By George Salmon
THE JOHANNINE BOOKS,
THE FOURTH GOSPEL AND THE APOCALYPSE.
I come now to discuss the objection that is most relied on,, and to which I have already referred, that the Apocalypse and the fourth Gospel are so different in style and character that it is impossible to believe they can have been written by the same person; and that since John the Apostle wrote the Apocalypse he could not have written the Gospel. This argument is borrowed from Dionysius of Alexandria, who lived in the third century, and who made the converse use of it, namely, that as John wrote the Gospel he could not have written the Apocalypse. And certainly, if we had to assign to the Apostle but one of the two, and were only guided by external evidence, we should have more reason to assign him the Gospel. The only point of advantage for the Apocalypse is that Justin Martyr happens to name the Apostle John as its author, while he uses the Gospel without mention of the Evangelist's name. On the other hand, the proof of early acknowledgment, by heretics as well as by orthodox, is rather stronger for the Gospel (see p. 58); and the reception of the Gospel in the Church was unanimous, which is more than we can say for the Apocalypse.
However, in either case, the external evidence is amply sufficient. For the Apocalypse, in addition to Justin, I could quote Papias and quite a long list of second-century witnesses to its recognition in the Church (see Westcott, N. T. Canon, Index, p. 587). I content myself with appealing to Irenaeus, whose testimony to the four Gospels has been already produced (p. 37). He is equally strong in his witness to the Apocalypse. A remarkable passage is one (v. 30) in which he discusses whether the true reading of the number of the Beast is 666 or 616, both readings being found in MSS. of his time, as they are still.1 Irenaeus declares that the reading 666 is that of the best and oldest copies, and is attested by those who had seen John face to face. We cannot but be struck by this mention of a traditional knowledge of the prophecy concurrent with the evidence of the written copies. The estimation in which Irenaeus held the book is evidenced by the sense he expresses of the guilt and penalty incurred by those who substituted the erroneous number for the true, though he trusts that those may obtain pardon whose adoption of the error was not wilful. The denunciation (Rev. xxii. 1 8, 19) had previously been clearly referred to by Dionysius of Corinth (Euseb. iv. 23). Irenaeus gives examples of Greek names the arithmetical value of the sum of whose letters amounts to 666 (εὐανθάς, λατεῖνος, τειτάν), but he does not venture to express a confident decision in favour of any solution; because he looks on the Apostle as having designedly left the matter obscure, since if he had wished the name to be known at the time he would have spoken plainly. And whatever reasons there were for hiding the name at the first must still exist in the time of Irenaeus. For it was not long ago that the vision was seen, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian. I shall presently return to speak of the statement here made as to the date of the book. The Muratorian Fragment twice refers to the Apocalypse. In speaking of Paul's Epistles the writer says that Paul had written letters to seven Churches, following the order of his predecessor John, who in the Apocalypse had written to seven Churches. Further on he says: We receive only the Revelations of John and of Peter, the latter of which some of us will not have read in the Church. Of this Apocalypse of Peter I must take another opportunity to speak.
We may assume, then, that in the time of Irenaeus the Apocalypse was commonly received, and that on it were founded the expectations that generally prevailed of a personal reign of our Lord on earth for a thousand years. But these expectations soon assumed a very gross and carnal character. I will quote the tradition which Irenaeus (v. 33) cites from Papias, a tradition which consoles us for the loss we have sustained of the work in which Papias collected unwritten records of the Saviour's teaching, and which probably was one of the causes which moved Eusebius (iii. 39) to pronounce Papias a man of weak understanding. The elders who saw John, the disciple of our Lord, remembered to have heard from him that our Lord taught and said: The days shall come in which vines shall grow, each having 10,000 shoots, and on each shoot 10,000 branches, and on each branch 10,000 twigs, and on each twig 10,000 clusters, and on each cluster 10,000 grapes; and each grape when pressed shall yield 25 measures of wine; and when any of the saints shall have taken hold of one of these clusters another shall say: I am a better cluster; take me and bless the Lord through me. Likewise, also, a grain of wheat shall produce 10,000 ears, and every ear 10,000 grains, and every grain ten pounds of pure white meal, and the other fruits, seeds, and vegetables in like manner. And all the animals using the food thus yielded by the earth shall be peaceful and agree together, and be subject to man with all subjection.... And He added: These things are credible to believers. And when Judas the traitor did not believe, and asked Him, How shall such growth be accomplished? the Lord said: They shall see who come to those times.2
This is a specimen of the kind of notions which were current under the name of Chiliasm; and spiritual men were shocked at seeing their Christian brethren looking forward to a kind of Mahometan paradise, the chief enjoyment of which was to consist of the pleasures of sense, not excluding those of the grossest kind. Hence arose a strong reaction against Millennarian ideas, and hence also a disposition to reject the inspiration of the book on which the Millennarians mainly relied. In the beginning of the third century Caius, of whom I spoke in a former lecture, ascribed the book to the heretic Cerinthus. The proof of this had not been complete, but the matter has lately been put beyond doubt.
