Book of Revelation Commentary: Horae Apocalypticae (4 Volumes)

Welcome to the Still Waters Revival Books video book summary for “Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical; Including Also An Examination of the Chief Prophecies of Daniel” (1862, 4 Volume Set) by E. B. Elliott

The title continues: “Illustrated by an Apocalyptic Chart, and Engravings from Medals and Other Extant Monuments of Antiquity. With Appendices: Containing, Besides Other matters, A Sketch of the History of Apocalyptic Interpretation, Critical Reviews of the Chief Apocalyptic Counter-Schemes, and Indices.”

This four volume set is respected by many as a scholarly work on eschatology. It will be especially valuable in our day as it absolutely destroys the Jesuit inspired preterist system by conclusively proving a late date for the writing of the book of Revelation. Elliott also demonstrates the impossibility of the futurist system, which, like preterism, was also concocted (as a system) by the Jesuits to counteract the classic Reformation eschatology called historicism. That this is no small issue is clear, as Kevin Reed exhibits (in his book review titled “The Ecclesiology of John Foxe: A book review by Kevin Reed of ‘John Foxe and the Elizabethan Church’ by V. Norskov Olsen” [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973]) by citing Olsen when he writes,

“The Counter Reformation is generally considered to have three aspects: the Jesuits, the Inquisition, and the Council of Trent. In view of the significance of the Protestant apocalyptic interpretation of history which prophetically pinpointed step by step the events covering the whole Christian era from the beginning to the end, it seems justifiable to suggest a fourth aspect, namely the praeteristic (Preterist-ed.) and futuristic interpretations launched by Catholic expositors as a counterattack” (p. 47).

All the major Reformers and all the major Reformation creeds and confessions adopted the historicist position – and it is this position that Elliott so skillfully defends. Included in Horae Apocalypticae you will also find a very useful historical survey of who held which positions concerning eschatology, much history on the Roman empire (and its interaction with Christianity), how the Reformation, Islam, etc. were prophesied in the Apocalypse, a world chronology according to the Hebrew Scriptures (which would make the Earth 6127 years old), patristic views of prophecy, the beast and his mark (666) revealed, and much more. The Papacy is also shown to be the apocalyptic antichrist, which was a standard position among the Reformers. Elliott also deals with Moses Stuart’s Preterism.

“It was in the year of Christ, as we have seen, 95 or 96, and of Rome 848 or 849, that St. John had the visions of the Apocalypse revealed to him. The chronological eras in which I thus mark the date, -eras perhaps the most famous in history,- suggest to us the two kingdoms between which, from thenceforward, was to lie the visible contest for the supremacy of the world. Of the former kingdom the then living ruler and head was the Emperor Domitian, the last of the twelve Caesars; who was engaged at the time spoken of in a bitter persecution of the Christians in his empire: of the latter the most eminent member and director (for Head it knew none but the Lord Jesus) was the last and only survivor of Christ’s twelve apostles, himself a sufferer in the persecution, the beloved disciple St. John.” (From the Introduction).

“Furthermore, in 1878, Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote the classic reference work Commenting on Commentaries. The ‘prince of preachers’ surveyed over 1,400 commentaries on the books of the Bible providing Bible students and pastors with a valuable guide for selecting books for their libraries. His comments are often as entertaining as they are helpful. Each book of the Bible forms a chapter in this work. Spurgeon provides pithy analysis and offers his recommendation of the best commentary and those to avoid. When he reaches the book of Revelation his clear recommendation is E.B. Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae. He succinctly states that it was ‘the standard work’.

It would surprise most Baptists today to realize that this most eminent Baptist preacher was himself an Historicist or Continuist as he called it then. Elliott’s work was the standard work in 1878 because the Historicist interpretation was still the standard in Protestantism and this work had gone through 4 editions and had established itself as the standard within the Historicist school. Elliot had died three years earlier in 1875″ (from: http://www.historicist.com).

Concerning Elliott’s “Horae Apocalypticae” H. Gratton Guinness, writes,

“The ‘Horae Apocalypticae’ of Elliott, which may well be considered as the most important and valuable commentary of the Apocalypse which has ever been written, was also called into existence by Futurist attacks on the Protestant interpretation of prophecy” (and the same would apply in our day, but even more so, as the classic Protestant system of interpretation for the book of Revelation is still being undermined by the Jesuit inspired Futurist system, but also, increasingly [even in so-called “Reformed” circles] by the other Jesuit inspired system: Preterism! -ed.).

In his preface to the fifth edition Elliott says:

“When I first began to give attention to the subject some twenty years ago, it was the increasing prevalence among Christian men in our country of the Futurist system of Apocalyptic interpretation – a system which involved the abandonment of the opinion held by all the chief fathers and doctors of our Church respecting the Roman Popes and Popedom as the great intended antichristian power of Scripture-prophecy, – that suggested to me the desirableness and indeed the necessity, of a more thoroughly careful investigation of the whole subject than had been made previously. For thereby I trusted that we might see God’s mind on the question; all engaged in that controversy being alike agreed as to the fact of its being expressed in this prophecy, rightly understood: and whether indeed in His view Popery was that monstrous evil, and the Reformation a deliverance to our Church and nation as mighty and blessed, as we had been taught from early youth to regard them…”

“Elliott’s Commentary was practically the work of the lifetime of one of the most learned and laborious expositors of modern times. Like Gibbon’s ‘History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ to which it frequently refers, it stands alone in its sphere, as a monumental work of surpassing value. The ten thousand references it contains to ancient and modern works bearing on the subject elucidated greatly enhance its value. We may safely say that during the half century which has elapsed since it publication, no other work on historic lines of interpretation has appeared of equal importance” (“History Unveiling Prophecy or Time as an Interpreter,” pp. 297-299).

“Edward Bishop Elliott (1793-1875), scholarly prophetic expositor, received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1816. After traveling in Italy and Greece he was given the vicarage of Tuxford, Nottingham, in 1824, and later was made prebendary of Heytesbury, Wiltshire. In 1849 he became incumbent of St. Mark’s Church, Brighton. A member of the Evangelical school, he was an earnest promoter of missionary enterprise and an ardent advocate of premillennialism. Elliott was thoroughly equipped as a scholar and was deeply interested in prophecy, spending a lifetime in investigation and seeking to understand God’s mind thereon. His “Horae Apocalypticae” (Hours with the Apocalypse) [literally ‘time with the Apocalypse’] is doubtless the most elaborate work ever produced on the Apocalypse… Begun in 1837, its 2500 pages of often involved and overloaded text are buttressed by some 10,000 invaluable references to ancient and modern works bearing on the topics under discussion…. Perhaps its most unique feature is the concluding sketch of the rise and spread of the Jesuit counter systems (Futurism and Preterism -ed.) of interpretation that had made such inroads upon Protestantism. Holding unswervingly to the Historical School of interpretation (Historicism -ed.), Elliott gives the most complete exposure of these counter interpretations to be found.” (“The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers,” Leroy Froom vol. III, pp. 716-718).

Sadly, one major warning needs to be given about this book. However valuable the contents are as a defense of historicism (and the late date of the book of Revelation), the author adopted the premillennial heresy (meaning a destructive heresy and not necessarily a damnable heresy; see George Gillespie’s “Truth and Heresy,” free at: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/TruthHer.htm, for more on the distinction between destructive and damnable heresies) and thus marred an otherwise useful work when he promotes these views.

2611 pages, with a 29 page (original) index.

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