This post will be shorter than most of my other ones but still extremely important.
Recently I have come across what appears to be a mistake made by so many Christians throughout History. The few Scholars who do not make this mistake will be quoted in this post. In Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies 5:30” he says “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of DOMITIAN’S reign.” (EMPHASIS MINE)
However, in the original language, Ireneaus uses the name “Domitianou” instead of “Domitianikos”. Domitianou actually refers to Nero. Even on One of Nero’s names includes the name “Domitius” which is close to Domitian. Infact, names that were similar to Domitian were common in that time.
Here are quotes from Scholars (Found here)
Robert Young (late 1800s)
“It was written in Patmos about A.D.68, whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syriac version of the Book; and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus (A.D.175), who says it happened in the reign of Domitianou, ie., Domitius (Nero). Sulpicius Severus, Orosius, &c., stupidly mistaking Domitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder. The internal testimony is wholly in favor of the earlier date.” (Concise Critical Comments on the Holy Bible, by Robert Young. Published by Pickering and Inglis, London and Glasgow, (no date), Page 179 of the “New Covenant” section. See also: Young’s Concise Critical Bible Commmentary, Baker Book House, March 1977, ISBN: 0-8010-9914-5, pg 178.)
Philip Schaff (1877)
“On two points I have changed my opinion–the second Roman captivity of Paul (which I am disposed to admit in the interest of the Pastoral Epistles), and the date of the Apocalypse (which I now assign, with the majority of modern critics, to the year 68 or 69 instead of 95, as before).” (Vol. I, Preface to the Revised Edition, 1882 The History of the Christian Church, volume 1)
“The early date [of Revelation] is now accepted by perhaps the majority of scholars.” (Enyclopedia 3:2036)
“Tertullian’s legend of the Roman oil-martyrdom of John seems to point to Nero rather than to any other emperor, and was so understood by Jerome. (Adv. Jovin. 1.26) (History 1:428)
“The destruction of Jerusalem would be a worthy theme for the genius of a Christian Homer. It has been called ‘the most soul-stirring of all ancient history.’ But there was no Jeremiah to sing the funeral dirge of the city of David and Solomon. The Apocalypse was already written, and had predicted that the heathen “shall tread the holy city under foot forty and two months.” (The History of the Christian Church, Vol I; 6:38)
George E. Ladd (1972)
“The problem with this [Domitian date] theory is that there is no evidence that during the last decade of the first century there occurred any open and systematic persecution of the church.” (George E. Ladd, A Commentary on Revelation – Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1972, p. 8.)
Steve Gregg (1997)
“Many scholars, including those supportive of a late date, have said that there is no historical proof that there was an empire-wide persecution of Christians even in Domitian’s reign.” (Revelation: Four Views, p.16)
Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown (1871)
“The following arguments favor an earlier date, namely, under Nero: (1) Eusebius [Demonstration of the Gospel] unites in the same sentence John’s banishment with the stoning of James and the beheading of Paul, which were under Nero. (2) Clement Of Alexandria’s story of the robber reclaimed by John, after he had pursued, and with difficulty overtaken him, accords better with John then being a younger man than under Domitian, when he was one hundred years old. (3) Arethas, in the sixth century, applies the sixth seal to the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), adding that the Apocalypse was written before that event. So the Syriac version states he was banished by Nero the Caesar. (4) Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake (A.D. 60) but was immediately rebuilt, so that its being called “rich and increased with goods” is not incompatible with this book having been written under the Neronian persecution (A.D. 64)…(5) Cerinthus is stated to have died before John; as then he borrowed much in his Pseudo-Apocalypse from John’s, it is likely the latter was at an earlier date than Domitian’s reign. See Tilloch’s Introduction to Apocalypse. But the Pauline benediction (Re 1:4) implies it was written after Paul’s death under Nero.” (Commentary Critical and Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible – 1871)
A.N. Wilson (1977)
“There is no concrete and inescapable reference, in any of the New Testament books, to the destruction of Jerusalem, and is this in itself not a pretty surprising fact? Would we not expect one of these writers, particularly those of a triumphalist turn of mind, to make it clear that the very core and centre of Jewish worship had been obliterated? Such a radical view inspired J.A.T. Robinson’s ‘Redating the New Testament,’ which made a spirited case for supposing that all the books of the canon were completed before 70.” (Paul: The Mind of the Apostle – p. 254)
“The historian who tries to date and place John’s Revelation is guided by the author to a quite specific time span. The words of Revelation are written down four years after the Roman fire, and shortly after Nero’s own death. We know that they were written before the ultimate calamity of the Sack of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70…He writes of the earthly temple as still in existence [Rev 11:1-2].” (Paul: The Mind of the Apostle – p. 11)
“In Paul’s lifetime, and Nero’s, there was no such thing as the New Testament–even though some of its individual writings (perhaps all of them in some primitive form) could be dated to before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.” (Paul: The Mind of the Apostle – p. 19) ____________________________________________
Here are quotes from Early Church Fathers:
Epiphanius of Salamis (315-403)
“[John], who prophesied in the time of Claudius [Nero]…the prophetic word according to the Apocalypse being disclosed.” (Epiphanius, Panarion/Heresies 51:12,33)
“For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius,was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, end with Nero.” (Miscellanies 7:17.)
