An Introduction to the New Testament

By Adolf Jülicher


Section 22


§ 22. The Revelation of John

[Cf. H. A. W. Meyer, vol. xvi., by W. Bousset, ed. 5, 1896, his strong point the methodological sections in the Introduction (pp. 141-170). Hand-Commentar, vol. iv., ʽDie johanneischen Schrifte,ʼ by Holtzmann himself (ed. 2, 1893). The numerous special commentaries on Revelation, especially those of E. Hengstenberg (ed. 2, 1861), T. Kliefoth (1874), and H. Füller (1874) are more interesting to the student of Church history than instructive for the interpretation of the book itself. Since 1882 the interest of scholars has been one-sidedly applied to investigating the construction and date of the Apocalypse. Among the countless publications of this class (many of which were mere abortions) F. Spitiaʼs ʽDie Offenbarung des Johannesʼ (1889) is valuable for its contributions towards a better understanding of details. See also H. Gunkelʼs ʽSchöpfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeitʼ (1895), a work intended to create a new epoch in our understanding of Revelation.]

1. The Apocalpyse, which only slightly exceeds 1. Corinthians in bulk, used at one time to be much admired for its symmetrical construction, but in reality it is extremely difficult to summarise its contents briefly and yet with tolerable completeness. The first three verses form the superscription, declaring the work to be a Revelation which Jesus Christ had ʽsent and signifiedʼ by the command of God through his angel to John, and dealing with the ʽthings which must shortly come to pass.ʼ The book was intended for the ʽservants of Jesus,ʼ and they were to ʽkeep the things which were written therein. Then follows a preface in which John, the transmitter of this revelation, addresses a solemn greeting to the ʽseven churches which are in Asia,ʼ while the next verse (i. 8) is actually put into the mouth of God. In verse 9 the writer begins the story of how he was seized by the Holy Ghost one ʽLordʼs dayʼ on the island of Patmos, and received the charge to write down all that he was about to see and send the book to the Churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardes, Philadelphia and Laodicea. In seeking for the giver of the charge, he beheld standing in the midst of seven golden candlesticks ʽone like unto a son of man,ʼ who held in his right hand seven stars; this figure declares himself to be the Risen One, and dictates seven letters to the angels of the above-named churches of Asia. The letters consist partly in a recognition of the Christian faith, the patient endurance under persecution, and the opposition to false Apostles shown by the communities, partly in a sharp reproof of their loss of zeal (this to Ephesus, Sardes, and especially the ʽlukewarmʼ Laodicea), their tendency to Nicolaitism (especially Pergamum), and to the Antinomianism of the prophetess Jezebel (this to Thyatira only), and lastly in reminding them of the swift, unheralded return of Christ.

From this vestibule we enter the main temple of the visions in chapter iv. The seer is borne up to heaven and there beholds the throne of God, surrounded by the thrones of four-and-twenty Elders, and in the midst of it the four ʽcreaturesʼ of Ezekiel—the Lion, the Calf, the Man, and the Eagle—who vie with the Elders in praising God. Next,1 he beholds a book sealed with seven seals, which no one is found worthy to open, until the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes approaches, amid the rejoicing of all the heavenly host, and breaks the seals one by one. With the breaking of the first four,2 the Parthian invader, the sword of Rome, famine and pestilence are let loose upon the world; with the fifth,3 the souls of the murdered saints raise their cry for vengeance and are consoled by the promise of the approaching Day of Judgment; the breaking of the sixth produces a great earthquake whereby the whole fabric of the world is shattered4; but before it falls twelve thousand servants of God out of each of the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed upon the forehead,5 and the seer beholds a countless multitude of the blessed of all nations, believers in Christ who had come unspotted out of the great tribulation, standing before the throne of God.6 Only now is the seventh seal opened,7 upon which there follows a silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Then there appear before God seven angels with seven trumpets, and after the prayers of the saints had ʽgone up before Godʼ the first four sound their blasts.8 This produces fearful convulsions upon the earth, and a third part of everything affected is utterly destroyed. Then the first of the three ʽwoesʼ (οὐαί) which are announced9 to follow the sounding of the last three trumpets is fulfilled at the blast of the fifth10; a miraculously created swarm of locusts under their king Abaddon (or Apollyon) is sent to torment for the space of five months all who had not received the seal. At the blast of the sixth trumpet11 the four angels bound in the great river Euphrates are let loose, that they may slay the third part of mankind with their hordes of horsemen: nevertheless the residue does not repent. Chap. x. prepares us for the last act, that of the Seventh trumpet, in which the ʽmystery of Godʼ will be fulfilled.12 John is bidden therein to eat a little book ʽsweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly,ʼ and after this to prophesy13 concerning the Holy City—how it should be trodden under foot by the heathen, with the exception of the Temple, for forty-two months, while the two prophets (ʽwitnessesʼ) of God, armed with miraculous powers, should prophesy for the same space of time. Then, however, these two were to be killed by the ʽbeast that cometh up out of the abyss,ʼ and for three days and a half their bodies were to lie unburied, but at the end of that time they would receive new life and be borne up to heaven, while a terrible earthquake destroyed seven thousand persons. This was the second Woe. Now at last the seventh trumpet sounds,14 the foundation of the Kingdom of Christ is celebrated in Heaven, and the end of the world appears to have come.

But no, the visions proceed; in chap. xii. there appears in Heaven a woman in travail, and a dragon with seven crowned heads and ten horns stands before her ready to devour her child. But this child, the Messiah, is caught up to God, and Michael casts the dragon and his angels out of Heaven for ever, nor can he harm the mother of the child on earth—for the earth befriends her—but only the rest of her seed. Chap. xiii. tells how a beast rose up from the sea with ten crowned horns and seven heads, one of which was ʽsmitten unto death, but his death-stroke was healedʼ; this beast the dragon endows with all his power and might for two-and-forty months, and it makes war on the saints and is worshipped by all other dwellers on the earth. This, however, is in consequence of the deceitfulness of a second beast, who comes up out of the earth and has ʽtwo horns like unto a lamb,ʼ though he speaks like a dragon. By his wonderful signs he induces mankind actually to worship the image of the water-beast as divine, and to allow themselves to be marked with his name, which was contained in the number ʽsix hundred and sixty and six.ʼ Meanwhile the Lamb, with his ʽhundred and forty and four thousandʼ saints, his band of virgins, is standing on the mount of Zion,15 and an angel proclaims aloud an eternal gospel, saying ʽwith a great voiceʼ: ʽThe hour of judgment is come.ʼ16 A second angel announces the fall of Babylon,17 a third utters a threat of eternal torment against the worshippers of the Beast and of his image,18 while to those who had died in the Lord, heavenly rest is promised. The Son of Man is already at hand, with the insignia of the worldʼs judge, and the sickle begins its work upon the earth.19 Here the scene changes once more,20 and seven angels appear with the seven last plagues. As they step out of the heavenly temple they are given ʽseven golden bowls full of the wrath of God,ʼ which they pour out one by one, to the fearful destruction of mankind21; nevertheless, men do not repent, but gather themselves together at Harmagedon round the Dragon and the two beasts for the last fight with God. Here22 the seer unexpectedly turns his gaze towards Babylon—as in chap. xi. towards Jerusalem—Babylon, the synonym of Rome, the great harlot, whose deeds of shame and whose fall and destruction are described in much detail; a hymn of praise is raised in Heaven over the fall of Babel, and finally we are shown the triumphal progress of the Word of God, ending with the overthrow of the Beast and the false prophet, and the slaughter of all their confederates.23 Upon this we are briefly told24 of the thousand years during which the dragon, Satan, was to lie bound in the abyss, while the saints of Christ take part in the preliminary resurrection and hold sway with their master over the earth. But at the end of the thousand years Satan breaks forth once more25 and gathers his host together, Gog and Magog, at the ends of the earth; but the danger does not last long, and he is hurled once and for all into the lake of fire: upon this the day of universal resurrection and of judgment dawns, which puts an end for ever to death and to the kingdom of the dead. Then we have a description26 of the glories of the new heaven and the new earth, and especially of the New Jerusalem, and with this the Apocalyptic material is exhausted, and the last verses27 form a literary ending to correspond with chapter i. The ascending scale of authorities which vouch for the trustworthiness of this inviolable book—John himself, the Angel who conducts him, and finally Jesus Christ—is once more pointed out, and the longing for the Parusia, for the coming of the Lord Jesus, is fanned to fever-heat.

