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of our fathers, I have been handed over to the Romans as a prisoner 18 from Jerusalem. They examined me and meant to release me, as I 19 was clear of any crime deserving death. The Jews, however, objected,
and I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge 20 to bring against my own nation. This, then, is my reason for asking
to see you and to speak with you, namely, because it is for the sake of 21 Israel's hope that I wear this chain.” They said to him, “ We have had
no letters about thee from Judaea, and no brother has come here with any 22 bad report or tale of thee. However, we think it only right to hear thee
state thy opinions ; for, the fact is, we know that everywhere this party 23 is objected to."
So they fixed a day with him, and came in large numbers to meet him in his lodging ; and from morning to evening he un
folded and attested to them the reign of God, trying to convince them 24 about Jesus, from the law of Moses and from the prophets. And some 25 were convinced by what was said, but others disbelieved ; so, disagreeing
among themselves, they went away. But not till Paul said one word more; “Right well did the holy Spirit speak through Isaiah the prophet
to your fathers : 26 Go to this people and say,
"You shall hear and hear, yet never understand,
You shall see and see, yet never perceive.'
For dulled is the heart of this people,
Their eyes have they shut,
Lest haply they should see with their eyes,
And understand with their hearts and turn again,
For me to cure them. 28 Be it known to you then, that this salvation of God has been sent to 30 the Gentiles: they will listen."
Now for two whole years he remained in his private lodging and welcomed all who went to see him, 31 preaching the reign of God, and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ .
with perfect confidence, unhindered.
THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN
THE really cogent data for determining the period of this book's composition are (a) the interpretation of special allusions like the “seven heads” (1710), as a historical series of Roman Emperors, the “beast,” the number 666, and so forth ; (b) the evidence of severe and recent persecution, of wars, physical disturbances, occupation of Jerusalem by foreigners, famine, pestilence, etc. ; (c) the implied condition of the Christian communities addressed. These data have been variously read, and point apparently in different directions, either to the period 68-70 or to the later reign of Domitian, 81–96, when early Christian literature was drawn into the whirlpool of apocalyptic.
The former period was once widely accepted, chiefly on account of the curious and definite way in which the circumstances and personality of Nero seem to fit the apocalyptic conception of the antichrist. Between June 68, when Nero died, and September 70, when Jerusalem fell, it is held that this book was composed. In this event, it reflects the passion of the Christians against Rome (=Babylon, drunken with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus), the contemporary existence of the temple (111), and the flight of the Christians to Pella (1 26. 14). So formerly Lücke, Keim (i. 63, v. 227), and Weiss (INT, ii. 81-84), followed more recently by Beck (Erklärung d. Offenbarung Joh. 1885, who dates the book 65-69); Reuss (pp. 154–162), and Farrar (Early Days of Christianity, pp. 404-436); W. H. Simcox (CGT, 1890), Hort (Judaistic Christianity, p. 160 f.), and unfortunately by A. Réville (i. p. 261 f.). It is the period adopted also by Hausrath (iv. pp. 171, 256–282), Beyschlag (NTTh, ii. pp. 347–361), and Scholten (JpTh, 1883, pp. 608–610); but of course a statement like that made by Mr. T. B. Strong (DB ii. 690), that “the majority of modern critics are of opinion that the book was written in the time of Nero," becomes true only if the word "not" be read between “was” and “written." The former popularity of this date was probably due in some degree to Renan's presentment, in what forms the most brilliant volume of his series upon early Christianity, L'antéchrist (espec. chaps. XV.-xvii.). Besides, the lapse of years which intervenes between the Neronic period of the apocalypse, and the much later date of the fourth gospel, obviously helped to remove some of the difficulties felt by those who were anxious to accept both as works of the same author.
