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Book of Revelation




BOOK OF REVELATION. The book of the New Testament called " Revelation of John " (___________) so long passed for the most obscure and difficult document of early Christianity that scholars hesitated to apply to it the historico-critical method of investigation. Since this hesitation has been overcome, it appears that the matter of the book is neither obscure nor mysterious, although many special points still remain to be cleared up. With-out being paradoxical we may affirm that the Apocalypse is the most intelligible book in the New Testament, because its author had not the individuality and originality of Paul or of the author of the Fourth Gospel. a,r"I hecause historically we can trace and comprehend its author's pos. tion much better than we can, for instance, the theology of Paul. But all interpretations not strictly historical must be excluded. The ethico-spiritualistic, rationalistic, and dogmatic explanations, such as were first attempted by the Alexandrine theologians, are fatal to the understanding of the book, as are also the explanations drawn from church history which were first put forward by mediaeval sects. To see with Hengstenberg " demagogy " in Gog and Magog" (xx. 8), to identify "Apollyon" (ix. 11) with " Napoleon," or in antichrist to detect the emperor or the pope or Mohammed or Luther or Calvin—these interpretations are not a bit worse than those which turn the book into a compendium of morality or dogma wherein is set forth by means of imagery and allegories the triumph of virtue over vice or of orthodoxy over heterodoxy. The justification of the interpretation which explains the book entirely in the light of the historical circumstances attend-ing its origin and of the views current amongst primitive Christians follows, above all, from observing that as a literary production the Bevelation of John is by no means unique, but belongs to a class of literature (comp. APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, vol. ii. p. 174) which then had a very wide currency amongst the Jews, and the numerous remains of which even the most orthodox theologians do not hesitate to interpret by the help of the history of the time. The apocalyptic literature, in the strict sense of the word, began with the Jews in the 2d century B.C.; in fact it developed as an aftergrowth of the prophetical literature, from which it differs less in kind than in degree. For more than three centuries it had sought to revive the drooping spirit of the people by revelations of a near future when, after one last dreadful onset of a hostile world, Jahveh would appear in the person of His Messiah to conquer the nations of the world and to set up the kingdom of glory for Israel. Every time the political situation culminated in a crisis for the people of God the apocalypses appeared stirring up the believers. In spirit, form, plan, and execution they closely resembled each other. Their differences sprang only from the difference of the times, for every apocalyptic writer painted the .final catastrophe after the model of the catastrophes of his day, only on a vaster scale and with deepened shadows. They all spoke in riddles; that is, by means of images, symbols, mystic numbers, forms of animals, &c, they half concealed what they meant to reveal. The reasons for this procedure are not far to seek :— (1) clearness and distinctness would have been too profane— only the mysterious appears divine; (2) it was often dangerous to be too distinct. The apocalyptic writers in their works supplied revelations on all possible questions, but their principal achievement was regularly a revelation of the history of mankind in general and of the people of Israel in particular; in their most essential features the apocalypses are political manifestos. It is characteristic of all apocalypses that they pass under false names, being attributed to the most celebrated persons of the Old Testament; thus we still possess apocalypses under the names of Daniel, Baruch, Ezra, Moses, and Enoch. These old heroes are represented in the respective works as speaking in the first person, and exhorting their readers to await with hope and patience the coming of the Messiah. Usually the apocalypse contains a brief summary of history, beginning with the time of the nominal and ending with that of the actual author, in order that the reader, perceiving how much of the prophecy has already been fulfilled to the letter, may look with assured con-fidence for the fulfilment of the rest. Lastly, the particular features in the descriptions as well as the images and metaphors are usually borrowed in great measure from the books of the old prophets, but they are painted in heightened colours on an ampler canvas. " The imagery is alive with the burning breath of the East; a luxuriant fancy sacrifices beauty to boldness and sets proportion at defiance; all that is sweet and human yields to all that is monstrous and repulsive. A flow of metaphors, an inter-minable personification of abstractions, animates these strange creations with the weird and awful life of some fantastic resurrection scene. At the same time none of the descriptions are clear and intelligible; the outlines of the pictures melt and fade away in tremulous lines despite the, coarseness of the material on which they are drawn."

As Jesus Christ had promised to come again, the Jewish expectations of a Messiah who should be revealed continued unabated among many of His disciples; that which as Jews they had hoped from the first and only advent they now deferred till the second. True, the kingdom of God which He had promised did not tally with the materialistic hopes of the people, but on the other hand He had not infrequently Himself employed the figurative language of the prophets and apocalyptic writers; and, after He had left the earth, many sayings borrowed from the Jewish apocalypses were put in His mouth by a vitiated tradition. In the expectations of Christians of the 1st century spiritual and material elements were strangely blent. Hence not only were the Jewish apocalypses, the genuineness of which no one doubted, read in the Christian communities and transmitted to the Gentile converts, but soon there appeared new apocalypses written by Christians. We cannot wonder at this, for all conditions favourable to the production of such writings were to be found in the churches also; above all, men were conscious of possessing the spirit of prophecy in a far fuller measure than ever before, and this spirit necessarily manifested itself not only in signs and wonders but also in revelations and predictions. Of the Christian apocalypses written between 70 and 170 A.D. only a very small portion is known to us; for the later church viewed them as dangerous and got rid of them. Even of the apocalypse of Peter, written in the 1st century and regarded as canonical in some provinces as late as the 3d, only a very few fragments have come down to us. But the great Apocalypse which bears the name of John has been preserved. It is to its reception into the canon that we owe the preservation of this precious, indeed unique, monument of the earliest Christian times.