2. The connection between this Apocalypse and those of Jewish origin is unmistakable. In both we find the same concentration of interest upon the ʽlast things,ʼ the same promises of a speedy revolution in favour of the righteous, the same confusion between things past and things to come,28 the same fantastic and magical pictures of approaching events, and the same hesitating and partial interpretation of all manner of ʽMysteriesʼ29 and ʽWisdoms.ʼ30 Here, however, the recipient of the revelation is not a man of hoary antiquity, but a Christian, by name John. He reckons himself among the Prophets,31 and demands a respectful recognition for his book,32 and of course he has no doubt as to the correctness of his ideas on the subject of the things to come. Nevertheless, the old discussion as to whether the book can best be interpreted from the point of view of contemporary, ecclesiastical (or rather, imperial) history, or from that of Eschatology, is entirely behind the times. Any extravagance could find its authority in this book, so long as people started from the false assumption that the authorʼs visions had already been, or would hereafter be literally fulfilled. The Apocalypse of John was taken out of the sphere to which it belonged, and, simply because it had happened to remain within the New Testament, was judged by quite a different standard from that which was applied to similar works, like the Book of Enoch, 4th Ezra, or the ʽShepherdʼ of Hermas. Science, however, cannot tolerate such a proceeding, and while she is quite ready to acknowledge the peculiarities of this Christian work and the influence which the new faith exerted over the imagination of the writer, she cannot ignore the obvious fact that here, as in all Apocalyptic writings, a picture of future events has been constructed out of the hopes and wishes of a part at least of the Christianity of that time, and with the help of its accumulated store of hatreds, loves, hopes, ideals and fanciful imaginings. For who is there who seriously maintains to-day the idea of a thousand yearsʼ Kingdom of God on earthʼ33 No, the enduring religious value of the book lies in the energy of faith which it displays, in the splendid certainty of its conviction that Godʼs cause must ever be the best, and is inseparable from the cause of Jesus Christ, and in the pithy and striking aphorisms scattered through it,34 which have long since become an integral part of our literature of edification; but it would be wholly inadmissible to treat the details of the writerʼs fancy as an authentic source either for a history of the past or of the future.

The Apocalypse of John is, moreover, the artificial product of study and reflection; its ecstatic visions are merely literary trappings, not actual experiences. Otherwise we should be obliged to assume that the writing of it had always, by some miraculous means, been simultaneous with the authorʼs seeing and hearing, for in xxii. 9 the book appears to be already finished when the visions come to an end. The position of the seer is not made quite clear: sometimes he is in heaven,35 sometimes on the earth,36 and the artificiality of the situation is no less significantly shown by the fact that he frequently relapses from the past tense, which alone would have suited his presumable experiences, into the future.37 That he also professes to have seen things which are not to be seen under any circumstances, such as the voice of the Son of Man,38 or the way in which the four beasts around the throne of God cried Holy, Holy, Holy, ʽhaving no rest day and night,ʼ39 is at most a defect in expression; for the words ʽI sawʼ introduce the whole body of his experiences from the moment his visions begin. But it is more curious that he should have seen all four sides of the throne of God equally well from where he stood, as again in chap. xxi. he sees the city which is equal in length, breadth and height, or that in chap. v. he should have perceived at once that the book sealed with seven seals was written ʽwithin and on the backʼ—that is, on both sides of the leaves. That in i. 16 the Son of Man is described as holding seven stars in his right hand is apparently forgotten in the next verse, for there he lays this right hand kindly upon the seer, who had fallen down ʽas one dead.ʼ Images like that of the Son of Man, out of whose mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword,40 or that of the lamb with ten horns and seven eyes, standing ʽas though it had been slain,41 can scarcely be the products of a genuine vision, but were rather put together and written down without any aid from sight. And are the ʽseven spirits of God,ʼ which appear in v. 6 as the seven eyes of the Lamb, to be counted twice over, seeing that we had already recognised them in iv. 5 (and cf. i. 4) in the ʽseven lamps of fire burning before the throneʼ? Explanatory glosses like those just mentioned, or like verse v. 8, ʽbowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints,ʼ42 are ill suited to the tone of a visionary; they show the hand of the man of letters who tries by incidental hints to make his technical terms more intelligible.

The whole construction of the book, in short, is, in spite of numerous inconsistencies, far too elaborate, with its successive heptades of seals, trumpets and bowls, the corresponding three and a half years and three and a half days of chap. xi., and the general partiality for numbers and mathematical figures of all sorts—all of which are taken from the pre-existing Apocalyptic material:—Godʼs ways are not fashioned according to the rules of a cheap mysticism of numbers, and in the visions even of a sick man such arts of calculation do not occur. We do not thereby deny that the author had had visions, or that they had made a powerful impression upon him and had appeared as a divine injunction laid upon him to impart his own consolation and his own knowledge to the rest of the brethren all over the world. The man who wrote the Apocalypse believed in his own words with absolute trust; but behind his visions lie Apocalyptic studies which had excited and enriched his mind and his imagination, and after those visions lie still more of them. The Apocalypse is not a pamphlet hurriedly committed to paper in the glowing excitement of a night, but a learned work, over the composition of which the writer often pondered long, and to which he certainly added many finishing touches after it was completed. The framework, consisting of the superscription and the farewell greeting, were probably added when all the rest was finished.

3. We should, however, do the writer grave injustice if we assumed that his motive for the elaboration of his work was a desire to win the name of Prophet by an Apocalyptic work of art, as though he were incapable of deserving it in the usual way. His seven Epistles to the Churches43 show how carefully he had studied the condition of those communities which were accessible to him, how accurate was his knowledge of their merits and their shortcomings, and how earnestly he set about the task of improving them. He knows the temptations to which the patience of some was exposed by their perpetual sufferings for Christʼs sake, and fears that they may even yet lose hope; and he has misgivings lest others should be found unprepared on the day of the Lordʼs return. He himself is convinced that the Parusia will take place in the near future and that there is short space left, for repentance; hence he seizes his pen to announce in the name of Christ the approaching day of decision,— bringing with it eternal bliss or eternal torment—hoping thereby to kindle new life among the followers of Christ. By means of the rich apocalyptic setting in which he clothes his fundamental idea, and by the use of which he proves himself be a true child of his age, a sharer alike in its taste and in its lack of the critical instinct, his book did succeed in attracting attention, in producing an overwhelming effect, and in exerting a strong influence upon the Church. He did not in any way aspire to interpret theological problems, or to start a new Christology, or a new doctrine of salvation; only occasionally are we able to perceive how he thought about these questions, and then not very clearly; while the only new matter that he has to communicate concerns the course of the next and latest period of history.

