Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary

An Investigation into the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse

Rev. Luis Alcazar of Seville

Published by John Keerberg in Antwerp, 1614.
(Royal Publication Privilege Granted in 1611)

1025 Page Paraphrase & Commentary, 80 Page Review, 82 Page Index
With 23 Full-Page Engravings by 
Don Juan de Jauregui






 “Alcasar, a Spanish Jesuit, taking a hint from Victorinus, seems to have been the first (AD 1614) to have suggested that the Apocalyptic prophecies did not extend further than to the overthrow of Paganism by Constantine.” // “It has been usual to say that the Spanish Jesuit Alcasar, in his Vestigatio Arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi (1614), was the founder of the Pr�terist School..” Farrar


15th (Decimaquinta) Preliminary Note (pp. 56-57)

“I say a profound philosophy teaches, that in the Creation of things it was the intention of the Artificer and Builder, that in those objects of Creation which come within the reach of our vision, men might also be in possession of wonderful symbols and hieroglyphics, serving to point out to them mystically such lessons as would most highly concern them, viz., true instruction in faith and morals.

Origen, after pursuing the subject in a beautiful train of reasoning, concludes at last with the following words, ‘Therefore may all things be referred upward from the visible to the invisible, from the corporeal to the incorporeal, from the manifest to the hidden ; so that the objects of the world may be understood to be created by divine Wisdom according to such a divine dispensation, as from visible things, by means of the things and exemplars themselves, teaches us the invisible, and transfers us from earthly things to those which are of heaven.’  Thus far Origen ; who doubts not that, in the creation of things corporeal, it was the principal design of the divine Artificer that they should be symbols and traces, as it were, of the mysteries of our faith.  Therefore the merely natural office proper to every particular thing, in virtue of which it ministers to other bodies, and in which the philosophy of Aristotle rests, by no means satisfies the infinite Wisdom of God, and His especial providence in the salvation of souls ; nor indeed His own wonderful counsel whereby He hath determined to raise us from the corporeal to the incorporeal.  It is probable, therefore, that the omnipotence of God, when He had the power of making infinite species of souls, plants, and stones, selected and created out of the infinite things which he had in his power, such as were the more apt to signify the mysteries of our salvation, and a conformably moral instruction.  And this was accomplished in such a manner, that the universal mechanism of things created should maintain a most beautiful harmony with the wonderful counsel of God in the salvation of men ; and that things corporeal should subserve to the representation of those which are spiritual.” (Clissold’s Translation)





Note 7, Chapter 1, Verse 7 (pp. 199-202)

“This signification of clouds has in it such force, that even if Christ should not come to Judgment in a material cloud, it might nevertheless be truly and beautifully said that He would come in clouds, according to the language of Sacred Scripture.  Not that I would deny that there would be true material clouds at the Day of Judgment ; for I have no mind to innovation in what pertains to teaching : I only mean to assert, that so beautiful and apt is the symbolical signification of clouds, that although there should be no clouds properly so called (viz. no material clouds), Christ might nevertheless most truly and significantly be then said to come in the clouds of heaven.  And this I wish to say rather, in order that it might be noted, that in the symbol of the clouds there is latent a much greater and more excellent mystery than any one might think, who considered only the grammatical sense of the Word — a sense to which I see that some persons are too much addicted.”

“Behold, the Apocalypse sets before us the Advent of Christ in the clouds of the preaching of the Gospel, by means of which God pours down His heavenly shower, that is, the spirit of peace and of prayer.”  (Clissold’s Translation)






“Arias vero in sua illa spirituali accommodatione, dum Apocalypseos bella vult intra unius hominis pectus includere; non video, qua ratione possit in bello illo spiritali, quod itra unius hominis pectus geritur, distinguere duo veluti bella, quorum primum respondeat bello Ierosolymae corruere; alterius vero, universam Babylonem conflagrare: atque his succedre mille annorum pacem ; ac demum Antichristi bellum.  Etenim, licet mysticum duarum urbium praelium in hominis pectore pie meditari, subtile sit inventum, nec improbandum ; ceterum ille trium bellorum ordo ad mysticum hoc bellum transferri non potest.  Nec contendit Arias omnia per ordinem ad subtilissimam illam normam redigere.  Posse vero multa non ordinatim, sed promiscue, at absque filo accommodari, non inficior.  Quin imo existimo, si Arias suam illam applicatione in litterali sensu stabiliret, multa praeterea illum ingeniose pro votis aptare potuisse.  Nam in perfidae Ierosolymae bello adversus Dei Ecclesiam poterat contemplari, quam acriter Deo conentur obsistere ii, qui semel fuerant illuminati et gustaverant donum caeleste, et verbum Dei, et prolapsi sunt, ad Hebraecos 6.4.  Quorum ex numero vix decima tandem pars, id est, perpauci sese illi submittent.  In bello etiam Romae ethnicae adversus Ecclesiam gesto, idoneus sese dabat sermo de eorum de corum repugnantia” (Vestigatio, Lyons, 1618, p. 19)

