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Why the Modern View of the Book of Revelation may be Flawed.

November 25, 2012 91 Comments

Currently in the Liturgies of daily Mass we have been reading the Book of Revelation. It is commonly read at the end of the liturgical year, for it bespeaks the end of, and passing qualities of all things of this world.

It is also a book of glory, depicting the ultimate victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, after a great period of conflict between the doomed kingdom of this world, and the victorious Kingdom of Christ. In this context the Book of Revelation is not a mere tour guide to the last days, but is a book of glory reminding us that Christ has the total victory already wrapped up.

I would like in this post to present a view of the Book of Revelation that, while a minority opinion, I think better articulates the original context of the Book of Revelation and provides important interpretive keys to understanding its fundamental message.

The Majority of modern scholars place the date of the composition of the Book of Revelation between 90-110 AD. There are good reasons for this, not the least of which is the testimony of several Fathers of the Church. Irenaeus places the work at 96 AD. Victorinus places the writing in the context of the persecution of Domitian, and indicates it was thus that John was imprisoned on Patmos. Jerome and Eusebius say the same. This date of composition (90-110) also flows well with modern theories of biblical dating which tend to favor later dates as a general rule.

The Minority view places the date of composition before 70 AD, during the persecution of Nero. (This was the first and to that time, the worst persecution of the Church in the First Century). Although this view is clearly in the minority, it is gaining adherents.

Of course we might wonder if such an early date does not offend against the testimony of the Fathers of the Church just mentioned. But not, the most significant Father to attest to a mid-nineties date is Irenaeus. It is on him that most other Father’s based their conclusion. But it must be said, that in terms of dating, Ireneus is a bit unreliable. For example, he argues that Jesus was 50 when he was crucified. Thus, though Irenaeus gives us a lot of good biblical insight, he is less reliable for testimony referencing dates and time frames. Likewise, the grammar of the Greek sentence wherein Ireneus states the date of 96 AD is unclear. It can be translated two ways:

1- “John had this vision, near the end of his life, during the reign of Domitian” or 2- “John had this vision and lived on to the reign of Domitian

Thus the minority opinion does not disregard the testimony of the Fathers, but it is understood by these scholars as more vague.

An additional and more central reason for leaning to the earlier date of prior to 70 AD, is that it gives a clearer account of the context for the persecutions being endured by the Christians that flows more from the actual biblical data, wherein the persecution derives more from fellow Jews, than from Romans alone.

Thus, these “minority” scholars seek to integrate the Book of Revelation within the same conflict of other New Testament books such as Acts and the Epistles, namely a dispute between Christians and their Jewish opponents, who then engage the Roman officials for redress, rather than to set Revelation as a conflict merely between Christians and pagan Rome.

To state again, the common modern and majority view is that the context of this book is the persecution against Christians by Domitian (Emperor from 81-96 AD) and the Roman Empire which he headed. John has been arrested and exiled to the Island of Patmos. Thus, the chief context for the majority view is the antagonism of the Roman Empire seeking to force Christians to emperor worship and apostasy from the Christian faith in the one true God. Further, the harlot city is defined in this point of view as Rome.

But the minority view holds that the primary antagonist is not Rome alone, but is a more complex reality of Jews and Romans in concert together against the early Christians.

Recall how Jesus was put to death by Pontius Pilate and the Romans. But, this was also due to the provocation of fellow Jews against Jesus. Peter and John, likewise Paul all suffered from the same collusion of fellow Jews who incited the concern and hostility of Roman officials. The general context of the early New Testament period is that fellow Jews, who did not accept Christ, stirred up trouble for the early Church and provoked the Roman authorities to arrest, punish and even put to death early Christians.

The minority position sees this as the primary historical context of the persecutions described in the Book of Revelation.

Recall too that the Book of Revelation presents the primary antagonist as a horrible Red Dragon. He is clearly the devil. But this Red Dragon gives birth to two beasts which antagonize the Church. This is the double threat experienced by the early Christians.

Historically, at the early stages, Roman authorities were generally indifferent to Christian teachings. However, when Jews, who rejected Christ, entered into open conflict with Christians, they did so in such a way as to involve, often unwillingly, Roman officials. Once provoked, these officials would often be fair, but could also be ruthless.

Later in the Book of Revelation, the double enemy against the Christians is described as a twofold threat, as a “beast” and a “harlot.” The minority view holds that the “harlot city” is really Jerusalem, not Rome.

“Jerusalem” here symbolizes Jews, but not all Jews. Remember that many Jews did in fact become Christians. “Jerusalem” here is understood as those Jews who emphatically rejected the Messiah. It especially represents the leadership centered in the Temple.

Thus the city that is destroyed in the Book of Revelation is, in fact, Jerusalem.

Now, this corresponds to what happened historically in 70 AD to Jerusalem. And thus, the minority view holds that the Book of Revelation dates from the period before 70 AD.

The year 70 was a crucial year for the city of Jerusalem, for it was that year that the war with the Romans was concluded. In this year, Jerusalem was sacked and burned and the Temple destroyed. Not one stone was left on another and the whole area (except for a few dwellings on Mt. Zion) was abandoned. Survivors were carried into slavery or killed. The destruction and abandonment was total and 1.2 million Jews lost their lives, according to Josephus, the Jewish historian.

So, the minority view holds that the book of Revelation was a prophecy of these events and actually served to warn the Christians of the signs that would precede the destruction that they flee before Jerusalem’s doom was sealed. Thus, the historical context of the Book of Revelation is the persecution of Christians by unbelieving Jews in partnership with Roman officials, and the subsequent destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Lord in Judgment of Israel’s unbelief and persecution of those who did believe.

Although it is a minority view, it is growing in acceptance and, I would argue is compelling for the following reasons:

I. It links the Book of Revelation to the “mini-Apocalypse” which has a clear context: the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple. It also links it to similar prophecies of Christ in the Gospels, most notably the Mount Olivet Discourse: For example, (Mat 24:1-44):

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. {2} But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” {3} As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” {4} And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. {5} For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. {6} And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. {7} For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: {8} all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. {9} “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. {10} And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. {11} And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. {12} And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. {13} But he who endures to the end will be saved. {14} And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. {15} “So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), {16} then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; {17} let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; {18} and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. {19} And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! {20} Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. {21} For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. {22} And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. {23} Then if any one says to you, ‘Lo, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. {24} For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. {25} Lo, I have told you beforehand. {26} So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. {27} For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. {28} Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together. {29} “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; {30} then will appear the sign of the Son of man 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; {31} and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. {32} “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. {33} So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. {34} Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. {35} Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. {36} “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. {37} As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. {38} For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, {39} and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. {40} Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. {41} Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. {42} Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. {43} But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. {44} Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Note the similarities in passage like this to the prophecies of Revelation. Note too that the context of the Mount Olivet Discourse is the destruction of the Temple and the signs that precede it, not the destruction of Rome or of the world.

Indeed there are striking parallels in the details of Revelation and the Mount Olivet discourse wherein our Lord proclaimed the imminent destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The parallels are too numerous to detail here, But I have put them in column form here: The Fourth Apocalypse. But in effect, there are many who argue that the Book of Revelation is the Mount Olivet discourse, missing in John’s Gospel but theologically set forth in his second work: The Book of Revelation. And thus its content corresponds to the context of the Mt Olivet discourse, namely, the Destruction of Jerusalem, not Rome.

II. It links the Book of Revelation to prophetic books of the Old Testament and maintains their historical meaning and focus. Most of the Book of Revelation is drawn directly from Old Testament Prophets such as Joel, Daniel and Ezekiel. Since this is done, it is important to learn what their historical context and concerns were.

Most of the O.T. sources from which John and the Holy Spirit draw, have the historical context of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple which took place in 587 BC. If that was the original context of the texts from which John borrows, then it is strongly probable that John is saying, what happened then (in 587 BC) will happen again unless there is Jewish repentance and faith. This is what the passages meant in the Old Testament time and now John borrows them for the current time of 70 AD, wherein the Temple and Jerusalem were prophesied by Jesus to be destroyed again.

Thus parallel events are being described and point to the context in which John writes. The minority view fits nicely with this historical perspective.

III. It maintains the tradition of prophets in terms of the use of the word “harlot”. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem, and the people of Israel are called the “harlot” since they have committed adultery, forsaken the Lord, and are sleeping with false gods. Nowhere in the Old Testament is Rome or any pagan city called a harlot. But Jerusalem repeatedly is.

Thus again it seems unlikely that Revelations would depart so suddenly and steeply from a biblical tradition and assign the title “harlot” to the pagan city, Rome, rather than to its traditional referent in the prophetic school: Jerusalem. Here are some examples of the use of the word from the prophets:

1.(Isa 1:20-21) But if you refuse and rebel [O, Israel], you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” {21} How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.

2.(Jer 2:19-20) Your wickedness will chasten you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord GOD of hosts. {20} “For long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yea, upon every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down as a harlot.

3.(Ezek 23:28-30) For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust; {29} and they shall deal with you in hatred, and take away all the fruit of your labor, and leave you naked and bare, and the nakedness of your harlotry shall be uncovered. Your lewdness and your harlotry {30} have brought this upon you, because you played the harlot with the nations, and polluted yourself with their idols.

IV. It also fits with the most direct references as to the identity of the persecutors in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 2 & 3 there is reference to a “synagogue of Satan” and that they consider themselves Jews. Romans would surely not have considered themselves Jews. Hence, we ought to take the text at face value: the primary persecutors are Jews. But the persecutor is not Jews alone, but also the Gentiles, responding to the complaints of Jews against the Christians. ( Thus the enemy is also identified as Caesar Nero: Here are a couple of texts that describe the persecutors of the Christians in very Jewish terms:

1.(Rev 2:8-9) And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. {9} “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not2, but are a synagogue of Satan.

2.(Rev 3:9) Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie — behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you.

