The dating of revelation
In terms of external evidence, there’s a quote from the church father Irenaeus (130–202 AD) that is often referenced in debates about the date of Revelation.There are two questions I want to address here: (1) what Irenaeus actually said, and (2) what Eusebius thought Irenaeus said.And just to belabor this point beyond what is necessary, here are a few of those examples: “And he was seen (ἑωράθη) by practically all mankind.For there was no city of repute, and no nation, which he did not visit; and among all alike the same opinion of him prevailed — that they had seen no one more beautiful.” (Dio Chrysostom, Discourse 29, section 6) “In the capture of the city, no Theban was seen (ἑωράθη) begging the Macedonians to spare his life, nor did they in ignoble fashion fall and cling to the knees of their conquerors.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 17.13.2) “And when he came to the last hall, then he mounted a chariot, but sometimes he mounted a horse; but on foot he was never seen (οὐδέποτε ἑωράθη) outside of his palace.” (Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, 12.8) The point to draw from this is that only the context can determine whether ἑωράθη is best translated as “it was seen” or “he was seen.” And that’s what needs to be kept in mind when we’re interpreting Irenaeus’s use of the word.(In the larger context, Eusebius is speaking about the many victims of Domitian’s cruelty.) And this fact alone would support the late date of Revelation (Rev. But the Irenaeus quote doesn’t say anything about John’s confinement on Patmos.So why does Eusebius appeal to this statement from Irenaeus? It seems to me that the only way for the Irenaeus quote to count as “ample evidence” for John’s exile to Patmos under Domitian is if Eusebius were assuming two things: (1) that ἑωράθη (“it was seen”) refers to the apocalyptic vision itself, rather than to John himself, contrary to what I argued above; and (2) that the testimony of Revelation 1:9 is authentic: “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” In other words, Eusebius would be reasoning as follows: 1.You could argue that both statements are sensible enough, but I think the first one makes better sense. In making this decision, we also need to consider other things Irenaeus says about the book of Revelation.
More significantly, Eusebius elsewhere places Revelation in the category of “spurious books” (3.25).
John could have revealed the name of the Antichrist, because John was seen alive until very recently.b.
John could have revealed the name of the Antichrist, because John saw the apocalyptic vision very recently.
he was alive) until very recently, almost in our own day.” And if ἑωράθη is actually referring back to John himself, rather than John’s apocalyptic vision, then this oft-referenced statement from Irenaeus does not support the later date of Revelation.
To frame the issue a different way, we’re basically choosing which of the following statements makes better sense: a.