Page images
PDF
EPUB

when the agency of the Apostles themselves had passed away from the readers, but the impress of their warning words had not faded from their memories.

5. Another note of time has been imagined to lie in the circumstance, that the destruction of Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Epistle. It has been replied, that there was no reason why any allusion should have been made to that event, as the immediate subject before the Writer did not lead him to it. Still I cannot help feeling that the reply is not wholly satisfactory. Considering that St. Jude was writing to Jews, and citing signal instances of divine vengeance, though he may not have been led to mention the judgment of the Flood, I can hardly conceive that he would have omitted that which uprooted the Jewish people and polity.

6. So that on the whole, as De Wette, himself often sceptical on the question of the genuineness and antiquity of the New Test. writings, confesses, there is no reason why we should place our Epistle later than the limit of the apostolic age.

That it was anterior to the second Epistle of Peter, I have already endeavoured to prove (see above, ch. iv. $ iii. 3 f.).

7. Of the place where this Epistle was written, absolutely nothing is known. From its tone and references, we should conjecture that the Writer lived in Palestine: but even thus much must be uncertain.

SECTION V.

ON THE APOCRYPHAL WRITINGS APPARENTLY REFERRED TO IN THIS

EPISTLE.

1. In ver. 14 we have a reference to a prophecy of Enoch, the seventh from Adam. This has by many been supposed to indicate an acquaintance on the part of the Writer with the existing apocryphal "book of Enoch.” It becomes desirable therefore that we should briefly put the student in possession of the history and nature of that document. In so doing I shall take my matter partly from Mr. Westcott’s article in Dr. Smith's Biblical Dictionary, partly from a notice by Professor Volkmar (see below): to which sources the reader is referred for further details.

2. The book appears to have been known to the early fathers, Justin, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, and we have numerous references to it in the “ Testaments of the velve Patriarchs." Tertullian quotes it as a book not admitted into the Jewish canon, but profitable, and indeed to be received by Christians on the ground that “ thing is to be altogether rejected which has reference to ourselves,” and

no

that “we read that all Scripture (or, every writing) fit for edification is divinely inspired.” Augustine was acquainted with it, as also was an anonymous writer whose work is printed among those of Jerome: but during the middle ages it was known to the Western Church only through the (presumed) quotations in our Epistle. The Eastern Church possessed considerable fragments of it, incorporated into the Chronographia of Georgius Syncellus (about 792).

3. About the close of the last century, the traveller Bruce brought from Abyssinia the Æthiopic translation of the entire book. An English version of this translation was published by Archbishop Lawrence in 1821 ; and the Æthiopic itself in 1838. Since then a more complete edition has been published in Germany (by Dr. A. Dillmann, Leipzig, 1853), which is now the standard one, and has given rise to the Essays, among others, of Ewald and Hilgenfeld.

4. The Æthiopic version appears to have been made from the Greek ;as, though wanting a considerable passage quoted by Syncellus, it yet agrees in the main with the citations found in the early Fathers. But it is probable that the Greek itself is but a version of a Hebrew original. The names of the angels and of the winds betray an Aramaic origin: and a Hebrew book of Enoch was known and used by the Jews as late as the thirteenth century.

5. The book consists of revelations purporting to have been given to Enoch and to Noah: and its object is, to vindicate the ways of Divine Providence: to set forth the terrible retribution reserved for sinners, whether angelic or human : and to “repeat in every form the great principle that the world, natural, moral and spiritual, is under the immediate government of God."

6. “In doctrine,” says Mr. Westcott in the article above mentioned, “ the book of Enoch exhibits a great advance of thought. within the limits of revelation in each of the great divisions of knowledge. The teaching on nature is a curious attempt to reduce the scattered images of the Old Test. to a physical system. The view of society and man, of the temporary triumph and final discomfiture of the oppressors of God's people, carries out into elaborate detail the pregnant images of Daniel. The figure of the Messiah is invested with majestic dignity as 'the Son of God,'' whose name was named before the sun was made,' and who existed 6 aforetime in the presence of God.' And at the same time his human attributes as 'the son of man,' 'the son of woman,' the elect one,''the righteous one,''the anointed,' are brought into conspicuous notice. The mysteries of the spiritual world, the connexion of angels and men, the classes and ministries of the hosts of heaven, the power of Satan, and the legions of darkness, the doctrines of resurrection, retribution, and eternal punishment, are dwelt upon with growing earnestness as the horizon of speculation was extended by intercourse with Greece. But the message

of the book is emphatically one of faith and truth: and while the Writer combines and repeats the thoughts of Scripture, he adds no new element to the teaching of the prophets. His errors spring from an undisciplined attempt to explain their words, and from a proud exultation in present success. For the great characteristic by which the book is distinguished from the later apocalypse of Esdras is the tone of triumphant expectation by which it is pervaded.”

7. The date of the book has been matter of great uncertainty. Abp. Lawrence, and Hofmann, suppose it to have been compiled in the reign of Herod the Great: and with this view Gfrörer, Wieseler, and Gieseler agree. Lücke goes very fully into the question, and determines that it consists of an earlier and a later portion : the former written early in the Maccabæan period, the latter in the time of Herod the Great. It is from the former of these that the quotation in our Epistle is taken.

