Preface to the Synopsis: Romans-Revelation

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

After longer delays than I would have wished, at last by the help of the good God comes forth the second Part of the Fourth and Final Volume of the Synopsis,[1] the Colophon of our Biblical Labor, most longed for by me, long awaited by others, not unwelcome, I hope, which, beginning with the Epistles of Paul, comes to a close in Revelation. It is not necessary for me to enlarge either my fault, or the injury hitherto brought against thy patience, by the new and unnecessary delays of a prolix Epistle. The nature and method of the Work is the same here as in the preceding Volumes; the plan entirely the same: concerning which, since I explained fully in the Preface of the First Volume,[2] it would be vain to repeat the same things here. The Authors, from whose fields we have reaped these things, some are common to the rest of the Volumes, and especially to the first Part of this Volume, of which sort are the Critical Interpreters published in London,[3] among whom is Grotius, from whom, just as it was done in the first Part, I have transcribed almost all things verbatim, as almost untouched, if you take away the testimonies of others brought forward by himself; the commentaries of Grotius on the New Testament[4] are had in my Synopsis. Furthermore, Beza;[5] Camerarius;[6] Piscator;[7] Hammond;[8] Schmidt;[9] Louis de Dieu;[10] Mede;[11] Lightfoot[12] in Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament; Gataker;[13] Gomar, who wrote Annotations, indeed brief but not at all to be despised, on several Apostolic Epistles and on the first three chapters of Revelation;[14] Junius[15] in Parallels;[16] Calvin, from whom I selected not with a sparing hand, especially in the latter Epistles; Norton Knatchbull,[17] Eques Auratus,[18] whose several Annotations, while in the former portion I set them forth as if gathered out of Hammond, having been advised concerning that matter, and informed by that most Illustrious Knight that his Notes were composed before the Commentaries of Hammond saw the light, I restored the Extracts to that first author, and I wish the credit to be paid to him. Others proper to this Part in general, who here follow: In all the Apostolic Epistles, Estius, who illucidated them with prolix and most learned Commentaries;[19] Justinianus, an erudite and prolific interpreter;[20] Strigelius,[21] consulted in the first Volume of my Work; Vorstius, a man keen and erudite, who skillfully investigated the plan of the Sacred Scriptures, and happily achieved in many things, although afterwards he fell to certain inferior doctrines;[22] Dickson the Scot, who interpreted the Epistles, briefly but perspicaciously, ingeniously and with judgment:[23] On some Epistles of Paul, Zanchius, a Theologian like few others, whose Commentaries, composed with singular erudition and acumen, show their Author to be most learned:[24] On the Epistle to the Romans, Pererius;[25] Toletus;[26] Willet,[27] previously adorned with his own praises; Pareus,[28] who long since among Theologians won the praise of doctrine and judgment attained; Stephanus de Brais, who recently published his Paraphrastic Analysis of this Epistle, illustrated with his Notes,[29] composed with talent and learning more than ordinary; Loius de Dieu, who composed a proper commentary on this Epistle, and that entirely worthy of such an Author, and was about to do the same in the remaining Epistles, if his life had been sufficiently long: On Corinthians, our William Sclater[30] and Calixtus,[31] who not rarely covered with their brief little notes those things that you will seek in vain in the prolix Volumes of others: On the first to the Corinthians, John Lightfoot, by whose lucubrations we were greatly helped in the former Volumes, recently (oh, the grief) snatched away from the literary and Christian Commonwealth, who by his Hebraic Hours elucidated this Epistle[32] in his manner, that