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"As to the external condition of the Christians, the Chnrches of Smyrna and Philadelphia, which must have been preponderatingly Jewish-Christian, had much to suffer from the synagogue. The former, like the Churches to which the Hebrew Epistle is addressed (§ 31, 3), had been obliged to suffer slanders, loss of property and imprisonment (ii. 9 f.) ; the latter had not only borne the enmity of the synagogue with patience, but in spite of its unimportance had begun a successful mission therein (iii. 8 f.). Per- gamns in particular had suffered persecution from the hands of the heathen; and dnring an outbreak of heathen fanaticism against the Christians, Antipaa, a prominent member of the Church, had been slain (ii. 13). It seems as if here, at the seat of supreme judgment and in face of the renowned temple of Esculapins, whose altar can scarcely be intended by the Opovos rov <ra.Ta.va., such an offering was first required. But what stirred the mind of the author and his readers most deeply were the misfortunes that had befallen the Christian Church at Borne. The appearance of the city of the seven hills (xvii. 6) drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, and the characterization of the fearful judgment that had come upon it as a direct punishment for what it had done to the saints, apostles and prophets (xviii. 20), plainly shows the impression which the horrors of the later time of Nero, viz. the persecution of the Christians after the burning of Bome, and the martyrdom of Paul and Peter had made upon the Church. Several years however seem to have elapsed since this time, for according to vi. 10 we find an expression of impatience that the punishment for such sacrilege had not yet supervened; but there is no doubt that the impression they produced dominated the entire apocalyptic conception of the Apostle. It is no longer unbelieving Judaism, though termed a synagogue of Satan (ii. 9; iii. 9), that is the specific antichristian power of the present, from which therefore its last and highest potentiality and personification is to go forth, as Paul had formerly supposed (§ 17, 7) ; but the beast from the bottomless pit, which rises out of tae sea (xi. 7 ; xiii. 1), the Roman Empire, is the chief instrument of Satan. To it applies the enigma that it was, and is not, and will be again (xvii. 8) ; for since the allegorical form of the beast does not denote the Roman Empire in its historical reality but applies to its antichristian essence (§ 34, 3), it may be said that it was, when the Roman Empire under Nero first revealed itself in this antichristian character; that it is not, because the present ruler had so far shown no hostility to the Christians; but that in future its whole antichristian nature would be personified in the last emperor, and thus bring on the judgment (xvii. II). [The current application of this enigma to Nero, who though dead will return from the bottomless pit as Antichrist, notwithstanding the confidence with which it is usually put forward, rests merely on incorrect exegesis ; for the beast is not a Homan Emperor, but the Roman Empire collectively; and is only personified in the last of the emperors so far as in him antichristian iniquity reached its personal culmination. That the heathen Nero-tradition, in the form it assumed, gave no occasion for this alleged Christian transformation has been fully shown by Weiss (Stud. u. Krit., 1869, 1).]