Form, Contents, and Purpose.—If we leave out of view chapters i. to iii. the Apocalypse of John does not differ very materially in form from the Jewish apocalypses; but undoubtedly its arrangement is better, and its execution simpler and grander, and therefore more tasteful. In its contents, however, the distinction between this Christian apocalypse and its Jewish fellows is marked; for, while the latter have not and could not have any actual know-ledge of the Messiah whom they promise, the Apocalypse of John centres round the crucified and risen Jesus, the Lamb that was slain. The author knows whom he and the Christian community have to expect; to him Jesus Christ is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last; he is the Lord of the world and of history. And this faith gives to the Apocalypse of John a tone of assured con-fidence and hope such as is not to be found in the Jewish apocalypses. On the other hand, however firm and sure the Christian faith of the author appears, he was still com-pletely hide-bound in the old forms; it is really a case of new wine in old bottles. But this very circumstance gives to the book its peculiar charm, for in no other early Christian writing are new and old to be found so com-pletely mingled as in this. The author's attitude towards the world and the state is still entirely the Jewish attitude of surly hate—this disciple of the gospel has not yet learned that we are bound to love our enemies; but his attitude towards God and his view of the value of a man's own works show no longer the Jewish but the new Christian belief, for he sees God in Christ, he has accepted the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins through the blood of the Lamb, and regards himself as a priest and king before God. Hence too he lives and moves no longer in the law but in the prophets and the psalms. From them, especially from the prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel, he borrowed most of his imagery and symbols. What he has done in his book is to create a great apoca-lyptic painting or rather a drama worked out in different acts. Impatient longing for the end, a deep abhorrence of the heathen state, a firm faith in Christ and His second coming, a minute and painstaking study of the old prophecies—these are the sources from which the descrip-tion of the future are drawn. The purpose is the same as that of all apocalypses—to confirm and strengthen the little family of believers in their patience, their courage, and their confidence, by pointing out that the sufferings of the time will last but a brief span and that the present troubles are already the beginning of that end when sorrow and suffering will in a moment be transformed into glory unspeakable.

The revelation proper begins with iv. 1,—the first three chapters forming an introduction (the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, which are prefixed, are marked by poeti-cal beauty and power of language). The future is written in a book with seven seals, which the Lamb opens one after the other (iv., v.). The opening of each seal brings a plague upon the earth (vi.). Before the seventh seal is opened, the church of the latter days is itself sealed that it may be preserved harmless from the assaults of the powers of hell (vii.). At the opening of the seventh seal seven angels with trumpets appear on the scene, each of whom blows a trumpet-blast as a prelude to new horrors on the earth (viii., ix.). With the sixth trumpet the preliminary judg-ments are at an end (hence the episode, ch. x.). The judgment proper begins with the fall of Jerusalem (xi.). Then the seventh trumpet sounds as the signal for the last dread horrors and for the final judgment of the world and of all wickedness. This is preceded, however, by a description of the preservation of the church of the latter days (xii.), forming one of those pauses in the narrative which give the reader breathing time and relieve the horror of the description by the introduction of scenes of peace and words of comfort. The power of the world that opposes Christ (the Boman empire) is described along with all its devilish accomplices (xiii.), and (xiv.) its destruction is by anticipation set forth in figures. The seven angels follow with the seven vials of wrath, which are poured forth and represent the beginning of the final catastrophe (xv., xvi.). This final catastrophe, involving the imperial city, the antiehristian emperor, his governors, and, last of all, the devil himself, is described in xvii.-xx. 3,—xix. 11 sq. forming the climax, when Christ himself appears on a white horse and vanquishes all his foes. The devil is chained in the bottom-less pit for a thousand years ; during this time the saints of the latter days—not all believers—reign with Christ. After the devil has been released once more and has made war on the holy city he is for ever overthrown and the last judgment follows (xx.). In xxi.-xxii. 5 the glory of the heavenly and eternal Jerusalem is set forth. In xxii. 6-21 several epilogues may be detected.