is, most learnedly. Now, since that place concerning manly Hair, 1 Corinthians 11:14, 15, is greatly entangled by the discord of Interpreters, and since the disturbances, stirred in the Church, and in the souls of many, concerning this matter, are not small, it seemed right to seek a more copious explication of that out of Salmasius’[33] Dialogue concerning Hair,[34] and out of Revius’ Disputations;[35] of which authors alone have I here made use, partly because others that had taken up the cracking of this nut were not at hand for me, partly because their other writings of them made them famous, and this writing of Revius went forth, defended by judgment of the rest of the Professors of Leiden. On the Epistle to the Ephesians, Boyd, a Scot by nation,[36] who interpreted it with great industry, and with no less learning and judgment; Crocius,[37] an Interpreter of note: On the Epistle to the Colossians, Davenant[38] and Daillé,[39] indeed recent Interpreters, but equal to the ancients, and placed far above my praises: On the Epistles to the Thessalonians, Sclater: On the second chapter of the later Epistle, Grotius, in his Dissertation Concerning the Places of the New Testament that Treat, or Are Thought to Treat, of Antichrist;[40] Simplicius Verinus, in Notes written concerning the same passages, the Author of which I hear was believed by many to be Salmasius; Hippolytus Fronto, under which name that most famous man, Peter Molinæus,[41] wished to lie hidden; Henry More of Cambridge, in his most learned Theological Works recently published in Latin:[42] On the Epistles to Timothy, Magalianus,[43] who interpreted them diffusely and painstakingly; Scultetus[44] and Pricæus,[45] mentioned in the former Part of this Volume: On the first to Timothy, Danæus, an acute and erudite writer;[46] Gothofredus, a man most renowned by due right,[47] who illustrated that famous place, 1 Timothy 3:15, 16, with most learned Dissertations: On that to Philemon, Scipione Gentili,[48] who explained that with singular erudition and talent: On the Epistle to the Hebrews, Ribera,[49] Pareus, Gerhard,[50] previously praised; Tena,[51] who exhibited it, explained with copious and learned commentaries; our William Gouge,[52] in whose prolix Work you will find uncommon learning employed with solid judgment; our Lawson,[53] whose small studies equal the large volumes of others; John Owen,[54] who has set forth now into the light lucubrations composed with uncommon learning on the first five chapters of that Epistle, who hereafter is going to set forth the remaining parts of the work begun, which I hope and long for, for my sake and that of the good public; Frederic Spanheim,[55] a not unequal Son of a Great Parent,[56] who treated ingeniously and most learnedly that famous question concerning the Author of this Epistle,[57] and he has happily untied that knot, most worthy of a liberator, if it is as I conclude; Reverend Buxtorf, who in his most erudite Essays Concerning the Ark, etc.,[58] illustrated that passage, Hebrews 9:4, with interpretations worthy of such an Author. And since that passage concerning Melchizedek has hitherto vexed Interpreters, by them equally vexed, I gathered many things concerning this question out of Schlegelius, whose Tract concerning this is subjoined in the recent London edition of Tena,[59] out of Cregutus, in Revealer of Secrets,[60] and out of the Theses of Saumur:[61] On the Epistle of James, Laurentius,[62] from whom I culled some things; and Reverend Gataker, who fully, piously, and, what to him was customary, most eruditely, explained the whole, indeed in sermons held for the people, but which were able to be held for the clergy. Which κειμήλιον/valuable Manuscript, with others Treasures of that best of men, his most learned Son[63] communicated graciously with me: On the Epistles of Peter, Gerhard:[64] On Revelation, from the side of the Pontifical men, Ribera;[65] Pererius;[66] Cornelius à Lapide;[67] Gagnæus, Parisian