COMMENTARY SERIES GENERAL EDITOR THE SEVEN SEALS E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania OFTHEAPOCALYPSE ADVISORY BOARD Medieval Texts in Translation John C. Cavandini, University ofNotre Dame Robert A. Harris,]ewisb 7heological Seminary Patricia Hollahan, l#stern Micbigan University James]. O'Donnell, Georgetown University J. Lesley Smith, Oxford University TRANSLATED W!TH AN INTRODUCT!ON Grover A. Zinn, Ober/in College AND NOTES BY Francis X. Gumerlock A !ist oft be books in the series appears at the end oft his book. Tue Commentary Series is designed for classroom use. Its goal is to make available to teachers and students useful examples of the vast tradition of medieval commentary on sacred Scripture. Tue series will include En glish translations of works written in a number of medieval languages and from various centuries and religious traditions. Tue series focuses on treatises which have relevance to many fields of Medieval Studies, including theories of allegory and literature, history of art, music and spirituality, and political thought. Notes are meant to provide sources and to gloss difficult passages rather than to give exhaustive scholarly com mentary on the treatise. The editions include short introductions which set the context and suggest the importance of each work. TEAMS • Commentary Series Medieval Institute Publications is a program of MEDIEVAL INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS Tue Medieval Institute, College of Arts and Sciences Western Michigan University Kalamazoo @WESTERN MJCH!GAN ÜNIVERS!TY .
Copyright© 2009 by the Board ofTrustees ofWestem Michigan University In memoryof 1his book is printed on acid-free paper. Kay Denise Gumerlock, a very loving wife and mother Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Tue seven seals of the apocalypse : medieval texts in translation / translated with introduction and notes by Francis X. Gumerlock. p. cm. -- (TEAMS commenrary series) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-58044-108-7 (pbk., alk. paper) 1. Bible. N .T. Revelation--Criticism, interpretation, etc. I. Gumerlock, Francis X. BS2825.52.S4813 2009 228'060902--dc22 2009003585 Manufactured in the United States of America p 5 4 3 2 .
Compendium on Holy Scripture 63 * PETER AuRIOL Compendium on Holy Scripture ÜN REVELATION 6-8 In [this] first vision is described prophetically the whole time from thf: foundation of the church among the nations, and of the persecutions of the pagan emperors, to its liberation through Constantine. Indeed this time lasted from the emperors GaiU:s46 and Claudius up to and includ ing Ju!ian the Apostate. And this vision begins at the beginning of the fourth chapter, which begins,After these things I looked (Rev. 4:1), up until ti1.e beginning of the eighth chapter, where it is written,And I -saw seven angels standing (Rev. 8:2). And this vision is divided into five main parts . . . . Truly in the fifth part [from Revelation 6:1 to 8:2] .the clear and firm truth of the procession of future things is explained in order, from :I ,, ,', · .1 .
64 Historical Interpretations Compendium on Holy Scripture 65 the emperors Gaius and Claudius up to Julian the Apostate. And this THE SECOND SEAL. of part begins, And l·saw.when the Lamb had opened one of the seven sea!s The Edict the First Persecution. (Rev. 6:1), where there are prophetically designated, in order, eight no table things that,happen in that time with respect to the church. 6.3-4. And when he had opened the second seal, John designates and indicates the edict of the first general persecution. I say "general" so as to exclude partial persecutions, which the faith experienced from the begin THE FIRST SEAL. of ning, in Jerusalem and Judea. And Nero was the fust arnong the Roman 7he Spread the-Gospel emperors who issued an edict for Christians to be punished, as Eusebius says.48 And I say that he made martyrs of the most blessed apostles Peter 6. 2. For, fustJohn represents and indicates beforehand the very free and Paul and many others throughout various parts of the world. procession of the spreading of the gospel. And this [is represented] in the opening of the first seal, where it is said, And behold a white horse. Therefore, through the horse is understood the Roman Empire. For Here it should be known that, according to Eusebius, the preaching of it is customary in scripture for horses to designate kingdoms, as is shown the narne of Christ was spread abroad throughout the whole world in in Zechariah 6:2, etc. Also, the Roman empire was then red through its shedding of blood, because Nero had advanced into such evil that he a short time under the emperors Tiberius,' Gaius, and Claudius.47 For, did not hold back the sword from even his own farnily and servants, as the aforementioned emperors permitted the apostles and disciples to run to and fro throughout the whole world. There, in the beginning of the Eusebius relates. He committed murders against his mother, his brother, his wives, and everyone closely related to him by blood. And he was in fourth chapter, [Eusebius] says that divine providence operated in the cestuous. Or, it is called red because of the multitude of his unspeakable mind of Caesar so that he threatened <langer to all the accusers of the Christians. In those initial times the word of the gospel ran forth quickly, evils, since among all of the emperors he led the most wicked and most impious life, as is shown in the histories. Or, [it is called red] because of as if a divinely manifested light, and a ray of the sun breaking forth, were illuminating the whole world with the brightness ofheavenly light. And the flames and fire, since he wanted to see Rome burn. Accordingly, it seemed red because of