Unity and Integrity.—The above analysis will have shown the essential unity of the book. The more atten-tively we scan the connexion of the descriptions with each other the more clearly do we perceive the unity, the artistic and systematic arrangement, of the book. This is completely overlooked by those who fancy that in the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven vials of wrath, the whole course of the judgment is simply repeated in ever new imagery. Leaving all other objections out of account, this supposition is refuted by the simple observa-tion that the author has not merely placed the different scenes side by side but has linked them together in such a way that each scene follows as a consequence from the scene before. A correct perception of the plan of the book further negatives the opinion of older scholars and of Volter in modern times (Die Entstehung der Apohalypse, 1882) that the book consists of different parts by different authors. But it is probable enough that the work has been interpolated and touched up in various places (certainly in i. 1-3); and several verses of the epilogue (xxii. 6-21) are not by the author of the book, as indeed the language itself is sufficient to prove. Unless we are utterly deceived, the book underwent systematic if not very radical revisions even before the middle of the 2d century. To the additions then made belong, amongst others, the famous words (xix. 13) ___. ___\_]?__ __ ovopa avrov 6 Aoyos TOV 6eov, which do not fit into the passage. An exact investigation of the extent of the alterations and additions would be a very useful work.

Language.—The language is more Hebraic than that of any other New Testament book. The author thought in Hebrew and wrote in Greek. But the gross violations of Greek grammar are not to be explained from ignorance. " In the language of the Apocalypse there is nothing of the bungling and happy-go-lucky style of a beginner; indeed it bears the stamp of consistency and purpose." The author writes, e.g, _°-_ $ Kal ^-prjvg arto 6 wv ___, 6 TJV ___. _ ipXpp.evo<s ___ ___ rwv ____ rrveop.a.Toyv . . . ___ dVo I^croC Xpicrrov, _ _._____, _ _-_____ (i. 4, 5), although he has shown in a hundred passages that he knew very well the rules which he has here broken. He must have deliberately intended to break them in order to give to the words of his greeting a certain elevation and solemnity. Of course only to a foreigner could it have occurred to employ those means for this end.
3 The state of the text is much more uncertain than in most of the New Testament books, because there are far fewer uncial MSS. of our book than of the Gospels and Epistles ; in fact there are only five, of which only three are complete. The best MSS. are the Sinaitic, the Alexandrine, and the Ephraemi Parisiensis (incomplete). The so-called textus receptus of the Apocalypse is especially bad, owing to causes which Delitzsch was the first to point out (Handschriftliche

Author's Standpoint.—That the book is not written by a disciple of the apostle Paul, that its author is filled with Jewish hatred and abhorrence of the heathen state, that in other ways traces of the Jewish spirit crop up here and there in the Apocalypse, is beyond question. But many critics, especially the so-called Tubingen school, as well as Eenan, Mommsen, and others, have gone still farther; the author of the Apocalypse, say they, was an Ebionite and a decided opponent of the apostle Paul. In support of this hypothesis, which they put forward as if it were an established truth, they appeal chiefly to the following observations :—(1) in ch. vii. only 144,000 Jews are sealed, therefore the author regarded only born Jews as full members of the Messiah's kingdom; consequently (ver. 9 sq.) the multitude which is not numbered forms a wider circle, viz., the proselytes, who are not counted and also not sealed, and are therefore of lower rank; (2) in ii.-iii. the author displays the greatest abhorrence of those who eat meat which has been offered to idols and who practise " fornication "; by these none but disciples of Paul can be meant; (3) in xxi. 14 the author speaks only of twelve apostles, and thereby undoubtedly excludes Paul; (4) the author praises (ii. 2) the Ephesians because they have found the false apostles to be liars and have rejected them, but by these false apostles only Paul could be meant; (5) the author cannot conceive (xi. 1, 2) that the temple at Jerusalem should ever be destroyed, and proves by this how much he himself still clung to the temple worship.

The point in dispute is of the highest importance for the proper understanding of the history of primitive Christianity. If the Tubingen school is right, the Pauline epoch was followed in Asia Minor by an Ebionitic epoch, and in this case Catholicism may very well be the product of a compromise between Paulinism and Jewish Christianity. But on this very point it can be clearly shown that the Tubingen school is in the wrong; for the above arguments amount to nothing.

