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disciple of the Lord, that John who leaned on his Lord's breast at the last supper?;" and has also mentioned with equal clearness the period at which these revelations were vouchsafed to him: “ For it was not seen,” he observes, “a long time ago, but almost in our own age, toward the end of Domitian's reigna."
Now this testimony of Irenæus is peculiarly valuable. He was a Greek by birth, probably an Asiatic Greek; he had been a disciple of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who himself had been a hearer of St John; and, upon the martyrdom of Pothinus, he became Bishop of Lyons. He was born, according to the opinion of Dodwell, about A. D. 97, in the reign of Nerva, though his birth is placed by others ten years later; and he lived to about A.D. 1903. He was a man, as his writings testify, not only of extensive learning, but of eminent piety: and his testimony,-embracing, as it does, the general opinion on this subject of two distant portions of the Christian world, and extending nearly from the period when the Apocalypse was composed to the close of the second century,—may be deemed conclusive, both with regard to the time of its publication, as well as that it is the work of the Apostle and Evangelist St John.
This point, relating to the probable time of the composition and publication of the Apocalypse, has been dwelt upon at greater length, not only because it is intimately connected with the question of its Authenticity and Canonical Authority, but also because the determination of this point is necessary to enable us to form a due estimate of the opinions of some eminent writers with respect to the prophetical system of the Apocalypse.
1 Iren. Lib. iv. 37. 50. 27.
2 Ουδε γαρ προ πολλού χρόνου έωράθη, αλλα σχεδόν επί της ημετέρας γενεάς, προς το τέλει της Διομετια
voù ápxñs. Iren. v. 3 a. (Grabe, p. 449.) Euseb. Hist. 111. 18.
3 See Lardner, Cred. Book II. Chap. xvii. pp. 363, &c.
Epiphanius, who lived in the fourth century, is the first person who has asserted that the Apocalypse was composed in the reign of Claudius: and some credit has been attempted to be gained to the same opinion from the authority of Arethas, who has explained some of its prophecies with reference to the Jewish wars, and has affirmed that “destruction was not yet come upon the Jews, by the arms of the Romans, when he (the writer of the Apocalypse) received these prophecies.” But the earliest date which has been assigned to the commentary of Arethas, is the sixth century; and Woodhouse is of opinion, that there is internal evidence in the work itself, which will prove it to be of later date. A similar opinion has been also adopted by Grotius and Hammond, who are of opinion that the first part of the Apocalypse was written by St John in Patmos, in the reign of Claudius, and the remainder of the book at Ephesus during the reign of Vespasian. Lightfoot asserts generally that it was written previously to the destruction of Jerusalem; and Sir Isaac Newton is of opinion that St John was banished to Patmos, and that the Revelation was seen in the reign of Nero, before the destruction of Jerusalem4.
These opinions have been adopted generally by a learned writer of the present day, who states, that he believes the Author of the Apocalypse, (which he does not expressly attribute to St John,) to have "lived some time before the destruction of Jerusalem”.” This writer follows for the most part, in his exposition of this prophecy, the prophetical systems of Grotius and Hammond. Notwithstanding, however, the high respect which is due to the deliberate opinion of some of these eminent men, nothing has been advanced by them affecting the opinion, which has been established by many conclusive arguments, and particularly by the testimony of Irenæus, that the visions of the Apocalypse were seen towards the close of the reign of Domitian, and were consigned to writing about the same period'.
4 See Vitring. p. 6. Lardner, Vol. University of Cambridge, contained in III. p. 222.
a Volume entitled Six Sermons on the 5 See an Exposition of the Book of Study of the Holy Scriptures, fc. Revelation, by the Rev. S. Lee, D.D. Regius Professor of Hebrew in the
In a question, however, of considerable importance with regard to the authority of a book, which has been more especially the subject of attack from infidels, it will be proper to produce some few out of the great mass of testimonies in support of the opinion of Irenæus, with regard to its early reception in the Christian Church, and the remarkable unanimity with which it was ascribed to St John.
1. The first of these is Ignatius, who died A.D. 107. Now he does not directly quote the Apocalypse; and the same may be said with regard to most of the other books of the New Testament. But Dean Woodhouse has produced evidence from his Epistles, sufficient to prove that he was acquainted with it, and has assigned very good reasons why, considering the circumstances under which his Epistles were written, we should not expect more deliberate quotations from it.
2. Papias was of the Apostolic age, from A.D. 110 to 115, and has not directly quoted the Apocalypse; but the manner in which he has mentioned the Millennium proves that he was acquainted with it.
See the whole question examined with great learning and candour by Lardner, in his History of the Apostles and Evangelists, Vol. II. Chap. ix. pp. 221, &c. Dean Woodhouse of opinion, that there is internal evidence
in the Apocalypse itself to prove that it was written after the Apostle's release from Patmos ; and he refers to Chap. i. 9: “I was in the isle that is called Patmos."
3. Justin Martyr, who was born in Palestine about the end of the first century, in the second part of his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, referring to the book of Revelation, says expressly that it was written by “ John, one of the Apostles of Christ.” “And this testimony of Justin Martyr,” as Bishop Marsh has observed, “is so much the more remarkable, as it is the only book in the whole New Testament of which Justin Martyr has ever named the author?.”
4. There are express allusions to it in THE EPISTLE FROM THE GALLIC CHURCHES, which was written about A. D. 177, eighty years after the publication of the Apocalypse.
5. Clemens Alexandrinus, who lived within a century after the first publication of the Apocalypse, has frequently quoted it, and referred to it as the work of an Apostle.
6. Tertullian wrote about the same time with Clemens, and lived far into the next century. He is the most ancient of the Latin Fathers whose works have descended to our times. He quotes, or refers to, the Apocalypse in above seventy passages of his writings; and he appeals to it directly as the work of the Apostle John. He defends the authenticity of the book against the heretic Marcion, by asserting its external evidence. He appeals in its defence to the Asiatic churches, and assures us, that “though Marcion rejects it, yet the succession of Bishops traced to its origin will establish John to be its author!” In particular, it may be observed, that Tertullian has quoted Rev. i. 6. as a passage common in the mouths of the laity of his time. “This frequent and popular appeal to the Apocalypse,” as Dean Woodhouse has justly observed, “ shews it to be a book much read and generally received in the African churches of the second century.
2 Bp Marsh's Lectures, Lect. xxv. p. 64.
7. Early in the third century we have the evidence of Hippolytus; and of Origen, who quotes it repeatedly as the work of St John. Now Origen was born in the year 184 or 185, and lived to his 70th year; and when we consider the period during which he lived, and his extraordinary labours in connexion with the Scriptures, which justly entitle him to the honour of being considered the father of sacred criticism, his testimony is of the highest value.
8. Eusebius, though his opinion is not altogether free from difficulty with regard to the early reception of the Apocalypse, has clearly marked his own opinion of it by placing it amongst those books of the New Testament which were universally read and acknowledged to be genuine'.
9. It was received and quoted repeatedly by Athanasiųs; by Jerome, though he says that it was rejected by the Greek Christians*; and by Augustine, though he admits that it was not universally received
1 Adv. Marcion. Lib. iv. Chap. 5. 2 Woodhouse, p. 51.
3 See Bp Marsh, Lectures, Lect. xxiv. p. 28. But compare what is said by Dean Woodhouse, Diss. pp.
78–83; and Lardner, Vol. 111. p. 448.
4 Lardner, Vol. iii. p. 449.