Prolegomena to Revelation

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

There are not a few things that are to be set down beforehand for the explication of this book in the place of πρωθεόριας, a preface. [1. Concerning the authority of this book.] Formerly some were rejecting the Divine authority of this book: first various heretics, like Cerdon[1] and Marcion,[2] as Tertullian[3] testifies;[4] then the Alogi[5] and Theodotiani,[6] as Epiphanius[7] and Augustine testify;[8] then Orthodox men, as Eusebius[9] testifies,[10] especially Caius.[11] Others doubted concerning the author, and therefore they did not at all admit the Apocalypse among the authentic writings of the New Testament, as formerly the Churches of the Greeks, as Jerome testifies[12] (Gomar). Why [however] it was doubted concerning the authority and authorship of this book, I believe the reasons to be, that for a long time it was in the hands of a few, not being included the Codices given to the common people, lest the hatred of those ruling should be stirred against Christians as a result of these things which are here predicted concerning Rome. In the next place, because what things are here said concerning the Resurrection, concerning the Thousand years, concerning Gog and Magog, these things sound like they agree with the Jewish books; and, although here they are set down with another sense, nevertheless they were seized upon by Cerinthus[13] and Christians, Judaizing more than is right unto a sense distinctly Jewish; as also that concerning Jerusalem descended out of heaven (Grotius). Add that nothing here appears to be of Apostolic dignity and majesty (Erasmus[14] on Revelation 22:20). Which is remarkable, since nearly all things here have been transcribed verbatim out of the Prophets (Beza). Indeed, many things contribute to the Canonical authority of this book: 1. the sanctity of its doctrine, which also agrees with the Canonical books precisely, as far as the person, offices, benefits, worship, etc., of Christ (Gomar): 2. sayings and formulas of speaking proper to the sacred writers, but never used by others, for example, revelation, as the Prophecy was called a vision; seven spirits; firstborn from the dead, etc.: Who among men has thus revealed these things? 3. familiar types of Scripture, not extant in the work of any human author; which are here frequent, as the throne, the four living creatures, the horses, the river, the tree, etc.: 4. the style, or the structure of speech, which sort was never used by mortals, like Revelation 1:3, Blessed is he that reads…hears…keeps; and Revelation 1:6-8, to Him who love us: Behold He comes in the clouds: I am the α/Alpha and ω/Omega; you see γοργότητα/ vehemence not human: 5. κυριολογία, the proper use of words; he discusses the individual matters in a manner suitable to the nature of them, for example, he says that Christ received, not learned, the Revelation, etc. (Cotterius in his “Prolegomena”): 6. the prophecies concerning the state of the Church, specific and proven by the event, and therefore divine, Isaiah 41:23 (Gomar, similarly Cotterius): 7. the mysteries here, proper to Sacred Scripture: 8. a form altogether wise and divine. And indeed these things are more than sufficient. Nevertheless, we add the consent of men (Cotterius). This book was received by the majority, indeed to such an extent that Epiphanius counts those that reject it among the heretics (Beza). Those that lived in the age closest to John’s were expressly approving it (Gomar), like Justin Martyr[15] in Against Trypho, and Irenæus[16] in Against Heresies 5 (Gomar, thus Cotterius), which two explained this book in commentaries, as Jerome testifies in Concerning Illustrious Men.[17] These men are followed by Theophilus of Antioch,[18] Melito of Sardis,[19] Origen,[20] and Dionysius of Alexandria,[21] as Eusebius testifies in his Ecclesiastical History 4:23, 25; 6:24; 7:24. Likewise, Clement of Alexandria[22] in his Pedagogue; Epiphanius in his Against Heresies 51, 54; Chrysostom in his second homily on Psalm 118 (Gomar). Damascenus,[23] Andreas of Cæsarea,[24] etc., so that the testimony of Jerome, asserting that it was not received in his time by the Greeks, might be understood of the common people and common Bishops. Of the Latins agree Tertullian, Cyprian,[25] Hillary,[26] Augustine, Jerome, etc. The Councils of Ancyra and Rome,[27] convened in the fifth century, and the Fourth Council of Toledo, convened in the year 636 (Cotterius). Now, that some Orthodox men rejected the Apocalypse, it happened in no way by the fault of the writing and rightfully, but on account of the