Irenaeus dating revelation
The answer to this question makes or breaks an interpretation of Revelation for preterist purposes.If written in Nero's reign, we are able to at least have some basis to begin an understanding that Revelation was mostly or to some extent fulfilled in the 70 destruction of Jerusalem (as the Olivet Discourse was).Date The interpretive turn of Revelation depends strongly upon its date, so much so that the date of the book has implications as serious within Christianity as the date of the Gospels has outside of Christianity.Having looked closely at the dates of the Gospels we have already laid some groundwork in terms of what is to be considered.Late in his reign Domitian did a few irrational things of relevance -- executing a boy because he looked and performed like an actor Domitian disliked; had an author executed, and his secretarial slaves crucified, for putting some allusions into a literary work; put Senators to death for conspiracy; put another person to death for wanting to celebrate a previous Emperor's birthday. His various irrationalities made him hated and feared everywhere.But he never reached the level of cruelty and irrationality that Nero did.The argument here turns on what seems an ambiguous descriptor -- "the tyrant." One side says this is Nero; the other says it is Domitian. Without doubt, it is Nero -- in fact, we have clear evidence that he was called by this name: Nero fit the definition of "tyrannical" of a certainty: He "put to death so many innocent men" (Tacitus); "the destroyer of the human race", "the poison of the world" (Pliny the Elder); "cruel nature" (Tacitus); "cruelty of disposition" (Suetonius); "cruel and bloody tyranny" (Juvenal).
With Nero there was "widespread general rejoicing" as "citizens ran through the streets wearing caps of liberty." A few oddballs still supported Nero, but not many.
If written in Domitian's reign, then Revelation offers nothing for the preterist at all.
External Testimony After due consideration of the leading work proposing a pre-70 date for Revelation (Gentry's Before Jerusalem Fell, 45-107) I have been surprised to find so far that the external evidence points slightly to a pre-70 date; but there is nevertheless a great deal of conflicting evidence.
Eusebius also cites Irenaeus as saying that "..number is found in all the approved and ancient copies, and those who saw John face to face confirm it..." The emphasis on personal knowledge of John corresponds better with the referent being back to John in the main quote, rather than to his vision. Elsewhere Irenaeus says that John "continued with the Elders until the time of Trajan." It is argued that this means that Irenaeus would not refer to John as being seen until the time of Domitian; hence the referent in question must be the vision.
This is countered by the point that Irenaeus only says that John was seen until Domitian's reign, not that he died at the time.
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On the other hand, at Domitian's death, the general public "greeted the news..indifference...", though the military was upset, and the senators of Rome were delighted.