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Julian Pe. Docetæ, who denied the Humanity of Christ, (chap. iv. Asia Mine.
riod, 4799. 3.)-asserting that his Body and sufferings were not
prophecies which were necessary for the benefit of the uni.
versal Church. It did not so interfere with the natural or ac.
quired talents of the favoured persons, whom it elevated above
the rest of mankiod, that their peculiar or characteristic modes
of expression should be necessarily altered. Isaiah was a
pobleman and a courtier, and his refined and polished lan-
guage declares his education, as well as bis native genias.
Amos was a herdsman; and though there is the same super-
human internal evidence that the Spirit of Prophecy rested on
him also, though none of the prophets has more magnificently
described the Deity, though his sentiments are elevated, and
his diction splendid, he is still distinguished by the use of
images which are drawn from rural life, and by phrases which
are not characteristic either of the study of the schools of the
prophets, or of the courtesy of a king's palace. Every one
of the sacred writers is distinguished from bis inspired brethren
by some internal proofs of his vocation, or habits, or educa-
tíon: and if the external evidence of the truth and authenticity
of the various books of Scripture were not taken into consi.
deration, sufficient arguments might be adduced in their de-
fence, from a careful comparison of the contents of the sacred
This consideration will possibly assist us in the attempt to
discover, from internal evidence, whether it is not probable
that the Apocalypse was written before the Epistles of St. John.
The former book abounds with Hebraisms, and with images
derived from the Jewish traditions and peculiarities. Though
neither the Septuagint nor the New Testament are written in
purely attic Greek, not one book of either volume is so full of
The solecisms in question as the Apocalypse; whereas the Epistles
and Gospel of St. John are written both correctly and ele-
gantly. It is true that the three books are proved to be the
work of the same author, by their general agreement, both in
style and expression; and Wetstein, Horne, and Dr. Lardner,
have collected numerous instances of this coincidence: but the
chief barbarisms of the Apocalypse are to be found neither in
the Epistles, nor the Gospel of St. Jobo. In this respect they
are remarkably distinguished from each other : and while the
common adoption of certain forms of speech, demonstrates
the whole of the books in question to be the work of one writer,
the insertion of so many peculiar idioms and Hebraisms in the
one, appear to justify our conclusion, that it must have been
written at a period when the author was not so well versed in
the elegances and purity of the language in which he wrote.
He seems as if be thought in one language, and wrote in an-
other; or, as if he had attempted for the first time to write in
a language in which be made a subsequent improvement. This,
in literature, is not an unfrequent case. The triple sentence,
for instance, and the balanced periods, which so remarkably
characterise the style of the Rambler, and the Lives of the
Poets, were perceptible in the early works of Dr. Johnson; and
afford internal evidence that they were written by him; while
the grossness and pucrility of his Marmor Norfolciense, are
such as he would have blushed to have acknowledged in his ma-
turer years. In the early Poems of Milton we may trace, and
that not faintly, “ the towering thought,” and hear " the liv-
ing lyre," of the days of his ripened genius; yet he could not
have written, at that splendid period, the pretty conceits which
ST. JOHN LEFT JERUSALEM VERY LATE.
691 Julian Pe. real, but imaginary-against the Cerinthians and Ebio- Asia Minor. riod, 4799.
nites, who contended that he was a mere Man, and that
adorn or disgrace his juvenile Poems on the Passion and the
But it is not only the internal evidence which induces me to
place the Apocalypse before tho Epistles of St. John. The cir-
cumstances of the apostle's life sufficiently account for the more
frequent adoption of Hebraisms in the former book. He was a
native Jew, and probably continued within the precincts of the
Holy Land longer than any of the apostles. Neither be, nor
any of the twelve, appear to have left Palestine during the
Pauline persecutions. When James was made Bishop of Jeru.
salem, in the Herodian persecution, after the Apostle James
was beheaded, and Peter had been cast into prison, it is pro-
bable, as I have endeavoured to shew in the notes to the ioth
chapter of this arrangement, that all the apostles left Jerusalem,
and John among the oumber. He was present however at the
council in that city, and there could not have been time, during
that short interval, for the establishment of the Churches in
Asia, which are said to have acknowledged him as their foun.
der. It seems probable that be continued either in Jerusalem,
or within the precincts of Palestine, till the destruction of the
city. Throughout that part of the Acts of the Apostles which
relates the travels of St. Paul, St. John is not once mentioned;
and no salutation is sent to him in any of the epistles which St.
