PASTOR OF THE THIRD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT NEWARK, N. J.
TOGETHER WITH A DOUBLE ALPHABETICAL INDEX TO ALL THE TEN VOLUMES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BY
JOHN H. WOODS, A. M.
VOL. X. OF THE NEW TESTAMENT:
CONTAINING THE REVELATION OF JOHN, AND A GENERAL ALPHABETICAL INDEX TO ALL THE VOLUMES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
PREFACE BY THE GENERAL EDITOR
With this tenth volume the New Testament Division of the American edition of Lange’s Biblework is completed. The first volume (on Matthew) was published nearly ten years ago (October, 1864), seven years after the German original (1857). The remaining five volumes of the Old Testament Division have been distributed among competent American and English scholars, and will be published as soon as they are ready, without waiting for the German edition, which has been already anticipated in the recently published volume on the Minor Prophets. The completion of the whole series at no distant time, therefore, is placed beyond personal contingencies.
I have reason to be thankful to a kind Providence for life and strength, to my publishers for their energy, patience and perseverance, and to my forty-five contributors for their faithful and efficient co-operation in this laborious and complicated enterprise. I shall never forget the delightful associations with so many eminent Christian scholars, who, on my invitation, have made the treasures of foreign learning and the results of their own researches accessible to the English and American students of the Book of books. Lange’s Commentary, we trust, will long be resorted to as a thesaurus of Biblical learning and piety from all ages and sections of the Christian Church.
This volume is devoted to the last and most difficult book of the Bible, the divine seal of the whole, the cross of crosses of commentators. The Apocalypse will not be fully comprehended until we see it in the light of the millennium and the new heavens on the new earth; nevertheless, even in its partial and imperfect understanding, it is continually fulfilling its noble mission as a book of hope and comfort in the Christian Church. The Jewish Prophets, in spite of all the obscurities and conflicting interpretations, served the same purpose under the Old dispensation long before they were fulfilled in the New. “How many passages in the prophets,” says the genial Herder, “are obscure in their primary historical references, and yet these passages, containing divine truth, doctrine and consolation, are manna for all hearts and all ages. Should it not be so with the book, which is an abstract of almost all prophets and apostles?” It has been such a manna especially in ages of trial and persecution, and will continue to instruct, to warn, to cheer, and to assure the Church militant of the final triumph of Christ—the Alpha and Omega of history.
Dr. Lange, in this Commentary, which appeared in 1871 (302 pages), boldly meets the difficulties, and marks a considerable advance in the deeper spiritual apprehension of the Apocalypse and its mysterious symbolism. (See his Preface.)
The American edition has fallen into able and faithful hands. The translation of Miss Evelina Moore is all that can be desired.
The additions of Rev. Dr. Craven greatly enhance the value of the work. He has paid minute attention to the textual department, making use of the latest critical labors of Tregelles and Tischendorf. He has throughout embodied the results of English scholarship, and of his own long-continued, careful and devout study of this book. We direct the reader’s attention especially to his clear and condensed abstracts of views of the different classes of Apocalyptic interpreters, scattered throughout the volume, and to his original discussions of the following important points:
Excursus on the Basileia
Excursus on Hades
Note on Symbolism
Note on the Living beings (
Note on the First Six Seals
Note on the Great Tribulation
Note on the Seventh Seal and Trumpets
Note on the Witnesses
Note on the Future Advent of Christ
Note on the Theories concerning the Millennium
Note on the First Resurrection
Note on the General Resurrection and Judgment
Note on the New Jerusalem
This volume contains also a double Alphabetical Index, verbal and topical, to the whole New Testament Division of the Commentary. It was prepared with great care and skill by Mr. John H. Woods, A. M., of Jacksonville, Illinois, and will be found almost indispensable in the use of any of the ten volumes which it covers.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
TO THE CRITICAL, DOCTRINAL, AND HOMILETICAL COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE
Rev. JOHANN PETER LANGE, D.D.,
Consistorial Counselor and Professor of Theology in the University of Bonn.
Rev. PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Sacred Literature in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.
I. CONTRIBUTORS TO THE GERMAN EDITION
Rev. C. A. AUBERLEN, PH.D., D. D.,
Professer of Theology in the University of Basle, Switzerland.
Rev. KARL CHR. W. F. BÄHR, D.D.,
Ministerial Counselor at Carlsruhe.
Rev. KARL BRAUNE, D.D.,
General Superintendent at Altenburg, Saxony.
Rev. PAULUS CASSEL, Ph.D.,
Professor in Berlin.
Rev. CHR. FR. DAVID ERDMANN, D.D.,
Gen. Superintendent of Silesia, and Prof. Honorarius of Theology in the University of Breslau.
Rev. F. R. FAY,
Pastor in Crefeld, Prussia.
Rev. G. F. C. FRONMÜLLER, Ph.D.,
Pastor at Kemnath, Würtemberg.
Rev. KARL GEROK, D.D.,
Prelate and Chief Chaplain of the Court, Stuttgart.
Rev. PAUL KLEINERT, Ph.D., B.D.,
Professor of Old Testament Exegesis in the University of Berlin.
Rev. CHRIST. FR. KLING, D.D.,
Dean of Marbach on the Neckar, Würtemberg.
Rev. GOTTHARD VICTOR LECHLER, D.D.,
Professor of Theology, and Superintendent at Leipzig.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS.
Rev. CARL BERNHARD MOLL, D.D.,
General Superintendent in Königsberg.
Rev. C. W. EDWARD NAEGELSBACH, Ph.D.,
Dean at Bayreuth, Bavaria.
Rev. J. J. VAN OOSTERZEE, D.D.,
Professor of Theology in the University of Utrecht.
Rev. C. J. RIGGENBACH, D.D.,
Professor of Theology in the University of Basle.
Rev. OTTO SCHMOLLER, Ph.D., B.D.,
Rev. FR. JULIUS SCHROEDER, D.D.,
Pastor at Elberfeld, Prussia.
Rev. FR. W. SCHULTZ, D.D.,
Professor of Theology in Breslau.
Rev. OTTO ZOECKLER, D.D.,
Professor of Theology in the University at Greifswald.
II. CONTRIBUTORS TO THE ANGLO-AMERICAN EDITION
Rev. CHARLES A. AIKEN, Ph.D., D.D.,
Professor of Christian Ethics and Apologetics at Princeton, N.J.
