The date of the Book of Revelation

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by ReformedBaptist, May 4, 2010.

  1. ReformedBaptist

    ReformedBaptist
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    I am sorting through some of my resources out there on revelation as I am going to by God's grace and will study this book (finally) in-depth for a season.

    Certainly I have read it, and my main goal in this study is to see Jesus Christ and His glory in His church, and derive the blessing promised in this book to the reader and hearer of it.

    My usual custom in beginning a book of the Bible is to learn somewhat of it such the author, location, audience, and date.

    As to the author and date, and to whom it was written there is little doubt except maybe for scoffers and that if for them to fight over.

    What is amazing to me is that on this letter of GOd by the hand of John the Apostle men who love Christ and the brethren, who have held a good testimony their whole lives until the end, and those who are still alive, have differed upon the date of the book.

    Some contend an early date between 65-68AD and others a later time, 98AD. The earlier date is the minority view, and the later the more common.

    I noticed right away that a somewhat accurate date, especially as it relates to the year 70AD, weighs pretty heavily one how a person then interprets Revelation. Was the book written before the fall of Jerusalem or after?

    I guess I can see then why there is a debate on the date...the issue is doctrinal.

    Has any out there looked in-depth on this? What conclusion did you draw? What sources did you consult?

    thanks for your help.
     
  2. Grasshopper

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  3. thegospelgeek

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    Very good question.

    From what I have read and remember(I have no sources with me), the argument to set the date in mid to late 90AD is two fold. First, there is a historic writing from some historian (I can not remember the name but can look it up later, started with an I) that sets the date as the later part of Domitians reign. The second argument is that the state of the churches and cities mentioned do not match the pre 70AD date.

    The argument fot the 65AD range seams circular to me. It basically states that since ch11 represents the fall of Jerusalem then it had to be written before 70AD and since it was written before 70AD it is describing the fall of Jerusalem.

    I tend to hold to the later date, but then I am just an uneducated hick doing the best I can. I am sure there are many, better educated people who can give better evidence. I for one will be watching and learning.
     
  4. thegospelgeek

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    I looked it up. It was Irenaeus that attributes the date toward the end of Domitian's reign in his "Against Heresies". While one may agree or disagree with his interpetation of scripture, I would thnk his knowledge of the date would be pretty acurate since he was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John and wrote the book about 70-80 years after the Revalation.
     
  5. Grasshopper

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    The proponents of a late date determine their conclusion mostly from a statement by church father Irenaeus (AD 130 to AD 202), which was quoted by the church historian Eusebius in AD 325, where he writes:

    "We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign."

    If John had seen these visions toward the end of the reign of Caesar Domitian, the years 95/96 AD would be good candidates for the time of writing. Domitian died in 96 AD after having reigned 14 years as Casear and Roman emperor.

    However, there are a number of things about this quote from Irenaeus which are not as clear and somewhat ambiguous. A question remains about "who" or "what" was seen. Was John seen still at that time? Or did John see the vision which then was recorded in the Book of Revelation at that time? A difficulty is that the statement comes to us as a third party quote of what someone else quoted that someone else supposedly said about two centuries earlier. We read what Eusebius had heard or knew from some source about Irenaeus, but the statement by Irenaeus is actually a "second hand" report, in that he makes reference to Polycarp. It was not Irenaeus himself, but Polycarp, who according to Irenaeus' recollection saw "that" sometime toward the end of Domitian's reign. It is not clear from this statement what Polycarp was referring to as "that was seen", for he could be referring to John and the visions John saw, he could be referring to the name of the Antichrist, he could also be referring to the book without it being clear if he actually meant that the book was written then or that it already existed. This quote is not as clear as some want to make it, when they base their dating of the writing of the Book of Revelation on this source.

    Irenaeus mentioned in another one of his works concerning the number of the name of the antichrist that this number is found in all ancient and approved or recognized copies/writings. This mention of "ancient copies" is interesting because Domitian's reign ended only shortly before Irenaeus' own time and if the book were written in about 95/96 AD, there would hardly have been any "ancient" copies of the book in his day. This mention in Irenaeus' 5th book of his writings seems to point to an earlier date of writing of the Book of Revelation, at least a few more decades removed from his own time so that he could speak of "ancient [older]" copies being in existence.

    http://www.biblecenter.de/bibel/studien/e-std310.php

    This and much much more are covered in Gentry's book.
     
