Date: 65-95 AD
Today the author of Revelation is unanimously agreed to not be the same as the author of the Epistles and Gospel of John. The Christian bishop, Dionysius of Alexandria ( 265), who applied textual criticism 1500 years before it was invented, noted that the author of Revelation designated himself as John, and a brother of the congregations he was addressing compared with the anonymity in the Gospels and Epistles points toward a different John (though he doesn't by any means deny that it was a John, who was inspired, that wrote the book). This cannot really be said to hold up, since in Revelation, although he names himself, the author still designates himself simply as "John" and his readers are supposed to know him, as well as speaks with authority to them. The fact that he names himself, unlike the Gospels and Epistles, is a technical difference, not one of style, and would seem to point toward authenticity, but only if the rest of the factors do.
This brings us to the major points. Dionysius noticed that the style and language are markedly different between Revelation and the other Johannine literature:
“Moreover, it can also be shown that the diction of the Gospel and Epistle differs from that of the Apocalypse. For they were written not only without error as regards the Greek language, but also with elegance in their expression, in their reasonings, and in their entire structure. They are far indeed from betraying any barbarism or solecism, or any vulgarism whatever. For the writer had, as it seems, both the requisites of discourse,—that is, the gift of knowledge and the gift of expression,—as the Lord had bestowed them both upon him. I do not deny that the other writer saw a revelation and received knowledge and prophecy. I perceive, however, that his dialect and language are not accurate Greek, but that he uses barbarous idioms, and, in some places, solecisms. It is unnecessary to point these out here, for I would not have any one think that I have said these things in a spirit of ridicule, for I have said what I have only with the purpose of showing clearly the difference between the writings.”
There are also lacking similar themes of the Epistles and Gospel such as: ‘the life,’ ‘the light,’ ‘turning from darkness,’ frequently occurring in both; also continually, ‘truth,’ ‘grace,’ ‘joy,’ ‘the flesh and blood of the Lord,’ ‘the judgment,’ ‘the forgiveness of sins,’ ‘the love of God toward us,’ the ‘commandment that we love one another,’ that we should ‘keep all the commandments’; the ‘conviction of the world, of the Devil, of Anti-Christ,’ the ‘promise of the Holy Spirit,’ the ‘adoption of God,’ the ‘faith continually required of us,’ ‘the Father and the Son’. He continues to say that the Epistles nor the Gospel show signs of knowing the apocalypse, and vice versa. The last objection is not really conclusive, because there is hardly an occasion to mention one in the other, especially the Gospels and Epistles to be mentioned in the apocalypse. And the absense of themes is not altogether impressive, albeit it does point away from the author as the same as the Gospels and Epistles. Since as Dionysius already noted, the Greek of the Gospel and Epistles is far superior than that of the apocalypse, if the author is the same for both he must have written the apocalypse first, and at an interval of time considerably removed from the other literature (by at least 20 years). The absense of themes might be due to the fact that, after all, the author is writing an apocalypse about the end of the world.
If we more or less want a summary of the problem, we may as well quote Robinson:
Hort, as we have seen, with Lightfoot and Westcott, believed that it was possible to hold that the Apocalypse and the remaining books came from the same pen only if they were not written at the same time. The Apocalypse, they contended, came from the late 60s, while the gospel and epistles must be assigned to the last decade of the first century 'and even to the close of it'. They thus thought it possible to explain the great difference in their Greek styles, though this was not, as Hort insisted, a reason for the early dating of Revelation, which rested for him on independent grounds. Baur indeed argued for the early dating, and apostolicity, of the Apocalypse in the clear understanding that it had nothing whatever to do with the gospel, which he and his Tubingen disciples dated up to a hundred years later. If one thing has become clear in the century since Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, it is that common authorship of the Apocalypse and the gospel cannot credibly be argued on the interval of time needed for John to master the Greek language.
