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by Arthur Peake
BY PROFESSOR H. T. ANDREWS
The Traditional View maintains that the Book of Daniel was written by Daniel himself, and is therefore a contemporary record of the events which it records. This view, though it was challenged by Porphyry the Neo-Platonist (died A.D. 303), practically held the field till the end of the eighteenth century, when Corrodi boldly advanced the modern theory which has won the support of such distinguished scholars as Eichhorn, Gesenius, Bleek, Ewald, Wellhausen, Cheyne, Driver, Charles, G. A. Smith, to mention but a few. In fact, it may be said that no OT scholar of any repute now maintains that the Book was written by Daniel.
The Reasons for the Abandonment of the Traditional View.— The grounds upon which modern scholarship abandons the view that the Book was the work of Daniel may be stated as follows: (1) The Book never claims to be the work of Daniel. It is true that the first person, “ I Daniel,” frequently occurs, but this need not imply that Daniel composed the Book. The same phenomenon is found in Ecclesiastes, where the writer speaks in the character of Solomon, “ I the preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.” Nobody to-day seriously maintains that Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. The use of the first person is a common literary device employed to give vividness to the narrative. (2) The Book is never quoted or alluded to in Jewish literature before the second century B.C. The silence of Ecclesiasticus ( c. 190 B.C.), which mentions in its list of worthies Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets, but says nothing about Daniel, is very significant. Its author could scarcely have missed the opportunity of recording the heroic deeds of Daniel if they had been known to him, nor would he have been likely to say, “ Neither was there a man born like unto Joseph” ( Sir_49:15 ), since the life of Daniel presents many parallels to the career of Joseph. The earliest references to the Book of Daniel are found in the Sibylline Oracles ( c. 140 B.C.), the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (109– 107 B.C.), and the First Book of Maccabees ( c. 100 B.C.). It seems to have been quite unknown, therefore, before the latter half of the second century B.C. (3) The place which the Book occupies in the Canon of the OT is equally decisive. The Jewish Canon is composed of three divisions: ( a) The Law or Pentateuch, ( b) the Prophets (including the earlier historical books), ( c) the Hagiographa, e.g. the Psalms, Wisdom Literature, etc. Now if Daniel had been a contemporary record, it must have held a place in the second division of the Canon, which was not completed till the second century B.C. The fact that it belongs to the third division proves conclusively that it was of later origin than the date at which Daniel is presumed to have lived. (4) The writer’ s knowledge of the period in which Daniel lived is full of inaccuracies, whereas his prophetic sketch of the history of the third and second centuries B.C. is remarkably correct. If the traditional view were right, we should certainly find the reverse. The writer would have been accurate in recording the history of his own time, but his knowledge of the succeeding centuries was bound to have been hazy and indefinite. Among the most flagrant historical mistakes many be mentioned— ( a) The description of Belshazzar as the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar ( Daniel 5:1. Daniel 7:1, Daniel 8:1). As a matter of fact Belshazzar was neither king of Babylon nor son of Nebuchadnezzar ( Daniel 5:1 *). ( b) Darius the Mede is described as “ receiving the kingdom” after the conquest of Babylon (531, 91). As Driver says (CB, p. 53), “ There seems, however, to be no room for such a ruler: for according to all other authorities, Cyrus is the immediate successor of Nabuna’ id, and the ruler of the entire Persian Empire” (see also Daniel 5:31 *). ( c) The assumption that the court language at Babylon was Aramaic ( Daniel 2:4). ( d) The statement that Jehoiakim was transported in the third year of his reign ( Daniel 1:2 *). For further inaccuracies, see Cent.B, p. 36, CB, pp. 47– 56. (5) The language of the Book points to a late date. It is not easy to make this point clear to those who are unacquainted with the original languages in which the Book was written. Briefly stated, the facts are these: ( a) A number of Persian words are used (fifteen at least). That these words “ should be used as a matter of course by Daniel under the Babylonian supremacy or in the description of Babylonian institutions before the conquest of Cyrus, is in the last degree improbable” (Driver, p. 57). ( b) Three Greek words are used, and it is not at all likely that these words were known in Babylon as early as 550 B.C. ( c) A large section of the Book is written in Aramaic (p. 36), and the particular type of Aramaic used betrays signs of a later date. [See in reply to R. D. Wilson’ s strictures Driver’ s addenda to his IOT 9 , pp. xxxiv– xxxviii.— A. S. P.] ( d) The Hebrew, in which the remaining portions of the Book is composed, is also characterised by later forms and constructions. The whole argument from style is well worked out by Driver, CB, pp. 56– 63.