the flarnes of the fue. the prophecy was fuliilled, 7heir sound has gone out throughout the whole earth (Ps.19:4; cf. Rom.10:18).And throughout all the cities and all the Therefore, it was given to Nero sitting upon a red horse, upon the Roman empire, to take peace from the earth and that they should kill one towns immense mulritudes ofp eople were gathered into the churches, as when grain is gathered to the threshing floors in the time of the harvests. another, because of the people that he also killed arnong the Romans. Ac cordingly, fleeing from the people and the senate, he killed himself with Therefore, John saw in the book of divine foreknowledge this free dis semination. And this was [designated as the] fust [seal] because it was at his own hand. Therefore, there was given unto him a great sword, since it first closed, and because Christ opened it fust. Therefore, it is called the was given to him by divine permission to kill the great apostles and to stir opening of the fust seal. up the fust great persecution against believers. For, the white horse designates the army of the apostles and disciples, who were white in doctrine and in life, like horses running to and fro THE THIRD SEAL. of very quickly. Upon it, Christ was sitting with the weapons of preach 7he]ust Judgment God. ing and with the grace of the word, which penetrated them, just as he had promised saying, Behold, 1 shall give you a mouth and wisdom, which 6.5-6. In the place where it says, And when he had opened the third your adversaries will not be able to contradict (Luke 21:15). And because a seal, he indicates beforehand the just judgment of God in the punishment crown of victory was given to him) he wentf arth conquering and to conquer, of the Jews, somewhat silenced by the persecution of the Christians. For because he subjugated the wor!d to his faith in the space of a short time, Vespasian and Titus were sent by Nero against the rebelling Jews. Af- as was said. .
66 Historical Interpretations Compendium on Holy Scripture 67 ter Nero's death, Vitellius, Otho, and Galba reigned for a limited time, FouRTH SEAL. oJ and afterward Vespasian was elected emperor by the soldiers stationed in 1he Edict the Second Persecution. 1 Judea. When he left for Rome, he left it to his son Titus to procure the siege ofJerusalem, who tookJerusalem in the second year of the reign of 6.7-8. In that place where it says,And when he had opened the fourth his father. seal, he symbolizes prophetically, and indicates beforehand again, an edict Therefore the black horse represents the kingdom of the Romans un of a second persecution, promulgated by Domitian. And so Domitian der Vespasian and Titus, either because oft heir animosity, since the color followed Titus, his brother." Titus, lifted up in the height of pride, talked black is a sign of animosity in a horse, or because in that time the Roman boastfully about himself because neither his father nor his brother had empire had blackened and exterminated Judea. Therefore he who was sit takenJerusalem, but the city had been taken by his industry and labor. ting as emperor at that time, namely Vespasian and Titus, has a pair of He [Domitian] led a very defiled and evil life. He immersed the balances in his hand, that is,divine justice and equity. Concerning the fust apostle John in a caldron of boiling oil, sent him into exile on the is scale [i.e. justice], blame was attached to the Jews since they had waged land of Patmos, and incited persecution through the whole world against war against Jesus Christ by crucifying him and by persecuting and killing the Christians. Therefore, the Romanempire in the time ofDomitian is his disciples. Concerning the other scale [i.e. equity] , their punishment called a pale horse, either because of envy, since Domitian also envied the was merited. Accordingly, Vespasian and Titus were sent by God in order glory of his father and brother, Vespasian and Titus, or because of his to punish the Jews according to the balance ofj ustice. vileness, ~ince just as the color pale is vile, so Domitian was vile in life. And then a voice was heard saying,A measure ofw heatf ar a penny and And there follows, that since he sat upon a horse, the name oJ it was three measures ofb arley for a penny. This corresponds to when the Jews, for Death, and Hell fallowed him. For, Dornitian was literally condemned by thirty pieces of silver, had sold Jesus Christ, who called himself wheat the senate, and was killed in his palace. Nevertheless, power was given to oJ and a grain of wheat (John 12:24). Also, as Josephus wrote, Titus sold him over the faur parts52 the earth against Christians, to kill with four eleven hundred thousand Jews by giving thirty for a pe'lny.49 And the types of tortures, namely, with famine, with the sword, with death, through oJ Jewish nobles are 'called wheat here, and the ignoble are called barley, which is inferred suffocation or burning, and with the beasts the earth and five Jews are able to be understood for one measure. Therefore, it (Rev. 6:8). For, the martyrs were exposed to beasts and afllicted with the says three measures because Titus sold ten of the more noble for a penny; other kinds of aforementioned tortures. oJ however, he sold three measures barley, that is, thirty of the less noble far It should also be known that in the opening of the four seals;it is another penny. And so five Jews are rightly put for one measure, because read that the four aforementioned animals had said, Come and see! (Rev. they have five books of the law to measure themselves, and by which they 6:1). For, these four openings are spoken about in the four gospels. For, ought to measure themselves. Against this law, they killed the Lord and in the Gospel of