Age of Public Revelation Could Not Have Ended at "t"raditional Event

I have been concerned lately.
I always accepted that there are not many public miracles (the Mt. Sinai kind - for the love of Cod, please no sappy lectures on everyday miracles), not many scientifically empirical events which manifest to entire nations and wipe out armies, kill kings on their thrones before hundreds of subjects, (ya know) even though they supposedly happened in ancient days, because the age of public revelation is over; it ended, as Aquinas said, with the death of John.
But, here is the problem: The authors of John’s Gospel make it pretty clear the apostle died during the book’s production, and if anything is public revelation, it is the Gospels. The end bit of the Gospel of John cannot get lopped off for coming a few months (or whatever) too late.

So, do we just change whose death it needs to be from John’s to whomever Jesus commissioned (in any capacity) who died last? Maybe the death of the last eye witness to Jesus’ life (but where do we meaningfully draw the line there? The Man is still alive!).

Is the age of public revelation finished with the completion of the last of the canonized books of the Bible? If that is so, then why did we traditionally say it extended throughout the entire life of the last apostle, back when we thought they finished his Gospel while he was alive?

Plus, middle ages. They supposedly had a lotta miracles. Some public. Not the age of public revelation. Do we discount these or what?

First, I believe you are confusing John the Baptist with John the Apostle - two different individuals. None of the Gospels record the death of John the Apostle.

Second, public revelation and private revelations that are known to the public are two different things. The first is what we give our religious assent to has having been taught by Christ and by Him through His Apostles; private revelation (which is known), otc, doesn’t call for our religious assent. This article helps explain the important distinctions:

catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/does-god-still-give-visions

He’s not confusing J the B and J the A. He’s saying that the “editorial” notes toward the end of John indicate hat the book was written in its final form by John’s disciples just after John’s death. John 21:24 would be the clearest piece of evidence for this. The OP seems to think that John was in the middle of writing it when he died. It also might mean that he wrote a complete Gospel and his disciples added notes, or that he left only notes which they edited, or even maybe that he “wrote” them in the sense of dictating them or causing them to be written. But whichever of these is true, the author of John 21:24 would not seem to be the same as the beloved disciple.

In answer to the OP’s main question: one can interpret “apostle” broadly, or one can say that the public revelation on which Scripture is based was complete, since those books that were finished after the death of the last apostle (I’m not sure John is the only one) contain the teachings of the Apostles.

Ahhh. Thanks for the clarification.

Well, only 21:24 needs to be written by someone else and interpolated, but there are similar suspicions regarding various other portions of the Gospels. If the public revelation is what is contained within the NT, that could include the redactions of the Gospels which were authorized by Early Church usage.

Plus, middle ages. They supposedly had a lotta miracles. Some public. Not the age of public revelation. Do we discount these or what?

Why? Even if there were an end to revelation, that could be an end to discursive revelation rather than to divine action.

I’m not so sure that part wasn’t written by John, himself. It’s certainly not the first time in his Gospel that he wrote about himself from a third person point of view. He also did it in his description of the last supper."John 13: [23] Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. [24] Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh? [25] He therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus, saith to him: Lord, who is it? "
Also, in the Apocalypse:"Apocalypse 1: [1] The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to make known to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass: and signified, sending by his angel to his servant John, [2] Who hath given testimony to the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he hath seen. "
It’s a literary form that is consistently used in several places in his writings. I think he does it so that he doesn’t appear to be puffing himself up with things like, “I did this”, or “I said that”. It’s a method he uses that takes him out of the action, so that Jesus and the others are always seen as the main focal point of the stories, and not himself.

I think you may be shortchanging the miracle thing. :wink:

Col 1:19
9 For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell

Heb 1:1-2
1:1 In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

The incarnation of Christ is the most complete revelation by God of Himself to mankind. The Apostles and the authors of the NT have borne inspired witness to this final and public revelation.

Right. The end of public revelation as I understand it doesn’t mean the end of miracles at all–that would be the Protestant heresy of “cessationism.” It doesn’t mean that miracles aren’t public. It means the end of new revelation that is binding on all the faithful.

Edwin

So, Contrarini, what would be a way of interpreting “the apostle” broadly? Like, the entire original Christian generation being the original apostolic churches, or something?
Anyway, I kinda think that age of PubRev has gotta be open when the canonical books are written; their divine inspiration would seem to indicate itself a public revelation. But I like your “interpret the ‘apostle’ broadly” thing if that’s what you mean.

For everyone else, the real historical problem (not the philosophical distinction; I am good there) I am getting to is this: IF we believe great big, public, undeniable miracles’ reality
WHY don’t we see them anymore,
ESPECIALLY, if the end of the age of public revelation is uncertain (although I think Contrarini kinda gave a good answer to that)
AND ESPECIALLY if the medieval period was crawling with 'em. The modern period’s experience (apparition here, vision there, one small town witnesses a miracle thing) not quite the same as the seemingly fantastic world of legendary hagiography.

