Bible Question:

When was the book of Revelation written?

You need to do a little more research concerning the dating for the Book of Revelation. Ken Gentry in his book, “Before Jerusalem Fell” cites evidence for a pre 70 AD date. The only source for the 95 date was Irenaeus, who by the way said that Jesus died at 50 years of age! Both John A.T. Robertson and William Foxwell Albright dated the NT as having been written between 20-80 AD! Finally, Moses Stuart writing in 1835 said that in his day the majority of scholars held to a pre 70 AD date. “Only the fool deceives himself. ”

Bible Answer:

The book of Revelation was written by the apostle John (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). That is the internal evidence of the book and the external testimony of early church fathers. The Muratorian Fragment, an early document listing most of the books belonging to the New Testament, states that the apostle John wrote  the Apocalypse or Revelation.

The dating of the book of Revelation has sometimes been driven by one’s view of future things. Since Ken Gentry is a preterist, that is, someone who believes that Jesus Christ returned in A.D. 70, it is not surprising that he wants a pre-A.D. 70 date for the book of Revelation. The bigger question is what did the early church fathers actually say about the book of Revelation? Listen to the following evidence from men who hold different theological viewpoints about the future.

William Hendricksen, a well-known amillennialist, who has written a commentary set on the New Testament, makes this comment about the date of the book of Revelation.

The question now arises, when did John write the Apocalypse? In the year 69 (or even earlier), or must we reverse the figure and make it 96 (or perhaps 95)? One cannot find a single really cogent argument in support of the earlier date. The arguments produced are based on late and unreliable testimonies, on the wholly imaginary idea that John did not yet know his Greek when he wrote the Apocalypse, and on a very questionable literal interpretation of certain passages . . . The late date has very strong support. Says, Irenaeus: “For that (the apocalyptic vision) was seen not a very long time since, but almost in our own day, toward the end of Domitian’s reign.” Again he says: “. . . the church in Ephesus founded by Paul, and lived in by John until the time of Trajan (AD 98-117), is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.”[1]

It is important to note that Domitian’s reign occurred during the years of A.D 81-96.[2] This supports Dr. Hendricksen’s statement that the book of Revelation was written around A.D. 95. Irenaeus says that Revelation was written near the end of Domitian’s reign, and since Domitian ruled as Caesar after A.D. 81 to A.D. 96, a date of A.D. 95 for Revelation is the most credible date for its authorship.

G. K. Beale quotes Swete’s conclusion about the date of Revelation’s authorship with this comment,

Sweet’s conclusion about the issue of Revelation’s date reflects a balanced judgment: “To sum up, the earlier date may be right, but the internal evidence is not sufficient to outweigh the firm tradition stemming from Irenaeus.”[3]

Dr. J. MacArthur, a premillennialist, makes these comments

Those who hold to the early date [pre- A.D. 70] see in Jerusalem’s destruction the prophesied second coming of Jesus Christ in its first phase. External evidence for the earlier (Neronian) date is almost nonexistent. On the other hand, the view that the apostle John penned Revelation near the end of Domitian’s reign was widely held in the early church. The second-century church father Irenaeus wrote . . .[see above quote] . . . The church fathers Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Victorinus, Eusebius, and Jerome also affirm that Revelation was written during Domitian’s reign . . . The testimony of the early church that Revelation was written during Domitian’s reign is difficult to explain if it was actually written during Nero’s reign.[4]

Conclusion:

The evidence supporting a A.D. 95 authorship for the book of Revelation is not based solely on Irenaeus. it is based on the statements of numerous early church fathers.

References:

1. Ante-Nicene Fathers, I, pp. 416, 559.

2. Chris Scarre. Chronicle of the Roman Emperors. Thames and Hudson. 1995. p. 76; and Encyclopedia Britannica 2005, Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, Domitain.

3. G. K. Beale. The Book of Revelation. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eerdamns Publishing Co., 1999. p. 27.

4. J MacArthur. Revelation 1-11. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Moody Press., 1999. pp. 7-8.

Reference Links:

Peace With God
Did Jesus' Second Coming occur in 70 A.D.?
Muratorian Fragment