« PrécédentContinuer »
not then conclude, that his Revelation was “ written before the title of Bishops was in “ use?”_2. That the Revelation mentions no heresy as flourishing at that time, except only the sect of the Nicolastans : “ this sect ex“ isted long before Cerinthus, and as John wrote “his Epistle and his Gospel against Cerinthus, “ between the years 65 and 68, the Revelation “must have been written considerably earlier." His third argument he rests on what is said respecting Christ coming quickly, (ch. xxii, 20) which he considers as not having reference to the second coming of Christ to the general Judgment, but to the judgment impending over Jerusalem : alleging that John so uses the phrase in his Gospel (ch. xxi, 22); that therefore, it seems probable, the same sense was intended in the Revelation ; and that, “ consequently, “ the Revelation must have been written before “ the destruction of Jerusalem.”_Of all the arguments adduced by Newton, none appears more cogent to Michaelis than that which is drawn from the Hebrew style of the Revelation; from which the former concludes, that John
* Michaelis is mistaken in his belief, that the term Angel is applied to the Presbyters in the Apocalypse only. It is Presbyters, and not spiritual beings, who are alluded to by finidos! that term in the Epistle to the Colossians ii. 18. He is right, however, in his general conclusion. The title of Bishop had come into general use long before the year 96.
must have written the book shortly after he left Palestine, because his style, in a later part of his life, was pure and fluent Greek.
Bishop Newton also thinks it more probable that John was banished to Patmos in the time of Nero, than in that of Domitian. Like Michaelis he rests his opinion chiefly on the evidence adduced by the great Newton, to whom he refers both in his text and notes. The style appears to him an unanswerable argument that the book was written soon after John had come out of Judea. He not only (contrary to the opinion of Michaelis on this point) considers the allusions to the Revelation in the Epistles of Peter, and in Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, to which Sir Isaac had referred, as being correct, but answers a possible objection, that St. John
might borrow from St. Peter and St. Paul, as • well as St. Peter and St. Paul from St. John:“ If you will consider (says he) and compare “the passages together, you will find sufficient
reason to be convinced that St. Peter's and “ St. Paul's are the copies, and St. John's the original.”
Lardner, on the contrary, opposes the arguments drawn by Sir Isaac Newton from the bearing of ancient testimony; and, taking it for granted that John had been banished, concludes, that he and other exiles did not return from
their banishment until after the death of Domitian, (who died in 96); which is the opinion of Basnage, and likewise of Cellarius and others; and that the Revelation was written in the year 95, 96, or 97.
From the best examination that I have been able to give to this question, I have arrived at a different conclusion from those who contend for a late date for the Apocalypse. I think with Grotius, and with Michaelis, (if that continued to be his opinion,) that it was written in the time of Claudius ;-or, at all events, not later than the reign of Nero, as maintained by Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, and others.
Before submitting to the reader the evidence on which I have come to this conclusion, I shall state briefly the substance of Ecclesiastical tradition, respecting the time at which the Apocalypse was written ;-and, secondly, the arguments which have been drawn from the supposed state of the Asiatic churches, with a view to the settlement of this question.
§ 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 his 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 same reign.”—Some, however, may think it not a little remarkable, if not extremely im
Bachmair on the Revelation.