The true period of the book, however, is indicated by Mommsen (Provinces of R. E. ii. p. 199), although he does not come down beyond 69-79 A.D. The book, as he rightly finds, is “written demonstrably after Nero's fall, and when his return from the East was expected. ... The foundation of the apocalypse is indisputably the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem, and the prospect thereby for the first time opened up of its future ideal restoration.” On this view the leading ideas of the book and its situation are (a) the Imperial cultus advocated by the provincial authorities of the State, and (b) the belief in Nero's reappearance, which did not prevail to any wide extent earlier than 70, and sprang up to its luxuriant maturity in all likelihood (Suetonius, Nero, 57) some twenty years later than his death.1
Hence, as the Neronic reference of the “beast"-pictures does not absolutely require the composition of the book c. 70 A.D., and as other elements-mainly though not decisively that of the Imperial cultus, which had grown like a fungus beside the earlier local cults (Ac 1927)— urge a considerably later date, modern criticism has heartily adopted the traditional date (cp. e.g. especially the remark in Euseb. HE, v. 8. 6 [Iren. Adv. Haer. v. 30, 3]: ojde yàp a pò molloû xpóvou éwpáðn, ålla σχεδόν επί της ημετέρας γενεάς, προς το τέλει της Δομετιανού αρχης), .e. c. 95 A.D. Under Domitian, tradition unmistakably fixed the banishment of John ; his retirement, voluntary or compulsory, was due very probably to the acute persecution varying from death to exile, which seems to have attended the enforcement of the Imperial cultus, especially in the Asiatic provinces (Rushforth, Latin Inscriptions, pp. 47, 48). Then it was that Christians were persecuted on definitely religious grounds (1315 149 204); and not only, as in Nero's day, was the persecution active in the capital, but also throughout the provinces (Neumann, Der Röm. Staat und die allgemeine Kirche bis auf Diocletian, 1890, I. pp. 9, 11, 15). The situation and prospects of Christianity during the later period of Domitian's reign (“quum jam semianimum laceraret Flavius orbem ultimus et calvo serviret Roma Neroni”) are the subject of the apocalypse. It reflects the music of humanity, sad but not still, within Christendom, during the earlier stages of that settled and serious policy adopted by Rome towards those who, like the Christians, were indisposed to worship the Emperor as Deus ac Dominus noster, and thus incurred the charge of high treason. The full-blown procedure (Cognitiones de Christianis) which prevailed under Trajan (Plin. Ep. 1098) was little in advance of what must have been experienced during Domitian's reign (Neumann, pp. 13-15). Traces of this age, 3 with its hues of earthquake and eclipse, its current agony and bitterness, are obvious in Apoc 2–3, where the figurative language discloses not merely, as in Hebrews, a considerable retrospect and partial decline, but a persecution (19 310), general and varying in severity.4 Most editors and critics therefore find them
i The belief in Nero's existence and in his return from Parthia was not confined to Roman superstition. It passed into Jewish (cp. especially 4th bk. of Sibyll. iv. 119, 137) and Christian (Apoc 17) circles in Asia Minor during the last quarter of the first century, and lasted tiĩl c. 100 A.D. (Dio Chrysost. Orat. 21. 10).
2 “Plenum exsiliis mare, infecti caedibus scopuli” (Tacit. Ann. xv. 44; Hist. i. 2). If the allusion in Apoc 19 refers to this, the last note of the prophetic literature resembles in its origin the earliest, and the exiled John is brother across eight centuries to the gagged Amos (Apoc 11, Toxcaufis ... deīšao Tois doulons autoü (107)=Amos 37, cay un á rokahúyon galdsícey após tous doúrous ávton), who sped a written message to the world from under an official ban. On Domitian's attitude to and effect upon the church, cp. Victor Schultze, RTK, pp. 787, 788, and Ramsay, CRE, chap. xiii.
3 Tès ociovodious rcà étodañãous yeyouivos nuir ovuqopas nad Tepoztúrus (Clem. Rom. i.). Also Dio Cassius, Epit. lxvii. 14. The Apocalypse is the stormy petrel of ancient literature. A rough era produced apocalypses and sent people back to reail the older pieces of apocalyptic romance. Prof. Rendel Harris declares that after the recent massacres in Armenia a similar tendency could be observed ; the “renewed and devout study" of the people was directed not merely to the Bible but to the apocalyptic parts, and especially the book of Daniel (Contemp. Rev. Dec. 1899, p. 812).
4 Cp. Church Quart. Rev. (1898), pp. 39-52; and generally Zahn, Apok. Studien, ZKWL (1885), pp. 523 f., 561 f.
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, 2 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. p. 179), Weizsäcker (AA, ii. pp. 19 f., 173–205), Harnack (Chron. pp. 245, 246), McGiffert (A À, pp. 634 f.), Zahn (Einl. ii. pp. 582-616), Adeney (BÍ, pp. 464, 465); but especially Bousset (-Meyer, Die Offenbarung Joh. 1896, pp. 1–208), who dates the writing 3 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.
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) 4 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
1 Among many internal traces of a comparatively late period, cp. e.g. the phrase ń zupieczn nuépa (A poc 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, Åd 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) Baccoonueñowo rò Övouce QÚToll xai anu annuais autoü 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 dominates the Apocalypse, namely, the idolatrous cult of the Caesars; and Bousset accordingly prefers to find the roots of the fragment in Vespasian's reign.
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.
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
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 reign 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? (1892), pt. I.