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Preterism & the Date of the Apocalypse (Revelation)
PFRS ^ | 10/03 | Tim Warner

Posted on 09/19/2005 9:13:46 AM PDT by xzins

PFRS Home > Doctrinal Studies > Preterism

Preterism
& the Date of the Apocalypse
Copyright © Tim Warner - 010/2003


The date of the writing of Revelation has been hotly disputed by preterists. Until the last century, Christian tradition has placed John's exile to Patmos during the reign of the emperor Domitian (AD 81-96).

The dispute over the date of the composition of Revelation is a crucial one. If it was composed by John after AD70 and the fall of Jerusalem preterism is at once refuted. Revelation is a prophetic book, predicting the coming of Christ in the future. A post-AD70 date makes equating the coming of Christ with the destruction of Jerusalem utterly impossible.

There is no question that Revelation was written while John was a prisoner of the Roman state, exiled to the prison island of Patmos. That much can be gathered from the first chapter of Revelation. "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."[1]

There were only two Roman emperors who persecuted Christians on a large scale in the first century, Nero and Domitian. The other Emperors were either indifferent to Christianity, or did not consider it a serious threat to Rome. The first Roman persecution under Nero took place in the decade of the 60s, just before the fall of Jerusalem. Nero was responsible for the deaths of both Peter and Paul in Rome in AD67, Peter by crucifixion, and Paul by being beheaded.

There is no record of Nero's banishing Christians to Patmos, only his brutality against the Christians of Rome. It was Nero who made a sport of throwing Christians to the lions for the entertainment of the crowds, and who burned many at the stake along the road leading to the Coliseum merely to light the entrance.

After Nero's death Rome left the Christians alone until the rise of Domitian to power in AD81. Although not as cruel and insane as Nero, Domitian had some Christians killed, the property of Christians confiscated, Scriptures and other Christian books burned, houses destroyed, and many of the most prominent Christians banished to the prison island of Patmos.

All ancient sources, both Christian and secular, place the banishment of Christians to Patmos during the reign of Domitian (AD81-96). Not a single early source (within 500 years of John) places John's banishment under the reign of Nero, as preterists claim. All modern attempts to date Revelation during Nero's reign rely exclusively on alleged internal evidence, and ignore or seek to undermine the external evidence and testimony of Christians who lived about that time, some of whom had connections to John.

Eusebius the Christian historian, living only two hundred years after Domitian's reign, gathered evidence from both Christian and secular sources that were still extant at the time (some of which are no longer extant today). All of the sources at Eusebius' disposal placed the date of John's Patmos exile during the reign of Domitian. Eusebius' earliest source was Irenaeus, disciple of Polycarp, disciple of John. But he also used other unnamed sources both Christian and secular to place the date of the Patmos exile of Christians during Domitian's reign (AD81-96). "It is said that in this persecution [under Domitian] the apostle and evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island of Patmos in consequence of his testimony to the divine word. Irenaeus, in the fifth book of his work Against Heresies, where he discusses the number of the name of Antichrist which is given in the so-called Apocalypse of John, speaks as follows concerning him: 'If it were necessary for his name to be proclaimed openly at the present time, it would have been declared by him who saw the Revelation. For it was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.' To such a degree, indeed, did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time that even those writers who were far from our religion did not hesitate to mention in their histories the persecution and the martyrdoms which took place during it. And they, indeed, accurately indicated the time. For they recorded that in the fifteenth year of Domitian Flavia Domitilla, daughter of a sister of Flavius Clement, who at that time was one of the consuls of Rome, was exiled with many others to the island of Pontia in consequence of testimony borne to Christ." [2] 

While Eusebius quoted Irenaeus' statement, notice that he also indicated that other secular histories at his disposal accurately indicated the banishment of Christians to Patmos occurred during Domitian's reign.

Eusebius continues: "Tertullian also has mentioned Domitian in the following words: 'Domitian also, who possessed a share of Nero's cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished.' But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, voted that Domitian's horrors should be cancelled, and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them. It was at this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition." [3]

Here again Eusebius mentioned an ancient Christian tradition, but did not quote his sources, that placed John's return from exile on Patmos after Domitian's fifteen year reign, and Nerva's rise to power (AD96).

There is more early evidence, both explicit and implicit, from other early writers prior to Eusebius, as follows:

Victorinus, bishop of Pettaw (Italy), agreed with Irenaeus. That Victorinus did not rely on Irenaeus for his information is clear from the fuller details of his statement not referenced by Irenaeus. "'And He says unto me, Thou must again prophesy to the peoples, and to the tongues, and to the nations, and to many kings.' He says this, because when John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labor of the mines by Caesar Domitian. There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse; and when grown old, he thought that he should at length receive his quittance by suffering, Domitian being killed, all his judgments were discharged. And John being dismissed from the mines, thus subsequently delivered the same Apocalypse which he had received from God." [4]

A little farther, Victorinus again made the same claim. "The time must be understood in which the written Apocalypse was published, since then reigned Caesar Domitian; but before him had been Titus his brother, and Vespasian, Otho, Vitellius, and Galba."[5]

Clement of Alexandria (AD150-220) recounted a story about John shortly after his return from exile, while a very old man. "And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit." [6]

The expression "the tyrant's death" can only refer to the death of either Nero or Domitian, the only two "tyrants" that ruled in the first century. Eusebius related that upon the death of Domitian, the Roman senate voted to release those exiled by Domitian. This seems to parallel Clement's statement above. However, the above statement COULD refer to Nero, except for one fact. In the story that Clement related, he clearly stated that John was a very old and feeble man.

The story is about a young new convert whom John entrusted to a certain elder to disciple in the Faith. The man had formerly been a thief and robber. Upon John's return from exile on Patmos, he heard that this young man had returned to his old life of crime. Upon hearing this, he sharply rebuked the elder in whose custody he had left him. John immediately set out for the place where this robber and his band were known to lurk. Upon reaching the place, he was assaulted by the band of robbers. He demanded of them to take him to their leader. They brought John to the very man whom John had formerly won to Christ, and left in the custody of the elder. When the young man saw John approaching, he began to run away. John began to run after him, calling, “Why, my son, dost thou flee from me, thy father, unarmed, old? Son, pity me. Fear not; thou hast still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for thee. If need be, I will willingly endure thy death, as the Lord did death for us. For thee I will surrender my life. Stand, believe; Christ hath sent me.” John then explained to him that forgiveness and restoration was still possible. Clement then stated, "And he, when he heard, first stood, looking down; then threw down his arms, then trembled and wept bitterly. And on the old man approaching, he embraced him, speaking for himself with lamentations as he could, and baptized a second time with tears, concealing only his right hand. The other pledging, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness for himself from the Savior, beseeching and failing on his knees, and kissing his right hand itself, as now purified by repentance, led him back to the church." [7]

From this account we see that upon John's release from exile on Patmos, he was a feeble old man. John could have been in his teens or twenties when Jesus called him. He and his brother James were working with their father as fishermen (Matt. 4:21-22). Assuming John was in his twenties, he would have been in his eighties in AD96. If he was in his teens when Jesus called him, he would have been in his seventies at the end of Domitian's reign. However, if the "tyrant" referred to by Clement was Nero, then John would have still been fairly young by the time of Nero's death, perhaps in his forties, fifties, or early sixties. He would hardly be spoken of as a feeble old man by Clement.

That John lived until after the reign of Domitian is also shown by Irenaeus' repeated references to his own mentor, Polycarp, being John's disciple.[8] Polycarp was born in AD65, and died in AD155. He was five years old when Jerusalem was destroyed. He was two years old when Nero died. His being tutored by John therefore must have been at least a decade after the destruction of Jerusalem, and more likely two or three decades afterward.

More than one early writer mentioned the persecution of the Apostles under Nero. They spoke of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, but made no mention of John's exile during this persecution.

As is obvious to the unbiased reader, the early external evidence that Revelation was written under the reign of Domitian is indisputable. No evidence exists, from the first three centuries of Christian tradition, placing the composition of Revelation during the reign of Nero. Nor is there any evidence (Christian or secular) that Nero exiled any Christians to Patmos.

