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selves obliged not merely with Mommsen to leave the pre-70 period 1 as a dethroned hypothesis, but to come down as far as the close of the first century. One of the surest results of modern research on the NT is the Domitianic situation of the Apocalypse ; and the period of composition cannot be much later. So, besides some of the older editors, Allard (Hist. d. Persécut. i. p. 113 f.), Havet (Le christianisme et ses Origines, iv. pp. 314-344), L. Schultze (Handbuch der theolog. Wissenschaften, Band i. Abth. 2, p. 121 f.), Milligan (Discussions on the Apocalypse, pp. 75–148), Salmon" (INT, pp. 221-245), F. C. Arnold (Die Neronische Christenverfolgung, 1888), Neumann (LC, 1888, pp. 842, 843, in his review of Arnold), Abbott (Common Tradition, p. xv.), Schäfer (Einl. pp. 347–355), Holtzmann (Einl. pp. 417-419; HC, iv. 2, pp. 296–303), Ramsay (CRE, pp. 268-302), Jülicher (Einl. pp. 221 f.), Weizsäcker (AA, ii. pp. 19 f., 173-205), Harnack (Chron. pp. 245, 246), McGiffert (A À, pp. 634 f.), Zahn (Einl. ji. pp. 582-616), Adeney (BÍ, pp. 464, 465); but especially Bousset (-Meyer, Die Offenbarung Joh. 1896, pp. 1-208), who dates the writing : not later than the beginning of Trajan's reign. The Apocalypse, then, unites two elements : the experience of a persecution which has already claimed its martyrs, and the outlook upon a future of final distress and victory. The question at issue between Rome and the Christians is the worship of the Emperor as God. The Christians are no longer within Judaism, though Jewish phrases and ideas are very naturally caught up in the crisis ; they are independent of the older religion. These indications converge and point to one period—the later years of Domitian, where inner and outer evidence, conceptions and tradition alike, combine to place the writing. [So Bacon, INT, pp. 242–243.]
The Domitianic date, however, implies less the composition than the final editing of the book. Probably enough a nucleus (e.g. visions like those in 11, 13, 17)* originally referred to Nero, if not to Caligula. The whole writing in its extant form was put together some thirty years later, and forms-like its contemporary, the Apocalypse of Baruch-a composite book. So far as the question of the date is concerned, it is practically immaterial whether the book is considered as an earlier work which has been largely interpolated and recast at a later day, or as a composition of the last decade of the century, in which older apocalyptic pieces have been incorporated. Both processes are congenial to this class of literature, and either would explain the facts. It was characteristic of writers in apocalyptic literature to borrow and reproduce from older pieces, as well as to adapt earlier writings to subsequent emergencies. There is every likelihood that the Apocalypse of John was affected by this contemporary practice of incorporating fragments. For all the unity of style and spirit with which it is pervaded, as well as the freshness of its main conceptions, the book is in several passages—to resume Professor Masson's phrase for Paradise Lost-full of flakes from all that is greatest in the preceding literature. Some hypothesis like this is required to explain the very divergent lines of historical reference and religious temper within a writing which, as a whole, springs indubitably from the soil of 90-100 A.D. Consequently, a large part of the modern interest in research upon the Apocalypse has passed to discussions 1 upon the composite origin of the book, the number, character, and date of the component parts, or of the successive revisions which are imbedded in its pages. A common feature of these and other theories is their recognition of Neronic references in the Apocalypse, either in the original nucleus or in some incorporated fragments; and one or two critics, like O. Holtzmann, K. Erbes, and Spitta, are disposed to trace even earlier pieces which fall within Caligula's reign. But, apart from details, the composite origin, like the Domitianic period of the Apocalypse, may be regarded as a postulate of criticism ; although it is easier to fix the time, than to determine the character or the extent, of its final redaction.
1 Among many internal traces of a comparatively late period, cp. e.g. the phrase xupoceniony , ueépoc (Apoc 19) which only displaced the earlier Jewish expression (1 Co 162, Ac 207) at an advanced stage of the church consciousness.
2 Apparently also the late Dr. H. R. Reynolds (DB, ii. p. 707), and Church Quart. Rev. (1894), pp. 446-472. The Apocalypse cannot be much later than the opening of the second century, as it was early accredited by Papias and Justin, and is possibly used even in the Ignatian epistles (Ad. Eph. 15, Ad Philad. 61). This gives a terminus ad quem within the first quarter of the century.
