Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos
The book of “Apocalypse of John” is the last book of the New Testament canon. It belongs to the Jewish and Christian apocalyptic secretariat a literary genre that emerged in the Second Century BC until the second century AD and contains the hidden revelations secretly in holy persons by God and refers to the end of time. Thus we have the Apocalypse (Revelation) of Enoch, of Baruch, the Ascension of Moses, etc...
Precisely because of this special style, knew enough controversy as to the genuineness in the first Christian centuries until finally become acceptable toward the end of fourth century AD by the Church as authentic book of the Bible because other ecclesiastical writers was considered as illegitimate and other as genuine, even quoting verses (pieces) than this.
The controversy surrounding the authenticity or not to "Apocalypse" we make known the father of Ecclesiastical History Eusebius of Caesarea (280 -340 AD), when quotes the list of books of the New Testament, noted that he had not further consolidated. He writes:
Genuine: “First of course must to be argued the Holy Tetraktys of the Gospel, which follows the book of Acts of the Apostles. The Epistles of Paul, which further must be approved the so-called First Epistle of John and likewise this of Peter. At the end should be fixed, if it appears liked the Revelation of John on which we will report as appropriate in due course.
Illegitimate: Among the illegitimate let be ranked the book of the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter and to the allegedly Epistle of Barnabas, the so-called Teachings of the Apostles, as well as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if you look liked, the which some - as I said - reject it, while others approve it in the genuine”. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History book C 25, 1 - 5)
From the oldest ecclesiastical writers using verses from the Revelation of John, using her in fact as evidence in dialogue with the Jews is Justin the Martyr (? - 165 AD). Facing the Jew Tryphon says: «Then one of the men in our array, named John, one of the apostles of Christ prophesied in Revelation being made to him, that those who believed in our Christ will remain one thousand years in Jerusalem then will be the universal and, in a nutshell, eternal team resurrection and crisis for all, thing for which our Lord said, that “will neither wed nor be married, but will be equal angels, being children of God of the resurrection”» Justin , Dialogue with Tryphon 81, 4.
From the great Father and one of the leading enemies of heresy, Irenaeus of Lyons (140 to 202 AD) we learn not only the time of writing of "Revelation" - in the era Emperor Domitian (81 to 96 AD) - but also how the famous number (in Greek χξς΄ or 666) that represents the name of the Antichrist employed the Christians and at that time. So Irenaeus writes: “After the way things are and this number there is on all great and ancient copies, and those who have seen John personally testify in this and the logic tells us that the number of the beast's name appears in the Greek numbering through letters that contain it”. Irenaeus, Control and overthrow of knowledge alias 5, 30, 1. And a little further on: “We therefore risking not pronounce positively on the name of the Antichrist. Because if I had to be declared openly his name in the present circumstances will were called it from one who has seen the revelation, which has not even seen a long time ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian”. Irenaeus, Control and overthrow of knowledge alias 5,30,3.
The authenticity of the "Apocalypse" accept and the "much" Origen who uses it in his writings: «What you need to say about John, which fell on the chest of Jesus, who left a gospel and confesses that he could draw up so many books that it was not possible to fit the whole world? And wrote the Apocalypse, which was ordered to remain silent and not to write the voices of seven thundering» Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History book F 25, 9.
The man of course that dealt in detail in the book of "Revelation" was Dionysius of Alexandria (? - 265 AD). Unfortunately the main bulk of the huge ecclesiastic his writing works have been lost. But that he has written about the Apocalypse fortunately rescued by Eusebius of Caesarea. He makes a great literary and structural analysis in this, giving us simultaneously the climate of the time for the acceptance or not of this. Although is a bit lengthy to mention, we quote the whole and we believe that deserves to be read by the reader for the wealth of his information:
«Some people then who were before us completely have refuted and rejected the book. They checked it chapter by chapter, declared unknown and absurd, and claimed that the inscription is false. They say it is not in fact of John and is neither revelation as it is completely covered with the thick curtain of ignorance and that the author of the text is not one of the apostles nor even by the saints in general or of ecclesiastical men, but Kirinthos, who has recommended by him the named Kirinthiaki heresy and wanted to give a trusted name to his forgery. Indeed, the doctrine of his teaching is that the kingdom of Christ will be earthly, as it was body’s friend and very carnal, he was dreaming that will be located in what he longing for the pleasures of the belly i.e. in food, in beverages, in love and in those with which he thought he would procure these things more honestly, in festivals, in sacrifices and to the slaughter of animals for bid.