Paul wrote from Rome to the Churches of Asia; not even in
his Epistle to the Ephesians, nor in the epistles which, in the
Jatter part of his life, he wrote to Timothy in Ephesus, while
Paul was alive. I agree therefore with the opinion of Mack-
night, and others, that John probably remained io Judea till be
saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, and observed the
other signs of its approaching ruin, foretold by his divine
Master. Lampe (Prolegomena to St. John's Gospel, lib. i.
cap. 3.) is of the same opinion, and fixes the time of his de-
parture in the last year of Nero, in which he is confirmed by
the Chronicon Paschale. During the whole of this period be
would have conversed in his native language, among his own
people: neither can we assign any reason for his adopting the
Greek language, or for cultivating it with peculiar attention at
this period. Baronius and Dr. Lardner would place tbe retire.
ment of the apostle from Judea after the martyrdom of St. Paul
and St. Peter; this would make a difference of a few years only.
A more important question is, whether St. John lived exclusively among the Greek cities of Asia, in the interval between the overthrow of Jerusalem, and his banishment to Patmos in the last year of Domitian. This cannot be satisfactorily decided. The learned Mill places some dependance upon the tradition, that this apostle travelled into Partbia and India. His first epistle was called by Augustine, the Epistle to the Parthians; and the Jesuits letters, cited by Barouius, affirm that the people of a town in India believed the Gospel to bavo been preacbed there by St. John; and the same is asserted, as I find in a note in Lampe, by the people of a town in Arabia. It is not probable that he would immediately establish bimself at Ephesus; as Timotby, who is generally declared by the ecclesiastical bistorians to bave been bishop of that place, was probably still alive. Others, whose opinion is strongly condemned by Lampe, bave been of opioion that St. John did not take up his residence at Ephesus tíll ngar the end of the reign of Doinitian. This opinion seems to be most supported by the
Jalian Period, 4799. VulgarÆra,
his Divinity was only adventitious, and therefore separat- Asia Mine. ed from him at his Passion (chap. ii. 22.) and against
little remaining evidence which can enable us to come to any
decision on a point so obscure. The apostles were commanded
to preach throughout the world; and they would probably have
adopted that plan, which they are said to have done, that each
should take his peculiar district, and to that direct his atten-
tion. As part at least of Asia Minor had been placed under the
care of Timothy, it is not unlikely that St. John would have
travelled to other parts of the East before he came to Ephesus,
to reside there. The course of his travels migbt have been
from the east of Judea to Parthia, and round from thence to
India, and returning by Arabia to Asia, be there preached, and
founded the Churches of Smyrpa, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis,
Philadelphia, Laodicea, and others. These be might have
established at the conclusion of his route. In Parthia, India,
and Arabia, he would not have required the Greek language, and
during the short period which elapsed between his arrival in Asia,
and his banishment at the latter end of the reign of Domitian,
he would bave been more likely to have acquired that kind of
language which we find in the Apocalypse, than the more po-
lished style of the Epistles and the Gospel. The former shews
less acquaintance with the language than the latter ; and the
fact is fully accounted for, if we suppose that the apostle, when
he wrote the Apocalypse, had not had so frequent intercourse
with the people, as at a subsequent period: and this course of
his travels explains the causes of this fact.