(1) The 12 x 12,000 (vii. 4 sq.) can only, like James i. 1, be in-terpreted allegorically and referred to Christians generally without respect of nationality ; the twelve tribes are the Christians. This interpretation is the only possible one, because (a) in xiv. 3 it is said of the 144,000 that they are bought from the earth, avd because (6) besides the 144,000 who are sealed no one survives the horrors of the last time. We must not overlook the fact that in ch. vii. two entirely different visions are presented, which are not to be fused into a single vision : the 144,000 are on earth, the unnumbered multitude (ver. 9 sq.) are not a supplement of these 144,000, but are already in heaven and represent the sum of all the children of God from the beginning. Thus, if the 144,000 were exclusively Jews, in the last time there would he no Christian at all from among the heathen ; that is, no heathen would be saved. But that this is the author's meaning not even the Tubingen critics can maintain. Thus the " twelve tribes " are to be understood allegori-cally. As Abraham is the father of all believers, so all believers, make up the nation of the twelve tribes. (2) The polemic against the eating of meat offered to idols and against '' fornication " is not peculiar to the author, but is to be found in several early Christian writings. It is not a polemic against Paul; at most it is a polemic against lax disciples of Paul; further it is no sign of Ebionitism, for very many Gentile Christian writers of the 2d century (e.g., Justin) combated the eating of meat offered to idols. The rule mentioned in Acts xv. 29 may really have been made between 58 and 70 A.D., and may have been a condition of intercourse between Jewish and Gentile Christians. After that time it gradually prevailed all over Christendom. (3) In the ideal description of the new Jerusalem it would have been impossible for the author to speak of thirteen apostles. (4) The plural airoo-roAot (ii. 2) shows that Paul is not meant, and the comparison with ii. 9 and iii. 9 makes it probable that Jewish emissaries are intended. But, apart from this, we see better than heretofore by the newly discovered Teaching of the Apostles that the name "apostle" was not confined to the twelve apostles and Paul. If the author had wished to express abhorrence of Paul he could not have done it more obscurely than he has done it in ii. 2. (5) The author says expressly (xxi. 22) that he saw no temple in the new Jerusalem, "for the Lord is her temple and the Lamb" ; hence he felt that the temple worship was no longer needed to satisfy his religious wants; in excepting the temple buildings from the universal destruction (xi. 1) he follows a Jewish notion, to which in his heart he has already risen superior.

The arguments to prove the Ebionitism of the Apoca-lypse are therefore insufficient; rather, we should say, the Apocalypse shows us a Christianity free from the law, free from national prejudices, universal, and yet a Christianity which is quite independent of Paul. It is this that consti-tutes the high importance of the book. The author speaks not at all of the law—the word does not occur in his work; he looks for salvation from the power and grace of God and Christ alone, and knows that to be clean a man must wash his robes in the blood of the Lamb; nowhere has he made a distinction between Gentile and Jewish Christians; in this respect he is even more liberal than Paul, for Paul believes in a continued preference accorded to the people of Israel, while our author knows of no such thing; in his view preference is given only to the martyrs and confessors of the latter days; they alone shall reign with Christ a thousand years j the people of Israel, so far as it has rejected Christ, is to our author simply a "synagogue of Satan " (ii. 9 ; iii. 9). In this respect it clearly appears that the author of the Apocalypse has cast aside all national religious prejudices. Accordingly to him Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jews—of this there is no mention in the book—but the Saviour of the world, the Lord of heaven and of earth, the disposer and director of history. The Christology of the Apocalypse is nowhere Ebionitic; rather it stands midway between that of Paul and that of the Fourth Gospel, and is more elevated than the former: Christ is made almost equal with God and has the same predicates and names as God.

The Apocalypse teaches us that even in the apostolic age the conceptions of Paulinism and Ebionitism do not explain everything; it is neither Pauline nor Ebionitic. It shows us that at the close of the apostolic age there was a Christianity which was free from the law and universal, and yet continued to adhere to Jewish modes of expres-sion ; it shows us that it was possible to think and feel like a Jew in politics, and yet in religious thoughts and feelings to be evangelical and superior to all earthly limitations. These, however, are glaring contradictions which could not last. But the fact that in the Apocalypse we possess a document exhibiting these contradictions imparts to the book its high importance. From Paul's epistles we can only learn how a great mind has worked its way from the letter of the law up to freedom; from the Apocalypse we can learn how from the Jewish fusion of religion, nation-ality, and politics thousands were gradually led upwards to the gospel, and we can further learn that the step from the premises to the conclusion is one of the hardest to take. The author of the Apocalypse has in many points not yet drawn the conclusions.

Date and Historical Position.—All impartial scholars are now agreed that in chapters xiii. and xviii. of the Apocalypse we must look for the key to the comprehension of the book as well as to the question of the date of its composition. That the beast (xiii. 1 sq.; xvii. 3 sq.) is the Boman empire, that the seven heads are seven emperors, that the woman (xvii. 3-9) is the city of Borne, that the ten horns (xiii. 1; xvii. 3, 12 sq.) are imperial governors—all this is now beyond dispute. Also it is settled that a Boman emperor will be the antichrist, and that the author abhorred nothing so much as the worship of the emperor. Hence it is very probable, and has been maintained by Mommsen especially on good grounds, that the second beast (xiii. 11) is meant to describe the imperial representatives in the provinces, especially the Roman governors in the Asiatic continent. Finally, almost every one regards the year 64 as the terminus a quo of the composition of the book, inasmuch as the bloody persecution of the Christians in Rome (xiii. 7; xvii. 6; xviii. 20-24) is presupposed in the narrative.