But I would not dare reject the book, since many brethren have it in great esteem, but because I think its assessment is superior to my mind, I suppose that the concept of individual verses is somewhat hidden and wonderful. Because, although I do not understand, I suspect that contains a deeper meaning in his words, which I do not count and I do not think with logic, but I confront them with faith, which is why I consider superior to my perception. And does not disapprove them do not understand, but rather I admire because I did not see them.
After finishing almost the whole prophecy the prophet calls blessed and those who keep her and himself. Because it says “blissful let is one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book, and I, John, who I saw them and I heard them.” That is called John, and that the text is of John I will not say the opposite, because I agree that it is someone holy man and holy inspired man. But however I would not easily agree that this is the apostle, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, in which belongs the Gospel of John and the Catholic letter. From the character of both, from the literary style and the so-called structure of the book, I deduce that is not the same. And this is because the evangelist does not write nowhere his name and does not declare himself or with the gospel nor with the letter.
John nowhere speaks about himself either in the first or to a third person while he wrote the Apocalypse puts forward its name from the outset “Revelation Jesus Christ, who gave to him to show to his servants quickly and which revealed that sending by his angel to his servant John, who martyred to God's word and his testimony about what he saw”. After writing a letter “John to the seven churches which are in
to you and peace”. But the evangelist did not write his name on the letter catholic,
but it started without unnecessary words from the same, the mystery of divine revelation,
“that was from the beginning, that we have heard, that we have seen with our eyes”. For this
revelation precisely and the Lord
blessed Peter, saying, “blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, why
do not you reveal the flesh and blood,
but my Father which
is in heaven”. But also nor in the alleged as second and third
letter of John, even
if they are short, appears nominally John, but
is noted anonymously
as the eldest”. But here he thought even that was
not enough, when once called himself, to continue the narrative, but again repeats “I, John, your brother and participant in sorrow and in the kingdom as well as in patience of Jesus I was on the island called
Patmos, for the
reason of God and the testimony of Jesus”. And in fact at
the end say these "blessed
let be who keep the words of the
prophecy of this book, and I,
John, who I saw them
and I heard them.”
So that the person who writes these is John, you have to believe the same man who says it. Who is it this is unknown. Because he did not say, as in many parts of the gospel, that is the beloved disciple of the Lord or who has fallen in his chest or James’ brother or that he became and self-hearing of the Lord. After he wants to show clearly himself, he would say anything of the above. He said nothing of them, but he said the brother and partner with us, a witness of Jesus and blessed for the view and hearing of the revelations.
