Dating Revelation

Dating Revelation May 9, 2013

From Irenaeus on, the vast majority of patristic and medieval commentators have claimed that Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian in the mid-90s AD. There have been a few dissidents, the most famous of which was Epiphanius of Salamis (fifth century), who may reflect an independent tradition in saying that John wrote the book during the reign of Claudius in the 40s.

The long-forgotten Apringius of Beja is another. He writes ( Latin Commentaries on Revelation (Ancient Christian Texts) , 26): “The ecclesiastical writers have taught that at the time of Claaudius Caesar, when that famine that the prophet Agabus had announced in the Acts of the Apostles would come in ten years was at its height, that during that difficulty this same Caesar, impelled by his usual vanity, had instituted a persecution of the churches. It was during this time that he ordered John, the apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be transported into exile, and he was taken to the island of Patmos, and while there he confirm this writing.” He seems to be referring to the expulsion of Christians from Rome that Suetonius refers to.

That dating is hard to square with the way Revelation 17 speaks about the kings who have been, are, and will be. Yet Apringius does provide evidence that Irenaean dating is not altogether uncontested.

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