Dionysius of Alexandria, whose criticism on the Book of Revelation I am about to quote presently, begins it by saying that some of his predecessors had utterly rejected this book, criticizing every chapter, pronouncing it to be unintelligible and inconsistent, and declaring that the title, Revelation of John was doubly false. For they said that a book so obscure did not deserve to be called a revelation, and that the author, far from being an Apostle, was not even a member of the Church, but was Cerinthus, the founder of the Cerinthian heresy: whose doctrine was that the kingdom of Christ should be earthly. For being a carnal and sensual man, he dreamed that its enjoyments would consist in those grosser bodily pleasures which he himself coveted, and, for a decorous cover to these, feastings and sacrifices, and slaughters of victims (Euseb. H, E. vii. 25). Scholars had combined this statement of Dionysius with an extract given by Eusebius (H. E. iii. 28), from the dialogue of Caius against the Montanists. In this passage, Caius rejects a book of revelations purporting to have been written by a great apostle, and containing an account of miraculous communications made to him by angels. Caius ascribes the real authorship of the book to Cerinthus, and states that these spurious revelations taught that after the Resurrection the kingdom of Christ should be earthly; that the flesh of the risen saints should again be enslaved to lusts and pleasures; that they should inhabit Jerusalem, and should spend a thousand years in marriage festivities.
Some critics inferred from coincidences of expression that Caius was the writer referred to by Dionysius; but it was urged, on the other hand, that Eusebius gives no hint that Caius was speaking of the book which we know as the Revelation of St. John; that that book does not expressly claim to be written by an Apostle; that it nowhere describes millennial happiness as consisting in sensual gratifications; and that Caius shows no consciousness that he was expressing an opinion different from that of the Roman Church of his time, which, as we know from the Muratorian Fragment, and from Hippolytus, accepted the Book of the Apocalypse as Johannine. But the question has recently been set at rest through the bringing to light3 of a work in which the Syriac writer Bar Salibi, whom I have already had occasion to mention (p. 84), quotes some of the criticisms of Caius on the Apocalypse, together with replies to them by Hippolytus. And from the specimens given by Bar Salibi it seems to me that the character of the work of Caius, from which he quotes, must have exactly answered to the description of Dionysius, viz. that it must have gone systematically through the book of the Revelation, criticizing it in detail, so that there is reason to conclude that Caius was the author to whom Dionysius referred.
We hear of opposition to the book by no one else in the West; but in the East its authority decayed. It is not included in the Peshitto Syriac,4 and Jerome tells us that the Greeks of his time did not receive it (Ep. 129, ad Dard.)* Eusebius speaks doubtfully about it, and seems divided between his own judgment, formed from the contents of the book, which inclined him to reject it, and the weight of external evidence in its favour, which he found it hard to set aside. He consequently shrinks from expressing his own opinion, and tries to cast on his readers the responsibility of forming a judgment (H. E. iii. 25, 39). Towards the end of the fourth century there were a few, of whom we are told by Epiphanius and Philaster (Haer. 60), who ascribed both Gospel and Apocalypse to Cerinthus. Epiphanius calls them Alogi; but it is a mistake to suppose that there was a sect of heretics of the name. This was only a clever nickname invented by Epiphanius (Haer. 51, 3) for the opponents of the Logos Gospel, the word being intended to denote the irrational character of their opposition. I do not know that there were ever enough of them to make a sect;5 and they seem un worthy of notice, since their objections as reported by Epiphanius do not profess to have rested on any grounds of external testimony. Their ascribing the Gospel to Cerinthus shows that they believed in its antiquity, since Cerinthus was con temporary with St. John. This report of the evidence justifies me in saying that if we were compelled to abandon one or other, we should have far more countenance from antiquity for ascribing the Gospel to St. John than for attributing to him the Book of Revelation. At the same time I regard the evidence for the latter as amply sufficient, because the testimony in its favour is a century or two earlier than the doubts which arose concerning it, and which seem to have arisen entirely from unwillingness to accept the doctrine of a future reign of our Lord on this earth.
