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mos. He would, therefore, seem to have placed the composition of the Apocalypse under Nero.

Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, (died 403,) states that John wrote his gospel when he was over ninety years of age, after his return from Patmos, which took place in the time of Claudius Cæsar.* In another place he says, John prophesied in the time of Claudius Cæsar. Claudius reigned A. D. 41-54. Epiphanius would seem, then, to place the Apocalypse during this period.

Jerome (about 400) says that "John wrote the Apocalypse when banished to the island Patmos by Domitian, who, after Nero, stirred up a second persecution in the fourteenth year of his reign." Andreas, Bishop of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, (probably near the beginning of the sixth century,) says in his commentary on the Apocalypse, vi, 12, "There are not wanting those who apply this passage to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus." This shows that one class of interpreters referred the book to a period before the destruction of Jerusalem; his own opinion he does not clearly give. Arethas, in the middle of the sixth century, in his commentary on the Apocalypse, places it before the destruction of Jerusalem.

The title-page of the Apocalypse, in the Syriac version, says that the book was written in Nero's time. The value of this testimony, however, is diminished by the fact that the present version of the Apocalypse in Syriac does not belong to the original Peshito version, but to the Philoxenian version, which was made about A. D. 500; yet it would seem that this version of the Apocalypse was really made earlier, so that the superscription may give the judgment of the Syriac Church, of the translator at least, at a very early period.

This is about all the testimony of any value that is to be found, in the earliest centuries of the Church, respecting the time of the composition of the book. It is quite meager

* Μετὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Πάτμου επάνοδον, τὴν ἐπὶ Κλαυδίου γενομένην Καίσαρος.

Johannes quarto decimo anno secundam post Neronem persecutionem movente Domitiano in Patmos insulam relegatus Scripsit Apocalypsin.

In Bagster's edition of the Peshito-Syriac New Testament, which lies before me, the superscription is as follows: "The Revelation which was made to the Evangelist John from God in the Isle of Patmos, to which he was banished by Nero Cæsar."

and unsatisfactory, but at the same time, the most of it points to the age of Domitian as the time of its composition. If internal evidence coincided with this external testimony, we should with confidence refer the book to the age of Domitian. But internal evidence of a strong character, as we will proceed to show, forces us to place it under Nero, about A. D. 68. The author himself states that he was in the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ, (διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.) The inference to be drawn from this is, that he either took refuge there to avoid his persecutors, or that he was banished there. It is true, that if Patmos had been a populous island, we might have supposed that he went there to preach the Gospel; but it is incredible that John would leave the populous cities of the Roman Empire to visit a desert island. From this text we infer that the book was written during a persecution of the Christians, and the spirit of the whole book clearly indicates the same thing.

During the first century there were but two persecutions of any note, those of Nero and Domitian. Under the reign of one of these Cæsars, our book must have had its origin. Respecting the persecution of Nero, Neander remarks: "This persecution was not, indeed, in its immediate effects, a general one; but fell exclusively on the Christians in Rome, accused as the incendiaries of the city. Yet what had occurred in the capital could not fail of being attended with serious consequences, affecting the situation of the Christians-whose religion, moreover, was an unlawful one-throughout all the provinces."* In reference to Domitian's reign, he remarks: "The charge of embracing Christianity would, in this reign, be the most common one after that of high treason, (crimen majestatis.) In consequence of such accusations, many were condemned to death, or to the confiscation of their property and banishment to an island."+ Hengstenberg, who bends all his strength to show that the Apocalypse was written in the time of Domitian, asserts that the punishment inflicted upon the Christians by Nero was not principally because they were Christians. "The Christians," says he, "according to the reliable statement of Tacitus, were not punished especially

* General History of the Church, p. 95.

+ Ibid, 96.

as Christians, but upon the charge of burning Rome."* But the language of Tacitus refutes Hengstenberg; for, speaking of a great multitude of Christians that suffered, the historian adds: "Convicted not so much on the charge of burning Rome as on acccount of their hatred of the human race."+ This "hatred of the human race" was their contempt of Paganism, which so exasperated the Roman people.

"Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein, but the court which is without the temple, leave out and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." xii, 2. It is clear from this passage that the Jewish temple was standing when the book was written; but the temple perished when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, A. D. 70. With this passage compare Luke xxi, 24: "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."