Mark the spread of the gospel is spoken about in the His disciples. passage, Going into the whole world, preach the gospel to every creature. And And there follows, Do not harm the wine and oil, because although goingforth, they preached (Mark 16:15). And, therefore, the fust animal, Titus literally overturned Judea and Jerusalem, he harmed no Christian. which is Mark, speaks in the opening of the fust seal, saying, Come and For, Eusebius related in his third book that when the siege was nearing, see! Indeed, in the Gospel of Matthew much is expressed about the the church that had been gathered in Jerusalem received an oracle from persecution of the church, where it is said, 7hen they will hand you over God. They were ordered to leave and to travel across the Jordan to a cer to tribulation, and they will kill you (Matt. 24:9). Therefore, the second tain town by the name of Pella.50 Therefore, the Christians who fled into animal, obviously Matthew, speaks in the opening of the second seal. Pella are understood as the wine and oi/because theywere unharmed. For Indeed, in the opening of the third seal the third animal, namely Luke, they were full of the wirre of charity and the oil of piety. speaks, since he speaks about the destruction ofJerusalem through Titus .
68 Historical Interpretations Compendium on Holy Scripture 69 and Vespasian and about the weeping of the Lord over the city, say THE SJXTH SEAL. ing, Ifyou had known, even you (Luke 19:42). Indeed, in the opening of The Tenth Persecution. the fourth seal the fourth animal, namely John, speaks. He writes about the greatest tribulation which believers were going to have in the world, 6.12-17. In the place where it says,And I beheld, when he had opened, which Dornitian, second after Nero,53 waged. Accordingly, he says, In the he also describes the magnitude of the last persecution. For, we have read world you will have tribulation, but in me peace (John 16:33; cf.14:27). that Diocletian waged the tenth persecution with his colleague Maxim ian, which also Galerius Maximus augmented, continued, and consum THE FrFTH SEAL. mated. Later Persecutions. However, this persecution was the greatest and most excessive, since Maximian began to destroy the churches in the east, and Diocletian [t he 6. 9-11. In the place where it says, And when he had opened the jifth churches] in the west, so that there was not a place on earth in which seal, John foret"old the vastness of later persecution. For, it should be there was not persecution. lt was also very intense, for they commanded known that after Nero and Domitian, who waged.the fi.rst two persecu that the churches be burned down and that the divine scriptures be set tions against the Christians, Trajan mounted a third, Marcus Antonius a on fire and burned. And we have read that within a space of thirty days, fourth, Severus a fifth, Maximus, who is also called Maximinus, a sixth, seventeen thousand people, indiscriminate of their gender, were crowned Decius a seventh, Valerian an eighth, and Aurelian a ninth. One may with martyrdom throughout the various provinces. Even Pope Marcel say that there were many emperors in between these, under whom also linus succumbed to sacrificing; and afterward repenting of this deed, was Christians were martyred. Nevertheless, these are said to have waged beheaded by Diocletian.55 And the Roman episcopacy ceased for three persecutions, because edicts against the Christians were renewed. How years and six months on account of the cruelty of this persecution. It ever, some did not renew them, but if any Christians were killed in their was also the gravest persecution due to. its length, since the burnings of times, it was done on the basis of their predecessors' edicts, which they the churches, the proscriptions of the innocent, and the slaughter of the had not renewed. martyrs went on incessantly for ten continuous years. Therefore, in the times of those emperors, the churches and altars Therefore, this cruelty is foretold56 by John in the opening of the were not safe, but Christians celebrated and prayed in underground sixth seal when it is said that there was a great earthquake. This is the tombs. Therefore, because of the length of the persecution, believers won commotion of the people from the east to the west. And the sun, Christ, ef dered about divine justice, and cried out praying for vindication from became black and vile as sackcloth hair in the opinion and reputation of the true God.And this is whatJohn predicts here, T# saw under th< altar everyone. And the whole moon, namely the church, became as blood due to the souls of those killed. And what they expected was given in answer to the slaughter of the martyrs. And the stars, perfect men, so much higher them: Until the number of martyrs should be falfilled.54 And if it should than others,fallf rom the heaven of perfection,just as a jig tree casts effh er be asked how it is said that souls are und er the altar, it can be understood figs when shak.en by a great wind. For, at that time the vvind of persecution by reason of the holy bodies of the martyrs who were buried in tombs. In was very great and very violent. And heaven departed like a scroll rolled these tombs also altars were erected, since we have read that Masses were together, since at that time the books of the divine writings were burned. celebrated in the tombs of the martyrs. And every mountain and island were moved Jrom their places, since the church buildings in the desert places, in the mountains, in swampy plac es, and on islands-in short, those that were hidden everyvvhere-were moved and destroyed. And at that time there were among the number of believers in the various parts of the world, some kings, some princes, some .
