Dave’s seven arguments for his proposed date for Revelation

Regarding the date of composition of Revelation, scholars have generally favored either AD 68-69 (right after Nero’s death but before the Jerusalem was destroyed), or during the latter half of Domitian’s reign (he reigned from AD 81-96). My theory is that John wrote during the reign of Vespasian (AD 69-79), probably toward the end of his reign. Here are my reasons:

  1. John and his readers have already experienced persecution, which the church had begun to experience even in the 50s, but John prophesies that a great persecution is soon to come. I believe this is the persecution under Domitian (who reigned from AD 81-96), but that this persecution has still not happened yet. This is predictive prophecy before the event. So at the very latest, John is writing at the beginning of Domitian’s reign, not at the end. Whether the persecution under Domitian was as bad as scholars used to believe, or whether it was overblown by later writers as is generally believed today, becomes irrelevant with this dating.
  2. Placing Revelation’s date of writing toward the end of Vespasian’s reign allows a few years for the Nero redivivus myth to develop after Nero’s death.
  3. Placing the date of writing toward the end of Vespasian’s reign gives Laodicea  up to nineteen years to recover from the earthquake that destroyed the city in AD 60. The Christians in Laodicea would be likelier to have become prosperous by then, as they are described in Revelation 3.
  4. This date also allows time for other developments, like the spiritual decline in some of the seven churches, and the rise of the heretical groups mentioned.
  5. Rome is called Babylon already in 1 Peter, dated before A.D. 70, but placing the date of writing after AD 70 makes more sense of the comparison of Rome to Babylon, because the Roman empire would have destroyed Jerusalem by then.
  6. I don’t make much of the references to Jerusalem in ch. 11, as if that requires the city to be standing. And if we take the view that Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, then we are forced to do three things I am not ready to do:
    • Severely limit ourselves to the dates AD 68-69, between the Nero’s death and the destruction of the temple, not really allowing enough time for the Nero redivivus myth to become well-known
    • Assume that John was wrong about an earthquake destroying the city of Jerusalem
    • Identify the two witnesses as people or churches in Jerusalem in those years.
  7. The kings in Revelation 17.10-11 makes good sense if placed during Vespasian’s reign. We start counting from Augustus, the emperor when Jesus was born, and we don’t include the brief reigns of the three civil war emperors. We get:
    • The five who have fallen:
      • Augustus
      • Tiberius
      • Caligula
      • Claudius
      • Nero
    • The one who is (Vespasian)
    • The one not yet, who will reign a short time (Titus, who reigned only three years)
    • The eighth, who will go to destruction = is the beast (Domitian)

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