3 The author wrote in the time of the tenth head (chap. 13), i.e. in the beginning of the reign of Trajan, after whom he expected Nero redivivus. Bartlet (AA, pp. 388-408), at the other extreme, abides by Vespasian's reign (75-80 A.D.) as the period of the book's composition, neglecting the various strata in the book.
4 Holtzmann, “if the beast-sketch is originally Jewish, it dates from the time of Caligula ; if, on the other hand, its reference to Nero or Domitian is demonstrable, then it is Christian.” The words (136) Baarenucomo te volce «ÜTGŪ xoli qmy canvas aütoü are certainly suitable to Caligula. Chap. 17 contains two aspects of Nero, as the returning monarch and as the beast rising from the abyss. Like chap. 18, it is silent upon the great question that doninates the Apocalypse, namely, the idolatrous cult of the Caesars; and Bousset accordingly prefers to find the roots of the fragment in Vespasian's reign. Cp. Jülicher, pp. 223-225.
Upon two other points, indefiniteness seems to be necessary. An exact correspondence is not to be looked for between the traits and feelings of such a book and the actual career of any historical figure. The fabric of the visions has its starting-point in history, and that is all; their scope is not local or definite, any more than Dante's travel into Purgatory from the Tiber's mouth. It is true that sanity is being slowly introduced into the criticism of the Apocalypse by adopting the principle which attempts not to explain history from the prophecy, but to read the prophecy by the aid of history. Still, from the nature of the book, one cannot fairly expect to find the apocalyptic enigmas precisely reproduced among the personages and forces of the age. “Events in history are not carried on by sevens or by twelves.” Such an endeavour neglects the supernatural or ideal element in the book, and its consequently blurred, vague outlines. “The conflict in it, though waged on earth, is not a human warfare ; it is waged by combatants who are divine or diabolical. Satan gave his power to the beast. All these interpretations, therefore, . .. which find actual human persons in the beast or false prophet, are manifestly untrue to John's idea.” 2 Indeed, this indefiniteness attaches to Jewish conceptions throughout their apocalyptic books. As Mommsen remarks, from the historian's point of view, the facts regularly run away into generalities; and this makes it precarious work to infer much from supposed correspondences. The other point of dubiety is the authorship. It is impossible to name the writer with any certainty. Either the book is like most apocalypses, pseudonymous“in Saturn's reign, such mixture was not held a stain"--; or, if the “John” of 14. 9 be the author, it was written by some otherwise unknown Christian prophet (22) of that name, quite possibly (as Eusebius suggested) the Presbyter. Modern criticism has hardly got beyond the disjunctive canon adopted in the third century by Dionysius of Alexandria, in the striking and sensible criticism which Eusebius has preserved (HE, vii. 25. 15, concluding Tek Jaipouai yàp ČK TE TOù nous ékatépwv kai toŮ των λόγων είδους και της του βιβλίου διεξαγωγης λεγομένης, μη τον αυτόν είναι), namely, that the differences in diction and style between the fourth gospel and the apocalypse prove that the John of 14. 9 is not identical with John the Apostle. The identification is suggested by nothing in the book itself, and is discouraged indeed by the distant look of the writer's relation to Jesus. The book originated in Asia Minor, probably in the Ephesian community : it is also by a different author from the writer of the fourth gospel, although both shared a common atmosphere of thought and language. The hypothesis that the final editor of the Apocalypse was the author of the fourth gospel, seems to lack either evidence or probability.
i Chiefly by G. J. Weyland in Holland, Sabatier and Schön in France, Dr. Briggs in America, and a cohort of Germans (see Appendix). Dr. S. Davidson (INT, ii. pp. 176-233) goes on a way of his own; he regards the main body of the Apocalypse as a work composed originally in Aramaic at an early date (after 61 A.D.), and translated with interpolations at a subsequent period ; the epistles to the churches were written in Hadrian's reigu when sectaries began to swarm, and were prefixed by the translator to the larger work.
2 Dr. A. B. Davidson, Exp. Ti. ii. p. 183. On the apocalyptic temper which accompanied the legal spirit among the Pharisees in the later Judaism, cp. Baldensperger, Selbstbewusstsein Jesu 2 (1892), pt. I.
