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 and Marcion, as Tertullian testifies; then the Alogi and Theodotiani, as Epiphanius and Augustine testify; then Orthodox men, as Eusebius testifies, especially Caius. 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 (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 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 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 in Against Trypho, and Irenæus in Against Heresies 5 (Gomar, thus Cotterius), which two explained this book in commentaries, as Jerome testifies in Concerning Illustrious Men. These men are followed by Theophilus of Antioch, Melito of Sardis, Origen, and Dionysius of Alexandria, as Eusebius testifies in his Ecclesiastical History 4:23, 25; 6:24; 7:24. Likewise, Clement of Alexandria in his Pedagogue; Epiphanius in his Against Heresies 51, 54; Chrysostom in his second homily on Psalm 118 (Gomar). Damascenus, Andreas of Cæsarea, 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, Hillary, Augustine, Jerome, etc. The Councils of Ancyra and Rome, 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 (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 (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, 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, 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 (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 (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, to John with better justification. This appears to be true out of Origen, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and both Cyrils (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 and in the Royal Codex 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: Anastasius, 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). [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 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, concerning the pillars of the temple, concerning the root of David, concerning Michael the Archangel, 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, 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, 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. 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 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 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, or of person, Revelation 5:9, 10. 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; 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: Nicephorus’ Ecclesiastical History 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, Salmeron, and Hentenius 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, 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, some in heaven, some near the shore of the sea, some in the desert, some finally in a high mountain. Now, the latter visions are clearer here than the former (Pareus’ Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of St. John “Proœm” 9:36). 3. The Apocalypsis is nothing other than a commentary on those words of Christ in Matthew 24:3-13 and in Luke 21:25-27. And thus chapter 20 of this Book is concluded with a prophecy of the final judgment. But the two final chapters contain the blessedness of the saints after the judgment (Ribera). 4. The one sequential history of the Church from beginning unto end is continued in this Book (certain interpreters in Pareus’ Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of St. John 37). That explanation is most certain, which seizes the beginning of the predicted events from the very vision of John, and then progresses by order through the ages following upon the vision unto the very end of the age. Which thus is demonstrated: 1. Out of Revelation 4:1, I will show to thee what things are necessary to be done hereafter. Now, that neatly arranged structure of events is loosened, if what future things are shown to him, either already previously happened, or were not immediately connected to those present events, which had preceded, but are understood to be following finally after many years. 2. Otherwise the evidence and certitude of the sense will be imperiled. For if the first alteration, which followed the vision of the Apostle, remarkable and singular among the events of the Church or of the world, God did not foretell, whence will it be apparent that the second or third has been foretold? 3. The context itself argues an ordered series of times, and of events succeeding themselves. First, the seals are opened in order, which open the more general oracles about to come upon the entire world. Next, with the last seal opened, seven Trumpet Angels come forth, proclaiming certain singular judgments of Christ, and remarkable alterations of the Church and world; and under each the plagues are made worse and worse. And they are nowhere called the last plagues, except finally in Revelation 15 and 16 under the seven vials, which are comprehended in the space of the blast of the seventh trumpet, since during it the end is predicted to be, Revelation 10:6. Finally, particles of order are inserted repeatedly into the Book. Hereafter, afterwards, finally…I saw, etc., and one vision is always brought out from the other. Therefore, the visions are not to be mixed, as if the same things were contained in the first and last visions, or what things were previously completed were related later. Yet I desire not all repetitions and explications to be removed. For in Revelation 11, 12, and 20, where new visions are begun, certain succinct recapitulations are inserted, by which, on account of the necessary perspicuity of the sense, the occasion and preparation for those things to be done, which properly ought to be explained by the visions, is set down before, and is recalled out of the preceding age (Cluverus’ Apocalyptic Dawn 2:3:22). There are those that maintain that the first ages of the Church, and the war of the Church with the Synagogue and Paganism are treated separately, and think that the triumph over both enemies is treated, at least from Revelation 5 to 20. Thus Alcasar (Cluverus’ Apocalyptic Dawn 28, similarly Lapide) [whose opinion Cluverus in this place refutes, which nevertheless some others follow, as we shall hereafter see in its own place.] From Revelation 6 to 12, they maintain that the abrogation of the Synagogue and Judaism is treated: from there unto Revelation 20, the ruin of Paganism and the reign of the Church. Thus Salmeron and Alcasar. But this opinion, 1. is new and singular; 2. makes history out of prophecy, and supposes that John wished to describe an event which happened twenty-five years earlier and was well-known, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, and that by an obscure and continual enigma; 3. wrests a great many passages of the Apocalypse, which most clearly speak of most recent times (Lapide). [Others, therefore, think otherwise:] The general argument of the Apocalypse consists in two things. It forewarns the Church concerning approaching calamities, and fortifies it against those with consolations. The individual visions treat the same (Pareus Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of St. John “Proœm” 10:40). Now, all the visions represent the same period of the Church and of Ecclesiastical history, as the description of the final judgment, so often repeated, clearly demonstrates. Yet not all represent the whole; but some the whole, others certain definite intervals. Also they represent the same period, but now in one way and now in another, according to more eminent histories, now one and now another, and that with various and clearer figures. The universal visions, or those representing the whole, are four, concerning the seven seals; concerning the seven trumpets; concerning the woman in labor; concerning the Dragon bound and loosed, etc. But the particular visions, whether they shadow forth later intervals of the whole period, or the tragedy, advance and ruin of Antichrist, are two: concerning the seven vials; and concerning the judgment of the great harlot, the ruin of Babylon and Antichrist (Pareus’ Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of St. John “Proœm” 9:37). But that all the visions are ended with the type of the final judgment, which Pareus maintains, I utterly deny. For, if it be so, what use was it to reserve the figure of that judgment unto the end of the Book? And if the third Woe includes the eternal punishments of the impious, why in Revelation 15 and 16 are they in the end commemorated as the final plagues, since there are none later than the last plagues of gehenna? Then, if an undoubted figure of the final judgment will appear to close the vision, this will be done in Revelation 6:12, etc., which nevertheless Pareus explains otherwise. And why would he not do the same in the individual ones (Cluverus’ Apocalyptic Dawn 23)? Others: The Apocalypse is an uninterrupted order of speech describing what things were done thence from the time of the Apostles, and will be done onward unto the end of the world. He confirms this, 1. as the genius of the other Scriptures, which all proceed from the beginning, through the middle, unto the end: 2. because the fourth part of the Earth is injured, Revelation 6:8; the third part, Revelation 8; the whole body, Revelation 16. Who does not see the order? 3. The mention of the last plague, Revelation 15:1. Therefore, what things precede in the book, also precede in time. This observation is of the greatest utility. If this be true, on what basis are the vials of Revelation 16 confused with the trumpets of Revelation 8 and 9? Let us approach closer to the matter. The Apocalypse begins, Revelation 1. It is written to the Churches, Revelation 2 and 3. The Old Testament, Revelation 4. The New Testament, Revelation 5. The events begin, Revelation 6 and 7. They proceed, Revelation 8-11. The same things are related more extensively, Revelation 12-14. The Apocalypse is moved forward, Revelation 15 and 16. With the argument repeated more profusely, Revelation 17, 18, and the first part of 19. Thence unto Revelation 22 all things are reconsidered. You see a continuous series. Moreover, the Apocalypse (strange but true, let me say) is twofold at least, as the twofold epilogue or conclusion relates; indeed threefold, 1. Expanded, which embraces all things, and concerning them explains most plainly, which, beginning with chapter 4, extends unto Revelation 19:9. 2. Contracted, which repeats those things more concisely and compactly, in the remaining part of Revelation 19. 3. Restricted, of which the argument is narrower, and the narrowest, Revelation 21 and part of 22. In these individuals, moreover, there are classes. I call a class a series of events, conjoined by the order of succession, and limited by a certain, perfect number. We have acknowledged classes in the seals, trumpets, vials: which, therefore, were revealed so that from them we might be led unto others. Therefore, whatever is contained in chapter 4, and thence unto chapter 22, either is part of a class, or pertains to a class; either, 1. in the place of a prelude, as in the vials, which begin in chapter 16, although you have παρασκευαστικῶς, by way of preparation, concerning them in chapter 15, and in chapter 16, where before the seventh poured vial we are advised, verse 15, concerning the last day, which will soon be revealed: or, 2. in the place of an appendix, as in Revelation 16:14, 16 and 19:9 (Cotterius’ Exposition of the Apocalypse 20, etc.). Others: There are those that interpret the Apocalypse to no purpose, as if the events everywhere succeed each other in the same order and series as the Visions. For here there are many Synchronisms (Mede’s The Key of Revelation in his Works 2:536). [Concerning which it is here briefly to be explained.] Those things are synchronous which, beginning from the same time, and thence continuing in unbroken succession, end at the same time. Now, it is much to be observed that the beginnings and endings of the Synchronous Visions do not require to be understood precisely and Mathematically, so that they might be circumscribed on the hour, day, or year; but are to be