V. The Minority opinion also takes the clearest identity of the “harlot city” at face value and corresponds to it more exactly. In Revelation 11 the harlot city is identified as Jerusalem (not Rome):

(Rev 11:8) …and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

Thus the city is Jerusalem, not Rome as is presupposed by the majority opinion. The city described as the place where their Lord was crucified can be no other place than Jerusalem.

VI. 666= Nero not Domitian. The famous text identifying the “beast” as having a name that corresponds to the number “666” dates Revelation to 54-68 (Nero’s reign) not Domitian (81-96). Note the texts:

(Rev 13:18) This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.

There is little dispute today that “666” is a clear reference to Nero. But why would Nero be referenced in a persecution taking place near 90 AD under the reign of Domitian? Thus the minority view of Revelation as a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (not Rome) in 70 AD seems more plausible.

VII. It will be noted that there are two beasts described in Revelation 13, one from “the land” and one from “the sea.” Hence there are two adversaries: Unbelieving Jews (The beast from the Land, for Land = “Promised Land”) and Rome (the beast from the Sea, for “Sea” is a common symbol of the Gentiles).

Both of these beasts emerged from a “red dragon” that has 7 heads (there were 7 Herods) and ten horns (there were ten Caesars who interacted with the 7 Herods). Thus a complex, double-enemy seems to be described.

These two beasts, both coming from the Red Dragon, seem to comport well with the data of the Book of Revelation and the Historical context of the time leading up to 70 AD wherein the two enemies who conspire against the early Church. Ultimately, as the Book of Revelation also describes, these two beasts turn on one another, and the harlot is destroyed.

This historically happened: In Revelation (Rev 17ff) The complex, two-fold enemy is described as a beast, and a harlot. The harlot city rides upon the beast. The beast later turns and devours the harlot with fire and total destruction. This in fact happened when Rome (which had a partnership with Jerusalem through the Herodian dynasty) turned against Jerusalem and totally destroyed her by fire, killing 1.2 million Jews.

Thus the Book of Revelation seems to describe an enemy of the early Christians that is a complex combination of two enemies who conspire against the early Church, and later turn on each other. This was historically the fact at the time of 70 AD when the Jews and Rome went to war against one another.

VIII. It flows well from the fuller context of the New Testament. through the bulk of the New Testament the antagonists are fellow Jews who do not accept Christ as the Messiah It is they who involve Roman authorities in exacting punishment on Christians. Those these Roman officials are often hesitant to become involved, though they are not thereby absolved of responsibility any more than Pilate can be absolved for his actions. Notice the consistent Biblical context of the double enemy face by Christians:

1.It was fellow Jews who handed Jesus over. In particular it was fellow Jews who had much invested in the Temple and its rituals who were most threatened by him who handed him over. Pilate, though unjust in his final action, was reluctant and it was only when He perceived that the Jewish leaders would lead a riot that he relented and had Jesus put to death.

2.In the Acts of the Apostles, it is always fellow Jews who attack and pursue Paul. The Romans, far from being Paul’s enemy are in fact his protectors on more than a few occasions. Even when he Romans do arrest Paul it is once again due to the insistence of fellow Jews and the threat of civil unrest it Roman officials did not comply. Again, the final arrest of Paul centered on a perceived defilement of the Temple that he supposedly committed. This was not in fact the case but was the pretext by which the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem handed him over.

3.In the Epistles of Paul, once again, it is fellow Jews and Judaizers (So-called Christians who wanted to bring the whole Jewish ceremonial law into the Church and make it binding on all Christians) who are the real enemies. Paul does not preach social unrest against Roman authority (Nor did Jesus). In fact, Paul counsels respect for authority and prayers for all in authority. Likewise, Jesus strongly resists any attempts to draw him into political zealotry and any conception of the Messiah that would understand him as military savior.

4.None of this is to render the New Testament anti Semitic. Remember, most of the early converts were Jews. Jewish Christians made up a sizable percentage of the early Church. The question here is not ethnic hatred but of a clear distinction between those who would accept Jesus as Lord and those who would not. The division was not some mere intellectual debate. It was a volatile clash between absolutely different understanding of the basic questions, who is God? Who is supreme? Who is to be worshiped?

5.It therefore seems unlikely and unusual that, very suddenly, the context changes radically in the final book of the New Testament. All along, the context was of the passing away of the Old Order of the Law and the Temple and the passionate fear and hatred that this caused. It seems more likely that the final book of the Bible would prophesy the conclusion to this clash.

IX. It takes the use of the word “soon” that is often used in the Book of Revelation more at face value. Throughout the Book of Revelation the temporal expectation that the events it describes are to take place “soon.” For example:

1.(Rev 1:1 ) The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must SOON take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

2.(Rev 1:3 ) Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the TIME IS NEAR.

3.(Rev 2:5 ) [To the church at Ephesus] Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

4.(Rev 2:16 ) Repent then. If not, I will come to you SOON and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

5.(Rev 3:11 ) I am coming SOON; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

6.(Rev 22:12 ) Behold, I am coming SOON, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.

7.(Rev 22:20 ) He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming SOON.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Now, it is true, “soon” can be understood from God’s perspective, a perspective that sees a watch in the night (4 hours) as equivalent to “a thousand years.” But we ought not dismiss that the “soon” referenced here might also have had a more denotative meaning and meant that, as Jesus said in the Mount Olivet discourse “There are some standing here today, who will not taste death until they see all these things take place.” For the early Christians “soon” may well have meant 70 AD, rather than the 90+ AD that many moderns presume.

X. If Rome is the harlot city, as the majority opinion presumes, there is a problem in that it was never destroyed. It was sacked many centuries after Biblical times (in the late 4th and early 5th Centuries AD), but it was never burned or destroyed as depicted in Revelation. Jerusalem however was destroyed and burned in 70 AD and thereby correspondent to the prophecies of the Book of Revelation (e.g. Rev 18:18 inter al).

Hence, for these reasons, and other reasons not set forth here, The “minority” view seems quite plausible. Namely, that the Book of Revelation is describing the clash between Jews and Christians (which drew in the Romans) and caused the persecutions against the Church which is described in Revelation. It is not merely a book describing Roman persecutions.

Further, the context of just prior to 70 AD, under Nero seems more plausible, (that the context of 90 AD under Domitian). And the war-like and apocryphal events described are those that lead up to the destruction of the Temple and the full establishment of the Church, as the new locus of the worship of God. Here is the more likely and immediate context of the Book of Revelation.

This does not mean that there is no value in the majority opinion, (namely that the beast (Harlot) is Rome and the context is a Roman persecution of the Church). Since this is the majority view it would be wrong to simply dismiss that view. Hence, what I have presented here is still described as the minority view.

But I have come to appreciate that the minority view enables us to have a far richer understanding of the Book of Revelation, since it sees the Book of Revelation as a part of the whole Bible rather than as merely an apocalyptic work that radically stands apart from the other biblical views.

Consider well the possibilities of the minority view of Revelation. Fundamentally this view roots the Book more solidly in the rest of Biblical tradition, and maintains the focus on the biblical city of Jerusalem and the context of faith, rather than the pagan city of Rome to which the early Church looked with evangelical mission and open doors, rather than with the polemical disdain and gleefully expectant destruction presumed by the majority view.

Surely, as with any minority view, as you ponder it, you may be troubled by the fact that it unsettles what seems more familiar. But I have come to see that it comports better with the actual data of the Book of Revelation. How say you?

By the way, David Chilton has written quite thoroughly of this “preterist” theory of the Book of Revelation here: Days of Vengeance
More is info is also available: HERE

Comments (91)

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  1. Alan says:

    I think Irenaeus argued Christ was in his 40’s (not 50) because of the Gospel of John talking about the “temple of his body” being not even 50 years old yet. He argued why not say that “he was not even 40” if he was in his 30’s. Its a plausable argument if Christ died in 30 to 35 AD and was born 10 to 3 BC. There is a lot of confusion about those dates. I think people get fixated on 33 years old because they like threes. Remember that Irenaeus heard St. John the Apostle speak before he died, and was a friend of St. Polycarp the student of St John.

    • Well, there may be other reasons people argue he was 33 than just that “people like threes” There is also plenty of dispute about the 10 – 3 BC. But even beyond these sorts of disputes, there is also the linguistic ambiguity of Irenaeus.

      So, likewise, he was an old man for old men … Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while he still fulfilled the office of a teacher … those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. … Some of them [i.e., those who teach this, PS], moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2:22:4-6)

      It is a complex text. As is the text I cite about about when John exactly wrote the Book of Rev. All this said, I am not here to hammer away at Irenaeus, or to insist that he clearly says Jesus lived to 50, only to note that his being the source for the dating of Revelation may be open to wider interpretation and does not utterly settle the question of the date of composition for the linguistic reasons stated in the article and also evidenced by his complex linguistics in the text cited in this comment. There is significant debate.

    • Mark John says:

      Was that Irenaeus of Lyon who heard John the Apostle speak? I think that it was Ignatius of Antioch.

  2. Crowhill says:

    I have always preferred the view you are outlining here. I think it makes more sense of Revelation and of the narratives in the Gospels about the “end times.”

  3. Jim McCullough says:

    Very well put, Msgr.–I will print this out and ponder it a bit. It makes much more sense of the harlot and the beast than anything else I’ve seen. I am interested, though in “other reasons not set forth here…” –are you planning to set them forth at another time? Or could you point me to another source? Any help much appreciated.
    By the way, my daughter, Sarah McCullough, was part of your parish (and, I believe, the parish school) for a time while she lived in Washington. She is now married (with a child and another on the way) to a fine young man, Ian Gerdon, who is working on his doctorate in Patristics at Notre Dame.

    All the best,
    Jim McCullough,
    DRE, Our Lady of Grace, Greensboro, NC

  4. William M Briggs says:

    Very interesting, enjoyable article. Grant the minority view. What then of the future? What does that say of the Olivet discourse, particularly verse 29 on? Surely the minority view does not encompass the idea that “the Son of man” has already returned?