If we may thus decide respecting the travels of St. John after
the destruction of Jerusalem, we reconcile many of the various
traditions of antiquity, and account for the difference between
the language of the Apocalypse and the other writings of the
apostle. I have taken no notice of the journey wbich Eusebius
tells us he took again to Palestine, after the destruction of Je-
Lampe considers it as very uncertain, and there is no corroborating authority to support it. Neither can we venture to assert the truth of the story, that the apostle went to Rome towards the end of the reign of Domitian, and was there cast into a caldron of boiling oil. Tbat be was sent to the island of Pate mos, and there wrote the Apocalypse, cannot be doubted; and the arguments of Lampe confirm the general opinion, that he was banished to that island in the fifteenth year of the reign of Domitian, and not of Claudius, and was recalled soon after in the reigo of Nerva.
The uniform tradition of antiquity assures us that the apostle returned to Ephesus after the termination of his banishment to Patmos, and continued there till his death, in the third year of Trajan, and probably in the hundredth year of bis own age. After bis return from Patmos, he resided constantly at Ephesus, and spoke, as we may justly conclude, the Greek language only. This practice would have given him a fluency and knowledge of that tongue to a greater degree than when he was at Jerusalem, or associating with the people of various countries; and it will sufficiently explain the reasons why the style of the Epistles should so much resemble that of the Gospel of St. John, which was undoubtedly the last of the inspired books, which was added to the canon of Scripture. Thus in bis Gospel St. John does not content himself with simply affirmiog or denying a thing, but denies its contrary to strengthen bis affirmation; and in like manner, to strengthen bis denial of a thing, he
ON THE DATE OF ST. JOHN'S EPISTLES-CHAP. XV.
Julian Pe- the Nicolaitans (Rev. ii. 15.) or Gnostics, who taught Asia Minor. riod, 4799. Vulgar Æra,
that the Knowledge of God and Christ was sufficient for 96.
affirms its contrary. (See John i. 20. iii. 36. v. 24. vi. 22 ) The
same manner of expressing things strongly occurs in this Epis-
tle. (See chap. ii. 4. 27. and iv. 2, 3.) In his Gospel also, St.
John frequently uses the pronoun or ουτος, αυτη, τουτο, this, in
order to express things emphatically. (See chap. i. 19. iii. 19.
vi. 29. 40. 50. and xvii. 3.) In the Epistle the same emphatical
mode of expression obtains. (Compare chap. j. 5. ii. 25. iii. 23.
v.3, 4. 6. and 14.)
It does not therefore appear to me improbable, that these
Epistles were written as late as the year 95 or 96, towards the
very close of the apostolic age.
As this opinion is by no means generally adopted, it will be necessary to take some notice of the arguments by which Dr. Hales, Mr. Horne, and other learned divines, would assign an earlier date to this Epistle.
The expression in chap. ii. 18. “ It is the last hour,” is said to be more applicable to the last hour of time of the doration of the Jewish state than to any later period, especially as the apostle adds" And as ye bave heard that Antichrist is coming, even so now there bave been many Antichrists; whence wc know that it is the last hour:" in which passage the apostle evidently alludes to our Lord's prediction concerning the springing up of false Christs, false teachers, and false prophets, before the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matt. xxiv. 5-25). The expression, however, the “last time" may allude, not to the destruction of that city, but to the close of the apostolic age. Michaelis would support this argument for the early date of this Epistle, by observing that St. John's Gospel was opposed to heretics, who maintained the same opinions as are opposed in this Epistle ; which tenets he has confuted by argument in his Gospel, whereas in the Epistle he expresses only his disapprobation. Michaelis therefore concludes, that the Epistle was written before the Gospel ; because if St. John had already given a complete confutation when he wrote this Epistle, he would have thought it unnecessary to have again declared the falsehood of such opinions. This opinion of Michaelis appears to be correct, but the date of the Epistle is not ascertained, by its having been written before the Gospel.