But the opinion that the author of Revelation's Greek could not improve to the level of the Gospel's (and Epistles') is clearly not an irrefutable fact, as Robinson again cites the numerous scholars who weigh in the other direction:
The Greek of the Apocalypse is not that of a beginner whose grammar and vocabulary might improve and mature into those of the evangelist. It is the pidgin Greek of someone who appears to know exactly what he is about with his strange instrument and whose cast of mind and vocabulary is conspicuously different from, and more colourful than, that of the correct, simple but rather flat style of the gospel and the epistles.
Indeed what is astonishing is the number and the diversity of scholars who have clung to the tradition of common authorship - whoever that author may be. They include not only the more conservative Roman Catholics and English-speaking Evangelicals but such names as Harnack, Zahn, Lohmeyer, Preisker, Schlatter and Stauffer, and one is bound to weigh the final footnote which Beckwith appends to his long and balanced discussion of the issue:
Although he does not think Revelation comes from the author of the Gospel, Robinson nevertheless notes:
The present commentator ventures to say that his earlier conviction of the impossibility of a unity of authorship has been much weakened by a study of the two books prolonged through many years. [Apocalypse, 362. Similarly C. F. Nolloth, The Fourth Evangelist, 1925, ch.8, confesses that he still could not get away from seeing all the Johannine books as coming from the same mind over the same period.]
For all that one wonders, if it were not for the strong testimony to common authorship in the external tradition (which yet is no stronger than that for apostolic authorship, which many even of those who accept common authorship agree in rejecting), whether critics would ever have thought of ascribing such superficially (and not so superficially) diverse writings to the same hand. Nevertheless some association between them is ultimately undeniable. Even if they are not the product of the same 'school', the Apocalypse seems to presuppose at the very least some familiarity with Christianity in the Johannine idiom.
But again, attributing the difference to different disciples of the same 'School' or different Schools altogether is somewhat personal judgment. If there was no external testimony few would, but since all five writings are anonymous, except for the unknown John in Revelation, if all letters and writings were anonymous, many less connections would have been made that are rightfully there (i.e. probably 1 Thessalonians and Romans). The fact that there is an external tradition is also not nothing, but does not prove much (it may have been a remnant of ancient knowledge, or it may have been created out of innocent speculation). Style changes with topics, as can be seen in the difference between Plato's Republic and Laws, in Cicero's works, and many other authors, clergy and non-clergy. Certainly the apocalyptic words of Christ, the imagery of the end of the world, and so on, clashes on somewhat different tangents than the story of Jesus' life on earth, the commandments of love to inherit eternal life, and immoral corruptors fought. True that at the end the author describes the New Jerusalem, but this is a description technicus, not the theological realization of spiritual actions, and even there we have similarities (river of life) between the Gospels and Epistles of John. In fact there are quite a few similarities between Revelation and the other four Johannine writings. Although against common authorship, Brown writes:
Certainly it should not be considered a Johannine writing in the sense in which that designation is applied to John and I-II-III John. Yet there are interesting parallels to elements in the Johannine literature, especially the Gospel, that suggest a relationship, e.g.: Christ as the Lamb (but different vocabulary); Christ as the source of living water (John 7:37-39; Rev 22:1); Christ as light (John 8:12; Rev 21:23-24); looking on Christ as one pierced (John 19:37; Rev 1:7); the Word (of God) as a name or title for Jesus (John 1:1,14; Rev 19:13); the importance of "the beginning" (John 1:1; 8:25; Rev 3:14; 21:6); "I am" statements of Jesus (John passim; Rev 1:8,17-18; 2:23; etc.); the image of the spouse of Christ for the people of God (John 3:29; Rev 21:2,9; 22:17); reference to the mother of Jesus and the mother of the Messiah as "woman" (John 2:4; 19:26; Rev 12:1,4,13; etc); a stress on witnessing/testifying (both passim); an end to the role of the Jerusalem Temple (John 2:19-21; 4:21; Rev 21:22); a hostile attitude toward "Jews" (John passim; Rev 2:9; 3:9); a major conflict with the devil/Satan (John 6:70; 8:44; 13:2,27; Rev 2:9,13,24; etc.). There are also parallels to the Epistles: the theme of God as light (I John 1:5; Rev 21:23; 22:5); the coming of the antichrist(s) (I John 2:18,22; Rev 13:11); false prophets (I John 4:1; Rev 2:20; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10); a female figure and her children represent a/the church (II John 1,13; Rev 12:17); and there are evil children as well, of the devil or of an evil woman (I John 3:10; Rev 2:20,23).