3. The apocalyptic conception of the Apostle, combined with the historical appearance of the Roman Empire, enables us to arrive at a most accurate determination of the time when he wrote. In the foreground of his historical view is the world-stirring fact that the deadly wound of the beast was healed (xiii. 3; xii. 1, [The current application of this imagery to Nero's return from the kingdom of the dead (comp. No. 2, note Ij is quite untenable from an exegetical point of view; for Nero is not the beast, but one of its heads, and the healing of the deadly wound is not future, but has already ]).' But since the beast received the deadly wound at Nero's death, with which the old Imperial Julian race became extinct; since no one had full and certain possession of the empire during the interregnum, but as it seemed unable to go back to its former state of security and thus continued to suffer from its deadly wound, the deadly wound can only have been healed by Vespasian's elevation to the throne on the 21st December, 69. For since Vespasian was supported by his son Titus, a man experienced in warfare, while a second son remained at a distance, a foundation was laid for the new Imperial Flavian dynasty, and the empire once more regained a firm footing. This agrees perfectly with the fact that five of the seven heads had already fallen (Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero), one (Vespasian) is, and the other (Titus) is not yet come (xvii. 10). [Since the emperors of the interregnum, which Suetonius also interprets merely as a rebellio trium principum, cannot here be reckoned, the Apocalypse could not have been written under Galba, as Credner, Ewald, Reuss, Hilgenfeld, Gebbard, Wieseler and most others hold, that is about 68; but only in the beginning of Vespasian's reign, as Eichhorn, Lucke, Bleek, Bb'hmer and Dusterdieck have already perceived, therefore about the beginning of the year 70.] Attached to it is the apocalyptic calculation of the end. For since the beast, in which the four beasts of Daniel with their seven heads are included has only seven heads, the Roman Empire also according to Divine arrangement can only have seven rulers; the additional one, the eighth, is the personification of enmity to God and can only attain supremacy by ungodly means. As was so often the case in the struggles of the interregnum, a revolution breaks out in all the provinces at the same time against the seventh emperor ruling in the world's metropolis who is destined to remain only for a short time (xvii. 11); the governors of the provinces march against Rome and destroy the city (xvii. 16), the supremacy passing over to the last of the emperors who is of the seven, and in Domitian, the third of the Flavians, already stands within the seer's vision (xvii. 11); and he with his supporters begins the last great persecution of the Christians, in consequence of which judgment directly falls upon him (xvii. 12 ff.). Comp. Weiss, Apokalyptische Studien (Stud. «. Krit., 1869, l).s
4. The time of the Apocalypse is also definitely fixed by the fact that according to the prophecy in chap. xi. it was manifestly written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which in xi. 1 is only anticipated.1 It is altogether inconceivable that a partial preservation of the temple should, in most glaring contradiction with the transmitted prophecy of Christ (Mark xiii. 2) be here foretold, which moreover would have no connection whatever with the prophecy that follows. Rather does the sanctuary in the midst of the holy city, which is preserved from destruction by being measured, refer to nothing else than believing Israel, unbelieving Israel being represented by the forecourt.2 If the abandonment of the latter to the heathen be prophetically foretold, the conquest of the city by Titus must have been directly at hand, and was already absolutely unavoidable. This too points to the beginning of the year 70. While the deadly wound of the beast was healed with Vespasian's elevation to the throne and the last great tribulation ushered in by the re-invigorated Roman Empire was to begin for Gentile-Christendom; Israel's great tribulation, which is likewise its last time for repentance, begins with the conquest of Jerusalem. Such is the position of the Apocalypse in time. In characteristic manner it has moulded the whole picture of the future drawn by the Apocalyptist. Formerly Christendom looked for the coming of the end immediately after the catastrophe of Jerusalem (Matt. xxiv. 29) ; now this is only the beginning of the end whose actual coming is first signalized by the destruction of Rome. With the primitive Church of Palestine, Paul still hoped for the conversion of all Israel; the seer now goes back to the old expectation of the prophets, that after all exhortations to repentance and Divine judgments, nothing but a remnant of Israel would be saved (xi. 13; comp. iii. 9).
8 The application of the numerical puzzle to Nero (xiii. 8), discovered almost simultaneously by Fritzsche, Benary, Hitzig aud Reuss, and almost universally accepted, is highly improbable, since the book which was written in Greek for Greek renders, and computes by the Greek alphabet (i. 8) would hardly have made Hebrew forms of names and the numerical value of Hebrew letters the basis of its reckoning, which for this reason will never rightly fit in. But it falla to pieces when we consider that we have here to do with the number of the beast, which ia not Nero, but the Eomau Empire; the name sought being certainly nut simply a proper name, but an indication of the nature characteriziug such name. Of late Vb'lter has found the name Trajanus Hadrianns in it; whereas Irenaeus, taking the numerical value of the Greek letters into consideration, thought of Xareivoi.