abuse of that, and the errors which were confirmed by arguments sought from it; which arguments some, since they were not able to unloose them, cut the knot, denying its authority, as others rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews because it appeared to favor the Novatians[28] (Gomar). [2. It is to be inquired concerning the author, or Writer of the book:] The Writer was, either, 1. Cerinthus (certain interpreters in Cluverus), as Caius in Eusebius maintained (Gomar): which is foolish, because the errors of Cerinthus are here expressly refuted (Gomar, similarly Cluverus). Or, 2. John, called the elder (certain interpreters in Ribera). For there were two Johns, both buried in Ephesus, the Apostle, and the elder, a disciple of the Apostle, as Jerome relates (Ribera). Or, 3. the Apostle John (Beza, Grotius, Cluverus, Gothofredus, Ribera, Gomar, Durham), as many things suggest; 1. The very text of the book (Cluverus): for his name, John, is set down simply (Cotterius, Durham), and he says that he testified concerning the word of God, and the testimony of Christ, and all that he saw, Revelation 1:2, which agrees especially with the Apostle, from a comparison with John 19:35 (Gomar); 21:24 (Durham); 1 John 1:1-3 (Gomar); and he adds that he was on the island of Patmos, etc., Revelation 1:9, where Irenæus, Eusebius, and all, agree that he was banished by Domitian[29] (Gomar, Cluverus, Cotterius, Durham). 2. The style, and the many formulæ of speaking familiar to John: as that he calls Christ the lamb, Revelation 5 (Cluverus, similarly Cotterius, Beza), and the word,[30] as in John 1:1, 29 (Cluverus, Gothofredus); that concerning Him he says, He who loved us, and cleansed us from sins in his own blood,[31] as in 1 John 1:7, and those who pierced Him, etc., Revelation 1:7, as in John 19:37. 3. It is fitting that the book, which is the proper work of Christ, be exhibited to us by the labor of one from the order of Apostles (Cotterius), and that this most excellent revelation be exhibited by the most beloved disciple (Cluverus). Add that it belonged to Apostolic authority to write, not to one Church, but to all the Asiatic Churches (Beza). 4. They believed this book to be the Apostle John’s, to which witnesses credit is deservedly given (Grotius): Justin in his Against Trypho; Irenæus in his Against Heresies 4:37, 50; 5:30; Tertullian in his Against Marcion 4, and in many other places. With whom agree Clement of Alexandria (Grotius, thus Cluverus) in his Pedagogue 2:10, 12 (Cluverus), Origen (Grotius, Cluverus) in tractate 12 on Matthew 20 (Cluverus), and after them many others (Grotius). Epiphanius, Against Heresies 54: Εἰ γὰρ, etc., If thou wert regenerated, and rightly educated, it was required that thou study the twenty-seven books of the Old Testament, which are numbered twenty-two by the Hebrews, and the four Gospels…and the Apocalypse of John. Augustine, City of God: Concerning these things the same Evangelist John spoke in that book which is called the Apocalypse, etc. And, that this was the opinion of all the Latins, Jerome testifies to Dardanus by Epistle[32] (Cluverus). Dionysius of Alexandria in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 7:24 says (Gomar), Ἐγὼ δὲ ἀθετῆσαι, etc., I would not dare to reject this book…. I suppose that a wonderful expectation of future things is contained in the several chapters of it. When I do not understand it, I consider there to be a certain, higher sense in the words, etc. (Grotius, Gomar). Now, I believe that this book was preserved by the Elder John, the disciple of the Apostle: thence it was accomplished that it was believed to be his work by some (Grotius). [Nevertheless, others deny that John was the Writer of this book, or they doubt it, supported by these arguments:] 1. Because John in the Gospel never set down his own name, neither in the Epistles; but in the Apocalypse he often impresses it (certain interpreters in Ribera, similarly Erasmus out of Dionysius of Alexandria). Response: This reason is empty (Beza). It is one thing to write a history, another thing to write a prophecy (Beza, Ribera). The truth of a history depends on sources other than the Author (Beza). But in a prophecy, the entire authority of which hangs upon the author; the name was necessarily to be set down, otherwise it would be disregarded with him unknown. Therefore, the prophets always wrote their name at the beginning of their prophecy, and they often impress it (Ribera, similarly Beza). Hence Jeremiah impresses his name one hundred and twenty times. Thus after Daniel 7, is repeated in nearly every versicle, I, Daniel. Thus also Isaiah, etc. Moreover, the name of John, unless I am mistaken, is only repeated five times, and I, John only three times (Beza). 