Engravings by Don Juan de Jauregui

“A Spanish painter and poet, born at Seville c. 1570, or, according to some, as late as 1583; died at Madrid c. 1640-1. His family, a northern one, was apparently of noble rank, and he was early enrolled as a knight in the Order of Calatrava. He made a sojourn in Rome, and there, judging by what he says in his “Discourse on Painting”, he studied the old masters and formed his own pictorial methods. At all events, report has it that he became distinguished as a portrait painter. A current interpretation of a passage in the prologue to the “Novelas ejemplares” of Cervantes makes him out to have painted a likeness of the famous novelist. As a poet, J�uregui began as a disciple of the Sevillian bard, Herrera. In point of fact, he adheres in many of his compositions too closely to the manner of his model, and hence a lack of originality in them. Notable among his poetic endeavors in his versions in blank verse of Tasso’s “Aminta”. It is deemed one of the best foreign renderings of that eminent pastoral play. First published in Italy, in 1607, it was included in the collected “Rimas” of J�uregui put forth at Seville in 1618. In the same volume appeared various poetical pieces, among them a specimen of a translation of Lucas, and certain religious lyrics. In the earlier stages of his career, J�uregui was a stern opponent of Gongorism and its stylistic excesses, as he clearly shows in his “Discurso po�tico contra el hablar culto y estilo obscuro”, but he later succumbed to the influence of this noxious manner, amply illustrating its peculiarities in his poem “Orfeo” (Madrid, 1624) and even defending it in a special dissertation. Of the “Pharsalia” of Lucas, already attempted by him in his youth, he made, late in life, a complete version, which, however, was not published until 1684, and is over free in its rendering of the original.”  (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Selected Engravings From Vestigatio in Apocalypsi

Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary Jerusalem

Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary Jerusalem


Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary Seven Golden Lampstands Menorah

Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary Jacob's Ladder








Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary Jerusalem Angels


Alcasar Apocalypse Revelation Commentary Jerusalem Roman Armies



  • Made the seals the early expansion of apostolic Christianity

  • God�s longsuffering, warnings, and punishments were allotted to the Jews

  • The trumpets were judgments on fallen Judaism

  • The two witnesses – the doctrine and holy lives of the Christians

  • After the persecutions Christianity would arise with new glory and convert many Jews

  • Revelation was the apostolic church, bringing forth the Roman church

  • The first beast of Revelation 13 declared to be the persecuting arrogance of pagan Rome – the second beast, its carnal wisdom

  • Revelation 17, the mystical meaning of idolatrous ancient Rome

  • Revelation 18, its conversion to the Catholic faith

    (LeRoy Edwin Froom, The Prophetic faith of Our Fathers, The Historical Development of Prophetic Interpretation, volume 2, excerpts from pages 464-532)

“A comprehensive commentary on the Book of Revelation by the Jesuit theologian Ludovicus ab Alcasar (1554-1613) who dedicated the work to Pope Pius V. In a curious introductory letter to the reader however, (by a censor?) Father Antonius Padilla is described as having greatly stimulated and furthered the edition of this commentary, and thus being de facto the dedicatee. After a series of introductory essays and a detailed synopsis follows the commentary, book by book, verse by verse. A concluding chapter on biblical weights and measures closes the work. A Lyon edition followed in 1618. A supplementary volume discussing in more detail those passages from Hiob, the Psalter, Canticles and Prophets quoted or alluded to in Revelation was published only in 1631. See De Backer-Sommervogel I 145-146 who incorrectly mention only 20 engravings. Together with Ribeira, Alcasar is said to have introduced into the study of Revelation the scientific historical method, approaching the work from the viewpoint of the author and seeking the clue to his writings in the events of his time. “

Abbas Amanat
“The exegete who set much of the agenda for the Catholic interpretation of the Apocalypse in the seventeenth century was the Jesuit, Luis Alcasar (1554-1612), whose Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi first appeared posthumously in Antwerp in 1614 and was immediately recognized as one of the most ‘modern’ interpretations of John’s mysterious revelation.   Alcasar broke with earlier Jesuits in stressing a preterite and historical reading that held that everything in the Apocalypse, with the exception of the last three chapters, had been fulfilled in the early centuries of the Church.  Although he noted that a number of early commentators had taught that Apocalypse 20 referred to the refrigerium sanctorum after Antichrist, Alcasar had no sympathy for this view.  He also launched an attack on Joachim of Fiore, saying ‘He who will may hold the Abbot Joachim to be a prophet of God, but not I.” (Imagining the End: visions of apocalypse from the ancient Middle East to modern America, p. 165)

