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Unread 04-17-2012, 04:54 PM   #1
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65 AD or 95 AD?

I recently finished a book that argues evidence for Revelation being written in 65 AD. I had never heard or considered it before and after reading it I have to say I am inclined to believe there is sufficient evidence.
I should add that I never held to a pre trib rapture theory and actually felt relieved at how the date it was written would change everything. So I would like to know how some of you feel about this. When do you believe it was written and why?

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Unread 04-17-2012, 08:39 PM   #2
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I am convinced of the earlier (pre-70AD) date as well. There are two big internal clues: the references to the temple, which was standing until it was destroyed in 70AD (as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24); and in 17:9-13 the list of kings corresponds exactly to identify Nero Caesar as "the one who is" and that the next "one" would remain "only a while" (Galba reined only 6 months).

Reading Josephus' accounts of the Jewish War and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans lines up a lot with what is described by Jesus in Matthew 24 and by John in Revelation. I think it is all talking about God coming in final judgement against Israel for rejecting their messiah, one generation after Jesus spoke about it like the other OT prophets did. It's a warning for Israel to repent and accept their messiah, and that the kingdom of God was being transferred from Israel to the Church.

"The Great Tribulation" by David Chilton is a great (short) primer on partial (orthodox) preterism. Full preterism states that we are in the New Heavens and New Earth; I think that the Church Age is the millennium (symbolic amount of time obviously) and that the final rebellion and the final judgement is still to come, but that everything else in Revelation is describing the events leading up to the destruction of the temple and the end of the OT era in 70AD.
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Unread 04-18-2012, 10:03 AM   #3
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An overwhelming number of my Bible college and seminary professors hold to the earlier date. I am inclined to go along with them.
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Unread 04-18-2012, 10:22 AM   #4
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I have avoided this subject lately (sorry Epaphras!) because of papers and school, but the evidence that has been presented is very interesting.
The majority of my profs hold to the later date, and so have most of the materials I have read.
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Unread 04-18-2012, 10:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epaphras
I am convinced of the earlier (pre-70AD) date as well. There are two big internal clues: the references to the temple, which was standing until it was destroyed in 70AD (as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24); and in 17:9-13 the list of kings corresponds exactly to identify Nero Caesar as "the one who is" and that the next "one" would remain "only a while" (Galba reined only 6 months).

Reading Josephus' accounts of the Jewish War and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans lines up a lot with what is described by Jesus in Matthew 24 and by John in Revelation. I think it is all talking about God coming in final judgement against Israel for rejecting their messiah, one generation after Jesus spoke about it like the other OT prophets did. It's a warning for Israel to repent and accept their messiah, and that the kingdom of God was being transferred from Israel to the Church.

"The Great Tribulation" by David Chilton is a great (short) primer on partial (orthodox) preterism. Full preterism states that we are in the New Heavens and New Earth; I think that the Church Age is the millennium (symbolic amount of time obviously) and that the final rebellion and the final judgement is still to come, but that everything else in Revelation is describing the events leading up to the destruction of the temple and the end of the OT era in 70AD.
There are a few different interpretations of the emperors. I think your assumption is that John starts with Augustus, but many scholars think he starts with Caligula, because of Caligula's run ins with the Jews. Also, I think Nero is assumed to be dead in Revelation, which explains the Nero Ridivus myth present in the background of some of the text. Either way, if it does start with Caligula it would end up being during Domitian's reign (and, he was also referred to as the "second Nero" by some).

I think the Temple is already destroyed while this is written, for one because of the association between Rome and Babylon (who destroyed temple and city) and because most critics realize that the small section that does talk about the Temple being present is a clear addition to the text. The rest pf the letter has a different attitude to the temple, considering the true temple to be the composition of Christians and the earthly Jerusalem is seen in a negative light paralleled with the coming heavenly Jerusalem.
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Unread 04-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #6
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Excerpt from the book regarding Nero:
As will be further demonstrated, Revelation was recorded during the reign of the sixth Roman Emperor -Nero Claudius Ceasar Augustus Germanicus- better known today for his number than his name. Twenty-first century believers, like their first-century counterparts, can be absolutely certain that 666 is the number of Nero's name and that Nero is the beast who ravaged the bride in a historical milieu that includes three and a half years of persecution, a year in which the Roman Empire tottered on the precipice of extinction, and the year in which Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.

First, John identifies the Beast as number six of seven kings and identifies the number of his name as 666. He informs his readers that the seven-headed Beast represents both a kingdom and kings of that kingdom. He further makes clear that with "wisdom" and "insight," his first-century readers can "calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number." Obviously no amount of wisdom would have enabled John's first century audience to calculate the number of a twenty-first century beast.
Gematria, the practice of transforming names into numbers, was common in antiquity. The first ten letters of the alphabet corresponded to the numbers 1 through 10; the eleventh letter represented 20, the twelfth letter 30, and so on until 100. The twentieth letter was 200, and each new letter represented an additional hundred..

