Date Of The Apocalypse From Internal Evidence -- By: James M. Macdonald

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 026:103 (Jul 1869)
Article: Date Of The Apocalypse From Internal Evidence
Author: James M. Macdonald


Date Of The Apocalypse From Internal Evidence

James M. Macdonald

Relation Of The Question To The Interpretation Of The Book

This question whether the Apocalypse was written at an early or in the very closing period of the apostolic ministration, has importance as bearing on the interpretation of the book. A true exposition depends, in no small degree, upon a knowledge of the existing condition of things at the time it was written; i.e. of the true point in history occupied by the writer, and those whom he originally addressed. The same is manifestly true of the prophecies in general; eminently so of those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. If the book were an epistle, like that to the Romans or to the Hebrews, it might be of comparatively little importance in ascertaining its meaning, to be able to determine whether it was written at the commencement or at the very close of the apostolic era.

It is obvious that if the book itself throws any distinct light on this subject, this internal evidence, especially in the absence of reliable historical testimony, ought to be decisive. To this inquiry, therefore, this Article will be devoted. Instead of appealing to tradition or to some doubtful passage in an ancient Father, we interrogate the book itself, or we listen to what the Spirit saith that was in him who testified of these things. It will be found that no book of the New Testament more abounds in passages which clearly have respect to the time when it was written.

It is necessary only to premise that the question in regard to the authorship of the Apocalypse will be considered as settled; that is, it will be taken for granted that it was written

by the apostle John, the same who wrote the fourth Gospel, and the Epistles that bear his name.

1. Evidence From Peculiar Idiom

The peculiar idiom, so thoroughly Hebraistic, in which it is written, proves that it was the first of the books written by John, and one of the earliest of the New Testament.

The entire New Testament, it is true, is written in this Greek of the synagogue, or Hebrew-Greek. It records doctrines and precepts originally delivered in Hebrew, or in a dialect of that language, and events many of which had been predicted in the Hebrew scriptures. Moreover, the Hebrew, or this dialect, was the vernacular of the principal actors and speakers mentioned in the narrative parts. It was unavoidable that the writers of the New Testament, themselves Hebrews, in expressing these new and peculiar ideas in a foreign language, should attach new shades of meaning to many words, coin new ones, and imitate Hebrew phrases and constructions. This language or idiom had already been...

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