Another of Hitchcock’s “numerous other strong witnesses from church history for the Domitianic date of Revelation” (p. 38) is Clement of Alexandria. Does this writer support a late date … or an early date?
Listeners of my recent debate on the dating of Revelation with James Rochford have shared concerns about the argumentation used by my opponent. While James Rochford maintained a pleasant and cordial tone throughout the discussion, and while I appreciated that he had made himself familiar with my book and with some of the arguments on this site, after much reflection I have concluded that the level of discourse was inappropriate for a formal debate, for reasons I shall explain below.
After discussing Hegesippus and Irenaeus, MH claims at the end of Chapter 2 of his dissertation (accessible here) that “There are numerous other strong witnesses from church history for the Domitianic date of Revelation” (p. 38). These alleged sources are the subject of Chapter 3 of his work.
I recently came across this great summary of the various views on the identity of the Beloved Disciple by Justin Sproles, who is beginning doctoral work on the book of Revelation. I highly recommend this and his other videos.
Is Irenaeus supportive of the Domitianic dating of Revelation?
Chapter 2 of Mark Hitchcock’s dissertation examines the evidence provided by two early Christians: Hegesippus and Irenaeus (d. c. 200). We have already discussed Hegesippus and we shall now proceed to discuss the evidence of Irenaeus, whom Hitchcock refers to as “the most important ancient witness” to the late date.
Evaluating Hitchcock’s Evidence for the Late Date from Hegesippus
We now look at MH’s presentation of the external evidence for the dating; that is, the evidence from early Christian writers concerning when it was written. We shall begin with his discussion of Hegesippus (c. 150). His dissertation can be found here.
Mark Hitchcock’s Dallas Theological Seminary dissertation, entitled “A Defense of the Domitianic Date of the Book of Revelation” (accessible here) is considered by many as the last word in the discussion of the evidence for the dating of Revelation.
James Rochford (MTS Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) of Xenos Christian Fellowship will be defending the view that Revelation was written late in Domitian’s reign (c. 95). He has written a popular web article defending this view.
I, Dean Furlong (PhD VU Amsterdam, MTS Notre Dame), will be arguing that the early Christians placed Revelation/John’s exile in Nero’s reign.
Issues in Gentry’s discussion of the external evidence for Revelation’s early date.
Gentry’s Before Jerusalem Fell, which defends a preterist interpretation of Revelation, is widely considered the standard work on the early date of Revelation. It was this work that Mark Hitchcock had before him when arguing for the late date in his doctoral dissertation.
The breadth of Gentry’s survey of the external evidence for the early date is impressive, and the work is a must read for anyone with a serious interest in the issue of dating.
The reader should, however, be aware of a few inaccuracies and problematic claims, and it is these I wish to consider in the present post. These are areas in which the book would benefit from correction; they do not seriously detract from the overall value of the book.
John 18 relates that the “other disciple” who was “known to the high priest” was given access by a maid girl to the palace of the high priest. It is commonly thought that this disciple was John the son of Zebedee, but this seems inconsistent with the account of that John being brought, together with Peter, before the high priest and his relatives.