Imágenes de páginas

drew of Cæsarea (who lived about the year 500) and others; and this very Andrew quotes, in his commentary, the same application of a passage in the Apocalypse to the destruction of Jerusalem, though he rejects it himself. The testimony of Arethas is offered—not as having authority, merely because it is his, but—as evidence, that the opinion which he delivers, was held by other commentators before his time. Michaelis remarks that “we know of no commentators be“ fore him but Andrew of Cæsarea, and Hippo"litus, who lived at the end of the second “ century.” This, however, it must be allowed is no proof that his authority was Hippolitus: it might have been one later ;-but, it is also possible that it might have been one earlier; for though Michaelis has here overlooked the fact, the Apocalypse was the subject of a treatise written by Melito, Bishop of Sardis, in the early part of the second century, of which nothing remains but its title, which is preserved in Eusebius.' I stop not to examine the other facts, which Lardner thinks cannot be true; for, if false, it does not follow that the simple fact, of early commentators having held the opinion, that the Apocalypse was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, must also be false--any

· Hist. Eccles. iv. 26.,

more than it will follow, if it can be proved that Irenæus is wrong, in ascribing the book to the reign of Domitian, that, therefore, his authority is to be questioned on all other points. But why, after quoting the words of Arethas, has Lardner repeated them, with amplification? Arethas does not say that, on the death of our Lord's mother John left Judea and then went to Ephesus ; but that, after that event he left Judea and went to Ephesus. It might be some time after. But what bas Ephesus to do with the question ? Could John by no possibility have visited Patmos, for the word of God," or to preach the gospel, till after he had taken up his residence at Ephesus?

I mean not, however, to enterinto the question, how long John stayed at Jerusalem? for it is possible, though that city might for a long time be his usual place of residence, that, like the other Apostles, he sometimes travelled, preaching the glad news of salvation. Luke's history is confined chiefly to the travels of Paul, which accounts sufficiently for his recording nothing respecting those of John. It is therefore a mere assumption, that John could not be in Patmos before the reign of Domitian, and that he was banished to that island. Could it even be proved, that he was actually banished to Patmos by that Emperor, this would be no proof whatever, that he had not been there before. Nay, more ; he must have been in that island long before, if the evidence, to be submitted hereafter to the reader, be well founded.

The title of the Syriac version of the Apocalypse has also been offered as an evidence for a date prior to the reign of Domitian. It runs thus: “ The Revelation which was made to John the Evangelist, by God, in the island of Patmos, into which he was banished by Nero the Casar.To this evidence it is objected that the Apocalypse was not in the first Syriac Version, which was made very early. This may be true; but it is equally true that Ephrem the Syrian, who lived about the year 370, several times quotes the Apocalypse in his sermons, which yields a strong argument (though not a positive proof) that a translation must then have been in existence, and known to the members of the Syrian congregations. But even had no translation existed prior to the Philoxenian version, which was made in the year 508, the argument remains, that the tradition of the Syrian churches ascribed the Apocalypse to the days of Nero; and the presumption is, that the Greek manuscripts whence they made their version exhibited the above title.

I will not detain the reader longer on Ecclesiastical traditions respecting the time at which

the Apocalypse was written. (Those who wish for farther information on this subject should consult Lardner, who has collected the whole with great labor; also Michaelis' Introduction to the New Testament.) But it should be constantly recollected, that, however numerous the authors are, who ascribe it to the end of Domitian's reign, the testimony of all of themn may be resolved into that of one individual, whom they copied, namely Irenæus ; that another tradition placed the date in the reign of Nero; and another in that of Claudius : and hence it follows, that the true date, if it can be settled, must be ascertained on some other evidence. That is, their conflicting testimonies must, if possible, be tried by some standard on which reliance may be placed, to ascertain which of them should be received as true. It may be proper, however, to examine another argument against an early date, brought forward by Vitringa, also by Lenfant and Beausobre in their preface to the Revelation, and quoted with approbation by Lardner; and this shall be attempted in the next section.

I pass unnoticed a fourth tradition, which says that John was banished to Patmos in the reign of Trajan ; and a fifth, which places his banisbment in that of Hadrian; as both these necessarily pre-suppose that the Apocalypse was not written by the apostle John—a question

which has been so well treated of by Newton, Lardner, Woodhouse, and other British Critics, to say nothing of foreigners, that it does not deserve another moment's consideration.

$ 2. Of the Arguments for a late Date, founded

on the supposed State of the Asiatic Churches when the Apocalypse was written.

Michaelis, alluding to the testimony of Epiphanius, who twice states the Apocalypse to have been written in the reign of Claudius, says :" To this single testimony of a writer “ who lived three hundred years later than St. “ John, two very material objections have been “made. (He means by Blondel, Lardner, and “others.] In the first place no traces are to be “ discovered of any persecution of the Christians " in the reign of Claudius: for though he com“manded the Jews to quit Rome, yet this com“ mand did not affect the Jews who lived out " of Italy, and still less the Christians.” “

This argument—often advanced by those who contend for a late date to the Apocalypse-assumes, as not to be questioned, that John's visit to Patmos was by compulsion, in consequence of persecution ; but he himself does not say so; he only states that he was there, δια τον λόγον του Osoi,“ for the word of God—words which, taken

"he com

co quit Rome

did not a

« AnteriorContinuar »