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Dating Revelation

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  • Dating Revelation

    Sorry, not a thread about an insight I had with regards to taking out a young lady, but about the date of composition of Revelation.

    I had always assumed that the Book of Revelation was written comparatively lately - perhaps because it is the last book in the Bible - and it is usually dated to about AD 95. Reading it recently, I was struck by how very Jewish it is, which made me wonder if it was written rather earlier.

    By Jewish, I mean that it prophesies great things for the Jewish people. In theme, it is like Isaiah. when Isaiah was writing, the Jews were in Babylonian captivity, and Isaiah's prophesies can be considered wishful thinking about how he hopes the Jews will become great again, while their current masters will be brought down and will suffer greatly. The author of the Book of Revelation, let us call him John for convenience, was writing when the Jews were under the Romans, and his prophesy is wishful thinking of exactly the same nature.

    By the time the gospels are written, Christianity is as gentile as it is Jewish, and a prophesy of this nature would seem out of place (not impossible, but rather unlikely).

    As the gospel message evolved, there was a shifting of blame for the crucifixion from the Romans to the Jews, as Christianity more and more targeted pagans rather than Jews and was composed of gentuiles not Jews (Mark has the Sanhedrin instigating Jesus' arrest, by John it is the Jews in general who are after Jesus). Revelation, though, is a very pro-Jewish work. Chapter seven makes it clear that those who will be saved are all Jewish:
    Revelation 7:4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
    This fits well with Revelation being written early.

    I came across this page discussing the dating, which seemed to take the same view:

    http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/revelation.html
    The first point to consider in favor of the early date is the fact that John was told that he "must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" in Revelation 10:11. Now, if Revelation was written in AD 95-96, John would have been over 90 years old and it would have been very difficult for him to travel to the various "nations and many kings" and preach. However, with Revelation written earlier, John would have been in his mid 60's and at that age, his traveling would have been more feasible.
    This assumes Revelation was write by John the Evangelist. I am not at all convinced that that is the case.
    Another point is that John wrote Revelation to a specific group of churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4). The importance of this statement cannot be overlooked (even though it has been by many scholars). There is only one small window of time in which there were only seven churches in Asia. The early AD 60's. The apostle Paul established nine churches in that area, but only seven were addressed in Revelation. The reason for this is that the cities of Colosse, Hierapolis, and Laodicea, were all destroyed by an earthquake around AD 61. Laodicea was rebuilt soon afterwards, but the other two cities were not. This left only seven churches in Asia during the five years just prior to the beginning of the Roman/Jewish war.
    This does indeed seem good evidence. It could be that a later author is trying to fool us in this way, but really there does not seem to be much point, and I find that very unlikely. On the other hand, the author does have an unhealthy obsession with the number seven, and this could very easily be the reason for him citing seven churches.
    Of particular importance is the message to the church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). In verse's 10 and 11, Christ told John to inform them that an "hour of temptation" was "about to come upon all the world," i.e., the Roman Empire. Christ then told them that He was coming quickly and that they should hold fast. The reason this is important (besides the fact that this was directed to an actual church in the first century) is that the first persecution of Christians took place under Nero Caesar in AD 64. Therefore, Revelation must have been written before that time.
    I think that is more likely evidence it was written after that time, but probably not much long after. Curiously the article concludes: "If the Apostle John was banished to Patmos under the reign of Nero, as the internal evidence indicates, he wrote the book of Revelation about AD 68 or 69, which was after the death of that emperor; but the gospels and epistles some years later." That seems more reasonable to me.
    One of the most compelling proofs that Revelation was written before Jerusalem was destroyed is the fact that the Jewish temple was still standing!
    Revelation 11:1-2, "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
    I agree that this dates it to before the fall of the Jewish Temple.

    I appreciate that an atheist arguing for earlier dating of scripture is unorthodox, but I wondered what people thought.
    My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

  • #2
    You will find most Christians who subscribe to the Preterist Position of eschatology (as I do), argue for an early dating. And we find, as does this author, a lot of internal evidence that suggests an earlier dating. Those of the Futurist persuasion usually argue for the late dating, because they know a late dating certainly creates a problem for Preterist's.
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

    "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
      You will find most Christians who subscribe to the Preterist Position of eschatology (as I do), argue for an early dating. And we find, as does this author, a lot of internal evidence that suggests an earlier dating. Those of the Futurist persuasion usually argue for the late dating, because they know a late dating certainly creates a problem for Preterist's.
      In modern scholarship I do not believe this is the reason for the late dating. I will cite sources later, but one line of evidence and reasoning for a later date concludes that the authors of the Gospel of John, Epistles of John, and the Book of Revelation were written by three different people based on the Greek, writing style and theological content.
      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

      go with the flow the river knows . . .