Preterist argument from internal evidence.
The clear familiarity of John with Temple worship in Revelation is alleged to indicate that both he and his readers relied on personal knowledge of Temple worship in Jerusalem. According to preterists, this implies that the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing when Revelation was written.

However, this argument is flawed at its very foundation. The Old Testament is full of the same Temple imagery. Any Gentile Christian familiar with the Old Testament (LXX) would be sufficiently familiar with the Temple imagery. Furthermore, familiarity with the New Testament book of Hebrews would also be sufficient. Even a cursory reading of Revelation reveals that John's visions and comments reference Old Testament prophecy on every page.

Ezekiel saw a future Temple in his prophetic visions. [9] Yet, his visions occurred during the Babylonian captivity years after Solomon's Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Many of those who returned after the seventy year captivity to rebuild the Temple had never seen Solomon's Temple, or observed its rituals. [10] Their familiarity with the Temple was based solely on the Torah and scrolls like Ezekiel's and Daniel's.

The Temple destroyed by the Romans has been gone for nearly 2000 years. If preterists' claim is correct, we should not be able to understand Revelation or write about Temple worship today because we have no personal first-hand knowledge of the Temple and its rituals. Such a position is absurd, since our knowledge of the Temple comes from the Scriptures. Neither the writing nor understanding of Revelation requires or implies first hand knowledge of the Temple. The Old Testament is sufficient. John certainly was himself familiar with the Temple, having been there with Jesus on several occasions. And his readers were well trained in the Old Testament Scriptures.

That John was told in his vision to "measure the Temple and them that worship therein,"[11] is likewise no indication that the Temple was still standing in Jerusalem. This prophetic vision clearly parallels Ezekiel's vision. [12] Ezekiel saw his vision during the Babylonian captivity, fourteen years after Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.[13] Yet, in his vision, Ezekiel was taken to Jerusalem, shown a glorious Temple far larger than Solomon's Temple, and proceeded to record all the measurements of the Temple in great detail. John saw his prophetic Temple vision during Domitian's reign (AD81-96). We don't know exactly when during his reign he was exiled, nor how long prior to his release he wrote Revelation. But, the possible timespan covers anywhere from eleven to twenty six years after the destruction of the Temple by Titus. It certainly COULD have also been fourteen years following the Temple's destruction, just like Ezekiel's Temple vision. It is obvious that the command given John to "measure the Temple" was meant to parallel Ezekiel's vision. Since Ezekiel saw his Temple vision fourteen years after the first Temple had been destroyed and lay in ruins, there is every reason to conclude that the same situation existed when John wrote Revelation. Ezekiel's Temple vision and prophecy was clearly intended to indicate a future rebuilt Temple. Ezekiel did not see the former (Solomon's) Temple that had been destroyed, or a Temple that was currently standing. Therefore,  John's vision of the Temple in Jerusalem should be seen in the same way, being an indication and prophecy that the Temple will indeed be rebuilt. Contrary to the claim that John's Temple vision indicates that Herod's Temple was still standing, when compared to the parallel account in Ezekiel, it seems obvious that both prophecies of measuring the Temple were given shortly after the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. The former in Ezekiel's day by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, and the latter in John's day by Titus and the Romans.

That this is how the early Christians understood Revelation, even after the destruction of the Temple, is clear from their statements to the effect that the Temple in Jerusalem will be the seat of the Antichrist in the last days. [14]

The preterist's attempts to date Revelation before the destruction of Jerusalem fail on both internal and external evidence. This failure is indicative of their whole system, which is forced upon the Scriptures, and in this case, upon history as well. Preterist scholarship on this question is clearly agenda driven.

Notes:
[1] Rev. 1:9
[2] Eusebius, Bk. III, ch. xviii
[3] ibid. ch. xx
[4] Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse, XI
[5] ibid. ch. XVII
[6] Clement, Who is the Rich Man that shall be Saved, XLII
[7] ibid.
[8] Irenaeus, frag. ii
[9] Ezek. 40-44
[10] cf. Hag. 2:3
[11] Rev. 11:1-2
[12] cf. Ezek. 40:3ff & Rev. 13:1-2
[13] Ezek. 40:1
[14] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk V, XXV, i-ii, Bk. V, XXX, iv, Hippolytus, On Daniel, II, xxxix, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, vi, Appendix to the Works of Hippolytus, XXV

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TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: apocalypse; apostle; domitian; jerusalem; john; preterism; revelation
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1 posted on 09/19/2005 9:13:49 AM PDT by xzins
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To: xzins

Just to add to Warner's article:

Many of the Church Fathers since John have written of the mystery of the identity of the Anti-Christ.

If John had just known it, why hadn't he revealed it to them? Why all these puzzled early fathers still wondering who it WILL be? (Note future tense.)


2 posted on 09/19/2005 9:16:44 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: P-Marlowe; Buggman; blue-duncan; BibChr; Corin Stormhands

Excellent article for your files.

Just to add to Warner's article:

Many of the Church Fathers since John have written of the mystery of the identity of the Anti-Christ.

If John had just known it, why hadn't he revealed it to them? Why all these puzzled early fathers still wondering who it WILL be? (Note future tense.)


3 posted on 09/19/2005 9:17:25 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins
The dating of the book of Revelation plays a central role in how the book may be interpreted. Was Revelation a warning to churches of impending persecution prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70? Or did persecution occur much later, in A.D. 95-96 after Jerusalem was destroyed? The argument for preterism, the belief that the destructive prophecies in Revelation described events leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, depends on the book of Revelation having been written before that date. Premillennialists, who believe these prophecies of destruction are yet future, are quick to argue for the late date because it "destroys this entire theory"[1] of preterism.

Some significant research on the dating of Revelation has recently been conducted by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., in his doctoral research which is contained in the book Before Jerusalem Fell[2] and in an excellent, but less technical summary entitled The Beast of Revelation.[3] Gentry describes the history of the scholarly opinion as an ebb and flow with respect to the dating of Revelation. As liberalism grew in the 1800s, there was considerable pressure to assign late dates to many of the New Testament books. This bolstered the argument by liberals that redactors had added to, modified, or deleted portions of the Bible. Toward the late 1800s, however, the evidence for an early dating of Revelation was considered so compelling that a "strong majority" of scholars favored an early date. Since then, however, opinion has shifted back towards a late date with little apparent reason for doing so.

Gentry lists 145 scholars who advocate an early dating of Revelation, including the great church historian, Philip Schaff, and others such as Jay Adams, Greg Bahnsen, F.F. Bruce, Alfred Edersheim, John A. T. Robinson, and Milton Terry.

The theme verse of Revelation reads "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen" (Rev. 1:7). Cloud comings refer to swift judgment upon God's enemies (Ps. 18:7-15; Joel 2:1,2, Zeph. 1:14,15) in this case upon "they who pierced him." The Jews were covenantally responsible for Christ's death: they sought His death, paid for His capture, brought false witness, convicted Him, turned Him over to Roman civil authority, and declared "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matt. 27:25).[4] The Greek word for "earth" can also be translated "land," thus the reference here likely refers to the twelve "tribes of the [promised] land," the Jews.

Thus, the judgment Christ prophesied against the Jews (Matt. 21:40-45; 23:32-24:2, Luke 23:23-30) is echoed throughout the book of Revelation. Whereas Christ warned that these prophecies would come within a generation (Matt. 12:41-45, 23:36, 24:34), similarly John in Revelation warns that these events will occur "shortly" (1:1), "the time is near" (1:3), "the hour . . . is about to come" (3:10 NASB), Christ is coming "quickly" in judgment (22:7), and "must shortly take place" (22:6). These judgments culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem under multiple armies under Roman command. Over a million Jews were slaughtered, hundreds of thousands of others were enslaved, the city left in ruins, and the great temple was utterly destroyed within a generation (40 years) of Christ's prophesy (Matt. 24:2).

