Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/665

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595

APOCALYPSE


595


APOCALYPSE


terpretation of certain passages but nfever ventured to impugn its authority. Approaching more closely the apostohc age we have the testimony of St. Justin Martyr, about the middle of the sctond century. From Eusebius, (Hist. Eccl., IV, xviii, S), as well as from his dialogue with the Jew, Tryphon (c. 81), held in Ephesus, the residence of the apostle, we know that he admitted the authenticity of the Apocalyjjse. Another witness of about the same time is Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, a place not far from Ephesus. If he himself had not been a hearer of .St. John, he certainly was personally acquainted with several of his disciples (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., Ill, 39). His evidence, however, is but indirect. Aiidreiis, IJishop of Caesarea, in the prologue to his comment urj' on the Apocalypse, informs us tliat Papias admitted its inspired character. From the Apocalyixse un- doubtedly Papias derived his ideas of the mil- lenium, on which account Eusebius decries his authority, declaring him to have been a man of limi- ted understanding. The apostolic writings which are extant furnish no evidence for the autlienticity of the book.

Arguments against its Authenticiti-. — The Alogi, about a. d. 200, a sect so called because of their rejection of the logos-doctrine, denied the authenticity of the Apocalyiise, jissigning it to Ccrin- thus (Epiphanius, LI, ff, 33; cf. Iren., Adv. Haer., Ill, 11, 9). Caius, a presbyter in Rome, of about the same time, holds a similar opinion. Eu.sebius

g notes his words taken from his Disputation: "Hut erinthus by me;»ns of revelations which he pretended were written by a gre;it .Vpostlc falsely pretended to wonderful things, lu^serting that after the resurrection there would he an earthly kingdom " (Hist. Eccl., Ill, 28). The most formidable antagonist of the author- ity of the .\pocalypse is Dionysius, Hishop of Alex- andria, disciple of Origen. He is not opposed to the supposition that Cerinthus is the writer of the Apoca- lypse. "For ", he saj-s, "this is the doctrine of Ce- nnthus, that there will be an earthly reign of Christ, and as he was a lover of the body he dreamed that he would revel in the gratification of the sensual ap- petite ". He himself did not adopt the view that Cerinthus was the writer. He regarded the Apoca- lypse as the work of an inspired man but not of an Apostle (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., VII, 25). During the fourth and fifth centuries the tendency to exclude the Apocalj'pse from the list of sacred books con- tinued to increase in the Syro-Palestinian churches. Eusebius expresses no definite opinion. He contents himself with the statement: "The Apocalypse is by some accepted among the canonical books but by others rejected" (Hist. Eccl., Ill, 25). St. Cyril of Jerusalem does not name it amon^ the canonical books (Catech. IV, 33-36); nor does it occur on the list of the Synod of Laodicea, or on that of Gregory of Nazianzus. Perhaps the most telling argument against the apostolic authorship of the book is its omission from the Peshito, the Syrian Vulgate. But although the authorities giving evidence against the authenticity of the .\pocalypse deserve full consid- eration they cannot annul or impair the older and unanimous testimony of the churches. The opinion of its opponents, moreover, was not free from bisis. From tlie manner in which Dionysius argued the question, it is evident that he thought the book dan- gerous as occasioning crude and sensual notions con- cerning the resurrection. In the West the Church persevered in its tradition of apostolic authorship. St. Jerome alone seemed to have been influenced by the doubts of the East.

The Apocalypse compared with the Fourth Gospel. — The relation lx!tween the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gosjwl has been discussed by authors, both ancient and modern. Some affinn and others deny their mutual resemblance. The learned Alex- I.— 38


andrine Bishop, Dionysius, drew up in his time a list of differences to which modern authors have had little to add. He begins by observing that whereas the Gospel is anonymous, the writer of the Apoca- lypse prefixes his name, John. He next points out how tne characteristic terminology of the Fourth Ciospel, so essential to the Joannine doctrine, is ab- sent in the Apocalyp.se. The ternLs, "life", "light", "grace", "truth", do not occur in the latter. Nor did the enideness of diction on the part of the Apoca- lypse escajie him. The (Jreek of tlie Gospel lie pro- nounces correct as to grammar, and he even gives its author credit for a certain elegance of style. But the language of the .\ix)calypse appeared to him bar- barous and disfigured by solecisms. He, therefore, inclines to ascribe the works to different authors (Hist. Eccl., VII, 25). The upholders of a common authorship reply that these differences may be ac- counted for by bearing in mind the peculiar nature and aim of each work. The Apocalypse contains visions and revelations. In conformity with other books of the same kind, e. g. the Book of Daniel, the Seer prefixed his name to his work. The Gospel on the other hand Ls written in the form of an his- torical record. In the Bible, works of that kind do not bear the signature of their authors. So also as regards the absence of Joannine ferminologj' in the Apocalypse. The object of the Gospel is to prove that Jesus is the life and the light of the world, the fullness of truth and grace. But in the Apocalypse Jesus is the conqueror of Satan and his kingdom. The defects of grammar in the Apocalj'pse are con- cctlcd. Some of them are quite obvious. Let the reader but notice the habit of the author to add an apiX)sition in the nominative to a word in an oblique case; e. g. iii, 12; xiv, 12; xx, 2. It further contains some Hebrew idioms: e. g. /pxA^^ot e<iuivalent to ton, "the one that is to come", instead of ia)>\um%, i, 8. But it should be borne in mind that when the Apostle first came to Ephesus he was, probably, wtioUy ignorant of the CJreek tongue. The compara- tive purity and smoothness of diction in the Gospel may be adequately accounted for by the plausible conjecture that its literary composition was not the work of St. John but of one of his pupils. The de- fenders of the identity of authorship further appeal to the striking fact that in Ixjth works Jesus is called the Lamb and the Word. The idea of the lamb mak- ing atonement for sin by its blood is taken from Isaias, liii. Throughout the Apocalypse the por- traiture of Jesus is that of the lamb. Through the shedding of its blood it has opened the book with seven seals and has triumphed over Satan. In the Gospel Jesus is pointed out by the Baptist as the " I^mb of God . . . him who taketh away the sin of the world" (John, i, 29). Some of the circumstances of His death resemble the rite observed in the eating of the paschal lamb, the sjiubol of redemption. His crucifixion takes place on the selfsame day on which the Pa.ssovcr was eaten (John, xviii, 2S). Whilst hanging on the cross. His executioners did not break the Dones in His body, that the prophecy might be fulfilled: "no Imne in it shall be broken" (John, xix, 3G). The name Logos, "Word", is quite peculiar to the Apocalyi>se, Gospel, and first Epistle of St. John. The first sentence of the (iospel is, "In the begin- ning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word wiis God". The first epistle of St. John begins, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard ... of the word of life". So al.so in the Apocah^psc, "And his name is called the Word of God ' (xnx, 13).

Time and Place. — The Seer himself testifies that the \isions he is about to narrate were seen bv him whilst in Patmos. "I John . . . was in the island which is called Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus" (i, 9). Patmos is one of the