Doctor;[68] Estius; Menochius;[69] from the side of the Reformers, Matthew Cotterius, a learned and acute man;[70] John Cluverus,[71] in his diffuse and learned Commentaries on this Book; Patrick Forbes, the Bishop of Aberdeen not so long ago,[72] whom his other writings also made famous; Brightman,[73] who, although he was deceived in some passages, which is not to be marveled at in such an obscure portion of the sacred page, but is to be endured, yet in not a few other places he shows both abundance of learning and acumen of talent; Pareus;[74] Gerhard Gravius in Apocalyptic Tables;[75] John Napier, a noble Scot;[76] Cocceius,[77] whom we have previously praised; an unknown author in the Apocalyptic Harmony;[78] James Durham the Scot, illustrious with respect to parentage, talent, and learning,[79] who appears to me to kindle a clear light upon not a few passages of this Book, and explained the whole with great judgment; Henry More, who set forth a great number of δυσνόητα, the hard to be understood, passages of this Book with explantions ingenious and erudite; Peter Molinæus and Maresius,[80] on those passages of this Book that treat of Antichrist; an Anonymous English writer, from whom I culled what things appeared to me to be useful; also another Anonymous writer of our nation, in a most erudite dissertation recently published concerning The Ruin of Antichrist; the most celebrated Downham concerning the passages of Sacred Scripture that regard Antichrist;[81] our Reverend Francis Potter, in his most ingenious tractate concerning the interpretation of the number six hundred and sixty-six.[82] The great Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh not so long ago, in a small dissertation on the Roman Babylon.[83] You have, dear Reader, both the Authors and the Books, from which those things, which we gathered in this latter part of our Work, were brought over. Nathaniel Stephens, both in his most learned Dissertation concerning the Name, Character, and Number of the Beast, and in certain manuscript Notes of his, which he benevolently transmitted to me.[84] Now, since this, now made larger as Necessity has required, required expenses beyond the ordinary, it is just to recall with a grateful heart those that carried part of this burden for me; especially the Most Serene King, who first graciously defended me by His Royal Certificate, and restored me by His most benignant countenance and words, and then, with liberality worthy of such a King, He furnished for me papers free from taxes.[85] In the next place, the Nobles, some most noble, and others to me men greatly to be honored, who either augmented their former benefits with succeeding ones, or put forth new specimens of their munificence and favor: Arthur, Earl of Anglesey, Keeper of the private Royal Seal, and of the most serene Court, Privy Counselor to His Majesty; John, Earl of Bridgwater, Privy Counselor to the King; Arthur, Earl of Donegal, Privy Counselor to the King (while he was living) in the Kingdom of Ireland; George Morley, the most Reverend Bishop of Winchester, Privy Counselor to the King;[86] John Robarts, Baron of Truro, Privy Counselor to the King; Robert Brooke, Baron; Thomas Clifford, Baron, recently the highest Treasurer in England; Lord Thomas Fairfax, Baron of Cameron; William Morice, Eques Auratus, Privy Counselor to the King; Robert Booth, Eques Auratus, and the highest of the Common Elected Judiciaries in the Kingdom of Ireland; Jacobus Langham, Eques Auratus, and Baronet; John Gell, Baronet; John Maynard, Eques Auratus, a man among Experts in Law of great name deservedly, and one of those serving the King at Law;[87] John Coppleston, Eques Auratus; William Sancroft, most Reverend Dean of the Church of St. Paul in London;[88] John Warner, Professor of Sacred Theology, Reverend Archdeacon of Rochester;[89] Thomas Grove, Armiger; John Vincet, Armiger; Thomas Sanders, Armiger; Samuel Sanders, a Noble; Matthew Robinson, the Reverend Theologian at York.[90]