    • Well, what does it mean to see the Son of Man on the clouds? Many argue that what the Lord is here describing is his judgement on ancient Israel and the vindication of his Church, not an early form of airline travel, or some literalistic and visual apparition. So the argument would be that Jesus is using prophetic language, like he does in speaking of trumpets sounding and stars being cast down, the sun and moon being darkened etc. All of these are prophetic modes of speaking which describe a world and all its reference points being swept away.

      In saying he is coming on the clouds, it is a prophet mode of speaking indicating a cloud judgement (cf Ezekiel) on ancient Israel. Having swept away the temple, the angels are now going out to all parts of the world and gathering his elect (i.e. the age of the Church and her missionary work), and God is now present mystically not in a particular building, but in his mystical body, the Church. So, Christ is now visible everywhere in the World,

      And this prophetic interpretation of the Mt Olivet discourse would also seem necessary since Christ said Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Hence his coming on the clouds would not seem to be plausibly understood only as the Second coming in Glory, but as his reigning supreme, i.e. upon the clouds, in the age of the Church. It may well be that one day he does come on the clouds in the definitive end of the world. But in this context, Jesus seems to have had something more in mind than a visual apparition, and that this text was also mystically fulfilled in the time of 70 AD by his own promise.

      • Howard says:

        Whoa, there! “And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven.” So the literal coming again in the clouds is tied directly to the literal Ascension, which I assume you do not question; anyone who doubts the literal Ascension can be counted on to doubt the literal Resurrection, since otherwise the question would arise as to why we do not see Jesus walking around in our midst any more.

        That doesn’t mean that this is the ONLY legitimate meaning in the Apocalypse, of course. Even those Old Testament prophecies you cite typically have multiple layers of meaning — often a short-term meaning for the political situation in the Middle East, and a longer-term meaning for Salvation history.

        • Fair enough. Though the Mt Olivet discourse seems to have a different context in mind, coming rather than going, judgment rather than exultation to the heavenly places etc. But again, as you note there are layers of meaning.

          By the way, I use the term literalistic, not literal an important distinction, and also just to be clear, when I use the word “mystical” it does not mean unreal or merely symbolic. I do confess an actual, physical and visible ascension and resurrection. I am also quite open to the likelihood that when Jesus returns he will be quite visible to all, physically coming on the clouds. I am only here saying that the fulfillment of the text in the Mt. Olivet discourse does not require that it be only about the Second Coming and thus that Christ did not mis-speak when he said to his disciples, that some of them would not see death until all these things had been fulfilled.

          • Howard says:

            OK. I think that you have a better case for that being represented by the descent of the New Jerusalem, though.

            (When I was about 10 I converted the archaic length measurements to miles and found that the New Jerusalem is comparable in size to the moon. Not only would this not be possible to hide in the inner solar system, it would be much too big to sit on the earth — yet the fundamentalist school I attended, with sad predictability, maintained that astronauts had actually seen the New Jerusalem hidden behind the moon, but the government kept them (mostly) silent. This would be a perfect example of a “literalistic” view.)

            By the way, have you read THE BOOK OF DESTINY by Herman Bernard Kramer? His analysis of Revelation seems quite plausible up to the point where he associates the Dragon’s red color with Communism, which I think was a regrettable instance of temporal provincialism.

  5. Note from the Moderator – It is interesting to me how a number of the comments thus far center more on the Mt. Olivet discourse than the Book of Revelation per se. It is clear that there is also a great deal of scholarly debate on the details of the Mount Olivet discourse as well centering on the use of prophetic imagery and the prophetic mode of speech, as well, centering on whether all the details of the discourse refer to a first century fulfillment or if some of them are only to be fulfilled at the end of time. I would be of the school of thought that all the details were somehow fulfilled in the First Century in the Destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) if Jesus’ words are to hold true that there were some standing there would not taste death until ALL these things take place. This position does not preclude the possibility, even the likelihood, that similar events will surround the definitive end of the world, of which the destruction of Jerusalem is a paradigm.

    • PeteWaldo says:

      Actually the “not taste of death” is related to Jesus coming in his kingdom, which He ushered in along with His/our temple that He built in three days. There are really too many verses that support it, to deny amillennialism. Like John telling us he is our companion in the kingdom of Jesus Christ as well. But in Matthew 24:34 “this generation” the Greek “houtos” translated as “this” is also translated as “the same” on 26 other occasions in the KJV. In conjunction with a Greek English interlinear the verse could be rendered:
      Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, {the same} generation shall not pass, {whereinsoever} all these things {shall have taken place}.
      Thus “all these things” also includes the times of the gentiles fulfilled in Jerusalem. Could hardly have been fulfilled in 70 AD since the Roman GENTILES came back to whack another half million Jews less than 70 years later. Gentiles ruled Jerusalem up until 1967 when Jews gained control. As date pinned by Daniel to the year, 2500 years in advance:

  6. MikefromED says:

    Can I just ask one small question? Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Revelation say that not one stone will be left upon another but it is clear that one wall of the Temple, at least, is still standing. How are these to be reconciled?

    • Well, I think there is literalism and then there is hyper literalism. The Temple as a building was thrown down, though the temple mount’s retaining walls are still, to some degree intact. But, humanly speaking we all use modes of speech: e.g. “There must have been a million people there” does not mean we counted exactly one million people, but that there were “lots” of people there. Thus, “not one stone left on another,” does not require that absolutely every stone of a structure be detached from every other. As a mode of speech it means that the building will be wholly destroyed, which is in fact the case with the Temple building.

      • Howard says:

        Actually, this was part of the reason St. Cyril of Jerusalem gave for why Julian the Apostate would fail to rebuilt the Temple (as he in fact did fail). Presumably the Wailing Wall must come down first. By the way, if you want a made-for-Hollywood scenario for the Apocalypse, a terrorist bomb that destroys the Wailing Wall would be a convincing way to start the movie. As a Jewish friend said of this scenario, “Oh my God … all hell would break loose. It’s all we have left.” Exactly.

    • Jerry Bowyer says:

      The temple wall in Jerusalem is not a part of the temple. It is part of a retaining wall which buttressed the ground around the temple therefore its continued existence does not contradict Christ’s prophecy.

      The reason the temple was so completely destroyed, not one stone left on another, is that the Romans were told that the Jews had hidden gold in between the stones of the temple and they hacked they apart to get at the gold.

  7. Phil Steinacker says:

    Father, excellent article. Please accept a small corrrection. You appear to have utilized the Roman Numeral VI twice, and as a result an adjustment of VI, VI, & VII needs to be made to avoid confusion.

    I offer this not as criticism, but merely as a friendly edit.


  8. Theologian says:

    Very fascinating. Though I am not a biblical scholar, I wonder how this theory resonates with some of the linguistic and socio-political research into the Christian world done by Warren Carter.

  9. Bob says:

    Wow, it’s amazing how everyone interprets Revelations completely different. I don’t interpret Revelations as being a history lesson on Rome or Jerusalem at all. I interpret it as a literal warning of things to come at the end of this world as we know it…period. I also find it interesting how Revelations itself is not the focus here, but the Mount Olivet Discourse from Matthew. What about the 7 angels blowing their 7 trumpets and the destruction that unfolds? What about Mystery Babylon burning to the ground as the whole world watches and mourns? What about the reign of the Antichrist? What about Jesus coming back…literally? My impression from reading about this in the NT, is that there will come a time when the Earth is wiped clean like a slate. It will be “purified” before the Second Coming…made new! At some point, something came along and wiped the dinosaurs out. I do believe a series of events will eventually happen that will just about wipe mankind out. A celestial/cosmic event so horrifyingly catastrophic that we can’t even conceive of it.

    • Well, there is no reason to deny that Revelation may in fact disclose what the end of the world will be. But where you and I would apparently differ is that there is also a First Century context in which the people of that time experienced its reality as well. I don’t have time to answer all your question but they are all effectively dealt with by the Protestant Scholar David Chilton in his book Days of Vengeance which you read here: He has well set forth the praeterist theory advanced in these notes and has a commentary on every line of Revelation.

      but quickly, the seven seals, bowls and trumpets, all release sufferings that were very much fulfilled in the Jewish War with the Romans and Chilton et al show. Further, Babylon is a term used ironically of Jerusalem which is also ironically called Sodom and Egypt by the prophets et al. The whole world looking on need not be understood as if everyone is outside in the mode of watching a movie, but rather, can mean that Rome, having conquered Jerusalem brings her spoils back to the imperial City, and proudly displays them, which in fact took place historically as well as Titus made quite a parade of his Victory. And so forth….

      • Bob says:

        Well, I’m going to have to disagree with your theory. I truly do not believe Jesus was just warning folks of events that would take place at the end of the 1st century. What would be the point for those who followed in time after that? You yourself said, “there is no reason to deny that Revelation may in fact disclose what the end of the world will be”. This I agree with. My vibe is something from “out there” is gonna slam into our planet at some point. And when it shows up, we’re all going to want to crawl into a deep cave and hide.

        Rev 8:7
        The first blew his trumpet and, with that, hail and fire, mixed with blood, were hurled on the earth: a third of the earth was burnt up, and a third of all trees, and every blade of grass was burnt.

        It says a third of the “earth” was burnt up. Earth meaning “our planet”. In fact, the word “earth” is mentioned several times in Revelation. Why use the word “earth”, when you could just as easily have used the word Rome, Jerusalem, or any particular city? Which the Bible does in abundance.

        Rev 21:1-4
        Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone.’

        Honestly, this has not come to pass yet. How do you explain this in terms of 1st century history? If you tell me that you can, then I need to steer clear of this site.