  6. thegospelgeek

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    Thanks for the info. I really meant what I said about better educated people adding information. I am just soaking it up. Obviously it not as cut and dried as many tend to think, as most points of difference, there is two sides to the coin. I guess if there wasn't it would not be much discussion. Thanks again. It give me more to look up and study.
     
  7. thegospelgeek

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    Grasshopper,
    What is a short, best case for the early date. You said
    BY he, do you mean John? If so, how does that support an early date? If not John, the who is he in the quote?
     
  8. kyredneck

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    From JFB Commentary:

    "...The following arguments favor an earlier date, namely, under Nero: (1) Eusebius [Demonstration of the Gospel] unites in the same sentence John's banishment with the stoning of James and the beheading of Paul, which were under Nero. (2) Clement of Alexandria's'S story of the robber reclaimed by John, after he had pursued, and with difficulty overtaken him, accords better with John then being a younger man than under Domitian, when he was one hundred years old. Arethas, in the sixth century, applies the sixth seal to the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), adding that the Apocalypse was written before that event. So the Syriac version states he was banished by Nero the Cæsar. Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake (A.D. 60) but was immediately rebuilt, so that its being called "rich and increased with goods" is not incompatible with this book having been written under the Neronian persecution (A.D. 64). But the possible allusions to it in Heb 10:37; compare Re 1:4, 8; 4:8; 22:12; Heb 11:10; compare Re 21:14; Heb 12:22, 23; compare Re 14:1; Heb 8:1, 2; compare Re 11:19; 15:5; 21:3; Heb 4:12; compare Re 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:13, 15; Heb 4:9; compare Re 20:1-15; also 1Pe 1:7, 13; 4:13, with Re 1:1; 1Pe 2:9 with Re 5:10; 2Ti 4:8, with Re 2:26, 27; 3:21; 11:18; Eph 6:12, with Re 12:7-12; Php 4:3, with Re 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; Col 1:18, with Re 1:5; 1Co 15:52, with Re 10:7; 11:15-18, make a date before the destruction of Laodicea possible. Cerinthus is stated to have died before John; as then he borrowed much in his Pseudo-Apocalypse from John's, it is likely the latter was at an earlier date than Domitian's reign. See Tilloch's Introduction to Apocalypse. But the Pauline benediction (Re 1:4) implies it was written after Paul's death under Nero.”
    .
     
  9. ReformedBaptist

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    Thanks for the replies. I ordered Gentry's book and will read through his research and conclusions. Any additional comments are welcome.

    Thanks again.
     
  10. AnotherBaptist

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    This issue seems to matter the most to those wishing to hold a particular eschatological position. Those leaning toward the literal hermeneutical "pole" will lean toward a later date, while those leaning toward the allegorical hermeneutical "pole" will lean toward a much earlier date.

    In fact, in over 35 years of being a Christian, I don't think I've ever heard anyone voice concern with the dating of Revelation without somehow tying it into some eschatological "position". I've also never heard anyone support a date of 71 AD...merely to satisfy everyone. :laugh:
     
  11. thegospelgeek

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    Actually an early date can support either eschatological position, but a late date can not.
     
  12. ReformedBaptist

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    Well, this would be letting the proverbial tail wag the dog. Our doctrine should not drive our interpretation of Scripture, but rather the Scripture that dictates our doctrine. But I know you agree with me on this.

    The only pre-bias I have that i am aware of is my love of the Reformation. So, with that weakness set before Almighty God, i am searching this out as objectively as possible and with a open mind.

    I don't really hold to a particular eschatology right now. I have said in the past that I know more about what I dont beleive on this matter, than what I do believe. lol

    In looking at the bare facts so far as to the origins of some of the positions out there, I am not inclined to accept a doctrine produced out of the conter-reformation.

    But i am open.

    Peterism seems to be to me to be false. So what else is there?

    But as to the date, those who have written, obviously wrote their conclusions. And here is my thinking so far...


    In order to make a reasonable determination the evidence should be examined and the right evidence given the first place. So, in first place should come internal evidence, from Holy Scripture itself, letting Scripture interpret Scripture, or Scripture shed light on parts that may be more obscure to us.

    In second place would be external evidence. I will be compiling the facts over the next few days.
     