I wish now to state a little more fully the argument of Dionysius of Alexandria, because it is an interesting specimen of an early application of critical science to discriminate the claims of different books ascribed to the same author. Dionysius was bishop of Alexandria from 247 to 265, and had been the successor of Origen as president of the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Origen had acknowledged the Apocalypse as the work of the Apostle John, and, by his favourite method of allegorical interpretation, had got over the difficulties which the literal acceptance of its doctrines might have occasioned. But the mass of simple believers could not be satisfied with these philosophical refinements, and protested against them. The argument which I am about to quote was offered first on what seems to me a very remarkable occasion. Dionysius of Alexandria is a man whom we know mainly by some extracts from his writings preserved by Eusebius; and there is none of the early Fathers who impresses me more favourably as a man of earnest piety, good sense, moderation, and Christian charity. On the occasion to which I refer he worked what I account one of the greatest and most authentic miracles of ecclesiastical history. His diocese being much troubled with disputes on the Millennarian controversy, he assembled those whom perhaps another bishop would have denounced as heretics; and he held a three days public discussion with them: the result being what I have never heard of as the result of any other public discussion that he talked his opponents round, and brought all to complete agreement with himself (H. E. vii. 24). I am, however, less surprised at this result from the specimen which Eusebius gives us of the manner in which Dionysius dealt with the authority of the leading Millennarian of his district, Nepos, who was then not long dead, and whose name had at that time the authority which that of Keble has now, the favour in which his sacred poetry was held gaining favour for a certain school of theological opinions. Nothing can be more conciliatory than the graceful way in which Dionysius speaks of Nepos and of the ser vices which he had rendered the Church; in particular by his composition of hymns, for which Dionysius expresses a high value, though he claims the liberty which he is sure Nepos himself, if living, would have allowed him, of testing his opinions by Scripture. The most formidable difficulty Dionysius has to encounter in dealing with the Millennarians is the Apocalypse, and this he meets by a theory of his own. The criticism of Dionysius, and his denial that the John of the Apocalypse was the Apostle John, rests, you will observe, on no external evidence, and is opposed to the uniform tradition of the Church up to that time. Dionysius begins, as I have already told you, by speaking of the objections which some of his predecessors had raised against the authority of the book. But, for my part, he proceeds, I do not venture to reject the book, since many of the brethren hold it in esteem; but I take it to be above my understanding to comprehend it, and I conceive the interpretation of each several part to be hidden and marvellous. For, though I do not understand, yet I surmise that some deeper meaning underlies the words. These things I do not measure and judge by my own reasoning; but, giving the chief place to faith, I am of opinion that they are too high for me to comprehend. I believe also the author's name to be John, for he himself says so, but I cannot easily grant him to be the Apostle, the son of Zebedee, whose is the Gospel that is inscribed " according to John," and the Catholic Epistle, for I infer from the tone (ἦθος) of each, and the character of the language, and from what is called the διεξαγωγή of the book [general method], that he is not the same person. The arguments which Dionysius then proceeds to urge are, first, that the Evangelist mentions his name neither in the Gospel nor in the First Epistle, and in the other two Epistles only calls himself the Elder, while the author of the Apocalypse calls himself John three times in the first chapter and once in the last: but never calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved, or the brother of James, or the man who had seen and heard the Lord. It is to be sup posed that there were many of the name of John, as, for ex ample, we read of John Mark in the Acts. Many who admired John, no doubt, gave the name to their children for the love they bore him, just as many of the faithful now call their children by the names of Peter and Paul. And it is said that there are two tombs at Ephesus, each bearing the name of John's tomb. He next argues that there is great similarity of style between the Gospel and Epistle, and a number of expressions common to both, such as life, light, the avoiding of darkness, with the commandment of love one towards another, &c., none of which are to be found in the Revelation, which has not a syllable in common with the other two: that Paul in his Epistles mentions having been favoured with revelations, and that there is no corresponding mention in the Epistle of St. John. Lastly, he presses the argument from the difference of style: The Gospel and Epistle, he says, * are written not only without offending against the Greek language, but even most eloquently in point of expression, reasoning, and literary construction, far from containing any barbarous word, or solecism, or vulgarism. For the Apostle, it seems, possessed either word, even as God gave him both the word of knowledge and the word of language; but as for this writer, that he saw a revelation arid received know ledge and prophecy, I will not gainsay; yet I perceive his dialect and tongue to be not accurately Greek, nay, that he uses barbarous idioms, and in some cases even solecisms, instances whereof it needs not that I should now detail; for neither have I mentioned them in ridicule let no one sup pose it but only as criticizing the dissimilarity of the books (Euseb. H. E. vii. 25).
This passage contains all the arguments used by modern writers against the common authorship of Gospel and Apocalypse, except one which I have already answered, namely, that the Apocalypse is the work of a Judaizing Christian, the Gospel that of one of ultra-Pauline liberality. I have shown that in this respect the Apocalypse is completely Pauline (see P. 30).