Rev. SAMUEL RALPH ASBURY, M.A.,
Rev. GEORGE R. BLISS, D.D.,
Professor in Crozer Theological Seminary, Upland, Pa.
Rev. CHAS. A. BRIGGS, D.D.,
Professor of Oriental Languages in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.
Rev. JOHN A. BROADUS, D.D.,
Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Greenville, S. C.
Rev. TALBOT W. CHAMBERS, D.D.,
Pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, New York.
Rev. THOMAS J. CONANT, D.D.,
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Rev. E. R. CRAVEN, D.D.,
Pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church, Newark, N. J.
Rev. HOWARD CROSBY, D.D., LL.D.,
Chancellor of the University of New York.
Rev. GEO. E. DAY, D.D.,
Professor in Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
Rev. CHAS. ELLIOTT, D.D.,
Professor of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, Chicago, Ill.
Rev. L. J. EVANS, D.D.,
Professor of New Test. Exegesis in Lane Theol. Seminary, Cincinnati.
Rev. PATRICK FAIRBAIRN, D.D.,
Principal and Professor of Divinity in the Free Church College, Glasgow.
Rev. WILLIAM FINDLAY, M.A.,
Pastor of the Free Church, Larkhall, Scotland.
Rev. JOHN FORSYTH, D.D., LL.D.,
Chaplain and Prof. of Ethics and Law in U. S. Mil. Academy, West Point, N. Y.
Rev. FREDERIC GARDINER, D.D.,
Prof. of the Literature of the O. T. in Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Ct.
Rev. ABRAHAM GOSMAN, D.D.,
Lawrenceville, N. J.
Rev. W. HENRY GREEN, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Oriental Literature in the Theol. Seminary at Princeton, N. J.
Rev. JAMES B. HAMMOND, M.A.,
Rev. HORATIO B. HACKETT, D.D.,
Professor of Biblical Exegesis in the Theological Seminary, Rochester, N. Y.
Rev. CHESTER D. HARTRANFT, D.D.,
New Brunswick, N. J.
Rev. EDWIN HARWOOD, D.D.,
Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, Conn.
Rev. W. H. HORNBLOWER, D.D.,
Professor of Sacred Rhetoric, etc., in the Theol. Seminary at Allegheny, Pa.
Rev. JOHN F. HURST, D.D.,
President of the Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, N. J.
Rev. MELANCTHON H. JACOBUS, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Old Test. Literature and Exegesis in the Theol. Sem. at Allegheny, Pa.
Rev. A. C. KENDRICK, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Greek in the University of Rochester, N. Y.
TAYLER LEWIS, LL.D.,
Professor of Oriental Languages in Union College, Schenectady, N. Y.
Rev. JOHN LILLIE, D.D.,
Kingston, N. Y.
Rev. SAMUEL T. LOWRIE, D.D.,
Professor of Biblical Exegesis in the Theol. Seminary at Allegheny, Pa.
Rev. J. FRED. MCCURDY, M.A.,
Ass’t Professor of the Hebrew Language in the Theol. Sem. at Princeton, N. J.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS.
Rev. CHARLES M. MEAD, Ph.D.,
Professor of the Hebrew Language and Literature in the Theol. Sem., Andover, Mass.
Rev. J. ISIDOR MOMBERT, D.D.,
MISS EVELINE MOORE,
Newark, N. J.
JAMES G. MURPHY, LL.D.,
Professor in the General Assembly’s and the Queen’s College at Belfast.
Rev. HOWARD OSGOOD, D.D.,
Professor of the Interpretation of the Old Test. in the Theol. Sem., Rochester, N. Y.
Rev. JOSEPH PACKARD, D.D.,
Professor of Biblical Literature in the Theological Seminary at Alexandria, Va.
Rev. DANIEL W. POOR, D.D.,
Professor of Church History in the Theological Seminary at San Francisco, Cal.
Rev. MATTHEW B. RIDDLE, D.D.,
Professor of New Testament Exegesis in the Theol. Seminary at Hartford, Conn.
Rev. CHAS. F. SCHAEFFER, D.D.,
Professor of Theology in the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia.
Rev. WILLIAM G. T. SHEDD, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Systematic Theology in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.
Rev. CHAS. C. STARBUCK, M.A.,
Formerly Tutor in the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass.
Rev. P. H. STEENSTRA,
Professor of Biblical Literature at Cambridge, Mass.
Rev. JAMES STRONG, D.D.,
Professor of Exegetical Theology in the Drew Theological Seminary, Madison. N. J.
Rev. W. G. SUMNER, M.A.,
Professor in Yale College, New Haven, Conn.
Rev. C. H. TOY, D.D.,
Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis, Greenville, S. C.
Rev. E. A. WASHBURN, D.D., LL.D.,
Rector of Calvary Church, New York.
WILLIAM WELLS, M.A., LL.D.,
Professor of Modern Languages in Union College, New York.
Rev. C. P. WING, D.D.,
Rev. E. D. YEOMANS, D.D.,
Lately of Orange, N. J.
PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR
Through the gracious assistance of God, the New Testament division of our Bible-work is now entirely completed, with the present Theologico-Homiletical Commentary on the Revelation of John.
In the treatment of this Book, I have considered it expedient to give particular prominence to the theoretical, critical and exegetical section;—a foundation of more than ordinary solidity being necessary in order to an ampler doctrinal and homiletical utilization of this Scripture, which has sustained such manifold wrenchings from one extreme to another.
The first thing requisite was to give a more elaborate and definite form to the theology of Apocalyptics; as it is possible to rectify the existent grand misapprehensions concerning the peculiar characteristics of Hebrew Art, in respect of its perfection in the forms of Eschatological Prophecy,—misapprehensions peculiar to the traditional Hellenistico-humanistic point of view,—only by bringing about a thorough understanding of the magnitude of the contrast between the summits of Hellenistic and Theocratic culture.
With this task was linked the necessity for fixing our gaze more intently upon the symbolical side of Apocalyptics, and for tracing the Apocalyptic symbolism of the New Testament back to the more or less conventionally defined Old Testament elements of Apocalyptics. Nothing save a system of Biblico-prophetic symbolism which shall be founded upon well-ascertained rules, can, on the one hand, terminate the endless hap-hazard conjecture in which exegesis is wont to indulge and which results in the attributing of significations the most motley to the allegorical figures of Scripture; and, on the other hand, insure the decided appreciation of the peculiar character of allegorical Scriptures.
