Revealing Revelation – Mystery Date

25Mar11

Over the next couple posts we will deal with the very important detail of dating the time the book of Revelation was written. More than any other book in the Bible finding the date of Revelation’s writing has an incredible amount of impact. Views can be created, revised and eliminated just be discovering the time the book was written. Fortunately for the reader there are truly only two possible dates to consider, but the importance of those two dates is crucial to some understandings of the book itself.

The two dates in question are the “Late Date Theory” which dates the book around 95AD under the reign of Domitian and the “Early Date Theory” dated sometime in the mid-60’s AD under the reign of Nero.

Before we discuss the actual arguments for or against a particular date it would benefit us quite a bit to understand the impact the dating may have on particular views and the type of evidence that will be employed in our discussion. I will also include a handful of resources worthy of picking up for further study.

If the “Early Date” advocates are correct than the possibility that the events described are in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem and eventually the Roman Empire are greatly increased. The symbolism used can be determined to be related to our ancient past and those alive at the time of Jerusalem’s demise.

If the “Late date” advocates are correct the events described can only be related to the destruction of Jerusalem if the book was written as “history” rather than a prophecy which would call into question the veracity of the author, the vision and the word of God itself. That would leave only events related to the future beginning with the time of Domitian and increases the possibility the events are yet still future, but not necessarily so.

Though late Date futurist would like to argue that the late date secures the fact that the events foretell a yet future time, the truth is it only means that events described before 95 AD should be discounted. It does not eliminate the possibility that the events describe situation from the time of Domitian that have already occurred.

So, as can be seen, finding the accurate date can have a major impact on one’s view of the book and the events and characters described therein.

So, what exactly can be used as evidence to determine which of the two views is most accurate? There are two kinds of evidence readily available to the student. The first is “External Evidence” and the second is “Internal Evidence.”

External Evidence would include witnesses, historians or commentators that argue for or were a witness to the timing of the writing. This may also include Church History and tradition which should be weighted since it usually has a reason and purpose behind it. As we will see in the following posts it is initially apparent that the Late Date Theorist have the edge.

Internal Evidence is evidence derived from the book of Revelation itself. These would include the references, symbolism and state of these historical places described within the text and what we know is historically true about those times. Also, clues as to the dates, people, cities and nations around at the time of the writing.

One of the difficulties is that we have no clear idea when John was exiled to Patmos. Tradition has said it was under the reign of Domitian, but that is because tradition states that John wrote the Revelation under the reign of Domitian. It’s actually begging the question to assume one and determine the other when the initial is only assumed because of the tradition of the other.

As for the author I am firmly convinced that “Internal Evidence” should be weighted with more authority since the true author of the book never fails and His word should be always trusted, even up against the realms of Science, History and Philosophy. But over the next couple posts we will discuss both the arguments for and against both views and ultimately the reader must decide.

For further reference allow me to recommend four resources. On a side note I always try and list the most direct way to obtain the resource and if at all possible I will supply a link to the authors page for purchase of the book so that the greatest amount of your resource goes directly to the author with limited middlemen.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

The first of the four resources is Steven Gregg’s “Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary.” This wonderful commentary takes the four primary views of interpreting the book of Revelation and places them side by side in a very easy to read format. There is an excellent introduction that deals with the question at hand that is worth the price of the book. The author does not sell the book himself so I have included a link to the book at American Vision.

http://www.americanvision.com/revelationfourviews.aspx

The second is Ken “The Beast of Revelation.” This book is a two part book of sorts with one half dedicated to discussing the possible identity of the beast of revelation while the other half is a condensed version of a previous work of Dr. Gentry’s on the dating of the book of Revelation

https://www.kennethgentry.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=1&products_id=47&osCsid=aetb5nv98f4cvm4qrcs649aqr0

The third is Ken Gentry’s massive work on the dating of Revelation. Originally his Doctoral dissertation, this book really has yet to be refuted and properly critiqued. The updated version has his response to his critics as well. This would be a little advanced for many but it is the definitive work on the subject.

https://www.kennethgentry.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=1&products_id=37&osCsid=aetb5nv98f4cvm4qrcs649aqr0

Finally I would recommend Dr. Ralph E. Bass’ commentary on the book of Revelation. It has a very good introduction and written for the layperson. The book is entitled “Back to the Future” and is available as an ebook.

http://backtothefuture.livinghopepress.com/

We will next turn our attention to the two views under consideration.

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