« הקודםהמשך »
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“ visun
est,” he intended to refer the verb to any other nominative than “ Revelatio," 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 German 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 esiles 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 hin) 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, έγενομης εν τη νησω, I was in the island.
THE TESTIMONY OF IRENAUS, AND OF OTHE E
FATHERS IN THE CIIURCH BEFORE HIM, OF IGNATIUS, OF POLYCARP, OF THE WRITER OF THE EPISTLE DESCRIBING POLYCARP's MARTYRDOM, AND OF PAPIAS.
HAVING ascertained the time in which the Apocalypse was written, we may proceed to review the external evidence, which affects its authority. For we shall now be enabled to appreciate such testimony, by considering its
approximation to the time when the book was published.
In the examination of this evidence, Michaelis has chosen to begin with that of Eusebius. But Eusebius wrote at an interval of more than two hundred years fro
from the time when the Apocalypse first appeared. In his days, doubts had arisen concerning the authenticity of the book-doubts which had no foundation on any external evidence, but which had been suggested by some writers from a consideration of its internal marks and character. The subject appears to have been in debate among the Christian critics in these times. Eusebius hesitated where to place
the Apocalypse ; whether among the undoubted books of the inspired Canon, or among those which were accounted spurious. He promises farther information when the debate should be concluded; but we do not appear to have received it from him *.
I will begin, then, where we have more decided and authentic information ; from Irenæus, whose competency to decide on this question we have considered. There are other testimonies, which, in point of timè, are antecedent to this of Irenæus, but none so comprehensive, so positive, and direct. We shall review these with more advantage, after the consideration of this important evidence.
Irenæus, the auditor of Polycarp, and of other apostolical men, who had conversed with St. John, had the best means of information concerning the authenticity of the Apocalypse; and from the zeal which he shews, to discover the true reading of a passage in the Apocalypse (by appeal to ancient and authentic copies, and to the testimony of apostolical men), we may justly conclude that he took equal pains, and the same judicious methods, to assure himself concerning the writer of the book up, But Irenæus, in many passages, ascribes this book to “ John the Evan
gelist, the disciple of the Lord,—that John who
* Euseb. H. E. lib. iii. c. 94, 23.