Brown however goes on to say:
Nevertheless, such similarities are far less than those between the Gospel and Epistles of John. Moreover, there are many significant differences between Rev and the Johannine works. Consequently, in the view of the majority of scholars one does not have justification for speaking of the author of Rev as a member of the Johannine School of writers who wrote the body of the Gospel, the Epistles, and redacted the Gospel. To do justice to all the factors, however, one should probably posit some contact between the seer and the Johannine tradition or writings.
Putting aside the arbitrary notion that the Gospel and Epistles were written by members of a Johannine School and not one author (the redactor would be the one who smoothed over the Gospel narrative, and added ch.21; the Beloved Disciple wrote the core, to which the body was added, and finally came the redactor, but this is shown as unlikely in the authorship of the Gospel of John section), this erroneous notion completely ignores the genre of Revelation, the time gap (which we will show below), and explains the similarities through an impossible situation: Brown presumes that the seer was a Palestinian Jew who came to the Ephesus area and preached to the churches while having been exiled. But how can a Palestinian come to Gentile churches (much less an area where Paul worked!), and simply write to them in an authoritative manner? If he had been there for some time (i.e. 20-30 years or more), he would not have such poor Greek and he would have Hellenisms in his work. He is highly unlikely to be a disciple of an apostle because even in the 90's there would be disciples of the apostle Paul and so on who would be guiding their churches, so the author not have any special precedence, not to mention he was until recently active in Palestine, and not outside. Brown is hard pressed to connect the 50's and 60's of Palestine as exhibited in Revelation and implicit in the Gospel with the 80s and 90s of the Ephesus region (Western Asia Minor) for his conclusion that the author is the disciple of a disciple of the Beloved Disciple, who himself is not an apostle!
It has often been assumed that the author is familiar with the churches which he addresses and vice versa based on verses like Rev 2:2, 9, 3:1ff., etc, but it has to be realized that these are revelations from Christ (1:19-20). The fact is, if the author had been known to the churches and they had known him, he would not be telling them he was exiled to Patmos due to his preaching of Christ (1:9); this would have been known as soon as he was exiled. Furthermore, although the manner in which John addresses his audience (1:1, "to the servant John", 1:9, "I, John, your brother and companion..") is not incompatible with an authoritative figure who is known by the congregation seeing Paul uses similar language, the overall address seems to be one of unfamiliarity, such as the absense of personalia (no greetings from John and his companions to the congregations with names mentioned) and details regarding the situation.
Therefore, the author has to be regarded as someone who has not worked in Asia Minor primarily. This is strengthened by the fact that he addresses the churches he does as the "churches of the province of Asia" (1:4), but there were other major churches in that province (Galatia, etc). Compare that with the more technical statement of 1:11 ("Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches:..") which does not specify the 'seven churches of Asia', but clearly for the author, as far as he was concerned with this unfamiliar region, these were in relative terms, 'the churches of Asia'. This is supported by the fact that he addresses the seven major churches of Western Asia, closest Christian centers to Patmos. Already it has been recognized that the author was a Semite. His Greek is colorful yet almost ungrammatical, he is familiar with the Old Testament and Jewish legends, knows Hebrew (16:16), and some have even discovered proofs of Semitic thought patterns. Whether such thought patterns exist is questionable, but no author who held authority amongst any congregation in the period after 60 AD could have known such poor Greek and be a Greek.