1 That chap. xi. does not refer to the Christian Church, as allegorical interpreters hold, but to the city of Jerusalem as the centre of the people of Israel, is irrefutably shown by xi. 8. But even hii-toricnl exegesis is at fault in finding the destruction of Jerusalem, and again only a partial destruction in xi. 13 ; for the judgment of God here predicted falls immediately before the 7th trumpet, viz. before the last judgment (xi. 14 ff.) and at the end of the great tribulation, during which the heathen trample the holy city under foot, while God sends it a final exhortation to repent (xi. 2) by the two prophets whose very fate shows that the Roman Empire is supreme in the holy city (xi. 7). Both however presuppose the conquest of Jerusalem, which must therefore Uava been previously foretold.
1 This is expressly described as the place of a priestly Church gathered about the altar of incense; anil xii. 6, 14 clearly shows that the Church in question was preserved (by flight to Pella) in the great time of tribulation. That it was already separated from unbelieving Israel is shown by the way in which the sanctuary is to be measured, though not the forecourt; but that the fate of unhelieviug Israel is not jet accomplished is clear from the (as well as from the fact that the treading of the holy city under foot is still future.
It is manifestly an error when in opposition to this clear testimony of the Apocalyse itself, Irenaus (adv. Hot., V. 30, 3) says that the Apocalypse was seen towards the end of Domitian's reign. But even ecclesiastical antiquity did not hold to this view, as we see from the various times attributed to the alleged exile of Patmos (§ 33, 5, esp. note 3). Epiphanius' view that John prophesied at the time of the Emperor Claudius was adopted by Grotins and Hammond; and an old Syriac translation of the Apocalypse puts it in the reign of Nero (ap. Lud. de liii ii). Nevertheless the view of Irenseus holds good as the traditional one,3 though in reality it is no tradition, but like all later views an exegetical combination which probably rests on a correct remembrance of the original sense of the Apocalypse. For it does actually apply to Domitian, inasmuch as it looks for Antichrist in him (No. 3); but Irenfeus in accordance with his view of prophecy could only interpret it as having been written in his reign, unless John were made a false prophet.
5. It follows therefore that in the beginning of the year 70 John had not yet been settled in Asia Minor for any length of time. It was not to escape from persecution that ho had gone to Patmos as Hilgenfeld maintains, but in order to receive a promised revelation (i. 9) ; and what he there saw he earnestly impressed on the Churches with whose needs he had bat jast become acquainted, by means of exhortation and warning, threat and promise. The very fact that after Paul's death one of the primitive apostles had made his field of labour that was prcponderatingly Jewish- Christian, the scene of his own activity, manifestly excludes the view that the primitive apostles were and continued hostile to Paul and his Gentile mission.
1 It is defended as such by Hug and Ebiard, Hofmann and Hengstenberg, Lange, Kliefoth and others, and even by Schleiermacher; whereas it is given up by traditionalists themselves, like Guericke and Thiersch, who put it under Galba (No. 3, note 2). The worthlessness of the grounds on which Hengstenberg defends it, is sufficiently shown by his assertion that imprisonments (xiii. 10) first took place under Domitian (comp. on the other hand Heb. x. 34; xiii. 3), as also that the self- deification of Caesarism points to his time ; whereas Cesar and Claudius were already received among the gods, while altars were erected to Augustus and Caligula; the assumption of the title of Augustus being evidently regarded by the author as blasphemy (xiii. 1)." (Manual of Introduction to the New Testament)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Revere Franklin Weidner (1898)
Bernhard Weiss (1827 – 1918): protestant theologian, professor for New Testament, outstanding exegete und textual critic.
Aus neunzig Lebensjahren : 1827 - 1918
Leipzig : Koehler & Amelang, 1927. - 245 S. : Ill.
Das Urchristentum, Bernhard Weiss. Rudolf Knopf [Hrsg.]