Thomas Kelly Cheyne
“Conspicuous above all is the Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi of Ludovicus ab Alcazar.  That writer was the first to carry out consistently the idea that the Apocalypse in its earlier part is directed against Judaism, and in its second against Paganism, so that in chaps. 12 f. we read of the first persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire, and in ch. 19 of the final conversion of that Empire.  He thus presents us with the first serious attempt to arrive at a historical and psychological understanding of the book.   The idea worked out by Alcazar had already been expressed by Hentenius in the preface to his edition of Arethas (OEcumenii Commentar, ed. Morelius et Hentenius 2), and by Salmeron (Opera, 12, Cologne, 1614. ‘In sacram Jo. Apoc. praeludia’). ” (Encyclopedia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary of the Literary Political and Religious History, p. 200)

F.W. Farrar
“It has been usual to say that the Spanish Jesuit Alcasar.. was the founder of the Pr�terist School.. But to me it seems that the founder of the Pr�terist School is none other than St. John himself.” (The Early Days of Christianity – PR�TERIST INTERPRETATION | FALL OF JERUSALEM | APOCALYPSE)

James E. Force
“Ludovicus ab Alcazar was even more disturbing.   For his Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi (1614) he used methods normally associated with the “Higher Criticism” of the nineteenth century.  He applied the first half of the Apocalypse to the Jewish Revolt and the second half to early Roman persecution of Christians.   While he owed his chronological order to Lyra, he dropped ecclesiastical history and eschatology.   The whole book concerned events long ago and no longer served a prophetic function.  He supported his argument with the first complete survey of Apocalypse criticism, from antiquity to the present, and Bousset still used Alcazar to date many medieval works.   In the North his followers were Grotius, Hammond and Bousset.  Newton cites approvingly his reading of the wilderness where the woman hides, but attacks Alcazar’s approach, saying that those who apply Apocalypse to the Apostolic Age must explain why their interpretations were not expressed then. (Because Alcazar, like Ribera, does use patristic sources, Newton’s criticism loses much of its force).” (Newton and Religion, p. 208)

Timothy James
“A Spanish Jesuit of Seville named, Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613) invested forty years of his life to this study which culminated in his 900 page commentary, “Vestigatio Arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi (Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse). In this work which was published posthumously in 1614, Alcazar made a new attempt irrespective of both Catholic and Protestant views to interpret the Apocalypse through the use of critical-historical methods. He concluded that the Apocalypse describes the two-fold war of the Church in the first century; one with the Jewish synagogue, and the other with paganism, which resulted in victory over both adversaries. Frrom makes an interesting note regarding Alcazar:

Alcazar was fully aware that he contradicted certain of the fathers, differed from the Futurists Ribera and Viegas, and was in conflict with Malvenda. While approving of the concept of spiritual resurrection held by Augustine, he contended against his view of the binding of Satan, as well as that of Ribera and Viegas. (Froom, LeRoy Edwin. The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, 3 vols. (Wash. D.C.: Review and Herald, 1948), vol 2, p.509) (Preterist Eschatology in the Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries)

Moses Stuart
“Near the commencement of the seventeenth century (1614), the Spanish Jesuit Ludovicus ab Alcasar published his Vestigatio arcani Sensus in Apocalypsi, a performance distinguished by one remarkable feature, which was then new. He declared the Apocalypse to be a continuous and connected work, making regular advancement from beginning to end, as parts of one general plan in the mind of the writer. In conformity with this he brought out a result which has been of great importance to succeeding commentators. Rev. v-vi, he thinks, applies to the Jewish enemies of the Christian Church; xi-xix to heathen Rome and carnal and worldly powers, xx-xxii to the final conquests to be made by the church, and also to its rest, and its ultimate glorification. This view of the contents of the book had been merely hinted at before, by Hentenius, in the Preface to his Latin version of Arethas, Par. 1547. 8vo; and by Salmeron in his Preludia in Apoc. But no one had ever developed this idea fully, and endeavoured to illustrate and enforce it, in such a way as Alcasar … Although he puts the time of composing the Apocalypse down to the exile of John under Domitian, yet he still applies ch. v-xi to the Jews, and of course regards the book as partly embracing the past.

“It might be expected, that a commentary that thus freed the Romish church from the assaults of the Protestants, would be popular among the advocates of the papacy. Alcasar met, of course, with general approbation and reception among the Romish community. “‘(Stuart, Moses, “Commentary on the Apocalypse”, Allen, Morrill and Wardell, Andover, 1845, Volume 1, p. 464.)

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