I do not think it necessary to spend much time on the first argument of Dionysius, viz. that founded on the fact that the author of the Apocalypse has given his name, both in the first and third person, while both Gospel and Epistle are anonymous. In such a matter it is very possible that the same man might act differently on different occasions, even though we could assign no reason for his change of conduct. But in this case a sufficient reason can be given. In the Old Testament the rule is that the historical books (with the exception, indeed, of the Book of Nehemiah) are all anonymous; but every prophetical book, without any exception, gives the name of the prophet to whom the vision or prophecy was communicated. The whole Book of the Revelation is framed on the model of the Old Testament prophecies, so that it is a matter of course that it should begin by naming the seer whose visions are recorded, while it would be quite natural that a historical book by the same author should be anonymous.6 Nor can more stress be laid on the remark that John does not in the Apocalypse call himself an Apostle, or the disciple whom Jesus loved. The simplicity of the language I John, without further description of the writer, is, when well considered, rather a proof of Apostolic authority. A writer personating the Apostle would have taken care to make the Apostleship unmistakeably plain to the reader: and another John writing with an honest purpose would have distinguished himself plainly from John the Apostle. But this author betrays no desire to make himself prominent; and the idea of any other person being mistaken for him does not seem to have crossed his mind.
Very much more consideration is due to the argument which Dionysius founded on the difference of language between the Revelation and the other Johannine books. Thus, he says, we do not find in the Revelation the Johannine words, ζωή, φῶς, ἀλήθεια, χάρις, κρίσις, &c. It must be owned that, whereas the likeness between the language of the Gospel and of the First Epistle is such that even a careless reader can hardly fail to notice it, there are several of the words frequently occurring in the other Johannine books which are either rare in the Apocalypse or absent from it. But then it must be remembered how completely different the subjects treated of in the Apocalypse are from those which are dealt with in the other books. It is not wonderful that a writer should use different words when he wants to express an entirely new circle of ideas. On the other hand, when we look beyond the superficial aspects of the books, and care fully examine their language, we arrive at a result quite different from that obtained by Dionysius. There is found to be so much affinity both of thought and diction between the various books which have been ascribed to John, that we can feel confident that all must have proceeded, if not from the same author, from the same school.
I proceed to lay before you some of the proofs that, if we adopt the now pretty generally accepted opinion that John the Apostle wrote the Apocalypse, we shall find ourselves bound to hold that the Gospel was written either by the Apostle himself, or by a disciple of his who had not only thoroughly adopted his master's doctrine, but even much of his language. I have spoken already of the identity of the Christology of the Apocalypse with that of the Gospel, the doctrine of our Lord's pre-existence being taught as distinctly in the former (e.g. iii. 14) as in the latter. I have shown (p. 31) that the Book of the Revelation refuses to own the unbelieving Jews as true Jews. This, also, is in complete harmony with John viii. 39, which refuses to recognize as children of Abraham those who did not the works of Abraham. Let me now direct your attention to the title given to our Lord in the Apocalypse (xix. 13), the Word of God, which at once connects that book with the Gospel and the Epistle. The Logos doctrine of the Gospel has been considered as a mark of late authorship, or at least as indicating an author more subject to Alexandrian influences than the historical John is likely to have been. On that subject I have spoken already (p. 73). But now we find that in the Apocalypse, which is admitted by Renan and by a host of Rationalist writers to be the work of John, and to which they assign an earlier date than orthodox critics had claimed for any of the Johannine books, this very title Logos is given to the Saviour. All objection, therefore, against the likelihood of the Apostle having used this title at once disappears. A second title repeatedly given to our Lord in the Book of the Revelation is the Lamb. Nowhere else in Scripture is it used thus as a title of the Saviour, except in the first chapter of the Gospel Behold the Lamb of God. It is scarcely necessary for me to call your attention to the sacrificial import of this title. The two books elsewhere (John xi. 51, 52; Rev. v. 9) unequivocally express the same doctrine, which can be stated in words which I am persuaded John had read: Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. i. 18, 19).7 It is plain what dignity must have been ascribed to the person of Him to whose death such far-reaching efficacy is attributed.
We have in the beginning of the Revelation (i. 7): Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him. Now the piercing of our Lord is only recorded by St. John; and in this passage the prophet Zechariah is quoted in a form differing from the Septuagint, but agreeing with the Gospel. We have repeatedly the phrase he that overcometh, which is of frequent occurrence in all the Johannine books: Rev. ii. 7, 11, iii. 5, xii. n, xxi. 7; John xvi. 33; 1 John ii. 13, iv. 4, v. 4. The remarkable word ἀληθινός occurs nine times in the Gospel, four times in the Epistle, ten times in the Revelation, and only five times in all the rest of the New Testament. Similar evidence may be drawn from the prevalence of the words μαρτυρέω and μαρτυρία in all the Johannine books. In the Revelation (ii. 17) Jesus promises believers the hidden manna; in the Gospel (referring also to the manna) the true bread from heaven (John vi. 32). In the Gospel (vii. 37) Jesus cries, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink; in the Apocalypse (xxii. 17), Let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.8 The abiding of God with man is in both books presented as the issue of Christ's work (John xiv. 23; Rev. iii. 20, xxi. 3).
