Dating when the book was written is not without controversy. When one dates the book will certainly have a bearing upon one’s interpretation of the book, especially if one follows the "preterist" view. Two dates are usually proposed:

  • An "early date", around 64-68 A.D., during the reign of the Roman emperor, Nero

  • A "late date", around 95-96 A.D., during the reign of emperor Domitian

The external evidence (evidence outside the book itself) is inconclusive. In support for the late date, appeal is often made to a statement of Iraneaus who lived in the late 2nd century A.D. His statement is rather ambiguous, however, and can be understood in several ways (see Redating The New Testament, by John A. T. Robinson, for a detailed examination of Iraneaus' quotation).

In support for the early date, the Syriac version of the New Testament (dating back to the 2nd century A.D.) says the book was written during the reign of Nero. The Muratorian Fragment (170-190 A.D.) and the Monarchian Prologues (250-350 A.D.) claim that Paul wrote to seven churches following the pattern of John’s example in Revelation, placing the book of Revelation even before some of the Pauline epistles (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12; p. 406).

Because of the contradictory nature of the external evidence, I place more weight on the internal evidence (evidence from within the book itself). I believe the book itself supports a date of 70 A.D., before the destruction of Jerusalem and during the reign of Vespasian.

continued in Wednesday Class article