Judged from the historical standpoint, then, the Apocalypse is an invaluable piece of literature, not merely for illustrating the methods by which Jewish Christianity originally developed, or for its light upon the political and social situation of Christianity at the close of the first century, but also for showing the amazing vitality of the Christian spirit. If apocalyptic fantasy has always been felt to appear somewhat foreign and strange beside the genuine religion of Israel which appropriated itmiraturque novas frondes, et non sua poma-how much more, beside the faith of Jesus? Yet most of the NT writings have their apocalyptic element, even Paul's letters and the gospels. This writer had more stubborn and apparently incongruous materials to work with, however, and his task was immensely harder than theirs. That he succeeded in mastering them, in reducing them to shape, and in partially transforming their uncouth and fantastic contents, is a proof not merely of his own mental grasp, but of the assimilating vigour and energy that possessed men who were still in touch with the simplicity and sanity of Jesus. Compare it even with 4th Esdras, the queen of Jewish apocalypses in that age, and its superiority is evident. The book naturally bears the rough signature of its age. Its religious nobility consists not in the entire absence of such bizarre and weird elements, but in the fact that these are dwarfed by the writer's moral force and controlling piety. He is the sole instance, within the NT literature, of the prophet's strange and honourable rôle including the charism of writing. Hitherto, for the most part, the OT had served as the handbook and textbook of prophecy, although there are passages (Is 491 = Gal 115) in Paul's writings (e.g. 1 Th 413 t., 2 Th 211, 1 Co 13, 2 Co 41f., Ro 9-11, Eph 610 f., Philipp 327) which could only have been composed by one who was himself “among the prophets.” To these, it is true, may be added pieces expressed in the spirit and language of prophecy, like parts of Hebrews, some early speeches in “ Acts,” possibly-as Dr. Hatch suggested--the later epistles of Judas and 2 Peter. Yet the Apocalypse is really the first definite
But Gunkel's remarks (Schöpf. und Chaos, p. 230 f.) on the bankruptcy of the historical method are surely too pessimistic and severe (cp. also KAP, ii. p. 343).
composition of that class. It marks a stage at which the older spontaneous, passionately impulsive, utterances were yielding to less irregular visions transcribed by their authors in artistic shape. The Apocalypse is written by a prophet (229), and like Ephesians (220 34) singles out prophets for honour, ranking them with the saints (166 1820); it is the prophetic impulse set to the further task of recording its own utterances for the sake of edification (1 Co 144, ó dè poortevov TV ékkinoiav oikodouel), and claiming for this fresh method the old authority (227. 9. 18 L). The seer writes to quiet and fortify the church in a crisis. But he is more than a teacher. His aim is to produce a permanent and effective impression, and for this purpose he has collected and composed pieces of literature saturated with the spirit of genuine prophecy, which are comparable only to the book of Daniel, that prototype and Magna Charta (Baldensperger) of the apocalyptic school in Judaism.
The occasion demanded such an effort. Apart from the political situation, the condition of the Christian communities (Clem. Rom. i., and the retrospective evidence of Pliny's letters), especially in Proconsular Asia Minor, during the closing years of the century, was one of moral laxity and general exposure to the deteriorating influences of heresy, Censure and comfort are intermixed in chaps. 2 and 3, to meet the dual situation. In striking contrast to Corinth, where at that period (Clem. Rom. iii.) partisanship, dissension, and restlessness under churchauthority seem to have been rife, the main mischief in these Asian churches comes from the Jews. They stir up trouble from the outside at Smyrna and Philadelphia, and are denounced as a devilish association (= Jo 844, 1 Jn 38-10). To the author the unbelieving Jews are no Jews at all. The genuine Jew is the Christian. At Thyatira, a party, or an individual pagan prophetess, is at work seducing even the Christians. Under the rather appropriate sobriquet of Jezebel, she is denounced with passionate vehemence, quite in the spirit and speech of the OT prophets. A discreditable ? libertine party is disowned at Ephesus, but partly tolerated at Pergamos, where the pagan cultus of Asklepios was influential and popular. The Balaamites may be similar to those Nikolai. tans, whom Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. III. 11. 1) stamps as precursors of Cerinthus. But the heresies at any rate are as a whole practical (yet cp. 214. 15. 22 for their didaxń) in character and issues. Throughout the book the demand is for loyalty and perseverance. The author's 3 reiterated, unswerving encouragement is a promise of the second advent of Jesus with reward and relief ; but the circumstances of his readers in the churches 4 vary from lukewarmness to zeal, from comparative insigni
1 Cp. Schürer's essay, ThA, pp. 37–58, on “the prophetess Jezebel in Thyatira," whom he identifies with the Chaldean Sibyll, Sambathê.
