Zathrus

Dating the book of Revelation

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Currently, probably the majority of Bible scholars still believe the book of Revelation was authored in 96AD. This is based on this quote by a church father:

Quote Originally Posted by Irenaeus
If it had been necessary that his name should be publicly proclaimed at the present season, it would have been uttered by him who saw the Apocalypse. For it was seen no such long time ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.
The 95-96AD date is derived from our knowlege of when Domitian ruled over Rome.

The 96AD date is by no means the only theory, and there is another that I personally think makes better sense. And I said the majority of Bible scholars ďstill believeĒ the book was authored in 96 AD because from what I read, the 96AD date was not accepted widely until the 1800's and is being questioned more widely today.

"Redating the NEW TESTAMENT" by John A.T. Robinson is regarded as the seminal work on the topic, so I went there.
With the mods' kind permission, a link to the book online is here Redating the New Testament

Some fascinating points, from the book:
Quote Originally Posted by John A.T. Robinson
ONE of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period - the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and with it the collapse of institutional Judaism based on the temple - is never once mentioned as a past fact.
Regarding the 96AD date:
Quote Originally Posted by John A.T. Robinson
But before accepting this date at its face value one must recognize that Irenaeus is making three statements:
1. that the author of the Apocalypse and of the fourth gospel are one and the same person;
2. that this person is the apostle John; and
3. that the Apocalypse was seen at the end of Domitian's reign.
There are few scholars who would accept all three statements, and many who would reject both the first two. Hort was able to accept the first two only because he rejected the third: 'It would be easier to believe that the Apocalypse was written by an unknown John than that both books belong alike to John's extreme old age.' [Apocalypse, xl.] We may leave the question of authorship till we come to the relation of Revelation to the other Johannine writings. But whatever the relationship, it is difficult to credit that a work so vigorous as the Apocalypse could really be the product of a nonagenarian, as John the son of Zebedee must by then have been, even if he were as much as ten years younger than Jesus. So if Irenaeus' tradition on authorship is strong, his tradition on dating is weakened, and vice versa.
Even more difficult to attach to a Domitianic date is the tradition which Eusebius goes on to quote from Clement of Alexandria: [Quis div. salv.? 42.1-15; Eusebius, HE 3.23.5-19.]
When on the death of the tyrant he removed from the island of Patmos to Ephesus, he used to go off, when requested, to the neighbouring districts of the Gentiles also, to appoint bishops in some places, to organize whole churches in others, in others again to appoint to an order some one of those who were indicated by the Spirit.
To illustrate the last Clement then tells the tale of a young man whom John persuaded the local bishop to sponsor and bring up as his protege. The story covers a number of years, over which this youth went to the bad, and it ends with the apostle going to visit him on horseback and then chasing him 'with all his might'! All this is inconceivable after 96. Clement, however, nowhere mentions the name of 'the tyrant'. He could have been an earlier emperor: it is only Eusebius who identifies him with Domitian.
Regarding internal evidence for a pre-70AD authorship:
Quote Originally Posted by John A.T. Robinson
For is it credible that the references in Rev.2.9 and 3.9 to those who claim to be Jews but are not' could have been made in that form after 70? For the implication is that Christians are the real Jews, the fullness of the twelve tribes (7.4-8; 21.12), and that if these Jews were genuinely the synagogue of Yahweh (as they claim) and not of Satan they would not be slandering 'my beloved people'. Even by the time of the Epistle of Barnabas, [For the date of this, cf. pp. 313-9 below.] which, unlike the book of Revelation, clearly presupposes the destruction of the temple (16.1-4) and the irrevocable divide between 'them' and 'us' (cf. ἡ διαθήκη εἰς ἡμᾶς ἣ εἰς ἐκείνους), such language is no longer possible.
Robinson questions the way adherents of the 96 AD date deal with statements in the Revelation that indicate the temple and the city of Jerusalem still stood at the time it was written:

Quote Originally Posted by John A.T. Robinson
The resort of commentators to treating anything that will not fit a Domitianic date as the incorporation of earlier material, though (for reasons they do not explain) without subsequent modification, is invoked still more arbitrarily in the passage to which we must now return in ch.17, which is crucial for any more precise determination of the date of the book.
Quote Originally Posted by John A.T. Robinson
It is astonishing that so much has continued to be built on so little.
Thereís much more fascinating (and quite heady) material in the book.

Personally, I take a high view of the inspiration of scripture, and have a hard time with the theories that the Revelation as well as other books of the new testament were written by disciples a century or more after the birth of Christ. Robinson discusses why as he studied, he came to doubt these late dates more and more, and question why any of the new testament had to be written after 70AD. I think his arguments do a lot to support the authenticity of the new testament books we regard as Godís Word.

Robinson also points out that John would have had to be very, very old in 96AD. Granted, he is said to have survived being dipped in boiling oil, and perhaps the power of God supernaturally rejuvenated his mortal body, but I donít think Iíd hang my scholarly hat on that supposition.

And itís obvious (well, to me anyway) from reading Revelation that itís a VERY Jewish book. From the 7 candlesticks to the description of Babylon matching that of a high priest, and her destruction by fire matching the prescribed punishment for a priests daughter who had become a harlot (stuff I as a Gentile would never have picked up on unless someone pointed it out to me) to all the Edenic imagery in the last chapter, the book is addressed to those very familiar with Judaism. I fail to see how all those things would be in the book, yet no mention of the destruction of the very heart of Judaism as a past fact. In fact, all these references to Judaism wouldl indicate to me that the religion was alive and well at the time of John writing the book.

And I donít know if Robinson points this out, but some passages in Revelation seem specifically intended on showing how the Christian church, not the nation of Israel was Godís true chosen people and the heirs of the promises given of prophecy. Such passages would not have had nearly the same meaning after the nation of Israel was beaten, her people scattered, and the heart of her old covenant system of worship taken out. Such passages as Revelation 21, where the church is depicted as having high priestly qualities, as being the true city in which Godís temple and, His presence, and His name dwells, and as being the fulfillment of the prophecies in the old testament of the glorious messianic reign point to Judaism still being alive and well. Theyíd have been controversial, and to old testament Jews, quite inflammatory statements.

I tend to think the Revelation was written shortly before 70AD, and like Jesus' Olivet Discourse, even foretells events that were to happen to the nation of Israel and the "city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified" in 70AD.
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