If that prophetical book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, a number of its particular allusions must most naturally be understood as referring to that city and its fall. The correct date for the writing of Revelation lies somewhere between the extremes of Claudius and Trajan.If, however, it was written at the end of the reign of Domitian (about A. 96), as many have believed, another system of interpretation is necessary to explain the historical allusions. An interpreter who is committed to the unerring authority of God's word and to the reality of predictive prophecy must ask whether John was speaking in Revelation of the ancient city of Jerusalem, the Herodian temple, and the Roman Empire of the Caesars, 70 A. Throughout the history of the church only two general views regarding the date of Revelation have been credible and consistently forwarded.There is no question but that some very respectable scholars have favored the Domitian date for the writing of Revelation, and that fact should motivate us to be thorough and cautious in our research and analysis.Our esteem for such writers should lead us to hear those among them who, like Leon Morris, say "the evidence is far from being so conclusive that no other view is possible." Ray Summers asserts that "all critics agree that Revelation was written during a period of severe persecution in the first century"; G. Ladd admits "there is no evidence that during the last decade of the first century there occurred any open and systematic persecution of the church." Turning the other direction for evidence, Merrill Tenney observes that "internal evidence for the late date is confused and not very clear." The late date has notorious weaknesses. 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.Indeed, attempting to sway their readers with an all too easy appeal to a (selective) "consensus" on the question, Summers says that "the Domitian period is the date most generally accepted by New Testament criticism for the writing of Revelation," and it is described as "the majority opinion" by Walvoord, while Mounce claims that it is "accepted by most writers" and Boer says it is "favoured by most students of the book." Such sweeping claims are initially implausible.It is simply inadequate to rest in the (unfounded) claim that virtually "everybody" knows that Revelation dates from this or that time. A number of distinguished authors can be cited as supporters of the late date for Revelation.Cohen and Hendriksen list Alford, Godet, Hengstenberg, Lenski, Zahn, Lange, Swete, Holtzmann, Moffatt, Ramsey, Warfield, Barnes, Orr, Porter, Theissen, and Hoyt. We could easily swell the list by adding the names of Elliott, David Brown, Milligan, Harmack, Bousset, Beckwith, Tenney, Ladd, Summers, Caird, Walvoord, Mooris, Mounce, and others.
D. The conclusion maintained at the turn of this century regarding the date when Revelation was written was decidedly in favor of the early date. The evidence seemed to permit no other conclusion. If one is willing to do a little research, an amazing list of advocates for the early date of Revelation can be discovered.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).Christ pointed in his eschatological discourses to the destruction of Jerusalem and the preceding tribulation as the great crisis in the history of the theocracy and the type of the judgment of the world, and there never was a more alarming state of society. It was at this unique juncture in the history of mankind that St.John, with the consuming fire in Rome and the infernal spectacle of the Neronian persecution behind him, the terrors of the Jewish war and the Roman interregnum around him, and the catastrophe of Jerusalem and the Jewish theocracy before him, received those wonderful visions of the impending conflicts and final triumphs of the Christian church. . The "early" date for Revelation (often considered the "Neronian date") would roughly span the years 64-70 A.Are we to believe that Boer knows or has interviewed "Most students" of the book? If New Testament criticism has "most generally accepted" the late date for Revelation, how do we account for the fact that debate over the date for Revelation, given so much attention and analysis in reputable works on Revelation?