What strikes us perhaps most of all, when we remember the stress laid upon the loyalty of Christians to the powers that be, in Romans and 1. Peter, and the recognition of their ʽrestrainingʼ power in 2. Thessalonians,44 is the burning hatred which the Apocalypse displays towards the empire of Rome. It regards this empire as the direct work of Satan, and the city of Rome as the pinnacle of godlessness on earth, and the writer cannot dwell long enough upon the description of the judgment of Rome and the rejoicing of the saints over her fall.45 Rome is in his eyes the earthly Antichrist, and the Cesar-worship that had been introduced there the summit of all blasphemy,46 while the head that was mortally wounded, but recovered from the death-stroke, is to him a caricature of Christ: cp. the ὡς ἐσφαγμένην of xiii. 8 with the same words as applied to the Lamb inv. 6. Till Rome was destroyed the reign of the Messiah on earth could not be established: its fall, however, was soon to be accomplished, though not before God had endeavoured by repeated revelations of his supernatural power to warn the world of its approaching fate, and both by words47  and deeds to urge mankind to repentance. He prepares them for the approaching annihilation by plagues —in this case three times seven—so that no one can plead the excuse of having fallen upon his fate unwarned.

For it is unquestionable that the writer wished, between chaps. iv. and xvii., to trace the course of the immediate future, of the ʽlast things,ʼ in chronological sequence, and along an uninterrupted, even line; the order of his narration (in other words, of his vision) is always also the order of fulfilment. This is, however, disputed by the supporters of the ʽrecapitulativeʼ interpretation—from Victorinus down to B. Weiss—who assert that the same periods and events are repeated throughout the Apocalypse, only in different garb, so that large sections of the book are to be understood as juxtaposed rather than consecutive.

Certainly it is undeniable that the advance from earlier to later events is often imperfect: the breaking of the sixth seal, for instance, in chap. vi., is followed by almost more appalling consequences than is the sounding of the first trumpet in chap. viii., or the pouring forth of the first bow] in chap. xvi., while the crisis in vi. 17—ʽfor the greatday of their wrath is comeʼ—--seems to be identical with that which follows the sounding of the sixth trumpet in x. 7, or that of xiv. 7; and xiv. 8 is also identical with xviii. 2. But from such occasional faults of composition we must not draw any too hasty conclusions. The writerʼs skill had its limits, and his imaginative material was sometimes too much for him. It would, however, be truly wonderful if this were not the case, for if the Apocalypse satisfied even the lowest claims of dramaturgic esthetics, it would stand alone among numerous examples of its class. Moreover, nothing is really parallel in the various parallel acts which have been constructed out of ʽit but the number of scenes and the effect (or ineffectiveness) of the plagues: when, for instance, at the second trumpet-blast48 a third part of the sea is turned to blood and a third part of the creatures in and upon the sea are destroyed, while at the pouring out of the second bowl49 the sea becomes blood and every living creature that was in it dies, the intention of gradation is surely unmistakable. Altogether, we should be obliged to credit the writer with a strange indifference towards the subject-matter of his visions, and to exaggerate the idea of their ʽfigurativenessʼ beyond all measure, if we assume that he is capable of describing identical events from the Last Days under different forms. Apart from the fact that he nowhere gives us any sign of an interruption in his ecstasy, and that the unprejudiced reader is compelled to recognise an unbroken succession of miraculous events, this hypothesis—which is excusable in Victorinus (about 800)—implies a complete misconception of the very nature of Apocalyptics. The apocalyptic writer would be incapable—in spite of his delight in mystery—of representing the same event under different images, simply because in his eyes it was not a question of images, but of realities; he might indeed put on the same level such things as seals, trumpets and bowls, though I prefer to think that there is a perfectly well-considered gradation even in these instruments, but he could not treat in the same way a victorious Parthian campaign, the burning of a third part of the earth and its trees, and the ʽnoisome and grievous soreʼ upon mankind.

The Apocalypse is, in fact, not a poem or an allegory; rather the figurative matter in it is intended to be taken very seriously. At any rate the writer was not conscious of the boundary line between the metaphorical and the actual, for the innumerable similes which he employs for purposes of illustration—e.g. ix. 5, ʽAnd their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a manʼ—surely do not sound as though he were using the language of unreality. The key of the pit of the abyss is no more ʽmerely figurativeʼ than the lake of fire and brimstone, in spite of the fact that in xxi. 8 this last is interpreted as the ʽsecond death;ʼ while in accordance with the spirit of the book, the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God do not cease to burn merely because the writer recognises in them the seven Spirits of God. Nor would the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet have any content left unless we looked upon the succeeding heptade as the unfolding of this content; while the conformity of vi. 17 with x. 7 and xiv. 7 is best explained by supposing that although after the breaking of six seals, the end of the world seemed to be at hand, Godʼs mercy tries new and sharper warnings, once and again, which the much-afflicted and already half-despairing saints must bear in patience. It was not merely love of romancing that induced the writer to give us so many different scenes from the transition period, before the longed-for catastrophe—(and still less may we, contrary to his intention, reduce their number by about a third through a process of compression) —but because he believed, saw, that is, knew for certain that the Kingdom of the Lamb on earth would not be established so suddenly as many wished it to be: that it had yet to be preceded by a soul-stirring tragedy of several acts and many scenes. The reproach that hope had been deceived, prophecies left unfulfilled, that the End had been often announced and had never appeared, could only be met—unless the ʽlast thingsʼ were to be postponed to an infinitely distant future, and the recent proclamation of them were to be disavowed—by constructing a scheme for these ʽlast thingsʼ of ample proportions, in which at various points catastrophe enters, but, as the reader learns, is an end, but not yet the end.

4. The Apocalypse undoubtedly springs from Jewish-Christian circles. The writer is not only so familiar with the Old Testament—and moreover with every part of it in equal degree—that his points of contact with it are almost incessant, but he lives in the very midst of all that apparatus of Apocalyptic ideas heaped together from later Judaism, from the Old Testament, but also from other sources, such as Babylono-Persian mythology and Greek poetry, and sometimes even prides himself upon interpreting it correctly for the first time.50 He speaks of the ʽGentilesʼ in the tone of the born Jew,51 and the fanatical colouring of his wrath against Rome, the new Babylon, is also specifically Jewish. He hails the Messiah as the ʽLion of the tribe of Judah,ʼ the ʽRoot of David,52 and with all his hatred against his unbelieving countrymen, the name ʽJewʼ remains in his eyes a title of honour. But he is still more fully betrayed by his language. He understands Hebrew (see, for instance, his translation of Balaam into Nicolaus in ii. 14 fol.),53 is familiar with the Old Testament in the original tongue or else in an Aramaic version, and his book is written throughout in the Jewish-Greek, a language which is not wanting in clearness, nor occasionally in a certain rhythm and force, but which in its barbarous violations of the rules of Greek grammar and syntax would only be explicable as coming from a man who did not use it as his mother tongue—whose thoughts ran in a Semitic groove. Certain portions, such as chap. xii., give us the impression of being translated almost literally from the Hebrew, and as no one would probably care nowadays to assert as much of the whole Apocalypse—of passages like i. 9-11, for instance, or of the seven Epistles—the fact that no difference of style is perceptible at any point is all the more remarkable. The text has certainly come down to us very much corrupted, but most of the variants owe their origin to the desire of later copyists to make the book more readable for the cultivated Greek. The Apocalypse will co-ordinate a participle and a finite verb by means of the definite article— e.g. ii. 20,54 ἡ λπγουσα αὐτὴν προφῆτιν καὶ διδάσκει . . ., and still more strongly in i. 4 and 8: ὁ ὢν καὶ ὀ ἦυ καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, a title which is treated as indeclinable, e.g. ἀπὸ ὁ ὤν. ete. Appositions in the nominative are made to every oblique case,55 and according to Hebrew custom the oblique forms of αὐτός are added pleonastically to participles and relatives.56 Phrases like ποιήσω αὐτοὺς ἵνα ἤξουσιν,57 the confusion of moods and tenses,58 or of genders,59 the use, or rather misuse, of prepositions,60 the total absence of the instrumental dative, the place of which is supplied by ἐν,61 and a construction which makes no attempt at the Greek form of period, and which can hardly accomplish dependent clauses except when introduced by ὅς or ὅτι:—these are all signs of a Semitic habit of writing.