In the description that is given of the great whore that had corrupted the earth, sitting upon a beast with seven heads, the angel declares: "The seven heads are seven mountains [the seven hills on which Rome stood] on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.' xvii, 9-11. We cannot refrain from expressing here our conviction that Pagan Rome is represented as the great foe of Christianity, and that there is no pope in the Apocalypse. With the data here furnished, we are enabled to determine approximately the time of the composition of the book. Five kings of Rome are fallen; these kings would be, Julius Cæsar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caius Caligula, and Claudius. "One is," that is, Nero, "the other has not yet come; and when he cometh he must continue a short space;" that is, Galba, who reigned but seven months. "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition." This seems to refer to Nero, who was expected to reappear

* Volume i, p. 27.

Haud perinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis, convicti sunt. Annalium, lib. xv, c. 44.


upon the stage of the Roman world. Tacitus remarks: "About the same time (A. D. 70) Achaia and Asia were troubled by a false alarm, as if Nero [who had been dead about two years] was about to make his appearance. Various were the reports concerning his death, and for this reason many pretended that he was alive, and not a few really believed it."*"Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred and three score and six." xiii, 18. Professor Stuart states that Professor Benary, of Berlin, remarks, "that in the Talmud and other Rabbinical writings the name of Nero, (Neron Kesar,) often occurs. This amounts numerically to the number of the beast; q. d. 50, 200, 6, 50, 100, 60, 200, added together equal 666. Nor is this all. There was another method of writing and pronouncing the name of Nero, pi, Nero Cæsar, which amounts numerically to just 616, and thus gives us a good ground of the diverse reading which Irenæus found in some codices." This seems highly probable, and would furnish additional proof that the book was written in the age of Nero. But if we begin the list of Roman kings with Augustus Cæsar, as some writers do, the five fallen kings would include Nero, and the book would have been written under Galba, but the difference of time would not be material, as Galba reigned but seven months; yet we think the bitter persecution of the Church which the book was intended to meet, with its promises of success to the Christian cause, forbids the supposition that it was written under Galba.

But Hengstenberg insists that the state of the seven Churches in Asia, which are addressed in the revelation, indicates a period later than the apostolic age. He says that the coldness of the Churches and the heresies that had sprung up are inconsistent with the hypothesis that the book was written under Nero. If the argument of Hengstenberg is valid it will prove more than he intends; it will prove that the book was written long after the Apostle John left the world. For was not John the great center of apostolic influence in the very midst of the seven Churches in Asia Minor during the reign of

* Sub idem tempus Achaia atque Asia falso exterritæ velut Nero adventaret; vario super exitu ejus rumore, eoque pluribus vivere eum fingentibus credentibusque. Hist., lib. ii, cap. 8.

Domitian? Is it credible that under his very eyes heresies would spring up, and that under the powerful, warming influ-. ence of his love the Churches would grow cold? Is it not more credible that upon settling down at Ephesus at the close of Nero's reign he found the Churches generally growing cold? The recently discovered work of Hippolytus, a "Refutation of all Heresies," has thrown new light upon the early history of the Church. Bunsen remarks: "It is now clear we have to deal with sects which were coeval with Peter and Paul, as Simon was. But they started from foreign Judaism, mixed up with the pantheistic mysticism of Asia Minor."*

Before leaving this part of our subject, we must inquire how the linguistic character of the book bears upon the time of its composition. The Greek of John's Gospel is more regular and freer from Hebraisms than is that of the Apocalypse. To the hypothesis, which we hold, that both books proceeded from the same author, this difference of style offers no objection, but is easily explained if we suppose the book to have been composed under Nero's reign. The Apocalypse, the earlier work, gives us a style and language in which the Hebrew idiom still cleaves. to the author while the Gospel, written probably twenty-five or thirty years later, exhibits a higher degree of Grecian culture, the result of a long abode at Ephesus. But on the hypothesis that both books were written by the same author about the same time, there is difficulty in explaining this difference of style.


The authorship of the Apocalypse is more difficult to determine with certainty than the date of its composition. For while external evidence is very strong in favor of its apostolic origin, internal evidence, in the judgment of a considerable number of biblical scholars, is decidedly against the apostolic origin of the book, and outweighs the external evidence. We shall first produce the ancient testimonies concerning the book.

Hengstenberg finds in the epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians several allusions to the Apocalypse. But we confess our inability to see them, and the passages that he cites are far from being clear in their allusion to the Apocalypse From

* Hippolytus, vol. i, p. 39.

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