With respect to what is remaining, Candid Reader, you are both to be advised and entreated. This is what I would advise you, that, since in various places of the First Volume I set forth my purpose in the first delineation of the Work to make Additions on the end of the work, Concerning weights, measures, coins, etc., but afterwards, with my opinion for just reasons, as I judge, changed, and with my work enlarged beyond due measure and expectation, it was not possible to be done so conveniently; I wish for you to understand that I still consider the same, and in my soul ponder the one and the many other things regarding Biblical substance, of which sort are Chronicles, or a more abundant explication of certain passages of the Old and New Testaments, which would appear by my authors not sufficiently elucidated according to their dignity or difficulty; then certain Notes in the Apocryphal books; moreover, Questions Chronological, Geographical, or others Philological; Concerning the Laws of the Hebrews, concerning the Temple, and other things of this sort which would be able to be of use to the literary and Christian world, of which perhaps a small Volume might be made, which would follow my Synopsis in the place of an Appendix. Now, I wish for learned men to be entreated, that they might deign to help me with their counsels and advice, either by pointing out those places of Sacred Scripture which they desire to be more fully explained, or by indicating the materials and Authors accommodated to this end, which Authors wrote best concerning this things, or by pointing out other things, as it appears to them. And, although my Work for Englishmen calls me elsewhere for the present, concerning which I have elsewhere briefly opened my mind, that, since it is convient, I am about to explain more broadly; I will not default on my pledge given concerning things already said, but I will often devote my eyes and soul unto those things which protect the way for that Little Work, or supply material for that. Finally, for a few things you are to be entreated, and, as I hope, prevailed upon, lest you regard it as a burden to forgive my errors to me, while I confess fault, and suppliantly ask forgiveness of thee. I perceive that evidently I am able to be treated as guilty upon a twofold account, both of a matter poorly administrated, and of contrived delay. Concerning the first, although that which I previously promised I trust that I fulfilled, and conducted nothing by evil deceit, nor deliberately altered the opinion of any Author, nor yielded to the prejudices or pursuits of parties; nevertheless, there are many things in which I need the pardon of learned men, for I have dared to undertake a burden plainly unequal to my shoulders; because those things which were translated by me, with a hastening pen, out of the English language into Latin, I too often polluted with a rude and impolite style; because perhaps in smaller matters many παροράματα/errors are able to be discovered, which it is allowed that they might creep into so long Work. As far as the second is concerned, I do not deny that the patience of the Subscribers was much and often injured; yet I hold what I requite, and what is able to lighten me with respect to some part of the burden, and to excuse in a certain measure: For I never knowingly enticed anyone with a vain hope, but I, when asked concerning the time of publication of whichever Volume, disclosed freely and earnestly both my wishes and intentions; I certainly would not have deceived anyone, unless I myself had found the burden of the work in substance greater than I had thought. Although there are those that criticize the delays of this work as too long, the same, if they had come unto part of it, and had taken up some trial of themselves, perhaps they would judge concerning me and my diligence more generously. Yet this will be to me for a bronze wall, that these and however many delays of the work are not to be ascribed to my idleness, but either to activities absolutely necessary, or to the quarrels of others, or to the carelessnesses of combat, or to my health, or, what is chief, to augments of the Work. Now, although I might perhaps win some favor among men, yet before thee, the Highest Judge, there is no place of excuse for me, but only of supplication. Therefore, I entreat thy most holy Divinity, that thou wouldst forgive the errors of whatever sort admitted by me in the whole course of this work for the sake of thine ineffable Clemency: And I most willingly return to thee the greatest thanks of which I am capable and certainly obliged, for thou didst apply my soul to these most holy and salutary studies of thy Word, because thou hast deigned to impart to me, absolutely undeserving, in these a composed state of soul and body while proceeding, a suitable and favorable leisure in a great degree, and other means and suitable helps; because thou didst conduct this Work, hindered by difficulties neither small nor light, unto its completion. Cause, Best and Greatest Father, that what was undertaken by thy leading, and completed by thy power, would result in the praise of thee and of the Sacred Scripture, and in the advantage of thy Church. Amen.