  13. AnotherBaptist

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    Preterists prefer a pre-70 AD date, while dispies prefer the majority view of the 90's. Despite what you may think, I have seriously studied this issue several times through the years. I have concluded that this is no different than the arguments about the dating (was Mark's Gospel first?) or authorship (did Paul write Hebrews?) of other Scripture. The difference between most others and myself on some of these issues is that I throw away what the ECF's thought/wrote, because I can't put my mind around believing that all of what they wrote was any kind of "consensus" in the early Church, let alone the truth. I have also seen cases where individual Believers have quoted for an ECF on one matter and against that same ECF on others. Inconsistent trust at best.

    Until the printing press appeared and the Bible could be in the hands of thousands of laymen who could read and "test" what they were told concerning Scriptures, the only perceived "consensus" which existed before then was what ECF literature survived or the traditions/teachings of the RCC for 1,200 years. Post Reformation "consensus" from the thousands of modern day Bereans matters more to me.

    In the absence of internal evidence from Scripture itself, we're all at the mercy of external evidence on these issues. Aside from first determining if the issue warrants time and attention, I prefer to "tread lightly" when walking the hot coals of external evidence. I don't want to stand before the Lord with blistered feet.
     
    #13 AnotherBaptist, May 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2010
  14. ReformedBaptist

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    I think your approach is correct. I am approaching the evidence with giving the internal evidence its due primacy. I am presently looking for internal clues as to time-frames...
     
  15. thegospelgeek

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    You totally lost me.

    First "depite what I think". In reference to what? I know about the date preference, but it does not disqualify.

    By ECF, do mean Early Church Father's? I can't discount their teachings because I have never read any. My ref to Irenaeus was through something that I had read once only about the date. I would think it would be fairly acurate due to the short time period between he and John plus the fact that he was a disciple of Polycarp, who I have never read either.

    I agree that the date is not an important issue. However, I don't think one can hold to a later date and keep a Preterist view. I could be wrong on this however.
     
    #15 thegospelgeek, May 5, 2010
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  16. ReformedBaptist

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    My thoughts are is that we don't discount external evidence, such as Irenaeus, but the internal evidence should carry much much more weight.
     
  17. ReformedBaptist

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    When did the churches begin to refer to their worship as the Lord's day?
     
  18. thegospelgeek

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    Amen brother :thumbs:
     
  19. kyredneck

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    There is indeed internal evidence. The Harlot is clearly identified in Rev 11:8 as Jerusalem, where our Lord was crucified, i.e. it had not been destroyed at the time of the writing.

    Also, the Song of Moses is being sang in the 15th chapter. Go back to the middle of Dt 31 and read all the way through the 32nd chapter and see what this Song of Moses was all about, and more importantly WHEN it was to be sung.
     
  20. RAdam

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    I see the Harlot being representative of the ecclesiastical side of Satan's attack on true Christianity, with the Beast being the civil side.

    In Chapter 13 you have the beast from the sea with the body of a leopard, the feet like a bear, and the mouth of a lion and also has 7 heads, 10 horns, and upon its horns 10 crowns. This bears remarkable resemblance to Daniel's vision in Daniel 7. There he sees 4 successful empires, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome represented by four beasts - a lion, a bear, a leopard with four heads, and a horrible beast with 10 horns. The beast John sees looks like a combination of all 4 of Daniel's beasts. You have the 3 animals combined in the body of the beast, 7 heads (add together all heads from Daniel's vision), and 10 horns. To me this represents the world power that is opposed to God and His people. The civil side of Satan's attack if you will. I think it is embodied in the Roman Kingdom.

    Then you have a beast from the earth that has two horns and looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. In chapter 12 the dragon is said to be Satan. This beast looks like the lamb (Christ) but speaks like the dragon (Satan). This beast pretends to be Christian but is really Satanic. To me this is the ecclesiastical side of Satan's attack and is embodied in Roman Catholicism.

    You have the harlot riding the beast, both in league with each other. But then God puts it in the heart of the beast to destroy the harlot. Jesus said if Satan dividing agaisnt himself that his house could not stand. Normally Satan won't do this, his forces working in league with each other. But God is putting it into the hearts of these kings (the horns of the beast) to destroy the harlot. Thus Satan is divided against himself and will fall.

    Now there is my humble opinion on the matter. I won't be dogmatic about it because that is difficult scripture.
     

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