8. But the whole question of the date has been recently discussed by Prof. Volkmar, of Zurich.. He undertakes to prove the book a production of the time of the sedition of Barchochebas (A.D. about 132), and to have been written by one of the followers of Rabbi Akiba, the great upholder of that impostor. And certainly, as far as I can see, his proof seems not easy to overthrow. In that case, as he remarks, the book of Enoch was not only of Jewish, but of distinctly antichristian origin. But this one point in the progress of his argument seems to me debateable. He assumes that the words cited in our Epistle as a prophecy of Enoch are of necessity taken from the apocryphal book, and regards it as an inevitable sequence, that if the book of Enoch is proved to be of the first half of the second century, the Epistle of Jude must be even later. In order however for this to be accepted, we need one link supplied, which, it seems to me, Prof. Volkmar has not given us. We want it shewn, that the passage cited is so interwoven into the apocryphal book as necessarily to form a part of it, and that it may not itself have been taken from primitive tradition, or even from the report of that tradition contained in our Epistle.

9. The account of the matter hence deduced would be, that the book, in its original groundwork, is of purely Jewish origin, but that it has received numerous Christian interpolations and additions. It

may

be regarded," remarks Mr. Westcott," as describing an important phase of Jewish opinion shortly before the coming of Christ.” If we accept the later date, this must of course be modified accordingly.

There never has been in the church the slightest doubt of the apocry. phal character of the book of Enoch. The sole maintainer of its autho. rity seems to have been Tertullian : it is plainly described as apocryphal by Origen, Augustine, and Jerome, and is enumerated among the apocryphal books in the Apostolical Constitutions.

66

10. The other passage in our Epistle which has been supposed to come from an apocryphal source, viz. the reference to the dispute between the archangel Michael and the devil concerning the body of Moses, has been discussed in the notes on the place, and held more likely to have been a fragment of primitive tradition.

11. But it yet remains that something should be said concerning the fall of the angels spoken of vv. 6, 7. In the notes on those verses, I have mentioned the probability, in my view, that the narrative in Gen. vi. 2 is alluded to. This impression has been since then much strengthened by a very able polemical tract by Dr. Kurtz, the author of the "History of the Old Testament,” in which he has maintained against Hengsten. berg the view taken by himself in that work. It seems to me that Dr. Kurtz has gone far to decide the interpretation as against any reference of Gen. vi. 2 to the Sethites, or of our vv. 6, 7 to the fall of the devil and his angels. The exposition of Hengstenberg and those who think with him depends on the spiritual acceptation, in this case, of the word "fornication," which Kurtz completely disproves. The facts of the history of the catastrophe of the cities of the plain render it quite out of the question : and the usage of the Septuagint, which Hengstenberg cites as decisive on his side, is really against him. And this point being disposed of, the whole fabric falls with it.

12. That the particulars related in 2 Pet. and our Epistle of the fallen angels are found also in the book of Enoch, is again no proof that the Writers of these Epistles took them from that book. Three other solutions are possible: 1, that the apocryphal Writer took them from our Epistles : 2, that their source in each case was ancient tradition: 3, that the book of Enoch itself consists of separate portions written at different times.

CHAPTER XXII.

REVELATION.

SECTION I.

AUTHORSHIP AND CANONICITY.

1. The Author of this book calls himself in more places than one by the name John, ch. i. 1, 4, 9, xxii. 8. The general view has been, that this name represents St. John the son of Zebedee, the Writer of the Gospel and the three Epistles, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

2. This view rests on external, and on internal evidence. I shall first specify both these, and then pass on to other views respecting the authorship. And in so doing, I shall at present cite merely those testimonies which bear more or less directly on the authorship. The most ancient are the following:

3. Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew (written between A.D. 139 and 161): “And ... among us a certain man named John, one of the Apostles of Christ, in the Apocalypse which was made to him prophesied that those who have believed in our time shall spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, and after this the universal and in a word eternal resurrection and judgment of all together shall take place.”

We may mention by the way, that this testimony of Justin is doubly important, as referred to by Eusebius, himself no believer in the apostolic authorship : "Justin has made mention of the Apocalypse of John, plainly stating it to be by the Apostle.”

The authenticity and value of the passage of Justin has been discussed at considerable length and with much candour by Lücke. He, himself a disbeliever in St. John's authorship, confesses that it is a genuine and decided testimony in its favour.

4. Melito, bishop of Sardis (died about 171), is said by Eusebius to have written treatises on the devil, and on the Apocalypse of John. It is fairly reasoned that Eusebius would hardly have failed to notice, supposing him to have seen Melito's work, any view of his which doubted the apostolic origin: and that this may therefore be legitimately taken as an indirect testimony in its favour.

5. Of a similar indirect nature are the two next testimonies. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (died about 180), is said by Eusebius to have written a book entitled “ Against the heresy of Hermogenes,” in which he uses testimonies from the Apocalypse of John.

6. And similarly Eusebius says of Apollonius, who flourished in Asia Minor at the end of cent. ii., and wrote against the Montanists, thereby making his testimony more important: “He also uses testimonies from the Apocalypse of John: and he relates that a dead man was raised miraculously by John himself in Ephesus.” From this latter sentence there can be no doubt that Apollonius regarded the Apocalypse as the work of John the Apostle.

7. We now come to the principal second century witness, Irenæus (died about 180). Respecting the value of his testimony, it may suffice to remind the student that he had been a hearer of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John. And this testimony occurs up and down his writings in great abundance, and in the most decisive terms. “ John the Disciple of the Lord,” is stated by him in four places to have written the Apocalypse,

– and “ John” in two places. And this John can be no other than the Apostle : for he says, John the Disciple of the Lord (as above), who

« PreviousContinue »