....(skipping a few paragraphs)..

..the number of Nero's name in a Greek isopsephism totaled 1,005. However, transliterated from the Greek into Hebrew the sum total of "Nero Caesar" equals exactly 666. Moreover, the presence in some ancient manuscripts of a variation in which 666 is rendered 616 lends further credence to the notion that Nero is the intended referent. As John's letter was increasingly circulated among Latin speaking audiences, biblical scribes aided them in identifying the Beast by transliterating from the Latin spelling "Nero Caesar" into Hebrew. The sum of the letters in the Hebrew transliteration from the Latin form of his name totals 616, just as the Hebrew transliteration of the Greek, which includes an additional letter, renders 666. Subtract the additional letter in the Hebrew transliteration from 666, and you are left with 616--the two seemingly unrelated numbers that both amazingly lead you to the same doorstep, that of a beast named Nero Caesar.
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Unread 04-19-2012, 06:10 PM   #7
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I know, and agree 100% that "666" is "Nero." But, as I have already pointed out, there are references to the Nero redivivus myth in the section of Revelation that discusses the "Beast's" wound. The myth claims that Nero will arise again and take his throne to resume his reign. I think Nero has passed away, and John is warning his readers that Domitian is Nero, or is the second Nero, that he is attempting to have the same cruel effect upon the Christians as Nero had, though falling into imperial worship and complacency is how this will most assuredly and effectively take place. After Nero's death there may have been a lessening of the amount of persecution, but John is warning the churches to stay faithful, both in times where there is relative peace, and in times where a second Nero is increasingly persecuting believers.

Once again, coupled with Irenaeus' statements, the use of Babylon to refer to Rome, and the other conclusions of the "beast with seven heads" meaning there is pretty good evidence that the proper dating would be somewhere in Domitian's reign, probably 95.
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Taylor, you just got drive-by theologied.
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Unread 04-19-2012, 07:40 PM   #8
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EDIT : After rereading your post I realized that you were not implying Nero nor Satan had the power to resurrect himself.
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Unread 04-20-2012, 08:09 AM   #9
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The problems with both dates are that the primary sources (Iraneus for 95 and Josephus for the earlier date) both are not what we would consider reliable by today's standards. IIRC, Iraneus wrote a century or more after Domitian, and Jospehus, a Jew, was patronized by the Romans and so his histories of the Jewish War leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem are a little one-sided and perhaps far-fetched. He was a spin-doctor for his Roman patrons, not an objective historian.
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Unread 04-20-2012, 09:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epaphras
The problems with both dates are that the primary sources (Iraneus for 95 and Josephus for the earlier date) both are not what we would consider reliable by today's standards. IIRC, Iraneus wrote a century or more after Domitian, and Jospehus, a Jew, was patronized by the Romans and so his histories of the Jewish War leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem are a little one-sided and perhaps far-fetched. He was a spin-doctor for his Roman patrons, not an objective historian.
I agree that we need to be careful, especially with Josephus. Personally, I have not read either accounts, and I don't know, for instance, if Iraneus cites any one else, or mentions other early fathers or historians.

I think we should be careful, however, about discounting ancient historians as inferior historically. Our modern "objective" historical accounts are subject to the exact same biases and problems within earlier history. Furthermore, would you be willing to object to the Gospel accounts, or Paul's firsthand information on the basis that he is an ancient fellow relating information that is certainly not objective? If not, why?
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Unread 04-20-2012, 10:16 AM   #11
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I think the Temple is already destroyed while this is written, for one because of the association between Rome and Babylon (who destroyed temple and city) and because most critics realize that the small section that does talk about the Temple being present is a clear addition to the text.
I think this represents a major misunderstanding of what scholars are actually saying. Check your NA27 and you'll see that 11:1-2 is present in every manuscript, including the papyri and earliest uncials. There's no evidence at all for it being an interpolation.

Rather, what (as far as I can tell) the scholars are suggesting is that John is repurposing a pre-70 AD source. That's very different from a later addition. There's no internal evidence that it's an addition (since it's present in every manuscript), and you can't argue for interpolation based on content, since the subject of the Temple is important to the symbolism of the text. 13-19 show that there's an interconnection between John's vision of events in Jerusalem and his vision of events in heaven. Even if the vision occurs in the 90s, and even if the earthly Temple is in view in 1-2, that doesn't mean John would be unable to measure the (already destroyed) Temple within the vision in order for God to make a specific point about the security of His people in the face of persecution.