Now, how can we say the medieval period did not have more miracles, when the medievals say it did, and we believe in miracles.
If we say it did have more miracles, why do miracles appear to have suddenly gotten real shy?

POINT BEING, it is real hard to assert the reality of something (shock and awe type deals) you never see, but supposedly used to happen a lot. There should be an explanation to the skeptic in everybody.

PS If it’s relevant everybody, I know most people think some of the epistles (and bits of teh Gospels) were written kinda late; I just picked the last gospel because they practically come out and tell you he’s dead, so it’s got the best evidence. Plus, I don’t hold necessarily to any specific relationship between the Apostle, amaneusis, redactors, and scribes. I just picked the scenario most conservative, in order to point out the problem persists no matter what.

The bit being cited, though, is a correction to a seeming urban legend that claimed John would live until the Second Coming. It could be John himself setting the record straight by quoting what Jesus actually said about his death to an overly-inquisitive Peter, but there’s at least a strong implication that John has just died, and his followers are writing to dispel the urban legend that might shake people’s faith in Jesus.

Additionally, right around there is the actual statement that the Beloved Disciple is the author (or at least the source) of the Gospel, and then the person or persons actually writing goes on to say “and we know his testimony is true.” Even given John’s habit of referring to himself in the third person, it would be odd for him to write as a witness to his own veracity.

Usagi

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 12-31-2006 (EWTN):
“Public Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. All doctrine contained in the deposit of faith, passed on through Scripture and Tradition, was in at least seminal form at the time. The faith is better understood or better explained over time. New terms may be used to express ancient ideas. But the faith is the same – it is the faith of the apostles.”
tinyurl.com/nrg6gsu

Answer by Catholic Answers on 03-17-2004 (EWTN):
“Yes, your understanding is correct. Divine Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. The Pope cannot err in preserving the faith handed down to us, but he cannot initiate new Revelation.”
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
tinyurl.com/pdx8rre

Public Revelation is something different than public miracles.

What it means is that the Apostolic Teaching is the Apostolic Teaching - if the Apostles didn’t teach it, then it isn’t Public Revelation. (Even if the Apostles’ followers took their time about writing it down for us.)

Nothing new with regard to the teachings of the faith is ever going to be “discovered” - although certainly over time and with much study, we understand things today that they didn’t understand in the Early Church. For example, we have a tighter definition of the Trinity than they did, and we have words like “hypostatic union” to describe things that they were at a loss of words for.

I was thinking the same thing when I read the OP. Miracles and revelation are two different things.

And I’m not too sure that there haven’t been major miracles since apostolic times.

-Tim-

TimothyH #14
And I’m not too sure that there haven’t been major miracles since apostolic times.

There certainly have been and one outstanding one is the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima.

As Avelino de Almeida, the chief editor of “O Seculo,” the large “liberal” anticlerical and masonic daily of Lisbon, writes:
Before the dazzled eyes of the people, whose attitude transported us to biblical times, and who, dumb-founded, heads uncovered, contemplated the blue of the sky, the sun trembled, it mad estrange and abrupt movements, outside of all cosmic laws, “the sun danced”, according to the typical expression of the peasants…(2)"

Attacked violently by all the anticlerical press, Avelino de Almeida renewed his testimony, fifteen days later, in his review, l “Ilustra‡ao Portuguesa”. This time he illustrated his account with a dozen photographs of the huge ecstatic crowd, and repeated as a refrain throughout his article: “I saw…I saw…I saw.” And he concluded fortuitously: "Miracle, as the people shouted? Natural phenomenon, as the experts say? For the moment, that does not concern me, I am only saying what I saw… The rest is a matter for Science and the Church.” (3) [My emphasis].
Note:
2) O Seculo of October 15, 1917.
3) Article of October 29, 1917.

See also: THE DANCE OF THE SUN at: catholicvoice.co.uk/fatima1/ch1-10.htm

Okay, so
I What It Means for the Age of Public Revelation to be Over
1)If we say that the age of public revelation was over when *any *of the Bible was written, then while the events and sayings recorded might be public revelation, the Bible itself would not be. Problematic because:
a) Age of public revelation is only time that had public revelation
- public revelation is binding on the faithful, while private is not.
*Would the Bible still be binding on the faithful, or only the Bible inasmuch as it expresses “X”?
b)If “all that is needed for Salvation” (I get materially not formally, I get it) was revealed by Jesus’ earthly life (Annunciation to Ascension as everyone seems to be implying) what about events after that?
- everything related in the last 23 books of the New Testament
*including John’s vision in Revelation
- even if we say, “yeah but the apostles witnessed the revelation they are discussing” then okay, but revelation is not primarily about events, it is about truth, and the Bible’s itself Public Revelation, a binding, public, declaration of soteriologically necessary truth
c) we run into all kinds of problems when we decide which things that we can extrapolate from the Bible are already revealed things getting fleshed out by the authors, and what is exactly new stuff (where does that whole vision of John the Revelator thing go? Is everything he gets outta that buried in Jesus’ ministry, or does the book have something new to say?).
- can’t we say the Bible is all public revelation, the whole thing, taken together and individually?
* Now, though, we need to have a logical description of what it means to say the age of public revelation ended, which does not say “death of last apostles”

II What I Was Getting At About Miracles
1 I get that miracles and revelation are different BUT, the closing of the age of public revelation is a frequently used answer to justify the lack of empirical proof of God’s existence, when it apparently used to be all over the place.
2 Absent this justification, the idea that miracles EVER happened is challenged, thus a claim of Revelation (that miracles happened) is challenged.

