Victorinus: In Apocalypsin (10.1-3)

[10.1] Then what he says, a mighty angel descended from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow upon his head, and his face like the sun, and his feet like columns of fire, and having in his hand an open book, and he placed his feet upon the sea and the earth, signifies our Lord, as we have told above of His face like the sun, that is, of the resurrection; a rainbow upon his head is judgment, which was and will be. And the open book is the Apocalypse which John received. His feet, we also spoke of above, are to be equated with the apostles. For, both the sea and the earth to be trampled by Him signifies everything is put under His feet. He says he is an angel, that is, a messenger of the Father Almighty; for He is called a messenger of great counsel. To call out in a great voice: the great voice is of heaven; to announce to men the words of the Almighty God, because after the closing of repentance, there will be no hope afterward.

[10.2] Seven thunders spokes in their voices: the Spirit of sevenfold power (Who) has testified through the prophets all that will be, has by His voice given witness in the world. But because it says he was to be writing what was said by the thunders, that is, whatever was obscurely predicted in the Old Testament, he is prohibited to write, but (is told) to leave and to seal (them). Because he was an apostle, it was not proper to confer the grace of the following degree on a man of the first, because now is the proper time. For the apostles, by powers, by signs, by warnings, by great works, have conquered unbelief. After them, now the churches are strengthened by faith, having been given the comfort of interpreting the writings of the prophets; which interpreters he called prophets. For the Apostle says: And He also placed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers and the rest. And in another place he says: Two or three prophets speak, and let others evaluate, and he says: Every woman praying or prophesying without a veiled head defiles her head. For when he says: Two or three prophets speak, and let others evaluate, he does not speak of general prophecy, unheard and unknown but now predicted; but let them evaluate whether the interpretation agrees with the witness of the prophetic saying. Therefore, this was certain not to have been necessary for John, armed with superior strength; with the Church being the Body of Christ, adorned with His members, it must answer in His place.

[10.3] For to take the little scroll and to eat it: having been shown to him, it is committed to memory. To be sweet in the mouth is the fruit of the preaching of the speaker, and to the hearers is very sweet, but (also) very bitter to the preacher and to those persevering in the commandments through sufferings. He says, It is necessary to preach again, that is, to prophesy, among peoples, tongues, and nations: this is because, when John saw this, he was in the island of Pathmos, condemned to a mine by Caesar Domitian. Therefore, John is seen to have written the Apocalypse there. And when now old, he thought it possible to return after the suffering. Domitian having been killed, all his judgments were undone and John was released from the mine, and thus afterward he handed over this same Apocalypse which he received from the Lord. This is: It is necessary to preach again.


  1. Exactly! It’s quite elegant, though at times too terse for an immediate understanding. It takes study of it itself in order to bring out the understanding of his method and intent. I think everyone can see why Jerome found Victorinus so special, too. The section 10.2 above is a perfect example. It’s entirely obscure unless you read the whole thing, and understand that Victorinus sees a hierarchy in the 1 Cor 12 reference to first apostles, etc.

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