But, while scholars are at one on these points, they still differ on the question of the person of antichrist. The one side affirm that the author regarded Nero returned from the grave as antichrist (so Ewald, Liicke, De Wette, Credner, Reuss, Volckmar, Mommsen, Benan, <fcc.); the other side deny this (so Weiss, Diisterdieck, Bruston, &c), and try to identify antichrist either with Domitian or with an emperor not defined. But the grounds on which they combat the former hypothesis are of little moment. That the antichrist of the Apocalypse is Nero returned to life results from the following considerations :—

(1) In ch. xiii. 3 it is said that one of the heads of the beast received a deadly wound but was afterwards healed to the astonish-ment of the world. Now if it is settled that the beast is the Roman empire, and that by the heads are designated the emperors, the statement is only applicable to Nero, in whose death it is well known that the people did not believe, many persons expecting that he would return from the East. (2) In xvii. 8, 11 one head is identified with the whole animal, and of the animal it is said that "it was and is not and will come again," meaning that the eighth head is not a new one but one of the seven. From this it necessarily follows that in the author's view the antichrist will be an emperor who has reigned once already and who represents the whole wickedness of the empire (the beast) concentrated and embodied in himself; but this can only be Nero, for of no other emperor was the report current in the empire that he would come again, and no emperor but Nero had instituted a persecution of the Christians. (3) In xiii. 18 it is said that the number of the beast —that is, according to the Hebrew art of Gematria, the sum of the numerical values of the letters of his name—is the number of a man, and is 666. Down to 1835 this saying was a riddle which no man could read, though Irenaeus (v. 30) had attempted an explana-tion : he thought of Teitan, Evanthes, Lateinos. But in 1835 Fritzsche, Benary, Reuss, and Hitzig discovered simultaneously that the numerical values of the words ¡113 "IDp ("Emperor Neron ") = 100 + 60 + 200 + 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 = 666. The old variant 616 must be regarded as a confirmation of this explanation, for 616 is= 1"0 IDp ("Emperor Nero"). It may certainly appear strange that the calculation is made according to the numerical value of the Hebrew letters, while the book is written in Greek ; but, as there is no doubt that the author has thought as a Semite from first to last, it is not surprising that he has set forth his great secret in Hebrew letters (comp. 'Kpuay^&v, xvi. 16). (4) Down to the 5th century it was believed by Western Christians that Nero would come again and be the antichrist or his precursor. In the East also this belief can be shown (see the Sibylline oracles) to have still existed in the 2d century.

For these four reasons it is certain that the author of the Apocalypse believed that Nero would come again, and regarded him as the antichrist. He wrote under the impression of the story current in the East that Nero had gone to the Parthians and would return with them to reclaim his empire.

Hence the Apocalypse was written after the summer of 68 A.D., but the question still remains whether it was written under Galba or Vespas\an or Domitian. Most of the scholars who accept tne right explanation of the antichrist suppose it to have been written under Galba ; the beginning of Vespasian's reign is preferred by Liicke (whose earlier opinion was different), Bleek, Bohmer, and also Diisterdieck and Weiss ; Mommsen upholds the later years of Vespasian; but the old tradition of the church represents the work as written under Domitian and even towards the close of his reign. This tradition rests on very ancient testimony, that of Irenaeus, but has met with no approval from critics of the present century; only the traditionalists who reject the historical interpreta-tion accept it. It is the only case in the whole range of the New Testament where criticism assigns to a writing a higher antiquity than is allowed it by tradition. Whether criticism has not been too hasty in setting aside the statement of Irenaeus will appear in the sequel.

In support of the supposition that the Apocalypse was written before August 70 A.D., the chief argument adduced is that ch. xi. assumes that Jerusalem and the temple are still uninjured. Mommsen (Rom. Gesch., v. 521) has not succeeded in satisfactorily disposing of this argument. The Apocalypse is cognizant of the flight of the Jewish Christians into the country beyond Jordan towards Pella (ch. xii.); it expects the partial destruction of Jerusalem in the immediate future. But this very expectation as well as the confidence that the temple would remain uninjured shows that at that time city and temple were still standing. Hence, as ch. xi. was written before August 70, most critics, assuming that the whole book dates from one and the same time, conclude that it was composed under Galba,—that is, between autumn 08 and spring 69. In their view the five emperors who have fallen are Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula, and Nero, therefore the reigning emperor is Galba, and the reason why the author does not make antichrist (the returning Nero) immediately succeed Galba is a wish to carry on the number seven, and because " even a prophet owes some consideration to the powers that be " ; but he allows this unknown successor only a short reign, and then comes the returned Nero and the end of the world. Lastly, these critics point to the fact that a false Nero appeared immediately after the death of the real Nero (Tacitus, Hist., ii. 8, 9). This position is very strong, but there are two objections to it,—in the first place, it is uncertain whether Galba should be included in the list of emperors at all—so eminent an authority as Mommsen is against including him, and reckons Vespasian as the sixth, and, secondly, the author of the Apocalypse thinks of a false Nero who will ally himself with the Parthians (see ch. ix. and elsewhere). Therefore his false Nero appears not to be that of Tacitus, but the one who in the last years of Vespasian found a following in the Euphrates district and was acknowledged in the reign of Titus by King Artabanus, who prepared to restore him at Rome by force of arms, but was at last surrendered by the Parthians, about 88, to Domitian (so Mommsen; compare PERSIA, vol. xviii. p. 603). On this view the Apocalypse was written about 75-79. Thus we see that we have here two discrepant calculations (autumn 68 to spring 69; about 75-79); each has much in favour of it, but also at least one strong argument against it:—against the first calculation there is the argument that the false Nero who best suits the case did not appear till about 75, while against the second cal-culation there is the argument that according to ch. xi. the destruction of Jerusalem had not yet taken place. In these circumstances it appears perhaps best to assume that the Apocalypse was written under Galba, that is, that the con-ception and the first draught of it date from this time, but that the seventeenth chapter was afterwards revised in the last years of the reign of Vespasian, about 75-79. Now it is to be remembered that Irenasus asserts most explicitly that it was revealed in the last years of Domitian. Such a statement is not to be simply set aside, especially when it seems to make a writing later, and not earlier, and when there is internal evidence that the book underwent revisions. Further exact investigation of the details of the Apocalypse will perhaps supply positive proofs ; at present the following can be put forward merely as an hypothesis, for which only a certain probability is claimed :—the Apocalypse was written under Galba, but afterwards underwent revisions under Vespasian, about 75-79, and perhaps in Domitian's reign of terror, about 93-96 (compare what has been said above on the unity and integrity).

