Page images

In like manner, chap. iv. 16: in the words, “ And " he shall minister to those who have watched in “ this world,” I think there is a plain allusion to the substance of Luke xii. 37: and, at xi. 32. in the supposed sitting down of Christ, on his ascent into the highest heaven, at the right hand of the great glory, there is another, to Mark xvi. 19.

But be these things as they may; there are certain passages in the work, of so critical a nature, as very strongly to imply that the author of it was a Valentinian Christian.

First, chap. ix. 16: it is said, that Christ, after his resurrection from the dead, should continue in the world 545 days, before his ascension. Now 545= 365+ 180 : that is, one year and six months.

Turn to Irenæus, Adv. Hæreses, lib. i. cap. v. 16. 10: cap. xxxiv. 112. 22. 432: and you learn that the Valentinians held the opinion of an interval between the resurrection and the ascension, exactly of this extent; that Christ continued in the world eighteen months after his resurrection, and before his ascension.

Again, chap. xi. 1–14. where we have an account of the birth of Christ, it is plainly implied that he was born in the third month after the discovery of the pregnancy of Mary ; that is, as any one must infer from the Gospel narrative, seven months after the conception.

Turn to Epiphanius, Adv. Hæreses, lib. i. 450, 451. Alogi, xxviii. xxix: and you will learn that this also was a conceit of the Valentinians, viz, that Christ was born at the end of seven months, not of nine.

Thirdly, the same account implies very plainly that the writer supposed our Lord to have passed through the womb of the virgin, ως δια σωλήνος--as through a pipe or conduit; and no more. This too was another Valentinian notion; as we learn from Irenæus, lib. i. cap. xiii. 33. 1.

There are other coincidences between the opinions of this writer and those of the Valentinians, which might be mentioned ; but these are sufficiently minute and curious, to stamp him as one of their school.

It is not impossible, however, that the work may be after all more ancient than the time of Justin Martyr; who refers if not to the book by name, yet to a fact contained in it, the sawing of Isaiah asunder with a wooden saw. See Remarks, 141, 142. Unless it could be shewn that both the author of the Ascensio, and Justin Martyr, derived their knowledge of this fact, from tradition; it seems of so critical a nature, that Justin must have taken it from the Ascensio. Valentinus flourished in the reign of Hadrian ; and was a disciple of persons, who had heard St. Paul.

We need not dwell upon the consideration of its chronology much longer. I observe no reference in it, to the millenary reign as such; but there is something which may be thought to imply it, in chap. iv. 16–18: between the first descent of the Lord to the punishment of Berial, and the final judgment. For this interval is supposed to be devoted to a certain rest, and to the celebration of a certain feast, in which the Lord ministers to those who had watched; and in which the saints both previously


This passage, I

out of the body, and those found in the body, all provided with the same spiritual clothing, partake alike. Let the reader compare this with the yágos, the ανάπαυσις, and the εσθήτες ψυχικαι of the Valentinians, alluded to in a former instance a.

The second advent of Christ is mentioned by name, chap. iii. 21, 22: as a subject on which “ the

disciples should forsake the doctrine of the twelve “apostles; and have much contention respecting it, “ and the proximity of his approach ;” which seems to imply, that some should believe in it, others should not: some should think it still remote, others near at hand : between which last, however, the author pronounces no decision. think, is an argument that his date cannot be so early as Dr. Laurence places it. In the reflections too, which follow, chap. iii. 23–31. on the state of the church in the days of the writer, we observe corruptions and abuses specified, which could not have become so general, as they are supposed to be, if they existed at all, before the end of the reign of Nero. In what relates more particularly to the misconduct of the governors of the church; to the love of money; the respect of persons; the paucity of prophets and teachers of confirmed truths; and the like : one may imagine a disappointed candidate for ecclesiastical preferment to be giving vent to his spleen and vexation; and that we are even listening to Valentinus himself-of whom Tertullian tells us, he did not become an heretic, until he had missed a bishopric.

a See chapter iv. supra, page 73.




I HAVE had occasion, not only in the course of the present work, but in my former, upon the principles and arrangement of a Gospel Harmony, to refer to the supposed Liber Enoch, or Book of Enoch, upon points involving more or less the question of its true date; and I have uniformly felt myself obliged to express an opinion on this subject, different from that of the learned translator and editor of the work itself. I hope therefore I shall be excused, if I lay before my readers, somewhat at length, a statement of the reasons, upon the strength of which I venture to dissent from an authority, entitled to so much respect as that of the archbishop of Cashel, the author of the English version in which the Ethiopic translation of the original has been made accessible to us.

The testimony of the Book of Enoch is of service in the decision of another question, besides that of the truth of the doctrine of the millennium, so far as this depends upon the fact of its early reception and general diffusion in the church; viz. the comparative merits of the Hebrew and the Septuagint chronology. It may be made to appear from its own evidence, that it follows what is called the short, and not the long, chronology. On this account, also, it would deserve a particular inquiry into the question of its antiquity, with a view to determine its true date. If it was the composition of an Hebrew Christian, as I believe it to have been; and if it was written soon after the beginning of the second century, as I also apprehend to have been the case; the date of its composition and publication coincided very nearly with that of the famous version of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, made by Aquila; the chronology of which, as it is well known, differed from that of the Septuagint, and agreed with that of the Hebrew Bibles of the present day. Here then is a case in point, to prove that the Hebrew chronology generally, in the time of Aquila, and in that of the author of the Book of Enoch, was one and the same; alike in accordance with the Hebrew chronology of the present day, and alike at variance with that of the Septuagint. This coincidence ought to be allowed its due weight in deciding upon the comparative authenticity of these rival systems of time; nor is any thing necessary to the full effect of the argument deducible from it, in favour of the Hebrew, except to shew that the author of the Book of Enoch was a Jew, a native in all probability of Palestine, and a contemporary of Aquila's, so far as regarded the date of his work.

There was scarcely any production of ancient times, strictly to be considered apocryphal, which acquired greater celebrity, and was more confidently received as genuine, or was more frequently quoted

« PreviousContinue »