If it be an unmistakable fact that a certain Book is of an allegorical character, it must appear simply inadmissible, in explaining it, to pitch upon interpretations ad libitum, without finding out the symbolical key to the work. But, again, to handle a prophetico-poetic Book, composed in allegories, as if it were a work of literal meaning, is, manifestly, an utterly unreasonable and mischievous procedure. If the interpreter be not aware of the heaven-wide distinction between an explanation of an allegorical matter and so-called allegorical explanation, his ignorance is an intellectual calamity. But if he do know very well that an allegorical composition should be explained as such, and if he, nevertheless, in order to illustrate certain school-opinions, torture that allegorical composition until its language seems to be that of the letter, his conduct is a moral scandal.
What though ten or twenty arbitrary and fanciful interpretations have attached themselves to an allegorical passage?—that circumstance does not in the least destroy its allegorical character; on the contrary, it serves but to recommend, in the most pressing manner, an inquiry after the symbolical analogies and the fundamental character of the prophecy. Despair as to exegesis as we find it, need not drive us to despair as to the text to which such exegesis has affixed itself. The so-called synchrono-historical interpretation of modern times, has shown, clearly enough, into what absurdities the latter despair may lead men. The allegorical character of the Apocalypse, in general, being established, the symbolical nature of its numbers, in particular, is at the same time proved; and the great lost labor of a chronological computation of the numbers,—that chronic malady of Apocalyptic exegesis,—is, so far at least as the principle is concerned, at an end.
Since the Apocalypses branch into a twofold genealogy, a canonical and an apocryphal, the further task of ascertaining, and eventually establishing, the canonical character of our Book, has presented itself to us. Presumptuous skirmishers in the field of criticism conceive that they can, without compromising themselves, rail at the bare supposition that there are canonical books,—reviling such an assumption as a lack of intellectual freedom. The term canonical was, however, originally applied to the Greek Classics. Now should any one essay to ridicule the idea of the Classics, he would hardly escape the charge of literary barbarism.
In respect of the construction of the Apocalypse, we adhere to the opinion that it is systematically arranged in cyclical collective pictures [pictures of the whole], which are always representative of the entire Course of the World down to the period of its End, and yet, in the succession which they are made to observe, are constantly advancing nearer to that End. The succession of these cycles, which are modified by the number Seven, is in exact correspondence with the movement, development and perfection of macrocosmical life,—from within, outwards. The Seven Churches, in their symbolical significance, constitute not simply an introduction to the Book; as the kernel and centre of the World’s history, they form the determinative fundamental idea of the Book. The Seven Seals constitute the history of the World, in relation to the Seven Churches. The Seven Trumpets follow, as Divine judgments upon, or penitential [exhorting to repentance] trumpets over, seven specific corruptions or forms of sin in the Church. Then ensue the Seven Thunders, as sealed life-pictures of the times of awakening, and of reforms, in the Church. Only in face of these powers of the world to come, can the Seven Heads of the Antichristian Beast develop;—the seven world-monarchies ending in the consummation of Antichristianity in the Antichrist;—the demonic reaction of world-history against the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, Antichristian evil, on its side, calls forth the Seven Vials of Anger, the judgments of hardening, the last of which unfolds into the three special judgments upon the Harlot, the Beast, and Satan, being afterwards summed up again in the General Judgment of the World. That this General Judgment then ushers in the Seventh Day, the eternal Sabbath of God, is a conclusion which the Seer has scenically portrayed rather than expressly declared; his particular reason for withholding such a declaration is probably to be found in the fact that he has at the outset, in the Prologue, announced the complete revelation of God in Christ as a revelation of the Seven Spirits in Christ, or in the fact that the number Seven results from the number Six.
Within the development of the Septenary, we, with others, have retained the division of the Book into Two Parts: The World’s Course to its End, and The End itself.
In perfect consistency with this division, an earlier view is carried out, agreeably with which heavenly scenes precede the earthly occurrences. From beginning to end we find the entire sequence of troublous earthly times to be over-swayed by heavenly actions, by festal presentations of the Divine Council;—the gloomy Earth-pictures being thus ever ruled by radiant Heaven-pictures. The distinctions resulting from this law of the construction alone are qualified to dissipate the unclear and confused views which subsist in regard to the composition of the Apocalypse.
May our labor, under the blessing of the Lord, contribute somewhat toward the furtherance of an understanding of eschatological affairs; in particular, may it promote the wholesome and lively expectation of the Coming of Christ,—an expectation whose vocation it is, on the one hand, to subdue that indifferentistic spiritualism which disdains all knowledge of a real, eschatological Theology; on the other hand, to paralyze that fanatical separatism and spiritism which, in manifold respects, pervert the glorious prospects of the Church into ridiculous caricatures; and at the same time to disenergize the endless labors of formal chiliastic time-reckoners. * * * * * *
In general, we may regard the accomplishment of the Bible-work as a matter that has become independent of personal eventualities,—as a tolerably assured fact; and for this, in the name of Editors and Publishers, we offer thanks and praise unto the Lord, who hath helped us hitherto.
J. P. LANGE
INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR
It is with devout gratitude to God that, after more than two years of labor, I find myself enabled to lay Lange’s Commentary on the Apocalypse before the community. The publication has, much to my regret, been delayed far beyond the period originally contemplated. This delay was, in great measure, occasioned by a temporary indisposition, which, after the greater portion of the work had been placed in the hands of the printer, rendered expedient my absence for several months from the country.
Instead of presenting an extended Introduction, as originally designed, I confine myself to a brief statement of some of the difficulties, and one or two other matters, connected with the preparation of the work.
THE GREEK TEXT.
As is well known to scholars, the text of the Apocalypse is the most imperfect of the Recepta. Erasmus, for the preparation of this portion of his great and important work, had but one Manuscript, and that a cursive of (probably) the XII. Century. Not only was this MS. of but little, or rather no authority, but it was incomplete; gaps had to be supplied by re-translation from the Vulgate—the entire passage from the word
, Rev_22:16, to the close of the Book had to be thus prepared. The only copies of the Vulgate to which Erasmus had access were the corrupt printed editions then in common use. In addition to these sources of error, the work was so hurried through the press that several important mistakes of copyists found their way into the printed volume, where they have continued to the present day.