        • Well alright Bob, but there is no need to be all or nothing about the conclusion, Revelation, like any part of the word of God is relevant for people of all times. It would be odd if the book had no meaning for the first century, hence it probably did have fulfillment then, but fulfillment that also point to the final end of all things. As for your quotes from 8 and 21, they are dealt with by the theory, and I might encourage you to click through to the Book by Chilton. and go right to the verses in question. But just quickly, the Greek word γῆ “Ge” translated as earth can also refer to the “Land” or “the arena in which we live.” Thus, the “Promised Land” could be referenced or some other subset of the entire globe. “Ge” can thus have several meanings. As for Rev 21, the minority theory does hold that the final two chapters show forth the cosmic nature of the battle, broadening the context in regards to both space and time.

          No need to steer clear, no need to fear….stay in the conversation…..take what you like and leave the rest. People who have other theories about this complex book are not necessarily yahoos. Like any theory, there are strengths and weaknesses in this one. The majority opinion also has a lot of trouble accounting many details (e.g. why is 666 a reference to Nero if the time frame is well after Nero, why is the great city identified not as Rome but as Jerusalem in Rev 11, etc….)

          I DO recommend Chilton’s book however before you simply dismiss the theory altogether. The questions you raise, have been raised before, and are addressed more thoroughly than I can develop here.

          • Bob says:

            Matthew 24:3
            “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

            “End of the world” is the key phrase here. Not the end of life as we know it in Jerusalem, Rome, or the Promised Land. Or does “end of the world” mean something else to you? The disciples specifically asked about the “end of the world”. I find it odd that what is being addressed here is the very thing that you will not address!

            I agree, Revelation is relevant for all times, because we don’t know when the end will come, and I believe it needed to be written, when it was written, so that it would be included in the NT to warn mankind. I don’t think it would be odd for it to have zero meaning for the 1st century, the 2nd, the 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, etc…all the way up to the 21st century. We also know from the Bible that a thousand years is like a day to God…so it’s quite possible that when Jesus said “soon”, he meant “be prepared…always”. “Soon” to God could be a very, very long time, since God is infinite. Jesus said no one will know the time when it happens…only His Father in heaven will know. As for Chilton’s book, well, sorry I’m Catholic, I don’t read Protestant theology at all. But I am aware that his theory mirrors the one you have presented here…that Revelation has come to pass…..

            Wow, just wow! That’s all I can say. I think the Bible was intended for the common man to understand. There are some things in the Bible that you need not be a theological scientist to dig for (i.e. your explanation of the word earth)…..many of these revelations are right there in front of your nose. I read the scripture with my heart, and I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me understanding, wisdom and knowledge to make sense of what I am reading. I mean seriously, if “earth” could mean all the things you just threw out above, then so can every other conceivable word within the Bible which would make it truly impossible to understand, read or interpret. “Earth” is earth, it is what it is. It is because of this sort of nonsense that the term “eisegesis” was coined.

            Anyway, I hope you’re right, because then we don’t have to worry about the apocalypse….but something tells me you’re wrong. Very wrong. Hopefully, neither one of us will be around to see that day. Peace.

          • the Greek word in Mat 24:3 is αἰῶνος (aionos) is more commonly translated “age” rather than world or cosmos. Hence a more common and accurate translation of Matt 24:3 is “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

            As to your “wow just wow” comment: The Bible has a depth that should not be reduced either to be unreadable or to being read alone and unaided. The Bible needs the Church and solo reading is a bad idea, but that doesn’t render the text arcane either.

          • Bob says:

            “The Bible has a depth that should not be……read alone and unaided……and solo reading is a bad idea”

            Again…wow, just wow!
            Church is good, yes, as long as the priest is truly in tune with God.
            But, I wonder what Jesus would say about your above comment, in regards to me reading the Bible alone?
            I prayed for you lastnight, Msgr…and I will pray for you again today.
            As for this blog, I am deleting it out of my bookmarks.
            May God be with you!

          • Don’t read it a lone, read it with the Church. Church doesn’t just mean your parish Priest. It means the Catechism, Church doctrine, The Ancient Fathers, approved Catholic Commentaries. Thanks for your prayers. But as for your implications that I am on shaky ground, I am simply emphasizing that the Bible is a Church Book. Sentire cum ecclesia think with the Church and read scripture with her. You ought to be careful not to over-react to what I am saying. You seem to read and understand in a rather absolutist sense. Strive to see and understand the nuances of what I am saying. Perhaps you understand it to mean that there is to be no devotional reading at home with scripture? That isn’t what I am saying. But square your reading of it with Church teaching.

            As for Jesus, he never wrote a book, He founded a Church and I don’t think he’d scold me as you assert. And while the Holy Spirit inspired the sacred page, it must be read with the proper interpretive key and have an authoritative interpreter. Protestantism is a perfect example of what happens with the Bible alone, without the Church: over 30,000 denominations all reading the same book but with different views as to what it means and no way to resolve their differences, no authority to finally call the shots or set limits to the debate.

          • Ellen says:

            I fully agree that the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” “revised in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by Pope John Paul II” should be read by everyone.

            Starting on page 30 through page 38 – Article 3 SACRED SCRIPTURE (paragraphs 101 through 141) keeps everyone within bounds of Catholic Church teaching.
            The paragraph footnotes at the bottom of each page direct us to the appropriate source.

            CCC: ” 119 It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement.
            For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God.
            But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me. “

          • Ellen says:

            Mass homilies by Priests and Deacons should contain only approved teachings of the Church, not “theories” in process which could be right or wrong.

            CCC: ” 1567 The priests, prudent cooperators of the episcopal college and its support and instrument, called to the service of the People of God, constitute, together with their bishop, a unique sacerdotal college (presbyterium) dedicated, it is, true to a variety of distinct duties.
            In each local assembly of the faithful they represent, in a certain sense, the bishop, with whom they are associated in all trust and generosity; in part they take upon themselves his duties and solicitude and in their daily toils discharge them.
            Priests can exercise their ministry only in dependence on the bishop and in communion with him.
            The promise of obedience they make to the bishop at the moment of ordination and the kiss of peace from him at the end of the ordination liturgy mean that the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience. ”
            CCC: ” 888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task to preach the Gospel of God to all men, in keeping with the Lord’s command. They are “heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ;
            they are authentic teachers” of the apostolic faith “endowed with the authority of Christ. “

          • Yes, I would largely agree though to use this as an absolute norm would be difficult since there are often a wide range of differing interpretations that Scripture texts can have that are all within the range of permitted Church teaching. Thus, on Sundays where the Mt Olivet discourse is covered, like two Sundays ago, and this coming Sunday, it would not be wrong for a priest or deacon to indicate that the context was the destruction of the Temple, not per se the end of the world since that seems clear both in the text. However the Church has not ruled absolutely as to the context and if each and every detail has only a First Century context or only an end of the world context. Rather she permits both understandings and for a variety of opinions to exist. Thus my usual practice is to explain the first century context (especially since to fail to do so makes people wonder why Jesus said “All” these events would take place in the life span of many standing there that day). Then, having set forth the historical context, the text needs to be applied to us today who are also experiencing upheavals and the “end of an age.” But as for preaching there is a lot of leeway and some priests are able to ably set forth different understandings within the range of what the Church permits.

          • Hal says:

            Thank you, Monsignor! I found your presentation quite cogent. I also greatly appreciate your sensitivity to the Church and her teaching. Without the Church’s “companionship” and guidance while we read Scripture, we would not have a universal understanding; we would not be Catholic. Thank you for this timely work! I am sharing this link with others who just came from a 3-day retreat on this very book!

          • David Roper says:

            With all due respect, I have to agree with Bob. Everything that Jesus says will happen is in strict accordance with physics. I was actually alarmed to hear my priest say at Mass that these references were just symbolic. Mark 13:24 reports Jesus as saying, “the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:25 adds to this, “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; On earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” The similarities to the account given in Revelation 8 are evident. However, physics can explain this in natural terms, whereas the Bible describes the same things prophetically. Consider the following. The sun suffers an enormous internal explosion. A massive ball of plasma flies clear and scorches the earth as in Revelation 8. The sun is dimmed by its loss of mass, and the gravitational field of the sun is therefore lessened. This has an effect upon the moon, which is affected by the gravitational pull of the sun. In short, its orbit is altered; it loses its familiar shine, and the change to its course through the heavens has a disastrous effect on the tides. Tumultuous flooding, cities either burnt by the heat of the sun-strike or swamped by rising sea levels. Men and nations would be in terror everywhere at what is happening to the world. The earth, too, is affected by the change in the sun’s gravitational field, and its orbit also changes, causing the stars to fall – relative to the altered motion of the earth, that is. Given the mass of the sun-strike, a reasonable prediction of the effects this would have on the orbits of the moon and the earth could be calculated. I therefore see no reason to believe that Jesus’ description of what will happen is just symbolic, or that described in Revelation.

  10. Nathan says:

    I’ve read into this a bit and, while certainly far from a scripture scholar myself, have found the arguments for a date in the 60’s to be much more convincing than the later date, which draws heavily on a hermeneutic of (unreasonable) suspicion. Great post, as always.

  11. Elaine says:

    This makes sense to me. I’ve never understood how John would have needed to encode Nero’s name as 666 during the reign of Domitian, an emperor a generation later, from a different dynasty.

    I ran a Bible study of Revelation for my parish a couple years back, and while doing it found some neat stuff in Josephus about signs and portents during the Jewish war of 68-70. I also found someone saying there wasn’t any recorded persecution of Christians during Domitian’s reign – so why would John have been in exile then? – but I can’t lay my hands on the reference now.

    In case anyone is interested, A couple books I found useful for that study were Hahn’s THE LAMB’S SUPPER – tying Revelation to the Mass, and David Currie’s RAPTURE, The End Time Error.. which goes into great detail comparing Revelation to Daniel and the Mount Olivet discourse.

  12. RichardC says:

    I thought this was an awesome post and look forward, God willing, to reading Revelation again in the light of the main points of this post. This reading brings to life for me the Mt Olivet Discourse and shows what a huge event in Salvation History was the destruction of the Temple. Because I couldn’t understand the Book of Revelation, I had started reading it as something to be experienced by the act of reading it. This is one of my favorite passages: “[16] And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the river, which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” (Rev: 23:16) Makes me feel better that the earth is on our side. Thus says I.