But the question remains as to whether the Jewish Christianity of the Apocalypse has also a dogmatic significance, i.e. should be taken as anti-Pauline, as Judaistic. The Tübingen school, especially G. Volkmar, assert that Paul is attacked in the Apocalypse with burning hatred; that it is he to whom the ʽfirst apostlesʼ of ii. 8 refer, for whose rejection the Ephesians are so highly commended, and that the writerʼs mention in ii. 24 of those ʽwhich know not the deep things of Satanʼ is no less than an ironical citation of 1. Cor. ui. 10, turned against the followers of Paul. Well, the fact that the foundation-stones of the New Jerusalem are described in xxi. 14 as bearing the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb is certainly a proof that the writer did not take much notice of Paul, who according to 1. Cor.62 did not belong to the Twelve; but to ignore him in such a case, to place him below the Twelve Apostles, is not by any means the same thing as to brand him as Antichrist. The Apocalypse itself is entirely devoid of anti-Pauline polemics, and we are only justified in describing its Christianity as one not distinctly or consciously dependent on or influenced by Paul. The writer was no child, no disciple, of Paul, but still less a Judaist fanatically devoted to the Law. The preference given to Palestine, Jerusalem and the twelve tribes of Israel in his future Kingdom bears the proper Judaistic stamp so little that one might even credit the writer of Romans ix.—xi. with the same hopes. That Jewish Chauvinism which considered none but the seed of Abraham worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven and of eternal blessedness is entirely foreign to the Apocalypse: it declares unequivocally that salvation was intended for all men; Godʼs earthly communities are represented before His throne by 24 and not merely 12 Elders, and according to v. 9 the Lamb had purchased with his blood ʽmen of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation,ʼ with which the picture of vii. 9 fol.63 entirely agrees. And as, on the one hand, all nations are represented among the martyrs for the name of Christ—for the important point was not to be a Jew, but to have been inscribed in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world64ʼ—so on the other hand the Apocalypse expects nothing for the bearer of the name of Jew as such, and calls the unbelieving Jews in ii. 9 merely a (or the) ʽsynagogue of Satan.ʼ

But the freedom from legal bondage to which the Apocalypse bears witness is just as undeniable as its universalism; except for the prohibition to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication,65—which must remind every reader of the Apostolic Decree of Acts xv. 28 fol—the writer is unwilling to ʽcast any other burdenʼ66 upon his readers. In the Kingdom of the New Jerusalem there is no temple,67 and the word circumcision is not once mentioned throughout the book. That form of Antinomianism which chaps. ii. and iii. contend against, the writer of 1. Cor. would also have contended against to the death. It is true that the Apostle who wrote Philippians iii. 4-11 could never have expressed the undoubted right of a ʽremnantʼ of Israel to salvation in so mechanical a way as chap. vu. here expresses it— Galatians iii. 28 (ʽthere can be neither Jew nor Greekʼ) is certainly a more lofty point of view than Rev. 1. 9 or ii. 9. The peculiarities of the Pauline theology are, moreover, entirely lacking; by ʽfaithʼ the Apocalypse understands a steadfast, patient endurance, and it looks upon a manʼs works68—of which faith was certainly the loftiest—as the point on which his salvation depended. The relation between this Jewish idea and that of predestination remains uncertain; the writer would probably have thought of them as harmonised by the prescience of God.

The chief characteristic of the figure of Christ in the Apocalypse is that the Saviour is for the most part represented in the form of a Lamb (ἀρνίον), which had shed its blood and been slain, but had then, as the ʽfirstborn of the dead,ʼ69 entered upon the period of universal sway. Christʼs death, his present and especially his future glory, are religious facts of fundamental importance to the Apocalypse. But we learn nothing very definite concerning the necessity for and the significance of his death, and nothing whatever about his life on earth. Once, in a context that reminds us of Matt. xi. 27, the writer applies the name ʽWord of Godʼ70 to the crucified Heavenly King; in two passages it is uncertain whether the divine titles refer to the Father or to the Son; but the distinction between the two is at any rate to be strictly maintained, for in the very first verse the ʽRevelation of Jesus Christʼ is given to Christ by God, while in iii. 14 he is spoken of as part of the ʽcreation of God,ʼ even though as its beginning (ἀρχή). In ethical matters especially, the author of the Apocalypse has no more connection with Paul than every Christian of that time must have had; the idea of reward plays a great part in his mind, and he gives a particularly high value to the negative virtues; next to the martyrs, the ascetics form the highest class of believers, for we are told in xiv. 4 that ʽthey which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,ʼ his ʽfirstfruits,ʼ were virgins: that is, ʽan hundred and forty and four thousand that had been purchased out of the earth and were not defiled with women.ʼ And it is highly probable that a distinction corresponding to this attitude of mind is intended between the saints and those that feared the name of God, mentioned in xi. 18. Thus, then, in spite of many points of contact with the Pauline phraseology71— which hardly suffice to establish the idea that the writer had made a study of the Pauline literature—the Christianity of the Apocalypse can be called neither Pauline nor anti-Pauline; so far as any religious views or conceptions can be discovered in it outside the circle of eschatological ideas, they can be explained as the natural development—possibly influenced indirectly by the results of the Pauline mission to the Gentiles—of the primitive form in which the Gospel converted Jews into believers; the writer would have felt himself quite at home, for instance, in the Roman community of about the year 58.72

5. From the time of Justin73 onwards the Apocalypse was attested by the Church as the work of the Apostle John, i.e. John the son of Zebedee, and fifty years later it was known that the Apostle John had seen these visions when exiled, for the Gospelʼs sake, to the island of Patmos. But also about the year 200 A.D. a distinguished theologian, Caius, disputed the Apostolic origin of the Apocalypse, declaring it rather to be a worthless forgery by the heretic Cerinthus; and he found supporters in this view among the Christians of the East, even though only among certain learned individuals. The ʽAlogiʼ of Asia Minor maintained a similar view, and in the school of Alexandria we find that from about the year 260 onwards the writer was held to be, not the Apostle John, but another celebrated John of Ephesus. If we add to this that the Emperor who banished him is generally mentioned as Domitian, but sometimes also as Claudius, Nero or Trajan, while some writers avoid giving any name at all, and that the place from which he was banished is Rome, according to some, and Ephesus, according to others, it will be seen that it is not possible to plead a uniform and trustworthy tradition. Even though the arguments of Caius against the Apostolic origin of the Apocalypse, prompted as they are by dogmatic motives, need impress us little, the equally prejudiced arguments of Churchmen on the other side must also be disregarded; the ʽtraditionʼ had in fact derived, or rather deduced, all its own knowledge about the book from the book itself, combining it with a little outside ʽknowledgeʼ as well; so that we must set aside all this pseudo-evidence and go to the only fountain-head, the book itself, for its own testimony.