2. Because there is a great difference of style between the Gospel and Epistles of John and the Apocalypse (certain interpreters in Ribera); and the former are more refined, the latter quite unrefined (Gomar, similarly Ribera), rough, uncouth, not without solecisms[33] (certain interpreters in Ribera). Response: This hinders nothing, for there ought to be a difference of style in history and in prophecy (Ribera, similarly Gomar). In his Gospel he wished to be similar to the Evangelists, in prophecy to the Prophets (Ribera). In the Gospel he narrated the things he heard and saw by the inspiration and direction of God, after his own habit of speech, which he had received from the Holy Spirit by the gift of tongues: However, in the Apocalypse he wrote what things the Angel had dictated, and in such a style as God wished to be used (Gomar). Add that many things agree with the style of the Evangelist, even indeed the previously listed sentences and words (Gomar, similarly Ribera). 3. Because in the Greek Codices the title is of John (not the Evangelist, but) the Theologian (Erasmus). Responses: 1. That was done for no other reason than that after Origen, Christians gave the title Theologian, which title the Platonists gave to Orpheus,[34] to John with better justification. This appears to be true out of Origen, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and both Cyrils[35] (Grotius). 2. No one is ignorant that John the Evangelist κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, by preeminence, was called by the ancients the Theologian, for he wrote best concerning the divinity of Christ (Beza, similarly Gomar, Cluverus): whence Athanasius says, It is called the Apocalypse of John because that very John, the Evangelist and Theologian, saw this revelation on Patmos: Both in the Complutensian codex[36] and in the Royal Codex[37] the title is, The Apocalypse of the Apostle and Evangelist, Saint John the Theologian (Gomar). 4. Because Dorotheus omits the Apocalypse in the catalogue of Sacred Scripture:[38] Anastasius,[39] Dionysius of Alexandria, and Eusebius speak doubtfully concerning it (certain interpreters in Gomar). Responses: 1. The unfavorable opinion of a few, more obscure Fathers is not at all to be opposed to the majority of more ancient Fathers, whom we brought forward previously (Gomar). 2. That without just cause they rejected this book, the reasons for which they, having been agitated, did this, show (Beza); namely, that they are not able by any other method to loosen the arguments of the Chiliasts, etc. And since they believed that they had received a suitable interpretation of that Millennium in Revelation 20, with authority of the Apocalypse left unimpaired, they rested from the beginning of impiety not easily to be removed with respect to guilt, and to be trembled at with respect to posterity (Mede on Revelation 20). Concerning questions of who the author of this book was, or when it was written, I am no more solicitus than concerning the cask or time of wine, as long as the wine is good. I am persuaded that he was a true prophet and disciple of God; and I have no more doubt concerning this than concerning the Gospel of John. And yet I understand hardly a thousandth part of this book (Castalio[40]). [These things concerning the second question. 3. Since many judge of this book less candidly and piously than Castalio, and think it, because they understand not the whole, to be entirely useless, and suppose all the studies into it to be superfluous, it will be suitable here to discuss the use and excellence of the Apocalypse in a few words.] The utility of this book is enormous and exceptional (Pererius, Cluverus), and above (as Jerome says) all praise (Cluverus), as Revelation 1:3 and 22:7 teach (Cluverus, similarly Pererius). No book was ever written with greater skill, with each and every word, as if in two scales, weighed (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions[41] 5:15:181). The use of this book is, either, 1. common with the other books of Sacred Scripture, for this book prescribes and inculcates the principles and duties of the whole faith and life (Cluverus’ Apocalyptic Dawn 10), and exhibits a most perfect body of Divinity (Cotterius’ Exposition of the Apocalypse “Prolegomena” 14) [concerning which see Cotterius]. Here it is taught concerning the divine authority and excellence of the Sacred Scriptures, Revelation 1:2, 3, 11; 10:7; etc.; that God is one, and to be worshipped alone, Revelation 