The Real Date of the Book.— The grounds upon which modern scholars maintain that the Book was written during the Maccabean period may be stated thus: (1) It reaches its climax in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, whose attack upon the Jewish religion in 168 B.C. produced the Maccabean revolt. Antiochus is the “ little horn” of Daniel 8:9 “ which waxed exceeding great toward the south and toward the east,” and the “ king of fierce countenance understanding dark sentences,” of Daniel 8:23. (2) The survey of history in Daniel 11 concludes with a long description of the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. The earlier periods are dismissed in single sentences, but the description of Antiochus is full and vivid and extends over twenty-four verses, showing that the writer’ s main interest is in the great persecution initiated by him. (3) The general teaching of the Book seems to have as its object the encouragement of the Jewish people to remain loyal and faithful in a time of stress and trial. The stories of Daniel and “ the three young men” are obviously intended to convey a message of hope to men who are placed in a similar situation. Directly we place the Book in the Maccabean period it becomes luminous and clear. If we date it in the Babylonian period, its meaning is dark and unintelligible. It is incredible that Daniel should have taken so little interest in the doings of his contemporaries, and that the whole point of the Book should have been directed towards events which happened 400 years after his time. (4) The traditional view is out of harmony with the general spirit of Hebrew prophecy. The prophets spoke of their own age. When they uttered predictions about the future, those predictions were, as a rule, couched in vague language. Their message to their own age was definite and specific. Their message to the future was far more hazy and indistinct. To date the Book of Daniel in the Babylonian period is therefore to make the prophet unique and an exception to the general rule. To place it in the Maccabean age is to bring it into line with the rest of prophecy. (5) The modern view is the only theory which accounts for the point at which the Book stops. The writer is most exact in his details of the persecutions, but he makes a serious mistake in Daniel 8:14 in estimating the length of time which would elapse before the re-dedication of the Temple, and he describes only the beginning of the Maccabean campaign. He foretells the death of Antiochus, but he is quite wrong about the place and circumstances Daniel 11:45). Now supposing the Book to belong to the Babylonian period, it is impossible to explain why his statements should be absolutely exact up to a certain point, and after that point has been reached should contain errors. Supernatural foresight which enabled the prophet to foresee the future clearly as far as 167 B.C. ought also to have been able to carry him to 164 B.C. Why does his forecast lose its accuracy in the final years? The traditional theory has no answer to that question, but the modern view has an explanation which exactly fits the facts. The Book of Daniel, according to its hypothesis, was written between the years 167– 165 B.C. In the main, therefore, it is describing events that had happened and were happening before the writer’ s eyes (see p. 48).
The Historical Situation (see p. 607)— The Book of Daniel was written, as we have seen, to encourage the Jews to be loyal to their faith in the face of the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus was king of Syria from 175– 164 B.C., and Palestine, which had been subjected by his predecessor Antiochus III in 202 B.C., was part of his dominion. The policy of Antiochus Epiphanes was to conquer and hellenise as much of the world as possible. Palestine, and especially Judæ a under the High Priest Onias III, had hitherto stubbornly resisted all attempts to introduce Greek ideas and customs. One of the first steps which Antiochus took was to depose Onias and appoint Jason (p. 581), who was much more amenable to his wishes, as his successor. Under the leadership of Jason, a Greek gymnasium was set up in Jerusalem, and the priests encouraged the people to take part in the games. In 171 Menelaus offered Antiochus a huge sum of money for the office of High Priest, and Jason was accordingly deposed in his favour. The money was obtained by plundering the Temple treasury. Onias III protested against this act of sacrilege, and suffered martyrdom in consequence. In the following year, a rumour reached Jerusalem that Antiochus had fallen in his campaign against Egypt, and on the strength of it the Jews attempted to reverse his policy. The rumour, however, turned out to be false, and Antiochus took swift vengeance. There was a massacre in Jerusalem in which vast numbers lost their lives. But this was only the beginning of the tragedy. In 169 B.C., Antiochus, foiled by the opposition of the Roman Empire in his attempt to conquer Egypt, determined to complete the subjugation and hellenisation of Palestine. He surprised Jerusalem by a sudden attack, and established his forces within the Temple precincts. The most cherished principles of the Jewish religion, e.g. the observance of the Sabbath and the rite of circumcision, were pronounced illegal. The Jewish worship and sacrifices were abolished, and the sacred books destroyed. And as the crowning profanation on Dec. 15th, 168, a heathen altar was set up in the Temple itself in honour of a pagan god, “ the Abomination of Desolation” as it was called, and as if this were not a sufficient horror a few days later swine were sacrificed upon it. It is no wonder that the Jews were stung to rebellion. An insurrection broke out, headed by Mattathias and his five heroic sons, and they, after a long struggle, eventually regained for the Jewish people their freedom of worship. It was just at this crisis, and immediately after the outbreak of the rebellion against Antiochus, that the Book of Daniel was written. It sprang, as Ewald says, “ from the deepest necessities and the noblest impulses of the age.” It is the appeal of a true patriot to his people to remain firm and unmoved in the faith in spite of suffering and even martyrdom. The comfort and inspiration which it brought to the Jews in their hour of trial secured it an imperishable place in their literature, and it was handed over to Christianity as a priceless legacy.
