Arethas Supports Early Date of the Book of Revelation

Arethas Supports Early Date of the Book of Revelation

this present Apocalypse also was composed ; which is a revelation of future things, inasmuch as forty years after the ascension of the Lord this tribulation came upon the Jews.


Arethas Supports Early Date of the Book of Revelation

Introduction by By Richard Newton Adams:

“Again, with regard to the time at which these visions were granted to the beloved disciple, and by him published to the Church, no discussion is introduced in the ensuing work: but it is assumed that the general opinion is correct, which assigns the banishment of St John to the close of the reign of the Emperor Domitian, and considers the year 96 as the most probable period when this revelation was made. So carefully has this question also been investigated by the learned writers just mentioned, that the Author would not have thought it necessary to add any thing further on this subject, had he not discovered a passage in the commentary of one of the Fathers, which has escaped the researches of these indefatigable scholars, and which tends to neutralize the principal testimony adduced in favour of an earlier date. The commentator here alluded to is Arethas, who explains all the events which follow the opening of the sixth seal, as having taken place at the destruction of Jerusalem; and he asserts that the visions of the Apocalypse were given previously to that event.”

The following are his words, occurring in the exposition of Ch. vii. ver. 4-8. And there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel, &c.

Arethas “For there were many, yea, a countless multitude from among the Jews, who believed in Christ: as even they testify, who said to St Paul on his arrival at Jerusalem: Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe. (Acts xxi. 20.) And He who gave this revelation to the Evangelist, declares, that these men shall not share the destruction inflicted by the Romans.  For the ruin brought by the Romans had not yet fallen upon the Jews, when this Evangelist received these prophecies: and he did not receive them at Jerusalem, but in Ionia near Ephesus.  For after the suffering of the Lord he remained only fourteen years at Jerusalem, during which time the tabernacle of the mother of the Lord, which had conceived this Divine offspring, was preserved in this temporal life, after the suffering and resurrection of her incorruptible Son. For he continued with her as with a mother committed to him by the Lord. For after her death it is reported that he no longer chose to remain in Judea, but passed over to Ephesus, where, as we have said, this present Apocalypse also was composed ; which is a revelation of future things, inasmuch as forty years after the ascension of the Lord this tribulation came upon the Jews.”

Great importance has been attached to this passage : — much greater, indeed, as the writers above mentioned have clearly shewn, that the unsupported conjectures of a single commentator, who lived in the sixth or seventh century, deserve, when weighed against the express testimony of Irenaeus and Eusebius, and the almost unanimous decision of the early Church.

Says Lardner,

“Arethas seems to have been of opinion, that things, which had come to pass long before, might be represented in the Revelation. Therefore immediately before that passage, explaining Rev. vi. 12, 13, he says :  “What is the opening of the sixth seal? It is the cross and death of the Lord, followed by his resurrection, desirable to all faithful and understanding men. And lo, there was a great earthquake.” Manifestly denoting, says he, the signs that happened during the crucifixion, the shaking of the earth, the darkness of the sun, the turning the moon into blood. For when it was full moon, being the fourteenth day, how was it possible, that the sun should be eclipsed by its interposition?

However, I must not conceal what he says afterwards, in another chapter of his Commentary. He is explaining Rev. vii. 4-8. ‘These, says he who instructs the evan­gelist, will not partake in the calamities inflicted by the Romans. For the destruction caused by the Romans had not fallen upon the Jews, when the evangelist received these instructions. Nor was he at Jerusalem, but in Ionia, where is Ephesus: for he stayed at Jerusalem no more than fourteen years.–And after the death of our Lord’s mother, he left Judea, and went to Ephesus: as tradition says: where also, as is said, he had the revelation of future things.’ But how can we rely upon a writer of the sixth century for these particulars ; that John did not stay at Jerusalem more than fourteen years: that he left Judea upon the death of our Lord’s mother, and then went to Ephesus: when we can evidently perceive from the history in the Acts, that in the fourteenth year after our Lord’s ascension, there were no christian converts at Ephesus: and that the church at Ephesus was not founded by St. Paul, till several years afterwards? What avails it to refer to such passages as these? Which, when looked into and examined, contain no certain assurances of any thing.”

Was Arethas’ work based on Andrews?  Says Gumerlock,

12. Andrew of Caesarea in Cappadocia (d. 614)    Commentarius in Apocalypsin [Commentary on the Apocalypse]. Andrew is believed to have written this Apocalypse commentary in the late sixth century definitely after the commentary of Ecumenius. Josef Schmid, ed. Studien zur Geschichte des griechischen Apokalypse-Textes, 1. Teil: Der Apokalypse-Kommentar des Andreas von Kaisareia. Munich, 1955. Greek edition; PG 106:199-486. Greek with Latin translation. An 18th century illuminated manuscript of the commentary, written in the Slavonic language, entitled Interpretation of the Apocalypse by our Holy Father Andrew of Caesarea, is housed at the Church of the Nativity, Erie, Pennsylvania. An abridgment of Andrew’s commentary, preserved as an anonymous catena and incorrectly attributed to Ecumenius and Arethas of Caesarea in Cappadocia (d. 940), is in J.A. Cramer, ed., Catenae Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum, Vol. 8: Catena in episotolas catholicas, accesserunt Oecumenii et Arethae commentarii in Apocalypsin. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1967. Greek edition. By 2007, William Weinrich of the Luther Academy in Latvia had completed and submitted to InterVarsity Press an English translation of Andrew’s Apocalypse commentary. Many English quotations from Andrew’s commentary are in Averky Taushev, The Apocalypse in the Teachings of Ancient Christianity. Seraphim Rose, trans. Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1985, 1995.