I have produced instances enough to establish decisively that there is the closest possible affinity between the Revelation and the other Johannine books. The only question on which there is room for controversy is whether that affinity is such as by itself to be a sufficient proof of identity of author ship. In deciding on this question attention ought of course to be paid to the differences that have been pointed out. For example, our Lord's title is the Word of God in the Revelation; simply the Word in the Gospel. Christ is the Lamb in both books; but in the Gospel ὁ ἀμνός, in the Revelation τὸ ἀρνίον; but the latter form may have been preferred in order to give more point to the opposition which in the latter book constantly prevails between τὸ ἀρνίον and τὸ θηρίον. In the Gospel there is a manifest reason why the Baptist, pointing to Jesus, should use the masculine, not the neuter. So, again, we have in the Revelation he that overcometh, absolutely; but in the preceding books with an object: he that over cometh the world, &c. There are likewise peculiarities of the Gospel which are absent from the Apocalypse, such as the use of ἵνα. with the subjunctive instead of the ordinary construction with the infinitive, and fondness for οὖν as a connecting-link in a narrative. It would be important to discuss these differences if I were contending that it is possible by internal evidence alone to decide between the hypothesis that the author of the Gospel was the same as the author of the Revelation, and the hypothesis that the one was a disciple and imitator of the other. But the question with which we are actually concerned is different: it is whether we are bound to reject the very strong external evidence for identity of authorship, on the ground that internal evidence demonstrates that both works could not have had the same author. I have shown that no such result can be obtained under the present head of argument, the resemblances between the books being far more striking than the differences. I suppose there are no two works of the same author between which some points of difference might not be found by a minute critic, especially if the works were written at some distance of time from each other. No two books can be more alike than the First and Second Epistles of St. John; eight of the thirteen verses of which the latter consists are to be found in the former, either in sense or expression. Yet Davidson is careful to show that a minute critic would be at no loss for proofs of diversity of authorship. The one has εἴ τις, the other ἐάν τις; the one ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί, the Other ἐληλυθότα ἐν σαρκί, and SO on. Some years ago Dr. Stanley Leathes9 applied to our English poets the methods of minute criticism that have been freely used on our sacred books. He found that of about 450 words in Milton's L' Allegro, over 300 are not to be found in the longer poem Il Penseroso, and over 300 do not occur in the still longer poem Lycidas. So likewise, of about 590 words in Tennyson's Lotos-eaters, there are 360 which are not found in the longer poem Œnone.
I pass to the last and strongest of the arguments of Dionysius: that drawn from the solecisms of style. The Gospel and First Epistle are written in what, if not classical Greek, is smooth, unexceptionable, and free from barbarisms and solecisms in grammar. The Greek of the Revelation is start ling from the first: John to the seven Churches of Asia, grace to you and peace ἀπὸ ὁ ᾢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμεος, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός, to him that loved τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς καὶ λούσαντι ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν. Instances of false apposition such as occur in this example present them selves several times where a noun in a dependent case has a nominative in apposition with it.10 It is not worth while to discuss other deviations from Greek usage, several that have been noticed not being peculiar to the Apocalypse.
Some well-meaning critics have set themselves to extenuate these irregularities, and they have at least succeeded in showing that some considerable deductions ought fairly to be made from the list. They have produced from classical writers examples of anacoluthon, of false apposition, of construction ad sensum; and it is urged with reason that we are not to expect in the abrupt utterances of a rapt seer, borne from vision to vision/ a regard for strict grammatical regularity, which is frequently neglected in calmer compositions.
At the revival of learning, many excellent men were shocked at the assertion of scholars, that barbarisms and solecisms were to be found in New Testament Greek; and those who were called Purists endeavoured to clear the sacred writers from what they regarded as a dishonouring aspersion. They ought to have reflected that it would be just as reasonable to maintain that the sacred writers ought to have been empowered to write in English, as in any kind of Greek save that which was spoken at the time and in the place in which they lived. It is difficult for us now to imagine how anyone could have persuaded himself to think that a miracle must needs have been wrought to enable the sacred writers to use a language not their own, thus obliterating the evidence which the character of the style bears to the time and circumstances under which the books were written.