Even so late as 1844, Tregelles, when he first published his text of the Apocalypse, had access to but three uncial Codices, viz.: A., C., and the B. of the Apocalypse. Of these, C. is probably the oldest, but, being a palimpsest, is defective in many parts—eight entire chapters of the Apocalypse are wanting.
It was not until the discovery by Tischendorf of the Sinaitic MS., generally known as
., and the Porfirian, denominated P., both in 1862, that material was provided for a satisfactory emendation of the text. The recent great critical works of Tregelles and Tischendorf, based largely on these newly discovered Codices, did not appear until after the first part of this work was in the hands of the printer. Through the kindness of Prof. Tischendorf in furnishing advance sheets to Dr. Schaff, and of Prof. Abbott, of Harvard University, in allowing me the use of his copy of Tregelles’ Apocalypse until I could obtain one from Europe, I was enabled not only to continue my labor with the aid of these all-important works, but also to correct that which I had already prepared.
An elaborate and valuable article on the “Greek Text of the Apocalypse,” from the pen of the Rev. Thomas J. Conant, of Brooklyn, N. Y., may be found in The Baptist Quarterly, Vol. IV., pp. 129 sqq.
The emendation of the text made necessary, of course, to a considerable extent, a revision of the English Version. But beyond this, I felt it to be proper to extend the revision. As is well known, the original translators inclined to the free use of synonyms—rendering the same Greek word by several English terms, and again rendering several Greek terms by the same English expression. For instance, in the New Testament the word world is employed to translate
; and each of these terms has at least one other rendering;
are continually confounded, as are also
, etc. It has been my effort to give to each Greek term its proper English equivalent, and, as far as possible, to employ that equivalent uniformly. Certain verbal and grammatical inaccuracies have also been corrected. It is also proper to remark that the first-class marginal readings (those marked with a †) have almost invariably been adopted.
It is proper to state that in my revision I was greatly indebted to the Version of Alford, and the Translation for the American Bible Union, by the late learned and lamented Rev. John Lillie, D. D., of Kingston, N. Y.
Another great difficulty encountered by me was the selection of additional comments. No Book of the Bible has been the subject of so many and variant interpretations, by evangelical men, as the Apocalypse. More than twenty-six pages of Darling’s Cyclopædia Bibliographica are filled with the mere titles of Commentaries on the entire Book or portions thereof. It was desirable to present, as far as practicable, the views of all classes of interpreters. That this might be done, a selection of the following representative authors was made, and abstracts of their views prepared, viz., Moses Stuart, Elliott, Wordsworth, Lord, Alford, Barnes, and Glasgow. Additions also were made from the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Bush, Auberlen, Trench (On the Seven Epistles), Brown (On the Second Advent); and in the Homiletical Department from those of Matthew Henry, Scott, Bonar, Vaughan, and others. The additions to the Homiletical Department were made, during my absence from the country, by the Translator; they meet with my entire approbation.
It will be evident to the reader that I must be classed with those who are generally known as pre-millenarians. My views have been frankly expressed and supported, but I trust not offensively, and I have endeavored fully to present the views of those from whom I differ. My own views, it is proper to remark, are considerably modified by my peculiar hypotheses in reference to the Basileia, and the twofold Future Advent of Christ. On both these subjects extended Notes will be found in the body of the work.
With these general remarks, and with the fervent prayer that God will use this publication for His glory and the increase of knowledge in the Church, I submit it to the Christian public.
E. R. CRAVEN
INTRODUCTION TO THE APOCALYPSE
§ 1. THE APOCALYPSE IN ITS UNIQUENESS AND ITS KINDRED BEARINGS
The canonical Scripture which forms the close of the New Testament, and of the Biblical Books generally, the Revelation of St. John, is not only a peculiar, but also an entirely unique phenomenon; a unique phenomenon in the very series of Biblical Books themselves, so that it can be said: As the Bible stands alone amongst the writings of the world, so does the Apocalypse stand alone amongst the writings of the Bible. It is thus doubly a unique book and that—by virtue of its essence, mysterious even to enigmatical obscurity—in a three-fold relation: in respect of its origin, its form, and its operation.
As to its origin, it is one of the most strongly authenticated of the Books of the Bible; authenticated by its superscription, its historical statements (Rev_1:9), and the historical evidences accompanying it. And yet, among the New Testament Antilegomena, or Scriptures whose reception into the Canon has been protested against, this very Book is the greatest Antilegomenon; ecclesiastically questioned in ancient times and the subject of theological dispute in more modern days.
Its form, however, conjoins a fullness of antitheses, of which many can conceive only as contradictions. A claim to the ripest New-Testamentalness, or Christian knowledge and freedom—united to the semblance of an Old Testament spirit of wrath, of a Judaizing tendency in general. Utterances of the highest ecstasy, of a contemplation the most, direct, fully merged in the Divine revelation—framed in an expression apparently the result of an artistic culture and reflection the most exquisite. The richest fullness of Old Testament prophetic, evangelic and apostolic reminiscences,—and at the same time a prophetic originality which reminds us of the declaration, Behold I make all things new. An ideal peace which opens each new night-piece of earthly history with a pre-celebration of the heavenly, triumphant rule—conjoined to a feeling of human horror at the uncovered demonic abysses and the heavenly wrath-judgments. Finally, a work full of Greek elements of culture—in a form technically Hebrew, even in Hebraizing language.—All these antitheses announce a grandeur which, on a more cursory view, readily assumes the appearance of heterogeneousness. If we consider yet further that in the Apocalypse, still more than in the Epistles and Gospel of St. John, the severe expression of sublimity (here like a ghostly trumpet of judgment) is united to the simplest, pleasantest heart-words,—words sometimes of sympathy, sometimes of consolation and promise, so that the Book spreads itself out before us like the mantle of dusky night, broidered over with brilliant stars like jewels,—we shall understand the third mysterious feature of the Book, its even enigmatically marvelous operation.
Concerning the immediate operation of Christ Himself, we know that it was of a uniquely attractive and repellent character: those who came under His influence were attracted or repelled, in proportion to their spiritual affinity to, or alienation from, Him. The same truth continually obtains in regard to Christianity and also in regard to the Holy Scriptures. This two-fold operation, however, is inherent in the Apocalypse in a two-fold degree, and is there of so peculiar a sort as to be no longer the standard of simple piety. On the contrary, many men of piety and mark have been unable to accommodate themselves to the spirit of this Book, whilst the charm of its obscurity, giving promise, oft-times, of other revelations than the Gospel, has attracted impure and visionary minds. Still, every cavilling depreciation, as well as every fanatical misinterpretation, of this Book has for the most part betrayed a decided want—a want of that self-denying modesty which Socrates displayed in his treatment of the obscure writings of Heraclitus, or a want of that purity and integrity which never seek to supplement Christian knowledge through curiosity, secret-mongery and fantastical pictures of sensuous hope.
