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by securing a covert in the great work which he has done so much to discredit and obscure.' This shallow-brained fanatic and celibate, whose dogmatism varies directly with the narrowness of his understanding, has often stood between John and his readers for nearly 2000 years.'
Assuming that this hypothesis is at all true, it is obviously the business of the critic to restore, if he can the text as written by the author, or, in the case of the unfinished portions, to recover his original intention. There is no doubt that Dr Charles' reconstructed text does give far better sense than the book as we have it. In particular, he is able to dispense with the hypothesis of recapitulation, according to which the writer goes over the same ground several times under the Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, and Seven Bowls. Such a view inevitably suggests a more or less mechanical use of ‘sources.' But by getting rid, as we have seen, of the first four Trumpets, which only repeat what we have already heard, and by insisting that the faithful are removed from the earth by a universal martyrdom after the Seals, Dr Charles is able to show a steady progress in the drama. And in the closing chapters he is able to educe an intelligible sequence-the binding of Satan, the Millennium with the Heavenly Jerusalem on earth, the First Resurrection of Martyrs and the Conversion of the Gentiles, followed by the final conflict, the second general resurrection and the Judgment, coming to its climax with the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and earth, when all evil has been completely destroyed.
Granting that such a rearrangement is an improvement, there will always remain the question whether it is justified. Many will be a priori impatient of the attempt and of the hypothesis on which it is based. But ancient MSS. and ancient literature do give clear examples of wrong editing with dislocations, omissions, and additions. Death before the completion of a work is not in itself an unparalleled or improbable event. And with regard to the Apocalypse we have the fact that the book, particularly in the last chapters, does not always make sense as it stands ; there would seem to be something wrong. Many of the passages suspected by Dr Charles present a real difficulty, even on a casual reading. No doubt books have been, and are, written, which are badly arranged and inconsistent; the faults of the Apocalypse may, therefore, be due to the writer. But judging by the power and literary skill of the bulk of the work, we have some right to say that this is not probable. The way is then open for hypothetical reconstruction. There is this to be said for Dr Charles' view, that in many cases the evidence of differences of style and language coincides with internal difficulties of the subject-matter. An example may be seen in the section already referred to, in which the Judgment is depicted as a Harvest (xiv 15–17). Here there are real, though very subtle, differences, mainly turning on the use of prepositions, which do not seem to belong to the style of the author himself. Or, again, in the opening clause of vii 11 (• The name of the star is called Wormwood ') we find the only case in the Apocalypse in which déyev is used in the sense of kalsiv, a use, be it noted, which is frequent in the Fourth Gospel. The clause also breaks the four-line rhythm of the section. It must be pointed out, however, that the whole passage is regarded by Dr Charles as due to the editor!
We may, perhaps, be less certain about the details of the rearrangement suggested by Dr Charles. Assuming that John died and left portions of his book in the form of notes on separate slips, it is at least possible that he had not made up his mind where he was going to work them in. In that case, any reconstruction can only represent the sort of arrangement he might have made. We must be content to leave it at that.
Nor again are we quite convinced about the universal martyrdom which was to come to all the faithful after the Seals. Are the passages which suggest it more than rhetoric? And even if it were intended strictly, are we justified in assuming that the idea was carried out consistently through the rest of the book ?
The main objection, indeed, which will be, and has in fact already been, brought against Dr Charles' reconstruction is not that it is superfluous or bad in itself, but that it mistakes the nature of Apocalyptic literature. It is urged that we must not look for too great a unity or a logical development of thought. Dr Charles has anticipated and dealt with this objection. He holds that Apocalyptic writers, in contrast to prophets, do show this structural unity and steady development of thought With our book in particular,
• The work of this artist and thinker is seen not only in the perfectness of the form in which many of the visions are recorded, but also in the skill with which the individual visions are woven together in order to represent the orderly and inevitable character of the divine drama.'
