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Dissertation 10.

HIPPOLYTUS, NICOLAUS LYRANUS, etc.

Daniel 9:25

“Hippolytus,” says Mosheim, “whose history is much involved in darkness, is also esteemed among the most celebrated authors and martyrs of this age.” (Volume 1, page 270, edit. 1823.) Although the learned Benedictines have assisted in dispelling this darkness in their History of the Literature of France, volume 1, page 361, yet the greatest light has been thrown upon the life and opinions of this writer by the Chevalier Bunsen in his work, “Hippolytus and his Age,” 4 vols., 1852. Dr. Christopher Wordsworth has also discussed the same subject, giving an English version of the newly discovered philosophumena, with an introductory inquiry into the authorship of the treatise, and on the life and works of the writer. It is out of our province to enter on the important questions raised by these well-known writers; we must confine ourselves strictly to whatever illustrates Daniel. He wrote commentaries on various parts of the Old and New Testaments, and among these Bunsen enumerates one “On the Prophets, in particular on Ezekiel and Daniel,” volume 1, page 282. A fragment of his comment on Daniel is preserved in the edition of Fabricius, in which the Greek text is printed from a Vatican MS., tom. 1, page 271, “named by Theodoret and by Photius, c. 203. Jerome says Hippolytus’ historical explanation of the seventy weeks did not tally with history and chronology. Fabricins, 1, page 272. We have a genuine fragment of this explanation in Fabricins, 1, page 278, on Daniel’s life and times.” The Syrian MSS. discovered in the Lybian Desert, and explored by Cureton, contain, says Bunsen, quotations from the Commentary on Daniel by Hippolytus. Calvin, most probably, knew no more of his view of the seventy weeks than he found in Jerome. The existence of his treatise on Antichrist was known to the Reformers chiefly from ancient writers who had given a list of his works, but especially from Jerome. From Fabricius, Appendix ad. I. 1, page 2, we learn that a forgery was published in 1556., and that the genuine work was first edited in 1661 from two French MSS, A Latin translation was added in 1672. “His calculations,” says Bunsen, “based upon Daniel and the Apocalypse, are quite as absurd as those which we have been doomed to see printed, and praised, and believed in our days. He makes out that. Antichrist will come 500 years after Christ, from the tribe of Dan, and rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.” This remark has caused the censure of a writer in “The Record,” who accuses Bunsen of making’ this bishop and martyr “the mouthpiece of his own unbelief in the prophecies of Daniel.” “Some writers have conceived,” says Bunsen, “that Hippolytus alludes, in his interpretation of the ten horns of the fourth beast in Daniel, to some great convulsions of the empire in his time; but this opinion seems to me entirely unfounded. All I can find in these passages indicative of the time in which they were written, (section. 28, 29,) is the existence of a very strong, iron, military government; and this seen as to point to the time when the power of Septimius Severus was firmly established, after fierce contests and sanguinary battles. The rest relates to things to come, to the last age of the world, which he thought about three centuries distant.” (Volume 1, page 274.) On page 290 we have three lists of the works of this “father,” as noticed by Eusebius, Jerome, and Lycellus. Eusebius does not mention his work on Daniel; both Jerome and Lycellus do; and Nicephorus adds it among others to the Eusebian list; and on page 242 many of his works are recorded as existing among the Escurial manuscripts. See the Catalogue des Manuscrits Grecs de la Bibliothbque de l’Escurial, par E. Miller, 8vo, Paris, 1848. Cardinal Main, in his “Scriptorum Veterum nova Collectio,” volume 1, part 2, gives such figments of Hippolytus’ Daniel as were formerly inedited, (pp. 161-222.) On page 205, ver. 13, he illustrates Daniel’s phrase, “the old of the days,” referring it to God the Father, the Master of all, even of Christ himself.