Thus, therefore, stands the mysterious tree of the Revelation before our eyes, unique of its kind. And yet, notwithstanding its uniqueness, or by reason of it, its roots are connected with great and varied spheres of literature. The Revelation, in respect of its intrinsic, apostolic wealth of light and life, is, as the last of the Biblical Books, intimately connected with them all. In respect of its prophetic and literary form, however, it stands in the centre of an extensive group of eschatological prophecies and apocalyptic writings, having common characteristic traits.
We shall arrive later at the general biblical kindred bearings of the Apocalypse; be it our next task to inquire into the whole phenomenon of Apocalyptics.
2. ORIGIN OF APOCALYPTICS
The origin of Apocalyptics—i.e., by way of prefatory definition: the sum of those forms of revelation which have reference to an ethico-physical end of the world—is situate as high and as deep as the origin of religion itself.
The most general sphere of Apocalyptics is the religious view of the world; their more definite home, the theocratico-Christian view of the world; the most peculiar region of their origin, however, is prophetic Eschatology.
The general religious view of the world, underlying all the religious systems of the human race, knows of a world-beginning, resting upon Divine power and wisdom; of a world-course, whose physical side is conditioned upon the moral conduct of mankind (or of the gods even), and placed, by Divine decree, under Divine guidance; hence also of a world-goal, whose attainment Divine retribution accomplishes in the form of the world’s end, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the world’s renewal.
The presageful expectation of the end of the world, within the general sphere of religion, rests, on the one side, upon definite signs of that most general Divine revelation which lies at the basis of all religion (Rom_1:19-20); especially upon the religious interpretation of the transientness of earthly things, of the catastrophes of development, of the types of consummation;—reposing, on the other side, upon the human longing after the realization of ideals.
But the more perfect a religious system is, the higher is its doctrine—in the form of prophecy—of the last things. This is true, for instance, of the Scandinavian Mythology.
Purer in fashion, however, appears the expectation of a world-goal in that believing view of the world which is grounded upon the revelation of salvation; grounded first, in an imperfect shape, upon the basis of the Old Testamental, theocratic form of said revelation.
Yet in the Old Testament, the following premises are definitely declared:
1. The human world is, in respect of its plan [Anlage], a unitous humanity, and as it has a unitous foundation, so likewise it possesses a unitous destination to the Kingdom of God, and a unitous goal in a Congregation or City of God, which is to appear at the end of its development, being mediated by great moral conflicts and Divine judgments.
2. The whole physical sphere of humanity is engaged in a development unto perfection, which is entirely conditioned upon the ethical development of humanity.
3. This development is subject to the ideal plan of the Divine counsel and to the real supremacy of Divine guidance.
4. It is effectuated, however, not in accordance with laws of physical necessity, but in accordance with the ethical law of a reciprocity of action between the wisdom of God and the freedom of man; amid a preponderance of Divine governance, however, which makes even the contradictions of erring human wisdom minister to the eschatological world-plan.
5. The method of the Divine government of the world consists in its perfect ethical conditionality. Hence, the new periods of development are conditioned upon new epochs; instants of deliverance upon instants of judgment; the appearance of the world-goal upon the principle of the world-goal; the redemption upon the coming of the Messiah. Hence is evident the magnitude of the error of those who pretend to know of epochs without mediatory periods, or vice versa;—of judgments without deliverances, or, finally, of the first coming of Christ without His second coming, or, like all Chiliasts, of His second coming without the full truth and reality of the first.
6. The Old Testament has indeed with justice been denominated the religion of the future. Nevertheless, its prophecy and its longing, repose, for the most part, only in the expectation of the principial Messianic Kingdom and the Messianic personality; but the universal renewal of the world which is bound up with this principle, emerges but in rarer and obscurer forms, although in respect of the idea, it is present in sufficient plainness.
With Christianity, this view of the world is perfected. Here mankind appears entirely as a something that is in process of becoming, which, in its maturity, shall know but one division—that, namely, into kernel and husk, wheat and chaff,—to the end that in its kernel it may glorify God as a perfected Church of God. Earth itself, with all its life-forms, is in an eminent sense a star of becoming [i. e., growth, development], pointing off and up to stars of perfection and destined itself to become a star of perfection. Here [in Christianity] the human cosmos in its development is entirely conditioned upon the development of mankind; the development of mankind upon the development of the Kingdom of God; this latter upon the development of the sovereignty of Christ, from His first appearance in lowliness to His second appearing in glory. This entire movement, with its epochs and periods, ensues in accordance with the counsel, and under the guidance, of God. The first particular, therefore in which the New Testament is distinguished from the Old, is that the latter is pre-eminently the religion of the future, that the Theocracy gravitates outward toward the future point of the appearance of Christ and His Kingdom, whilst the New Testament is the religion of appeasement, in which believing humanity, in its glorified Redeemer, in its inner life, in the Holy Ghost, has already principially attained the goal of the world and thus already stands, internally, in the New Æon of perfection, existing meanwhile, in respect of its outward life, still in the Old Æon. Hence it is also that the Old Testament consists, in great measure, of prophetic books, while the New Testament has but one prophetic book. But even on New Testament ground, the religious yearning after perfection is not yet fully satisfied (Rom_8:19 sqq.). For to the perfect truth of life, the full reality of life appertains; this reality, however, must have passed beyond the painful contradiction between the internal and the external life, the internal and the external world, having become a reality in which the whole outward appearance is translumined by the life of the spirit. Therefore, also, does the individual Christian, together with all believing Christendom, long for the consummation; and all the objective and subjective goals of longing are summed up in the one aspiration with which the Apocalypse closes: Come, Lord Jesus. To this longing, and to it alone, is the Apocalyptic Revelation given.
