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thors of this hypothesis have all the critical authority of these eminent names against them; or these fathers were possessed of other sources of information, and so the hypothesis falls to the ground. The probability in the matter is, that they had traditionary, and perhaps other external evidence on the point, and, also, that the contents of the book itself, in their view, confirmed this evidence.
I. The historical data, are,
1. The testimony of Irenæus. Speaking of the Revelation, he says, “it was seen not a long time ago, but almost in our own times, towards the close of the reign of Domitian."*
2. Clement of Alexandria. His testimony goes only to confirm the current tradition, that John was in exile in Patmos, and at the death of the emperor who banished him, returned to Ephesus. He says, “at the death of the tyrant he went from the island of Patmos to Ephesus."^ He does not indeed mention the name of the emperor, but it is evident, that he has the common tradition in his mind; and Eusebius expressly says he refers to Domitian.
3. Origen says, a king of the Romans, according to tradition, exiled John to Patmos, and that John there saw the Rev. elation. I
4. Eusebius says expressly, that John was in exile on Patmos, in the fourteenth year of Domitian, (A. D. 95,) and while there received the Revelation.||
5. Epiphanius places the origin of the Apocalypse in the reign of the Emperor Claudius. But his authority is very small in any case. He is an ignorant writer, and speaks very eonfusedly.
6. The Syriac translation. The subscription to this dates it during the reign of Nero. But there is reason to doubt whether this version, to which this subscription is appended, was made at an earlier period than the sixth century. Theophylact, and the younger Hippolytus, give the Apocalypse the same date.
This, we believe, to be all the historical evidence of account in the case.
As it is presented, it appears somewhat contradictory; yet trusting exclusively to this, no one can hesitate where to place the probability. All the earliest testimony,-all, indeed, of any moment, goes to fix the date of the Apocalypse near the end of the reign of Domitian, about A. D. 96.
* Adv. Haer. 5, 30. The interpretation referring the verb in this passage, 'Empú 9n, was seen, for its subject to the name of the Emperor supposed to be alluded to in the prophecy which Irenæus is here elucidating, and that referring it to John, are ably and conclusively refuted by Hug in his Introduction, P. II. $ 190, and by Dr. Woodhouse, in his Apocalypse Vindicated,
c. 2. Euseb. 3, 23. # In Matth. Opp. 3, 720. Ed. de la Rue. # Chron. 1. 38.
II. The internal evidence may be distributed into three divisions, as it is found,
1. In the dialect:
1. All reasonings from the dialect are based on the notion, that the Apostle John is the common author of the gospel and epistles bearing his name, and of the Apocalypse. But this itself, is, as much a matter of dispute aş the time of the composition. The argument, too, admitting that John the apostle was the author is very inconclusive. Perhaps nothing can evince this better than the fact, that different critics of great name have, from the same premises, arrived at directly opposite conclusions.*
2. The evidence from the historical allusions in the Apocalypse is found in the direct and positive assertions and clear implications relating to time, which it contains.
It is expressly stated, that the author, whether the apostle or Some other John, was in Patmos. Εγώ Ιωάννης-εγενόμην εν τη voù tì xalovutvñ Mútum. c. 1. “I, John, was in the island which is called Patmos."
It can hardly be supposed, that this, which so much resembles honest statement of fact, is after all, mere poetic fiction. Certainly if it be an attempt at poetic ornament, it is a most unhappy failure, and, therefore, the suggestion comes with a very ill grace from those who see so much poetic beauty in the Apocalypse. If, then, it be a simple statement of fact, no mysticism nor poetic fiction, we may lawfully conclude, that at the time of writing, the abode of the author in Patmos, was a past event; that he had already left the Island.
But when and why was he on Patmos? He only tells us, that as a partaker with the saints of that time in the common sufferings he was in the island called Patmos, "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Why should the zealous and devoted apostle John be in Patmos, that small, barren, desolate island, for the word of God ?" Not surely to preach it, not again to receive communications from God. For, if so, when his mind was turned upon the design of his being there, he would, doubtless have stated the simple fact. If as a companion in tribulation with the persecuted disciples of Christ, and also for the word of God, we must suppose it was as an unwilling exile, torn away by the strong hand of violence from the scene of his labors for Christ, and by stern, relentless persecution, consigned to solitude and hopeless labors on a desolate island. We should never have dreamed of any other influence being possible, had not critics of a respectable name gravely and dogmatically pronounced, that whether John was in Patmos of free-will or of force, is a matter of entire uncertainty. *
* See for illustration the reasonings of Guericke and Lücke, on this point.