  13. Michael B Rooke says:

    The descriptions in Rev 9: 6-10 is suggestive of the Roman army and may point to writing with detailed knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem. The descriptions below are primarily ex wiki.
    The scorpio or scorpion was type of Roman crossbow..

    Gold Crown – (Latin: corona aurea), Awarded to both Centurions and apparently some principales, for killing an enemy in single combat and holding the ground to the end of the battle.
    Battlement Crowns – These were made of gold and decorated with the uprights (valli) of an entrenchment or turrets of a city. It was awarded to the first soldier or Centurion to mount the wall or palisade of an enemy town or camp.[1]

    Mural Crown – (Latin: corona muralis), Also referred to as the “walled crown”, this was a golden crown, or circle of gold intended to resemble a battlement, bestowed upon the first soldier who climbed the wall of a besieged city and to successfully place the standard of the attacking army upon it.

    Hair like womens’ hair
    From the Second Punic War (218 BC) until the 3rd century AD, the bulk of Rome’s light cavalry (apart from mounted archers from Syria) was provided by the inhabitants of the northwest African provinces of Africa proconsularis and Mauretania, the Numidae or Mauri (from whom derives the English term “Moors”), who were the ancestors of the Berber people of modern Algeria and Morocco. They were known as the equites Maurorum or Numidarum (“Moorish or Numidian cavalry”). On Trajan’s Column, Mauri horsemen, depicted with long hair in dreadlocks, are shown riding their small but resilient horses bare-back and unbridled, with a simple braided rope round their mount’s neck for control.

    Teeth like lion’s teeth.
    The eagle standard was carried by a special standard bearer (aquilifer) who wore a lion-skin headdress

    The sound of their wings
    May have been noise from arrows inserted into the sides of chariots for wheel spokes to flick against.

  14. Nate says:

    Interesting post – I didn’t realize the minority view was the minority view nor have I seen it as fully explained as this. Very good to know these details on a matter so plagued by Protestant errors. Thank you!

  15. Ash says:

    I see revelation as liturgical, I find it very interesting that the first book of the scriptures highlights the Jewish liturgical week, and revelation outlines worship in spirit and truth.

  16. Tim says:

    David Currie’s book the Rapture includes an appendix (pp. 451-463) that lists several references from the Early Church Fathers and other Early Church documents to support the minority view – for example a second century Syriac translation of the New Testament. The title page of the book of the Apocalypse reads, “The Revelation which was made by God to John the Evangelist in the island Patmos, into which he was thrown by Nero Caesar.”

    What has disturbed me regarding Scripture scholarship in the last century is that the scholars gave more credence to their interpretation of the internal evidence while ignoring the historical witness of the Early Church Fathers as well as internal evidence that refutes their theories. One wonders whether the desire for innovation and original thinking clouded their judgments.

    What is also disappointing is the lack of respect given to those who oppose their ideas in Church circles. I speak from experience. So we are supposed to ignore the witness of the Fathers regarding the composition of Scripture, but at the same time value their contribution in passing on authentic Tradition regarding articles of faith?

  17. michael says:

    The book of Revelations is not quoted in the Constitutions of the Apostles which included the Didache and all the other books of the NT. Justin Martyr quotes from the book of Revelations, but the other early church fathers do not. Bishop Clement of Rome in his epistle to the church of Corinth does not quote from the book of Revelation. Barnabas mentions the seventh day, or Sabbath day as representing one thousand years, but Barnabas does not refer to Revelation 20. Ireneaus is correct is his dating.

    • Yes Revelation was an oft disputed Book in the NT canon. Glad you are so sure about Ireneaus, many scholars are less sure and at leat will to brook the notion that there are some issues regarding dates and times.

  18. michael says:

    The book of Revelations is not quoted in the Constitutions of the Apostles which included the Didache and all the other books of the NT. Justin Martyr quotes from the book of Revelations, but the other early church fathers do not. Bishop Clement of Rome in his epistle to the church of Corinth does not quote from the book of Revelation. Barnabas mentions the seventh day, or Sabbath day as representing one thousand years, but Barnabas does not refer to Revelation 20. Ireneaus is correct in his dating.

  19. Nick says:

    What if Revelation is about both the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of the Empire? Just like Jesus’ discourse is about both the destruction of Jerusalem and His Second Coming. It could also be about the Empire’s fall too, I suppose.

  20. Roger Smith says:

    I read a great book dealing with this subject recently – “Orthomillennialism: Bringing Order to the End-Times” by Rev. Gerald Haug. The title is a little unusual, but the book is a great read. It really confirms all the things mentioned here.


  21. Laurie says:

    It may be prophetic of the destruction of Jerusalem but also the end time. This is my personal opinion, but I also think it is obvious it refers to the end times no doubt. ie. “time for the dead to be judged, rewarding thy servants, the prophets and the saints; fallen is Babylon who made all nations drink the wine of her impure passion; then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…death shall be no more…the former things have passed away etc etc. This gist is there in any case…unrepentant sinners will meet judgment, those who hope in Christ will not be disappointed; watch, trust, persevere.

  22. frumpymonk says:

    Apocryphal literature in the Scriptures is such a touchy subject because it’s shaped around prophecy, visions, allegory, and any number of elements that require special handling and interprtation. As a result, theories abound about how to best understand the whole field of eschatology–the doctrine of “last things.” Theologians have set forward the (1) historicist school, (2) the futurist/historical premillennialism school, (3) the futurist/dispensational premillennialism school, (4) the preterist and partial preterist schoos, and (5) the idealist school, not to mention all the combinations inbetween. And this doesn’t even begin to describe the many views of the “Millennial Reign” of Christ upon His return in power and glory. What this means is that are a lot of “answers” floating around the Church about how the “Day of the Lord” will unfold. I’ve always been of a mind to “let Scripture interpret Scripture”–and in this case, allowing Jesus to ‘exegete’ the topic for us. For example, when we look at the “mini apocolypses” of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, they are complicated to be sure. But maybe that’s because we’re blending elements together that don’t belong together. Here’s what I mean: In Matthew 24:3 the disciples ask Jesus a question based on His comment that the Temple of Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. But if you look carefully at that question, it comes in three parts: (1) when will the Temple be destroyed, (2) what will be the sign of Christ’s coming, and (3) their desire for additional details about the end of the age/time. They asked a three-part question to which Jesus graciously gave a three-part answer. If you follow Christ’s answer, He makes a clear distinction between the events of “these days” (the invasion of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 69/70 AD), and the events of “those days” (His return and the events surrounding the Last Days). And these time frames are interwoven throughout the next three chapters. Our problem is that we fail to separate the “these days” from “those days” in His answer and we end up with an eschatology that is confused; literally a hybrid doctrine based on things that shouldn’t be placed together. This is one of several little textual ‘keys’ might help folks unpack what the Bible has to say. At the least, it should generate some interesting conversation. In the end, our best response to the Last Days is to live a life of watchfulness and spiritual preparation. As Jesus says, “Be alert,” “Be on guard,” or “Watch” (depending on your translation of the Bible).

    • Well stated, though I wonder if “apocryphal” isn’t a word that also leads us a bit astray. From all I can tell, both the Mt Olivet discourse and Revelation are in the prophetic tradition, their most elaborate and exotic details being often direct quotes from prophets like Joel, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah et al. Calling the literature “apocryphal” treats it as a somewhat exotic animal when it may be, as you imply, deep in the prophetic call to watchfulness and repentance.

      • frumpymonk says:

        Msgr. Pope, you caught my error in a most gracious way. It was a slip on my part–I was between some pretty detailed projects when I wrote my hurried comments above. Where I said ‘apocryphal literature’ I meant to say ‘apocalyptic literature.’ I wasn’t refering to the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonicals at all. Rather, I meant to refer to the many OT/NT biblical texts (Revelation included) that deal specifically with the ‘last things.’ Again, thank you for how you offer such kind and gentlemanly replies to all those who post here.

  23. John R says:

    Michael Barber’s book, “Coming soon: unlocking the book of Revelation and applying it lessons today” covers the minority view in detail of the symbolism used. He makes a strong case for the minority view by going verse by verse: his chapter notes adds an extra depth to some of the interpretations. There is also an excellent bibliography for those who wish to persue the topic further.

  24. Adrian Johnson says:

    Somebody mentioned (protestant) Kramer’s ” Book of Destiny” (unless they deleted it). If anybody has read it, and thought Kramer had some novel but good insights– though he errs in his theology– please investigate the unusual book by (Catholic) Steven Paul, “Apocalypse, Letter by Letter”. In it he says Kramer’s book got many things “almost” right, but missed on crucial points because his translation was wrong.

    Steven Paul’s unusual book may not be right in some of his theological conclusions; , but should not be ignored by anybody who can’t read the Apocalypse in its Greek original. The value of S. Paul’s book is that he shows how “gramatical” translations in English have thereby missed crucial information embedded in the syntax and vocabulary of the original. Disregard his theological conclusions when you will; but use his linguistic method for yourself– it appears to be quite sound. Then ponder the meaning from some novel, unexpected viewpoints.

    The author’s irritating style is explained by the fact that he was not writing a book–rather, it began as a series of letters to his brother-in-law, who assembled them as a book after Paul’s death. The reader should bear with the whimsical way the writer examines the grammar and lexicon of St John’s Greek which is not fully conveyed by translations into other languages. If you can wade through this book you will read the Apocalypse with new eyes because your theology will be influenced by its nuanced linguistic insights.

    See reviews of this book on Amazon dot com:

  25. Casting Crowns says:

    Seems the first step to understanding the Book of Revelation would be to acknowledge this is the Book of Revelation (of Jesus Christ) and *not* as some above have commented –“revelations.” The images John is witnessing on the isle of Patmos are only a panoramic view of what is to come. In the study of Eschatology, sufficient and scholarly cases have been made for holding a Pre, Mid or Post-trib position and very likely no one can claim “theirs” is the correct view until Christ returns in all His matchless glory.

