Page images
PDF
EPUB

In Latin we have the Codex Amiatinus-symbol Am-written stichometrically in uncials, without punctuation, on leaves of vellum. It is believed to have been made in Northumberland at the beginning of the 8th Century, and it is supposed to be derived from some old Latin copy, possibly the Itala, through the Codex Grandior of Cassiodorus, c. A.D. 540. This Codex was taken to Rome by Ceolfrid and presented to Pope Gregory II. about the year 720. It is considered by Catholic theologians that it gives the best rendering of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures generally. It was decreed by the Council of Trent to be the authentic and official Latin version of the Bible. It is the original of the Vulgate.

There is also a Syriac version of the Apocalypse, lately printed by Dr. Gwynn, Regius Professor of Divinity, T.C.D., which dates from the beginning of the 6th Century.

Latin Commentaries by Primasius and other writers have come down to us.

The present Commentary is based upon a Greek version prepared by Frederic Brandscheid, a German Catholic, who produced it in 1893. It is practically a recension of the oldest and best codices, collated with the texts of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and other scholars. It has the approval of the Bishop of Fribourg and is dedicated to Pope Leo XIII.

Dr. Swete of Cambridge in his book on the Apocalypse, has printed a Greek text which he prepared from a collation of Westcott and Hort with Tischendorf, Gregory's prolegomena, Dr. Gwynn's Syriac versions, and two Athos minuscules. These two Greek texts agree generally with each other and with the Latin Vulgate, showing that the Apocalypse has been remarkably well preserved. Where the Vulgate occasionally differs from the Greek, Brandscheid follows the Vulgate, which he holds in great veneration. What slight differences there are between Dr. Swete and Brandscheid are shown in notes, in which S. stands for Swete, and Bd. for Brandscheid; Vg., the recognised symbol, stands for the Vulgate.

The Latin text is not printed in this book. There is no need to print it in full, as it is faithfully reflected in the English version, attached to the Greek. The English version is taken from the Rev. Geo. L. Haydock's Douay Bible, published in 1852, and from Richard Coyne, Maynooth Douay Bible, published in 1829. One supplements the other. For instance Haydock omits the word "flying " at R. iv. 7, "like to an eagle flying "-Vg. Aquila volanti. Coyne's version supplies it. But, the differences between the versions, Greek, Latin, and English, are unimportant.

COMMENTARY

PART 1

PREFACE TO THE REVELATION

CHAPTER I

Ι. 'Αποκάλυψις Ιησού Χριστού, ήν έδωκεν αυτώ ο Θεός δείξαι τους δούλους αυτού & δει γενέσθαι εν τάχει, και εσήμανεν αποστείλας δια του αγγέλον αυτού το δούλω αυτου Ιωάννη.

1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to make known to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass, and signified sending by his angel to his servant John.

'Αποκάλυψις is a Greek word which means a revelation of the future. It is used in this sense by S. Paul 2 Cor. xii. I, and eschatologically, in Rom. ii. 5.

This reading is confirmed by R. i. 3 and xxii. 10, in which the Revelation is referred to as “the words of this prophecy.' At R. xxii. 9, an angel says I am"... of them who keep the words of the prophecy of this book.” And at R. xxii. 18, 19, a solemn warning is issued against tampering with " the prophecy of this book” and “the book of this prophecy.” The Apocalypse, or “ Revelation," is a prophecy, in the sense of a prediction of Jesus Christ. That is its first note.

“Which God gave to him to make known to his servants, follows the teaching of the Gospel of S. John in which the Son derives revelation from the Father (Jhn. v. 20, vii. 16, viii. 28).

To make known to his servants," raises the question who were the Servants of God. Much light is thrown on this point by the Revelation, and especially by the concluding words of this passage, “his servant John." S. John is given to us as an example of the individuals meant by “servants." The Apostles commonly used this title. The Second Epistle of S. Peter begins, “Simon Peter, Servant and Apostle of Jesus Christ.” S. Paul's Epistle to Titus begins, “Paul a servant of God, and

an Apostle of Jesus Christ.” These two great Apostles make “servant” their first title. See also Philippians and Romans (i. I). The Catholic Epistle of S. James begins, “ James the Servant of God and of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” That of S. Jude begins, “ Jude the Servant of Jesus Christ." In R. X. 7, there is reference to “ His Servants, the prophets," a very common phrase in the O.T. At R. xix. 10 an “ Angel," who is also a prophet (R. xxii. 9), declares himself to be a fellow servant of John. The dignity of the expression survives in the title of the Popes, who style themselves officially, “The Servant of the servants of God” (see Jhn. xv. 20).

The Revelation was not sent to everybody in the Church, in the year 67. It was, for grave reasons, confined to the safe hands of the Servants of God, who were men of Apostolic character, leaders of the Church. The denunciation of Cæsar worship, and the political forecasts of the Roman Empire required this precaution. The immediate object of the Book was to reveal the fate of Jerusalem and Rome to the servants of God." The things which must shortly come to pass," were the fall of Nero in A.D. 68, and the fall of Jerusalem and the out-standing of the Kingdom of Christ in A.D. 70. It does not mean that everything foretold in the Book must shortly happen. Though it does mean that the chief predictions of the Book would begin to come to pass quickly. The death of Nero was followed by Civil wars of opposing Imperators, which led to the crumbling of the Empire.

"And signified sending by his Angel to his Servant John." Prof. M. Stuart points out that coñuavev,“ signified,” is derived from oñua=onjelov a “sign” or “symbol” indicating symbolic representation. An angel appears and interprets the symbolic visions at R. xvii. I and xix. 10.

This angel seems to have been S. John the Baptist. We read in the Gospel of S. John, “ There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness to give testimony of the light” (Jhn. i. 6, 7). He preached the gospel of penance “for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matt. iii. 1), Behold I send my angel before thy face" (Mark i. 2). He is referred to at R. xxii. 16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel.” And he declares himself to be a fellow servant of S. John, and one of his brethren the prophets (R. xix. 10, xxii. 9). S. John recognises him apparently as his old teacher, the Baptist, and falls down before him.

When Epiphanius wrote “The disciples of Christ being warned by an angel, Aed to Pella,” he seems to have had R. i. I in view. That would explain his reference to Claudius.

These opening lines form the title page of the Book. We might appreciate them better perhaps if they were displayed in accordance with modern custom, as thus:

THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

WHICH

GOD GAVE UNTO HIM, To make known to his servants the things which must shortly come to

pass, and signified

SENDING BY HIS ANGEL

ΤΟ

HIS SERVANT JOHN.

Here we see at once the title of the Book, its source, its Author, its object, its subject, the Intermediary, and the Writer - John.

The real title of the Book, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ," commands our attention.

2. Ος εμαρτύρησεν τον λόγον του Θεού και την μαρτυρίαν Ιησού Χριστού, όσα είδεν.

2. Who hath given testimony to the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he hath seen.

'MapTupeiv—"to bear witness ”—and paptupia—"evidenceare words frequently found in the Apocalypse. S. John says of himself “ Who hath given testimony—'Euaptúpnoev—the aorist refers to the past: He gave testimony in the past to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” by preaching and example, and by his Epistles, one or two of which were written before this time. “What things soever he hath seen would seem to limit this testimony, to his knowledge of "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." But páptus—"a witness”—in the early Church also connoted suffering for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Hence the word “martyr ” in English. S. John had suffered many things at the hands of the Jews for the testimony of Jesus. He was scourged and imprisoned in common with the other Apostles. Writing to his intimate followers at Ephesus, S. John takes it

« PreviousContinue »