In the case of the Apocalypse, the character of the language corresponds very well with what might be expected from the author to whom it is ascribed. It gives us no reason to disbelieve that this author had a sufficiency of Greek for colloquial purposes. His anacolutha do not prove him to be ignorant of the ordinary rules of Greek construction. The very rules which he breaks in one place he observes in others. The use of such a phrase as ἀπὸ ὁ ὤν could not possibly be the result of ignorance that ἀπὸ governs the genitive case. One who could make such a mistake through ignorance would be incapable of writing the rest of the book. This example is rather to be paralleled by I AM hath sent me, in the authorized version of Ex. iii. 14. This very text seems to have suggested the ὁ ὤν of St. John, while ὁ ἦν is a bold attempt to supply the want of a past participle of the substantive verb. As for ὁ ἐρχόμενος, there may possibly be a reference to our Lord's second coming, but it is also quite possible that the form ἐσόμενος, which only occurs once N. T., was not familiar to the writer. As there may be a great difference between the copiousness of the vocabulary possessed by two persons who speak the same language (the stock of words that suffices to express the ideas of the rustic being wholly inadequate for the necessities of the literary man), so there may be equal difference in respect of the variety of grammatical forms habitually employed. In particular there is sure to be such a difference between the language of the native and that of the foreigner. One who learns a language late in life finds it hard to obtain a mastery of any complicated system of inflexions; and this, no doubt, is why we find that in the modern languages of Europe which are derived from the Latin the varieties of case endings have been in great measure obliterated. We can thus understand how it is that John, accustomed to Aramaic which has no case endings, though not ignorant of the use of the oblique cases, is glad to slide back into the use of the nominative. Then, again, of the forms known to grammarians several are but rarely needed for practical use; and with want of practice the power of correct use is apt to be lost. When I was young, members of the Society of Friends affected the use of the second person singular, but its use elsewhere had become so obsolete that they were unable to employ it grammatically. * Thee became a nominative case, and was made to agree with a verb in the third person.11 A foreigner who has learned to manipulate correctly the grammatical forms which are of frequent occurrence will be apt to find them insufficient for his needs when he proceeds to literary composition. John, for example, might be in the constant habit of employing the participle present, and yet not be equally familiar with the use of participles future. The Apocalypse, then, is exactly what might have been written by one whose native language was Aramaic, who was able to use Greek for the ordinary purposes of life, but who found a strain put on his knowledge of the language when he desired to make a literary use of it.
But how is it then that the Greek of the Gospel should be so much better, if both books were written by the same author? I am not sure that the Greek of the Gospel does display so very much wider a knowledge of grammatical forms. A grammarian does not find so much at which to take exception; but this may be because less has been attempted. It is much easier to turn into another language such sentences as In the beginning was the Word, &c., than such a phrase as which is, and which was, and which is to come. It is on account of this more restricted range of grammatical forms that the Gospel of St. John has been so often used as the first book of a beginner learning a foreign language.12
But without extenuating too much the superiority of the Greek of the Gospel over that of the Revelation, two explanations of that difference can be given. The opinion of critics, orthodox as well as sceptical, now tends to reverse the doctrine of older writers which made the Apocalypse much the later book of the two, and to give it, on the contrary, ten, perhaps twenty, years of greater antiquity than the Gospel. Admit that St. John was no longer young when he came to Ephesus, and therefore that no very radical change in his language was to be expected; still, living in a Greek city, and with crowds of Greek disciples about him to whom he would daily have to expound his doctrines in their own language, he could not fail to acquire greater facility in its use, and a power of expressing his ideas such as he had not possessed when he had merely used the language for ordinary colloquial purposes. There would have been fair ground for suspicion, if there had been no superiority over the Greek of the Apocalypse, in a book written after a score of years, during which the author was speaking little or no Aramaic, and must have been habitually speaking Greek.
The second consideration is that of possible assistance. I have known two letters sent to the Continent bearing the same signature written in the same foreign language, but possibly differing from each other in grammatical accuracy as much as the Gospel and Apocalypse; and the explanation was not that the writer was different, but only that, in the one case, not in the other, he had taken the precaution before sending his composition to get it looked over by a better linguist than himself. St. Paul, we know, habitually used the services of an amanuensis; so also may St. John; and for all we know the disciple may have been a better Greek scholar than his master. If a solecism were dictated to him he might silently correct it (as we find that in the later MSS. scribes have corrected several in the Apocalypse), or he might at least call his master's attention to it. The linguistic differences, therefore, between the Apocalypse and the Gospel could all be accounted for by the supposition that John wrote the former book with his own hand, and in the latter employed the services of an amanuensis. In short, when we compare the books in an English translation, we find the marks of common authorship predominate: it is when we look at them in the Greek that we are struck by a difference. May not the explanation be, that the Apostle thought in Aramaic, and that his thoughts were rendered into Greek by different hands?