The Historical Survey in the Book.— Though the Book of Daniel deals specifically with the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, yet as the scene is laid in Babylon about 550 B.C., it has to traverse the intervening centuries before its objective is reached. Ch. 11, for instance, gives a brief outline of the history of nearly four hundred years, 550– 167 B.C. The same period is also pictorially represented in the vision of the “ Colossal Statue” (Daniel 2), the vision of the four beasts (Daniel 7), and the vision of “ the ram and the he-goat” (Daniel 8). Daniel 9, with its explanation of Jeremiah’ s “ seventy years,” covers the same stretch of history. To understand the allusions in the Book, therefore, the reader must be familiar with the general trend of history during the centuries which it covers. It is divided into the following periods, and the most significant dates may be tabulated thus:
I. The Babylonian Period
BY PROFESSOR H. T. ANDREWS
SOME of the greatest discoveries of modern biblical criticism have been made in the field of what is known as Apocalyptic. No one can read the NT without being impressed by the unique character of the Book of Revelation. It seems to stand alone. There is nothing else which bears any resemblance to it at all, not only in the NT, but in the literature of the world. The nearest approach to it is the Book of Daniel in the OT. We know now, however, that Jewish literature in the two centuries before and the century after Christ affords us many parallels to the Book of Revelation. Other Apocalypses have been discovered of a similar type, and it is now proved beyond all question that the Book of Revelation is the climax of a very important literary and theological movement in Judaism. We shall try to show (1) the character and significance of the movement, (2) the origin of the movement, (3) its literary and theological development, (4) its influence upon Christianity.
The Meaning of the Term.— The term Apocalypse means an “ unveiling or” disclosure, and a book that bears the name claims to reveal and make plain things which are ordinarily hidden from human eyes. An Apocalypse, therefore, displays very little interest in the present world— it is essentially an unveiling of the future, and it strives to open a window through which it is possible to look into the realities of the unseen world. The nearest approach to Apocalyptic in other literature is to be found in the vision of the realm of the Dead in Homer’ s Iliad and Virgil’ s Æ neid, and in the visions of Purgatory and Heaven in the poems of Dante.
The Relation between Apocalyptic and Prophecy.— Prophecy was the forerunner of Apocalyptic. The Apocalyptists were the successors of the prophets. There is much in common between the two. Both prophet and Apocalyptist claim to be inspired by God and to be the vehicle of His revelation to man. Both attempt to make known to the people the Divine will and purpose in history. But there are remarkable differences between them. In the first place the prophet was primarily a preacher. He spoke to men directly. It is often a mere accident that his words have been preserved in a book. There were prophets in Israel whose messages have been entirely lost. The Apocalyptist, on the other hand, was primarily a writer. He spoke to the world through his book. His own personality is quite irrelevant. We know nothing about the man behind the writing. The prophet flung himself into the thick of the fray: he intervened in the crises of his nation’ s history, and tried to shape his country’ s destiny in accordance with what he conceived to be the will of God. The Apocalyptist sat apart, veiling his identity under a pseudonym, dreaming his dreams and seeing his visions in solitude. Then, again, the prophet’ s message was concerned with the plane of this world. He spoke to his own age. When he promised deliverance to his people, he looked for that deliverance to happen in his own time. The Apocalyptist despairs altogether of the present age and the present world. His eyes are directed to the end of things, to the final Divine intervention which is to bring down the curtain on the drama of history and usher in the “ New Jerusalem which cometh down from heaven. “ The prophet rarely looks beyond the horizon of his own generation. He is engrossed in the social and religious problems that confront his contemporaries. The Apocalyptist has no patience with the futile schemes and plans of his own time. To his mind there is no hope for the world along the usual lines. God must break into history afresh and set up His kingdom with His own hand. Nothing but a supernatural intervention— a catastrophic “ day of the Lord”— can save the world.
