Early dating of revelation
D., then he would obviously have been speaking of the Jerusalem, temple, and Empire of his day - the first two of which, as prophesied, were destroyed just a few years following the temple in 70 A. These, the dominant positions, call for study and careful scrutiny. an earlier dating fixes the end of Nero's reign or shortly thereafter. In what follows "the late date" for Revelation will denote the end of Domitian's reign as emperor (viz., the mid to late 60's of the first century).D., then the interpreter would be inclined to the rebuilding of the temple, for instance, but some interpreters infer such a rebuilding from their understanding of the text in conjunction with their understanding of the book's date.) The alternative would be to deny that Revelation had any historical reference to an empirical city or temple whatsoever (i.e., to thoroughly "spiritualize" the references to Jerusalem and the temple there), or to follow many liberal critics in contending that John wrote after the fact but to prophesy what happened. Harrison says: Two periods for the origin of the Revelation have won considerable scholarly support, and only these two need be considered. The early date is elastic enough to encompass the first year of Vespasian's reign, which has been suggested by some of the scholars who disagree with the Domitian dating of the book (e.g., Hort/Dusterdieck, F. Bruce). The thought here would be that, counting from Augustus and omitting the three brief rulers during the anarchy of 68-69, Vespasian is the sixth king ("the one is," Rev. Torrey) who cannot persuade themselves to ignore the three, brief claimants to the throne, but who do commence counting the kings of Revelation with Augustus, have suggested that Galba was the emperor when John wrote Revelation (i.e., the king who "is").We need only go back to the turn of the present century to find (to our surprise) that what was then taken for granted as the scholarly conclusion about the date of Revelation was just the opposite of the claims made above.Consider, for instance, the standard reference work found in most theological libraries, the edited by James Hastings in five large volumes. notes how "the great Cambridge theologians of the last century, "Westcott, Lightfoot, and Hort, held the book to be a unity and assigned it to the time after Nero's death and before the destruction of Jerusalem. Claudius41-54 Nero54-68 Galba68-69 (7 months) Otho69 (3 months) Vitellius69 (8 months) Vespasian69-79 Titus79-81 Domitian81-96 Nerva96-98 Trajan98-117 51.12) - Edinburgh, 19872), which dated Revelation between 50 and 54 A. These two "advantages" work against each other, however, when we remember that one of those seven Asian churches (at Ephesus) was clearly founded by Paul! Such a view might explain why Paul was forbidden to go into Asia (Acts 16:6) - since John was already laboring there - and why Revelation 1-3 mentions only seven churches in Asia (as yet).Knee-jerk conformity to one's church or school traditions and leaping at preconceived conclusions cannot honestly take the place of open-minded, diligent analysis of the evidence available to us.What is taken for granted in Biblical scholarship about such things as the date of Revelation turns out to vary from one generation to another, or from one area of the church to another, even though students and parishioners rarely are informed that this diversity exists (much to the ease of their teachers and pastors).
It cannot be stressed enough today that responsible scholarship must undergird one's choice concerning the time when Revelation was written.
On the other hand, having studied the case for the to offer their readers a fair assessment of the genuine extent of evidential support for that position.
Many simply assert - without qualm or qualification - that Revelation was definitely written during the last decade of the first century under Domitian, or else they assume it without any reservation or question as a premise in further studies. Despite the extensive and clear counter-evidence which has often been cited against the late date for Revelation, there are authors who suppress, prejudicially characterize, or merely ignore the true state of the debate on this subject, telling their unwary readers that the Domitian date "can hardly be doubtful" since "most evidence" favors it and since "not a single, really cogent argument" can be found for the early date, (or simplistically dismissing the early date by calling it "unlikely"). The early date is even (mindlessly) called an "immoral heresy" in at least one polemic!
This work was published 1898-1904, when the dominating opinion regarding the book of Revelation was indicated in these words: "the majority of modern critics are of the opinion that the book was written in the time of Nero." That Nero is denoted by the beast and its number is "the almost a fixed assumption of critics," "the ruling critical opinion," and "almost a fixed assumption of critics." Having endorsed the preterist approach to the book as most correct, an author says "In general these [preterist] writers date the book before 70"; indeed , as to the date for Revelation, the "ruling view of critics" has been 66-69 A. Torrey observes that, if there are few dissenting voices from the late date in our generation, It was not so in former years, Swete. Many of the foremost German scholars of the same period were in essential agreement with this dating, as is well known.
D. The conclusion maintained at the turn of this century regarding the date when Revelation was written was decidedly in favor of the early date. The evidence seemed to permit no other conclusion. If one is willing to do a little research, an amazing list of advocates for the early date of Revelation can be discovered.