4:8, etc.; 5:13, etc.; but that Angels are not to be adored, Revelation 19:10; 22:9; that God is the beginning and the end, the creator and preserver, of all things, Revelation 1:8; 4:11; 5:13; etc.; that the true God is one and triune, Revelation 1:4, 5, the Father, and Christ, Revelation 1:8, 11, 17; 2:8, 23; 3:14; 17:14; 19:12, etc., and the Holy Spirit, Revelation 2:7, 11; 3:1, 6; 4:5, 8, etc.; that the Son of God is very man, Revelation 1:5; 5:5; 22:16; that all men by nature are blind, corrupt and miserable, Revelation 1:17; 3:17; 5:4; but that they are justified freely, and cleansed from sins by the blood of the Lamb, Revelation 1:5, 6; 3:18; 5:9; 7:14, etc.; that Christ is the firstborn from the dead, Revelation 1:5, living forever, Revelation 1:18, the high priest, Revelation 1:5, 6, 13, Prophet, Revelation 2:1, 16; 5:5; 19:11, King, Revelation 1:5, 13; 7:17; 19:12, 15, etc.; that the Kingdom of Christ is spiritual, Revelation 3:18, 20; 20:4-6; that God makes use of Teachers and ministers in the Church, Revelation 1:16, 20; 2:1, 18; etc.; that the duty of Magistrates and Kings is to acknowledge, etc., Christ as King, Revelation 17:16, 17; 21:24; that it is the virtue of the pious to follow Christ in all things, Revelation 14:4, 5, 7, to avoid idolatry, hypocrisy, scandals, etc., Revelation 2:14, 20; 3:1, 15; etc.; and that rewards are reserved for the pious, punishments for the impious, both of this and of the future age, Revelation 2:22; 3:10; 11:11; etc. Or, 2. the use is proper and singular, common with few or no books of the Scripture (Cluverus), to describe all the progress of the Church, and nearly all the eminent situations and events, both prosperous and adverse, which were going to be in the several ages of the Church from its rising unto the setting of the same in the earth, as if to show it on a tower and in one glance: so that out of such foresight they might have a prepared and fortified soul for suffering evils (Pererius): so that Atheists, and Jews, and all others, while Paganism, Turkism, and Idolatry might appear to prevail in the earth, might know that nothing of these happens which, previously and clearly foreseen, was not here predicted by God; and thence they are compelled to acknowledge the Providence of God, and the fidelity and vigilance of the Messiah, over His Church (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 198). Moreover, this book is a clear mirror in which all Christians contemplate equally the Apostasy of the Church, and the way unto its renewal; and at the same time they might learn whether they might thoroughly emerge from that Apostasy, or whether they might remain in it for a certain time, etc. (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 199). For here the mystery of Antichristian impiety is treated clearly and fully; and the Kingdom of Antichrist, its innate character, place, subordinates and assistants, are accurately described. Finally, in this book the Temple or Mosaic Tabernacle, and various histories, prophecies, and mysteries of the Old Testament, are studiously inculcated and skillfully explained. We have illustrious prophecies, for example, Revelation 1:4 and 4:5, 6 concerning the seven lamps and eyes of Zechariah 3:9 and 4:2; Revelation 1:7 concerning that lamentation of Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 2:7, 14, 17 concerning Paradise and the tree of life, concerning Balaam and Balac, concerning Manna; and Revelation 3:5 concerning the book of life; and in other places of this book concerning the key of David,[42] concerning the pillars of the temple,[43] concerning the root of David,[44] concerning Michael the Archangel,[45] and concerning other things a great many: whence it is apparent that the Apocalypse presents shining testimonies, both for itself and the rest of the Scriptures, of its divine origin (Cluverus). [Let those who think all labor expended in the study and interpretation of this book to be poorly placed now go and judge more justly, modestly, and reverently. But the obscurity of the book appears to hinder this study. In the fourth place, it is to be treated concerning this matter.] That this book is most obscure all admit, and the matter itself speaks (Pererius). The cause of which is, 1. the sublimity of it; 2. that it is full of symbols and enigmas (Lapide), and its words cannot generally be taken literally, and the visions and images appear to be able to be applied agreeably to many things; 3. because all Prophecy, says Irenæus, is an enigma before it is fulfilled,[46] as it is evident in the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning Messiah, etc.; but