  26. Kenneth Myers says:

    Hi there. I’m an Anglican bishop, but a dear friend of mine who is a Roman Catholic sent me a link to your article. Just a fantastic piece! Thank you so much for writing it. I wrote a book last year titled, “The End is Near…Or Maybe Not!” in which I give a verse by verse study of Mt. 24 and relate it to the Destruction of Jerusalem. I have one chapter in the book on understanding the book of Revelation in the same, A.D. 70, light.

    I would like to point out one little piece of historical data which will support your argument for an early date of the Revelation, and it has to do with Domitian. Everyone quotes Ireneaus and gives the book a 90’s date, because obviously that is when Domitian reigned. However (and this is a BIG however), watch this:

    Domitian’s father was Vespasian. Vespasian is the one who originally laid siege to Jerusalem as general under Nero in A.D. 66. In December of 69 Vespasian was elected Emperor. His eldest son Titus took charge of the Jerusalem seige, while his younger son Domitian resided in Rome. But here is the important point: it took him nearly six months to make his way from Jerusalem and Egypt (where he was securing foodstuff for his soldiers) to Rome. During this half year space, Domitian ruled in the stead of his father!

    During this six months, Domitian was brutal, exiling many people, establishing harsh persecutions, and generally causing chaos. When his father arrived, he reversed many of Domitian’s orders and restored many exiles to freedom.

    AND SO – Iranaeus tells us John wrote during the reign of Domitian…and he is correct – during the short 6 months reign of Domitian in A.D. 69/70. After Vespasian’s death, his eldest son Titus ruled, and after his death Domitian came to the throne in his own full right – in 96. But he was there, representing his father – in 69! This changes everything, yes?

    Details can be found in the Annals of Tacitus. A less trustworthy verification can be found in the wikipedia articles on Vespasian and Domitian.

  27. Brent says:

    Concerning the later date for the writing of Revelation, it is my understanding that the only “texts” of Iranaeus’ work are actually Eusebius’ (fourth century) Latin manuscripts. McClintock and Strong’s Biblical Encyclopedia calls these “barbaric Latin.” Considering Iranaeus’ other mistakes in dates that you mention, his dating of 96 is very suspect.

    About 12 years ago, I changed to “minority” view. The overwhelming internal evidence and the solid link between both Old Testament/New Testament prophecies and statements became undeniable for me. It just all fits. So many of my previous questions were answered.

    When I did, the conclusion of Revelation really came to life for me. This spiritual kingdom (that we now are in) is described as “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Notice it said “coming [down] out of heaven.” It is the new arrangement, the new covenant given to man, whereby, “…He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.”

    All of this occurred simultaneously with the ending of the “old”, the end of the sacrifices, the end of the linage of the priesthood, the end of the “Harlot”, the end of the old “heaven and earth”, the end of the “age”. All of this gives a better understanding of Daniel’s statement: “…when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” It was also the same time that Zechariah said the Lord would “…cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.” I could go on, but that is enough.

  28. Mama D says:

    Very interesting article. I guess I also am in the minority. I was fortunate enough to take the Revelation course offered by Ascension Press, led by Jeff Cavins. I highly recommend that study. They also approach Revelations from a more historical view point and how it ties into “our” catechism. I think they do a great job of covering, verse by verse, the entire book and how it has historical relevancy. For example they cover the 4 horse men and how they represent 4 Middle Eastern countries. One other thought I have on this is that people get wrapped up in the word apocalyptic. We tend to get caught up in the “Hollywood” doom and gloom apocalypse that is so prevalent today as opposed to the unveiling literature it is supposed to be. Remember the apocalypse happened in the wedding ceremony. It is the unveiling of the bride. It is meant to be beautiful and full of hope and promise. I certainly no expert but your article resonated with me. Thank you for writing such a great article. I too am going to print it out and ponder it further.

  29. willpen1 says:

    Yes a very good discussion!Everyone remained civil and that is such a welcome change from other comment sites.I do hope however that Bob comes back as this subject is so timely as many believe that we are indeed beginning to live in the End Times.The early date seems most logical and shouldn’t we follow logic? When it was written is nice to know BUT have any of you noticed what on earth is going on right now! I really would like to hear an explanation then, of the other or second half of Mt. Olivet discourse and the Book of Revelation as I would like to relate it to what the heck is going on right now! I am one of those who do believe that we are living in the End Times and how can these two Readings help us to deal with it…It’s getting scarry folks!…God Bless all of you…………………..

    • Adrian Johnson says:

      It may or may not intrigue you to know that shortly before her death, Sr Lucia (of Fatima) recommended we pray for discernment “to read the signs of the times” and that we were now living Chapters 8 -13 of the Apocalypse.

  30. Luciano says:

    I love the article and I will read it again and again prayerfully. I remember reading somewhere that adding the latitude and longitude of Jerusalem you end up with 666. I’ll have to check on that.

  31. Mike says:

    Thank you for such an interesting and thought provoking article. I think many of us are drawn to Revelations and “end times” readings based upon our human nature to “know”. It seems many of us focus on the literal dates and times when events happened or might happen in the future. In this age of instant information and communication, I guess one can understand why there is this focus. But, at least for me, this focus is much ado about nothing. No one “knows” when these things will pass and we have no control or influence over them anyhow. To me, the focus is how do I respond now and today. The likelihood that our time will be THE end time has low probability especially when compared with MY personal end time (which I hope is still many years away). My take with these readings is much more simple and that is for me to be watchful,ready, prepared and repentful for my own end. And yes, it is not a fearful watch but if I am doing things well, it is a hopeful and even joyful watch to see God face to face when my personal “end of the world” occurs. Again, thank you Monsignor for prompting me to improve my preparations. Please keep me in your prayers as I do you.

  32. michael says:

    The uniqueness of the book of Revelations is that it is a composite of the prophetic scriptures from the Tanakh united with the revelations which God gave to Jesus Christ, which were then given to John through his angel.

    It is the only prophetic book of the NT. It is the summation of all prophecy leading up to the last days with Jesus Christ as not only the redeemer and revealer, but the savior and the resurrection of the age to come.

    To assign it to a particular time frame, such as to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD seems to be very short sighted, and contrary to the warnings of Jesus Christ to remain awake and occupied until he comes.
    “Nevertheless, will the Son of Man find faith when he comes/”

  33. lisag says:

    I took a study of it that said John was not the writer, because of the writing style differences. They went into great lengths about why it refers to the destruction of Rome. You present convincing evidence about the time and city. The first martyrs cry out for justice under the altar and God hears their cries. Could it be that your interpretation does not bode well for Jewish Catholic relations and that is why it is a minority opinion. As Israel faces possible destruction from surrounding countries you have to see the relevance of Revolution to today with the general disregard for all of God’s creation and the fact that the many of Jewish people have not only not found Christ, but have left their own religion.

  34. Mark says:

    This article causes one to think, however I believe that to appreciate it fully, one must have an good understanding of the Theonomy movement or the Christian Reconstruction movement. Many Catholics may not be familiar with this theology. I believe it also important to understand the Postmillenial view of eschatology that the group from Tyler, Texas (of which Chilton is or was associated) is espousing. I still take an amillennial approach to Revelation as I believe the seven parallel viewpoints established by William Hendrikson in his book More Than Conquerors are truer to a correct interpretation of Revelation. Mind you, I do not believe that any interpretation of Revelation is complete in and of itself. Personally I think the true interpretation lies somewhere between Postmillenialism and Amillenialism and closer to Amillenialism.

    I do think as this article states, that there are valid reasons for considering a 70 AD date of writing as opposed to a post 95 AD date of writing.

    I want to say one other thing. As an Anglican bishop who is in the process of converting to the Roman Catholic Church, I appreciate the author’s scholarship and argument here.

  35. michael says:

    Please forgive me Monsignor for not showing you more respect. I usually do not notice the author of articles, even as I reply to them.

    As far as the Mt.Olivet discourse is concerned, it seems as though it may have been divided into two prophetic timelines. The apocalyptic time of the generation to witness the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD., and the generation of the apocalyptic ‘last days’.

    There seems to be three descriptives of the last days. The appearance of ‘the antichrist’, the ‘great tribulation’ and the appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven. All three of these descriptives are found in the Didache. Does anyone think that the Didache was written prior to 70 AD?

    Did anyone imagine that it would be possible that some sort of an apocalyptic revisitation of 70 AD could happen? Even as we speak, the Temple Institute of Jerusalem is preparing the Temple articles for their third Temple.

    The peace of Jesus Christ.

  36. Dennis J. Reidy says:

    Sister Lucia of Fatima is on record as stating that we are living in the times outlined in the Apocalypse. Pope John Paul II also made at least one public reference to it.

    The apparitions at Knock, Ireland, and Guadalupe, Mexico, also refer to the Apocalypse. In Mexico, the Blessed Virgin appeared as the woman of the Apocalypse, and at Knock, Saint John the Evangelist was holding a Bible that was open to the Book of the Apocalypse. There are other saints and mystics of the Church that have made similar assertions. Saint Anthony Mary Claret is an example.

    While a portion of the Apocalypse was surely for Saint John’s time, it is certain that a portion of it is yet in the future. It speaks about the general judgment, which of course has not occurred yet.

    That said, many of the Protestant understandings of that book are, naturally, way off base, e.g., “pretribulation rapture,” the Catholic Church being “the whore of Babylon,” et cetera.

    – DJR

    • Casting Crowns says:

      @Dennis J. Reidy: [“That said, many of the Protestant understandings of that book are, naturally, way off base, e.g., “pretribulation rapture,” the Catholic Church being “the whore of Babylon,” et cetera.”] That said, you assume because something is *not* of Catholic belief it is “naturally” way off base. How elitist of you. Though the term Rapture is not in Scripture, –neither is Trinity nor Purgatory which you have adopted in Catholic doctrine. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is neither Protestant nor Catholic. Since Paul is a disciple of Christ Jesus, –that of having direct contact with Jesus “whom you are persecuting” in ACTS 9:5, I will go with Paul in his letter to the church at Thessalonica rather that your CCC interpretation.