[1] The Synopsis was originally printed in five physical volumes, but the last two, covering the New Testament, were reckoned as two parts of volume four.

[2] The “Preface to the Synopsis: Genesis-Esther” can be found in Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters: Genesis 1-11.

[3] Critici Sacri.

[4] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis. His exegetical talents are displayed in his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. His dual interest in international law and theology caused him to run afoul of civil authorities: Embracing Arminian doctrine, he was imprisoned from 1618-1621 after the Synod of Dort declared against the position.

[5] Theodore Beza (1519-1605) served as Rector of the Academy and Professor of Theology in Geneva. He was the colleague, then successor, of Calvin. He issued a Greek New Testament, and later published his Annotationes in Novum Testamentum. He authored notable theological works, such as Tractationes Theologicæ and Summa Totius Christianismi, as well as poems and contributions to the Huguenot metrical psalter of Clement Marot.

[6] Joachim Camerarius the Elder (1500-1575) was a German Lutheran classical scholar, who served as a professor at Nuremberg, and later at Leipzig. He assisted Phillip Melanchthon in the preparation of the Augsburg Confession, and engaged in efforts to mediate between Catholics and Protestants on behalf of King Francis I of France and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. He wrote Commentarius in Novum Fœdus.

[7] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine. He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584). His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther. Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians. He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator. He wrote Commentarii in Omnes Libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti.

[8] Henry Hammond (1605-1660), a learned divine, served the Church of England as Rector of Penshurst, Kent (1633), Archdeacon of Chichester (1643), Canon of Christ Church, Oxford (1645), and Sub-dean (1648). He was invited to sit in the Assembly at Westminister, but he participated instead in the rising at Tunbridge and other efforts in support of Charles I. He remained a loyal Royalist and Anglican until the day of his death. He wrote A Paraphrase and Annotations upon the New Testament, briefly Explaining All the Difficult Parts Thereof.

[9] Erasmus Schmidt (1560-1637), a Lutheran and learned philologist, served as Professor at Wittenburg in both Mathematics and Greek. He wrote Concordantiæ Novi Testamenti Græci and Versio Novi Testamenti Nova ad Græcam Veritatem Emendata, et Notæ ac Animadversione in Idem.

[10] Louis de Dieu (1590-1642) was a Huguenot minister of Dutch origin, and he was a linguist and critic of extraordinary talent and judgment. He wrote Animadversiones, sive Commentarius in Quatuor Evangelia, Animadveriones in Acta Apostolorum, Animadversiones in Epistolam ad Romanos, Accessit Spicilegium in Reliquas Ejusdem Apostoli, ut et Catholicas Epistolas, and Critica Sacra, sive Animadversiones in Loca Quædam Difficiliora Veteris et Novi Testamenti.

[11] Although most remembered for his work on John’s Apocalypse, The Key of the Revelation, and his escatological views, Joseph Mede (1586-1638) treats texts spanning the entire Bible in his Works. Mede was first a student, and then a fellow, tutor, and Reader of Greek, at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Works relating to the Apocalypse: Key of the Revelation, Remains of Some Passages in the Apocalypse, A Paraphrase and Exposition of the Prophecy of St. Peter, 2 Epistle, Chapter 3, The Apostasy of the Latter Times, a Treatise on 1 Timothy 4:1, 2, Daniel’s Weeks Explained, Chapter 9:24, etc., Regum Romanum Est Regum Quartum Danielis, Chapter 2:40; Chapter 7:7, etc., Revelatio Antichristi, seu de Numeris Daniels 1290, 1335, Chapter 12:11, 12, Miscellanies of Divinity (including, Hieronymi Pronunciata de Dogmate Millenariorum, De Nomine Antichristi, Commentationes Minores in Apocalypsin, Summary Exposition of the Apocalyse).

[12] John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was a minister and divine of such distinction and learning that he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. He specialized in Rabbinic learning and lore. He brought that learning to bear in his defense of Erastianism in the Assembly and in his comments upon Holy Scripture. He had a long and distinguished career at Cambridge, serving as Master of Catharine Hall, and later as Vice-chancellor of the University.

[13] Thomas Gataker (1574-1654) was an English churchman, theologian, and critic, of great reputation in his own day. On account of his great learning, he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. His abilities as a critic are on display in his commentaries on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentation, found in the English Annotations.