Place of Composition—Authorship.—That the Apocalypse was written at some place on the west coast of Asia Minor has never, so far as known to the present writer, been doubted by any critic of note.

The tradition of the church ascribes the Apocalypse to the apostle John, and the Tubingen school has felt bound in this case to agree with tradition. Within the last twenty years or so the question has been much complicated by being mixed up with the question of the origin of the Fourth Gospel; all, however, agree that the book was written by a born Jew. At present the following views are maintained:—(1) the Gospel and the Apocalypse of John are by the apostle John (Ebrard, Hengstenberg and his school, Hofmann and his school, Kliefoth) ; (2) th». Gospel is by an unknown author, the Apocalypse is by the apostle John (Baur, Schwegler, Kbstlin, Hilgenfeld); (3) the Gospel is by the apostle John, the Apocalypse is by a man called John, the otherwise known presbyter, who had no wish to be taken for the apostle (Liicke, Bleek, Ewald, Credner, De Wette, Neander, Beuss, Diisterdieck, Keim, Holtzmann, &c.) ; (4) the Apocalypse is by another John, one of the apostle's disciples, who afterwards received the tacit approval of the apostle, so that the Bevelation passed in the church as a work of the apostle (Benan); (5) the Apocalypse was foisted on the apostle John without his knowledge (Volckmar, &c). Of these views the first and fourth may be summarily dismissed, the latter because Benan has not brought forward even the shadow of a proof, the former because the differences between the Apocalypse and the Gospel in language and opinions are too great to allow us to suppose that the books are by the same author. It is true that on the other hand both writings have much in common, nay, even that there is a profound affinity between them, but this only proves that their authors lived in the same country, and were to some extent subject to the same intellectual influences. Even Hase, who formerly thought it possible to refer Gospel and Apocalypse to the apostle John (see his work, Die Tilbinger Schule, 1855), has renounced this view. But what is to prevent us from ascribing at least the Apocalypse to the apostle John? Certainly the external testimony is very good, the doubts entertained by the Alexandrians, by Eusebius, and by Byzantine theologians as to the apostolic authorship of the book have not much weight, the book being little to their mind, and the substance of the Revelation would in many respects suit John Boanerges. But the following considerations speak against the apostle John as author :—

(1) the so-called " Alogi" (Epiph., Hxr., li.) denied that the work was by the apostle, and declared that it came from Corinth and hence was a forgery; but the Alogi were in Asia Minor about 160 and their negative, if not their positive, evidence has therefore great weight ;
(2) the author of the Apocalypse does not style himself an apostle, and nowhere does he designate himself as a per-sonal disciple of Jesus or as an eye-witness; (3) the author speaks (xxi. 14) in such an objective way of the twelve apostles of the Lamb that it is scarcely credible that he himself belonged to them; (4) the descriptions of Christ in the Apocalypse are psychologically scarcely intel-ligible on the assumption that they were written by a per-sonal disciple of the Lord. On these grounds we must say that, though not quite impossible, it is very improbable that the apostle John was the author of the Apocalypse. But not less improbable is the supposition that the real author wished to pass for the apostle John and fathered the work on him. It is true that amongst the Jews apocalypses were fathered by their authors on famous men; but the fraud is always very patent. But in this case the name of John occurs only four times (i. 1, 4, 9; xxii. 8), and in the whole book there is nothing that reveals the author's intention to pass for the apostle John. And we have further to remember that, according to trustworthy evi-dence, the apostle John was still living at the time in Asia Minor. It is at least improbable that another dweller in Asia Minor should have fathered a book on him under his very eyes.