The writer speaks of himself as John,74 as Christʼs servant,75¯ and as a ʽbrother and partaker with his readers ʽin the tribulation and kingdom,ʼ76 and according toi. 4 these readers were the seven communities of the province of Asia. Hence we must assume that he was an Asiatic Christian, which was already probable from the fact that he took a particular interest in the seven churches of Asia,77 and had an accurate knowledge of their circumstances. That he had only migrated thither from Palestine as an old man may possibly be gathered from his style, but the hypothesis is not necessary, for the language in which he writes and the attachment which he shows to the Holy Land would be very natural even in a Jew of the Dispersion, who had had a strictly Jewish education and training. The name John was a common one among Jews: we hear of a Christian of the name, John Mark, in the New Testament78 as well as of the son of Zebedee; we know from other sources that in the Ephesian community at least the Jewish Christian element was strongly represented, and what right have we to assume that the writer of the Apocalypse was necessarily the most famous man of his name? Or will anyone seriously assert the Apostleʼs authorship on the ground that he was surnamed by Jesus, according to Mark iii. 17, ʽSon of thunder,ʼ and that this name seems especially to fit the Apocalyptic writer?—as though a temperament of that sort were of such rare occurrence in those times! If the ʽLordʼs dayʼ of verse i. 10 is part of the figurative setting, the same may be said of the alleged scene of the visions, the island of Patmos79; and moreover the writer says nothing of any banishment, while the ʽword of God and the testimony of Jesusʼ for which he went to Patmos might easily refer to the contents of the book itself,80 to receive which he had betaken himself to the lonely island. It might seem natural then, if so many of the writerʼs statements concerning his experiences—his ecstasy, his seeing and hearing, and his conversations with the angel—are to be regarded as apocalyptic form, to make no distinctions, and to look upon the name of the writer too as imaginary. In that case a great man must have been meant, the only man, in fact, of whom an Asiatic Christian could have thought in reading the bare name ʽJohnʼ; and, supposing the Apostle John had ever been known in Asia Minor, then this Apostle may well be understood. But. the book is equally devoid of indications either that the writer wished to be taken for, or that he actually was, the Apostle. Not a syllable points to the Apostleship of this John; even when Jesus speaks to him there is no mention of their former intercourse, and in xxi. 14 the writer speaks of the ʽtwelve Apostles of the Lambʼ certainly not in the tone of one who belonged to their number or could possibly belong to it. Nor may we bring forward the argument that he addresses his readers in the tone of one conscious of possessing the highest authority. However high an opinion he has of his book,81 it is not because of his own high position in the Church, but because his prophecy is genuine, his words ʽfaithful and true. He demands his hearing as a Prophet82 who had been found worthy to receive the revelations of Jesus Christ through his angel, and he does not set up any other claim: it is not he, for instance, but the Son of Man, who criticises the seven churches. Now the Prophet regards himself as only the accidental vessel in which a heavenly wisdom is offered to the faithful; the withdrawal of the person and of everything personal into the background, which in a real letter is impossible, is here demanded by the exigencies of the literary genre, and we cannot, therefore, be careful enough in drawing our conclusions, especially those e silentio. But so long as it is not proved that every Apocalypse must of necessity be pseudonymous,—and such an assertion is preliminarily refuted by the ʽShepherdʼ of Hermas,—we have no right to make the arbitrary assumption that our Apocalypse was written under a false name. It alone, without the existence of the tradition, would never suggest the idea that its writer was one of the Twelve Apostles, or a patriarchal Head-Pastor of Asia, or in fact more than a Prophet, who, at the time when his book was first circulated, had already been working long and fruitfully among the Asiatic communities.

6. The writer of the Apocalypse, in fact, does not become mysterious until we begin to examine the curious relation borne by his book to the rest of the ʽJohannineʼ writings—a relation which presents the most marked divergencies on the one hand, and on the other certain indisputable signs of connection. The divergencies are now almost universally recognised, in spite of the tradition, which would not hear of any but Apostolic writers within the limits of the New Testament. ʽThe writer of the Apocalypse wrote neither the Gospel nor either of the Epistles, nor is his indebtedness to them discoverable in any part of the Apocalypse. As it was generally felt even by the instinct of those early times, seer and evangelist differed from one another absolutely in vocabulary, style, ideas and point of view. ʽJerusalem,ʼ for instance, is always spelt by the Gospel Ἱεροσόλυμα, by the Apocalypse Ἱερουσαλήμ; the Gospel is free from the rude Semiticisms of the Apocalypse, which on its side reminds us nowhere of the quite peculiar style of John; the antitheses between light and darkness, God and the world, love and hate do not appear at all in the Apocalypse, and the latter never speaks of ʽabiding inʼ anything, still less of being ʽborn of God,ʼ ʽof the Spirit,ʼ or of ʽbeing of God.ʼ The Apocalypse speaks of Jesus as a Lamb innumerable times, but merely makes use of the word ἀρνίον for it without any addition, while the Gospel has ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ.

Finally, the theological attitude of the Gospel is almost diametrically opposed to that of the Apocalypse. For the latter, the Jew who is worthy of the name is the faithful Christian,83 whereas for the former the word Jew is merely a shameful epithet branding the nation which had shed the blood of Christ; the eschatological hopes to which the soul of the seer clings with passionate longing retire so far into the background in the Gospel that one might almost doubt their existence, and the visions of the future with their highly sensual colouring would hardly have been approved of by the Evangelist, with his tendency towards spiritualising all things. Nor should we fail to observe the fact that in the Apocalypse the writer names himself without any circumlocution, while in the other Johannine writings this is partially avoided in various ways. The professional apologist of course finds it possible to explain away all these difficulties as though they were mere childʼs play: the Apostle John had undergone considerable development, he urges, and had taken less pains, besides, to write correct Greek in the Apocalypse than to give a true rendering of what he saw (a melancholy theory, as though truth had seemed less necessary to him in writing the Gospel!): but, nevertheless, it is one of the most assured results of New Testament criticism that not another line from the hand of the writer of the Apocalypse has been preserved to us in the New Testament, least of all in the Gospel of John; for if the Apocalypse is the most Jewish book of the New Testament, the Fourth Gospel is certainly the most anti-Jewish, the most opposed to the whole circle of Jewish interests and ideas, the furthest removed from the Jewish atmosphere.

At the present day, however, the need is rather to emphasise the opposite fact, that of the signs of relationship between the Apocalypse, and the Gospel and Epistles of John. Bousset84 has collected a body of material which proves that such a connection exists even in minor peculiarities of language; favourite Johannine phrases like μαρτυρία and μαρτυρεῖν are also of frequent occurrence in the Apocalypse— though with the addition of the words μαρτύριον and μάρτυς, which are again unknown to the Gospel; and the Johannine similes of the water of life, the vine, the shepherd, and the bride, are all to be found in the Apocalypse, though always with certain peculiar differences of meaning or of expression; ὄψις occurs throughout the New Testament only in the Fourth Gospel85 and the Apocalypse,86 σφάζειν only in the latter and the First Epistle of John.87 Christ is extolled as having ʽovercome the worldʼ only in the Gospe88 and the Apocalypse; the victory of the Christian in like manner only in the Apocalypse and the First Epistle. The words ʽher childrenʼ and ʽthis teachingʼ in Rev. ii. 23 and 24 remind us of 2. John 4 and 10, while the expression which occurs so frequently in the Apocalypse,89 to ʽkeep the wordʼ or the ʽcommandmentʼ of Jesus or God, has numerous exact parallels only in the Gospel and the First Epistle. The name ʽWord of Godʼ as applied to Jesus in Rev. xix. 1390 is probably not synonymous with the Logos idea implied in the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel, but the phrase ʽas I also have received of my Fatherʼ in Rev. ii. 27 is the very language used by the Johannine Christ in John x. 18, and it is only in these two books, again, that the Saviour is spoken of as a Lamb. These points of detail, however, are not sufficient to assist us in determining the author of the Apocalypse, nor when we weigh them carefully can they be said to favour the assumption that either of the parties concerned was under literary obligations to the other; they are perhaps best explained on the supposition that Gospel, Epistles and Apocalypse grew up on the same soil, in a church in which a peculiar religious language and world of ideas had established themselves at the time, but without injury to freedom in other respects. But it is only in dealing with the Gospel that we shall be able to turn this suggestion to account; here we cannot go beyond the result already attained, that according to the self-testimony of the Apocalypse, its author was a teacher of Asia Minor named John.