The question therefore shifts to the issue of how a Semite author unknown to a Gentile congregation assume authority without knowing them or them knowing him? There are practically no candidates except for the Apostles! Certainly, if we assume Revelation was written in the 90's, we have to say that this was someone who at the very least was a disciple of the original Twelve, because he would have no authority over any presbyter without proving any reason to have such. And even then, most main presbyters (especially of these major churches) would have already been disciples of Paul's disciples. But the whole ordeal is not explained to suppose that the author was simply one generation "ahead" of the presbyters (1 Clement in his letter to the Corinthians, c.96, implies the presbyters deposed were disciples of the disciples of Paul), since the author would prove by what authority he can say these things. Certainly then, the address "the servant John" cannot be adequate, and has to be relegated to only someone in a high position like John the Apostle, seeing the address of James (Jas. 1:1) and Jude (Jude 1:1). John the Apostle not proving his credentials in Revelation makes much more sense this way, since the carrier, whether he himself or someone who met him at the harbor (most likely) would have explained, someone who is trusted by the churches no doubt. The supposition that the author's authority only comes in the revelations given by Jesus, while true for the most part, falls on the fact that in the address prior to the revelations to the churches (1:1-9) he had every opportunity to prove his authority, which he would have done so if necessary, and it would have certainly been necessary if he was no one special with respect to the churches, as would be the case since he is unknown to them (whereas see Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians 1, where he does not introduce himself and assumes his audience knows him and that he has authority). If anything the phrase "the servant John" would have been known in Christian circles as the apostle of the Twelve.
Regardless of whether it was St. John or a different John that wrote Revelation, the work is not a forgery in the sense that it claims the authority of an author who did not write it. He clearly presupposes an authority over his audiences, yet does not stress it. The 7 major churches of Anatolia are addressed; hardly a forgerer who has not backed up his claim to authoritative instruction. He also writes in a way that supposes this John was known, and so this is clearly an authentic writing to the churches in Asia.
Nevertheless, our conclusion that it is easiest to suppose the Apostle John wrote Revelation is the only logical possibility that remains. This however is only possible if Revelation was written around 65-70/75 because by 90/95 he would have certainly written much better Greek, such as perhaps that of the Gospel and Epistles of John, unless we assume that the Gospel and epistles were not written by St. John (but against that see authorship of I John). So it would probably have to be concluded that either some unknown Christian Jew who had worked mostly in Palestine somehow had authority over the churches in Western Asia Minor in the 90s, or the Gospel and epistles of John don't come from the same author as Revelation, if Revelation was not written in the 60s, and its date of composition is in the 90s, the question to which we now turn.
Before going into the endless debates whether Revelation was written in the 60's under the reign of Nero or the 90's under Domitian, we should note that either way the apocalypse is authentic. The early tradition was unanimous that the work was written before 100, and that it was known and accepted by then. It was known and accepted by all early authors from Papias (c.120). Whether one believes John the Apostle, or the Presbyter John, or some other unknown John wrote Revelation, the question of date is not really an issue as tradition described St. John as living a long life (into the reign of Trajan (98-117) per Irenaeus), and the presbyter John is exclusively designated as a prominent Christian figure to the period of the 90's.
Irenaeus clearly refers to the apocalypse as having been written under Domitian (Ad. Haer. 5.30.3). Robinson disputes this on the basis that,
But whatever the relationship, it is difficult to credit that a work so vigorous as the Apocalypse could really be the product of a nonagenarian, as John the son of Zebedee must by then have been, even if he were as much as ten years younger than Jesus. So if Irenaeus' tradition on authorship is strong, his tradition on dating is weakened, and vice versa.
How he decided the first sentence is beyond anyone. He goes to quote Clement of Alexandria,
When on the death of the tyrant he removed from the island of Patmos to Ephesus, he used to go off, when requested, to the neighbouring districts of the Gentiles also, to appoint bishops in some places, to organize whole churches in others, in others again to appoint to an order some one of those who were indicated by the Spirit.