The interest excited by the recent publications of Bunsen and Wordsworth, makes it desirable to state that fresh light has been thrown upon his life and times. Cave, in his elaborate work, is unsuccessful respecting Hippolytus. He takes up the opinion of Le Moyne, a French ecclesiastical writer of the seventeenth century, who conjectured that he was bishop of Portus Romanus, Aden in Arabia. The additional supposition that he was an Arabian by birth is also a mistake. He was bishop of the “portus,” a harbor of the city of Rome, during the time of the Emperor Alexander Severus, at the beginning of the third century. He suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Maximus the Thracian, about A.D. 236. The Chevalier’s narrative of the manner in which a lost book of his has been recovered is worthy of notice. “A French scholar and statesman of high merit, M. Villemain, sent a Greek to Mount Athos to look out for new treasures in the domain of Greek literature. The fruits of this mission were deposited, in 1842, in the great national library, already possessed of so many treasures. Among them was a MS. of no great antiquity, written in the fourteenth century, not on parchment, but on cotton paper, and it was registered as a book ‘on all heresies,’ without any indication of its author or age. [...] It fell to the lot of a distinguished Greek scholar and writer on literature, a functionary of that great institution, M. Emmanuel Miller, to bring forward the hidden treasure. In 1850 he offered it to the University Press at Oxford, as a work of undoubted authenticity, and as a lost treatise of Origen, ‘Against all Heresies.’” It was published in 1851, and Bunsen, on reading it, pronounced it not to be the work of Origen, but of Hippolytus; and in letters to Archdeacon Hare, he has thrown great light upon the subject, and enabled us to per, use some fragments of his comments on Daniel and the Antichrist, which Calvin could only have known through Eusebius and Jerome.

It is worthy of notice that Sir Isaac Newton, in his “Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel,” etc., quotes Hippolytus thus, — “If divers of the ancients, as Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus the martyr, and Apollinaris bishop of Laodicea, applied the half week to the times of Antichrist, why may not we, by the same liberty of interpretation, apply the seven weeks to the time when Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming.”

Nicolaus de Lyra received his name from the place of his birth, Lire, a small town in Normandy. He flourished at the beginning of the fourteenth century: he was one of the Society of the Friars Minors at Verneuil, although he is supposed to have been born a Jew. His oostills were repeatedly printed at the close of the fifteenth and the early part of the sixteenth centuries, and were familiar to the biblical students of Calvin’s day. He was a good Hebrew scholar, and has enriched his comments with the best specimens of Rabbinical learning. He is a good interpreter of the literal sense; but his views were attacked by Paulus Burgensis, Paul bishop of Burgos, who was a converted Jew, and defended by Mattathias Doring. His works, with those of his opponent and champion, were published at Duaci, A.D. 1617; also at Antwerp, A.D. 1634, in 6 vols. folio. See also Hart. Horne, volume 2, part 2, chapter 5. In the Morning Watch, volume 1, page 147, he is considered as a forerunner of the Reformation. Luther is there said to have written of him thus: “Ego Lyram ideo arno, et inter optimos pono, quod ubique diligenter refiner et persequitur historian.”

“Burgensis.” A notice of Paul of Burgos is found in Allports edition of Bishop Davenant on Justification, volume 2, page 86, note.

The Africanus here mentioned was Julius Africanus of Nicopolis, (Emmaus,) a friend of Origen’s, and rather his senior in years. He is a very early writer on chronology, about A.D. 232; and his epistle concerning the history of Susannah, together with Origen’s reply, is in Wetsteins edition, annexed to the dialogue against the Marcionites. Mosheim calls him “a man of the most profound erudition, but the greatest part of whose learned labors are unhappily lost.” Cent. 3, part 2; see also Gieseler’s Eccl. Hist., volume 1, page 145, American translation. The treatise to which Calvin probably refers is the fragment on the genealogy of Christ preserved by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., lib. 1, chapter. 7, especially as Eusebius himself had just quoted this chapter of Daniel (Daniel 9:24) at the close of his sixth chapter. Other writings of his are quoted by Eusebius, lib. 6, chapter. 31, entitled “Concerning Africanus.”

Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis, flourished in the second century. He is included by Gieseler among the writers against the Montanists, and is united with Melito of Sardis by Eusebius, as writers of great repute. See Euseb. Eccl. Hist., lib. 4, chapter. 26, 27. In the latter chapter he gives a list of his works. See also lib, 5, chapter. 16, 19. Another of the fourth century is mentioned by Mosheim as Bishop of Laodicea. An account of this writer is found in the English edition of Bailey’s Dictionary.

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