7. Now, when did this John produce his book? No conclusions can safely be drawn from the names of the communities, for the fact that the greater number of them are not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament does not prove that they might not have been founded, in the same way as Colossz and Laodicea, as early as the time of Paul. A relatively late assignment is rather favoured by the fact that the memory of Paul seems to have died away in these communities; but was it really imperative that Jesus should remind the Ephesians of the man who had won them to his name, and. even, perhaps, quote a fragment of Paulʼs Epistle to the Laodiceans, in the letter addressed to that community? That it is impossible to prove any employment of the Pauline Epistles we have already pointed out;91 but the parallels between the Apocalypse and the eschatological discourses in the Synoptic Gospels are more remarkable, although we cannot assert any actual dependence on one side or the other; and beside Mark xiii. 2, Rev. xi. 1 fol. even makes the more primitive impression. But one point dʼappui does remain to us in our efforts towards an assignment: in the Apocalypse Rome is reckoned as the deadly enemy of the new faith: she is drunken with the blood of the martyrs; a Pergamenian Christian is mentioned by name who had sealed his faith with his death, and not he alone, but many others; in the writerʼs eyes, in fact, the Church has definitely become a Church of Martyrs.92 Now, such a tone is not to be explained solely on the ground of the Neronian horrors of the year 64, and of the occasional persecutions on the part of ʽthose set in authority,ʼ to which even the Christians of Paulʼs time had been exposed in Asia Minor. In the martyrs not only cry to Godʽ How long dost thou leave our blood unavenged?ʼ but they are consoled with the answer that ʽtheir fellow-servants and their brethren which should be killed even as they wereʼ must first have fulfilled their course. The Church was thus prepared for systematic persecution until the end of the world; perhaps at the moment when the Apocalypse was written a fresh outburst of persecuting fury was seen to be imminent. But such alarms would have been mere extravagance before the last years of Domitian (81-96), and therefore the time between 95 and 100 is probably the earliest at which we can possibly place the book. And this assignment is rendered still more acceptable by the picture given in the Apocalypse of the condition of the Christian communities. Ephesus had forsaken its ʽfirst loveʼ93; Sardes was all but dead, and only possessed ʽa few names which did not defile their garments,ʼ94¯ while in Laodicea spiritual life had become wholly dead. And it was not only a question of the unconscious dropping of the old enthusiasm, of a growing secularisation; heretics, too, had made their way into the churches—Balaamites and Nicolaitans (and the prophetess Jezebel?)—who actually taught Antinomianism and Libertinism.95 Who, then, should these false teachers be, if not those Gnostics whom we have already seen attacked in 1. John, Jude and 2. Peter, especially as they boast of a knowledge that reaches down to the ʽdeep things of Satanʼ96?

These indications in favour of an assignment of the Apocalypse to the year 100 or thereabouts, are counterbalanced by others which point towards the time before the year 70. Most of the arguments brought forward in this case, however, are of no value, owing to their being based upon a false exegesis. Those who, placing all their confidence in the method of interpreting the Apocalypse by the light of contemporary events, searched the history of the first century for a Parthian invasion, a Roman punitive expedition against a rebellious province, an earthquake, a plague of locusts or a famine, certainly made all sorts of discoveries; but their labour was unfortunately wasted, because the writer does not record these plagues as having already come to pass, but announces them as belonging to the future. No more is to be deduced from his prophecies than that he himself knew of such calamities, either from his own experience, or else from reading or from popular belief. Rev. xii. 6 has, however, been cited as favouring an assignment to the year 69; the woman who escapes to the desert for three and a half years after the birth of her son is supposed to represent the Christian community of Jerusalem, which withdrew to Pella beyond Jordan at the beginning of the Jewish war. But the writer is here dealing with events in Heaven97; it is not likely that he would have looked upon the community of Jerusalem as the Mother of Christ, and no calculations can be based upon the number three and and a half, which belongs to the Apocalyptic stock-in-trade. Since, in fact, Gunkel made his thorough and, it is to be hoped, lasting exposure of the errors of this exegetic method, it has rather seemed as if we may no longer expect to find any reference in the strictly Apocalyptic parts of the book to the writerʼs own time or to that which had preceded it. Yet this is not so. Like all Apocalyptic writers, he occasionally finds himself in a position to connect the future with the past, by the statement and justification of a chronological scheme, and if, again, he rejects as impossible an event belonging to the future, we may be certain that he himself had not witnessed its occurrence. This last case is exemplified in chap. xi., the former in chaps. xill. and xvii. In xi. 1 the seer is bidden to measure the temple of God, but not the outer court, because this had been given to the Gentiles, who should tread the holy city under foot for forty and two months. The ʽforty and two monthsʼ must be taken with all reserve, but it is nevertheless indisputable that such a sentence must have been written before the destruction of the Temple in August of the year 70, and it is also more than probable that it was written when the worst fears were entertained for the fate of the rest of the city—that is, during the siege.

It is quite clear, again, that the sea-beast of chap. xiii. is meant to represent the Roman Empire, and its seven heads upon which were ʽnames of blasphemy,ʼ seven emperors, who had arrogated to themselves that name which belonged to God alone—Augustus, i.e. Σεβαστός,—and also other titles, such as σωτήρ (Saviour), which robbed Him of the honour due to none but Himself. Now, since Domitian would, reckoning from Octavius Augustus, be the eleventh emperor—or if we omitted the three short reigns of Galba, Otho and Vitellius (68-69), still the eighth—this passage about the seven heads could not have been written as late as the time of Domitian (81-96), but only at a time when the fall of the world-empire might be hoped for immediately after the reign of a seventh Emperor. One of these heads had, according to xiii. 3, been ʽsmitten unto death,ʼ but the death-stroke was healed, and the respect of the world for the beast only increased: to whom, then, should this refer but Nero, who died in the summer of 68, but who, according to the popular fancy, still lived on, so that a series of Nerones redivivi made their appearance and sought to snatch the imperial power? Now in xiii. 18, the number of the beast—that is to say, probably that of the head which was healed, since it was also the ʽnumber of a manʼ— is given as six hundred and sixty and six, which, according to the value of the letters in Hebrew, has been interpreted by four German scholars of our own time, working independently, as ʽNero Cesar.ʼ It is true that the calculation is not absolutely free from doubt, for it would be false if the variant of Irenaeus, ʽsix hundred and sixteen,ʼ were the true reading, and altogether

