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But first we must realise clearly that in this book we have not to do with a single author. The visions which he is supposed to have seen in it follow upon one another with so little regard to order that it has already been thought that he could not have seen them all one after another, but after each must have had time to note it down; other wise he would not have been in a position to note them all in their right order. No less than six times we find the “last things,” which from what has already been said we might think are to follow (viii. 1; xi. 15-19; xiv. 20; xvi. 17-21; xviii. 21-24; xix. 21), described before the real conclusion 220of the book. In every case we meet with a self-contained picture only in a particular section of the narrative, and for the most part this never extends to a whole chapter.

It has been noticed that chap. xxiv. of Mt.’s Gospel (not so literally in Mk. xiii., and in Lk. xxi. in a version which differs still more) incorporates a very small publication in which events are described which are supposed to happen immediately before or at the end of the world. Mt. xxiv. 6-8, 15-22, 29-31, 34, that is to say, do not fit into the sections between which they are placed, but connect together all the better. These verses, which have been called a “little Apocalypse,” and which now appear as the words of Jesus only by an entire misapprehension, may very well have been a leaflet published and spread abroad at the time of direst need in order to call the attention of the faithful to signs by which they might recognise the near approach of the end of the world, and to warn them. In xxiv. 15 we even read, “let him that readeth under stand,” though Jesus would have been obliged to say, “let him that heareth.”

Such leaflets may still be discovered in the Apocalypse of Jn. as well. It is difficult to say whether the writer who put together the whole book was the first to insert them, or whether earlier workers did so, each of them publishing only a part of the present book; and the matter is of subordinate importance. Particular stones in the building attract attention and can be separated more easily than those sections of the walls which have been constructed by one or another foreman.

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