(On the Timing of John’s Banishment)
“And to give you confidence, when you have thus truly repented, that there remains for you a trustworthy hope of salvation, hear a story that is no mere story, but a true account of John the apostle that has been handed down and preserved in memory. When after the death of the tyrant [previously identified as Nero] he removed from the island of Patmos to Ephesus, he used to journey by request to the neighboring districts of the Gentiles, in some places to appoint bishops, in others to regulate whole churches, in others to set among the clergy some one man, it may be, of those indicated by the Spirit.” (Who is the Rich Man that shall be Saved?; Section 42)
The Muratorian Canon (A.D. 170)
“the blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name.”
“John too, indeed, in the Apocalypse, although he writes to only seven churches, yet addresses all. ” (ANF 5:603)
Note on the Muratorian Canon: Sometime between A.D. 170 and 200, someone drew up a list of canonical books. This list, known as the Muratorian Canon, is the oldest Latin church document of Rome, and of very great importance for the history of the canon. The witness of this manuscript, which is from the very era of Irenaeus and just prior to Clement of Alexandria, virtually demands the early date for Revelation. The relevant portion of the document states that “the blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name” and “John too, indeed, in the Apocalypse, although he writes to only seven churches, yet addresses all.” The writer of the Canon clearly teaches that John preceded Paul in writing letters to seven churches. Yet, church historians are agreed that Paul died before A.D. 70, either in A.D. 67 or 68.
Syriac Vulgate Bible (sixth century)
“The Apocalypse of St. John, written in Patmos, whither John was sent by Nero Caesar.” (Opening Title for the Book of Revelation)
Arethas (sixth century)
“Arethas in the sixth century, applies the sixth seal to the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), adding that the Apocalypse was written before that event” (From Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, 1871)
(On Revelation 6:12) “Some refer this to the siege of Jerusalem by Vespasian.”
(On Revelation 7:1) “Here, then, were manifestly shown to the Evangelist what things were to befall the Jews in their war against the Romans, in the way of avenging the sufferings inflicted upon Christ.”
(On Revelation 7:4) “When the Evangelist received these oracles, the destruction in which the Jews were involved was not yet inflicted by the Romans.”
Papias (first century)
“Because of a statement by Papias, an early church father, that John the Apostle was martyred before a.d. 70, the Johannine authorship has been questioned.” (John F. Walvoord on the Date of Revelation – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 925)
“A fragment is, however, attributed to Papias which states that “John the theologian and James his brother were killed by the Jews”. (Chapman, John. St. Papias. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI [Online Edition 2002].____________________________________________________
It may have been mentioned here before but the Syriac version of Revelation says Nero banished John to Patmos!! This was in the 2nd Century. Many other Early Church Members also state that Nero was the Emperor. Modern Scholars use Text clues and History clues to place the Date of Revelation. Advocates of the late date rely on a rather shaky acceptance of one man’s words (as well as it yet misguided people througout history who accepted Ireneaus’ words) who may have referred to someone else who was known with a similar name. (Domitianou (Nero) instead of Domitianikos ( Domitian)) even if Irenaeus was thinking of Domitian, he got that information from Polycarp who, along with Papias, where John’s disiples, so that should mean Irenaeus got it right? Not quite! Irenaeus is known for off dating. He also states that Jesus was in His 50s when crucified. Papias, the other disiples of John, states that John was Martyred before 70 AD.
When objectively looking after a deep look into this, there are 2 logical conclusions. 1) Irenaeus was talking about Domitianou (Nero) and was mistaken for Domitian by others…or 2) Irenaeus was wrong on this by misplacing the date of Revelation under Domitian instead of Nero just like He misplaced Jesus’ Crucifixion. A third conclusion which is unlikely is that Irenaues was meaning Domitian and was right about the late date while many other people and early writings were wrong. It seems like the majority would be correct. And now an in depth look at Irenaeus’ quote seems either be wrong or it doesnt even support the late date view.
I hope this helps to clear up issues with Ireneaus’ quote. I will be post more soon and I got some interesting stuff coming so be sure to come back soon for another post. God Bless you all!