would perhaps seem more plausible, considering this reference to Nero redivivus, to hold with Mommsen that the Apocalypse belongs to the end of the reign of Vespasian (69-79), since it was then that the first pseudo-Nero made his appearance in the East. But at what date such rumours might have arisen among the people, especially in Asia, we do not know. In chap. xvii. the writer returns once more to the beast, who is now carrying the harlot Babylon (i.e. Rome); and here in vv. 9 fol. he does give us a sort of clue. We are told that the seven heads ʽare seven kingsʼ (i.e. Emperors), ʽthe five are fallen, the one isʼ (i.e. the sixth), ʽthe otherʼ (the seventh) ʽis not yet come, and when he cometh, he must continue a little while. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition.ʼ According to this, then, the author wrote during the reign of the sixth Roman Emperor, i.e. of Galba (68-69), or, more probably, since Galba would not have been heard of much in the East, of Vespasian, whose son and successor, Titus (79-81), would, as the writer thought, have but a brief reign, reckoned apocalyptically, and then live to see the fall of the Roman Empire. But no; verse 11 tells us that an eighth was yet to come, who, in conjunction with all the kings of the earth (ten in number), should ʽwar against the Lamb,ʼ but should be destroyed; now, since this is at the same time one of the seven, it can only refer to a re-vivified Nero, whose speedy re-appearance was so generally expected. The words ʽthe sixth king isʼ98 absolutely prohibit that assignment of the Apocalypse to the time of Domitian which seemed just now so probable; although verse 11 by itself might have been written under Domitian if the author had meant to represent him as a second Nero. Here, then, we are confronted by the following problem: while the greater part of the Apocalypse affords no data for determining the date of its composition, certain indications in chaps. xi. xii. xiii. and xvii. oblige us to assume that it was written in the period between the death of Nero and the destruction of Jerusalem, while others again, especially in chaps. ii. iii. and vi., seem to point equally distinctly to a time at least twenty-five years later.

8. We cannot hope to master these difficulties as long as we regard the Apocalypse as a perfectly independent work created by a single author. The contradictory indications of date demand the supposition that there exist within the book different elements, which were not brought into connection until a later time. Thus, when D. Völter, at the instigation of Prof. Weizsicker, was the first to attempt, in 1882, a reduction of the Apocalypse into a number of smaller Christian Apocalypses or fragments of such writings, criticism made a great step in advance; and a further step was taken when, in 1886, E. Vischer formally recognised the Jewish origin of the groundwork of the Apocalypse, and sought to interpret it as the expanded translation made by a Christian of the next generation, of the Aramaic original of some Jewish writer. Unfortunately, new difficulties here arose, for Völter himself did his best to shake our faith in his theories by his restless love of throwing out ever newer and more artificial plans of the process of development which the Apocalypse was supposed to have undergone. For the last two decades, German,99 Dutch100 and French101 scholars have vied with one another in their efforts to solve all the riddles of the Apocalypse by the combination and emendation of those two fundamental hypotheses; the supposed sources of the Apocalypse become more and more numerous— some are Jewish, some Christian, and some to be traced to copyists and interpolators—but at present the only result of this activity has been that the uninitiated receive the impression that nothing is certain and nothing impossible in the field of New Testament research.

Even apart from the contradictory indications of date, however, we are compelled to recognise the kernel of truth in all these hypotheses by the incongruity existing between certain parts of the Apocalypse and the main scheme, or even between them and their own immediate contexts. All runs smoothly as far as vi. 17, but then, before the seventh seal is opened in vii. 1, chapter vii. is unexpectedly thrust before our eyes, containing a description of the sealing of 144,000 Israelites, and introducing us to an innumerable host of the faithful servants of the Lamb, who stand before the throne singing praises to God. The second half of the chapter (vv. 9-17) is of course the complement to the first half, felt to be necessary from the standpoint of Christian universalism, but it is the first half itself (vv. 1-8) which appears to be an interpolated fragment. The four winds which are held back for a moment only by four angels (vv. 1-3) are afterwards forgotten, nor is there any reference further on to the 144,000 servants of God sealed from the twelve tribes of Israel, for no one could identify them with the faithful of 9 fol., because these are removed far beyond the power of the winds. In xiv. 1-5, the 144,000 souls who stand beside the Lamb on Mount Zion are defined as the ʽvirginsʼ purchased out of the earth, most certainly in reference to vii. 1-8 and 9-17. But here it is obviously a question of later adaptation; the sealed ones of vii. 3 are not a group of elect Christians, but Godʼs servants in general; they stand in no relation whatever to the Lamb (but, on the other hand, cf. vv. 9, 10, 14, 17, and xiv. 4); and the list of the twelve tribes in vii. 5-8 would be pointless from the mouth of a Christian who saluted the community of Christʼs servants as the Twelve Tribes of the Dispersion.102 Nor was the writer of the Apocalypse the man to create himself artificial difficulties; in vii. 1-8 he simply adapted a fragment of a Jewish Apocalypse, to which he had been drawn by the idea of the sealing of the 144,000, and then in two succeeding passages103¯ he partly neutralised it, and partly explained it from a Christian point of view. The incongruity of the opening was forgotten in the attraction exercised by the main scene.

Again, vv. x. 1-xi. 13 make a most unexpected interruption in the drama of the seventh trumpet; chap. x. is a prelude to the strange events of xi. 1-18, the scene of which, as well as the part played by the two martyr prophets, remains full of mystery. The contrast between the interest, worthy of a Jewish zealot, displayed in vv. 1 and 3 in temple, altar and worshippers, and the wrath of the Christian in verse 8 against the great city ʽwhere their Lord was crucified,ʼ which ʽspiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,ʼ is the greatest conceivable, while in vv. 9 and 10, again, it is not unbelieving Israel, but the dwellers on the earth, who make merry over the murder of the prophets, nor is the murderer Judah, but the ʽbeast that cometh up out of the abyss.ʼ The inconsistencies of this passage, in fact, are only to be explained on the supposition that the writer was following an authority which he partly reproduced, and partly emended. Here again we may look upon it as certain that its sources were Jewish and its original language Hebrew or Aramaic, while the anti-Jewish colouring was supplied by the writer of vv. ii. 9 and iii. 9.

In the more than singular allegory of chap. xii., again, the repetition of verse 6 in vv. 18 and 14 shows that his material was more than the writer could manage, and in any case these ideas, which he has so much difficulty in twisting intoa Christian shape, were certainly not of genuine Christian origin. All becomes clear, however, if we look upon the passage as the prophecy of one of those Pharisees who saved themselves from the Roman armies by flying from Jerusalem during the Jewish War, between 66 and 69. Most of it, moreover, can be retranslated into Hebrew without any difficulty. Lastly, if we compare chap. xiii. with xvii., we are struck both by the latterʼs repetitions and discrepancies, and in like manner by those of chap. xviii., which can scarcely be separated from xvii. Can xviii. 24 be from the same pen as xi. 8b? And xxii. 3-5 only repeats in different words what had been said in xxi. 22-26. Instances of this sort are bound to shake our confidence in the homogeneity of the Apocalypse, while the analogy of numerous other writings of this class naturally suggests the idea that here, too, the incongruous elements are the result of revision, interpolation, and passage through different hands. Nor is the motive for such alterations (which the Apocalypse feared for itself, and with good reason104) far to seek; certain parts would grow antiquated and be belied by events, and these would then be set aside or else brought up to date by glosses and interpolations. Nevertheless, the uniformity of the book in language, style and tone must not be forgotten, and especially the fact that the general plan—introduction, seven epistles, three cycles of seven visions, Kingdom of the Messiah on earth, end of the world, New Jerusalem, and finally the literary conclusion—is perfectly straightforward. What we have before us is no wretched compilation, but a firmly welded edifice; the architect of this whole is for us a living personality, and his style, with its efforts after the loftiest heights, is characteristic of the whole building; certain barocco additions are indeed worked in, yet it is never possible to detach them so easily from their context but that part of the surrounding building shares their fall. Thus the different hypotheses of interpolation, revision and compilation are disposed of, and it is only the seerʼs authorities that we have to investigate. And, since in those parts which are certainly from the authorʼs own pen nothing points to a time before 70 A.D., we shall not regard the Apocalypse as a production of the year 69, into which all kinds of later material have been interpolated, but rather as the work of a Christian of about the year 95, who in many places inserted older Apocalyptic fragments, more or less adequately harmonised with the context.