The question of the pre-70 source, however, is worth looking into. Yes, a number of scholars have suggested that John has incorporated a source into Revelation at this point. But there's no external evidence to support this. In fact, I think it's stipulated in order to serve the later date of Revelation. Something like this: "John wrote after the Temple was destroyed, but he writes that he was told to measure the Temple. Therefore, he must be repurposing a source from before 70 AD." It just strikes one as very ad hoc. Greg Beale is worth citing at this point:

Quote:
[E]ven if such as source existed, we cannot know what it meant, since we do not know its literary or oral context and application. This makes it impossible to know how John might be adapting the source for his own purposes. For the same reason it is unlikely that the segment was originally a saying from a Christian prophet who interpreted the events of A.D. 70 "from the perspective of the Christian community."* The crucial question is what role this section plays in the context of Revelation.

*Here Beale cites Roloff, Revelation, 129.
--G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, in New International Greek Testament Commentary, 556.

Mounce also references the position that I think you misunderstood:
Quote:
Many writers believe that the first thirteen verses of chapter 11 have been taken over from a previous source (or sources). Charles follows Wellhausen in accepting the first fragment (11:1-2) as an oracle written before AD 70 by a Zealot prophet in Jerusalem (I, pp. 270-273), a theory that Caird judges "improbable, useless, and absurd" (p. 131). Beckwith acknowledges the plausibility of an original Jewish source but understands the present author as using it to predict the repentance of the people of Israel in the last days (pp. 586-90). Since we have seen that John makes use of his sources with a sort of sovereign freedom, it is far more important do understand what he is saying than to reconstruct the originals.
--Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, in New International Commentary on the New Testament, 218-219.

I've bolded the sections at the end because I think they're the most important thing that readers of higher criticism and source criticism often forget: The canonical work that we have is the one we have to interpret. Regardless of whether John incorporates an earlier source into the material, we have to work with what he was doing with it.

Anyway, in Beale, Mounce, and Osborne (all three of whom usually make mention of every major position though Mounce was writing in the 70s, so Beale and Osborne are better for more recent developments), I can't find a single indicator that any commentator has questioned the provenance of 11:1-2 as coming from the original. So, as far as I can figure out, "most critics" do not see 11:1-2 as a "clear addition," but rather, some or many scholars see them as a retooled source (itself a most unhelpful point on the issue of dating, since the later date is assumed in such an argument, and the ad hoc claims about another source is a way of explaining how John could talk of measuring a destroyed Temple).

Incidentally, I hold to a late date for Revelation. I just don't think mentions of the Temple are relevant to the issue at all. 11:1-2 takes place within a vision, where an angel produces a measuring rod and tells him to go measure the Temple. This is a clear allusion to Ezekiel 40-48, with the purpose (apparently) being to indicate the security of those who worship the Lord even when they are endangered by persecution.

One final point: You mention the identification of Rome and Babylon as though this somehow proves a late date, but of course this isn't evidence for the destruction of the Temple unless one believes that there really was no angel saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great" at 14:8, for example. What reason do we have for discounting the possibility that John was able to associate Rome and Babylon because he knew Rome would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple in the future? After all, Jesus had already told the apostles (at Mark 13:2 and parallels) that the Temple would be destroyed, so unless you also hold to a late date for all the Gospels (which, I think, would only follow if one held to a ridiculously skeptical view of proleptic prophecy), there's nothing at all in the association between Rome and Babylon that points one way or another as far as dating issues.

To put it another way, even for a confirmed skeptic, the prediction that Rome will destroy Jerusalem is by no means an impossible idea, particularly considering the inter-testamental history. And if one is predisposed to believe that Jerusalem is doomed because of its unbelief in Jesus (a point that even the most skeptical will concede), then the connection between Rome and Babylon is not merely plausible but obvious. If an uninspired writer might make such a connection, how much more an inspired one, who received the connection through direct revelation?
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Unread 04-20-2012, 10:48 AM   #12
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I stand corrected

When I get home I will check my source to make sure I was being accurate, but I am sure you are right. I was using Reddish's commentary on Revelation, btw.
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Last edited by Dr. Thrunk; 04-20-2012 at 11:01 AM.
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Unread 04-20-2012, 10:56 AM   #13
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And, concerning the dating of the Gospels, what do you consider to be relatively accurate? The latest I had heard on Mark was 65 AD.
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Unread 04-20-2012, 11:10 AM   #14
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I hold to Markan priority (but not dogmatically), and tend to think the standard dating scheme is probably fairly accurate. Can't go much further than 65 for Mark without causing problems for Markan priority.

As it stands, I think Mark was probably written in the 50s, when Peter was at Rome. Luke then writes Luke-Acts from Rome using Mark's Gospel as a source while Paul languishes in a Roman prison (since Acts ends with Paul in prison). Since Paul probably was in Rome in the early 60s, Mark is probably pushed back before that. If one takes Matthean priority, then Mark might be written at any point, except for the fact that the Mark/Peter tradition is really strong and probably accurate.
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Unread 04-20-2012, 11:25 AM   #15
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So, is your Lukan date primarily tied to the ending of Acts, with a presupposition of Markan priority, or is there a more substantive textual reason, or otherwise, that you hold Markan priority? I am familiar with the link between Peter and Mark, but I am not really sure as to why.
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