Moreover, the historical horizon of the Apocalyptist was far wider than that of the prophet. The prophet was concerned with the position of Israel among the nations of the world in his own time. Egypt, Babylon, Moab, Ammon, and the other powers which happened to dominate the situation in his day, form the subject of his utterances, and the ultimate triumph of Israel is always the shining hope which he holds before the eyes of his people. A period of five hundred years elapsed between the age of the great prophets and the age of the Apocalyptists. In the interval much had happened. Israel had fallen under the sway of Babylon, Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Rome in rapid succession. New factors had arisen, which made the hopes of the prophets vain, and induced the spirit of pessimism and despair. The Apocalyptist, therefore, had far more historical experience behind him than the prophet, and, unfortunately, the greater the experience the more dismal appeared the prospect of Israel from a political and worldly point of view.
The Problem of Apocalyptic.— Palestine, it must be remembered, was the Belgium of the ancient world, and formed the buffer-state between the empires which were contending for the mastery of the world. In the conflicts between Babylon and Egypt in earlier times, and Syria and Egypt in later times, Palestine always suffered devastation and ruin. Time after time its lands were ravaged, its cities destroyed, and its people slain or deported. The problem which the statesmen of Israel had to face was: “ How can the country be kept free from foreign foes?” “ How can Israel avoid being embroiled in these struggles of empires for supremacy? Sometimes a policy of neutrality was adopted; sometimes Israel sought safety by making an alliance with what seemed to be the strongest power. But neither the policy of neutrality nor the policy of alliances served to keep the soil of Israel sacrosanct. Statesmanship had to confess itself bankrupt. It seemed as if the “ little nation” of Israel were destined to be the prey of every great empire that emerged upon the field of history. But the problem not only baffled statesmanship, it was a challenge also to faith. The earlier prophets adopted a confident tone. They maintained that Yahweh would prove the saviour of His people and deliver the nation from its adversaries, and sometimes their promises were marvellously fulfilled. The respite, however, was always brief, and it was never long before a new international crisis arose. Gradually the splendid optimism of the earlier prophets changed to pessimism, but it took centuries before despair really settled upon the spirit of the nation. Apocalyptic is the literature of this despair. The Apocalyptist recognises that there is no hope for Israel along the ordinary lines of history. Palestine can never become a world-empire and the centre of universal dominion— at least, not by political methods. Five hundred years of failure have made that lesson obvious. But how could the failure of Israel be reconciled with faith in God? Were the promises of the prophets futile and abortive? That was the main problem which faced the religious leaders of Israel in the later centuries. The answer which they found to it was not the abandonment of faith but its intensification. What could not be realised by the ordinary methods of national development would be achieved by a miraculous intervention. God would break into history. There would be a final cataclysm, followed by the destruction of Israel’ s enemies and the establishment of God’ s kingdom upon earth.
The Origin and Development of Apocalyptic.— Apocalyptic proper begins with the Book of Enoch and the Book of Daniel, but neither the method nor the idea was altogether new. Germs of both are to be found in the prophets themselves. Most of the prophets spoke of “ a day of the Lord.” “ Behold the day of the Lord cometh with wrath and fierce anger to lay the land desolate,” says the unknown writer of Isaiah 13. The second chapter of Joel is a splendid illustration of Apocalyptic. It foretells the advent of “ the day,” and describes it as “ a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.” “ I will show wonders in the heaven and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The earth shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” The same conception forms the main theme of the prophecy of Zephaniah: “ Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations . . . to pour upon them mine indignation . . . for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” Then, too, we have in Isaiah 65 the vision of the new heavens and the new earth which God is to create in place of the old. But though the idea of “ the day of the Lord” is found commonly in the prophets, it is often a “ day of the Lord” against Israel’ s foes or the unrighteous in Israel itself; and, moreover, the agent in the infliction of the punishment is generally some human force— e.g. “ the northern army” of Joel. In prophecy, as a rule, God acts indirectly through human agencies; in Apocalyptic He acts directly by a personal intervention.
We may say, therefore, that Apocalyptic arose out of prophecy by developing and universalising the con, ception of the day of the Lord. Its chief interest lay in the questions and problems connected with this idea. The prophets had left the picture vague and indefinite; the Apocalyptists attempted to fill in the details and give concrete form and body to the vision. What would happen when the “ great day” came? What would be its antecedents? What would be the character of “ the judgment” and the punishment meted out to the guilty? What would be the nature of the new kingdom that was to be set up? Would it be composed of Israelites only, or would Gentiles be admitted to it? Would it be permanent or only temporary, and, if the latter, what would be its duration? Would the pious dead have any lot in it, and, if so, what would be the nature of their resurrection? Would the wicked also be raised for punishment? What was the nature of the unseen world and heaven and hell? These and many other difficult questions naturally arose, and it was the task of Apocalyptic to attempt to find the answers. The main interest of Apocalyptic, therefore, was always in the problems of eschatology. It looked beyond the narrow horizon of history into the “ great beyond.” It attempted to explore the “ dim hinterland” of existence and find some token of its nature and character. It abandoned the present world as hopeless, but it found its comfort and consolation in a vision— such as no Israelite had ever had before— of a new heaven and a new earth.