Such explanations being available, the differences of language that have been pointed out come very far short of demonstrating diversity of authorship. The conclusion, then, to which I consider we are led by a comparative study of the books is, that the Apocalypse and the other Johannine books clearly belong to the same school: the first is as closely related to the rest as the Epistle to the Hebrews is to St. Paul's Epistles. If we regard the evidence from language solely, I do not think we are in a position either to affirm or deny that the same man wrote all the books. There are resemblances between them such as to make it very credible that it was so; but at the same time there are differences which indicate that the Revelation must at least have been written at a different time or under different circumstances from the others. Some other topics of internal evidence will afterwards come under consideration.
1) 616 is the reading of Codd. C, 11.
2) Great light has been cast on the probable source of this tradition of Papias through the publication from the Syriac, by Ceriani (Milan, 1866), of a Jewish book called the Apocalypse of Baruch. It is included in Fritzsche's Apocryphal books of the Old Testament (Leipzig, 1871). Fritzsche judges the book to have been written not long after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The book contains (c. 29) a description of the times of the Messiah, in which it is predicted that a vine shall have 1000 shoots, each shoot 1000 clusters, each cluster 1000 grapes, and each grape shall yield a measure of wine. It is reasonable to think that this book furnished the original of the story, which, before it reached Papias, had been considerably improved, and had come to be referred to a saying of our Lord.
3) This was done by Dr. Gwynn, Hermathena, 1888. The work of Bar Salibi is in MS. in the British Museum, and it would seem that no Syriac scholar had previously read enough of it to find these interesting quotations from Caius.
4) Yet we find Theophilus of Antioch using the book before the end of the second century (Euseb. iv. 24). Ephraem Syrus cites Rev. v. 1-3, (Serm. Exeg. in Ps. cxl. 3. Opp. Syr. ii. 332).
5) In fact I now believe that the Alogi consisted of Caius, and, as far as I can learn, nobody else. I have already said (p. 168) with what caution we are obliged to receive the statements of Epiphanius. Lipsius in the work quoted (note, p. 148) has endeavoured to ascertain from what authorities the statements in his treatise against heresies were derived, with the result of rinding that what may be called the basis of the work was a treatise against heresies composed at the beginning of the third century by Hippolytus, which Epiphanius, rather more than 150 years afterwards, enlarged by adding to the thirty-two heresies with which it dealt notices of some which had appeared in the meantime, and others which he conceived that his own research had discovered. The work of Hippolytus is lost; but we know it through independent use made of it by Philaster, a contemporary of Epiphanius, and through a list of heresies erroneously included among the works of Tertullian, which was derived from the same source. We know now for certain that in what Epiphanius says, in refutation of the opponents of the Apocalypse, he was drawing from Hippolytus; for one objection and reply are the same as those which Dr. Gwynn has recovered as part of the controversy between Caius and Hippolytus. There is a question, however, whether Epiphanius took his section from the treatise against the thirty-two heresies, or from some other work of Hippolytus, among whose lost writings was one bearing the title, In defence of the Gospel and Apocalypse of St. John, which, in all probability, was the book written in controversy with Caius. But in any case we have reason to think that Hippolytus treated his opponent's opinion as heresy; for the Syriac fragments speak of him as the heretic Caius.
There is no reason to think that Epiphanius knew anything more about the so-called Alogi than what he learned from Hippolytus. There are two discrepancies between his account and that of Philaster. Epiphanius speaks of these heretics as ascribing both Gospel and Apocalypse to Cerinthus; but we may take this as an ordinary instance of his carelessness in using his authorities, for there is no doubt that Philaster is right in naming only the Apocalypse as so ascribed. The other difference relates to the name Alogi, for which name Epiphanins, as I have said, takes credit as his own invention. Early writers on heresy had taken the opportunity of stigmatizing opponents by enumerating as heretics, in addition to the well-known sects of heretics, Valentinians, Marcionites, &c., the holders of various opinions from which they dissented. Thus Philaster has in his list of heretics those who denied all the 150 Psalms to have been written by David (Haer. 130); those who denied the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Haer. 89); those who asserted the plurality of worlds (Haer. 115); those who held the age of the world to be uncertain (Haer. 112), &c. &c. But there are no anonymous heretics in Epiphanius. Where he finds in his authorities those who held this or that erroneous opinion described as heretics, he must invent a name for them a habit which gives the modern reader the impression that the Alogi, for example, were a set of people combined into a sect, for which idea there is no foundation. Thus when we trace back Epiphanius to his authorities, we find that his reason for asserting the existence of a sect of Alogi was that Hippolytus had enumerated among heretics those who reject the Gospel and Apocalypse of St. John. If we inquire whom Hippolytus had in view, we can answer confidently, his antagonist Caius.