The religious longing of humanity, awakened by the Spirit of God, has in general ever been the human instrumentality of Divine revelation, of the self-communication of God in the prophetic contemplation of chosen men of God. The faithful of the primitive time addressed themselves, with their longing, to the obscurity of their own origin and the origin of all things; therefore the Spirit of God gave them a sufficient explanation concerning the Creator, the creation, the production and destination of man. But when this destination, in consequence of the fall, seemed utterly obscured and lost, the longing of the friends of God addressed itself entirely to the coming of salvation, and the Spirit of God gave them the promise of salvation in ever clearer traits: Victory over the Foe; rest from toil; blessing lifting above the curse; redemption from bondage. So soon, however, as a religious people had been converted into the typical people of the expectation and mediation of salvation, the longing directed itself to the Divine clearing up of the dark paths of the present, destined to be trod by men. This longing, likewise, did the Spirit of God answer, by giving the Law unto Moses. But the Law of the Present, in its outward figurativeness, was designed to kindle into flame the longing after the Future [Zukunft=future and coming] of the internal, essential Kingdom of God; and thus the longing of the Prophets, in the narrower sense of the latter term, took form, and the precursory appeasement of that longing was the Spirit of prophecy of and concerning Christ. As the fulfillment of prophecy lingered, however, all expectation of salvation was transformed into prayer, until the longing after salvation embodied itself, so to speak, in womanly receptivity. But as the mother of Jesus longed, with those about her, for the first coming of the Saviour, so, toward the end of the apostolic age, amid increasing signs of the great warfare of Antichristian powers against the Church of Christ, John longs for the second coming of his Friend. The Apostles, for the most part, had long since gone home to the Lord; the old friend of the Lord must wait so long in this world—under the act of persecution, wait as an exile on the rocky island—until at last was concentrated in him all the longing of the New Testament Church after Christ’s coming; his yearning blazed up on the Lord’s day, and thus the great prophetic disclosure concerning the coming of the Lord was apportioned to him.
Upon the basis of the general revelation of God through the creation and the conscience, arises the theocratic Christian revelation of salvation. This, in general, prophetic revelation begets again a revelation in the narrower sense of the term, viz., the prophetic disclosures concerning the future—the future of the Old and the New Covenant. Yet once more, however, within the prophetic Eschatology, there appears an entirely new, conclusive form of the Divine disclosures, and this form, the acme of all revelation, we call simply: Revelation, Apocalypse, because it is the revelation in the most eminent sense.
An unveiling of the future so vivid, that to the distempered vision of the reader it oft-times became a new veiling.
3. THE PECULIAR CONFORMATION OF APOCALYPTICS, IN THEIR DISTINCTION FROM THE GENERAL FORM OF PROPHECY
The name Apocalyptics, in its peculiar signification, first took its place in Theology with the perception that the New Testament Apocalypse belongs to an entire group of writings, partly canonical, partly uncanonical, all of which, by peculiar marks in respect of purport and form, are recognizable as a separate species of prophetic or pseudo-prophetic literature, being distinct from every other species of sacred writings, even though they do not all appear under the name of Apocalypses.
The name Apocalypse (
) disclosure, revelation, has primarily a more general meaning. The verb, like the noun, denotes in general every new revelation of God, coming from Heaven, through the Spirit of God, either to the individual man or to the human race,—and that in respect both of the purport and form of such revelation; pre-eminently, however, in respect of its purport.
But now a two-fold distinction comes into view. In regard to purport, we have to distinguish the Apocalypse, as the primary form of revelation, communicated by God to the beholding or believing human spirit, or appearing in and by it (Rom_2:5; Rom_8:19; Gal_1:12), from its secondary form, the revealing or publishing of the revelation (
, Joh_2:11; 1Co_12:7). This material distinction, again, is connected with the formal distinction, in accordance with which the Apocalypse, in its primary forms of ideal manifestation or vision, is consummated, supplemented, by real manifestations or miraculous facts, whilst the secondary form as, in the first place, a development of principial points of revelation, finds its continuation in prophetic inspirations.
Every Prophet is called to be a Prophet by a fundamental Apocalypse which “rends” the heavens above him, developing itself subsequently in most manifold inspirations. These inspirations are, in the Prophet’s own bosom, already revelations, (
); it is his province in his preaching to convert them into prophetic announcements for his cotemporaries, for the world.
But, once more, we have to distinguish the Apocalypse as a Divine fact, from its product, the Apocalypse as a human composition. The apocalyptic writing bears its specific name—which distinguishes it from all writings which are prophetic in a more general sense only—in accordance with a distinction which might at first sight be designated as conventional but which, upon closer inspection, is found to rest upon very decided distinctive marks.
The first mark respects form. The prophetic writings, in a more general sense, are collections of single prophecies, disposed with more or less order in regard to subject-matter,—in a word, anthologies; and their symbolic expression is transrupted by didactical sermons and exhortations [Paränesen,
]. In them, moreover, the source-points of the vision and the moral applications of the same, together with historical elucidations even, branch out very distinctly. An Apocalypse, on the contrary, is, on the one hand, the presentation of an uninterrupted succession of visions, following one upon another in cyclical divisions; on the other hand, a thoroughly unitous composition, a sacred work of art, whose style is, accordingly, altogether figurative or typical, even though it be based upon historical data; these historical data themselves attain a symbolical significance. The typical forms cease, however, to be purely individual [proper only to the person employing them—E. R. C.]; they assume the character of an historically conventional fixedness, i. e., a theocratic science.
The second mark respects the purport. The prophetic anthologies proceed in the main, from the present onward, through a fragmentary series of Messianic pictures, to the Advent of the Messiah, and if they do advance beyond His simple appearance and sketch the fullness of the times in eschatological traits, those traits are nevertheless exceedingly few and far between. For the most part, the second coming of the Messiah coincides for them with His first coming, and the great gulf between the two becomes manifest only from particular features of the suffering Messiah, particular intimations of the “travail of the Messiah.” On the other hand, the Apocalypses are eschatological from beginning to end. Not only the contrast between the suffering and glorified Christ, but also that between His first and second appearing, hence likewise that between Christ and Antichrist, nay, the contrast between the old and the new world, and consequently the end of the world itself, emerge boldly. In fact, the end of the world, or the course of the world, in its gravitation toward the end, forms the object upon which their gaze is concentrated—constitutes their peculiar point of view. This point of view they mediate, however, by a history of the world, eschatological in its modifications. The entire history of the world from the olden times, or from the first appearance of Christ, is in them unfolded in eschatological cycles, in which the entire course of the world is continually presented from different points of view—the cycles meantime progressing steadily toward the end. This type is, at all events, quite distinctly impressed upon the Apocalypse [of John]; and Hilgenfeld’s denial of the fact is based upon a hampered rationalistic view of the narrow scope of this Scripture. It is, on the contrary, remarkable that the idea of a universal history—whose germ was contained in Genesis—here appears in full development, though in Hebrew theocratic form, whilst classical historiography was unable to attain to this universalism. We find later, in the Gnostics, a striving after a universal view of the world which should set at nought the barriers of history and of our earth—but which did not succeed in passing beyond fanciful and heretical forms.