To illustrate the last Clement then tells the tale of a young man whom John persuaded the local bishop to sponsor and bring up as his protege. The story covers a number of years, over which this youth went to the bad, and it ends with the apostle going to visit him on horseback and then chasing him 'with all his might'! All this is inconceivable after 96. Clement, however, nowhere mentions the name of 'the tyrant'. He could have been an earlier emperor: it is only Eusebius who identifies him with Domitian.
Hardly does a legend supply us with accurate historical information. The fact that Clement of Alexandria does not mention Domitian is negated by the fact that Nero did not exile, whereas Domitian was known by Christian tradition to have exiled John (and to have exiled people in general, see Suetonius, etc). The fact that the 'tyrant' is anonymous does not do much except confirm this implicitly.
Robinson continues to attempt to negate the testimony of Hegesippus referred to by Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 3.20.8f.; 'the record of our ancient men') and Victorinus (In Apoc. 10.11) by the absense of a name in Origen!
Yet the identification is by no means solid. Clement's disciple Origen writes in his Commentary on Matthew that 'the emperor of the Romans, as tradition teaches, condemned John to the isle of Patmos', adding that John does not say who condemned him. This does not of course prove that Origen did not know, but the absence of a name is again to be noted, especially since Origen does name Herod as having beheaded John's brother James.
The absense of a name is undoubtedly due to the silence of Revelation itself, and that the widespread tradition of Domitian was not referred is not because of any serious doubts, but because it simply a tradition (one which is very solid). There may have been doubts as to whether it was Nero or Domitian, but Nero would have been simply as a possible alternative, not one passed down from tradition. And so the silence is due to the lack of knowledge that it was one hundred percent Domitian, not the presense of Nero as tradition.
Robinson goes on to quote Tertullian about John having been banished from Rome:
The fact that the condemnation is seen as the direct act of the emperor may link up with the tradition preserved earlier by Tertullian [Praescr. 36.3.] that John's banishment was from Rome, [More vaguely but in the same sense Hippolytus, De Chr. et Antichr. 36, speaks of 'Babylon' having exiled him.] where Peter suffered a death like his Master [i.e., crucifixion], where Paul was crowned with the death of John [the Baptist] [i.e., execution],where the apostle John, after being plunged in burning oil and suffering nothing, was banished to an island.
Tertullian, who seems to imply this was at the time Peter and Paul were martyred (i.e. the 60's under Nero, and this is how Jerome interpreted his statement [Contra Jovin. 1.26] but Jerome personally accepts Domitian as the date [De sir. ill. 9]), is full of legends, and in any case, a man who was unsuccessfully killed by being thrown in boiling water was sent into exile? The vague sense of Hippolytus means nothing more conclusive than that the Roman authorities sent the author of Revelation to exile, not that he was sent from Rome. But the fact that the author is writing to the major churches of Asia Minor, and is known to them simply by the name John means, as Kümmel noted, that he worked in that region, despite the island of Patmos being the choice location for exile from any point of the empire. And why is there no address to Rome?
Robinson notes again on the tradition about the dating of Revelation:
Epiphanius, a contemporary of Jerome's, whom Hort [Apocalypse, xviii.] describes as 'a careless and confused writer but deeply read in early Christian literature', refers to John's banishment and prophecy as having taken place under 'Claudius Caesar' [Haer. 51.12 and 33.] - though he also seems to imply that Claudius was emperor in John's extreme old age! Whatever Epiphanius may have meant, it has been credibly argued that his source may have intended Nero, whose other name was Claudius (just as Claudius' other name was Nero).
I can't really agree that Epiphanius' source would have been Nero, seeing how Epiphanius thought Claudius was the same emperor in John's "extreme old age". It therefore follows that Epiphanius did not mean Nero for Claudius, seeing as he apparently meant Claudius for all the emperors from Galba (68-69) through Domitian (81-98).