2 Seesemann still traces back the Nikolaitans to Nikolaos (Ac 65) the deacon (SK, 1895, pp. 47–82).
3 Renan aptly describes him as, in all respects-apart from serenity and harmony -a brother of Deutero-Isaiah, that marvellous poet, “whose luminous soul seems as it were impregnated, six hundred years in advance, with all the dew and all the perfumes of the future.” The moral grandeur of his aim overwhelms the cryptography and fantasy in his materials and even in his methods. We forget the frog-faced imps and weird beasts of the drama, when the light falls on One who wipes the tears from every eye.
4"All of them either in Lydia itself, or on the frontier of it: in nature Lydian all-richest in gold, delicatest in luxury, softest in music, tenderest in art of the then world" (Ruskin, Fors Clavigera (Letter lxxxiv.)). On their Imperial status, cp. Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, 1. pp. 340-342; and on Laodiceia, Hierapolis, and Colossai, see Ramsay's Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, I., pp. 32 f., 84 f., 208 f
ficance to prominence, from religious decline to progress, from stagnation to endurance and even aggressive propaganda.
No form of early Christian literature answers so well as the Apocalypse to the Baconian definition of the service rendered by genuine poetry in raising and erecting the mind above the tyranny of mere appearances. Emphatically the Apocalypse aims at “submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind." It reads history under the light of faith and hope ; it floods the evil present with transcendent anticipations ; it reasserts the supremacy of the ideal and of the Spirit, against depressing memory and forebodings. It is a pictorial expansion of the Christian principle (2 Co 416-510): dà miotews Tepinatoûjev, où dià eídous. From Pliny's account of the Imperial policy in Bithynia some years later (Epp. X. 98, 99), we may infer what it was earlier and elsewhere in Asia. "To clear oneself of the charge of Christianity, it was necessary to (a) worship and sacrifice to the statue of the Eniperor, and (6) curse Jesus. Although in Pliny's day and earlier, some of the Bithynian Christians had recanted, the outstanding feature of the “superstition" was the obstinate tenacity with which most of its members clung to it (pertinaciam et inflexibilem obstinationem). He incidentally confirms the evidence of the Apo. calypse upon the gradual revival of Paganism in Asia Minor, especially as the local cults were associated with the Imperial worship.
[Schmiedel inclines to John the presbyter as the author or hero of the Apocalypse, dating the book towards the end of the first century, but earlier than the fourth gospel (EBi, ii. 2514-2518), while Jülicher similarly declares that the Apocalypse stands by itself (Einl. 209–227), not a single other line in the NT having come from this author. He emphasizes the literary structure and character of the book (“ein in Studirstube gefertiges Kunstproduct,” “nicht ein in der glühenden Erregung einer Nacht auf das Papier geworfenes Pamphlet, sondern ein gelehrtes Werk"), though the motives of its final author were practical and his materials largely the product of a devotional spirit within the Christian communities. The fourth gospel, on the other hand, is assigned (pp. 318-341) to an unknown author, of Jewish-Christian parentage, whose book, composed with sovereign skill but destitute of much historic value for the knowledge of Christ's life, contains an ideal sketch of the “beloved disciple" (the presbyter or the son of Zebedee), whose prototype had exercised great influence in Ephesus and Asia Minor among Christian people. To judge from the Johannine epistles, this theological essay, furnished in the fourth gospel, does not seem to have been received by all contemporary Christians with the same enthusiasm and welcome. For a more conservative view, see Bacon (INT, 230-276), who confidently assigns the Apocalypse, but not the gospel, to the apostle.
The functions of the early Christian prophet (p. 463) in life and literature have been recently thrown into sharp relief by Dr. E. C. Selwyn in his stimulating study of The Christian Prophets (1900); while Clemen sees (ZNW, 1901, 109–114) behind Apoc 1318, not any Hebrew equivalent for an individual emperor (p. 680, below), but a Greek term for the Roman empire as a whole.]