In these circumstances only one hypothesis seems left —that started by the Alexandrians in order to get rid of the inconvenient authority of the Apocalypse—that the book is from the pen of another John in Asia Minor, namely, the presbyter. But, though this hypothesis has had much acceptance in our time, it is far from probable; for—and here Zahn and Renan are right—the existence of a conspicuous presbyter John in distinction from the apostle is very uncertain. The Apocalypse, as the tradi-tional text of the first chapter now runs, is certainly not the work of any ordinary person of the name of John : it is by a John who enjoyed the highest consideration in the churches (see i. 1, 4). If besides the apostle John there was no second John who possessed such authority in Asia Minor in the 1st century, and if it is impossible that the Apocalypse can be the work either of the apostle John or of a literary forger, the only supposition left is that the name of John was interpolated in the las^; revision (after the death of the apostle John). Observe once more that this name occurs only in the first verses of the first chapter, and in a verse of the last. No hypothesis solves the pro-blem so well as this. Whether originally a different name appeared in i. 9, and how ch. i. gradually arose, are questions into which we cannot enter here. In this difficult subject absolute certainty is unattainable, but the supposition that the Revelation was written by an unknown Christian of Asia Minor, and that the name of John is a later addition in order to ascribe the Revelation to the apostle John, labours under fewer difficulties than any other that has hitherto been started. That, thus introduced, John is not expressly designated as apostle need not surprise us, for at the beginning of the 2d century every one in Asia Minor knew who "John the servant of God" was. The epistles also with the heading " the elder" are meant to be regarded as written by the apostle John, although they do not contain the title apostle.

Authority in the Church.—The Apocalypse, which as early as the time of Justin and Papias enjoyed a high re-putation as the work of the apostle John, was admitted into the canon of the New Testament (see Murat. fragm., Irenaeus, Tertullian). In the West it has always been retained in the canon, but in the East it was discredited through Montanism, and the spiritualistic Alexandrians who gave the tone threw more and more doubts upon it, so that towards the end of the 3d century it began to be omitted from the New Testament. For nearly a thousand years the Apocalypse was not recognized by the majority of the Greek Church as a canonical book (and hence it is that we possess so few ancient Greek MSS. of the Apocalypse), but, as no formal condemnation was pronounced against it, the book was never suppressed, and regained its footing towards the end of the Middle Ages, the Greek Church following the example of the Latin. At present the Apocalypse forms part of the New Testament all over Christendom, and rightly so, for it is one of the most instructive documents of early Christianity. Narrow or dogmatic spirits, it is true, will never be able to value it aright, and will therefore either reject it or seek to correct it by false interpretations.

Literature.—Lücke, Versuch einer vollständigen Einleitung in die Offenb. Joh., 2d ed., 1852 ; comp, the introductions to the New Testament by Reuss, Credner, Bleek-Mangold, Hilgenfeld, Davidson, &c. ; Gebhardt, Der Lehrbegrijf der Apok., 1873 ; Renan, L' Antechrisl, 1873 ; Mommsen, Bom. Geschichte, v. p. 520 sg. Commentaries by Ewald, 1828, 1862 ; De Wette, 1848, 1862 ; Hengstenberg, 1861, 1863 ; Ebrard, 1859 ; Diisterdieck, 1865 ; Volekmar, 1862; Bleek, 1862 ; Lange, 1871 ; Füller, 1874 ; Kliefoth, 1874-75; Bisping, 1876. Schneckenburger, De Falsa Neronis Fama, 1846 ; Weiss, "Apokal. Studien," in Studien und
Kritiken, 1869, i. ; Braston, Le chiffre 666 et Vhypothese du retour de Keron, 1880 ; Boehmer, Verfasser u. Abfassungszeit der joh. Apoe., 1855; Hilgenfeld, "Nero der Antichrist," in Zeitschrift f. wissensch. Theol., 1869, iv. ; Hildebrandt, "Das röm. Antichristenthum zur Zeit der Offenb. Job.," in Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol., 1874, i. ; Eönsch, " Gematrisches zu Apoc. xiii. 18," in Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol, 1873, p. 258 sg. ; Tübing. Theol. Quartalschr., 1872, i. ; Hausrath in Schenkel's Bibellcxicon, i. p. 153 sq. . (A. HA.)


Footnotes

E.g., the saying of Jesus handed down by Papias in Iren. v. 33 ; compare with it Apoc. Baruch, 29. In the eschatological speeches of Jesus reported by the synoptical writers there is no doubt that sayings are introduced which are derived not from Jesus but from the Jewish apocalyptic writers. See the discussions in 'Weiffenbach, Der Wiederkunftsgedanke Jesu, 1873.
See Hilgenfeld, Nov. Test, extra Can. recept., fasc. iv.
The literary value of the Apocalypse of John is much higher than that of any of the Jewish apocalypses. The author possessed the art of keeping his readers enthralled and excited from first to last; by
i suitable arrangement he has really reduced his motley material to
order, and by skilful description he has contrived to make even the repulsive endurable,

4 The way in which the author has given expression to this practical purpose by means of scenes and images reveals the great artist.
5 This idea, germs of which are to be found in the Jewish apo-calypses, is easily explained when we remember that two different views of the resurrection and of the future kingdom prevailed amongst the Jews. According to the one view only favoured persons, accord-ing to the other every one would rise from the dead ; according to the one view the future kingdom would have only a limited duration, according to the other it would be eternal. In the Revelation of John the two suppositions are combined.