God willed that these prophecies remain hidden until the time of fulfillment, either because it was not fitting that holy things be given to dogs, etc., or because it was not expedient for them to be understood; namely, lest those, against whom many things are predicted in them, be exceedingly provoked, and rage more violently against the people of God (Pererius); or, so that by this method He might stir diligence of attention and examination (Gomar). God wraps these mysteries in the obscure enigmas of types, 1. because the mysteries, oracles and Prophecies, for the sake of authority and reverence, ought to be handled mystically: 2. because with respect to such they were both delighted and accustomed, as the Jews from the style of the Prophets, so also the Gentiles, who also have their own mysteries, oracles, bipods, cauldrons, etc., lest they should think that the Church of Christ to be destitute of all oracles: 3. because He willed to look after our hunger, so that there might always be something for us to learn, lest we slight the material, despising its ease (Apocalyptic Harmony): 4. lest these things be disclosed to those other than the servants of God, so that strangers from the covenant, hearing all things in similitudes, might not hear, etc., Mark 4:12 (Cotterius). Yet this obscurity of the book ought to acquire for it, not contempt, but rather veneration: and concerning this it could aptly be said what Socrates said concerning the book of Heraclitus,[47] Those things which I understood appeared to me very noble and illustrious, but I believe that what things I did not understand are most excellent.[48] Knowingly, prudently, and piously Dionysius says, Therefore, I do not reject the Apocalypse because I do not understand it, but I admire it all the more, and suppose that there is a certain more recondite meaning in the words, etc. (Pererius). Moreover, there are certain things, scattered throughout the entire context, spoken most clearly, and others things intelligible through repetition, from which those abstruse things are able to be searched out, in such a way that to the reader, not obstinate, but candid, it would suffice (Cluverus): certain things are explained here with sufficient clarity (Gomar), and it is not very difficult to explain many things (Pererius). And, in general, this prophecy is not inexplicable (Cluverus, similarly Pererius, More’s Works 37), as it is easily proven, 1. from the promise to the readers, etc., and the blessing, Revelation 1:3: 2. from the repeated exhortations to consider it, etc., as in Revelation 13:9, 18; 17:9; etc.: 3. because God did not will that it should be hidden from mortals, but He commanded it to be promulgated and disclosed, Revelation 1:11; 10:11; and He prohibited its sealing, Revelation 22:10. John received from the Angel the little book no longer sealed, but already opened by the Lamb, Revelation 5:5, 9; 10:2, 8. For as a book is said to be sealed which is not able to be understood, as in Isaiah 29:11, 12; Daniel 8:26; 12:4, 9; so also on the other hand unsealed, the sentence of which is able to be observed. 4. From the end of the Divine counsel, which is by no means frustrated. This was that coming things might be revealed to His servants, Revelation 1:1; 22:6, 16 (Cluverus’ Apocalyptic Dawn 20). And that the intelligibility of the Apocalyptic prophecies was open and undeniable, it is able to be demonstrated from matters most well known and generally admitted (More’s Works 37). [Now, you will see the demonstration in the Reverend Author, chapter 7.] Neither are supports wanting, with which we enter upon the understanding of the more obscure figures, which sort are, as history and experience, so also especially the prophetic Scriptures; so that we might compare the Apocalyptic types with the visions and phrases of the old Prophets, etc. (Pareus). [The remaining things will be evident from things to be said. These things concerning the fourth question. 5. It is to be inquired concerning the scope or end of this book.] It was, partly, 1. Prophetic, concerning those things which were going to happen after the advent of Christ, whether only a few ages, or unto the second advent of Christ (Apocalyptic Harmony); so that He might reveal beforehand all the progress of the Church from its beginning unto the completion of the same in the earth, or unto the end of the world (Pererius): partly, 2. διδακτικὸς/ didactic, and consolatory, so that by these visions John himself, the Asiatic Churches and all others, are refreshed, and are not terrified by the evils about to come upon the world, and are roused unto perseverance and patience; and so that they would not promise to themselves a worldly kingdom, but would rather prepare themselves for the cross (Apocalyptic Harmony), and by the hope of a blessed immortality would rightly undertake life, etc. (Cotterius’ Exposition of the Apocalypse 35). 