Now when Dr Charles finds in this unity and development a characteristic of Apocalyptic literature we can only listen respectfully. But it must be admitted that it is not the prima facie impression made on the reader. It seems very often a disconnected series of visions; and in fact Dr Charles only gets unity and consistency in other Apocalypses by breaking up our existing documents into sources of different dates and with different points of view, e.g. in Enoch. The question whether he is right depends largely on a subject which has been too little studied, the psychology of the Apocalyptic writers. Are their books the direct result of actual psychic experiences, of trance-visions, or something very like automatic writing? If so, we should expect on the analogy of modern examples a good deal of inconsequence and diffusiveness, with a lack of logical consistency. On the other hand, it is possible that, while such experiences really played a large part in the conception of the books, these as we have them are a literary product, in which the attempt was made to give order and sequence to the fragmentary ‘revelations' received psychically. It is now a matter of honour that if trance-writings are published they should be published as received, in order that we may be able to test their evidential value. But the ancient world was not interested in psychic phenomena as such; there was no reason why material received through the subconsciousness should not be worked up into an ordered whole ; and there would also be a natural tendency to use phrases such as · I saw' in cases where there had been no actual vision. The present writer is inclined to believe that in the Apocalypses there are such literary and conventional elements; and if so Dr Charles' treatment is in principle justified ; we shall be wise if we exercise a certain suspension of judgment for the present.
There remains a more fundamental question. Is the book really worth the labour spent on it? When we recover the original form and meaning, has it any living message for us to-day? The question is perfectly fair. Not only is it written in view of a definite historical situation which has long since passed away, but it embodies a theory of the future and of God's methods in the world, which are simply impossible for most of us to-day. The situation which forms the background is one of relentless persecution in which the sharp division between the Church and the world becomes emphasised. There is no question of permeating human society or the State with even the slightest leaven of Christian principles. Any such hope is postponed by the writer to the Millennial Age after the descent of the Heavenly Jerusalem. Meanwhile, it is war to the death. The Apocalypse does not suggest two opposing principles of Right and Wrong embodied in varying degrees in every institution and movement, even in the heart of every individual. They are represented absolutely by the Church and the Roman Empire. If the choice between the two called for a high degree of courage, it was at least clear cut and unmistakably defined. But the real difficulty of life is that this choice is so often confused and blurred. Where is the Mark of the Beast, and where is the Seal of Christ?
Equally different is the cosmic outlook. Apocalyptic presupposes a universe manageable both in duration and in extent. It had its origin in a definite act of God at a comparatively recent time, and it will come to an end in the same way. Heaven is literally above the earth, and intercourse between the denizens of the two realms is easily conceived. The earth, with man, is the centre of the universe. God is transcendent, Creator, and Judge in a literal sense, interposing when and how He will. Convulsions in society, and disturbances in Nature, are His direct judgments, decided upon and sent ad hoc, and the end is to come by a supernatural catastrophe. This way of looking at things robs the struggle between good and evil of its deepest significance; for in the last resort God can always cut the knot by the intervention of omnipotent power. He is a chess player who, when He will, can sweep His opponent's pieces off the board and order the opponent away to execution. This
ends the game; but it does not win it. The battle against evil cannot be won by a mere destruction of evi men; but only by such transformation of their wills and personalities that they come to be identified with good This is the method of love and of the Cross. It implies a slow and patient process. But it is the unshaken con viction of Christian faith that it means a completer triumph in the long run. Apocalyptic, on the other hand, is always impatient. It cries, How long ? It looks for an immediate parousia and judgment. And the solution it finds in a display of power destroys evil ; but it does not conquer it.
And so we hear even in the Christian Apocalypse a note of fierce vengeance, which instead of praying for its enemies and for the turning of their hearts, exults in their approaching downfall and punishment. Such a mood may be readily excused in view of the circumstances of the time; it springs, indeed, from a religious and ethical root, from the conviction that God is indeed a God of righteousness, and from the cry for justice. But it does not embody the highest conception of God or of the moral sense. The last word of Christianity is that God is Love and that sin can only be overcome by transforming the sinner into something better, not by burning him.
And yet our Apocalypse is not guilty of the worst excesses of later ecclesiastical thought. It does not teach an unending Hell of hopeless torments. There are indeed passages which might suggest this. In xiv 11 we read that the smoke of the torment of the worshippers of the Beast 'goeth up for ever and ever.' xix 3 the same phrase is used of Babylon. In xx 10 the Devil is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the Beast and the False Prophet; and they shall be tormented, day and night, for ever and ever.'
We note, however, in the last passage that these torments are only for the three supreme embodiments of evil. Their followers are devoured by fire; in six 21 their flesh is given to the birds. The contradiction between this conception and the previous passage in xiy 11, shows that we are far removed from any cutand-dried doctrine of an unending Hell. And in each case there is a direct quotation from Isa. xxxiv 10,