The late date advocates who believe that Revelation was written around A.D. 95-96 have a problem on their hands. They suggest that persecution under the emperor Domitian was what is described in Revelation, but there is scant evidence that persecution of Christians by Domitian ever took place--a fact that many late date adherents readily admit.[5] The author of Revelation, John, repeatedly alludes to a "great city" which is very likely a reference to Jerusalem and describes the temple as if it were still standing (Rev. 11:2). How can late date advocates make such claims of a city that history records was left in ruins in A.D. 70? Much has been made by late daters of a statement by Irenaeus in Against Heresies that seems to associate John or the book of Revelation with Domitian, but there are a number of translational, interpretational, and historical problems that caution against an overreliance on this ambiguous passage.

Bahnsen and Gentry cite external evidence for an early date: "Clement of Alexandria . . . asserts that all revelation ceased under Nero's reign. The Muratorian Canon (ca. 170) has John completing Revelation before Paul had written to seven different churches (Paul died in A.D. 67 or 68). Tertullian (A.D. 160-220) places John's banishment in conjunction with Peter's and Paul's martyrdom (A.D. 67/68). Epiphanius (A.D. 315-403) twice states Revelation was written under `Claudius [Nero] Caesar.' The Syriac version of Revelation (sixth century) has as a heading to Revelation: `written in Patmos, whither John was sent by Nero Caesar.'"[6]

Since Nero died in A.D. 68, the writing of Revelation must have preceded that date, most likely having been written sometime between A.D. 64 and 67.

The Dating of Revelation by Jack Van Deventer

Notes:

1 Dave Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven? (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1988) p. 249.
2 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell, Dating the Book of Revelation (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989).
3 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Beast of Revelation (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989).
4 Gentry, Beast, p. 90-91.
5 Ibid, p. 54-55.
6 Bahnsen, Greg L. and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. House Divided, The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology. (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989) p. 259-260.


4 posted on 09/19/2005 9:23:50 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
Good find. I'd thought about posting something similar to one of the other "preterist" threads, but I got distracted.

Preterism utterly fails on multiple fronts, but the dating of the Revelation is the final nail in the coffin.

5 posted on 09/19/2005 9:26:24 AM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!<p>)
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To: xzins

The resolution to the preterist/end-time-intepretation controversy is very simple: the Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian is a description of all of history from the time it was written until the end.

St. John himself in his epistles uses "antichrist" not as an escatological figure, but as any who oppose or seek to supplant Christ.

The text applies to St. John's times, to the rise of Napoleon, to WW II, to now, whether ours is the end-times or not. Thus, we can see the rise of antichrist in our times, without knowing whether the last great Antichrist has arisen.

In this way we can both read the signs of the times, and repent, for the end is nigh, and have no idea of the time known only to the Father.


6 posted on 09/19/2005 9:27:24 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know . . .)
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To: topcat54; Buggman; P-Marlowe; BibChr; blue-duncan

All of the arguments of your post seem clearly refuted in the posted article.

Additionally, there is no evidence of the death of the Apostle John around 70 AD. That would appear to end speculation about the date of Revelation.


7 posted on 09/19/2005 9:30:55 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins
All of the arguments of your post seem clearly refuted in the posted article.

Actually, no. It doesn't seem to deal with the extent of the persecution under Nero vs. Domitian and it also doesn't deal with the time texts ("things which must shortly take place", 1:1; 22:6; "Surely I am coming quickly", 22:20).

8 posted on 09/19/2005 10:02:51 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: xzins
Additionally, there is no evidence of the death of the Apostle John around 70 AD. That would appear to end speculation about the date of Revelation.

How so? There's nothing in Revelation regarding the timing of John's death.

9 posted on 09/19/2005 10:05:43 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; xzins

Does not Paul teach that Jesus will destroy the antichrist - the man of sin - upon his return to earth?


10 posted on 09/19/2005 10:18:29 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: PetroniusMaximus; xzins
Does not Paul teach that Jesus will destroy the antichrist - the man of sin - upon his return to earth?

I assume you are referring to:

"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming." (2 Thess 2:8)

The Lord Will Consume

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders. (2 Thess. 2:8-9)[32]

As just indicated, the lawless one was eventually openly revealed. The mystery form of his character gave way to a revelation of his lawlessness in Nero's wicked acts. This occurred after the restrainer [Claudius, who maintained religio licita] was "taken out of the way," allowing Nero the public stage upon which he could act out his horrendous lawlessness.

According to Hendriksen verse eight destroys any preterist interpretation identifying the Man of Lawlessness with the Roman emperor, because it ties the events to the era of the Second Advent.[33] The strong preteristic indications in the passage heretofore, however, demand a different understanding of the destructive coming of Christ here mentioned. As already shown in the discussion of verse 1, Matthew 24:30 is most relevant here: "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." And that verse is specifically applied to the first century (Matt. 24:34), as is Revelation 1:7[34] (cp. Rev. 1:1, 3); Matthew 26:63-65; and Mark 9:1. Christ comes in judgment upon Jerusalem in the events of A.D. 67-70.

In that judgment-coming against Jerusalem there is also judgment for the Man of Lawlessness, Nero. There is hope and comfort in the promised relief from the opposition of the Jews and Nero (2 Thess. 2:15-17). Not only was Jerusalem destroyed within twenty years, but Nero himself died a violent death in the midst of the Jewish War (June 8, A.D. 68). His death, then, would occur in the Day of the Lord in conjunction with the judgment-coming of Christ. He will be destroyed by the breath of Christ, much like Assyria was destroyed with the coming and breath of the LORD in the Old Testament (Isa. 30:27-31) and like Israel was crushed by Babylon (Mic. 1:3-5). In fact, by God's providence Nero's death stopped the Jewish War briefly so that Christians trapped in Jerusalem could escape (cp. 1 Thess. 1:10).[35] The Man of Lawlessness/Beast, Nero Caesar, dies in the Day of the Lord with the Great Harlot, Jerusalem (Rev. 19:17-21; cf. Rev. 22:6, 10, 12).

The Man of Lawlessness: A Preteristic Postmillennial Interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2 by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Notes:

[32]Such imperial arrogance would produce alleged miracles as confirmation. Vespasian is called "the miracle worker, because by him "many miracles occurred." Tacitus, Histories 4:81; Suetonius, Vespasian 7. Notice that Paul speaks of these as "lying wonders."

[33]Hendriksen, I and II Thessalonians, 173.

[34]See my Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Tyler, Tex.: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), ch. 8.

[35]See: Josephus, Wars 4:11:5. Cp. Luke 21:18, 20-24, 27-28; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3:5:3; Epiphanius, Heresies 29:7. See also: Rev. 7:1-17 in Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, 243-244.

(This article is very long, but you need to conmsider it carefully see all the implications.)


11 posted on 09/19/2005 10:43:54 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; xzins

Indirectly, there is. It says it was penned while John was in exile on Patmos. We know from numerous Church fathers, Irenaeus and Eusebius among them, that Yochanan was exiled to Patmos during Domitian's reign. Therefore, the Apostle couldn't have died before Domitian's reign and was around in the 90s AD.


12 posted on 09/19/2005 10:46:08 AM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!<p>)
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To: topcat54; xzins
***"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." And that verse is specifically applied to the first century (Matt. 24:34)***


Jesus is addressing TWO questions from the disciples in Matt 24...

1. "Tell us, when will these things be...?"

2. "... And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

So both events are in play in the chapter, the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Jesus clearly didn't return "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" in AD 70.



*** Christ comes in judgment upon Jerusalem in the events of A.D. 67-70.***

I vaguely remember a post millennial interpretation that has Christ in a mini-advent in AD 70. I think this is clearly a faulty exegesis. We were clearly promised,

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." - Acts 1:11



***He will be destroyed by the breath of Christ,...***

And by the "...with the brightness of his coming". Which clearly didn't occur to Nero.



When he returns, it will be in the same manner in which he left. And every eye will see him.
13 posted on 09/19/2005 11:01:27 AM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; Corin Stormhands; Buggman

Gentry lists F.F.Bruce as an advocate of an early writing (pre 70 A.D.) of Revelation. However in Bruce's introduction to the Gospel of John he states the following:

"But within John's general Hellenistic environment can we think of one particular category of reader that he might have in mind? Whom are the arguments deployed in the great debate of his central chapters designed to convince? These central chapters are largely devoted to one sustained debate between Jesus and the religious leaders in Jerusalem--a debate which was carried on in the following decades between the followers of Jesus and the synagogue authorities.

The destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the cessation of the sacrificial worship in AD 70 made little difference to Jewish life in the dispersion. The debate between the disciples and the synagogue authorities reached a critical stage around AD 90, when one of the prayers in the synagogue service was reworded so as effectively to exclude the followers of Jesus.45 It was probably against this background that the Fourth Gospel was published, in order to bring members of synagogue congregations in that area of the dispersion where the Evangelist and his associates lived (and in other areas too) to faith in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God, the Revealer of the Father.46 Among members of synagogue congregations those most likely to be impressed were perhaps Gentile God-fearers who regularly attended synagogue services (the record of Acts illustrates how this was so in Paul's mission-field a generation earlier)."

If Bruce is correct, it would seem that the destruction John writes about in Revelation was not the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple from 66-70 A.D. but some later cataclysmic event.



14 posted on 09/19/2005 11:10:24 AM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: Buggman; xzins
We know from numerous Church fathers, Irenaeus and Eusebius among them, that Yochanan was exiled to Patmos during Domitian's reign.

Are these the same church fathers that replaced "authentic Christianity", aka Messianic Judaism, with the gentile church?

That tradition comes to us primarily from Irenaeus through Eusebius. As I have pointed out elsewhere, the testimony of Irenaeus still amount to a tradition and is open to interpretation. He was not a firsthand witness of these events. His accuracy and precision as to what he was describing is not universally accepted.

This is how Schraff records Irenaeus' words: "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."

The ambiguity exist in how to interpret the phrase "For that was seen", does "that" refer to John, his vision, or the account of his vision.

John could very well have been exiled under Domitian, yet had his revelation during an earlier exile under Nero. No one has claimed that he was only exiled once.

15 posted on 09/19/2005 11:34:14 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: blue-duncan
If Bruce is correct, it would seem that the destruction John writes about in Revelation was not the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple from 66-70 A.D. but some later cataclysmic event.

I'm not following. How do you conclude that from Bruce's comments?

16 posted on 09/19/2005 11:38:28 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: PetroniusMaximus
So both events are in play in the chapter, the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Jesus clearly didn't return "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" in AD 70.

Actually, if you understand Jewish thought at that time you'lll see they have only one event in mind. The destruction of the temple was intimately related to the "end of the age", that is the Jewish economy under which they were living. It is a misunderstanding to push "end of the age" out to mean some time far in our future. As we are told in Hebrews 9:26, Christ appeared at the "consummation of the ages" when He came the first time to deal with the sin problam of Israel.

I vaguely remember a post millennial interpretation that has Christ in a mini-advent in AD 70. I think this is clearly a faulty exegesis. We were clearly promised,

The confusion is that some people fail to distinguish between Christ's "cloud coming" in AD70 and what we call His second coming that is yet to be revealed. Matt. 24:4-31 and the parallel passages in Mark 13 and Luke 21 describe the former, passages like Acts 1 and 1 Cor. 15 describe the latter.

17 posted on 09/19/2005 11:48:50 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54

"The destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the cessation of the sacrificial worship in AD 70 made little difference to Jewish life in the dispersion."

The destruction in the vision in Revelation makes a big difference to Jewish life.


18 posted on 09/19/2005 12:20:20 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: xzins; blue-duncan; Buggman
I was reading an article the other day which suggested that the reason why the 4th century church decided to apply the book of Revelation to the events of 70AD rather than to future events is because the Roman Church had married itself to the Roman Government and the clear references to the evil Roman government just didn't sit right with the powers that be.

Obviously since the power of Rome was now the power of the church, they couldn't have a book predicting that the evil Roman Powers would be directly overthrown by Christ himself. It just didn't sit right.

Missler has said that while the Reformation reformed its views on soteriology and theology, they failed to make the necessary reforms to the Roman views on eschatology. IOW the preterist position is a throwback to the Holy Roman Empire eschatology. Earlier eschatology (prior to the marriage of the Roman government to the Roman Church) leaned towards a futurist interpretation and most of the early church fathers (prior to Augustine) held to the 95 AD date for the book of Revelation.

19 posted on 09/19/2005 12:23:51 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: blue-duncan
The destruction in the vision in Revelation makes a big difference to Jewish life.

Only in Jerusalem. The effect would be negligible on Jews living in the diaspora. The only thing that would be affected is annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the various festivals. Revelation, like Matt. 24, was directed primarily against the Jews living in Jerusalem.

20 posted on 09/19/2005 12:31:30 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Buggman
You realize, of course, that the same thing can be said of the futurist interpretation, ala the Jesuit Ribera?

See The Catholic Origins of Futurism and Preterism

BTW, I don't share this view, but I'm simply pointing out that the argument has been applied to both preterists and futurists.

Missler has said that while the Reformation reformed its views on soteriology and theology, they failed to make the necessary reforms to the Roman views on eschatology.

I don't know what history you're reading, but this is patently false. The Reformers were almost universally historicist in their eschatology, seeing the Roman pope as the antichrist, and the entire book of Revelation as a recapulation of history from Christ's first advent to His second one. I doubt the RC church would share that eschatological view.

Earlier eschatology (prior to the marriage of the Roman government to the Roman Church) leaned towards a futurist interpretation and most of the early church fathers (prior to Augustine) held to the 95 AD date for the book of Revelation.

I'm not sure where you're getting your info. There were many early church fathers who saw the book of Revelation in the context of the events of AD70.

21 posted on 09/19/2005 12:43:49 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
Are these the same church fathers that replaced "authentic Christianity", aka Messianic Judaism, with the gentile church?

The same. I don't have to like every aspect of their theology or see them as perfect to respect their ability to record history reasonably accurately.

That cuts both ways, btw. You regard the ECF as all but divinely inspired in their rejection of the Nazarenes (even though complete rejection didn't happen until the fourth century, since Martyr regards them as brothers, errant though he believed they were on the point of following Torah), but when we have universal acceptance among them of a late date for the Revelation, well suddenly they're just not worth looking at, huh?

That tradition comes to us primarily from Irenaeus through Eusebius. As I have pointed out elsewhere, the testimony of Irenaeus still amount to a tradition and is open to interpretation.

True. However, given the distinct lack of competing traditions and the consensus of multiple sources, why in the world should we assume an earlier date?

He was not a firsthand witness of these events. His accuracy and precision as to what he was describing is not universally accepted.

Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp, who was in turn the disciple of Yochanan the Apostle himself. I'd say he was in a pretty good position to know when the Revelation was penned and under what circumstances, wouldn't you?

Furthermore, it's interesting that none of the ECF closest to the events of 70 AD saw a fulfillment of the Apocalypse in them--only centuries removed from the event do we see the preterist view taking shape. Also, it's interesting that everyone we have the writings of who was linked to Yochanan--Irenaeus, Hippolytus, even enemies like Cerinthius--held to a premillennial (chiliast) view, which points to the fact that this was in fact the view taught by the Apostle. Indeed, Irenaeus, just a generation removed, wrote extensively on the Revelation, and he is decidedly premill and futurist, as was his own disciple Hippolytus. You'd think that if Yochanan was a preterist, you'd see some of that in those ECF around him.

The ambiguity exist in how to interpret the phrase "For that was seen", does "that" refer to John, his vision, or the account of his vision.

You think that Irenaeus used a neuter pronoun to refer to the Apostle Yochanan?

For the other two, it doesn't matter, since the Revelation says of itself that it was penned on Patmos. Irenaeus was not the only one who put the exile in Domitian's reign. Eusebius quotes Irenaeus and goes on to cite others that were also exiled during Domitian’s reign in support of Irenaeus’ dating (Ecclesiastical History, Book III, chapter 18 and Book V, chapter 7). Victorinus wrote that “when John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian,” (Commentary on the Apocalypse, chapter 10.11) in agreement with Jerome (Illustrious Men, chapter 9) and Hippolytus (On the Twelve Apostles).

