« הקודםהמשך »
Lardner has observed of this subscription, that it is not only without a name, but without a date. But Michaelis has shewn it to be probable, that the version to which it is attached was made in the sixth century; and he intimates that this subscription might perhaps have been annexed to the more ancient Syriac version. It might perhaps, also, have been added in later times. For of what authority are some of the subscriptions to other books of the New Testament, even those wbich are printed with the Greek text? They are anonymous, and without date, and, in some cases, are known to give false information*. What credit, then, can be due to this Syriac subscription, whose highest claim to authority is, that the version to which it is attached, was written in the sixth century ? If we could admit the evidence, it would indeed be useful; for it would immediately determine the main object of our inquiry. It would determine “ the Revelation to have been made by “ God to John the Evangelist;" which being determined, no more doubt could remain concerning its authenticity, and divine inspiration,
* In another passage of Michaelis's introduction be has observ. ed, that “ no subscription of this kind is entitled to the name of evi“dence ;” Ch. vii. sect. 10. p. 320 : which he has again asserted on good grounds; Ch. xi. sect. 1. p. 14. Archdeacon Paley has shewn by probable arguments, that the subscriptions to six of St. Paul's Epistles contain false information, contrary to evidence fairly deduced from the Epistles themselves. Horæ Paulina, ch. xv.
But such external evidence is not equal even to that of Epiphanius, which, as standing alone, and at such a distance of time from the fact, Michaelis has, with great propriety, refused to admit.
2. This opinion, like the first, has no internal evidence, derived from the Apocalypse, in its favour. All that can be said is, that the internal evidence thence arising is not so, decidedly against it, as against the former opinion. The Christians at Rome, and, it may be, in some of the Roman provinces, were persecuted in the reign of Nero. But there is no evidence, that the Christians in Asia suffered at this time. And the arguments, used so successfully by Michaelis and others, to shew that the Apocalypse was not written in the reign of Claudius, will extend in some degree, to that of Nero. From the time of Claudius to the end of Nero's reign, we count only fourteen years. The date of the First Epistle to Timothy is placed, by Michaelis, about ten years before Nero's death ; by Fabricius, Mill, and other able critics, much later. The Epistle to the Ephesians has certainly a later date. So that, it may still be doubted, whether the changes which appear to have taken place in the Churches of Lesser Asia, between the date of these Epistles and that of the Apocalypse, could well be brought about in so short a period of time, as must be allotted to them, if we suppose the Apocalypse to be written in the times of Nero. But suppose this argument not
to be insisted upon, to what will the concession amount? The question, in favour of the Apocalypse having been written in Nero's reign, will gain no internal evidence positively in its favour. It will rest on the external evidence above stated, the insufficiency of which must be apparent.
III. A third opinion (as it is called) has been produced by those writers, who, having explained some of the Apocalyptical prophecies, as fulilled in the Jewish wars, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, are interested to make it appear, that these prophecies were written before the commencement of those wars. But to assert the Apocalypse to have been written before the Jewish wars, is the same thing as to attribute the date of it to the reign of Nero; for these war's began in the twelfth year of that Emperor * The question, therefore, seems decided by the evidence already examined. But since the examination of this third opinion, by Michaelis, has produced another evidence, and other arguments, it will be proper to notice them.
A certain degree of external evidence is attempted to be derived from Arethas, who, in his Commentary on the Apocalypse, has endeavoured to explain some of its prophecies, as fulfilled in the Jewish wars; and he has certainly affirmed, that “ destruction was not yet come upon the Jews, by the arms of the Romans, when he (the writer of the Apocalypse) received these propheJosephus, de Bell, Jud. lib. ii. c. xiv, 4.
cies.” The earliest date assigned to the commentary of Aretlias, is in the sixth century ; but there seems internal evidence in the work, which will prove it of later date. The empire of the Saracens is mentioned in it, as succeeding in Babylon to that of the Persians *. But the Saracens were not possessed of Babylon till nearly the middle of the seventh century. A writer of so late a date will be entitled to little belief in this question, particularly if his evidence go no farther than to discover an opinion of his own, without proof in support of it. But, it is said, there is reason to believe that the opinion is more ancient than the period here referred to; for Andreas Cæsariensis, who wrote about the year 500, though he does not adopt the opinion, inentions it as the opinion of some others. And Michaelis, who favours this third opinion, is disposed to believe it derived from Hippolitus, or Irenæus. But he has produced no evidence of the fact. It is merely a conjecture, resting on this unsure foundation; " Arethas must have received this opinion from some author, who explained the Apocalypse before the times of Andreas Cæsariensis; and who could this be, hut Hippolitus, or Irenæus ?" Hippolitus would have been a valuable evidence, if any proof could be adduced of his having held such opinion. The testimony of Irenæus would be yet more decisive, could it be procured. This, then, is the desideratum; and accordingly we shall * Com, in Apocal. cap. xxxvi.
find, that attempts have been made to press Irenæus into this service. With what success, will be seen in our examination of the fourth opinion.
IV. For, under the fourth opinion, we must produce the words of Irenæus, which have been understood, by all the ancients, and by all the modern critics, until these days, to assert plainly and unequivocally, that the visions of the Apocalypse were seen " toward the close of Domitian's reign.” If these words had been supposed by ancient writers to have been capable of any other meaning, or of such meaning as hath lately been attributed to them, the tradition of the Church would not have been so uniform. For, as Michaelis observes, " almost all the ecclesiastical “ writers, who have spoken of the time when the
Apocalypse was written, have followed this ac“count," namely, that it was written " toward the “ close of the reign of Domitian.” We have already produced all the evidence which has any tendency to contradict this general testimony of the Church, and we have seen to what lit it amounts. It is very far from sufficient for the purposes of those, who, wishing to apply certain prophecies of the Apocalypse to the times of Nero and his immediate successors, are driven to the attempt of establishing this necessary postulatum, that “it was written before the times in which (they say) these prophecies were fulfilled.” This is the true reason, (as Michaelis