70 Historical Interpretations Compendium on Holy Scripture 71 tribunes and nobles, some rich and strong, some servants, and some freed angels, "Constantine, in this [signJ, you will conquerl" And, therefore, men. Therefore, all tried to hide themselves in the rocks so that they might he made the sign of the cross on his forehead and put it on his military escape the persecution. And everyone wondered about the wrath of God banners. And having been strengthened for war against Maxentius, he and oftbe Lamb, which believers seemed tobe experiencing through this, triumphed. And when he came in triumph to Rome, the senate erected and [concluded] that God and the Lamb were permitting this persecu an image in his honor, and ordered that a banner, with the cross of the tion to be waged against them for such a long time. Lord on it, tobe put to the right ofhis image, and under it tobe written, "This is the sign of the invincible living God."Therefore, this Constan THE SEVENTH SEAL. tine is the other angel ascendingfrom the east, because he went to Rome 7be Peace ofR eligion. through revelation and divine or angelic inspiration, baving tbe seal oftbe living God. And he cried out against those four angels who were ministers 7.1-3. In the place where it says, After tbese tbings I saw faur angels, of nefarious persecution, about whom was spoken. Indeed, he cried out, w\lere the seventh chapter begins,Jo hn foretells the end and termination striking fear and waging war so that they would not barm tbe eartb, or tbe of the whole persecution, the peace of the Christian religion, and the sea, or the trees, that is, any Christian, until all were sealed on theirf oreheads time of tranquility. through the free reception ofbaptism. For, he passed an edict that every Frrst, he introduces the perverse attempt of four tyrants. For, as we person throughout the whole Roman world was free to be baptized and have read, after Diocletian and Maximian laid aside their imperial posi signed with the cross, and that churches were able tobe built, and every tions in one day, Galerius and Constantius werc made emperors.57 And where images of the crucifix could be depicred on them. Also, he too was Galerius instituted two Caesars, one in Italy by the narne of Severus, and baptized and sealed publicly. the other in the Ea,st by the name ofMaximian. But in the city ofRome, Then he [JohnJ put the number of those sealed, that is, the number Maxentius, the son ofMaximian, was made emperor. of the children oflsrael, up to the place where it says, 7bey sbouted witb a But Constantius and Helen bore Constantine tl1e Great, who was loud voice saying (Rev. 7:10). For, that number signifies the multitude of made emperor after the death ofhis father, and he assumed the position the faithful, who believed from all of the tribes oflsrael and were bap jointly with the emperor Licinius, who one may grant was at first peace tized. [He put this number] not so much [to indicate the exact number ful toward the Christians,58 but afterward becarne a persecutor. of the] manywho believed, but because the number carries a mystery and Therefore, tbe Jour angels of Satan, messengers and ministers of perse is a number of completion. cution, were Maximian in the East, Severus in ltaly, Maxentius in Rome, 7.9-10. Then, in the place where it says, Afterthese things I saw, he and Licinius in Egypt and Alexandria. And thus they stood upon tbe faur puts an innumerable gathering, namely, of those who believed from the corners oft be eartb, as John says, and they held tbe winds, tbat tbey sbould Gentiles. After this, in the place where it says, 7bey sbouted witb a loud not blow on the earth, because after Diocletian and Maximian, believing voice saying, he foretells the free worship of the liberated believers, which teachers could not preach on the earth, nor in the sea, nor on any tree, that from then on they offered to the divinity. For, churches were built and is, to any believers. praises were given to God and to tbe Lamb through angels, that is, through Then he introduces the triumph of the liberator. For we have read bishops and priests throughout the whole world. ofConstantine, that first at Marseilles he beheaded the colleague ofDi 7.13-17. Lastly, in the place where it says,And one oftbe elders an ocletian, Maximian, who again aspired for control of the empire. Then, swered, he puts forth a figure and a type of the whole aforementioned marching on Rome against Maxentius and solicitous about war, he had vision, showing that the whole multitude, about which already has been a vision from heaven that he should conquer in the sign of the cross. spoken, signified believers and Christians, who from then on were free to And with the sign of the cross shown to him, it was said to him through serve Christ throughout the whole world without any persecution from .