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Apocalypse, from the verb apokalypto , to reveal, is the name given to the last book in the Bible. Although a Christian work, the Apocalypse belongs to a class of literature dealing with eschatological subjects and much in vogue among the Jews of the first century before, and after, Christ. "John to the seven churches which are in Asia " (Ap., i, 4). was in the island which called Patmos, for the word of God " (i, 9). But from tradition we know that the Seer of the Apocalypse was John the Apostle the son of Zebedee, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus.And again, "I, John, your brother and your partner in tribulation . At the end of the second century the Apocalypse was acknowledged by the historical representatives of the principal churches as the genuine work of John the Apostle.
He begins by observing that whereas the Gospel is anonymous, the writer of the Apocalypse prefixes his name, John.In Asia, Melito, Bishop of Sardis, one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse, acknowledged the Revelation of John and wrote a commentary on it ( Eusebius, Hist. In Gaul, Irenaeus firmly believes in its Divine and Apostolic authority (Adversus Haer., V, 30).In Africa, Tertullian frequently quotes Revelation without apparent misgivings as to its authenticity (C. In Italy, Bishop Hippolytus assigns it to the Apostle St.He next points out how the characteristic terminology of the Fourth Gospel , so essential to the Joannine doctrine, is absent in the Apocalypse.The terms, "life", "light", "grace", "truth", do not occur in the latter.But the language of the Apocalypse appeared to him barbarous and disfigured by solecisms.
He, therefore inclines to ascribe the works to different authors (Hist. The upholders of a common authorship reply that these differences may be accounted for by bearing in mind the peculiar nature and aim of each work. In conformity with other books of the same kind, e.g.
But although the authorities giving evidence against the authenticity of the Apocalypse deserve full consideration they cannot annul or impair the older and unanimous testimony of the churches.
The opinion of its opponents, moreover, was not free from bias.
Another witness of about the same time is Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, a place not far from Ephesus. John, he certainly was personally acquainted with several of his disciples ( Eusebius, Hist. From the Apocalypse undoubtedly Papias derived his ideas of the millennium, on which account Eusebius decries his authority, declaring him to have been a man of limited understanding. 200, a sect so called because of their rejection of the logos-doctrine, denied the authenticity of the Apocalypse, assigning it to Cerinthus (Epiphanius, LI, ff , 33; cf. Eusebius quotes his words taken from his Disputation: "But Cerinthus by means of revelations which he pretended were written by a great Apostle falsely pretended to wonderful things, asserting that after the resurrection there would be an earthly kingdom" (Hist. The most formidable antagonist of the authority of the Apocalypse is Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, disciple of Origen.
The apostolic writings which are extant furnish no evidence for the authenticity of the book. He is not opposed to the supposition that Cerinthus is the writer of the Apocalypse.
Justin Martyr, about the middle of the second century. Eccl., IV, xviii, 8), as well as from his dialogue with the Jew, Tryphon (c.