When was the book of Revelation written?

The dating one holds to generally affects one's thoughts on eschatology. What support is there, in the book itself and in history, to show when Revelation was written?

Clarify Share Report Asked January 03 2017 Mini Anonymous

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Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
Revelation was most likely written prior to 70ad. The late dating (after 90AD) comes more from tradition and an interpretation of a quote by Iraneaus than from any strong literary or historical support.

Here are some of the historical and literary in-text reasons that strongly support Revelation being written prior to 70AD:

1) In Rev 11:13, Jerusalem has a population of 70,000. This would be a pre-siege population. The post-siege population, after 70AD, was far lower. (Currently, the population is over 800,000) 

2) Laodicea is referenced as a rich and prosperous city (Rev 3:17-18). It was hit by an earthquake in ~61/62 and refused aid from Rome to rebuild did rebuild, viewing itself as so rich it did not need aid. This fits with the language of Rev 3. better than a late date when it was in decline.

3) The temple is still extant in Rev 11:1-3. This is a lesser support as Revelation is an apocalyptic vision and does not have to be literal, or it could refer to a future temple being built.

4) No mention at all is made of the siege of Jerusalem, which would be highly unusual considering prophecies of Jesus fulfilled in the siege. Scripture is generally quick to point out fulfilled prophecy.

5) Several second century Syriac versions of the Bible introduce Revelation with this or a variation: "Again the Revelation which was upon John the Evangelist from God when he was on the Isle of Patmos where he was thrown by the Emperor Nero" Nero reigned 54AD to 68AD. 

6) In Rev 2:6-15 and Rev 3:9, Judaizers are shown as still active in the church and problematic. Yet, they were not a large problem after the siege as anti-Jewish sentiment took hold and those holding to Jewish customs were persecuted. 

7) The Jewish persecution of Christians in Rev 6 and 11 also points to pre-siege. There was vicious Christian persecution under Nero, whereas historical evidence for Domitian persecution is scant at best. 

8) John after his exile, when seen in 96ad, was feeble and could barely speak. This would make Rev 10:11 hard to fulfill.

Yet what of the quote by Iraneaus used by those in support of a late date, and the later historians who quote from him?

In the late second century, about 180AD, Irenaus wrote the following: 

"if it were necessary to have his name distinctly announced at the present time, it would doubtless have been announced by him who saw the apocalypse; for it is not a great while ago that it [or he] was seen, but almost in our own generation, toward the end of Domitian's reign...." (his reign ended in 96AD).

Note that this could have been in reference to the book of Revelation being circulated widely (seen by many), in reference to John still being alive (last seen), or a reference to the dating of the book itself being written. 

Advocates of a late date take it as 'proof' of the book being written around 91AD - but Iraneaus never explicitly says so. Contextually, since the subject is 'him who saw the apocalypse,' the likelihood of this being a reference to John still living is actually greater than that of it being a reference to Revelation.

Furthermore, Irenaeus was recalling childhood memories of what Polycarp had told him when he was a young boy - memories he had never written down. Irenaeus was born after Rev was written. (Born about 125AD, died AD202). Going off the memories of what his teacher told him in youth, it's possible he may have mixed up Domitian with Nero Domitius. The quote is second-hand hearsay written in 180AD - not 'proof' by any stretch.

Irenaeus was also not reliable in his dating. He thought Jesus' ministry lasted 20 years, and that Jesus died nearer to age 50. 

Several later historians (Eusubius, Clement, Victorinus, etc.) merely quote from Irenaeus or reference his date, vs. Corroborate it with their own research, so their references add nothing to reliability. 

Given the ample clues in the text and in history, Revelation was written prior to 70AD

January 03 2017 8 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Marvin Reynolds Retired Chaplain U.S. Army Hospital
Hard to view when this book was written but we can assume that it occurred PRIOR to the destruction of Jerusalem of 70 AD as that is noted as a fact in the Book of Revelations as is the case of all the other Gospel records. The common date is based on the NERO's office time but that is disputed by many who see the time of 80's of the Domitian era as most likely. But I would disagree, even based on the Churches of Asia Minor called Turkey or listed as the Seven Church recorded in the Revelations, which raises a question of date of Revelations. 

