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Dating of revelation

[25] One could easily get the impression from such categorical statements and indictments (as I did early as a student) that the late date for Revelation is virtually an points to a Domitian date for the book.

Many simply assert - without qualm or qualification - that Revelation was definitely written during the last decade of the first century under Domitian,[19] or else they assume it without any reservation or question as a premise in further studies.[20] 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"[21] since "most evidence"[22] favors it and since "not a single, really cogent argument" can be found for the early date,[23] (or simplistically dismissing the early date by calling it "unlikely").[24] The early date is even (mindlessly) called an "immoral heresy" in at least one polemic!

There is no question about the superabundance of eager prophecy popularizers in our day who jump at the "obvious" opportunity to make Revelation relevant today by choosing the second option. The difficulty with this view, even if one is not struck with the artificiality of the counting technique, is that martyrdoms can be definitely placed with the reign of Vespasian, [6] and the relative calm of his reign (which is out of line with the tumultuous picture in Revelation) was not marked by his pressing of claims to deity or by his persecuting of the church[7] - both of which characterize the beast in Revelation 13. At any rate, even though I do not favor the preceding two specific interpretations of the internal evidence in Revelation, the suggestions of Galba's or Vespasian's reigns for the date of Revelation would fall within that general period which we will call "the early date" for the Book's composition.

But the question is one of historical warrant and fact, not popular imagination. The disease of exegetical diplopia alone can account for such needless duplication in the face of such simple, clear-cut internal evidence given by the writer to help date and identify the prophecy and its subjects.[2] It is quite evident from this example that one's understanding of the historical setting of Revelation - in particular, the date of its composition - will affect in one way or another the interpretation of the book (in contrast to liberal critics) have differed greatly. Revelation is the interpretation of a symbol (and thus not dating for Revelation would together recognize that by no stretch of the imagination could Domitian be reckoned the sixth emperor of Rome, without resorting to artificial and arbitrary starting points and methods of counting (dictated by a preconceived end point).

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).

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Dating of revelation introduction

Dating of revelation

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