear to have received it as divine Scripture.
3. Did a long series of years elapse after the death of St. John, in which the book was unknown, and in which it must unavoidably have been mentioned and quoted, had it really existed ?
No such period did elapse. Michaelis himself has allowed, that this book existed before the year 120, that is, within twenty-three years of the time of its publication. But even in this short interval, it seems probable that it was quoted or alluded to by the apostolic fathers.
4. Is the style of the Apocalypse different from that of St. John in his other writings?
It cannot be denied that there is some difference; but this difference is reasonably accounted for.
5. Are events recorded, which happened later than the time of St. John ?
None such are recorded ; nor, we may add, are any predicted, which occurred before the time when the book was written, which is a case frequent in pretended predictions.
6. Are opinions advanced in the Apocalypse, which contradict those which St. John is known to have maintained in his other writings?
The theological opinions which it contains are found to be precisely the same with those of St. John in his other writings; and the wild opinions of the Chiliasts, though they may have had their origin from a passage of prophecy in this book, can be attributed only to the rash interpretation of it by these visionaries.
Thus, bringing this prophetical book to the test proposed by Michaelis, the most formidable opponent of its claims to a divine origin, we shall be obliged to confess its indubitable right to that place in the canon of sacred scripture, which the ancient fathers of the Church assigned to it, and which the reformers in the Protestant Churches have with mature deliberation confirmed.