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tion, they would be agreed among themselves, not only in rejecting Atorxhumetus as the nominative to which the verb is to be referred, but in ascertaining the noun which is to supply its place. They are agreed so far as to perceive the necessity of rejecting the common and obvious interpretation, (because, this being admitted, their explications of the prophecies cannot stand); but they contend, among each other, about the method of supplying the new interpretation. And, indeed, every proposition made by them, with a view to supply a new nominative to supain, is full of difficulty and absurdity. Michaelis seems to pass this sentence upon all of them but one, which refers swpain to to ovou, and which, to me, appears as forced and improbable as any of the rest. What was seen? answer, the name was seen! If Irenæus had intended this meaning, he would not have written swpaon but nu8o6n. Michaelis has suggested this; and it is a sufficient answer. Yet this able critic is still inclined to favour this application of the verb, referring óvoja to Titan. But this is to break all bounds of grammatical connection. And, to suppose, as this forced construction requires, that Irenæus understood the Emperor Domitian to be Titan and Antichrist, is to make Irenæus contradict himself; for this father plainly tells us, that he understood not this prophecy; and that, in his opinion, “ it is better to wait the
completion of it, than to guess at names, which may seem to fit the mystical figures.” Ire.
næus *, therefore, considered the prophecy as not having been fulfilled in the times before him; nor is there any colour of proof for supposing, , that he considered Domitian as a type of Antichrist, or that there had been any partial completion of the prophecy. Besides, the context of Irenæus, if examined, will admit none of these novel and forced interpretations. It evidently requires the old and obvious acceptation. The object of Irenæus is to dissuade his readers from a difficult and presumptuous attempt to settle who is Antichrist, by applying, in the manner he had shewn, the Greek figures 666. And his argument is to this effect: “ The mystery was not “ intended to be cleared up in our times : for if “ it had, it would have been told by him who
saw the vision.” This implies that the vision had been seen lately. But, to complete the argument, and to support the last clause of it, which was not perfectly clear, Irenæus adds “ for it was seen at no great distance from our “ own times."
In short, all these new interpretations are inconsistent and absurd, and have no support but what is derived from the Latin translation of Irenæus, which is allowed to be very imperfect t; and if it had been of greater authority, could only disclose to us the translator's opinion of the
* Lib. v. Euseb. H. E. lib. iii. c. 18.
+ Grabe asserts and proves it to be barbarous and defective. Proleg. in Irenæum.
meaning meaning of the passage.
But since we possess the original Greek, we must have recourse to the text as it stands there; of which the learned in the present age are at least as good judges as this translator, who, if by using the words “ visum
est,” he intended to refer the verb to any other nominative than “ Rerelatio," has contradicted all the learned students of Irenæus, from the earliest
ages to the time of the present innovators. Of the observations of Knittel, to which Michaelis refers us for information on this subject, I can say nothing, not having seen them. I have already been too diffuse on the subject. . But the authority of Michaelis is deservedly great: and, it is necessary to shew at large, why an opinion, to which he inclines, ought not to be adopted. I collect, moreover, that Michaelis had observed no evidence, either external or internal *, of sufficient weight to oblige him to fix the date of the Apocalypse in the days of Nero, or before those of Domitian. Otherwise, he would not, in another passage, have been inclined to pronounce it “a spurious production, introduced
probably into the world after the death of Saint “ John *,” who lived beyond the reign of Domitian.
* The Gerinan critics, who have endeavoured to point out the accomplishment of the Apocalyptical prophecies in the Jewish wars, and times preceding Domitian, have met with insuperable difficulties, as may be sufficiently seen in Michaelis's account, P. 513-518. + P. 487. D
The words of Irenæus, of this competent and unexceptionable witness, are therefore to be taken in that obvious sense which has been affixed to them by all the writers before our own times : and, thus taken, they determine the time when the Apocalyptic visions were seen, and published, namely, “ toward the end of Do“ mitian's reign.” This is confirmed by the evidence of all the ancient writers, who are agreed (except in the few and unimportant instances which have now been produced to the contrary) that St. John's banishment to Patmos, where he saw the Visions, is of this date. Lampe has asserted, and Lardner confirms the truth of the assertion, “ that all antiquity is abundantly
agreed, that Domitian was the author of John's “ banishment *."
Internal evidence likewise supports this conclusion. For, in the three first chapters of the Apocalypse, the Churches of Asia are described as being in that advanced and flourishing state of society and discipline reasonably to be expected; and to have undergone those changes in their faith and morals, which might have taken place, in the time intervening between the publication
* See Hegisippus apud Euseb. lib. iii. c. 20, 23. Tertullian, Apol. c. v. Hieron. tom. x. p. 100, and other authorities adduced by Lardner, Supplement, ch. ix. sec. 5, who, with his usual judgment and candour, has most satisfactorily determined this question ; and also that the Apocalypse was not written till the end of Domitian's reign,
of Saint Paul's Epistles, and the concluding years of Domitian.
Domitian's death is related to have happened in September, A. D. 96. The Christian exiles were then set at liberty; and Saint John had permission to return to Ephesus. But the Emperor's death, and the permission to return, could not be known in Asia immediately. Some time must intervene, before Saint John could be at liberty either to write the Apocalypse at Ephesus, or to send it by messengers (now probably for the first time admitted to approach hini) from Patmos *. We shall, therefore, place the date of the Apocalypse, as Mill, Lardner, and other able critics have placed it, in the years 96 or 97 : probably (for reasons now assigned) at the beginning of the latter. It could not be circulated through the Seven Churches sooner.
V.--VI. I shall pass over the fifth and sixth opinions, mentioned by Michaelis, because they are supported by such slender evidence, that he does but barely notice them himself. And I trust there is less reason to refute them, after this review of the evidence, by which the fourth opinion is established.
* There seems internal evidence in chap. i. 9, that the Apocalypse was written after the writer had left Patmos; he says, éyeyou.my ky ty mow, I was in the island.