If we ask had he anyone else in view, we must say that we have no evidence.
But did Cams reject the Gospel? This is asserted by no other writer, and in the Syriac fragments Caius is refuted out of the Gospel, as if it were an authority which he recognized. It is no doubt possible that Caius, in his opposition to the Montanists, may have spoken disparagingly of the Gospel, on which they founded their hopes of the teaching of the Paraclete; but it is also possible that Hippolytus, being convinced of the common authorship of Gospel and Apocalypse, thought himself entitled to use the controversial advantage of bracketing the opponents of one with the opponents of the other. Irenaeus informs us of the existence of heretics who rejected St. John's Gospel, though his language is too vague to let us know to what school they belonged.
I consider that the work of Hippolytus, of which Epiphanius made use, must have said very little about the opponents of the Gospel. Where Epiphanius deals with the opponents of the Apocalypse, the objections and replies have every mark of antiquity, and were no doubt derived from Hippolytus. But the section on the Gospel is distinctly Epiphanius's own. He cites authors later than Hippolytus: Ephraem (c. 22); Porphyry (c. 8). The system of chronology is not that of Hippolytus, nor does he agree with Hippolytus as to the duration of our Lord's ministry on earth. The whole section gives me the impression that Epiphanius, being obliged by his title to answer objections to the Gospel, and rinding none specified in his authorities, was reduced to manufacture objections, as well as answers, by his own ingenuity.
6) The transition from the third to the first person his servant John (i. 1), 1 John (i. 9, xxi. 2, xxii. 2), is exactly parallel to the usage of Isaiah (i. 1, ii. 1, vi. 1, &c.), and of Daniel (i. 6, vii. 1, 2, 15, &c.).
7) This is one of several coincidences between Peter's Epistle and the Johannine books: 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9, Rev. i. 6; 1 Pet. v. 13, Rev. xiv. 8, xvii. 5; 1 Pet. i. 7, 13, Rev. i. 1, iii. 18; 1 Pet. i. 23, 1 John iii. 9, John i. 13, iii. 5; 1 Pet. i. 22, 1 John iii. 3; 1 Pet. v. 2, John x. 11, xxi. 16; 1 Pet. iii. 18, i John iii. 7; 1 Pet. i. 10, John xii. 41; 1 Pet. v. 13, 2 John i. These coincidences seem to me more than accidental. When I come to treat of Peter's Epistle I will give my reasons for preferring the explanation that John had read that Epistle to the supposition that the Epistle is post-Johannine.
8) Other coincidences are: σκηνοῦν, John i. 14, Rev. vii. 15, xii. 12, xiii. 6, xxi. 3; Lord, thou knowest, Rev. vii. 14, John xxi. 15-17 ἔχειν μέρος (= to partake), John xiii. 8, Rev. xx. 6; σφάττειν, 1 John iii. 12, Rev. v. 6, 9, 12, vi. 4, 9, xiii. 3, 8, xviii. 24; ὄψις, John vii. 24, xi. 44, Rev. i. 16; τηρεῖν τὸν λόγον, Rev. iii. 8, 10, xxii. 7, 9, John viii. 51-55, xiv. 23, 24, xv. 20, xvii. 6, 1 John ii. 5; ἑβραϊστί twice in the Revelation, five times in the Gospel. None of these expressions are found in the New Testament, except in the Johannine books. Christ is compared to a bridegroom, John iii. 29, Rev. xix. 7, xxi. 2, xxii. 17. Other examples will be found in Davidson, whose candour here and elsewhere in fairly presenting the evidence on both sides is worthy of all praise. Notwithstanding the perversity of some of his decisions, and, what is more irritating, the oracular tone of infallibility with which he enunciates his private opinions as if they were ascertained facts, Davidson has done great service to English students by collecting a mass of information which they will not easily find elsewhere.
9) Boyle Lectures, 1868, p. 283.
10) Thus: τῆς καινῆς Ἰρουσαλήμ, ἡ καταβαίνουσα (iii. 12), ὑπομονὴ τῶν ἁγίων οἱ τηρῦντες τὰς ἐντολάς (xiv. 12), τὸν δράκοντα, ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος (xx. 2).
11) Tennyson also has been lately accused of bad grammar in his use of the second person singular by employing wert in the indicative mood instead of wast. In this matter, however, he is kept in countenance by several preceding poets.
12) Canon Westcott says in his Introduction (p. 1), which I had not read when I wrote the above: To speak of St. John's Gospel as " written in very pure Greek" is altogether misleading. It is free from solecisms, because it avoids all idiomatic expressions. And he gees on to remark that there is at most one instance of the use of the oratio aibliqua.