Göttingen, 1917, Umfang: 9, 681 S. : portr. ; 25 cm
Paulus und seine Gemeinden : ein Bild von der Entwicklung des Urchristentums
Berlin : Curtius, 1914. - VIII, 296 S.
Jesus von Nazaret : Ein Lebensbild. - 4. Aufl.
Berlin : Curtius, 1913. - VIII, 235 S.
Die Religion des Neuen Testaments. - 2. Aufl.
Stuttgart : Cotta, 1908. - VIII, 323 S.
Entstehungsgeschichte des Neuen Testaments
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1904. - 19 S.
Lehrbuch der biblischen Theologie des Neuen Testaments. - 7., verb. Aufl.
Stuttgart : Cotta, 1903. - X, 680 S.
Lehrbuch der Einleitung in das Neue Testament. - 3., verb. Aufl.
Berlin : Hertz, 1897. - XIV, 617 S.
Das Evangelium und die Evangelien
Vortrag gehalten im Evangelischen Verein am 15. Januar 1894
Berlin: Hertz, 1894, 32 S.
Das Leben Jesu, Bernhard Weiss
Erschienen: Berlin : Hertz
Bd. 1. 1882, 565 S.
2. Aufl. 1884, 556 S. , 3. Aufl. 1888
Bd. 2. 1882, 636 S.
2. Aufl. 1884, 604 S. , 3. Aufl. 1888
Ueber Die Bedeutung der geschichtlichen Betrachtung für die neuere Theologie :
Rede beim Antritt d. Rectorats ... gehalten von Bernhard Weiss
Kiel, 1876. - 21 S.
Das Neue Testament / in Luthers Übers. nach d. Grundtexte ber. u. verb. von Bernhard Weiss. - Taschenausg. mit Parallel-u. Belegstellen. - Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1909. - 383 S. ; 8o; (dt.)
Greek New Testament:
Das Neue Testament : Handausgabe
Leipzig : Hinrichs, Text griech., Komm. dt.. -
Die vier Evangelien ; Im berichtigten Text mit kurzer Erläuterung zum Handgebrauch bei der Schriftlektüre
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1900, 604 S.
Die Paulinischen Briefe im berichtigten Text : Mit kurzer Erl. zum Handgebrauch bei d. Schriftlektüre
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1896. - 682 S.
Die Apostelgeschichte. Katholische Briefe. Apocalypse : im berichtigten Text mit kurzer Erläuterung zum Handgebrauch bei der Schriftlektüre
Ausgabe: 2., neubearb. Aufl. 1902, 533 S.
Der Gebrauch des Artikels bei den Gottesnamen. Exegetische Studien zur Neutestamentlichen Grammatik
Gotha : Perthes, 1911, 109 S.
Sonderdr. aus : Theologische Studien und Kritiken. Jg. 1911, H. 3u4
Die Quellen der synoptischen Überlieferung
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1908. - IV, 256 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 32,3=R. 3. Bd. 2,3.)
Die Quellen des Lukasevangeliums
Stuttgart [u.a.] : Cotta, 1907. - XII, 296 S.
Textkritik der vier Evangelien
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1899. - IV,246 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur. ; Bd. 19,2=N. F. 4,2.)
Der Codex D in der Apostelgeschichte : Textkritische Unters.
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1897. - 112 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 17,1=N. F. 2,1.)
Textkritik der paulinischen Briefe
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1896. - IV,161 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 14,3)
Die Apostelgeschichte : Textkritische Unters. u. Textherstellungen
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1893. - 313 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 9,3.4)
Die katholischen Briefe : Textkritische Untersuchungen und Textherstellung
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1892. - VI,230 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 8,3)
Die Johannes-Apokalypse : textkritische Untersuchungen und Textherstellung
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1891. - VI,225 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 7,1)
New Testament Commentaries:
Das Johannesevangelium als einheitliches Werk
Berlin : Trowitzsch, 1912. - XVI, 365 S.
von d. 6. Aufl. neu bearb. von Bernhard Weiss. - 9. neu bearb. Aufl.. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, 1902. - 543 S.; (griech., dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; 2)
Der Johanneische Lehrbegriff in seinen Grundzügen untersucht
Berlin : Hertz, 1862. - XI,298 S.
