Can Change the World Again.
THE REVELATION OF JOHN,
REV. HENRY COWLES, D. D.
The earnest request of many readers of my Notes on Daniel, coupled with a deep conviction of the importance of applying the same general principles to this book as to that, has induced me to prepare this volume for the public. It seemed desirable also to complete the prophetical books.Those who are familiar with the numerous commentaries on this book extant in our language will perhaps marvel that I have passed them with so little notice. To such I would say that my system of interpretation does not rest on any of those commentaries, and does not need them for its fair and full presentation. I even feared that, to arrest the course of my argument in order to bring in to any considerable extent the diverse views of other critics, would not only encumber my book in general but my argument in particular. Those who wish to see how other critics have interpreted this book will readily gain access to their volumes.My aim has been to evolve the laws of interpretation applicable to this book out of the book itself; out of the already extant prophecies of the Old Testament; and out of the history of those times. I dare not assume that this effort is free from imperfections; but that this method of interpretationthis conception of its just principlesmust control the construction of this book, seems to me too plain to admit of any question. I lay down my pen therefore in the hope that in whatever points my execution of this plan has been defective, abler hands, coming after, will bring it to perfection.
The Greek text of this book is admitted to be more defective than that of any other portion of the New Testament. I have aimed to introduce all the recent corrections which seemed important for their bearing upon the thought.A favoring Providence has brought within the reach of modern scholars several very ancient and valuable manuscripts which were unknown to those who revised the text for our received English version. Three of these are worthy of special mention: the Alexandrine, dating probably about A.D. 350, made in Alexandria (Egypt), and brought from Constantinople to England in A.D. 1628; the Vatican, supposed to date about A.D. 300, long imprisoned in the archives of the Papal Vatican, from which it takes its name, but brought slowly and with difficulty into the hands of able critics within the past twenty-five years; and the Sinaitic, obtained from a convent on Mt. Sinai, supposed to date from about A.D. 325, but unknown till the year 1844, and only within the last ten years carefully collated and brought before the learned of our times. Tischendorf's edition of the English New Testament gives the variations of the text which appear in two of these very ancient manuscripts.Unfortunately, the Revelation of John is wanting in the Vatican.
The theory that prophetic days really mean yearsthat all periods of time named in prophecy must be multiplied by three hundred and sixty to get the actual durationhas controlled the interpretation of the Apocalypse as given by many English and American critics. My views of this theory have been given in the Appendix to my Commentary on Daniel (pages 469-466). Since this volume may fall into the hands of some who may not have access to that, I have placed that special dissertation in this Appendix also.
A special examination of the teachings of Christ, and of His apostles, in regard to the time of His then future comings, commenced with design to append it to the present volume, as having important bearings upon certain passages in the Revelation which speak of Christ as "coming quickly," at length took so broad a range that it has been thought best to have it appear in the Bibliotheca Sacra, July number for 1871.
OBERLIN, OHIO, March, 1871.