Another argument that Revelation was penned during Nero’s reign and refers to him comes from the Syriac version of the book, which is titled, “The Revelation which was made by God to John the Evangelist in the island of Patmos, whither he was banished by the Emperor Nero.” However, to cite the Syriac version, you have to ignore the fact that in the original Syriac translation that is dated from the second century, the books of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation were not included. The others had been put back in by the fifth or sixth century, but there seems to be some doubt as to whether Revelation was included even then. Indeed, one source states that Revelation “did not appear in the Syriac Testament as late as 1562” (Stanton, Elizabeth Cady and the Revising Committee, The Women’s Bible, “Revelation: Chapter I” (1898), p. 177, retrieved from The Internet Sacred Text Archive). Even if we argue that that date is too late, the fact is that the Syriac version of Revelation’s title was written, at a minimum, four centuries after Yochanan recorded it and is contrary to every other manuscript of the book and the witness of at least five early Church fathers. How exactly is this a point in preterism’s favor?

John could very well have been exiled under Domitian, yet had his revelation during an earlier exile under Nero. No one has claimed that he was only exiled once.

Nor is there any hint in history that he was banished twice to Patmos--Nero wasn't in the habit of banishing Apostles anyway; he preferred killing even those, like Paul, who held Roman citizenship.

It is telling that you would use such a weak argument from silence in order to defend your theological system. Futurists and historicists can appeal to the existing evidence. A preterist must appeal to unprovable "could've beens" in order to keep his theology from bursting into flames.

Your attempts to single out Irenaeus' statement for critique fail simply because there is wide and documented evidence that the late date was known and accepted throughout the Church, while there is exactly zero early documentary evidence for Yochanan being exiled to Patmos in Nero's reign. The only reason why anyone would even challenge the 90-96 AD date is a desire to prove preterism. In fact, a futurist, premillennial interpretation of Revelation does not depend upon the 90 A.D. dating of the book, and in fact will work perfectly well even given an earlier authorship, given that we can demonstrate that the events of 70 AD do not match the prophecies given in the book. That being the case, it should be up to those requiring the earlier date to prove their supposition with clear and decisive evidence.

Which you don't have and never will because the simple fact of the matter is that the Revelation was given no less than twenty years after the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem.

22 posted on 09/19/2005 12:59:08 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: topcat54; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
You realize, of course, that the same thing can be said of the futurist interpretation, ala the Jesuit Ribera?

Sooo . . . you're suggesting that the Jesuit Ribera traveled back in time to the second century and taught Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Victoranus, etc. futurism?

"Doc, you're telling me you made a time machine . . . out of a horse-drawn carriage?"

23 posted on 09/19/2005 1:03:48 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
Preterism utterly fails on multiple fronts, but the dating of the Revelation is the final nail in the coffin.

Curious that y'all would hang your hopes on a human tradition, and a very thin one at that. Not to mention that this tradition comes from the very same church fathers that you apparently do not hold in very high regard for the way theey destroyed "authentic Christianity".

Irenaeus wrote:

"Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfil it: wherefore "the law and the prophets were" with them "until John." And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David, and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation when the new covenant was revealed. For God does all things by measure and in order; nothing is unmeasured with Him, because nothing is out of order. Well spake he, who said that the unmeasurable Father was Himself subjected to measure in the Son; for the Son is the measure of the Father, since He also comprehends Him. But that the administration of them (the Jews) was temporary, Esaias says: "And the daughter of Zion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers." And when shall these things be left behind? Is it not when the fruit shall be taken away, and the leaves alone shall be left, which now have no power of producing fruit?"

"God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] "Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son," as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvellous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God. For truly this prediction was uttered before the removal of the people to Babylon; that is, anterior to the supremacy acquired by the Medes and Persians. But it was interpreted into Greek by the Jews themselves, much before the period of our Lord's advent, that there might remain no suspicion that perchance the Jews, complying with our humour, did put this interpretation upon these words. They indeed, had they been cognizant of our future existence, and that we should use these proofs from the Scriptures, would themselves never have hesitated to burn their own Scriptures, which do declare that all other nations partake of [eternal] life, and show that they who boast themselves as being the house of Jacob and the people of Israel, am disinherited from the grace of God."

Note in the last quote how he attacks the notion, apparently common among Jewish proselytes and Ebionites, that Jesus was born of Joseph.

24 posted on 09/19/2005 1:14:46 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
Curious that y'all would hang your hopes on a human tradition, and a very thin one at that.

Curious that you would make that assumption about me when I've made no comment on this subject.

25 posted on 09/19/2005 1:16:50 PM PDT by Corin Stormhands (Join the Hobbit Hole Troop Support - http://freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net/)
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To: Buggman; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
Sooo . . . you're suggesting that the Jesuit Ribera traveled back in time to the second century and taught Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Victoranus, etc. futurism?

Nope, just pointing out that the same argument fits for futurists.

26 posted on 09/19/2005 1:20:38 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: Corin Stormhands; Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
Curious that you would make that assumption about me when I've made no comment on this subject.

I guess I'll start having to add the caveat that this opinion may not fit all the member of the ping list. I didn't suck you into the debate. I assume blue-duncan had some reason for doing so.

27 posted on 09/19/2005 1:23:57 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
Avast Matey don't be gettin' yer barnacles in a wad. (It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day)

I appreciate being pinged to the discussion. But don't assume I've staked out one position or the other.

And we don't have a ping list.

28 posted on 09/19/2005 1:27:03 PM PDT by Corin Stormhands (Join the Hobbit Hole Troop Support - http://freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net/)
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To: Corin Stormhands
And we don't have a ping list.

Who's "we" y'all?

I take anyone after the first person in the multiple recipients list of a message as the "ping list" for that message.

29 posted on 09/19/2005 1:33:26 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54
I take anyone after the first person in the multiple recipients list of a message as the "ping list" for that message.

Silly you.

30 posted on 09/19/2005 1:34:56 PM PDT by Corin Stormhands (Join the Hobbit Hole Troop Support - http://freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net/)
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To: topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
Curious that y'all would hang your hopes on a human tradition, and a very thin one at that.

As opposed to the "divinely" inspired doctrine of preterism?

Not to mention that this tradition comes from the very same church fathers that you apparently do not hold in very high regard for the way theey destroyed "authentic Christianity".

Already addressed, but I'll repeat: I don't have to like a person's theology in order to accept that they wrote reasonably accurate history. Indeed, the hostility of many of the fathers cited to premill makes them useful hostile witnesses. Eusebius and Jerome, for example, deplored Chiliasm and considered it a heresy, but they still acknowledged the penning of the Revelation as occuring over twenty years after when you must place it for your theology to survive. If there had been any evidence that Yochanan wrote beforehand about the seige of Jerusalem and the destruction on the Temple, you'd think they'd have jumped all over it, wouldn't you?

You know, as often as I've gotten snipes to the effect of, "Learn your history, then get back to me" from the GRPL, it's evident that you really don't understand the historian's craft. One does not ignore a historical source because of its bias--or else we'd have no historical sources left--but rather, if the source proves to be accurate and supported on other fronts, you simply take the bias into account. Further, when you see a source admitting something that they would prefer not to--like the fact that Revelation wasn't written before 70 AD in the case of Eusebius, et al.--that's when you most pay attention to them.

In regards to destroying "authentic Christianity," that's your term, not mine. I have accused the ECF of distancing themselves from Jewish believers--an accusation amply supported by their own writings--and given the historical context that explains why they did so. It was a completely human decision, and I don't lack sympathy for those who made it. But it wasn't a decision born of Sola Scriptura, and let's not pretend otherwise.

Note in the last quote how he attacks the notion, apparently common among Jewish proselytes and Ebionites, that Jesus was born of Joseph.

And this has what to do with anything, exactly? Or were you just trying to use the old fallacy of Guilt by Association?

31 posted on 09/19/2005 1:38:25 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: topcat54; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
Nope, just pointing out that the same argument fits for futurists.

Not without positing time-travel it doesn't.

32 posted on 09/19/2005 1:39:24 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: Buggman; topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; Corin Stormhands

"I have accused the ECF of distancing themselves from Jewish believers--an accusation amply supported by their own writings"

You didn't do thaqt to their faces did you? I could have sworn you were younger than that. Tne kosher wine must have strong preservative value.