There are some divergent sources to the tradition of Domitian for Nero, and Robinson mentions these, but they are late (4th century and later), and do not represent a reliable tradition (certainly not one more reliable than for Domitian), but are based on speculation and the fact that Nero was known for his cruelties and executions of Christians. The first, the Syriac title to Revelation (worthless as history), and the second, the 4th century History of John, the Son of Zebedee in Syriac. Robinson notes that they are not historically useful, but says:
It is of course historically worthless but Interesting at this and other points (see below, pp. 2581.) as an alternative and apparently independent tradition.
Hardly the case as noted above. The other points is that the Syriac History of John talks about a youth that the old Apostle John chased "on foot" during the reign of the tyrant who had banished him. This is taken to mean that the 60's fits better than the 90's. But again, we cannot pick up minor historical clues from legends, anymore than we can determine the shade of red the Little Red Riding Hood wore by the type of stomach-ache the wolf received later. It's simply legends which were made for a certain central motif; not to imply that John was able to run after a young man, meaning he was exiled in the time of Nero.
We have to acknowledge though, that the external tradition cannot by itself establish anything, especially if the internal evidence is against it. Because we have many such traditions, such as the author of the Epistle of Barnabbas being Barnabbas, and so on. It can only support the internal evidence in that direction if it allows (for example if the internal evidence can equally support Nero as well as Domitian, Domitian would be favored due to the tradition).
The references to persecution (2:10, 16:6, 17:6) do not necessitate anything such as a state-wide persecution. The persecution under Domitian has been questioned in recent years. Brown gives a balanced summary of the evidence and concludes that although there wasn't a persecution of the kind under Nero, he seemed to have harassed and sometimes executed Christians throughout the empire. But this does not explain 16:6 and 17:6 where the murders clearly indicate something of the kind of Nero. The fact that the church of Smyrna is going to be persecuted (2:10) means nothing because it is the only church that receives that warning, and the type of persecution is nothing more serious than spending time in jail, it lasts only 10 days, and death is only a possibility insofar as it is not really expected; hardly punishments under Domitian, but if the local authorities, on suspicions or due to untrusting neighbors having reported them, having heard what was going on in Rome, or perhaps simply on their own initiative, had started to harass Christians in Smyrna, we don't really have anything different here than the types of persecutions Paul went through. Thus, verses like 16:6 and 17:6 combined with the "easy-going" "not to worry" persecutions of Smyrna in 2:10 clearly argue more for Nero than Domitian. The death of Antipas in 2:13 happened a long time ago, and is of the same type of persecutions, apparently gone farther. Brown himself states,
The evidence does not warrant our attributing to Domitian a persecution in Rome of a ferocity nearly approaching Nero's. It does warrant the likelihood that in his distrust of possibly dangerous deviations Domitian showed hostility to Gentiles who abandoned the state religion for the Oriental cults that advocated the exclusive worship of one aniconic God (Judaism and probably Christianity).
He goes on however, to propose the situation as under Domitian:
During his reign some "cultists" were executed, especially when their religious stance might be connected to political opposition. Under Nero antiChristian activities do not seem to have extended outside Rome; but under Domitian investigations were more widespread, e.g., to Asia Minor and Palestine. Whether or not by Domitian's personal orders, local authorities may have undertaken their own investigations, especially in areas where Christians had annoyed their Pagan neighbors who judged them antisocial and irreligious. The Christians' refusal to join in the public cult and perhaps honor the divinized Domitian, when reported by those hostile to them, would have resulted in tribunals and sentences and martyrdom. The instances may have been very limited, but the memory of what Nero had done in Rome thirty years before would have colored Christian apprehension of what might be coming. (Notice that in Rev 2:10; 3:10 the persecution is going to come.) The exile of the prophet John to Patmos, the killing of Antipas at Pergamum (2:13), local ostracizing, disparity of wealth, and social discrimination producing alienation would have been added together to shape the overall picture of oppressive Roman rule in Rev.
