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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 Apoca- , Los lypse 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 conį kishof heart
. stantly recollected, that, however numerous the authors are, who ascribe it to the end of Domitian's reign, the testimony of all of thein 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, alloding 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 Apocalypsemassumes, 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 B£, “ for the word of God"-words which, taken
in their strict and proper sense, do not convey that idea ; and shall we be content, on a question of this kind, to receive the traditions of men who would have us believe, without giving their authority, that John was cast by order of Nero or of Domitian into a vessel of boiling oil, and came 'out unhurt?
Michaelis thus states the second objection that had been made [viz. by Vitringa, Lenfant and Beausobre, and Lardner] : “ That the seven " flourishing Christian communities at Ephesus,
Smyrna, &c. existed so early as the reign of “ Claudius, is an opinion not easy to be recon“ ciled with the history given, in the Acts of the
Apostles, of the first planting of Christianity “ in Asia Minor. Besides it is hardly possible “that St. John resided at Ephesus, from which “place it is pre-supposed that he was sent into “banishment, so early as the time of Claudius : “ for the account given, Acts xix, of St. Paul's " stay and conduct at Ephesus, manifestly im
plies that no apostle had already founded and 'governed a church there. And when St. Paul “ left the place, the Ephesians had no Bishop:
for, in an Epistle to Timothy, written for that purpose,
orders to regulate the church at Ephesus, and to ordain bishops. This argument (he adds) may perhaps be strengthened by observing, that the second Apocalyptical
Epistle, ch. ii. 1, is addressed to the angel of " the church of Ephesus, that is, as is commonly understood, to the bishop."
The objection just stated rests on mere assumptions and on false facts. It is first assumed that John was banished to Patmos; secondly, that he resided at Ephesus before his banishment; thirdly, that he could not have been in Patmos butin consequence of such banishment; fourthly, that there was no bishop (or elder) at Ephesus when Paul left that city; because, fifthly, an epistle was written to Timothy to ordain bishops there. Now it is singular enough, that so many facts should be assumed, without offering proof of the truth of any one of them : no, nor can any one of them be proved. We learn from the 18th chapter of the Acts, that when Paul left Athens he came to Corinth, and found there a certain Jew named Aquila ; and that this was in the reign of Claudius,-a fact which deserves particular notice ; for the decree of Claudius, which commanded all Jews to depart from Rome, and which was the cause of Aquila and his wife Priscilla leaving Italy and proceeding to Corinth (Acts xviii. 1, 2), was issued in the eleventh year of that Emperor's reign, answering to A. D. 51. We also learn from the Acts of the Apostles, that his stay at Corinth was one year and six months in all, (for the account of