Guiding to a Blessed End
Andrew of Caesarea and His Apocalypse Commentary in the Ancient Church
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Revelation’s shaky canonical status and association with heresy caused the East to lag behind the West by three hundred years before producing a commentary on Revelation. Not until the end of the sixth century did the first Greek commentary appear, authored by Oikoumenios, a Miaphysite philosopher. Serious crises in the empire contributed to popular sentiment that the end of the world might be near, ...
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No patristic composition has exerted more influence over the canonical acceptance and continuous interpretation of any biblical book as Andrew of Caesarea’s commentary has of the Apocalypse of John for the Orthodox Church. Andrew’s commentary stands alone as the most important ancient commentary on the Book of Revelation produced by the Greek East. It became the standard patristic commentary in the ...
1. The Trajectory of Early Apocalypse Commentaries
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Every important book of the Bible became the focus of a commentary by one or more of the early Fathers of the Church. Yet not a single major patristic figure, East or West, wrote a commentary on the Book of Revelation. To the modern reader this absence of commentary on such a significant and portentous book is startling. ...
2. The Apocalypse in the Ancient East: From Acceptance to Rejection
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Among all the New Testament books, only Revelation claims divine inspiration.1 Self-described as prophecy in its opening and closing,2 the book blesses those who read it,3 curses those who alter it,4 and instructs that it be read aloud in the Church.5 No other New Testament book makes such bold declarations, expressing the clear intent and expectation that it be regarded as Scripture. And yet, for well over a ...
3. Later Eastern Developments: From Rejection to Acceptance
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Disagreement among ecclesiastical writers over the canon continued into later centuries. Eminent Eastern theologians and hierarchs differed over the canonical status of Revelation, which was usually denied. As the Church passed the first millennium, the vicissitudes of Muslim and Christian conflict and the decline of the Byzantine empire brought new meaning to the Book of Revelation. ...
4. Dating Andrew of Caesarea and Oikoumenios
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The person and work of Andrew of Caesarea are veiled in mystery. Virtually nothing is known about his life. Little remains of his exegetical work, except for his Commentary on the Apocalypse and a few small fragments consisting of questions and answers.1 Although in the past scholars have placed Andrew’s episcopal tenure as early as the fifth century and as late as the ninth century, today most locate him in the second half of the sixth century or early seventh. ...
5. Andrew's Recipient: "Makarios" and the Historical Milieu
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Understanding Oikoumenios’s commentary is critical to the Andreas commentary. Not only does it provide a clue for dating Andrew, but the existence of the Oikoumenian commentary was likely a primary factor prompting a request for Andrew’s commentary and motivating its composition. In the opening sentence of his commentary, Andrew refers to a number of unnamed persons who had appealed to ...
6. Why the Oikoumenios Commentary Failed
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If Oikoumenios’s commentary was available to Andrew for his use, it follows that it was available to others as well. Since it has been established that Oikoumenios’s commentary is the first complete Greek commentary on the Book of Revelation, it is a curious phenomenon that this commentary has been scarcely utilized by the Christian East. ...
7. Andrew's Commentary: Purpose and Motivation
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As we have seen, Andrew began his commentary by expressing his reluctance to undertake the job of interpreting the Apocalypse, the most challenging of all scriptural texts. He noted that he had repeatedly demurred to previous requests and accepted the task only after being pressured to do so by “Makarios,” whose motivation and possible identity as Sergius I, Patriarch of Constantinople, have been addressed ...
8. Orientation, Structure, and Characteristics
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A notable quality of Andrew’s commentary is his pastoral disposition. His expectation that reading Revelation will result in spiritual benefit by prompting compunction may be the most noteworthy characteristic of Andrew’s orientation and is closely connected to his purpose.1 The Apocalypse teaches that “death must be despised” 2 and it guides the reader ...
9. Andrew's Exegetical Education and Skill
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Andrew admits that he is incapable of fully understanding Revelation, certainly not on its highest level. “We ourselves do not understand the entire depth of the hidden spirit within it.”1 But also not even on its most basic level. “We neither dare to understand everything according to the letter.” 2 These are typical expressions of modesty in a prologue of this kind. ...
10. Andrew's Technique and Sources
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As we have seen, Andrew is familiar with levels of interpretation and techniques of historia, typology, anagoge, theoria, and tropologia. Oikoumenios is not. Although he allegorizes, Oikoumenios does not seem to apply allegory in a systematic or technical manner. Furthermore, he is unskilled or untrained in basic premises such as awareness of a biblical author’s purpose (skopos), the sequence of thought or ...
11. Andrew's Dogmatic Theology
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Andrew was Chalcedonian orthodox in doctrine and Oikoumenios non-Chalcedonian. Both Andrew and Oikoumenios sprinkle their commentaries with occasional hints of their particular theological positions. In two places1 Oikoumenios makes rather lengthy Christological statements which clearly indicate that he is Miaphysite, but the statements have the character of extraneous creedal proclamations rather ...
12. Afflictions and the Love of God
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Afflictions play a positive role for sinners as well as those who are actively struggling to be saved. This view accords with synergy and the purpose of this life according to Andrew. When the temple is described as “filled with smoke” just before the pouring out of the seven bowls (Rev. 15:8), Andrew recognizes it as a symbol of the wrath of God which is brought to bear against those who engaged in apostasy. ...
13. Andrew's Eschatology
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Andrew believes he is living in the seventh age, however, he does not believe that the end of the world is near. In fact, despite the calamities which had befallen the empire in recent years he states that the end is “not in sight” since these catastrophes did not begin to approach the scale of destruction described by Revelation.1 ...
14. Death, Judgment, Punishment, and Reward
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Andrew’s comments on death express classic patristic concepts. “ There are two deaths; the first is the separation of the soul and the body, the second is being cast into Gehenna.”1 This traditional perspective is based on Romans 6 in which baptism is expressed as being “buried with Christ” and “dying to sin.” The specific language of “two deaths” and “two resurrections” is found in the Apocalypse itself. ...
15. Andrew and the Greek Apocalyse Text
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The textual history of the Apocalypse is unique among the books of the New Testament. The commentary of Andrew of Caesarea has impacted the transmission of the text of Revelation itself by creating a text-type of its own, and by stimulating the production of a large portion of the existing Revelation manuscripts.1 ...
16. Andrew's Posterity and Contributions
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In the late ninth or early tenth centuries, Arethas, an episcopal successor of Andrew at the very same see of Caesarea, Cappadocia, wrote a commentary on Revelation.1 Arethas drew heavily from Andrew’s commentary, often quoting him word for word, and in other sections paraphrasing him rather than literally reproducing the passage.2 ...
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It is difficult to know which of the accomplishments of Andrew of Caesarea are more impressive or more important: his exposition of the text of Revelation, his contribution toward preserving the past, or the subsequent impact of his commentary. ...
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Page Count: 350
Publication Year: 2013