And I think there are many homonymous with the apostle John, who out of love, admiration and zeal towards him, and by the desire to be loved equally to him by Jesus, took the same name as Paul and Peter, name that is common to the children of believers. There is also the other John in Acts of the Apostles, the invoking Mark, whom they took with them Barnabas and Paul, which he says again, “I had John as servant.” If it is this who wrote, I can not say that. So far as moreover is not written how is arrived together with those in Asia, but says, “sailed from Paphos those who were with Paul came to Perge in Pamphylia, and John withdrawal from the escorting them returned to
So I think it's another one of which are
situated in Asia, because in fact they say that at Jerusalem
are two tombs, belonging
both the one and the other to
The fact that this is different from him is deduced in a natural manner also by the meanings, the reasons and the syntax. So the gospel and the letter agree between them and begin similarly. While this says “in the beginning was the Word” but this is saying “his was from the beginning”. While this says “and the Word became flesh and was installed to us and we saw his glory, glory as though the Only Begotten from the Father”, but the other says the same little changed, “that we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, we saw that and our hands was groping, concerning the Word of the life, and the life was manifested”. Because it says that - as he stated subsequently - for those who say that the Lord did not came with flesh. So, he carefully adds, “and what we have seen, we testify and recite to you, the eternal life, which was to the Father and was manifested to us. What we see and what we hear, we recite it to you”. It clung to him and are not removed from his intentions, even negotiate all issues with the same arguments and the same conditions. Some of them we will memorialize too, and the one who is going to read the books will come across and the same in both, often in life, very the light, avoiding the darkness, constant the truth, the grace, the joy, the flesh and the blood of the Lord, the judgment, the remission of sins, the love of God for us, the commandment of love for others, the obligation to guard all commands. The control of the world, of the devil, of the Antichrist, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the adoption of God, the Father and the Son everywhere. And it's generally easy characterizing the texts to ascertain that the color of the gospel and the letter is one and the same.
But the Revelation is very different and foreign to them. Neither touches nor adjacent to any of them, may even tell someone that he has no one syllable in common with them. But neither sense not any remembrance of the Apocalypse has not the letter - let the gospel - or the Apocalypse of the letter, while Paul recalls something from his revelations, which he recorded on his own. Furthermore it is possible to infer and from the expression, the difference of the gospel and the letter from the Apocalypse. Because not only those are written in fluent Greek, but also they testify scholar in his verbal, in the reasoning, in the composition, the formulation, there is not in them absolutely no barbarism, solecism or vernacularism. Indeed, his author had as shown by the grace of the Lord and the two skills, the knowledge and the expression.
The fact that he has seen revelations and has received knowledge and prophecy, not objection to saying, but I see that the dialect and its language is not exactly Greek, but uses barbaric idioms and solecisms. There is however a need to telling details now on this issue, especially since I did not say these things to be mocked - not to think this one - but only to prove the dissimilarity of the scriptures of these texts”. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History book Z 25, from 1 to 27.
For the reservations expressed about whether John is the author, the Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Athens Vlassis Fidas writes: “The difference in language and style of the other Ioanneia projects (of Ioanni or John) - gospel, letters - it is reasonable not only by the fact that the book was written under adverse conditions of exile on Patmos, but also by the idiotype (unusual) nature and purpose of the author”.
Besides, we must not forget that one who he wrote that John saw visions and revelations was his student Prohoros.
And the "adventure" of the authenticity or not of Revelation ends permanently to the East in 367 AD with the 39th celebratory letter of the Great Athanasius, which includes in the original books of the New Testament canon. Around the same time be accepted and in the West the 27 canonical books which are listed in the 39th celebratory letter of Athanasius the Great - between them and the Revelation - after accepting the major forms of Jerome and Augustine. However, final stations in the configuration of the rule in the West are the Letter of Pope Innocent A’ to the bishop of
Toulouse and the Sessions Hippo (393 AD) and (397 AD). Carthage
But nevertheless in the East some doubts about the Apocalypse there are still until the 10th century at least. After that they stop and the last doubts about the authenticity or not. An important role will be played later, after the fall of
, consoling the hearts of enslaved Orthodox peoples by the message and the hope of final victory. Byzantium
But time to ask what is it that makes a book of the New Testament be considered «normal», i.e. genuine, so as to include in the list - canon of the New Testament?
Criterion then of the authenticity of a book of the New Testament is that Origen formulates very nice - who traveled in many churches of his day, such as
Greece, Asia Minor, Rome, Egypt, , so he knew at first hand what was true in those churches - and later the eastern theologians. And that is none other than the concensus, namely the unanimous opinion of the Churches on this book. And the unanimous opinion not concerned only his apostolicity, moreover since that time were circulating many falsified with the name of an apostle, nor the level of theological discussion, but mainly regards the functional and otherwise use of this book in the Church. Palestine
Writer Efthimios Achilas