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dence, as affecting any particular book of scripture, it is necessary to ascertain the time when that book was written. For if it shall appear to have been written and published in the early period of the apostolic age, we may expect testimonies concerning it, from apostles, or from apostolical men.' If it can be shown on the contrary, that it was published in the very latest times of that age, it will be in vain to expect any earlier notice of it.
Various opinions have been advanced, concerning the time when the Apocalypse was published, chiefly by those writers who have been desirous to accommodate it to their interpretations of the prophecies, which they suppose to have been fulfilled in the first century. But that the Apocalypse was not published before the year 96 or 97, has been, from that time to the present, the almost universal opinion of the Christian Church. Michaelis admits it; and, with other German writers, who are desirous of establishing a contrary opinion, has endeavoured to press Irenæus into their service. If this attempt should fail them, they will be left without any resource; and therefore I shall state it at large, together with the answer to it, as it has appeared in the Dissertation.
Irenæus was born, according to his own account, (as his words have been generally understood,) in the age immediately succeeding that in which the visions of the Apocalypse were seen.3 He was a
1 Apostolical men are those, who may be supposed to have received instruction personally from apostles. The apostolical age is that, which extends from the middle of the first century, when the apostles began to write, to the close of that century, when St. John, the last surviving apostle, died.
2 These may be seen discussed by Michaelis in his last chapter, and considered again by the author in his Dissertation. The evidences in their behalf are so weak, that it seems unnecessary to report them in this abstract.
3 The learned Dodwell has taken pains to show that Irenæus was
Greek by birth, as his name and language import, and probably an Asiatic Greek, for he was an auditor of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, one of the seven Churches, and who had been the auditor of St. John the apostle, whom Irenæus constantly affirms to be the writer of the Apocalypse.' And accordingly, when Irenæus speaks upon such subjects as concern the external evidences of the Church, he appeals, in confirmation, to Polycarp and others, who, he says, had seen the apostle John. He appeals also to the Asiatic Churches, in which he appears to have been educated. When removed from Asia into Gaul, (where, upon the martyrdom of Pothinus, he became Bishop of Lyons,) he kept up a correspondence with the brethren of the Asiatic Churches, from whom he would continue to receive the most genuine information concerning the Apocalypse. He was, in his own character, the most learned, pious, prudent, and venerable prelate of his age. He wrote largely in defence of the truth, and it has been a prevailing opinion in the Church, that he sealed his testimony with his blood.
Here then is a witness of the highest authority, whose evidence has been accordingly received by the writers succeeding to his time, and, with very few exceptions, by the universal Church. Nor, until these
born in the year 97, the very year in which it will appear that the Apocalypse was published. But there is reason to suppose that he has fixed the birth of this Father about ten years too early.-Grabe's Proleg. ad Irenæum.
1 Iren. iii. 3. Euseb. H. E. iv. 14, 16. v. 19, 20. Iren. iv. 50. v. 26, 28, 30, 34, 35. Lardner's Supplement, p. 348, 378. Cave, Hist. Litt. art. Irenæus.
2 Iren. lib. iii. 3. v. 8. Euseb. H. E. lib. iv. 14. v. 20. Michaelis, in another part of his work, considers the testimony of Irenæus, in relation to St. John's writings, of the highest authority. "Irenæus," says he, "is not only the most ancient writer on this subject, but was a disciple of Polycarp, who was personally acquainted with St. John; consequently Irenæus had the very best
days, has there been the least doubt of the import of his evidence; no one has seen occasion to interpret his words otherwise than according to the obvious and received meaning, "that the visions of the Apocalypse were seen towards the end of Domitian's reign." But since a novel interpretation of these words has been attempted by the German critics, in order to make them subservient to their preconceived opinions, it will be necessary to produce them.
