Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Arethas, and Andreas
Arethas, bp. of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and Andreas, an earlier archbp. of the same see, are so intimately associated as commentators on the Book of Revelation, and so little known otherwise, that they may most fitly be noticed together. We have no direct information regarding either, beyond the bare fact of their common connexion with the see of Caesarea. The dates at which they flourished can only be inferred approximately, and somewhat vaguely, from incidental notices of persons or of events in their writings. The question has been most fully discussed by Rettig (Die Zeugnisse des Andreas und Arethas . . . in the Theol. Studien and Kritiken for 1831, pp. 734 seq.); and his conclusions have been very generally accepted. He has shewn by enumerating the succession of bishops in Caesarea that the last 30 or 40 years of the 5th cent. may be assigned to Andreas and Arethas; and the absence of any reference to later events favours the belief that the work was prepared towards the close of the 5th, or in the earlier part of the 6th, cent.
The commentary of Andreas on the Apocalypse (entitled Ἐρμηνεία εἰς τὴν Ἀποκάλυψιν) seems to have been the earliest systematic exposition of the book in the Greek church. The statement of R. Simon, Fabricius, Rosenmüller, and others, that the work belongs to the class of Catenae, is not borne out either by its form or by the language of the Preface, which simply means that he made use of the materials which he found in the early writers whom he names, and occasionally quoted their expressions (παρ᾿ ὧν ἡμεῖς πολλὰς λαβόντες ἀφορμάς . . . καθὼς ἔν τισι τόποις χρήσεις τούτων παρεθέμεθα). He wrote, in compliance with the urgent request of persons who had a greater opinion of his judgment than he had himself, "to unfold the meaning of the Apocalypse, and to make the suitable application of its predictions to the times that followed it" (ἀναπτύξαι τὴν . . . Ἀποκάλυψιν, καὶ τοῖς μετὰ τὴν αὐτῆς ὀπτασίαν χρόνοις ἐφαρμόσαι τὰ προφητευθέντα). His method rests on the distinction of a threefold sense in Scripture—the literal or outward historical (τὸ γράμμα καὶ ἡ κατ᾿ αἴσθησιν ἱστορία), the tropological or moral (ἡ τροπολογία ἐξ αἰσθητῶν ἐπὶ τὰ νοητὰ ὁδηγοῦσα τὸν ἀναγινώσκοντα), and the mystical or speculative (ἡ τῶν μελλόντων καὶ ὑψηλοτέρων ἀναγωγὴ καὶ θεωρία); the expositor of the Revelation is chiefly concerned with the latter. He divided the text into twenty-four λόγοι corresponding to the four-and-twenty elders, and 72 κεφάλαια, according to the threefold distinction of body, soul, and spirit (24 x 3 = 72). The exposition contains not a little that is of value, but it is full of the fanciful interpretations to which the method gave rise. The paucity of MSS. of the Apocalypse renders the text which accompanies the commentary of great importance to criticism; and Bengel was of opinion that the work of Andreas, by directing fresh attention to the book, contributed in no small degree to its more frequent use and transcription. An interesting passage in the Preface, where the writer mentions Papias among the other Fathers whose testimony to the inspiration of the book rendered it superfluous to enlarge on that point, has been much discussed.
The work of Arethas, again, professes to be a compilation. It is no mere reproduction of the work of his predecessor, although it incorporates a large portion of the contents of that work, occasionally abridging or modifying the language of Andreas, and often specifying with more precision the sources of his quotations. But it contains much derived from other sources, or contributed by Arethas himself.
The commentary of Andreas was first printed in the form of an imperfect and inaccurate Latin version by Peltanus in 1574. The Greek text was first edited by Sylburg from a collation of three MSS. in 1596, along with a reprint of the Latin version. It has been several times reissued in connexion with the works of Chrysostom. The Greek text of Arethas is presented in its fullest and best form by Cramer (in his Catenae Gk. Patrum in N. T., Oxf. 1840); whose valuable additions, furnished chiefly by the Codex Baroccianus, exhibit the text in a shape so different from that previously printed as to make the latter often appear a mere abridgment.