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.
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.
Was this debate a definitive defeat for the early date? Some thoughts.
I recently had cause to listen once again–the first time in years–to the debate between Hanegraaff and Hitchcock on the dating of Revelation. First off, it is clear that Hanegraaff was out of his depth. Hitchcock produced a doctoral degree in the subject area, whereas Hanegraaff has no formal academic training. It is unfortunate that Hitchcock didn’t debate Kenneth Gentry instead, who could have presented a strong case for both the external and internal evidence for the early date (though I don’t accept his preterist interpretations).
Examining the claim that “Domitian’s reign” in Irenaeus referred to Nero (Domitius), not Domitian
The most cited passage employed as evidence that the early Christians placed John’s exile and apocalyptic vision (of Revelation) late in the first century, late in Domitian’s reign, is found in Irenaeus:
John’s ministry in Asia Minor and the Dating of John’s Gospel and Revelation
According to a number of ancient writers, John founded the bishoprics in the churches of the province of Asia.
What was the historical situation of these ordinations, according to early Christian tradition, and what can it tell us about when early sources placed the writing of the Gospel and Revelation of John?