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writing within the first ten years of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, when there were two emperors, not one alone. Nor can we very well suppose him to have been writing in any part of the rest of the reign of Marcus, when Commodus was virtually associated with his father; nor yet in any part of the reign of Commodus, towards the end of which Origen himself was born—who yet speaks of Celsus, as we saw in the references produced above, as dead so long before his time—and the history of the book itself, which Origen had undertaken to answer, as so very obscure. It follows, then, that Celsus must have been writing in the reign of Antoninus Pius ; consequently, between A. D. 138, and A. D. 161; not earlier indeed, than the rise of the heresy of Marcion in that reign, but as soon after as can be consistent with probability, and the supposition of its having become known to him. Under these circumstances, he would seem to have been literally a contemporary of Justin Martyr; and to have written his work against Christianity, about the time when Justin was writing his against Marcion". It follows, therefore, that if he speaks, as he does in one instance", of the king of the Persians, he must mean the king of the Parthians. There was no king of the Persians, as such, until the reign of Alexander Severus.
It would seem, then, that the Liber Enoch, or one agreeing in the main with the book which bears this name at present, was known to be in existence even ninus Pius, except just at the beginning of it, of which it might not be said. This, then, is a strong presumptive argument that, of the two, Celsus wrote under Antoninus, not M. Aurelius.
n See my Supplementary Dissert. vi. 53–63. o Lib. viii. 35. 768. B.
to the adversaries of Christianity, by the middle of the reign of Antoninus Pius, A.D. 149. I think this fact must go far to confirm the conclusion concerning its age, at which we had previously arrived upon the strength of its own internal evidence; viz, that as it could not have been written before A.D. 96, the last year of Domitian, on the one hand, so neither after A.D. 115, the eighteenth of Trajan, or at the latest, A.D. 127, the eleventh of Hadrian, on the other I should incline to the opinion, that it was written early in the second century; and that in point of time, it coincided with, or was not much later than the Liber Esdræ, which we have concluded to have been written in the reign of the Roman emperor next after the twelfth in order; that is, the reign of Nerva, between A. D. 96, and A. D. 98.
APPENDIX, CHAPTER VIII.
ON THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES.
AMONG apocryphal writings, properly so called, there is no reason why we should not assign a place to that collection of prophecies in Greek verse, which passes by the name of the Sibylline Oracles. The slightest perusal of the collection, at present extant with that title, is sufficient to convince us, that these oracles of some one or more of the Sibylls of antiquity are the composition of a Christian-probably a Christian Jew of the dispersion, but well acquainted with the Greek language; and consequently of some one who lived later than the Christian era.
They are not, it is true, like the three apocryphal productions still in existence, the second Book of Esdras, the Ascensio Isaiæ Vatis, and the Liber Enoch—and like many more, of which the names only, and some fragments of their contents, in the shape of quotations from them by Christian writers, are all that is now in being—ascribed to any of the saints, or prophets of sacred history; but they are ascribed to one who is supposed to be a prophetess, and who passes herself off as divinely inspired, as much as a saint or a prophet of the Old or the New
Testament might have done. In one instance she describes herself as the daughter-in-law of Noahand professes to have been in the ark, along with him and his family, during the delugea. In another she repeats this assurance, and styles herself the Assyrian, disclaiming the title of the Erythræan, or of the Sibyll, which she predicts at the same time, that men should give herb. In another, she calls herself the ywwotò or acquaintance of Isis : but all through, she speaks of herself as specially raised up to prophecy, and inspired, or rather compelled, for that purpose, by the one true God; the same God whom she clearly recognises in various passages, as the God both of the Jews and of the Christians d.
Under these circumstances, we are justified in calling the Sibylline Oracles, as now extant, an apocryphal Christian production; and in treating of them as such. With respect to their probable date, the most careful examination which I have been able to bestow upon their internal evidence, leads me to conclude that all, or the greatest part of these oracles, were written in the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian: which is also the time about which most of the apocryphal productions once extant, and certainly, as we have seen in the three preceding dissertations, the three in particular just referred to, as still in being—appear to have been composed. On this question, however, something may be said by and by. At present I assume, that the Sibylline Oracles, in their present form, or in some form resembling the present, were most probably composed before the end of the reign of Hadrian; in which case, while they are still to be classed with apocryphal works in general, they are entitled in point of antiquity to take an high rank among such productions; and in all probability come within twenty or thirty years of the date of the Book of Revelation.
a Lib. i. page 162. lines 4-6. b Lib. iii. 482. line 9 to the end of book. c Lib. v. 553. line 5. d Vide the Proæm. pp. 36, 37; Lib. i. 176—178: ii. 188, 189: 294: 306–314: iii. 351 : 356: 387: 435: 465: iv. 485-488: viii. 748, 749.
Upon a simple question of fact, then; viz. whether such and such doctrines in general, actually existed among Christians, at this period in the history of primitive antiquity, I should not hesitate to appeal to the testimony of the Sibylline Oracles, as much as to that of any other production, coæval with them. The very nature of a work like this would give us reason to expect that many of those traditions of the early Christian church, which were still floating down the stream of time; many of the peculiar expectations, raised or confirmed by the Book of Revelation ; much of the esoteric and oral teaching of the church, with reference to the events which are yet to happen before the end of the world, would find their way into this collection of prophecies of the future, not necessarily in their simple and unadulterated form, but still under all circumstances, with so much of resemblance to the truth on the same subjects, as to enable us to judge from what original they must have been derived; and to draw a sound and substantial inference, that doctrines of a genuine and orthodox description, must have been current at the same time, upon the same