Again, the expression (chap. ii. 13, 14.) “ Ye have known bim from the beginning," applies it is said better to the disciples, immediately before Jerusalem was destroyed, than to the few who might have been alive at the late date which some critics assign to this Epistle. In the verses just cited, the fathers or elders are twice distinguished from the “ young men” and the “cbildren," by this circumstance, that they had seen him dur. ing his ministry, or after his resurrection. Thirty-five years after our Lord's resurrection and ascension, when Jerusalem was destroyed, many such persons might have been alive; whereas in 98, or even in 92, there could not have been many persons alive of that description. In reply to this argument we may observe, that some of those who had seen the miracles of our Lord, might have taken refuge with St. John at Ephesus.
To these two arguments for the early date of St. John's first Epistle, Dr. Hales has added the three following, which bave not been noticed by any other biblical critic.
1. As the other apostles James, Jude, Paul, and Peter, had written Catholic Epistles to the Hebrew Christians especially, it is likely, that one of the principal “ pillars of the church,"
Julian Pe- Salvation ; that being justified by Faith, and freed from Asia Mim riod, 4799.
the Restraints of the Lan, they might indulge in Sin with
the grcatest surety of the mother church, the most highly gifted
and illuminated of all the apostles of the circumcision, and the
beloved disciple, would not be deficient likewise in this labour
of love. This is true ; but the labours of these apostles might
have been the very cause wby St. John should delay writing.
2. Nothing could teod so strongly to establish the faith of
the early Jewish converts as the remarkable circumstances of
our Lord's crucifixion, exhibiting the aecomplishment of the
ancient types and prophecies of the Old Testament respecting
Christ's passion, or sufferings in the flesh. These St. John
alone could record, as he was the only eye-witness of that last
solemn scene among the apostles. To these, therefore, be al-
ludes in the exordium, as well as to the circumstances of our
Lord's appearances after the resurrection ; and to these he
again recals their attention in that remarkable reference to
“ the water" at his baptism; to “ the water and blood" at his
passion, and to the dismissal of “his spirit” when he com-
mended it to his Father, and expired. (Chap. v.5-9).-This
argument really appears to be but of little weight. The early
converts had the other Gospels in their hands; and there does
not seem to have been any necessity for St. John's writing tea
or twenty years earlier.
3. The parallel testimony in the Gospel (Jobo xix. 35–37.)
bears witness also to the priority of the Epistle, in the expres.
sion, “ He that saw hath testitied” (pepaprupnke), intimating
thut he had delivered this testimony to the world already ; for
if now, for the first time, it should rather be expressed by the
present tense, paprupel, “ testifieth.". And this is strongly con-
firmed by the apostle's same expression, after giving bis evi-
dence in the Epistle, “ This is the testimony of God, which He
hath testified (pepaprupyke) concerning his Son” (ver. 9.), re-
ferring to the past transaction, as fulfilling prophecy. It is ac-
koowledged that the Epistle was writtea first : but this does
pot settle the date.
Though this composition is called an Epistle, nothing is to
be found in it, as Bishop Horsley bas observed, of the epistolary
form. It is not inscribed to any individual, like St. Paul's to
Timothy and Titus, or the second of the two wbich follow it,
“ to the well-beloved Gaius"- or to any particular church,
like St. Paul's to the churches of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and
others-nor to the faithful of any particular region, like St.
Peter's first Epistle “ to the strangers scattered througbout
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia"-oor to any
principal branch of the Christian church, like St. Paul's to the
Hebrews-nor to the Christian church in general, like the
second of St. Peter's, “ to them that had obtained like precious
faith with him," and like St. Jude's “ to them that are sancti.
fied by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and
called.” It bears no such inscription : it begins without salu.
tation, and ends without benediction. It is true, the writer
sometimes speaks, but without naming himself in the first per-
son--and addresses bis reader without paming him in the
second. But this colloquial style is very common in all writ-
ings of a plain familiar cast : instances of it occur in St. John's
Gospel : and it is by no means a distinguishing character of
epistolary composition. It should seem that this book hath for
no other reason acquired the title of an epistle, but that in the
first formation of the canon of the New Testament it was put