taken with greater latitude and are to be defined according to the nature of the Vision out of the circumstances of the Histories. Thus the beginning or Epoch of the Beast, which was and was not and yet is, coincides with that time in which the ten Kings begin their reign, Revelation 17:12, which was done by degrees, and extended unto a succession of several years (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 1). Now, the principal thread of the Series and Order of the Apocalyptic Visions is to be established without controversy as the Vision of the seven Seals, which advances directly and plainly from the beginning unto the end of the Apocalyptic course. For it is apparent that the Vision of Revelation 6:1 is the beginning of the events to be foretold, and that the rest of the Seals follow in their own order. And hence, since immediately after the opening of the seventh Seal, in Revelation 8:1, the Vision of the seven trumpet Angels is exhibited, it is plain that that very Vision is the Vision of the seventh Seal, and that space of time of the seventh Seal is divided in this manner into seven parts, which are able to be called the times or intervals of the seven Trumpets. Moreover, the seventh Trumpet (the time of which no one doubted to extend all the way to the end of the World, especially if one rightly understands that passage in Revelation 10:5) is divided into the intervals of the seven Thunders, for these are commemorated as if immediately following the sixth Trumpet. Whence this manifest Tripartition of this entire, Principal thread of the Apocalyptic Visions arises, namely, in the first six Seals, in the first six Trumpets, and in the seven Thunders (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 2:18). Now, the Thunders are able to have this use among others, that they are distinct Intervals, to which as many Principal Antisynchronous Visions in the Prophecy of the open Book, might correspond; this I think that hardly anyone will doubt; namely, if as many Visions, advancing in one series from the Beginning of this Interval unto the end, are able to be found in this Prophecy also. Which indeed I doubt not at all that I have found. Now, they are, 1. The pouring out of the seven Vials, five or six of which some gather under the sixth Trumpet, but I would prefer that all be gathered within the seventh Trumpet. 2. The descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven. 3. The Millennial Kingdom of Christ on the earth, etc. 4. The loosing of Satan. 5. The siege of the beloved city by Gog and Magog. 6. The advent of Christ unto judgment. 7. The burning of the earth. These are the seven principal Antisynchronisms directly corresponding by a reasonable step to the seven Thunders (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 5). [As far as the special Synchronisms, concerning which the Reverend Mede here treats in his Key, and More in his Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions, those I cast back to the proper places of each.] It is a matter most worthy of observation, that the entire Apocalypse from the fourth chapter forward is divided into two Principal Prophecies, each of which proceeds from the same Epoch and beginnings, as it were, and arrives at the same end. The first is of the Seals, and in those the Trumpets; for the seventh Seal is the Seal of the Trumpets, because the seven trumpet Angels follow the opening of that. The other Prophecy (or if you prefer, System of Prophetic Visions) is τοῦ βιβλαριδίου, of the little roll, or of the open Book, which Prophecy, commencing from the same beginning, reviews the times of the former Prophecy, which is of the Seals, from Revelation 10:8 unto the end of the Book. And this repetition of the Prophecy is indicated by that Transition in Revelation 10:11. Moreover, near the individual beginnings of both of these, likewise also of the first Vision of all concerning the seven Churches, as if of three entire Prophecies, a voice as of a Trumpet is raised, namely, of the first, Revelation 1:10, of the second, Revelation 4:1, of the third, Revelation 10:8, as if the Holy Spirit desired to distinguish by this sign from the rest of the Prophecies, the portions of these principal Prophecies, in which you will see no such thing done (Mede’s The Key of Revelation 528). Some are amazed that no certain Epoch (as in the Prophecy of Daniel 9:24) is appointed by the Holy Spirit to the Apocalyptic Prophecies; but that it is uncertain whence it is to be begun, whether from the Nativity of Christ, or from His Passion in 33 AD, or indeed from the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, or finally from the time of this Revelation made to John, suppose 94 AD. But to me the Holy Spirit appears to have prefixed the Epoch, and that especially agreeable to the matters, and expecially suitable to the place (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 6:34), namely, Revelation 17 (More, similarly Mede’s The Key of Revelation 537), which contains the key, as it were, of this whole structure of Prophecies (More’s Synchronistic Rationale of the Apocalyptic Visions 6:34): which alone of all the Visions the Angel interprets contrary to his custom, so that by it an entrance might be opened to the rest (Mede’s The Key of Revelation 537). This Epoch is very useful, for it denotes those time in which the Church begins to apostatize unto Idolatrous and Pagan Rites, concerning which times it was of especial interest that Christians be warned. Now, this Epoch has a sufficiently wide latitude, for this Apostasy gradually came on and emerged, namely, during the space in which the ten Kings took their kingdoms, as it is plainly signified in Revelation 17:12, which began in 365 AD, that ominous year and extraordinary on account of the great earthquake, etc., and ended in 455 AD (More).
 Cerdon was an early second century Docetic Gnostic of Syria. He taught that there were two Gods: the vengeful and demanding creator God of the Old Testament, and the loving and merciful God of the New Testament revealed in Jesus Christ.
