Dating The Book Of Revelation

It should be noted that not all of those who advocate a pre-A.D. 70 date for the writing of Revelation would fall into the contemporary “partial preterist” camp, often associated with postmillennialism. Ken Gentry, the author of a significant book arguing for a pre-A.D. 70 date, Before Jerusalem Fell (1998) certainly does.[1] But a number of other noted advocates of an early date would not, such as John. A. T. Robinson,[2] J. M. Ford,[3] and the three famed New Testament scholars who dominated biblical scholarship in the English-speaking world from 1860-1900, J. B. Lightfoot, B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort.[4] In my estimation, many of the prophecies regarding the beast and antichrist are indeed tied to first century events, but as apocalyptic images, what they represent continually resurfaces throughout the subsequent ages. For example, see my essay, Hitler as an Antichrist Figure.

Futurism—Post A.D. 70 Dating:

While many New Testament scholars and commentators readily acknowledge that there is no way to determine with certainty when the Book of Revelation was written, and are, therefore, willing to acknowledge that a pre-A.D. 70 date for its composition is possible,[5] the consensus of current and historical New Testament scholarship is that John’s vision was recorded well-after A.D. 70, perhaps as late as the mid-nineties of the first century.[6] To this end, many commentators approvingly cite the sage words of J. P. M. Sweet. “To sum up, the earlier date may be right, but the internal evidence is not sufficient to outweigh the firm tradition [for the later date] stemming from Irenaeus.”[7]

Counting the number of scholars who hold one view over another to see where the majority come down is not an argument in favor of a given position. But this can tell us where the consensus of opinion falls and therefore indicate which side assumes the burden of proof. In this case, critical scholarship is largely in agreement with the vast majority of evangelical scholars who hold that Revelation was written as much as 25 years after Jerusalem fell to the Romans, probably during the time of the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96) about A.D. 95.[8] While there is no “smoking gun,” proving beyond all doubt the post-A.D. 70 date for the writing of Revelation, a high probability case can be made for the later date based upon the internal evidence within the Book of Revelation itself, a case which is only strengthened by our ever-growing knowledge of the first-century world (external evidence). Read More»

Kim Riddlebarger | “Some Thoughts on the Dating of the Book of Revelation (Part One)” | January 25, 2023


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