Some Characteristics of Apocalyptic.— The first important characteristic of Apocalyptic is the fact that the writings are always pseudonymous. The authors never write in their own names, but always adopt the name of one of Israel’ s heroes in the past— e.g. Enoch, Daniel, the Patriarchs, Baruch, Moses, Isaiah, etc. Many motives have been suggested for this pseudonymity. Some have found the reason in the fact that the Apocalyptists were devoid of literary ambition, and thought only of the message which they were anxious to convey to the people. Others have argued that they concealed their identity in order to avoid the risk of martyrdom. The real motive, however, is probably that which has recently been suggested by Dr. Charles. At the time when Apocalyptic flourished, the Law had been established in Israel as a complete embodiment of the Divine revelation. “ Thus theoretically and practically no room was left for new light, or any fresh disclosure of God’ s will.” From the third century B.C. onward (that is, after the formation of the Canon of the OT in its earliest forms) writers were compelled by “ the tyranny of the Law and the petrified orthodoxies of the time” to resort to pseudonymity. Their only chance of securing a hearing for their teaching was to attribute it to some consecrated name in the pre-legal period. New hymns were therefore ascribed to David, and books like Canticles and Ecclesiastes to Solomon. Pseudonymity was a literary device to obtain an audience— an act of homage paid by the present to the past.
Another well-marked characteristic is the use of symbol and figure. Apocalyptic created a style and a vocabulary of its own. Its writers gave full play to their imagination. Jewish poetry is for the most part simple and restrained. Jewish Apocalyptic revels in phantasies and allows the imagination to run riot. One of the earliest illustrations of this method is to be found in the elaborate vision of the wheels in the first chapter of Ezekiel. Daniel’ s visions of the great image with head of gold and feet of iron and clay (Daniel 2), and of the four beasts (Daniel 7), and of the ram and the he-goat (Daniel 8), are further examples of this mode of writing. We may be quite sure that allusions which are obscure to us to-day owing to our ignorance of the details of the situation were clear as crystal when the books were first written. There gradually grew up an apocalyptic tradition. The method became stereotyped. The same figures and symbols reappear in writer after writer. The Book of Revelation in the NT cannot be understood at all apart from the other literature of Apocalyptic. Nearly every picture which the writer draws has a history behind it, and we need to know the history before we can appreciate the picture. To take an illustration. In the Book of Revelation the duration of the rule of Antichrist is described as “ forty and two months” ( Revelation 11:2; Revelation 13:5), or 1260 days ( Daniel 11:3). How did the writer get this figure? We have only to turn to the Book of Daniel to find the answer to this question. The 42 months or 1260 days of Revelation represent the three and a half years of the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes (from the spring of 168 B.C. to the autumn of 165 B.C.). The actual duration of the persecution under Antiochus became the traditional duration of the reign of Antichrist. Thus we see that the facts and events of the Maccabean struggle became the type and prophecy of the final conflict with Antichrist at the end of time. The figure of Antichrist is very largely the figure of Antiochus “ writ large” and thrown upon the screen of the future. The scenery and panorama of the apocalyptic dream were slowly evolved. There is a history behind every figure and nearly every phrase. The same ideas constantly recur, modified, of course, to suit the needs of the time. The originality of the Book of Revelation lies not so much in the symbols and the imagery (which are mostly old), but in the adaptation of apocalyptic tradition to the circumstances of the Christian Church of the first century.
Apocalyptic Literature.— Apocalyptic literature begins with the Book of Daniel, which was written shortly after the sacrilege of Antiochus Epiphanes upon the Jewish Temple (about 165 B.C.). Judaism was stirred to its very depths by the ruthless attempt of Antiochus to thrust Greek customs and usages and worship upon the people of God (p. 607). The Book of Daniel was composed to comfort the nation in the hour of its distress, and to urge upon it the duty of resistance even to death. It holds out the promise of Divine intervention. God will set up His throne of judgment; the enemies of Israel will be overthrown; a kingdom of saints will be established, to which all nations shall be in subjection; sin will be abolished and a reign of everlasting righteousness inaugurated; the righteous dead of Israel will rise to an eternal life of glory; the wicked will be punished with contumely and shame. Next in importance to Daniel is the Book of Enoch, the earliest parts of which probably date from the same period. As it has come down to us, the book is a composite document— a library rather than a volume— and contains at any rate five different Apocalypses, ranging in date from about 170 B.C. to 64 B.C. It deals with such problems as the origin of sin, the judgment of the wicked, and the ultimate lot of the righteous, which is depicted as a long, untroubled life in an ideal Paradise on earth. The part known as “ the Similitudes” is famous for its conception of the Messiah, whom it portrays as the “ Son of Man” sitting beside the “ Head of Days” (the Almighty) on “ the throne of glory” for the judgment of the world. A third Apocalypse, known as the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, which is quite distinct from the other book ascribed to Enoch, is chiefly remarkable for its description of the “ seven heavens.” Each of these heavens has its particular class of occupants. The second heaven, for instance, is the abode of the fallen angels; the third is the seat of Paradise; the seventh contains the throne of God. The book belongs to the first half of the first century of the Christian era.
The overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 raised a terrible problem for the Jewish mind: How could God have permitted such a frightful disaster to fall upon His people? This problem was discussed in two well-known Apocalypses— the Apocalypse of Baruch and the Fourth Book of Ezra. The former lays stress on the certainty of Divine retribution upon sin. “ Behold the days come, and the books will be opened in which are written the sins of all who have sinned and the treasuries in which the righteousness of all those who have been righteous is gathered.” A belief in a bodily resurrection is strongly affirmed. “ The earth will assuredly restore the dead . . . making no change in their form, but as it has received, so will it restore them.” It is in this Apocalypse that the current conception of original sin is challenged and the statement made that “ every man is the Adam of his own soul.” The Fourth Book of Ezra is a Jewish Apocalypse in a Christian frame, since the opening and closing chapters are Christian additions— a fact which shows that the book was highly valued in early Christian circles. It contains seven visions, all of which are intended to throw light upon the problem. It cannot be said, however, that the book discovers a real solution of the difficulty, though it does suggest some lines of thought in which comfort can be found. (1) We must remember our human limitations, and that it is impossible for us to understand the dealings of an inscrutable Providence. (2) We must trust the boundless love of God. “ Lovest thou the people better than He that made them?” (3) This world is not the end of things. The future life will redress the balance. (4) The day of redemption is drawing near when the Messiah will come and restore the kingdom.
Among the other writings which belong to this class of literature may be mentioned ( a) The Assumption of Moses, written in the reign of Herod the Great, which gives a rapid sketch of Jewish history up to the time of writing, and foretells the advent of perilous times, and the rise of a new Antiochus, from whose persecutions, however, the people will be delivered. ( b) The Book of Jubilees, or “ little Genesis,” which rewrites the narrative of Genesis from the point of view of late Judaism, leaving out stories which offended the religious sense of the time, and inserting allusions to later Jewish laws and festivals. The book is generally dated between 135 and 115 B.C. ( c) The Ascension of Isaiah, in which there is a large admixture of Christian elements, contains an account of the ascension of Isaiah through the seven heavens, and the descent of the Messiah to the world by means of a Virgin Birth. The book is composite, but the three sections into which it is divided seem to belong to the first century A.D. ( d) The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs contains twelve ethical tracts, purporting to give the last utterances of the twelve sons of Jacob. This book too has been worked over by a Christian hand; in fact, some scholars have assumed that it was a Christian production. According to Dr. Charles the bulk of the book dates from 109– 107 B.C. The Testaments are a very valuable storehouse of information with regard to the ethical teaching of the time.
Among Christian Apocalypses the chief place must be assigned to the Book of Revelation, which marks the climax of the apocalyptic movement. It was written to comfort and inspire the Christian Church in a time of persecution which threatened to reproduce all the horrors of the ré gime of Antiochus Epiphanes. The writer has undoubtedly incorporated in his book much old apocalyptic material, but the outlook and the teaching are his own. His originality consists in the fact that he has infused the Christian spirit and the Christian doctrine into the apocalyptic hope. Many of the old ideas are reproduced, but they are transformed and glorified by the radiance of the Christian faith. Another Apocalypse which had great vogue in early Christian circles is the Apocalypse of Peter, some pages of which have recently been discovered. The fragment is made up of two visions: ( a) the vision of the saints in Paradise, ( b) the vision of Inferno. Paradise is described as a land “ blooming with unfading flowers, and full of spices and fair flowering plants.” The picture of Inferno is very lurid. It depicts the various forms of punishment meted out to different classes of offenders. The Apocalypse of Peter seems to have exerted a great influence on mediæ val theology, and was undoubtedly the indirect source from which Dante’ s picture of Inferno was derived.
