Anyone who studies the book of Revelation knows that the date placed on the book of Revelation by the commentator will dictate strongly how he interprets certain passages, which will in turn determine the outcome of his overall view of the book. Mr. Doughty believes Revelation was written before the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. I want to critique the many reasons he gives over the course of a few blog posts. Below I will confront his first proposition.
“Consider the source of the late date. Many religious leaders want to usurp the validity of Scriptures. Church lords who want control over their followers want a date that extends after 70 A.D., when all Scripture should have been recognized, so they can insert their own apostolic lordship without having to be challenged by Apostolic Scriptures.” (Kindle Loc 888)
Charles’ first point is a prime example of his style. While I respect Charles as a person and view him as a Christian brother, I must say I find his writings to be condescending, pompous, and the scholarship is scarce at best. I’m sure Charles has studied Revelation more and longer than I have, but I’ve read enough to know the quote above is greatly misleading. I know personally many legitimate scholars who hold a post-70 A.D. dating of Revelation because they believe the evidence strongly supports that position and their motivation is far from a desire to control their followers. In fact, the majority scholastic opinion is for a post-70 A.D. dating. To make such a sweeping criticism would lend me to believe with any other author that they were either being willfully deceptive or simply ignorant of the opposing viewpoint’s actual beliefs.
Charles goes on to state Ignatius, at the end of the 1st Century, was advocating for a monarchial bishop leading to, a few centuries later, the Catholic doctrine of Apostolic succession. First, I needs to be noted the Catholic doctrine of Apostolic succession typically cites Clement of Rome’s epistle (click here for to read Clement’s letter, Chapter 42) to the Corinthians before they turn to Ignatius. But that is a small historical side-point at this juncture.
Strangely enough, directly after this paragraph on Ignatius, Charles states, “Thus, a post-70 A.D. writing of any of the New Testament Books leads such thinkers to deduce that the Old Testament priesthood was still in effect.” (Kindle Loc 899) For the life of me I cannot follow his logic here. Just because the Temple-centered Jewish worship was destroyed in 70 A.D. does not nullify Jewish hierarchy. While it was greatly diminished, the Jewish leadership still had power. We see historically the Jewish leaders wrote down their oral traditions and this became the Mishnah. Therefore, the Jews were still worshipping, albeit without the Temple, and still had traditions and leaders they followed long after 70 A.D.
Just a few pages later we read, “Recognizing the completion of all Scripture after 70 A.D. gives church lords room for tradition, human opinion, and denominational creeds to pre-empt Scriptures that they say came at a later date.”(Kindle Loc 909) The simple question one could ask is “How so?” I would understand and agree if Charles was attacking liberal scholarship who date New Testament books into the 3rd and 4th centuries. Instead, the position he is opposing is the majority viewpoint who believe in an early 90’s dating of Revelation. How does an early 90’s date for Revelation allow for such corruption of New Testament doctrine? I’ve read this section in Charles’ commentary a dozen (literally) times and have began to wonder if there is a section missing because the logical train of thought is so broken. This is called a non-sequitur in logic, that is, the conclusion does not follow from the premise.
In the early centuries of Christianity the early Church Fathers had a litmus test for whether a book should be counted as Scripture or not. Their standards were:
• Apostolicity—Written or sanctioned by an Apostle
• Content—Spiritual character of the book
• Universality—was the book universally accepted by the Church?
• Inspiration—does the book evidence divine inspiration?
Notice the early Church was not concerned with whether a book was written before the Fall of Jerusalem. I would like anyone to show me a quote from the Patristic writings where they were as concerned with a pre-70 A.D. dating of Revelation as Charles seems to be.
From my perspective the entire first point is a giant straw-man Charles erected so he could attack modern-day Pentecostals and liberal scholars who, directly and indirectly, subordinate the authority of the Word of God. While I would agree with Charles that the authority of the Word of God should be defended against all attackers, a post-70 A.D. dating of Revelation is not counted amongst those in the enemies camp.
What view do you hold on the dating of Revelation and why?