Here then is a historical allusion to scenes of persecution. When did these occur? History replies, under Nero and Domitian. But the Neronian persecution does not appear to have spread into the provinces to any extent. The only account we have of this persecution is from Tacitus, who ascribes it to a merely local cause, the burning of Rome, falsely imputed to christians, from which we should infer, that the persecution itself was very limited, and from Tertullian, who says, that Nero was the first of the emperors who “drew the sword” against the christians.
Our readers will at once observe, that all this falls in exactly with the predominant external evidence already presented. Indeed so exact is the agreement, that some critics have on this very basis, alone rested the hypothesis, that the ancient fathers derived all their knowledge of the matter, exclusively from the Apocalypse itself, and hence have argued that their testimony is without weight, except so far as they were skillful critics; and in this respect they are to rank far below modern commentators, since exegesis has assumed a more perfect form since their time and is more to be relied on in its conclusions.
We might add in confirmation of the supposition, that persecution was the cause of John's being in Patmos, the further historical allusions in the Apocalypse to the prevailing persecutions at the time. The epistles to the churches imply a state of bitter hostility towards all of the christian name, which was manifested in severe and cruel persecutions. These persecutions would seem to have been of a type which answers only to the persecutions under Domitian. This, it will be remarked, not only confirms our belief, that John was exiled to Patmos, but also strengthens the proof of the Domitian age of the Apocalypse.
* Lücke, Einleit. c. 5, § 44. + Vide Murdock's note to his translation of Mosheim, vol 1. pp. 168, 169,
It appears, moreover, from the epistles to the seven churches, that christianity had existed for a considerable period in that region. If we suppose that Paul's visit to Ephesus, recorded in Acts xix., was the epoch of the first establishment of the gospel in that part of Asia Minor, and that this took place in the year 58, then to the death of Nero, or the reign of Galba, A. D. 68, would be a period of ten years, and to the death of Domitian, A. D. 96, thirty two years. If now, we suppose, that the Apocalypse was written at one or the other of these periods, then the changes which are represented to have taken place in the state of religion in these churches, must have transpired within these intervals—in ten years, on the supposition, that it was written under Galba, or in thirty-two years, if written about the time of Domitian's death. In that time, the church of Ephesus had left its first love, Rev. 2: 4; had experienced the rise among them, of a sect of heretics, literally or symbolically represented under the name of the Nicolaitans, Rev. 2: 6, a sect which had also arisen to molest and mar the Pergamite church, Rev. 2: 14, 15; this church at Pergamos had suffered a bloody persecution in which Antipas a real or typical character had suffered martyrdom, Rev. 2: 13; the church of Thyatira had also suffered from heretics, represented under the name of Jezebel, Rev. 2:30; the church at Sardis had declined into a state of spiritual death, Rev. 3:1; the Philadelphian church had proved their steadfastness and christian patience under severe and sufficiently protracted trials, Rev. 3 : 10; the Laodicean church had degenerated into a state of indifference and stupidity through the influence of great worldly prosperity, Rev. 3; 15 -17; and all these churches had become finally established and well organized, under pastors or bishops. Now a period of ten years would hardly suffer for all these changes. A third of a century might barely answer.
The opinion of Epiphanius, who dates back the Apocalypse to the time of Claudius, A. D. 54, is utterly irreconcilable with these representations.
Moreover, we are told by Tacitus, “ that in the same year," the year of Nero's fourth consulship with Cornelius Cossus, or A. D. 61, “Laodicea, having been overthrown by an earthquake, restored itself by its own resources with no help from us," i. e. from Rome. It is not supposable, that this could have taken place, and the Laodicean christians, over and above, acquired so great riches in the short space of seven years, which slow, painful, toilsome crag and desert, are l Hence, the true difficul ary work, have been bu But sober experience w obstacles, and practical expedients, and to frame New modifications of ef pected in the onward pr
* Ann. 14, 27,
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