« הקודםהמשך »
with Hermas, and other books which the ancient Church considered as written by persons whose names they bear, and which were read by Christians, as we read the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, for the pious matter contained in them, but not considered as of divine authority.
It appears then, that, in the times of Eusebius, the Apocalypse had its place among the genuine, undoubted books of sacred Scripture. There he first places it; but as some learned or ingenious critics had produced arguments, which, if allowed by the Church, would degrade it from this exalted situation, he prepares for it likewise another place, in which it would stand, if these arguments should prevail. The place prepared for it shews that the attempt of its adversaries did not go so far as to denominate it a forgery, or an impious book, but the work of a pious and eminent Christian, if not of an Apostle *. Yet all the inquiries, set on foot by these doubters, seem not to have brought the matter to a conclusion. They who made objections to the style and manner of the Apocalypse, appear not to have succeeded in their attempt to degrad eit, by the production of any external and historical proofs. Eusebius produces only a conjecture, “ perhaps “ John the Presbyter was its author;" but what
* The attempt, in modern times, is to mark it as a forgery, a spurious production, introduced probably into the world after “ the death of St. John," p:487; but how totally unsupported by external evidence!
weight could be allowed to such a conjecture, unsupported by any historical evidence, and not given to the world till above two hundred years, after the Apocalypse was written ? Eusebius, indeed, seems to lay little stress upon it, for he adds immediately afterwards, “ If it be not insisted
upon to be the former Jobn,” that is, John the Apostle.
Upon the whole, we are not to be surprised that, in Eusebius's time, the claims of the Apocalypse to its situation in the sacred canon, should meet with some opposition. Two hundred years had now elapsed since it had been published to the world; many of the authentic documents which supported its authenticity, had probably perished in the Dioclesian persecution *; the prophecies which it contained were still dark and apparently unfulfilled † ; they had been abused by the Millenarians; the style and manner had been pointed out to be unlike that of St. John; the criticisms of Dionysius had influence with many; yet no one, however desirous, from these and other concurriog causes, of invalidating the authority of the book, appears to have been able to produce any external evidence which might suit the purpose.
• See the devastation made at that time in the records of the Church, as described by Eusebius, H. E. lib. viii. cap. 2.
4 Epiphanius mentions the Alogi, as rejecting the Apocalypse, among other
δια τα εν τη αποκαλυψει βαθεως και oxolews (Hær. 51.) and he seems, in some measure, to admit the reasonableness of their excusc.
It was received, after the times of Eusebius, by the Latin Churches, almost without exception. Jerome, the most learned and diligent inquirer of that century, pronounced positively in its favour; and was followed universally by the Fathers of the Western Churches: and from him we learn the grounds upon which he received the Apocalypse, which he assigns to be " the authority of “ the ancients *,” that is, external evidence; and he tells us at the same time, that he does not follow “ the fashion of his times,” that fashion by which some of the Greek Churches were induced to reject the Apocalypse.
This fashion of the times seems to have consisted in a daring contempt of the testimonies of the ancient Church, and a ready acquiescence in those arguments which were confidently drawn from internal evidence. Yet, notwithstanding this fashion, which appears to have had considerable prevalence in the Greek Church, and perhaps to have influenced those eminent men, Cyril of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom, (neither of whom appears to have quoted the Apocalypse,) many of great name in the Greek , Church appear still to bave received it; and, in the fourth century, it is supported by testimonies in this Church from Athanasius, Basil,
* Nequaquam hujus temporis consuetudinem, sed veterum auctoritatem sequentes. Hierom. Epist. ad Dardan, tom. ii.
Epiphanius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzum*.
* Michaelis says, “ Gregory of Nyssa places the Apocalypse
among the apocryphal writings ;” but he omits to tell us, that, in the very same passuge, this Father quotes Rev. iii. 15, as the work « of John the Evangelist.” Ηκεσα τα ευαγγελισε Ιωάννε εν αποκρυφους προς τες τοιυτές δι' αινίγματος λεγοντος *. If the Apocalypse were apocryphal in the opinion of Gregory, he could not attribute it to John the Evangelist, but he calls it apocryphal, because it was now accounted such by many of the Greek Church. There are books of the Old Testament which are called apocryphal by our Church; yet some of these have been deemed divinely inspired by our own writers. If such a writer should quote from such a book, for instance, from the Second Book of Esdras, and introduce his quotation after the manner of Gregory; “ I have heard «i the Prophet Ezra, in the Apocrypha, say,” we should conclude that he esteemed the Second of Esdras as the work of Ezra the Scribe, and an inspired writer in the Old Testament, the work of a divine Prophet. Somewhat of this kind has, I believe, happened in our own times.
The testimony of Gregory of Nazianzum has been accounted doubtful, and is considered as such by our author. The evidence which places this Father against the claims of the Apocalypse, is this, that it is not to be seen in his catalogue of canonical books. But, on the contrary, we collect from the representation of Ane dreas Cæsariensis, and of Arethas, in their respective commentaries on the Apocalypse, that Gregory received it; and Lardner has produced two passages from his works, in which it is clearly quoted as of Divine Authority't. Surely the weight of evidence preponderates on this side. And I have some suspicion that the Apocalypse had a place originally in Gregory's Catalogue, but that it was erased from it by the zeal of some Greek Christians,
* In suam Ordinat. t. ii. p. 144. + See themi in Lardner's Cred. Gosp. Hist. art. Greg: Nazianiž.-'0 W, a na • isxouer@u, rj ó wartoxçatdp. These words of Rev. i. 8. are quoted by Grege Naz. as spoken of the Son. Orat. xxxv. edit. Morelli, p. 573.
Yet it will easily be conceded, that many of the Greek Church, for some centuries after Eu. sebius, and probably upon the authority of those who in his time determined from internal evidence that the Apocalypse was not to be referred to his first class of sacred books, rejected the Apocalypse *
Of the Syrian Churches we have no satisfactory information, how early or to what extent they received the Apocalypse.
In the fourth century, it appears by the testimony of Ephrem that it was received by them, and probably much sooner, since the translated works of Hippolitus, that
who rejected the Apocalypse. In this Catalogue we read these words, describing St. John,
-- κηρυξ μεγας Ουρανοφούλης, , which may be literally translated, “ The great Herald, or Mes“ senger, who went to learn in heaven *;" but where, or when, is it said that the Evangelist, St. John, ascended to heaven, to be divinely instructed, and to be the Messenger and Herald of Divine information? No where but in the Apocalypse, where he is called thither by the heavenly voice, araba wds, Rev. iv. 1. The zeal of a transcriber may have carried him to omit the which Nazianzéne mentions the Apocalypse : but this expression remains as it was written, and seems to indicate that such a passage once existed, and that Gregory received the Apocalypse as the work of John the Evangelist.
* It has coinmonly been urged, as a testimony against the Apocalypse, that it was rejected by the Council of Laodicea in 363. But Michaelis professes himself satisfied that the Catalogue of Sacred Writings annexed to the canons of that Council, has been clearly shewn to be a forgery, p. 489.
Qortaw has peculiarly this sense ;