33 posted on 09/19/2005 1:53:27 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
The same. I don't have to like every aspect of their theology or see them as perfect to respect their ability to record history reasonably accurately.

I wouldn't refer to ambiguity in language and translations of testimonies as "reasonably accurate". Such a characterization is just a debating technique.

True. However, given the distinct lack of competing traditions and the consensus of multiple sources, why in the world should we assume an earlier date?

No one assumes anything, at least I don't. And you must have a curious definition of the word "consensus" in this regard. Why would you need to spend so much time refuting a position if there were "consensus"? As I said before, what you call consensus is in reality a bunch of folks relying on only one thread of a questionable tradition to make their case.

Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp, who was in turn the disciple of Yochanan the Apostle himself. I'd say he was in a pretty good position to know when the Revelation was penned and under what circumstances, wouldn't you?

Please put on your best Tevye outfit and join me in the chorus ... "Tradition ... tradition".

So close to John and yet so (allegedly) anti-semitic ...

You think that Irenaeus used a neuter pronoun to refer to the Apostle Yochanan?

Actually, that's exactly what we have, or should I say lack of a pronoun. Irenaeus wrote in Greek, and there is no pronoun before the phase "was seen" in the Eusebius's account (we don't have the original manuscripts or copies of the manuscripts). "That was seen" is an English interpolation.

Elsewhere Irenaeus also speaks of the number 666 in Revelation with this phrase, "As these things are so, and this number is found in all the approved and ancient copies." With Domitian so close to that time, it's odd that he would use this sort of phrase to describe a near product.

34 posted on 09/19/2005 2:01:17 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: The_Reader_David
St. John himself in his epistles uses "antichrist" not as an escatological figure, but as any who oppose or seek to supplant Christ. The text applies to St. John's times, to the rise of Napoleon, to WW II, to now, whether ours is the end-times or not. Thus, we can see the rise of antichrist in our times, without knowing whether the last great Antichrist has arisen.

Excellent post! Anyone who is against Christ is an antichrist. The big question is however who THE AntiChrist will be.

35 posted on 09/19/2005 2:01:52 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
You know, as often as I've gotten snipes to the effect of, "Learn your history, then get back to me" from the GRPL, it's evident that you really don't understand the historian's craft.

Well, I'm just trying to figure out when its convenient for you to take the ECF at face value and ignore their biases vs. a more critical eye. In this case it apparent that you have made up your mind and Irenaeus fits the bill.

BTW, while not infallible I don't consider the ECF to the the theological ogres you make them out to be.

Further, when you see a source admitting something that they would prefer not to--like the fact that Revelation wasn't written before 70 AD in the case of Eusebius, et al.--that's when you most pay attention to them.

The historical accuracy of Irenaeus and other has been questioned by many folks. In spite of being a student of Polycarp, Irenaeus though Jesus was 50 when He was crucified. BTW, Irenaues was a pupil of Polycarp at very early age. He did't write down his ideas until decades later. Time does have an effect on the memory.

“Second-century traditions about the apostles are demonstrably unreliable.” And although generally reliable, Irenaeus’s writings are not without imperfection in matters historical. Indeed, some very fine and reputable scholars of renown discount his testimony that is so relevant to our debate. Robinson notes that “despite this [the testimony of Irenaeus to a late date], Hort, together with Lightfoot and Westcott, none of whom can be accused of setting light to ancient tradition, still rejected a Domitianic date in favour of one between the death of Nero in 68 and the fall of Jerusalem in 70. It is indeed a little known fact that this was what. Hort calls ‘the general tendency of criticism for most of the nineteenth century,’ and Peake cites the remarkable consensus of ‘both advanced and conservative scholars’ who backed it." (Robinson)

"Experience shows that a story told second-hand, even by an honest narrator, may be so tinged in the narrator’s subjectivity y as to convey an impression positively false. We are thus obliged to discount the tales and remarks for which Irenaeus refers us to the authority of “the Elders,” by whom he seems chiefly to mean Papias and Polycarp. Now Eusebius does not hesitate to say that Papias was a source of error to Irenaeus and others who relied on his “antiquity.” When Irenaeus says that the “Pastor of Hermas” is canonical; that the head of the Nicolaitans was the Deacon Nicolas; and that the version of the LXX. was written by inspiration; – we know what estimate to put on his appeals to apostolic tradition." (Farrar)

Both from Gentry, "Before Jerusalem Fell".

36 posted on 09/19/2005 2:40:22 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
I wouldn't refer to ambiguity in language and translations of testimonies as "reasonably accurate". Such a characterization is just a debating technique.

The only ambiguity here is in your head. I've cited five sources; how many have you cited so far?

No one assumes anything, at least I don't.

Most certainly you do; you have to assume an earlier date for the Revelation (ignoring all the evidence), or your entire preterist theology collapses.

And you must have a curious definition of the word "consensus" in this regard.

Five early sources and no dissenting voices from the same time period counts as "consensus" in my mind.

Why would you need to spend so much time refuting a position if there were "consensus"?

Because certain people insist on ignoring the obvious.

As I said before, what you call consensus is in reality a bunch of folks relying on only one thread of a questionable tradition to make their case.

P-Marlowe already proved otherwise, as have I. Have you provided anything but arguments from silence and silly mockery yet?

Actually, that's exactly what we have, or should I say lack of a pronoun. Irenaeus wrote in Greek, and there is no pronoun before the phase "was seen" in the Eusebius's account (we don't have the original manuscripts or copies of the manuscripts). "That was seen" is an English interpolation.

First, that's irrelevant, as I've already shown: Revelation proports to have been written on Patmos, and all the ECF--not just Irenaeus--up to Eusebius at least understood Yochanan to have been exiled in the reign of Domitian.

Second, that's false. In fact, we don't have an original Greek manuscript of Irenaeus at all. All we have is the Latin copies, which contain the neuter pronoun. Indeed, Steve Gregg's Revelation: Four Views does not claim that the pronoun is missing, but only that "The phrase 'that was seen...' may be a corruption of an original that read, 'He was seen...' If this is true, then it only proves that John lived into the reign of Domition, though he may have written the Apocalypse much earlier" (p. 17, quoted here, ironically). This supposed corruption cannot be proved; and indeed, one could as easily suppose that the error was in Eusebius' copy, him having dropped a word. And since Eusibius considers Yochanan's exile on Patmos to be during Domitian's reign, even providing evidence of it in the fact that many others were exiled during the same period, the whole point is moot.

Elsewhere Irenaeus also speaks of the number 666 in Revelation with this phrase, "As these things are so, and this number is found in all the approved and ancient copies." With Domitian so close to that time, it's odd that he would use this sort of phrase to describe a near product

Not really. Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies about 174 AD or so--80 years (give or take) after the late date for the Revelation. Would another thirty years make the difference on whether a scroll was considered "ancient" or not? Hardly.

And again, let us remember that the futurist and historicist models do not depend on a late date. Even if we suppose the Revelation to have been penned in 64 AD, this does not prove preterism by default--it merely allows it into the field of play. On the other hand, a late date does disprove preterism. Therefore, it is up to you to prove that there are reasonable grounds for supposing the early date which do not depend upon a presupposition of preterism (like the so-called "internal evidences") despite the proponderance of early evidence to the contrary. If you cannot, the late date must be preferred over an early date supported by nothing more than your fancy, and preterism is proven false.

37 posted on 09/19/2005 3:06:37 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: xzins

Ya wanna know why ya can't pre-deate the apocalypse?


HE likes surprises.


38 posted on 09/19/2005 3:09:30 PM PDT by trubluolyguy (Procrastinators of the world UNITE!!!.....Tomorrow.)
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To: Buggman; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
"The Book of Revelation was possibly and perhaps even probably inscripturated about 65 and before 70 A.D. Rev. 1:4,9,11; 2:10; 3:10; 13:3f; 14:8,10f; 17:1,9-11,16-18; 18:2,8f; 20:4,9 & 21:10f. See too Rev. 1:9 etc. above, with Dan. 12:1 and Mt. 24:1-8,16,21,28 & Acts 18:2.