6. Since the entire Apocalypse is formed by figures, if in these we be strangers, in vain do we strive to search out the sense of it. Now, concerning figures, there are these Canons: 1. A figure is not able to be a figure of a figure, for a figure, inasmuch as it is relative, demands a correlative. 2. Figures are obtained from things well-known. 3. Figures have that extent which God prescribed for them, neither are they to be stretched beyond the intention of God. 4. That one is to be taken as a figure that is attested by the books of the Scriptures (Cotterius’ Exposition of the Apocalypse “Protheoria concerning Types”). 5. To the figures here and in the Scriptures a change happens, and that complex; inasmuch as, either, 1. the signification of a figure is changed, as when the moon is a figure both of the Political state, and of the Church; or, 2. the signification of the figure is somewhat modified by that. It is rare that the same thing comes twice by the same figure: which, not observed by Interpreters, caused that they everywhere transformed the entire sense of the Apocalypse: or, 3. a figure is changed, and that in the same passage, to signify the same thing, as in Revelation 14:19, 20, where a grape-harvest is changed into a battle; and in Revelation 17:9, where the Angel, about to reveal the figure of the City, names the bridegroom by a figurative locution, which contains the figure. Thus Christ comes in the form of the Son of man, Revelation 1, in the form of an Angel, Revelation 8; 10 (Cotterius’ Exposition of the Apocalypse “Prolegomena” 27, 28). 7. The foundations and rules for interpreting the Apocalypse are of this sort: 1. In those things which have already been fulfilled, since many and various are those things unto which the prophecy of John is able to be adjusted, those things appear especially to be foresignified by it that, 1. were common either to the whole Church, or to the greatest part of it; and, 2. were especially eminent either with respect to prosperity, or with respect to adversity; and, 3. were such things to which the sentences and words of John are able more agreeably to be applied. 2. All things here are not to be cut to the quick, neither is each and every smallest thing to be scrutinized, nor is one to be fixed on individual words too morosely and anxiously, or by accommodation of all things to that which we intend: it will be sufficient to indicate the scope of the vision and its principal parts (Pererius). 3. As in the Prophets, so also in the Apocalypse (Lapide), the Prophetic visions are written, not in an unbroken and direct series, nor according to the order of times and of events conducted; but they are often interrupted, and, with matters quite diverse interjected, there is a return unto the same. Therefore, in this book there are frequent anticipations, recapitulations, inversions also, and regressions, repetitions, in addition to hasty transitions (Pererius, similarly Lapide). 4. The same event is prefigured by several and diverse visions and figures, and that partly for the confirmation of the matter and certitude, as in Genesis 41:32, partly so that the diverse conditions of those, or properties and circumstances, which are not equaled by one image, might be signified by diverse images and visions (Lapide out of Pererius). 5. The whole Apocalypse is filled with allusions to the places, histories, and figures of the Old Testament, particularly to the Temple, the Ark, the Altar, the Sacrifices, and other Mosaic rites (Lapide); but especially to the visions of Ezekiel and Daniel (Lapide, similarly Pererius), of Isaiah and Zechariah also, with which John agrees not only in the visions, but also in words, phrases, and sentences (Pererius). Wherefore, that interpretation, which most strictly observes the approved examples and known analogy of Prophetic style, is to be preferred to those that are formed according to the private judgment of each (More’s Works 1:9:618). There ought to be mistrust here for whatever is strange or paradoxical, either taken from one’s private sense, or spoken rashly and freely, or not at all agreeing with those things that are certain and approved by a great many. 6. As a good many things are here related obscurely and without interpretation, so also there are a few things of which an explication is set near; and that is done, partly so that thence we might seek an understanding of the rest, namely, by a certain analogy, either by reason of similitude, or even of opposition; partly so that we might understand that what thing are related in this book are to be taken, not literally, but figuratively and mystically (Pererius). Now, the Apocalypse, as it expresses, is to be taken literally, as much as it is able to be done, unless what is said by it would be absurd, taken plainly and simply, or would be repugnant to sound faith and morals (Lapide). 