With this latter mark, the third mark of the Apocalypses is connected. Originating, as they did, in the Divine pacification and consolation of elect prophetic hearts, whose ardent longing blazes brightly in times of great tribulation in the Kingdom of God, they are in like manner designed to instruct, to comfort, and to pacify, first the servants of God, and through them, the churches in times of future new and similar tribulations; nay, to transmute all signs of terror into signs of hope and promise: whilst the aim of ordinary Prophecies consists pre-eminently in the satisfaction of the needs of the present in regard to enlightenment, discipline, consolation, and exhortation. These latter are writings concerning the future, for the present; the others are writings which, passing over the present, are intended preeminently for the future. This fact is quite one-sidedly presented by Hilgenfeld: “They were meant to fill up the times when there was no revelation with substitutes of prophecy.” The connecting link between Malachi and Christ was formed by the popular piety, longing, and hope of the true Israel, and not by pseudo-apocalyptic reveries.
In proceeding to distinguish between genuine and spurious Apocalypses, we may put forth the general statement that the former contain a solution of the problem as to how the highest visions may be united to the highest forms of sacred art; the latter are at best poetic imitations, which, for visions, substitute compilations and extravagant fancies, and replace the theocratico-classical and mysterious artistic form with a manufactured and mystical chiar’ oscuro.
4. CLASSES OF APOCALYPTICAL WRITINGS
Particulars concerning the development of Apocalyptics in general may be found in Lücke’s work, the most prominent treatise on the subject: Versuch einer vollständigen Einleitung in die Offenbarung des Johannes, Bonn, 1848–52, p. 9–15. One of the first impulses to the Science of Apocalyptics was given in 1819, by the English Bishop Laurence, with his edition of Apocalyptic writings from the Ethiopian (Anabaticon of Isaiah 4 th Book of Ezra 9); this, indeed, was after Semler had availed himself of such Apocryphal apocalypses as were known to him in interpretation of the Revelation of St. John, being followed by Conradi, and, shortly after, by Eichhorn and Bleek; see Hilgenfeld, p. 4. Subsequent to Bishop Lawrence’s work, Nitzsch, in the year 1820, sketched the idea of Apocalyptics. Lücke was spurred on in his task by the “report” of Nitzsch (1st edition, 1832). In 1833, A. C. Hofmann published a translation and exegesis of the Book of Enoch, with which he united a treatise upon the Apocalyptists of the olden time amongst the Jews and Christians, assuming the existence of a coherent whole, composed of apocalyptic literature, and commencing with the Book of Daniel. Quite a series of commentaries, from Ewald’s commentary on the Apocalypse, down to the present time, have promoted the general views upon this subject (see Lücke, p. 14). The following work by Hilgenfeld especially belongs here: Die jüdische Apokalyptik in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung [Jewish Apocalyptics in their historical development], Jena, 1857. In accordance with the main features of the two main Apocalypses of the Old and New Testaments, Auberlen, with his Daniel and the Apocalypse, Basel, 1857, likewise claims a place here. [English Translation, Edinburgh, 1856, a work of rare merit.—E. B. C] In a more general sense, we mention here the Biblical Theologies, the Introductions to the New Testament, the books upon Eschatology and Chiliasm (particularly Conradi, Kritische Geschichte des Chiliasmus [Critical History of Chiliasm], II., p. 365; comp. 231, in the same vol.; III., 1, 60, 107). Note especially, however, the more or less comprehensive editions of Apocalyptic writings. Lücke dates the more distinct collections of apocryphal Apocalyptic writings from Gfrörer’s Prophetæ veteres pseudepigraphi, 1840; although this publication did not contain Apocalyptic matter simply (the more ancient collections of Fabricius and Philo were not formed from the point of view which assumed the existence of a general system of Apocalyptics). Subsequently Tischendorf issued: Apocalypses Apocryphæ Mosis, Esdræ, Pauli, Johannis, item Mariæ Dormitio, Leipzig, 1866. Particular Apocalypses were discussed by Lawrence (see above), Nitzsch (De testamentis 12 patriarch., Wittenberg 1810), Gieseler (Vetus translatio latina Visionis Jesaiæ, Göttingen, 1832), Hofmann (Das Buch Henoch, see above), Friedlieb (Die Sibyllinischen Weissagungen [The Sybilline Prophecies], Leipzig, 1852), Dillmann (Das Buck Henoch, 1853), Philippi (Das Buch Henoch, sein Zeitalter und sein Verhältniss zum Judasbriefe [The Book of Enoch, the time of its composition and its relation to the Epistle of Jude], Stuttgart, 1868; a monograph of sterling merit), Volkmar (Das 4 Buch Esra [second division of the Hand-Book of the Introduction to the Apocrypha], Tübingen, 1863), et al.
If it is with truth that we have designated the religion of Israel as the religion of the future, we may be permitted to designate Apocalyptics in particular as the vision of the future; partly as the actual prophecy, partly as the popular poetry of the future. Relatively, this applies again to the eschatological longing and hope of the New Testament faith; but particularly to the chiliastic-morbid Jewish-christian expectance of the future, in accordance with a condition of mind which looked for redemption more in the future Appearing of Christ than in the principial base-laying salvation of His first Advent.
The apocalyptical writings which have sprung up bearing these signs, are divided into the following classes:
a. Old Testament canonical Apocalypses;
b. Old Testament apocryphal Apocalypses;
c. The New Testament Apocalypse;
d. Jewish-Christian apocryphal Apocalypses.
a. Old Testament Canonical Apocalypses
We have elsewhere (Comm. on Genesis, p. 36 [Am. Ed.] already stated that for the appearance of the apocalyptic form we go back far beyond Daniel. And this we do in accordance with the two principal marks of an apocalyptic writing; the formal mark—unity of composition; and the material mark—the expectation of an eschatological judgment, passing beyond simple Messianism (first Advent); an expectation in accordance with which we might regard the whole non-Christian Jewish people, in its eschatological expectancy, as a permanent, plastic appearance or embodiment of apocryphal Apocalyptics.
