Irenaeus dating revelation
What is crucial is the question of why the date under the Roman emperor Domitian has become so widely accepted. As Wilson notes, “Throughout the nineteenth century the majority of New Testament scholars favored a pre-70 dating of the Book of Revelation.” How then did the pendulum swing?
It seems in many circles to be an issue one dares not question. Before the turn of the century, the date seemed unshakable, and by the middle of the twentieth, the same had become true for the opposing position! Why are so few willing to come out in favor of an earlier date today?
As Collins notes, “[U]sually the entire work is clearly set in an earlier time and the seer is a venerable figure of the distant past.
Revelation does not have these characteristics.” Thus, the late date is not a deathblow, but it must certainly be admitted that it significantly lessens the likelihood of our interpretation.
Note the thematic analysis of Chase: The logic of the sentences seems to me to require this interpretation. We may expand the sentences thus: “Had it been needful that the explanation of the name should be proclaimed to the men of our own day, that explanation would have been given by the author of the Book.
But for now, suffice it to say that the allegedly numerous “testimonies” to the Domitianic date are in reality merely a chorus of voices echoing one testimony.
And yet, in recent years, a number of highly reputable scholars are reconsidering the party line and have come out in favor of the pre-70 position. To answer these questions and get a grasp on the issues regarding the time of the Apocalypse’s writing, we will consider the areas of evidence that seem to be most compelling to modern scholars.
These fall largely into three major arenas discussed below: the historical testimony of writers in the church, the nature of the imperial reign of Domitian Caesar, and certain important internal indications of date.
Thus, on the one hand, he lived years after he wrote the Book, and there was abundant opportunity for him to expound the riddle, had he wished to do so; and, on the other hand, since he lived on almost into our generation, the explanation, had he given it, must have been preserved to us. Nevertheless, there remains another problem with the Irenaean witness.
To what extent are we to take as trustworthy Irenaeus’ historical claims?