The fact that no reference to destruction of Jerusalem is not recorded as it occurred in events makes it a big question time which makes more sense to me to be dated prior to 70 AD.

January 07 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Vic me crop Derek Blake 45 Years a Christian, ex-aerospace engineer, now in Cornwall
People have been discussing the date of the book of Revelation and its author for as long as I can remember in my Christian walk. Dates of authorship have varied from c60 AD to as late as c150 AD and the author changes with the date. Clearly if it was written at any time in the second century, it cannot be the disciple John.

Current thinking is that it is considered doubtful that the author of Revelation was the same John who was the author of the forth Gospel. In the third century, Pope Dionysius of Alexandria said that the Gospel and Epistles of John do not identify the author, whereas Revelation quite clearly states the name John. He also pointed out that the style of writing is very different (Greek text). As the name 'John' was and still is, a very common name at the time it is conceivable that the disciple John and John the Evangelist are two different people. More recent criticism has favored the date of c96 AD and the evidence for this is strong.

Around 180 AD, Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, noted that the vision in Revelation, “was seen not very long ago, almost in our own generation, at the close of the reign of Domitian”. This testimony is not long after the 'apostolic age', high quality evidence, which dates the book to near the end of Domitian’s reign (died in A.D. 96). Supposedly Ignatius had also been taught by the John, and this is only possible if John had lived to an impossibly old age. 

According to Eusebius, John was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian, in AD 95, and released 18 months later under Nerva. From historical records then, it would seem that we may date the writing to within those eighteen months c96 AD to 98 AD. It is possible therefore that the disciple John could have written the book, assuming that he were around the same age as Jesus. If John was much older than Jesus it is more likely that John of Revelation is another John entirely.

July 19 2018 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
John revealed that he was on the Island of Patmos when he received the vision, Revelation 1:9. The island is about 65 miles southwest from Ephesus in western Asia Minor. The information that John gave hints as to when the book of Revelation was written. However, there are two thoughts as to when he was on Patmos. Some place it about the time of Emperor Nero, who ruled from AD 54 to 68, and others place it about the time of Emperor Domitian, who ruled from AD 81 to 96. So, it is either at about 69 or at about the reversed number 96. 

Those holding to the date of 69 are usually preterists who believe the events of Revelation were fulfilled by the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Those holding to the 96 date are usually futurists who believe the events of Revelation will be fulfilled just before the future second coming of Christ.

The churches of Revelation 2 and 3, “the things which are,” Revelation 1:10, prove a later date. They do not match those of earlier times revealed in Acts. For example, Paul founded the Ephesian church during the last part of the reign of Claudius, 41-54. Paul wrote to the Ephesians from Rome about 58. There was not enough time for the Ephesian church to lose its first love, Revelation 2:4, but 30 years would give ample time for it to happen. 

Also, Laodicea is said to be rich, but history reveals it was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 60. A thirty-year reconstruction project lasting through the reign of Domitian gave time for it to be rebuilt and regain its wealth. 

Another proof are the church fathers, Clement, Victorinus, Eusebius, Severus, and Jerome who claimed John was banished to Patmos by Domitian in 95. Irenaeus from Smyrna, who was the student of Polycarp who himself was the student of the apostle John, claimed that the vision “was seen not very long ago, almost in our own generation, at the close of the reign of Domitian.” 

In 96, Domitian was assassinated and was succeeded by Nerva. In “Roman History,” Dio Cassius wrote, “Nerva also released all who were on trial for “maiestas” (high treason) and restored the exile.” 

In “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius wrote, “The sentences of Domitian were annulled, and the Roman Senate decreed the return of those who had been unjustly banished and the restoration of their property…the Apostle John, after his banishment to the island, took up his abode at Ephesus.” 

Nero was more likely to execute Christians as he killed Peter and Paul, while Domitian was more likely to banish them. As an example, Eusebius and Dio Cassius both noted that in 95, Domitian banished his own niece Flavia Domitilla to the island of Pandateria for her Christian testimony. Also, his successor Nerva released her, and she returned to Rome regaining property she lost.

The date of about 96 is most likely when the book of Revelation was written.

June 27 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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