See Theol. Lit.-Zeitung, 1882, No. 24.
The redaction of the Apocalypse took place long before Irenams (before 185 A.D.), for it can be shown that the airovbaia ___ ______ dva-_____ to which he appeals already exhibited the Apocalypse in the form in which we now read it (Iren., v. 30).
Funde, 1861-62).
See Theol. Lit.-Zeitung, 1882, No. 24.

Observe that in his brief description of the millenhvm (ch. xx.) the author neither speaks of the Jewish people nor introduces any grossly material conception. This is the strongest proof that he was not an Ebionite.
Compare also xi. 8, where Jerusalem is called "Sodom and Egypt."
The Christological conceptions and formulas which occur in the book are not always consistent. This is not, however, in itself a proof of interpolation.
Diisterdieck alone regards the ten horns as emperors.
Bruston refers the wounded head to Caesar; but what could have induced the author to mention and put in the foreground an event which had taken place about one hundred years before ?
Bruston refers the wounded head to Caesar; but what could have induced the author to mention and put in the foreground an event which had taken place about one hundred years before ?
See the Carm. Apolog. of Commodian; the commentary of Victorinus on the Apocalypse; Lactantius, De Mort. Persec., 2 ; Martin of Tours in Sulp. Severus, Dial., ii. 14 ; Sulp. Sev., Chron., ii. 28, 29, &c.
Against Bruston, who supposes that it was written between 64 and 68 A.D., by reckoning the emperors (xvii. 10) from Caesar, and hence taking the reigning emperor to be Nero. But Bruston is thus compelled to reject the explanation that the returned Nero is the antichrist, and he cannot account for the mention in the Apocalypse, of numerous martyrs at Rome.

5 The statement of Epiphanius (User., li. 12) that the Apocalypse was written under Claudius is untenable.

Tren. v. 30, 3 : rj airoKdXvtyLs ov irpb TTOWOV XPOVOV ecopadin, dWd crxfb°1' ^7r^ rrjs 7]fj.er4pas yeveas, irpbs TQJ reAei TT)S Aop-inai/ou
The three and a half years in xi. 2, xii. 14, xiii. 5 are taken from the Apocalypse of Daniel, and no deeper meaning is to be sought in them.
Hildebrand regards the sixth as Vitellius (Ztsch. f. wiss. Theol., 1874, p. 76 sq.).
So Eeuss, Volckmar, Credner, DeWette, also Reuan (Antechrist), but the last-mentioned, though he put the Apocalypse in the reign of Galba, begins the enumeration of the heads with Julius Caesar, and hence gets into difficulties.
The view that the Apocalypse was written between the spring of

69 and August 70, hence in the beginning of Vespasian's reign, has least to recommend it. Some of the critics who have maintained it are much biased. Thus Diisterdieck regards the sixth emperor (xvii. 10) as Vespasian, the seventh, who is to remain for only a short time', as Titus, and the eighth as Nero. But, as the book was written, according to Diisterdieck, shortly before 70, it follows that '' we have here a prophecy which definitely announces certain historical events beforehand." Thus the claim of the Apocalypse to be an actual prophecy is justified, though only in one verse.


So Justin ; see Dial. c. Tryph., 81.
Some of these scholars also deny that the Gospel is by John.
s This was observed by Dionysius of Alexandria (in Euseb., H. E., vii. 27).

Appeal, however, must not he made to the fact that according to ,-adition the apostle John was banished to Patmos, and that the author of the Apocalypse says of himself (i. 9), " I was in the isle that is called Patmos for the word of God," for the tradition is based ou the Apocalypse, and, what is more, on a misunderstanding of it.
From Eusebius, II. E., iii. 28, 1 many have assumed that the
Roman presbyter Gains (about 200 A.D.) was of the same opinion as the Alogi, but this is improbable.

3 The view here put forward as to the author of the Apocalypse is further recommended by its agreement with the general history of early Christian literature in the church. Originally writings derived their authority from the nature of their contents, afterwards from their author. When writings by obscure persons were intended to attract attention, it was necessary to pass them off under the names of celebri-ties : see Harnack, Die Lehre der 12 Apostel, p. 106 s-i.

=====

4 The way in which the author has given expression to this practical purpose by means of scenes and images reveals the great artist.
5 This idea, germs of which are to be found in the Jewish apo-calypses, is easily explained when we remember that two different views of the resurrection and of the future kingdom prevailed amongst the Jews. According to the one view only favoured persons, accord-ing to the other every one would rise from the dead ; according to the one view the future kingdom would have only a limited duration, according to the other it would be eternal. In the Revelation of John the two suppositions are combined.

5 The statement of Epiphanius (User., li. 12) that the Apocalypse was written under Claudius is untenable.







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