Irenæus, speaking of the mystical name (666) ascribed to Antichrist in the xiiith chapter of the Apocalypse, and of the difficulty of its interpretation, adds :-ει δε εδει αναφανδον εν τῳ νυν καιρῳ κηρύττεσθαι τοὔνομα τετο, δι' εκεινε αν ερρέθη τε και την αποκάλυψιν εωράκατος. Ουδε γαρ προ πολλς κρονς εωράθη, αλλα σκεδόν επι της ἡμετέρας γενεας, προς το τελος της Δομετιανς αρχης. Which may be thus literally translated :-" But if it had been proper, that this name should be openly proclaimed in this present time, it would have been told even by him who saw the Apocalypse (or Revelation.) For it was not seen a long time ago, but almost in our own age, (or generation,) toward the end of Domitian's reign."
These words are plain and unequivocal; nor does it appear that any variety of interpretation of them arose during sixteen hundred years, in which they were read by the Christian Church. And, indeed, now the only doubt offered to our consideration by the perverse ingenuity of the German critics is,
What is it that Irenæus affirms to have been seen in Domitian's reign? What does the word seen refer to? What is the nominative to the verb ewpaln?" Now, I will venture to say, that no Greek scholar,
information on this subject." Introd. vol. iii. c. 7. See also his learned translator's judicious remarks on the importance of Irenæus's testimony.
unbiassed by any favourite opinion, can possibly suppose that the verb wpaln, ("was seen,") can be referred to any other nominative than Ἡ Αποκάλυψις ("the Revelation.") But it is not a matter wherein a critical knowledge of the Greek tongue is required, to enable us to decide. Plain common sense is to supply what is wanting in the sentence. And no person, possessed of that valuable qualification, can read this passage, translated literally into any language, without perceiving, that the thing represented to be seen in the latter clause, must be the same as was said to have been seen in the former. Otherwise there is no dependence on common language; and we must be compelled to use the repetitions which are in usage among the lawyers. Thus Irenæus, if he were to write in modern times, especially in Germany, must be instructed to say, after the word "Revelation," not "It was seen," but the "aforesaid Revelation was seen."
However, it is amusing to observe, that these ingenious critics, though they agree in rejecting the obvious sense of this passage, as subversive of their common object, cannot settle among themselves how it is to be understood, what noun should supply the nominative to εωραθη in the room of Αποκαλυψις. Michaelis mentions some of these attempts, which at the same time he justly deems improbable. There is one only which he favours, and this refers εwaln to το ονομα,—a proposal as forced and improbable as any of the rest. For, what was seen? Answer, the
NAME was seen. If Irenæus had intended this meaning, he would not have written εωραθη but ηκεσθη, not was seen, but was heard. Michaelis has suggested this difficulty, but at the same time he proposes the word Titan or Teitan, which in another place Irenæus had mentioned as one of the names proposed as representative of the mystical number 666. But
this is worse and worse: it is to break all bounds of grammatical connexion. And to suppose, as this forced construction requires, that Irenæus understood the prophecy to be fulfilled in his time, by the emperor Domitian being Titan and Antichrist, is to make Irenæus contradict himself. For this excel
lent father plainly tells us, that he understood not this prophecy, and that in his opinion, "it is better to wait the completion of it, than to guess at names which may seem to fit the mystical figures. Besides, the context of Irenæus, with this passage, will admit none of these novel, forced interpretations, and will accommodate to none but the old and obvious acceptation. It is his object, to dissuade his readers from a difficult and presumptuous attempt, to proclaim who is the Antichrist by applying in the manner he had shown the Greek figures 666. And his argument is to this effect:-"the mystery was not intended to be cleared up in our times; for if it had, it would have been told by him who saw the vision." This implies that the vision had been seen lately. But to complete the argument, and support the last clause of it, which was not yet perfectly clear, Irenæus adds, "for it was seen at no great distance from our own times."
In short, all these new interpretations are inconsistent, and have no support but what they derive from the Latin translation of the passage, which is very faulty in this place, as it is known to be in many others; and had it been of greater authority as a translation, it could only disclose the translator's opinion. But as we possess the original Greek, we must have recourse to this genuine text of the writer, and not be led away by the blunders of his translator.
1 Lib. v.
See also Euseb. H. E. lib. iii. c. 18.
2 Grabe asserts, and proves it to be barbarous and defective.Prolog. in Irenæum.