The Place of Apocalyptic in Jewish Thought.— It is often argued, especially by Jewish scholars, that the modern world tends to overestimate the influence of apocalyptic literature on Jewish thought. “ Apocalyptic,” it maintains, “ represents a backwater and not the main stream of Jewish thought. It emanated from certain narrow circles, was altogether esoteric, and made no permanent mark on the Jewish faith.” It is quite true, of course, that Judaism never absorbed the apocalyptic ideals, and perhaps the chief explanation of this is the fact that with the exception of the Book of Daniel, the Jewish Apocalypses were written too late to secure a place in the OT Canon; and when the Canon, especially the Law, was established as the form of Jewish orthodoxy, Judaism became more or less stereotyped and impervious to the newer forms of theology. There is one fact, however, which proves conclusively that, whatever the later attitude of Judaism to Apocalyptic may have been, in the centuries immediately preceding and following the birth of Christ it exercised an overwhelming influence— viz. the vast circulation which these different Apocalypses must have had throughout the length and breadth of Judaism, as witnessed by the large number of versions or translations into different languages which were made in very early times. The Apocalypse of Baruch, for instance, seems to have existed in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Syriac; the Book of Enoch in Aramaic, Ethiopic, Latin; the Book of Jubilees in Hebrew, Greek, Ethiopic, Latin, and Syriac; the Testaments of the Patriarchs in Hebrew, Greek, Armenian, and Slavonic. These translations would not have been made unless the books had obtained a very wide vogue. If translation into different languages is any gauge of the popularity of a book, the Jewish Apocalypses must have been among the most popular books of the time.
The Contribution of Apocalyptic to Theology.— As we have already seen, the circumstances which created Apocalyptic naturally coloured its theological outlook, The contributions which it made to the thought of the time are in the main eschatological, though the eschatology in its turn reacted on the more fundamental conceptions of religion— e.g. the doctrine of God. We may summarise the chief theological influences of these writings as follows:
(1) Apocalyptic accentuated dualism in religious thought. The general impression which we gain from studying the literature is well summed up in the words of one of the writers: “ The Lord God made not one world but two.” There are two opposed universes— the universe of righteousness under the rule of God, the universe of sin under the lordship of Satan.
(2) It tended to widen the gulf between God and the world. As C. A. Scott says: “ The tendency from the time of Isaiah onwards had been towards a conception of God as removed and ever further removed from contact with the things of earth and from immediate intercourse with men. This becomes very marked in Apocalyptic literature, and one of its indications is the development in this period of a doctrine of angels, an order of created but superhuman beings who were regarded as mediators of intercourse between God and man.” The frequent allusion, for instance, to hierarchies of angels in the NT is very largely due to the influence of Apocalyptic.
(3) It developed the doctrine of the future life. The germ of the belief in immortality is found in the OT, but the development of the doctrine into a definite article of faith was the work of Apocalyptic. The first unmistakable reference is found in the Book of Daniel: “ And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” ( Daniel 12:2). There are varying and divergent conceptions of the future life in the different Apocalypses. Sometimes the resurrection takes place on the plane of earth in a kind of millennial Paradise, sometimes on the plane of heaven. Sometimes a bodily resurrection is assumed, sometimes a spiritual. In some writings the resurrection is universal, and includes the wicked as well as the righteous; in others there is only a resurrection of the good.
(4) It gave definite shape and form to the belief in heaven and hell. In the OT the picture of the unseen world is dim and shadowy. Apocalyptic filled in the details and made it a real place with special localities for different classes of spirits. The description of the “ seven heavens” in the Book of the Secrets of Enoch and the Ascension of Isaiah, and of the “ three heavens” in the Testaments of the Patriarchs, coloured the thought of the NT, and passed from the NT into the poetry of Dante and Milton.
(5) It attempted to find a solution for the problem of the origin of evil. The introduction of sin into the world is generally attributed to the fall of Adam. “ The first Adam transgressed,” says the author of 4 Ezra, “ and was overcome, and so be all they that are born of him.” There can be little doubt that the doctrine of original sin, which is not found in the OT, was really the creation of the Apocalyptists. There were some protests, of course. The Apocalypse of Baruch, as we have seen, challenged the doctrine, and maintained that “ every man is the Adam of his own soul.” There was an alternative suggestion, too, which is found in several Apocalypses, that sin was introduced into the world through the angels, who transgressed with the daughters of men. The basis of this theory is the narrative in Genesis 6:1-Numbers : *.