Whether these older fragments belonged to one or more Apocalypses, and whether they are directly or merely indirectly of Jewish origin, will perhaps never be determined with absolute certainty: the latter especially, because in the matter of eschatological beliefs the Christian growth is so closely entwined with the Jewish parent stem—except where faith in Jesus is directly concerned—that the two are indistinguishable. It is true that large tracts of the Apocalypse breathe the Jewish spirit, reflect Jewish hopes, Jewish longings for revenge, and Jewish ideas; but might not a Christian have brought such feelings with him from his own Jewish past? As to the question of the number of sources, and still more that of their reconstruction, it is the part of sober criticism to forego any attempt to answer it in the case of the Apocalypse; the writer has made use of his older material in far too arbitrary a way for that,—sometimes completely remoulding it, sometimes adapting it to his own use by insertions, transpositions or omissions; nor should it be forgotten that he is borrowing from the property of others, even when, without any actual document before him, he is yet making use of earlier Apocalyptic material. The duty of tracing these materials, from the point of view of religious history, far back to their possibly distant sources, has been demonstrated most powerfully by Gunkel, who has at the same time applied sharp and salutary criticism both to certain prevailing methods of literary judgment and to the school of interpretation by means of contemporary history; but apart from his own superstitious belief in the one method extra quam nulla salus, he shares with his adversaries the prejudice of regarding the writer of the Apocalypse as a corpus vile which takes the food offered it and must assimilate it well or ill. On the contrary, the Seer is far too independent to warrant us in hunting out a tradition behind everything he says; where, indeed, as in chaps. xiii. and xvii., or xi. and xli., he cannot work out his allegory, or can only do so with the help of artificial or violent expedients, then we may be sure he is resting on tradition, oral or written; but, for the rest, is it not possible that an Apocalyptic writer may have shown some fragments of the gift of invention? And are not certain eccentricities of form and matter—σκάνδαλα—imposed upon an Apocalypse by its very genre? Those, then, who think themselves justified merely on the ground of some irregularity, some contradiction or repetition, in explaining it by a theory of interpolation, mistake the true character of the book, which in its fantastic imagery, spun out to great elaboration, and yet flowing from no fresh or original inspiration, could not possibly observe either regularity or symmetry of style. To pretend to have found an answer to every question raised by the Apocalypse is the very opposite of science.



1) Chap. v.

2) vi. 1-8,

3) vi, 9-11,

4) vi. 12-17.

5) vii 18.

6) vii. 9-17.

7) viii. 1.

8) viii, 6-12.

9) Verse 13.

10) ix. 1-12.

11) ix. 13-21,

12) x. 7.

13) xi. 1-13.

14) xi, 15-19.

15) xiv. 1-5.

16) xiv. 6 and 7.

17) xiv. 8.

18) Vv. 9-13.

19) Vv. 14-20.

20) Ch. xv.

21) Ch. xvi.

22) xvii-xix. 10.

23) xix. 1-21.

24) xx. 1-6;

25) xx. 7-15.

26) xxi. 1-xxii. 5.

27) xxii. 6-21.

28) E.g., xi. 2, xiii. 2-5, xvii. 9 fol.

29) i, 20, x. 7, xvii. 5 and 7.

30) xiii. 18, xvii. 9.

31) xxii. 9 and 18, i. 3.

32) i, 8, xxii. 9 and 18 fol.

33) xx. 1-6.

34) E.g., ii. 10c, iii. 11 and 19-21, xii. 11, xiv. 13 and xxi. 4.

35) iv. 1.

36) Chaps. x and xi.

37) iv. 9 fol., ix. 6. Note, e.g., the change in tense between xi. 2-10 and the three following verses.

38) i.15.

39) iv. 8

40) i.16.

41) v. 6.

42) f, xi. 8.

43) Ch. ii. fol.

44) Ch. ii.

45) Chaps. xviii. and xix.

46) xiii. 1, 5 fol., 8, 12-17.

47) Ch. xi.

48) viii. 8.

49) xvi. 3.

50) E.g., Zach. iv. in xi. 4; Ezek. xxxviii. fol. in xx. 8; the myths of the fight with the dragon and of the seven-headed beast in Chaps. xii., xiii. and xvii.

51) xi, 2, xx. 3 and 8.


53) iii, 14, ʽthe Amen,ʼ ix. 11, xvi. 16.

54) Also i. 5 and ii. 9.

55) E.g., i. 5, ii. 13 and 20, iii. 12, ix. 14, xx. 2.

56) E.g., ii. 7, τῷ νικῶντι δύσω αὐτῷ, and iii. 8, ἣν οὐδεὶς δύναται κλεῖσαι αὐτήν,

57) iii. 9.

58) E.g., iii. 9: ἵνα προσκννήυονσιν καὶ γνῶσιν.

59) E.g., iv.1,ἡ φωνὴ . . . λέγων, iv. 8, ζῶα ἓν καθ’ ἓν αὐτῶν ἔχων.

60) E.g., ἐπί with καθῆσθαι, used with all cases indiscriminately; and ἐκ or ἀπό with the Passive instead of ὑπό.

61) E.g., xiii. 8, ἐν μαχαίρῃ ἀποκτείνειν.

62) xv. 5.

63) Cf. xxi. 24 fol., xxii. 2.

64) iii. 5, xii. 8, xvii. 8, xx. 12 and 15, xxi. 27.

65) ii. 14 and 20.

66) ii. 24.

67) xxi. 22.

68) From ii. 2 to xxii. 12.

69) i. 5.

70) xix. 13.

71) 1 Cor. xv. 20; Col. i. 15 and 18; 2 Cor. v. 17,

72) See § 8, par. 5.

73) About 150 A.D.

74) i. 1,4,9, xxii. 2.

75) i. 1.

76) i. 9.

77) i. 4.

78) Acts xii. 12 etc.

79) i. 9.

80) i. 2.

81) xxii. 18 fol.

82) xxii. 6.

83) ii. 9, iii. 9.

84) Meyer, vol. xvi. pp. 206-8.

85) xi. 44, vii. 24.

86) i, 16.

87) iii, 12.

88) xvi. 33.

89) iii. 8, 10, xii. 17, xiv. 12 etc.

90) See p. 276.

91) P. 276.

92) ii. 13.

93) ii. 4.

94) iii,1-4. Cf. Jude 23.

95) ii. 14 fol. and 24.

96) ii. 24,

97) xii. 1, 4, 7.

98) xvii. 10.

99) E.g., F. Spitta and K. Erbes.

100) E.g., T. G. Weyland.

101) E.g., A. Sabatier and H. Schoen.

102) Cf. xxi. 12.

103) vii. 9 fol. and xiv. 1 fol.

104) xxii. 18 fol.