« AnteriorContinuar »
$1. Of traditionary Testimony respecting the Date
of the Apocalypse.
The opinion that the Apocalypse was written in the time of Domitian, was introduced by Irenæus ; and, indeed, independent of the fact, that such is his testimony, all the other arguments that have been offered, for so late a date, may be considered as mere assumptions, resting on no conclusive evidence. Against the correctness of Irenæus it is alleged, that he postponed the dates of some other books, and, therefore, it is not impossible that he might be mistaken respecting the date of this, which he chose to place after them. Sir Isaac Newton thinks that he“ might perhaps have heard from bis master “ Polycarp, that he had received this book from “ John about the time of Domitian's death; or, “indeed, that John might himself at that time “ have made a new publication of it, whence “ Irenæus might imagine it was then but newly “ written.” If, however, there be any error in Irenæus, it is more likely that his work has suffered from the attempts of transcribers to make their copy conform to their own ideas of historical truth, than that there could be any new publication of a work already given to the churches. It has been suggested; and from the facts to be submitted to the reader respecting the early date of the Apocalypse, the idea seeins to be not void of all probability ; " that as the “name of Nero, before he was declared Cæsar “ and successor to Claudius, was Domitius, “possibly Irenæus might have so written it; "and that, by some fatality, this name was “ lengthened to Domitianus—the difference be“ing only two letters."
Eusebius follows Irenæus in his Chronicle and Ecclesiastical history, but in his Evangelical Demonstrations he says, “ James, the Lord's brother, “ was stoned, Peter was crucified at Rome with
“ his head downward, and Paul was beheaded, -"and John banished into an island.” That is,
as Sir Isaac understands him, “ he conjoins the “banishment of John into Patmos, with the “ deaths of Peter and Paul,” which happened in the reign of Nero. To wbich Lardner answers ; “he (Eusebius) does not say that all these things “ happened in the time of one and the same “ Emperor-he is only enumerating persons who “ suffered.” Sir Isaac remarks that Tertullian also conjoins these events. “ True (says Lardner), “ but he does not say that all happened in " the saine reign.”—Some, however, may think it not a little remarkable, if not extremely im
'Bachmair on the Revelation.
probable, that both these writers should, by mere accident, have mentioned the death of Peter and Paul, and John's banishment together, without having any reference whatever to the same period.
Other early writers have also followed Irenæus; but as they refer to him, or to Eusebius who copied him, they are in fact the same authority, and therefore to quote' what they say would be encroaching unnecessarily on the time of the reader.
Epiphanius twice names the reign of Claudius, as that during which the Apocalypse was written. In his fifty-first Heresy he speaks thus: “after “his (John's) return from Patmos, under the Em“ peror Claudius ;” and afterwards he says, “ when John prophesied in the days of the Em“peror Claudius, while he was in the island of “ Patmos.” Lardner quotes, with approbation, the opinion of Blondel (who alleges that, “ as “ Epiphanius is singular, he ought not be regard“ed,”) and adds, in two or three pages after, “one would think Sir Isaac Newton had little “reason to mention Epiphanius, when he does “not follow him.” But we might with equal justice say, “one would think Lardner had but “little reason to mention either Epiphanius or “ Sir Isaac Newton, when he does not follow “either of them :" for Sir Isaac in quoting Epi
phanius is showing that, though many have fol-
“at Jerusalem no more than fourteen years “ And, after the death of our Lord's mother, he “ left Judea, and went to Ephesus, as tradition “says : where also, as is said, he had the Reve"lation of future things.” These words are quoted by Lardner for the purpose of assailing them. “How can we rely (says he) on a writer “ of the sixth century for these particulars; that “ John did not stay at Jerusalem more than “ fourteen years, that he left Judea upon the “death of our Lord's mother, and then went to “Ephesus: when we can evidently perceive “ from the history in the Acts, that in the four“teenth year after our Lord's ascension, there “ were no Christian converts at Ephesus: and " that the church at Ephesus was not founded “by St. Paul till several years afterwards ? What "avails it to refer to such passages as these?”— What avails it! To show that there were other traditions besides that derived from Irenæus, and that some preferred them to his. Nor is the fact that others, before Arethas, believed the Revelation to have been given prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, set aside or even weakened by his running into the same sentence other traditions, which might appear incredible to Lardner, or which might even be false. Arethas was not an original commentator, but exhibited a synopsis of what had been advanced by An