With respect to the Old Testament Books—composed, as they are, in accordance with a unitous idea, organically membered, and closing, consequently, with themselves—the phenomenon of the ideal, unitous, organic structure of the Books goes back far behind the first Old Testament apocalypses, to the beginning of Old Testament literature; and when criticism, whose existence is demanded by the very spirit of revelation, shall have outgrown its boyhood, in which, in slavish dependence upon the new, it gives chase, with slackened rein, to the newest, the fact will doubtless be recognized that—with the exception of redactions of original memorabilia—men have done the reverend Scriptures great wrong by this endless untwisting and patching together of the Biblical Books, on the hypothesis of the most spiritless book-making. One composition, at least, it is impossible to misjudge as a whole, even though it may receive damage in particulars—and that is the grand old Book of Job.
In the introduction to the Comm. on Genesis (see above) we have given our reasons for distinguishing an entire group of Old Testament Apocalypses, although not until Daniel does the species appear with features fully stamped. The second part of Isaiah [Isaiah 40-66] is a unitous composition, having its point of gravitation, manifestly, in the eschatological world-consummation—i. e., it has the sign of the Apocalypse. This is true no less of the appendix to the Prophecies of Jeremiah (chap. 45–52). The apocalyptic conclusion of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37-48), the whole Book of Zechariah in its indissoluble unity, and particularly the Book of Daniel—with the exception of the sections Dan_10:1 to Dan_11:45, and Dan_12:5-13, (see Comm. on Genesis, p. 38, Am. Ed.)—present, in form and purport, the Old Testament eschatological elements which in the original visions of the New Testament Apocalypse have arrived at their perfect significancy and configuration. “Among the minor Prophets we regard the Books of Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah as Apocalypses, predominantly depicting, in unitous composition, the judgment upon Antichristianity in its symbolical preludes.” (Genesis, p. 37. [Am. Ed.]).
b. Jewish Apocryphal Apocalyptics
Hilgenfeld (Vorwort VIII.) is doubtless in error in viewing the whole Apocalyptics of Judaism as a precursory history of Christianity, and in believing that he has found in Essenism an offshoot of Jewish Apocalyptics which conducts us directly to the threshold of Christianity. This idea, which will allow of no distinction whatever between the theocratic and churchly main current and those turbid secondary streams which have their rise in the popular fancy, is based upon the ruling impulse of that school which pseudo-critically jumbles together all things in whose disposition a critical arrangement is to be found;—the same school which regards the Gnostics as presenting a peculiar stage in the development of true Christianity, and zealously labors against the distinction between canonical and apocryphal writings as a hereditary evil of Theology itself. Such confusions, growing out of a special tendency, are rarely to be met with to the same degree in any other department of science. Philology, for instance, is careful to avoid mingling together, without distinction, nay, with a fanatical levelling impulse, ancient classics and obsolete popular literature, to the production of endless trouble and great confusion.
Jewish apocryphal Apocalyptics have produced two writings which, in common, have a Jewish character—especially in their imitation of Daniel—and yet stand in decided contrast one to the other. The Jewish stock of the Sibylline books, interpolated and supplemented by Christians, namely the third book of Esdras, has, like the book of the Wisdom of Solomon, an Alexandrian ground-tone; whilst on the other hand, the fourth book of Esdras, in its Hebrew-Pharisaic character, reminds us quite unmistakably of the book of Jesus Sirach. They possess in common the fundamental idea of the future victory of Judaism over the Gentile world-kingdoms. This fundamental idea can be attributed to the Book of Daniel itself only by a false religious taste; in that prophecy it is not the restoration of the Theocracy, but an entirely new Heavenly Kingdom of the Son of Man which puts an end to the kingdoms of the world. In both writings (3 and 4 Esdras) the dwindling away of the expectation of a personal Messiah is unmistakable (see Hilgenfeld, p. 77, 78, 86, 221 sqq.; Volkmar, Esra, 260).
On the other hand, there is a distinction between the two books which accords with the contrast between the Hebrew-Jewish and the Alexandrian-Jewish character; in the fourth book of Esdras, the Pharisaic hatred of the heathen is unmistakably prominent—for instance, in the joy of the blessed at the spectacle of the wicked burning in everlasting flames (Hilgenfeld, p. 201)—; whilst the Sibyl is continually warning the heathen against the service of false gods, and finally anticipates the general instruction of the Gentiles and their conversion to Monotheism (Hilgenfeld, 87, 88). They are distinguished furthermore in that the Hebrew Messiah stands back of the Messianic upliftment of the nation above the Roman world power, appearing only at the end of the world for judgment especially (Hilgenfeld, 220), while the Alexandrian Messiah is endowed with scarcely any distinctness of form.
Another distinctive mark is, that the Sibyl is glorified as prophecy come to the heathen from the theocratic source;—prophecy whose final aim, like that of Sophia [or Wisdom personified] in the Wisdom of Solomon, is the eschatological renewal of the world: while the Messianism of the fourth book of Esdras, as also of the book of Jesus Sirach, culminates in a growth of books or writings (Sir_24:23; Sirach 4 Esdras at the close: Esdras’ 94 books [the English Version of the Apocrypha gives 204 (or nine hundred and four Marg.) as the number of the books that were written, 2 (4) Esdr. 14:44 ]; 24 open, 70 secret writings).
Neither is the contrast in the form, of the prophecy to be overlooked. The Alexandrian Sibyl prophesies from an irresistible impulse, in pathological ecstasy (Hilgenfeld, 51), whilst the visions vouchsafed to Esdras are mediated by ethical conduct, fasting and praying, and thus their revelations can assume a conversational form.
According to Friedlieb, the Jewish Sibylline books came into being from the years 160 to 40 B. C. (according to Bleek, an older portion is cotemporary with the Book of Daniel (?), a later part having been produced, he thinks, about 40 B. C.). The time of the Jewish ground-form of the fourth book of Esdras is differently estimated by different exegetes. This disagreement of exegesis is based upon the interpretation of the exceedingly obscure vision of the eagle (dream-vision of the second night). Lawrence interpreted the twelve wings of the eagle as referring to the ancient history