It should be remembered that the early Church Historian Orosius records that Nero's A.D. 64f persecutions of Christians spread far beyond Rome. For other authorities in the Early Church even before Irenaeus (and most of the writers in the Early Church after him) assume an early (Neronic) date for the inscripturation of the Book of Revelation (cf. n. 4 below). A date of about 64-66 A.D. for the writing down of the Book of Revelation is suggested by various Introductions to Ancient Syrian translations, by Melito of Sardis (175 A.D.), by the Muratorian Canon (180), and by Tertullian (220).

In the Early Church, it was only Irenaeus who perhaps assumed a late date of 95 A.D. for the writing down of the Book of Revelation. He stated it had been written during Domitian's persecutions of Christians -- conceivably those during the nineties. Yet even Irenaeus -- as distinct from Eusebius's later (mis?)interpretation of Irenaeus -- may well have been referring to an earlier Domitianic persecution of Christians during the late sixties. See at our n. 4 below. Compare too F.N. Lee's manuscript Revelation & Jerusalem: Apocalypse Written Before 70 A.D. (Jesus Saves, Brisbane, Australia, unpub., 1983) -- as approvingly cited by K.L. Gentry Jr.'s doctoral dissertation Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, Tx., 1989, pp. 35 & 58f & 103n.).

Advocates of the Early-Church-in-general's earlier (Neronic) date for the Book of Revelation, include: Epiphanius, Andreas of Caesarea, Arethas of Caesarea, Theophylact, Annius, Caponsacchius, Hentenius, Salmeron, Alcazar, Grotius, Hammond, Wettstein, Harenberg, Herder, Hartwig, Guerike, Moses Stuart, Adam Clarke, Zuellig, Luecke, Bleek, Duesterdieck, Lightfoot, Westcott, Hort, Van Andel, A.S. Barnes, J.M. Ford, C. Vanderwaal, Leon Morris, J.A.T. Robinson, F.N. Lee, K.L. Gentry Jr., and D. Chilton. Significantly, the A.D. 400 Church Father Epiphanius gave a very early date to the Book of Revelation -- based on Mt. 24:7 & Acts 11:28 & 18:2 cf. Rev. 6:2-8."

...

Cf. perhaps Rev. 2:10,13 & 3:10. The Book of Revelation was probably inscripturated about 65, and very likely indeed before 70 A.D. In the absence of the no-longer-extant original fragments of Papias, the earliest real claim of a late date for the Book of Revelation was made by the not-always-careful Early Church Historian Eusebius (325 A.D.). In this regard, he uncritically represents a statement in Irenaeus and ignores the other sources mentioned in n. 2 above.

In an extant reference (Against Heresies V:30:3), the 185 A.D. Irenaeus expressed himself somewhat obscurely so as to have become the first extant Early Church Father now often alleged to have proposed a late date (of 95 A.D.) for the Book of Revelation. Yet Irenaeus does not mention any such date, but only claims that "the apocalyptic vision...was seen...toward the end of Domitian's reign" -- viz. "by him who beheld" it (namely John). Very significantly, Irenaeus does not claim he received this 'information' -- as he often says in respect of other matters -- from the 'ancients'!

A fortiori, especially in the light of Irenaeus's known errors in several other areas -- such as his statements that the pillar of salt which had been Lot's wife, (still) menstruates; that Adam was a child at the time of his creation; and that Jesus appeared to be more than fifty years of age (ib. III:22:4 & IV:31:3 & IV:33:9 & IV:38:3 & IV:38:8) -- his possibly attributing a late date to the Book of Revelation (in the teeth of clearly-earlier dates given by other Early Church Fathers as described in n. 2) -- needs to be evaluated very critically.

The widely-held but poorly-grounded view that Irenaeus gave specifically a late date (only in the mid-nineties) for the inscripturation of the Book of Revelation, needs to be re-examined. Indeed, precisely the A.D. 325 Eusebius (Church History III:17-20) -- himself noted to be an uncritical collator rather than a careful researcher -- is really the one who assumed that Irenaeus 'must' have been attributing a late date to the inscripturation of the Book of Revelation.

A similar late date for the inscripturation of the Book of Revelation was attributed by later scholars who uncritically followed Eusebius's (mis)reading of Irenaeus. Such later scholars include: A Lapide, Vitringa, Hengstenberg, Swete, Zahn, Feine-Behm, and R.H. Charles, etc. Interestingly, these later scholars all acknowledge their dependence exclusively on Eusebius's (mis)representation of the above passage in Irenaeus and/or on similar post-Eusebian representations traceable back to Eusebius's own (mis)representation of Irenaeus.

Hengstenberg, however, does at least concede the possibility of an early date in his book The Revelation (Mack, Cherry Hill N.J., 1972 rep., I, p. 416 & n.). For to John in Rev. 11:13, "the temple at Jerusalem can be nothing else than a den of robbers.... At what period did the temple more deserve this name than shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, to which the composition of the Apocalypse is transferred by those who understand by the temple in chapter eleven the temple at Jerusalem?" Hengstenberg then observes further: "The crisis [of Calvary] by that time [just before 70 A.D.] was quite past. The nobler elements had long ago been absorbed by the Christian Church. The Synagogue of Satan retained only the scum."

John's Revelation Unveiled by Dr. Francis Nigel Lee


39 posted on 09/19/2005 4:09:43 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
Well, I'm just trying to figure out when its convenient for you to take the ECF at face value and ignore their biases vs. a more critical eye.

That's why you don't understand the historian's craft. I'm not ignoring their biases at all--indeed, I've pointed out several times that Eusebius' anti-premill stance makes him a useful "hostile" witness. Likewise, when on the other thread I quoted from early Church fathers condemning the Nazarines, I did not claim they were lying; just the contrary, I showed that their opposition proved that there were in fact a significant number (though certainly nowhere near a majority) of Christians who were observing certain Jewish customs enshrined in the Torah! (After all, one doesn't usually waste time opposing something that doesn't exist.)

Where I disagree with the fathers is not on the basis of their history, but on the basis of their theology--and when Justin Martyr calls the Sabbath an imposition put on the Jews because of their hard hearts where Yeshua said that it had been made for Man (i.e., as a blessing), I'm right to do so. To call what God gave for our good evil is dangerously close to what the Pharisees were doing when Yeshua warned against blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

So no, there's no inconsistancy here. It's just the historian's craft--separating verifiable fact from rumor and opinion. And given the multitude of sources dating the Patmos exile to Domitian's reign and the fact that exile (rather than execution) was characteristic of that period, the 90s AD dating of the Revelation is a verifiable fact.

BTW, while not infallible I don't consider the ECF to the the theological ogres you make them out to be.

I've never made them all out to be theological ogres. I've presented the facts of the difficult times they lived in and given a reasonably sympathetic explanation for why they started drifting apart from the Jewishness of their faith. Trust me, if I were inclined to make them out to be ogres, I have the ammo to do it. I prefer to think of them as simply flawed in certain respects that were reflective of the times they lived in, however.

I do have a handful that I just don't like--like Augustine, Jerome, etc.--but I don't like them mainly because of the unChristian hubris which justified persecuting those they disagreed with and using political influence to do so. On the other hand, I generally like Polycarp, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus (which is not to say that I always agree with them by any stretch--I just like them), and Justin Martyr, while a product of his times and dead wrong on certain issues, wasn't that bad a guy.

Perhaps if you didn't make theological ogres out of those you disagree with (like me), you wouldn't think to accuse me of doing the same. Plank, mote.

The historical accuracy of Irenaeus and other has been questioned by many folks. In spite of being a student of Polycarp, Irenaeus though Jesus was 50 when He was crucified.

Yep, and he happened to be wrong on that issue. However, if you actually read his thoughts on that particular subject, you can see that he actually had Biblical support (though he misunderstood the passage he cited due to not understanding the culture as well as he might) and see that he was trying to sink a Gnostic idea.

Preterists love to pick on that one, relatively small point, but they don't apply the same criterion to those whom they do wish to believe--like, say, John Calvin.

