Dating The Apocalypse

There is a lot of debate regarding when the book of Revelation was written. Many scholars believe it was written around the time/during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, which occurred between A. D. 81 to A. D. 96. Others, however, do not agree. Many if not most preterists, for example, believe it was written before Jerusalem and her temple were destroyed by Rome in 70 A. D.

Personally, I am of the opinion that the Apocalypse was in fact written during the reign of Emperor Domitian. This short blog will explain why. Read on, if you will, Dear Reader:

A piece of numismatic (coin-based) evidence from the time of Domitian goes a long way, in my view, of dating the Apocalypse.

See here:

The coin seen above depicts Emperor Domitian’s wife, Empress Domitia, on the face, with an engraving of their son, on the reverse, who died in early childhood, holding seven stars above himself while sitting over or upon, the earth.

The Latin phrasing is as follows:

On the face, it reads “DOMITIAAVGVSTAIMPDOMIT

On the reverse, it reads “DIVVSCAESARIMPDOMITIANIF

Essentially, Emperor Domitian had the coin struck then minted to commemorate the death of his son, whom he had deified by calling himself “Divine Caesar”. Additionally, Emperor Domitian took the title “Dominus et Deus“, meaning “Lord and God“.

And so, for his, that is, Domitian’s son, to be likewise deified, it made Domitian’s son the son of the “Lord and God“.

Now, compare this to Revelation 1:16

And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

And, also Revelation 2:1

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks…

Then, finally, Revelation 2:18

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass…

It seems pretty clear that at the very least, chapters 1 & 2 of the Apocalypse were written after this coin was struck as a response to Emperor Domitian’s claim to Deity, and to the apotheosis of his deceased son.

It would seem the author wanted to make the point that it was neither the Emperor Domitian or his son, who is Lord God (See and compare Revelation 1:8 in the NASB) and Son of God, respectively. Rather, it is God the Father and Jesus of Nazareth, who ought to bare these titles.

Hence, if these things are so, the dating of the Apocalypse has to be given as some time after the coin was minted and circulated. This occurred in circa 82-83 A. D.. And Emperor Domitian was assassinated in 96 A. D. That gives us a window of about 12 or so years.

While there is perhaps enough disparate elements and evidence to argued over regarding the dating of the Apocalypse, the numismatic evidence seems clear enough.

The Votive Soul

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PS. For more on the relationship between the numismatic evidence and the Apocalypse, with some important information about Emperor Domitian, see: https://plymouthbrethren.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/coins-and-the-book-of-revelation-gordon-franz/

~ by votivesoul on 05/15/2018.

2 Responses to “Dating The Apocalypse”

  1. always been curious about something in the revelation. of course there is debate about john the revelator, whether he is that disciple whom Jesus loved (the apostle john), or another john. but in revelation 10 the author is told: “THOU MUST PROPHESY AGAIN BEFORE MANY PEOPLES, AND NATIONS, AND TONGUES, AND KINGS.” So if the author is the apostle, is there any historic account of his life post-patmos? if it was another john, again, any historic account of someone fulfilling this scripture? thank you.

    phareztamar (randall)

  2. HI, phareztamar

    I have been interested in that very verse myself. I don’t have any answers, except to say that many believe the “Come up here” in Revelation 4:1 is the “rapture”, but that’s not possible if John is supposed to prophesy again after being “raptured”.

    Apart from that, I don’t think the John of Revelation is the Apostle John, as in John son of Zebedee. Maybe John Mark, or a different John. It seems that some believe it’s John because of how the Gospel of John ends regarding Jesus telling Simon Peter that if He willed it, Jesus would or could cause that disciple to live until He returns. Add to that the Catholic myth of John being boiled in oil and surviving it, then being exiled to Patmos, and you have the reason most believe that a disciple who was born at or very closely around the time that Jesus was born, lived for almost 100 years, a near impossibility in that era.

    It makes much more sense to me to believe Revelation’s John is therefore a different one. As far as any kind of post-exile ministry this John had, whoever he was. Eusebius may shed some light. I will have to check on that, and get back to you.

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