The Revelation, Especially Chapter 17

Revelation 17  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 14
Why was Luther's having repudiated the Apocalypse an interesting fact, but that Mr. Ν. wished it? If! am not an infidel, or if I am even indifferent, such a fact is not thus caught at as interesting. I regret it, or I examine it, as affording no proof of anything
As regards the Apocalypse, I leave the question of style, which flows evidently from its being the representation of visions, and many peculiarities of which have been shown to be similar to those of John's gospel. I leave it, because Mr. Ν. does not insist on it, though for a reason of very little force, and adopted with a view to govern the interpretation by the date. Mr. Ν. gives no other reason for judging it spurious but that he doubted about it, and had his doubts confirmed by Neander.
He then gives his view of chapter 17 in a passage which is just an example of the excessively careless and superficial manner in which he treats every subject. "Chapter 17," he says, "appears to be a political speculation, suggested by the civil war of Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian, and erroneously opines that the eighth emperor of Rome is to be the last, and is to be one of the preceding emperors restored-probably Nero, who was believed to have escaped to the kings of the east." (Phases, p. 140.) Now I would only beg my reader, learned or unlearned, to read the chapter (it is always the truest way of judging of scripture), and say if he can find the slightest ground whatever for this interpretation, or for one of the thoughts contained in it, save that Rome, and its empire, was in question, and that an eighth head was a restored one, and even then with symbols that showed that it was shadowed out in ages long beyond John's time-correctly or not I do not now say. Where is there a word of civil wars, or three heads at once? And, further, Mr. N. certainly ought to have more classical lore a great deal than I have: still I do not understand how he can reconcile his statement with universally known history.
This is the succession of emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian.
Now, according to the system adopted in Mr. N.'s book, John wrote in the reign of Galba, for, he says, five are fallen, one is, and Galba is the sixth, Otho the seventh, Vitellius the eighth, and Vespasian the ninth-a very curious reason for judging that the eighth emperor was to be the last. If the civil war between Otho and Vitellius is said to be a reason for considering these two as one, then it must be from historically knowing that the two emperors were, or had been, on the scene-a strange reason for saying that the sixth, Galba, who in that case had already disappeared, was then, and the seventh not yet come. In a word, the pretense that this prophecy is taken from subsisting events, is, I must be forgiven for saying, mere nonsense.1 And here I beg the reader to remark, that all relation to the ten horns is unnoticed by Mr. N., yet these were kings which had received no kingdom as yet. Let any one notice, not only the majesty of the statements, but the connection of the beast spoken of with the whole of the latter part of the prophecy, and judge whether the civil wars from Galba to Vespasian in any way meet the announcements of the prophecy. If the prophecy were not even an inspired book referring to future events, nothing which had then happened can be received as giving rise to its statements. A year's fighting between these three chiefs, and the subsequent accession of Vespasian, do not correspond in any way to what the author professes to unfold in his book.
Galba was murdered after a very brief period (about seven months, January 15, A.D. 69), and Otho succeeded him. Otho, beaten by the lieutenants of Vitellius, killed himself, April 16th; Vitellius, his army having been overthrown by Antonius Primus, was deposed, or, rather, abdicated, Dec. 20th, A.D. 69, and soon after was ignominiously killed. The only value of a decision come to against the Apocalypse, on such ground as this, is to show the value to be attached to the judgment of the objector on such a subject.
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