Hort, together with Lightfoot and Westcott . . .

You're actually going to quote from a source that relies on Westcott and Hort? Further, you're actually going to cite three relatively modern preterists as rejecting a late date for Revelation, as if this would be a shock?

Now Eusebius does not hesitate to say that Papias was a source of error to Irenaeus and others who relied on his “antiquity.”

And yet, recognizing that Irenaeus was "tainted" by Papias, still accepted Irenaeus' late date for the Patmos exile, even backing it up with supplimentary evidence.

Still waiting for you to present some early sources, topcat. Modern scholars with a theological ax to grind who cannot cite any primary or secondary evidence in their favor other than to disparage a single source (when in fact, there are at least five sources for Revelation's late date) just don't impress me all that much.

40 posted on 09/19/2005 4:20:02 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: topcat54; Buggman; P-Marlowe

You must have John dead around the time of the destruction of the Temple. Otherwise, your position makes no sense.

He didn't die at that time if the datings of the general epistles (inroads of and fight against gnosticism) has any validity.


41 posted on 09/19/2005 5:00:57 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: topcat54; xzins; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands
A date of about 64-66 A.D. for the writing down of the Book of Revelation is suggested by various Introductions to Ancient Syrian translations

Already answered: The "Ancient" Syrian translation of the Revelation didn't come until at least the sixth century, and more likely a millennium later.

Melito of Sardis (175 A.D.)

And what is the full quote?

The Muratorian Canon (180)

Here's the relevant quote:

It is necessary for us to discuss these one by one, since the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes by name to only seven churches . . . yet it is clearly recognizable that there is one Church spread throughout the whole extent of the earth. For John also in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, nevertheless speaks to all.
Let's think about this for a second. This canon, on its face, is claiming that the Revelation was penned before any or at least the majority of Sha'ul's letters, which would put the date in the 50s at the very latest. No one thinks the Revelation was written that early! Even among preterists it's believed that the Revelation was written after Sha'ul was martyred. So clearly this testimony is proven completely false and is therefore worthless to you as support to the preterist dating system!

In the Early Church, it was only Irenaeus who perhaps assumed a late date of 95 A.D. for the writing down of the Book of Revelation.

I've already proven this one false.

Advocates of the Early-Church-in-general's earlier (Neronic) date for the Book of Revelation, include: Epiphanius,

Fourth century.

Andreas of Caesarea

Sixth century.

Arethas of Caesarea,

Ninth century. Given the fact that these names seem to be listed in order of date, I'm going to forego bothering to date them all. Sufficient to say, you're continuing to prove my point that early-dating Revelation came in later centuries. Again, how exactly is this helping your case?

42 posted on 09/19/2005 5:00:57 PM PDT by Buggman (L'chaim b'Yeshua HaMashiach!)
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To: xzins; Buggman; P-Marlowe
You must have John dead around the time of the destruction of the Temple. Otherwise, your position makes no sense.

I don't understand. Please explain.

43 posted on 09/19/2005 5:50:45 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54

If John lived a good long life after the fulfillment of all prophecy with the destruction of the Temple, living all the way to the end of the century as evidenced by the inroads of gnosticism into the church, then he would have explained who the antichrist was and all the other Revelation stuff in one of his letters, or to one of his church members, or to a friend.

Therefore, it's necessary for him to have died.


44 posted on 09/19/2005 6:04:29 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins; sanewbie

Does anyone care that the city of Philadelphia was renamed Flavia by Emperor Vespasian in 69? [An interesting sidenote has Vespasian in Egypt in 70 where he had a vision at the Temple of Serapis. Temple laborers were convinced he possessed divine power and could work miracles. He left his son, Titus, to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple.]

Would be kinda funny for the writer of Revelation to write a letter to a city using the wrong address.

Additionally, Laodicea was mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 60-61, from which it never recovered. This also would be kinda funny for the writer to address a "lukewarm" pile of rubble as if nothing had happened.

Just a little historical context without any theological pretext.


45 posted on 09/19/2005 6:22:50 PM PDT by sanormal
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To: xzins
If John lived a good long life after the fulfillment of all prophecy with the destruction of the Temple, living all the way to the end of the century as evidenced by the inroads of gnosticism into the church, then he would have explained who the antichrist was and all the other Revelation stuff in one of his letters, or to one of his church members, or to a friend.

How do you know he didn't. He may have, and we just don't have a record. But it all speculation. There is nothing requiring John to have died immediately after receiving and recording the Revelation.

46 posted on 09/19/2005 6:29:06 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: sanormal; xzins; Buggman
Does anyone care that the city of Philadelphia was renamed Flavia by Emperor Vespasian in 69?

If that happened, do you think the people of Philadelphia themselves EVER referred to their city (or their Church) using the middle name of the Emperor of Rome? I doubt it.

I'm sure that while the Roman Governor may have referred to Philadelphia as Flavia, the people in Philadelphia probably referred to the Emperor as Flatulence but I doubt he would have answered to that name.

I also doubt very seriously if Jesus would have used the Roman emperor's name in a letter praising the Church that had been named the "Church at Philadelphia" even before Flavius Vesparian came to power.

And now you have Laodicea being destroyed at least 5 years before the earliest date anyone has given to the Book of Revelation. I dare say that most cities in that area were largely destroyed by earthquakes every decade or so and rebuilt upon the same ground. That was the nature of building and architecture back then. A 5.0 earthquake which would do little damage today would do major damage to unreinforced concrete or unreinforced brick or stone buildings. I'd say that within 30 years of 61 AD Laodicea would have been largely rebuilt (and probably knocked down again a couple of times in the interim).

47 posted on 09/19/2005 6:42:00 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: topcat54; Buggman; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
There is nothing requiring John to have died immediately after receiving and recording the Revelation.

Yes there is. If he'd been alive he would have told everyone who the antichrist is, what the 1000 years represented, what were the meanings of the different visions within the book.

They wouldn't have been standing around afterwards saying they were still waiting for the antichrist to be revealed for one thing.

48 posted on 09/19/2005 7:17:50 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins

Assuming (in my humbly ignorant way) that world news travelled at a certain pace - both in terms of briskness and thoroughness. Then again, would the vision be of a grander scale than that based on temporal happenings.


49 posted on 09/19/2005 7:22:12 PM PDT by P.O.E. (.)
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To: P-Marlowe; sanormal; Buggman
Historical Background

Philadelphia sat in an important location. Expositor's Bible Commentary says, "About twenty-five miles southeast of Sardis, along the Hermus River valley, lay the important high plateau city of Philadelphia, modern Alasehir. A main highway that ran through the city connected Smyrna (about a hundred miles due west) to northwest Asia, Phrygia, and the east. Furthermore, the imperial post road of the first century A.D., which came from Rome via Troas, Adramyttium, Pergamum, and Sardis, passed through this valley and Philadelphia on the way to the east. So situated, Philadelphia became a strong fortress city. To the northeast was a great vine-growing district, which, along with textile and leather industries, contributed greatly to the city's prosperity."

The name Philadelphia came from the founder of the city, "Attalus II (159-138 B.C.), who had been given the epithet ‘Philadelphus' (brother lover)" because of his love for his brother (Expositor's Bible Commentary). But this was not the city's only name.

"Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st cent. AD was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, ‘the city of God,' but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil.

"In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of ‘Little Athens' because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times" (International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic Database, 1996, article "Philadelphia").

"According to Strabo, the whole region was earthquake prone (Geography 12.579; 13.628). In A.D. 17 an earthquake that destroyed Sardis and ten other cities also destroyed Philadelphia. Consequently, many people preferred to live in the rural area surrounding the city. The fear of earthquakes caused those who continued to live in the city to leave it at the slightest sign of a tremor.

"After the devastating earthquake, Tiberius came to the peoples' aid and had the city rebuilt. In gratitude the citizens renamed it Neocaesarea (‘New Caesar'). Later the name was changed to Flavia (A.D. 70-79), and this, along with Philadelphia, continued to be its name through the second and third centuries A.D…" (Expositor's Bible Commentary).

50 posted on 09/19/2005 7:28:15 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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