SOME EARLY RECORDED OBJECTIONS TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION 

Constantine marched into Rome in 313 AD.  After setting up his government in Rome, he legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.  Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea (Israel) became a personal advisor of Roman Emperor Constantine.  He used libraries and books of his day to prepare his book Ecclesiastical History (c. 324 AD).  Eusebius recorded the words of Dionysius the Bishop of Alexandria (c. 260 AD).  Dionysius was a student of the more widely recognized Christian scholar Origen.  In no uncertain terms Dionysius claimed Revelation was a forgery.  There were other writers of the first three centuries who were also recorded by Eusebius as testifying regarding the alleged falseness of Revelation and the involvement of Cerinthus in the matter.    

 

In the next section one might find some direct quotes of objections recorded by Eusebius from an 1897 translation by Rev. C.F. Cruse, M.A. from the edition of Valesius:

THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF EUSEBIUS PAMPHILUS BISHOP OF CAESAREA, IN PALESTINE
London, George Bell and Sons, 1897

III, XXVIII pgs. 102-103 In a section labeled as generally pertaining to the time of the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98 - 117)

CERINTHUS THE HERESIARCH.

About the same time, we have understood, appeared Cerinthus, the leader of another heresy.  Gaius, whose words we quoted above, in "The Disputation" attributed to him, writes thus respecting him: "But Cerinthus, by means of revelations which he pretended were written by a great apostle, also falsely pretended to wonderful things, as if they were showed him by angels, asserting, that after the resurrection there would be an earthly kingdom of Christ, and that the flesh, i.e. men, again inhabiting Jerusalem would be subject to desires and pleasures."  Being also an enemy to the divine Scriptures, with a view to deceive men, he said "that there would be a space of a thousand years for celebrating nuptial festivals."  Dionysius also, who obtained the episcopate of Alexandria in our day, in the second book "On Promises," where he says some things as if received by ancient tradition, makes mention of the same man, in these words: "But it is highly probable that Cerinthus, the same that established the heresy that bears his name, designedly affixed the name (of John) to his own forgery.  For one of the doctrines that he taught was, that Christ would have an earthly kingdom.  And as he was a voluptuary, and altogether sensual, he conjectured that it would consist in those things that he craved in the gratification of appetite and lust; i.e. in eating, drinking, and marrying, or in such things whereby he supposed those sensual pleasures might be presented in more decent expressions; viz. in festivals, sacrifices, and the slaying of victims."  Thus far Dionysius.  But Ireneus, in his first book against heresies, adds certain false doctrines of the man, though kept more secret, and gives a history in his third book, that deserves to be recorded, as received by tradition from Polycarp.  He says that John the apostle once entered a bath to wash; but ascertaining Cerinthus was within, he leaped out of the place, and fled from the door, not enduring to enter under the same roof with him, and exhorted those with him to do the same, saying, "Let us flee, lest the bath fall in, as long as Cerinthus that enemy of the truth, is within."

A repetition of Polycarp's story about Cerenthus meeting the disciple John was given in Book IV, XIV

In Book VII,  XXV generally pertaining to the words of Dionysius who lived during the reign of Gallienus ( A. D. 260 -268) pgs 281-285 in part:

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.

After this, he proceeds further to speak of the Revelation of John, as follows: "Some, indeed, before us, have set aside, and have attempted to refute the whole book, criticizing every chapter, and pronouncing it without sense and without reason.  They say that it has a false title, for it is not of John.  Nay, that it is not even a revelation, as it is covered with such a dense and thick veil of ignorance, that not one of the apostles, and not one of the holy men, or those of the church, could be its author.  But that Cerinthus, the founder of the sect of Cerenthians, so called from him, wishing to have reputable authority for his own fiction, prefixed the title.  For this is the doctrine of Cerinthus, that there will be an earthly reign of Christ; and as he was a lover of the body, and altogether sensual in those things which he so eagerly craved, he dreamed that he would revel in the gratification of the sensual appetite, i.e. in eating and drinking, and marrying; and to give the things a milder aspect and expression, in festivals, and sacrifices, and slaying of victims.