(6) Apocalyptic developed the belief in the advent of a Messiah. The wonderful description of the “ Son of Man” in the Book of Enoch has already been mentioned. We have seen, too, how the Ascension of Isaiah, probably under Christian influences, describes the descent of “ the Beloved” (a technical title for the Messiah) from the seventh heaven. The Apocalypse of Baruch foretells the destruction of the Roman Empire through the advent of the Messiah. The Psalms of Solomon portray the advent of the “ Son of David” and the “ Lord Christ” to save his people from the tyranny of the Roman Empire, and 4 Ezra speaks of the coming of a Messiah who will reign for four hundred years and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth. The conception, however, is not uniform. Sometimes, as in the Book of Enoch, the Messiah is a transcendent Divine being; in other writings— the Psalms of Solomon, for instance— he is merely an earthly ruler of supreme dignity and power.
(7) The conception of “ the kingdom of God,” which in the teaching of the prophets was mainly political and ethical, became in the hands of the Apocalyptists entirely eschatological. “ The kingdom” is to be set up by Divine intervention at the end of time, and its advent is always closely connected with the Day of Judgment.
(8) Apocalyptic created the conception of the final judgment. As Prof. Burkitt has recently said: “ The doctrine of a future general assize held no place in the Græ co-Roman world apart from the belief of Jews and Christians. Possibly the belief may have been fostered by the influence of Zoroastrianism, but it is difficult in that case to explain why the doctrine is not found in Mithraism, which came far more under the spell of Zoroastrianism than did Judaism.” “ The doctrine of the last judgment required a very special set of circumstances for its development,” and those circumstances are found in the history of Judaism in the centuries before and after the commencement of the Christian era.
The Permanent Value of Apocalyptic.— We may commence by quoting the excellent statement of Prof. Burkitt. The Jewish Apocalypses “ are the most characteristic survival of what I will venture to call, with all its narrowness and incoherence, the heroic age of Jewish history, the age in which the nation attempted to realise in action the part of the peculiar people of God. It ended in catastrophe, but the nation left two successors, the Christian Church and the rabbinical schools, each of which carried on some of the old national aims. And of the two it was the Christian Church that was most faithful to the ideas enshrined in the Apocalypses.” The exterior forms and the weird figures and symbols of Apocalyptic were abandoned, of course, except in the Book of Revelation, but the spiritual substance of apocalyptic faith was incorporated in the doctrine of Christianity. Let us briefly note what are the elements of abiding value in Apocalyptic.
(1) The first and fundamental article in the faith of the Apocalyptists is that history is teleological. There is a great Divine purpose being worked out in the world-movements of the time. Things do not happen by accident, and history will not end in chaos. There is always the “ great far-off divine event towards which the whole creation moves”— the final dé nouement of the drama.
(2) But there are two ways of writing a Utopia. There is the Greek way, which is also the English way, that sees Utopia realised in the slow and steady improvement of human society; and there is the Jewish way, which says that Utopia can only be realised by a great act of Divine intervention. Both views are right and both are wrong. The Greek way is wrong because it ignores the action of God; the Jewish way is wrong because it thinks that God can work only through a cataclysm. The true view lies in the union of the Greek and Jewish conceptions. Utopia is the realisation of the perfect will of God worked out in history.
(3) Apocalyptic lifted man’ s vision from the world that is seen to the world that is unseen. “ It called into being a new world to redress the balance of the old.” Pushed to extremes, of course, Apocalyptic issues in the form of “ other-worldliness,” which was so strongly and so justly reprobated by George Eliot. But, stated sanely, the doctrine of the Apocalyptists seems essential to a vital faith. The conception of the “ seven heavens” may have been a fantastic dream, but a dream is sometimes better than nothing at all. In the stern times in which the Apocalypses were written, the faith of men could not have been kept alive by a vague and dim phantom-heaven. The Apocalyptists created, largely out of their imagination of course, a heaven that seemed real to them, and the picture of that heaven made men heroes in the fight for faith.
Such are some of the ideas— and they were undoubtedly created and developed by Apocalyptic— which possess abiding value for Christianity.
Literature.— The Oxford Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (1913), edited by Dr. Charles, contains a translation of all the Jewish documents with introductions and notes. This book has now superseded the German collection which was edited by Kautzsch. Separate editions of most of the Apocalypses— e.g. the Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, the Ascension of Isaiah, the Book of Jubilees, and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (with fuller and more detailed introductions and notes)— have been published by Charles. Other sources of information are the articles in the Bible dictionaries, especially HDB and EBi; H. T. Andrews, The Apocryphal Books (Cent. B. Handbooks); Porter, The Messages of the Apocalyptic Writers; Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life; Burkitt, Jewish and Christian Apocalypses; Ryle and James, The Psalms of Solomon; Box, The Fourth Book of Ezra; Oesterley, Introduction to the Apocrypha.
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24