      Frank

      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
        I had always assumed that the Book of Revelation was written comparatively lately - perhaps because it is the last book in the Bible - and it is usually dated to about AD 95.
        I'm not up to speed on modern scholarship as it pertains to Revelation, but the notion that it was written near the end of the first century seems to have originated with certain doctrinal commitments. One such commitment was the belief that all the NT books that claimed Johannine authorship were written by the apostle of that name. Another was that he didn't write his gospel until after the synoptic authors had written theirs, and the synoptics weren't finished until sometime in the 80s. Yet another was that he must have lived to a very old age, given reports that some people living in the second century claimed to have known him.

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        • #5
          Question: What is the evidence for giving the 'Book of Revelation' an early date other then the belief that the early date should fit the Preterist view of prophecy?
          Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
          Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
          But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

          go with the flow the river knows . . .

          Frank

          I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
            Question: What is the evidence for giving the 'Book of Revelation' an early date other then the belief that the early date should fit the Preterist view of prophecy?
            See the OP.
            My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
              See the OP.
              It is insufficient that the text itself justifies the date of writing of the Book of Revelation. This is the view based on the assumption that the text is prophecy of the events surrounding the destruction of the temple. What was cited was anecdotal at best. This is preterist view. I was looking for evidence beyond this.

              I consider it questionable that the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation simply based on the question whether John lived that long. There is also the question of the writing style and the difference in the Greek.
              Last edited by shunyadragon; 07-21-2014, 02:40 PM.
              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

              go with the flow the river knows . . .

              Frank

              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                ... I was struck by how very Jewish it is...
                Just curious: in what way do you feel the book of Revelation is "very Jewish" other than that it is not condemnatory toward Judaism?

                I tend to disregard the book because it is so nuts. I think the island of Patmos was infested with magic mushrooms.

                Seriously, though, I've heard theories that Revelation is a take off on the Book of Enoch (an apocalyptic Jewish work - Kabbalists LOVE this book for some reason) which was popular around the time of Jesus and his followers.

                NORM
                When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                  I consider it questionable that the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation simply based on the question whether John lived that long.
                  So do I. There is nothing to support that attribution except church tradition. And, as I recall, even some of the patristic writers seem to have rejected that tradition.

                  In fairness, I don't think anybody ever claimed "John lived a long time, so he must have written Revelation." The author does not identify himself except to say his name was John and that he was "on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." The latter has been taken to mean he was sentenced to exile during a persecution. When the book began circulating, a consensus apparently soon arose that the author was referring to the Domitian persecution, which occurred around the early 90s. When the book came to be regarded as authoritative, its author had to be identified as an authority, and the most authoritative man named John who could possibly have been alive during the 90s was the apostle of that name.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by NormATive View Post
                    Just curious: in what way do you feel the book of Revelation is "very Jewish" other than that it is not condemnatory toward Judaism?

                    I tend to disregard the book because it is so nuts. I think the island of Patmos was infested with magic mushrooms.

                    Seriously, though, I've heard theories that Revelation is a take off on the Book of Enoch (an apocalyptic Jewish work - Kabbalists LOVE this book for some reason) which was popular around the time of Jesus and his followers.

                    NORM
                    Sorry, I do not mean it offensively, not because of the wacky imagery, but in the sense that it is foretelling a time when the Jewish people will be great, and all the other nations of the world will be humiliated. This strikes me as similar in theme to Isaiah, Joel, Obadiah to a degree, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah; and unlike any other NT book in this respect (or in any way really).
                    My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                      Sorry, I do not mean it offensively, not because of the wacky imagery, but in the sense that it is foretelling a time when the Jewish people will be great, and all the other nations of the world will be humiliated. This strikes me as similar in theme to Isaiah, Joel, Obadiah to a degree, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah; and unlike any other NT book in this respect (or in any way really).
                      No offense taken. As a Jewish person, I would be the first to admit to wackiness! But, we've come a long way in our evolution, and have put away much of the silliness.

                      Yes, you are correct in that. In fact, the Book of Enoch (a Jewish work ca; 300BCE Kabbalists really like) very closely resembles Revelation (or vice-verse). Unlike Christian eschatology, however, Jewish eschatology takes place right here on Earth - not in a place called Heaven. Heaven is a Greek-influenced, Christian invention.

                      I've heard Rabbis theorize on the possibility that Revelation was a coded reference to the struggle against Rome by the followers of Jesus (who, of course, were mostly Jews at that time). This view, however, depended on an early dating of the book, say; around 65-70 CE.

                      NORM
                      When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NormATive View Post
                        Unlike Christian eschatology, however, Jewish eschatology takes place right here on Earth - not in a place called Heaven. Heaven is a Greek-influenced, Christian invention.
                        That is clearly what Jesus and paul were expecting. The Lord's Prayer has a bit "Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven", so most Christians will be praying perhaps once a week for the Kingdom of God to arrive here on earth, whilst believing that it will be in heaven. Paul's 1 Corinthians 15 is about that moment, with no suggest of anyone going anywhere once they are transformed.
                        My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

                        Comment

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