Die Geschichtlichkeit des Markusevangeliums
Berlin : Runge, 1905. - 67 S.
(Biblische Zeit- und Streitfragen. ; 3,1.)
Die Evangelien des Markus und Lukas / v. d. 6. Aufl. neu bearb. v. Bernhard Weiss. - 9. Aufl. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, 1901. - 694 S.; (griech., dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; 1. Abt., 2. Hälfte)
Das Marcusevangelium und seine synoptischen Parallelen : Erkl.
Berlin : Hertz, 1872. - XXI, 515 S.
Das Matthäus-Evangelium / von d. 7. Aufl. an bearb. von Bernhard Weiss. - 9. Aufl.. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, 1898. - VI, 510 S.; (griech., dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; 1. Abt., 1. Hälfte)
Das Matthäusevangelium und seine Lucas-Parallelen : Erkl.
Halle : Verl. d. Buchh. d. Waisenhauses, 1876. - VII, 584 S.
Der Brief an Die Römer / v. d. 6. Aufl. an neu bearb. v. Bernhard Weiss. - 9. Aufl.. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1899. - IV, 613 S.; (dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; Abt. 4)
Die Briefe Pauli an Timotheus und Titus / neu bearb. von Bernhard Weiss. - 7., verb. Aufl.. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1902. - 379 S.; (griech., dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; 11)
Der Philipper-Brief / ausgelegt u. d. Geschichte seiner Auslegung krit. dargest. von Bernhard Weiss
Berlin : Hertz, 1859. - XIV,356 S.
Der Hebräerbrief in zeitgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung
Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1910. - 109 S.
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur ; 35,3=R. 3. Bd. 5,3.)
Der erste Petrusbrief und die neuere Kritik
Gr. Lichterfelde-Berlin: Runge, 1906, 65 S.
Serie: Biblische Zeit- und Streitfragen : Serie 2 ; 9
Der Jakobusbrief und die neuere Kritik
Leipzig: Deichert, 1904, 50 S.
Die drei Briefe des Apostel Johannes / von d. 5. Aufl. an neu bearb. v. Bernhard Weiss. - 6. Aufl.. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, 1899. - 195 S.; (griech., dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; 14)
Der Brief an Die Hebräer / von d. 5. Aufl. an bearb. von Bernhard Weiss. - 6., verb. Aufl.. - Göttingen : Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, 1897. - 371 S.; (griech., dt.)
(Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament / begr. von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer. Hrsg. von Ferdinand Hahn ; 13)
Der Petrinische Lehrbegriff : Beiträge zur biblischen Theologie, sowie zur Kritik und Exegese des I. Briefes Petri und der petrinischen Reden / Bernh. Weiss
Berlin : Schultze, 1855, 444 S.
Textkrit. Studien: ZWTh NF 2  (1894), 424-451
Randglossen: ThStKr 46 (1873), 539-546
Apokalypt. Stud.: ThStKr 43 (1869), 1-59
Die petrinische Frage. Krit. Unterss.: ThStKr 38 (1865), 619-657; 39 (1866), 255-308
Die Erzählungsstücke des apost. Matthäus: JDTh 10 (1865), 319-
Die Redestücke des apost. Matthäus: JDTh 9 (1864), 49-
Zur Entstehungsgesch. der drei synopt. Evv.: ThStKr 34 (1861), 29-100.646-713
Ueber das Bildliche im NT: DZCW NF 4 (1861), 309-321
Jakobus u. Paulus. Biblisch-theol. Stud.: DZCW 5,51.52 (1854), 407-415
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