 Marcion (c. 85-160) was a Gnostic heretic from Sinope, Turkey. He was very influential in the early Church, in spite of being excommunicated. Marcion asserted that the God of the Old Testament was a lesser demiurge, a God of law, strict justice, and wrath. The God of the New Testament is a God of love and grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, and purely preached by Paul. It is not surprising that Marcion rejected all of the Old Testament, and the New Testament books that speak favorably of the God of the Old Testament. Marcion’s canon consisted of an expurgated edition of Luke and ten of Paul’s epistles.
 Tertullian was a Latin Father of the second century. He labored as an apologist during times of persecution.
 Against Marcion 1.
 The Alogi, or Alogians, were a group of Christian heretics, flourishing in Asia Minor around 170 AD. Epiphanius gave them the name “Alogi” both because he considered them to be illogical (anti-logikous), and because they denied the Christian Logos doctrine. In connection with this doctrine, they denied the Johannine authorship of the Gospel of John and Revelation, attributing them instead to the gnostic Cerinthus.
 The Theodotians were followers of Theodotus of Byzantium, a second century heretic. They believed that the man Jesus became the Christ only after His baptism.
 The profound erudition of Epiphanius (c. 310-403) led to his installation as Bishop of Salamis. He was something of a heresy hunter, combating Apollinaris, the disciples of Origen, and even at one point Chrysostom.
 Panarion 54; Concerning Heresies 30.
 Eusebius (c. 267-338) was Bishop of Cæsarea, author of that famous Ecclesiastical History, and supporter of Constantine the Great.
 Ecclesiastical History 7:25.
 Caius, Presbyer of Rome (early third century), was a Christian author; his works survive only in fragments. It appears that he attributed John’s Gospel and Apocalypse to the heresiarch Cerinthus.
 Letter to Dardanus.
 Cerinthus (c. 100) was a heretic: Like the Ebionites, he taught his followers to keep the Jewish law for salvation, and denied the divinity of Jesus (believing that the Christ came to Him at His baptism); like some Gnostics, he denied that the Supreme God made the world, and believed that the bodyless, spiritual Christ inhabited the man Jesus. He also anticipated a millennium of earthly pleasures after the Second Coming but before the General Resurrection.
 Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536) was a Dutch humanist, a classical scholar, and a Roman Catholic theologian. Although he never left the Roman Church, he sought the reformation of its corruptions, and he contributed greatly to the Reformation through the production of his various editions of the Greek New Testament and his Annotationes in Novum Testamentum. He was certainly one of the greatest and most influential scholars of his time.
 Justin, also known as the Martyr, was one of the great Greek apologists of the second century.
 Irenæus was a second century Church Father, born near Smyrna, but serving as Bishop in Lyon. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple of the Apostle John.
 Liber de Viris Illustribus.
 Theophilus (second century) was converted to Christianity from paganism, and he was ordained as Bishop of Antioch (c. 168).
 Melito (died c. 180) was Bishop of Sardis, near Smyrna in Asia Minor. Melito provides what may be the earliest surving list of the Christian canon of the Old Testament which closely parallels that received by Protestants, excepting its omission of Esther.
 Origen (c. 185-c. 254) succeeded Clement of Alexandria as the head of the catechetical school in Alexandria. He was perhaps the greatest scholar of his age.
 Dionysius of Alexandria (died 267) was a pagan convert to Christianity. This student of Origen was eventually raised to the bishopric of Alexandria in 247. Dionysius is remembered for his opposition to the Novatians and Sabellians. He wrote commentaries on Luke, John, and Revelation.
 Titus Flavius Clemens Alexandrinus (died c. 215) was the head of the Christian catechetical school in Alexandria, Egypt. He was trained in pagan philosophy before his conversion to Christianity.
 John Damascenus (c. 676-c. 760) was a monk of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem. He is remembered for his piety of life, writings, and compilation of chants in the eastern style.
 Andreas (563-637) was Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. His work on Revelation is the oldest surviving Greek patristric commentary on the book, which preserves older traditional material.
 Cyprian (died 258) served as Bishop of Carthage. He is noted for his refusal to readmit into the Church those who had “lapsed” under persecution.
 Hillary, Bishop of Poitiers (died 368), was, among the Latin Fathers, one of the chief defenders of the Nicean theology against Arianism.
 The Councils and Ancyra and Rome were held in 314 and 382 respectively.
 Novatian (c. 200-258) was a priest and scholar. He argued against readmission to the church for those who had lapsed during persecution, and this brought him into conflict with the Roman Bishop Cornelius. Novatian was excommunicated. The Novatians broke away from the Catholic Church, even rebaptizing converts.
 Titus Flavius Domitianus (51-96 AD) was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 AD. He was the younger brother and successor of Titus. He was a ruthless and efficient ruler, zealous for the observance of traditional Roman religion, and a persecutor of Jews and Christians.