Hardly the case, since 3:10 speaks of the Final Judgment on all mankind, not upon the Christians in their current lives, the death of Antipas in 2:13 ocurred a long time ago under quite possibly the same kind of persecutions that Paul endured, and the church of Smyrna is the only church of the seven addressed of this "Christian apprehension of what might be coming". Certainly, it would make more sense if the church at Smyrna was one exception where the local authorities decided to extend Nero's policy outside of Rome (or perhaps as mentioned above, simply distrusted Christians and took it one step further), than if under Domitian's extended suspicions only one church in such a connected region took such relatively minor persecutions.
Sitz im Leben under Nero or Domitian?
The main reasoning sometimes used to place Revelation definitively under Domitian as opposed to Nero is the references to emperor worship in the work. There was no emperor cult under Nero where everyone was required to worship him as a god, but certainly under Domitian. Yet can we say the references to worshipping the Beast (13:4, 15-16, 14:9-11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, 20:4) mean that a widespread persecution for those who have refused it is ocurring? Once again there is no mention of this at all to the seven churches addressed in chs. 2-3. The mark of the Beast on one's hands and head is clearly evil works and thoughts. If we are asked to take the worship of the Beast and the setting up of its image (13:14), then we also have to take this to mean that either: 1) Nero survived his wounds (13:12), either Nero or Domitian performed miracles (13:13), and either Nero or Domitian banned those who did not have the mark from selling or buying (13:16-17), none of which are the case. Clearly then, the worship of the Beast is symbollic of being in league with Satan and his evil deeds. This of course, would naturally be intertwined with the fact that emperors did indeed set up altars for themselves and were worshipped, though of course none made it mandatory until at the earliest Domitian, but as already explained, a natural reading of Revelation does not necessitate us to interpret the references to worshipping the Beast in this way.
Interpretation of Revelation
Finally, the chapters in Revelation that refer to the present and their interpretation is usually what most turn to when supposing a date. Brown notes that there is no indication of a supreme bishop in the letters to the churches in Revelation, though he does note that this absense could be incidental since the author's concerns are elsewhere. But it certainly does not go against an early date, and in any case one could clearly see that the author addresses the congregation to take action, and does not rely on the authority of its bishops and presbyters to take control, as can be seen in 1 Clement (96) and Ignatius (110). Brown supposes that the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:4 might be analogous to presbyters being installed as in Titus, I Timothy and the Didache (c.100):
If the worship arrangement of twenty-four elders around the One seated on the throne in Rev 4:4 suggests the presence of presbyters (elders), the seer may be closer to a period reflected in Titus and I Tim (90s) and Didache 15:1 (slightly later?) where presbyters/bishops and deacons are being/have been installed, but have not yet replaced apostles and prophets. Some addressees tested and some tolerated false prophets (Rev 2:2,20); the latter may reflect an outlook close to that of Didache 11:7 where prophets cannot be tested.
But the twenty-four elders are clearly analogous to the twenty-four divisions of priests in Judaism. The presence of presbyters and bishops is nothing absent in Paul (Phil. 1:1) and it is clearly not a time closer to early Catholicism or the Didache since the author appeals to testing false prophets, and no appealing to tradition/authority of presbyters is made. If the Didache prohibits the testing of prophets, Revelation permits and in fact encourages if not requires it, and those who don't, don't do so due to either a personal fault or having sided with such, but clearly not because Revelation is in the time of the Didache (c.100).
Revelation 11:2 is often seen as evidence that the Temple has been destroyed.
- Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 7.25.24-27; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.xii.xxvi.html
- Brown, Raymond E.,Introduction to the New Testament, pp.803-804
- Brown, ibid., pp.804-805
- Even if one claims James and Jude are forgeries, the forgerer clearly expected to be understood to mean James and Jude the apostles (of the Twelve).
- Brown, ibid., p.809