      • Dennis J. Reidy says:

        I never said that Catholics don’t believe in “the rapture,” as that term is understood by Protestants. I stated that Catholics don’t believe in a “pretribulation rapture,” which is a Protestant invention of the 19th century.

        The first Protestants, including the first Baptists, did not believe in a “pretribulation” rapture, and that is a demonstrable fact. Many of the early Protestants drew up confessions of faith, and not a single one of them ever referred to a “pretribulation” rapture.

        The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, at Chapter 31, Article 2, says this: At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever. (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Job 19:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 15:42, 43).

        Do you notice the reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 regarding what that confession refers to as “the last day”?

        It was through the promulgation of the Scofield Bible, using the ideas of McDonald, Darby, and Scofield, that the idea of a “pretribulation” rapture took off, and it is an erroneous belief. Saint Paul never taught such a thing. He openly teaches that at the last day, when Christ comes back for the second (and only other) time, “the rapture” takes place. After that, death is destroyed, which takes place after the last trumpet. See 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Corinthians 15:26.

        If death is destroyed at the last trumpet, then no one can die after that last trumpet. And the last trumpet is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. But “pretribulation” rapture believers place 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 over 1,000 years before the end of the world, during which time millions will die.

        Pointing out false teaching has nothing to do with being “elitist.” Rather, it has to do with following the true teachings of Christ, as carried on through time by the one and only Church He Himself founded: the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of which He Himself is a member (the Head).

        Which, by the way, is the reason the Church is infallible. The Church is infallible because Christ is infallible. Christ is a member of His Church (the head), and it’s not possible for Christ to be the head of an erring organization. If He were, that would mean that He Himself would err, and that’s not possible.

        • Casting Crowns says:

          @Dennis J. Reidy: [“If death is destroyed at the last trumpet, then no one can die after that last trumpet.”] Your statement leaves much open for further discussion. The unbeliver will die phyiscally since he is already dead spiritually. The unbeliever has never been born to new life in Christ Jesus. In fact, every man is born dead spiritually until Christ raises him. Since 1 Thessalonians 4:16 states the “dead in Christ will arise . . .” this means those who have died a physical death. Those who die in Christ never die a spiritual death for that obstacle was triumphed by Christ’s own victory over death at Calvary. Believers alive at the sound of the trumpet will of course not suffer physical death as well since they, too, will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. While we look back toward the Messiah who came and will come again in all His glory, so too, did OT saints who trusted the Lord and looked forward to the coming Messiah.

  37. Deacon Albert J Dietz says:

    I believe that though the Bible was written in time it has relevance and application for all times. When people try to confine the Scriptures to a certain period of time, it is for a reason, they have a hidden agenda.

    The further away from actual historical time we ascribe events, the more “fuzzy” they become. Oral transmission becomes more clouded by historical witnesses as time goes on, the same as several people giving testimony to what actually occurred at an accident site. The later, so called scholars, ascribe the writings of the New Testament the less they can be relied on as the Truth. Is that the “agenda” of modern scripture scholars?


    Those who do not study history and doomed to repeat it. We see in the present time, what Jesus and John foretold in their time. We are fools, who do not believe they were speaking of the future as well.
    JAMIE FOXX: At the Soul Train Awards 11/25/2012, “First of all, give an honor to God and our lord and savior Barack Obama. Barack Obama.”

    In Christ
    Deacon Al

  38. Frank says:

    Everybody just make sure you are ready whenever HE returns ….sImplement as that amen

  39. Sue Martin says:

    It is interesting to note that Jesus is currently appearing to a visionary explaining the book of revelations to her in the messages and telling her that we are now in that time predicted in the Bible (See’ the warning second coming ‘ site) and giving messages of a soon to come schism in the church and the deposing of our present Pope with the new leader of the church being a handsome, articulate person, not from God, who will ablolish the sacraments, form a more tolerant religion and persecute faithful priests.

  40. Manuel Trovao says:

    Tne Apocalypse is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants what must soon take place; and Jesus said: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense to repay every one for what he has done.” (Rev.22:12)
    And when people became alarmed about Jesus’ coming soon, St. Paul wrote: “Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the great Apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself to every so called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. And then the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth.” (2The.2:3-8)
    So, the great Apostasy will be the sign that Jesus will come again, to make justice and restore the Kingdom of God on a new earth.
    And this will take place when the rock of Peter is removed from the foundation of the Apostolic Church, so that She become a man-made church.

  41. Anne Marie says:

    Hi, I have a question.

    Has anyone who has posted in this thread heard about the new graphic novel of the NT Bible book of “Revelation?” Seen sample videos of pictures from it and it is truly a work of art. Saw on Thanksgiving eve a special on FoxNews about doomsday or end of the world predictions and there were pictures that were shown from that new graphic novel. If my memory serves me correct, correct me if I am wrong, but the gentleman that was interviewed that help put it together is a is a Orthodox Christian priest.

    Thank-you for any responses.

  42. justyntoo says:

    there is so much that can atributed to the time shortly after our lord’s death in revelation texts but , there is also even more that is stated to have to take place befor the return that, i think that to say it has been fullfilled would be short sighted . we have a time after our lords’ that is a time of dissention between family members , which is still here . there is the great earthquake that has not happened , there is the time of silence in the realm of creation for about one half hour that has not been , we have not had the era of peace . plus so much more , like israel became a nation again , as a stumbling block to the nations , the faithfull fleeing into the wilderness to escape the torrents of the dragon , the diminishment of the world population due to the many causes .when i read the mt.olive talk i was impressed with the way our lord spoke of both jerusalem and the end of the age as being symbolicly one – jerusalem the technical end of organised judism and time fortold to come as the end of current christian dissimilarities with the unifying under the returned lords’ banner . and of course one can not forget the anti-christ who will come befor the return , pretending to be the fullfillment of the scriptures so as to mislead even the elect with signs and wonders , as a man of peace who will stop the war that is to come , settle money problems , settle the arab/israelie delemia .

  43. Patrick Leonard says:

    I do not agree with the contention that Nero is represented by the number 666, as to get this number from Nero, one has to add the greek word “kaisar”…that is Kaisar Neron (the supposed “greek” name for Nero)…
    when in fact his actual name was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus…so you have to exclude 3 of his names and add an “n” the the end of his first name…

    Seems a bit too much numerological gymnastics are required for it to be even close to certain…as there are no other examples of the number used by other early christian writers to denote Nero. If it was “understood” as the preterist position claims, then certainly, we should have some other (non Revelation) writing somewhere where such is used.

    Further, the usual encryption used by judaic writers was not a numeric code, but Atbash code, a simple single substitution cipher…
    Further, at the time, there is no evidence that Nero ever required anyone to be marked on the head or forhead with his name, nor ever banning people from conducting commerce without it.
    Further, Nero died in AD 68, 2 years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. AD 69, during which the Roman-jewish war was being conducted, was known as the year of four emperors, with Galba, Otho, Vitellus, and Vespasian, with Vespasian (who was the commander of the Roman forces at the beginning of the war) being replaced by his son, Titus.
    Examining the actual known history with the contentions of preterists, I find no justification for considering the Roman-Jewish war to be considered the “ultimate” fulfillment of prophesy, though it did end the Temple sacrifice. In fact, the “end times” began (latter days) most likely began with the Death and Resurrection of Christ and continue to this day and into an unknown time in the future. There is more evidence to support a “futurist” viewpoint (though not necessarily of the “Left Behind” interpretations) than there is a preterist viewpoint.

  44. Duncan says:

    Preterism is correct. Revelation is a book of two women (the harlot and the bride) who are two cities (Babylon and New Jerusalem). A similar contrasting of two women/cities can be found in Galatians 4:21-31. In Galatians we are explicitly told it is contrasting the two covenants (v. 24). It is the same in Revelation. Below is an article on the merchandise of Babylon (pretty boring subject right?). It was the merchandise of the Temple. In Revelation an evil city is burned (Babylon) and then a wedding happens (Rev. 19:1-9 compare with Matt. 22:1-10)

  45. Jerry Wm Bowers Jr says:

    Bravo Msgr and Duncan. It is indeed the Preterist view that is seen within Revelation itself, and more than 100 time statements found throughout the New Testament. Most readily argue this because of the state of the world as we know it; I would then ask, are you understanding the book by its own verses and language, or more relying on Current Events Eschatology and Newspaper Exegesis?

    Consider the Book of Revelation is the Olivet Discourse expanded. Within the 4 gospels themselves, John gives no account of this meeting between Christ and 4 of his Apostles: Peter, James, John, and Andrew.

    The Revelation is John’s explanation, only expanded.

    Consider rather than the writings of later “Church Fathers” but to that of the internal evidence within the Book itself, and correlating scriptures to adhere to the proper interpretation.

    Consider Revelation 6:10, 16:6, 17:6, 18:24, and 19:2 all speak of the avenging of righteous blood; consider as well that Deuteronomy 32:42 is the prophecy of such, and that Matthew 23:34-36 has Christ himself stating this would occur in THEIR/THAT generation.

    Consider that death has already been defeated!

    This is from the KJV of the Bible:

    1Co 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

    “shall be” is future tense, right? Well; as the Hertz Rental Car Company commercials used to say, not exactly.

    The phrase “that shall be destroyed” is all from one Greek word; strong’s #2673 “katargew katargeo kat-arg-eh’-o” and is defined as

    1) to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative

    1a) to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency

    1b) to deprive of force, influence, power

    2) to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish

    2a) to cease, to pass away, be done away

    2b) to be severed from, separated from, discharged from, loosed from any one

    2c) to terminate all intercourse with one

    Notice in (2) it uses “abolish”?