.... After this he examines the whole book of Revelation, and after proving that it is impossible that it should be understood according to the obvious and literal sense, he proceeds:  "The prophet, as I said, having completed the whole prophecy, he pronounces those blessed that should observe it is also himself.  "For blessed," says he, "is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book, and I, John, who have seen and heard these things."  I do not, therefore, deny that he was called John, and that this was the writing of one John.  And I agree that it was the work, also, of some holy and inspired man.  But I would not easily agree that this was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, who is the author of the Gospel, and the General (catholic) Epistle that bears his name.  But I conjecture, both from the general tenor of both, and the form and complexion of the composition, and the execution of the whole book, that it is not from him.  For the evangelist never prefixes his name, never proclaims himself, either in the Gospel or in his Epistle."
     A little further, he adds" "But John never speaks as of himself, (in the first person,) nor as of another, (in the third,) but he that wrote the Apocalypse declares himself immediately in the beginning: 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ' which he gave to him to show his servants quickly.  And he sent and signified it by his angel, to his servant John, who bare record of the word of God, and of his testimony (of Jesus Christ) and of all things that he saw.'
     "Besides this, he wrote an epistle: 'John to the seven churches of Asia, grace and peace to you.'  But the evangelist does not prefix the name even to his General Epistle; but, without any introduction or circumlocution, begins from the very mystery of the divine revelation: 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes;' for upon such a revelation as this Peter was blessed by our Lord: 'Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my father in heaven.'  But neither in the second nor third epistle ascribed to John (the apostle), though they are very brief, is the name of John presented.  But anonymously it is written, the presbyter.  But the other did not consider it sufficient to name himself but once, and then to proceed in his narration, but afterwards again resumes, 'I, John, your brother and partner in tribulation, and the kingdom and patience of Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, on account of the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.'  And likewise, at the end (of the book) he says: 'Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book, and I am John that saw and heard these things.'
     "That it is a John that wrote these things we must believe him as he says it; but what John it is, is uncertain.  For he has not said that he was, as he often does in the Gospel, the beloved disciple of the Lord, neither the one leaning on his bosom, nor the brother of James, nor he that himself saw and heard what the Lord did and said.  For he certainly would have said one of these particulars, if he wished to make himself clearly known.  But of all this there is nothing, he only calls himself our brother and companion, and the witness of Jesus, and blessed on account of seeing and hearing these revelations.  I am of opinion there were many of the same name with John the apostle, who, for their love and admiration and emulation of him, and their desire at the same time, like him, like him to be beloved of the Lord, adopted the same epithet, just as we find the name of Paul and of Peter to be adopted by many among the faithful.
     "There is also another John, surnamed Mark, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, whom Paul and Barnabas took in company with them.  Of whom it is again said, 'But they had John as their minister.' (Acts xiii. 5.)  But whether this is the one that wrote the Apocalypse, I could not say.  For it is not written that he came with them to Asia.  But he says, 'When Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.'  I think, therefore, that it was another one of those in Asia.  For they say that there are two monuments at Ephesus, and that each bears the name of John, and from the sentiments and expressions, as also their composition, it might be very reasonably conjectured that this one is different from that.  For the Gospel and Epistle mutually agree.  They commence in the same way; for the one says, 'In the beginning was the Word;' the other, 'That which was from the beginning.'  That one says, 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father.'  The other says the same things, a little altered: 'That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, that which we have seen and our hands have handled of the Word of life, and the life was manifested.'  These things therefore are premised, alluding, as he has shown in the subsequent parts, to those who say that the Lord did not come into the flesh.  Wherefore, also, he has designedly subjoined: 'What we have seen we testify, and we declare to you.'  He keeps to the point, and does not depart from his subjects, but goes through all in the same chapters and name, some of which we shall briefly notice.
     "But the attentive reader will find the expressions, the life, the light, frequently occurring in both; in both he will find the expressions, fleeing from darkness, the truth, grace, joy, the flesh and blood of the Lord, the judgment, forgiveness of sins, the love of God to us, the commandment given us of love to one another, that we ought to keep all the commandments, the conviction of the world, the devil, of antichrist, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the adoption of God, (i.e. the adoption made by God,)  the faith to be exhibited by us in all matters, the Father and the Son, every where occurring in both.  And altogether throughout, to attentive observers, it will be obvious that there is one and the same complexion and character in the Gospel and Epistle.  Very different and remote from all this is the Apocalypse; not even touching, or even bordering upon them in the least, I might say; not even containing a syllable in common with them.  But the Epistle, to say nothing of the Gospel, has not made any mention, or given any intimation of the Apocalypse' nor does the Apocalypse mention the Epistle.  Whereas Paul indicates something of his revelations in his Epistles, which however, he never recorded in writing.
     "We may, also, notice how the phraseology of the Gospel and the Epistle differs from the Apocalypse.  For the former are written not only irreprehensively, as it regards the Greek language, but are most elegant in diction in the arguments and the whole structure of the style.  It would require much to discover any barbarism or solecism, or any odd peculiarity of expression at all in them.  For, as it is to be presumed, for he was endued with all the requisites for his discourse; the Lord having granted him both that of knowledge and that of expression and style.  That the later, however, saw a revelation, and received knowledge and prophecy, I do not deny.  But I perceive that his dialect and language is not very accurate Greek; but that he uses barbarous idioms, and in some places solecisms, which it is now unnecessary to select; for neither would I have nay one suppose that I am saying these things by way of derision, buy only with the view to point out the great difference between the writings of these men."

 From the Greek Patriarchate Library in Jerusalem

This library was founded in the 5th century AD.  In 1949 Kenneth Clark visited the library with the American Schools of Oriental Research to film rare manuscripts that were kept there dated from the 5th century to the 18th century.  The expedition reported there were 140 copies of Gospels, yet there were only 4 copies of Revelation.  (The Biblical Archaeologist Reader 1 edited by G. Ernest Wright; "Exploring Manuscripts of Sinai and Jerusalem", Kenneth W. Clark, 1975)

 

Other Sites by David Hall:

ISRAEL PHOTOS III

Israel Photos (1999) D. Hall

Early Noah Story

Was Mt. Sinai a
Volcano?