7. That interpretation is suspect which would vary the signification of the same words in the same vision without any solid reason, and which reiterates the course forwards and backwards; for example, if someone wishes the imagery of the Beast to signify, now a Kingdom or Empire, now a certain singular Person of the empire, but then a certain enormous vice of the Empire: such deformed patches and equivocations show that the Interpreter imported a meaning into the Text out of a sense of some worldly benefit (More’s Works 619). 8. Mystical words, plain from the very innermost parts of the Prophecy, like Lamb, Heaven, Fountains and Rivers, Mountains, etc., are to be taken here, not with the usual or common signification, but with an exceptional, mystical and prophetic, signification (Cluverus). It will be here most useful to have a fixed and determined signification of the Symbols, Imagery, and Similitudes, under which the things themselves are represented. Now, this is to be sought, 1. from the use of Scripture: 2. from Reason, which contemplates the fitness of those for signifying or representing things: 3. from a comparison of those that have written on the interpretation of dreams, whether mostly from proper reason and observation, as Artemidorus[49] professes; or (which is more suited to the matter) they made a collection of the most ancient Writers of this sort. Now, the collection of Achmet[50] satisfies above the rest, because he preserves the Oneirocritica of those three most celebrated Interpreters of the Kings of India, Persia, and Egypt; and hence since they are thus ancient and thus Eastern, so it is more likely that those things are going to have a greater affinity with the Prophetic Figures of Sacred Scripture. The use of which Interpretations was approved by Expositors that otherwise in total method differ and disagree among themselves; I understand Grotius, and Joseph Mede, and to Mede the honor is owed of being the first to open the way in this matter (More’s Works 1:5:595). [Now, at this point the author exhibits to us the Prophetic Alphabet of images mentioned, which he explains with uncommon erudition, concerning which it is to be related to us, as use requires, in the proper places of each. However, the reader is able to consult him, just as also what things of this sort Cluverus has in his Apocalyptic Dawn “Prolegomena” 2:5:52, etc., has. This is the eighth rule of interpretation.] 9. Various figures and canons are to be noted here: Of which sort are, 1. Progress. This canon is most noteworthy, which obtains both in the whole, and in the parts. In the whole, for the Apocalypse always goes forward. In the parts, the Earth and the Sea are injured, Revelation 20:11, and flee, Revelation 21:1. 2. Φάος/light, when what is spoken more obscurely, elsewhere is made clearer. A canon of great worth: Revelation 4 and 5, the Elders and Living Creatures: Revelation 11, the Two witnesses: Revelation 14:12, the Words of God, that is, the Law, and the Faith of Jesus. 3. Ἀνάληψις/repetition, as in Revelation 11 and 12, where, being about to speak concerning a later matter, he begins from earlier things, and finally he descends to that. 4. Πρόληψις/ prolepsis, which over against those things anticipates what things were to be related later. 5. Τροπὴ λέξεως, turning of a phrase, when a word changes unto another signification: thus the testimony of Jesus is taken differently in Revelation 1:2 and Revelation 1:9. 6. Δύο and δίς, two and twice. Hardly anything here is singular, but all things doubled, or the same matter set down twice, like the descent of Christ and Jerusalem, Gog and Magog, etc. 7. Συζυγία, joining together, when two things, agreeing in external form, are brought near to each other as if they were the same in substance, as in Revelation 20:4, 5 and 20:6, 7, in which place see what things are to be said. 8. Κατάβασις/descent, by which not only is a matter explained more clearly, but also there is a descent, as it were, from the whole unto the parts, as you will see on Revelation 13:11, 12. Thus in Revelation 15:1, Angels were equipped with vials: in verse 7, they receive the vials; and in verse 8, they are supposed to pour them out: in Revelation 16, they are commanded to pour them out, and they pour them out. 9. Νόημα/thought, when one thing is mentioned, but another is understood; for example, under the piercing of enemies the salvation of the elect is understood, Revelation 6:2. 