If the parts of the Bible in question were simply writing down, under divine inspiration, what had already been revealed as part of oral tradition, then I don’t think that would be a problem.

Problematic because:
a) Age of public revelation is only time that had public revelation
- public revelation is binding on the faithful, while private is not.
*Would the Bible still be binding on the faithful, or only the Bible inasmuch as it expresses “X”?

Church teaching is binding, so I don’t see how this is even a problem.

The question, I think, is whether divine inspiration is the same thing as divine revelation. If it is, then either the view that some Scripture was written after the death of the last apostle is wrong, or we have to broaden our definition of “apostle” a bit. But I’m not sure the two are the same at all. If God inspired some people in the immediate post-apostolic generation to write down and/or edit apostolic teaching, then we could have a divinely inspired text containing apostolic revelation written after the death of the last apostle.

b)If "all that is needed for Salvation" (I get materially not formally, I get it) was revealed by Jesus' earthly life (Annunciation to Ascension as everyone seems to be implying) 

Is that necessarily the Church’s teaching? I know that Catholics often put a lot of weight on the idea that Jesus taught the Apostles between the Resurrection and the Ascension, but Jesus also talked about the Holy Spirit leading them into all truth. So in my understanding–perhaps I’m wrong–public revelation continued throughout the apostolic generation. I don’t know how else to explain St. Paul’s letters, for instance. He certainly claimed to be getting direct revelation from the risen Jesus.

II What I Was Getting At About Miracles
1 I get that miracles and revelation are different BUT, the closing of the age of public revelation is a frequently used answer to justify the lack of empirical proof of God’s existence, when it apparently used to be all over the place.
2 Absent this justification, the idea that miracles EVER happened is challenged, thus a claim of Revelation (that miracles happened) is challenged.

As I understand it, the justification is that in the time of new public revelation, miracles were especially necessary in order to confirm that the apostles were indeed getting genuine revelation from God. After that time miracles became less common, although they never ceased entirely. (There’s some evidence that the rate of miracles went down dramatically around the time the Empire became Christian. St. Athanasius, at the beginning of the fourth century, speaks as if miracles were almost commonplace. St. John Chrysostom, at the end of the century, speaks as if they were no longer taking place, at least not to the same extent. But then in the early fifth century, St. Augustine became convinced of the validity of the growing phenomenon of miracles associated with saints’ relics, so the story is complicated. I think the best way to explain it is that when the Church is small and under persecution, miracles are fairly common. When it is larger and more successful in worldly terms, they become associated with unusual individuals (the saints) who live in the same radical way that all Christians are forced to in more difficult times. Probably too simplistic an explanation. . . . )

Edwin

Thanks Contrarini.

One thing, though
“public revelation continued throughout the apostolic generation. I don’t know how else to explain St. Paul’s letters, for instance…he certainly claimed to be getting direct revelation”

This is a big part of my point. Let’s say that John the Revelator is not John the Apostle. Let’s say that Deutero-Paul is not Paul. If this is so (although I doubt it is, but let’s say), then people are getting the direct revelation, which you here equate with public revelation, post-apostle’s death.

And based on our convo, (and you have expressed this much better than I have) I think that the simplest way to think of inspiration is as public revelation, but I am totally willing to accept that the apostolic generation’s passing could be on principle the end of the age of public revelation. That sounds as reasonable as the 12 themselves.
I am satisfied. on I

As for II (the Medieval thing), yeah, it is difficult. But I think your idea is moving in a good direction. It is something to think about

I don’t think this is necessarily true - there were unbelievers in the time of Christ; that’s why He was crucified instead of crowned Emperor of Rome.

There are miracles today, but the secular press doesn’t report them, and most of the time, the only people aware of them are the people present at the time.

2 Absent this justification, the idea that miracles EVER happened is challenged, thus a claim of Revelation (that miracles happened) is challenged.

If God perceives that you need a miracle, He will send you one - but He will most likely trust you to have the faith that you need to believe in Him, without the extra help.

I dunnow jmcrae.
They bought Jesus’ preternaturality. I mean, age of PubRev was primarily through the Jewish people. The Romans saw a little, but the Jews saw a lot of Jesus’ miracles. They did not deny they happened (they were so sure they did that they tried to trick him into healing a guy’s hand on the Sabbath). They just said the “wonders” were demonic rather than divine.

Love that Quentin Tarantino reference by the way! I am thinking of Pulp Fiction’s dictum on miracles: “You can’t judge this *** on merit!..What matters is that I felt the touch o’ God.” Irrelevant to our conversation (since we are talking about why on principle slam bang deals have virtually all gone away) but I like it.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.