    We also find this word “Katargeo” translated as “abolished” in another verse about death.

    2Ti 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has >>>>>ABOLISHED
    death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

    Let’s just presume both scripture reference physical/biological death.

    Look around, does it look like physical/biological death has been ABOLISHED? But, do we have anything to suggest it has already been DESTROYED?

    Neither is true if we read such scriptures with western thinking, and apply carnal reasoning; it should be plainly obvious that physical/biological death still occurs: humans die, grass dies, flowers die, birds die, fish die, cattle die, etc….

    Did you read the definitions for Katargeo?

    Do you believe the resurrections from physical/biological death in scripture actually happened?

    Don’t they show physical/biological death to be rendered idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative? Do we not see life itself reanimating these once dead corpses?

    Doesn’t the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ clearly demonstrate that while man can kill the physical/biological body, he can not destroy the life giving spirit within the body?

    Let’s look at 1Co 15:26 again.

    “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”

    Now let’s look at how it should look:

    “The last enemy destroyed is death”

    Did you know that “Katargeo” translated as “Destroyed” in this verse is even shown in the present tense?

    Considering that prior to ascension, Christ already had power over all flesh (John 17:2)

    Considering that prior to ascension, Christ already had all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18)

    Considering that scripture says all things have been placed in subjection under his feet (1st Corinthians 15:27, Ephesians 1:22, Hebrews 2:8)

    Considering Christ said those in him never die (John 11:26) and never see death (John 8:51)

    Considering 2Ti 1:10 clearly shows that Christ has already physical/biological death does not kill that which is the begotten of the Father

    Why are we so obsessed with physical/biological death, when scripture and the very resurrections shown it clearly demonstrate that physical/biological death should not be a concern of ours?

    Read my NOTES in Facebook

    Before making arguments based on the physical world/realm, ask yourselves; are we to walk by sight and look for a kingdom that comes with observation?

    Doesn’t scripture say to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace?

    What say ye?

    • Jerry Wm Bowers Jr says:

      Correction: My reference to Deuteronomy 32:42 should be 32:43

    • PeteWaldo says:

      “I would then ask, are you understanding the book by its own verses and language, or more relying on Current Events Eschatology and Newspaper Exegesis?”
      On the book and it’s verses, as well as nearly 2,000 years of Christian era history. As particularly evidenced by the physical matter of fact of Jews being restored to Israel. Seems that restoration was date pinned by Daniel in two parallel math problems that span 2500 years. As recognized within the TRADITIONAL historicist approach to prophecy and amillennial context in common with those great men of God of the Reformation and Christians throughout the Christian era.

  46. James Metzger says:

    Msgr. Charles Pope,

    Thank you for your blog post. It has created quite a bit of buzz in the community of “full”/”consistent” preterists that exists primarily online in discussion groups and on Facebook. Laypeople particularly will benefit from being more informed of the various views concerning this difficult book, so thank you again for your contribution.

    As you are aware, the “preterist” view (though not as thoroughgoing as David Chilton) was common, even dominant, in the 19th century among pastors and many scholars. However, the academic community has largely turned away from this former consensus to the modern persuasion (including most Catholic – e.g. Brown, Fitzmeyer, Meier, the USCCB, Ford the exception – and Protestant – e.g. Aune, Metzger, Yarbro Collins – professors, commentators, and exegetes). The number of credentialed representatives of preterism (of the Chilton variety – pre-AD 70 composition, Jerusalem as Babylon) is very small today, and I do not see it growing except on the internet among lay people and the non-academically engaged (i.e. publishing) priests and pastors.

    There is a scholarly core representing the generally “conservative” preterist minority camp on the Olivet Discourse (Hatina, Caird, France) that appears to be growing slightly (primarily thanks to the prolific N. T. Wright), but they do not endorse the minority(-minority) view on Revelation. Being largely guided by the opinion of scholarship, who from the modern academy would you recommend on Revelation?

    For those interested, the work of any number of scholars is a good place to start on the majority view. You can pretty much pick up any academic commentary and be well treated. I regularly commend the treatment on composition date by Beale in his commentary introduction, as well as works on Revelation that address the issue at depth, such as A. Y. Collins _Crisis and Catharsis_.

    Thank you again, Msgr. Pope.

  47. Bill Foley says:

    Wonderful article, Monsignor Pope!

    I think you would like a sentence that I have coined. “One must always read the Bible while sitting in the lap of Holy Mother Church.”

  48. Rev. Normal says:

    Thanks for posting this! WordPress led me to the article, and it is great. I am a Protestant minister who grew up with a hyper-literalist futurist (all future) approach to both Olivet and Revelation. The view you advocate here (whether full- or partial-preterist) grounds Olivet (and Revelation) in a historical way that makes a ton of sense. The most difficult issue for me is accepting the early date, but I may be more comfortable with accepting the early date because it makes so much sense of the literature itself. R. C. Sproul in his “Last Days According to Jesus” actually goes into the early dating issue in more depth, explaining the issue of how the dating is configured among the early fathers. N.T. Wright also offers quite a bit of insight in “New Testament and the People of God” (459-464) and elsewhere. (my stuff is posted here:

  49. PeteWaldo says:

    As in all such discussions on preterism and futurism relative to each other, is an absolute dearth of discussion on the historic amillennialism of those great men of God of the Reformation like Matthew Henry and Isaac Newton, which evidence suggests was also the view of the church up until preterism and futurism began to come into vogue in the 19th century. Folks often dismissing this traditional context out of hand while never even having investigated it, even though ALL Jews and Christians are historicists, when it comes to Old Testament prophecy.

    • newenglandsun says:

      The first full commentary on Revelation was by an historicist. But there was never a dogmatic adherence to it (not even by your demonically possessed reformers, one being an anti-semite, one being a Calvinist, and the other being a greedy adulterer).

      Historicism is full of holes and is sinking.

      Source: I am an ex-historicist and I *know* historicism relies on pseudo-historical bunk and attempts to draw influences from people (like Luther) who didn’t even believe in historicism.

      Oh, and Isaac Newton constantly changed his theological positions throughout his life. He went from staunch anti-Trinitarian to being completely agnostic of his own anti-Trinitarianism. He also had many different datings for the return of Christ none of which he held as dogmatic and he was also agnostic on that.

      Honestly, Newton, to me, comes out as more of an agnostic and a constant truth-seeker than a “secret heretic” (how can a heretic be “secret” again any way?).

      • Pete Waldo says:

        Thank you for your response.

        “Historicism is full of holes and is sinking.”

        If the traditional historicist approach to Bible prophecy is sinking, then Jews and Christians will have to abandon such as our view, that the figures of Daniel’s “beasts” represented literal successive kingdoms that were to unfold in his future.

        “Source: I am an ex-historicist and I *know* historicism relies on pseudo-historical bunk and attempts to draw influences from people (like Luther) who didn’t even believe in historicism.”

        That would not be surprising if they followed a 19th century cult, like those who seem to label their DOCTRINE AS historicism, that demonize the Papacy and Roman Catholic Church, the way that SDA do as well. While those cults may have used and abused, the traditional historicist approach, their doctrine does not constitute the historicist approach. It is nothing more than that. AN APPROACH to Bible prophecy.

        By having abandoned the traditional historicist approach to New Testament Bible prophecy – thus abandoning a UNIFORM approach to all bible prophecy – the church is NECESSARILY PRECLUDED from even considering, that Muhammad could be THE false prophet of the book of Revelation, let alone being precluded from considering the possible role of 1900 years of Christian era history in prophecy.

        This even though Muhammad’s followers – 1/4 of mankind in the world today – must deny the crucifixion of Christ, and thus deny His sin atoning shed blood, as an article of their faith in Muhammad. Must deny the Son of God to such an extent, they are taught that to confess that Jesus is the Son of god, or even to pray in Jesus name, would constitute the single most “heinous” and ONLY UNFORGIVABLE SIN (“shirk”) in Muhammad’s religion.

        Not surprisingly then, this same 1/4 of mankind in the world today, are commanded a Muhammad’s followers have been for 1400 years, to conquer all kingdoms and subjugate all people to Islam.

        Bukhari, V1 B2 #24 Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle…..

        Subjugate all people on earth to denying the crucifixion of Christ, and thus the shed blood of the Lamb of God.

        Quran Surah 4:157 That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but THEY KILLED HIM NOT, NOR CRUCIFIED HIM, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, FOR OF A SURETY THEY KILLED HIM NOT

        To deny the Son of God as another article of their faith in the false prophet Muhammad.

        Quran Surah 19:88 They say: “(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!” 89 Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous!

  50. newenglandsun says:

    The two enemies are heresy and Rome. Heresy is the false prophet and heresy is the ten horns and false religion. The beast (Rome) turns on heresy when it becomes Christian.

    Thus, it makes sense to see the book as referring to that. Written in 95-96 C.E.

  51. Mark E. Mountjoy says:

    An excellent essay! Great work and format. Please visit my website: Atavist Biblical It would be great if we could collaborate and discuss these and other issues. I recommend Doron Mendel’s “The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism.” It appears to me that the Sea Beast armies suffered destruction WITH the Destruction of Jerusalem (shortly after it: Revelation 19:1ff). However, the Roman armies came off the victors in their A.D.70 imbroglio with the Jews. This seems to contradict what you’ve said. Could it be that the Sea Beast was JEWISH armies–bandits, revolutionaries and nationalists? These spent the good part of 42 months in a civil war wherein one of their chief points of agreement was an intense hostility against the Jerusalem Aristocracy. Jerusalem, according to Josephus, was destroy by their own sedition and then the Romans destroyed the sedition. Anyway, I hope to hear from you. God bless you and yours.

  52. Scath Beorh says:

    Consoling. And utterly clarifying. If the Kingdom of God is here, and the righteous become more righteous while the ungodly become more evil, then our only work is to ensure that the good word of the gift of the kingdom of eternal life is preached, and then the end will come… when Jesus returns as King of Kings.

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