10. Παρέμμιξις/mixing, when anything of a foreign nature is inserted, as in Revelation 21:24, 26. 11. Enallage, either of number, Revelation 1:3, or of tense, Revelation 4:10,[51] or of person, Revelation 5:9, 10.[52] 12. Συμπλοκὴ/ interweaving, when concerning many things many things are distinctly predicted, which are to be accommodated to those another way by the Law of distribution, as in Revelation 2:22, 23 (Cotterius’ Exposition of the Apocalypse “Prolegomena” 29, etc.). [8. It is to be inquired concerning the time of writing.] The Apocalypse was written in the fourteenth year of the reign of Domitian;[53] when he was banished unto the island of Patmos, there he wrote it (Ribera, similarly Pererius, Lapide, Apocalyptic Harmony). Thus Irenæus’ Against Heresies 5, Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 3:18, Jerome on the life of John:[54] Nicephorus’[55] Ecclesiastical History[56] 2:24; 3:9 (Ribera). Indeed, John afterwards wrote the Gospel, having returned from exile on Patmos, as Jerome, Eusebius, Augustine, etc., relate; and he died two years after. Hence it is apparent that the Apocalypse was not written before the destruction of Jerusalem, as Johannes Annius,[57] Salmeron,[58] and Hentenius[59] maintain, but a long time after that (Lapide). [Others think otherwise:] The Apocalypse was written, not in the time of Domitian, but of Claudius Cæsar,[60] as Epiphanius expressly says (Hammond’s Annotations upon the New Testament “Preface”): concerning which Reverend Hammond has here many things [which things and others to the same purpose let the reader seek in the things to be Noted on Revelation 13 or 17. 9. It is to be seen concerning the form and method of the Apocalypse.] Indeed, the form appears Epistolary. For it has an Epistolary ἐπιγραφὴν/ inscription and ὑπογραφὴν/outline, and it is concluded with the Epistolary prayer common to the Apostles: also all the acts of the first vision are ἐπιστολικά/epistolary. But what things follow after the fourth chapter, where the second vision (which is the first prophetic vision) begins, unto the end plainly have a Dramatic form: whence the Apocalypse is truly able to be called a Prophetic Drama. For, as in a Tragedy, to depict matters conducted through diverse scenes some persons come forth into the theatre after others, and withdraw again, likewise various choruses of musicians or singers distinguish the acts. The same also is done here, etc. Which those that do not observe wonder what so many hymns signify, what the so often repeated φαινόμενα/ appearances of Angels, the Beast, Babylon, the Final judgment, etc., and they contrive anticipations, recapitulations, etc. (Pareus’ Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of St. John “Proœm” 8). Now, in the individual visions (but I speak of the six prophetic visions) there is to be a prudent discrimination between the dramatic and prophetic. I call Dramatic both the introductory things and preparations of the visions, as in Revelation 1:9-20; 4; 5; 8:1-6; 15, and the choruses of the twenty-four elders, and of the four living creatures, and of the Angels, etc., and their prayers, hymns, ἐπινίκια, triumphal odes. All which things properly regard decorum. However, I call Prophetic those parts or figures of the visions, by which future events are represented (Pareus’ Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of St. John “Proœm” 10). Indeed, all the Visions, except the first two, generally have three Acts: 1. the Tragic ills of the Church; 2. liberation; 3. ἐπινίκιον, a triumphal ode, and δοξολογίαν/ doxology (Apocalyptic Harmony). [10. It is to be treated of the Argument, or substance, and the division or parts, of this Book.] 1. This is a representation of future events, not likewise of past events, which are nevertheless sprinkled repeatedly among the future events, with the rationale of the visions so requiring, namely, Revelation 12:1, 2; 17:8, 10; 20. 2. The Apocalypse is not, as it could seem, one continuous vision, but several, namely, seven distinct visions. For it is apparent that John was seized by the Spirit several times, neither did he see all things in one place, but some on Patmos,[61] some in heaven,[62] some near the shore of the sea,[63] some in the desert,[64] some finally in a high mountain.