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restoration of the Jews, but instead of them, of a church, not Jewish according to the flesh. Yet he also speaks of the end of the world, as at hand h; he also borrows apparently from Revelation, the imagery of his description of a future happiness i; he recognises the two witnesses, as Isaiah and Jeremiah, and as sent for the help of the people of God k; he expected a resurrection of the just, as such?; a kingdom to be established in Judæa, on mount Sion, having Christ for its head m; and “ a consummation,” which he calls “ the Feast of the Lord n.”
Neither are the two last chapters of the Vulgate to be found in the Ethiopic. But it is not necessary for us to consider them, as they supply no intimation of the author's opinions on such topics as we are at present discussing.
& Chap. i. 33–40. ii. 10, 11. i Chap. ii. 12. 18, 19. 40–47. 38–40. ii. 16. 23. 31. n Chap. ii. 38.
h Chap. ii. 13. 34–36. 41. k Chap. ii. 18. Chap. i. m Chap. ii. 10, 11. 40–47. APPENDIX, CHAPTER VI.
ON THE PROBABLE DATE OF THE APOCRYPHAL BOOK OF THE ASCENSIO ISAIÆ
SEE GENERAL INTRODUCTION, CHAPTER XII. PART II.
p. 388, 389.
It is the opinion of the learned translator and editor of this work, that it was composed before the end of A.D. 69: and that it was the work of a converted Jew. See General Remarks, pp. 158, 159. $99.
That it was the work of a Christian of some denomination or other, may be collected from almost every page of it; and that this Christian might be a Jewish convert, is also possible, though as it appears to me, it is not certain. But that it was written A.D. 69, is an opinion, upon which I feel myself obliged to dissent from Dr. Laurence; though I propose this dissent, with diffidence, and with every deference to the judgment of so learned and competent an authority.
This date of its composition is deduced by the translator from the passage quoted in my General Introduction, p. 388, 389, that Berial should appear in the form of Nero; and from verse 12 of the same chapter, that he should have power three years, seven months, and twenty-seven days. The same chapter speaks by implication of his persecuting the church, as Nero is known to have done. Putting these several intimations together, there might seem to be some reason for the inference which Dr. Laurence draws, that the three years, seven months, and twenty-seven days, are the last part of the reign of Nero, dated from the time of the commencement of his persecution of Christianity. Reckoned backwards from the ascertained date of his death, June 9, A. D. 68, the beginning of this period might be made to fall, as Dr. Laurence computes it, about October 30, A. D. 64, near which time the best ecclesiastical historians fix the commencement of Nero's persecution. From this supposed coincidence, the translator infers that the work could not have been written before the last day of the reign of Nero, June 9, A. D. 68. But, as it is further said in the same chapter, iv. 14: that the Lord should come in person to punish Berial, after three hundred and thirty-two days, which Dr. Laurence understands of days literally, he further infers, for the reasons stated in the General Remarks, (p. 155—159,) that it must have been written within a year, at the utmost, after the death of Nero; and therefore sometime before the middle of A. D. 69.
But it does not appear to have occurred to Dr. Laurence, that Berial in the above description is Antichrist; and his being manifested in the form of Nero is no more than the common notion that Antichrist would assume the form of that monster; proofs of which I adduced elsewhere. The persecil
tion of the church alluded to, as stirred up by him, is consequently the great antichristian persecution, which all, who expected the appearance of Antichrist, expected also to ensue upon it: and the term of years assigned to the reign of Berial, is the same which we find assigned both in the Book of Daniel, and in the Revelation, to the ascendancy of Antichrist; and to be recognised by every Christian commentator of antiquity upon either; viz. three years and six months—with an additional period of one month, and twenty-seven days; which might probably be accounted for by some peculiar notion of the author of the work; and in explanation of which, were it worth our while to dwell any longer on the subject, I think I could myself advance an hypothesis, which would serve as a clue to the notion.
These considerations appear to me sufficient to shake the foundation of Dr. Laurence's calculations, which proceed altogether on the supposition that Berial is an historical personage, who had already existed, when the Ascensio Isaiæ was written, viz. the literal Nero ; and not a symbolical one, or Antichrist in the form of Nero—a person who had not yet appeared, though at some future time he was destined to do so. Such being the case, it is not necessary to inquire into the particulars of his calculations; which, however, will not bear the test of a very minute examination. For the rest of my remarks, on this subject, I shall confine myself to one or two observations, upon the internal evidence of the work itself, which may serve to shew before what time it could not well have been written ; if not the exact
year of its date.
First, that the author of the Ascensio Isaiæ Vatis was acquainted with the Book of Revelation, may very fairly be concluded from ch. iv. 11, which speaks of the image of Berial being erected in every city; just as the Apocalypse does of the image of the beast, that is, of Antichrist, being set up as an object of worship. Ch. iv. 10. it is said, “ the power “ of his prodigies shall be displayed in every city “ and country:" and the Apocalypse speaks of the signs and wonders to be wrought by Antichrist in confirmation of his pretensions. Verse 13. says, that “ in the time of that persecution a few only of “ those, who believe in Jesus, the Lord Christ, “ should be left to him, while his servants should fly “ from desert to desert, expecting his coming :" and in like manner is the church, under the image of the woman, described in the Revelation, as seeking an asylum in the wilderness from the persecution of the Dragon.
The language of the angel to Isaiah, ch. viji. 5 : “I am not thy Lord, but thy associate,” resembles that of the angel to St. John, Rev. xxii. 9. “ See " thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant,” &c. The same may be said of his language, ch. ix. 31. 36.
We have an allusion in chapter x. 8. to hell, or the bottomless pit; and to the casting of some angel (doubtless the prince or chief of the evil angels in general) into utter perdition; which seems to refer to the final disposal of the Dragon in the Revelation. Cf. chap. i. 3. 5.
The Book of Revelation was not written so early as A. D. 69: therefore neither could this work be, if it refers to that.