THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AD 70

Temple destroyedPMW 2021-060 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Today we are so distant from the events of AD 70, so removed from the ancient culture, so little acquainted with the first-century Jewish outlook, and so accustomed to the Christian perspective, we tend to overlook the enormous redemptive-historical significance of AD 70. Those events are not merely another sad instance in the history of “man’s inhumanity to man which makes countless thousands mourn.” They serve not as demonstration of “nature, red in tooth and claw.” Neither do they merely remind us of “the carnage of war, the blood-swollen god.”

But such is mistaken. Rather the devastating events of the Jewish War are the historical manifestations of the furious wrath of the offended God of Israel. Transcendent realities stand back of these temporal events. With Nahum we see the smoke of destruction as the dust clouds from God’s feet (Na 1). We learn that truly “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:27) for “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 10:31). Continue reading

CREATION, EDEN, AND POSTMILLENNIALISM

EdenPMW 2021-059 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The God of creation is a God of covenant. Scripture structures God’s relationship to and rule over both man and creation in covenantal terms.

Creation Covenant

Though the term “covenant” (Heb.: berith) does not appear in Genesis 1, the constitutive elements of a covenant are there. Jeremiah, however, uses the word “covenant” of creation. In Jeremiah 33:24-25 the creation covenant that secures the regularity of the days and seasons serves as a ground of hope in God’s covenantal faithfulness to his people in the world: “This is what the Lord says: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.’” Continue reading

PROBLEMS WITH THE EARLY DATE OF REVELATION (4)

Seven churchesPMW 2021-058 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my final study of the leading objections to the early date. I am using Leon Morris, The Revelation of St. John (2d. ed.: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) in considering the arguments.

The historical situations of the seven churches (Rev. 1:4; 2; 3), suggest a late date. Since these are historical churches to which John wrote, the letters may contain historical allusions helpful in dating Revelation. As Morris states it, the “indication is that the churches of Asia Minor seem to have a period of development behind them. This would scarcely have been possible at the time of the Neronic persecution, the only serious competitor in date to the Domitianic period” (Morris, 38). Mounce, Swete, Kümmel, Guthrie, and Beale employ the same argument.

Since I have not previously touched upon this evidence it deserves a little lengthier treatment. I will consider the four strongest arguments from this perspective, once again following the order found in Morris’s work on Revelation. Continue reading

PROBLEMS WITH REVELATION’S EARLY DATE (3)

Nero redivivusPMW 2021-057 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing a brief series on problems scholars have with the early (pre-AD 70) date of Revelation. I am using his Leon Morris’ book: The Revelation of St. John (2d. ed.: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) as my main source. Let’s get to work!

A most unusual phenomenon seems to appear in Revelation, according to Morris. His third argument is very popular among late-date theorists. This evidence regards the very unusual and ancient legend known as the Nero Redivivus myth. Morris briefly explains the myth and confidently employs it: “Again, it is urged that the book shows evidence of knowledge of the Nero redivivus myth (e.g. xvii. 8, 11). After Nero’s death it was thought in some circles that he would return. At first this appears to have been a refusal to believe that he was actually dead. Later it took the form of a belief that he would come to life again. This took time to develop and Domitian’s reign is about as early as we can expect it” (Morris 37). Continue reading

PROBLEMS WITH REVELATION’S EARLY DATE (2)

Roman persecutionPMW 2021-056 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Revelation’s early date is generally held by modern postmillennialists of the preterist variety. I have argued elsewhere positively for the early date. So here I am offering a short series that briefly responds to late-date evidences. I am focusing on Leon Morris’ arguments, due to their cogency, succinctness, and his stature as a Revelation commentator.

Morris discovers “indications that Revelation was written in a time of persecution.” This evidence is felt to accord “much better with Domitian.” [1] W. G. Kümmel is quite confident that “the picture of the time which the Apocalypse sketches coincides with no epoch of the primitive history so well as with the period of Domitian’s persecution.” [2] Morris, Kümmel, and a number of other scholars list this as among their leading arguments for the A.D. 95-96 date. Continue reading

PROBLEMS WITH REVELATION’S EARLY DATE (1)

Objections, Preterism, Revelation July 16, 2021 Comments: 3

Emperor worship 5

PMW 2021-055 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Preteristic postmillennialists hold that Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. We argue this on historical and exegetical grounds. We do not argue for an early date for Revelation on purely theological grounds in order to defend our long-range hope against John’s enormous judgment scenes.. I have argued the case of the early date of Revelation in several places, most especially in my doctoral dissertation published as Before Jerusalem Fell. In this brief series of articles I will respond to four leading arguments against the early date.

The modern case for the late date of Revelation concentrates upon four basic arguments. These have been ably and succinctly summarized by noted evangelical scholar and late-date advocate Leon Morris in his commentary, The Revelation of St. John (2d. ed.: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987). I choose to investigate Morris’s approach for three basic reasons.

(1) He has rightfully earned an international reputation among both evangelical and liberal scholars. (2) He has a demonstrated competence in the field of New Testament studies, having even produced an excellent commentary on Revelation itself. (3) His presentation is succinct and focused, which lends itself to blog analysis. The order of my listing of these evidences will follow Morris’s, which is based on his scholarly estimation of their priority.



Beast of Revelation

The Beast of Revelation
by Ken Gentry

A popularly written antidote to dispensational sensationalism and newspaper exegesis. Convincing biblical and historical evidence showing that the Beast was the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, the first civil persecutor of the Church. The second half of the book shows Revelation’s date of writing, proving its composition as prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A thought-provoking treatment of a fascinating and confusing topic.

For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com


Morris begins with what he calls “the principal reason for dating the book during” Domitian’s reign, which is: Revelation “contains a number of indications that emperor-worship was practised, and this is thought to have become widespread in Domitian’s day” (p. 35).Earlier than Morris, James Moffatt insisted that the role of emperor worship in Revelation was virtually conclusive: “When the motive of the Apocalypse is thus found in the pressure upon the Christian conscience exerted by Domitian’s emphasis on the imperial cultus, especially as that was felt in Asia Minor, any earlier date for the book becomes almost impossible.” [1]

This argument regarding emperor worship is also held by Robert H. Mounce, R. H. Charles, H. B. Swete, Donald B. Guthrie, W. G. Kümmel, M. Eugene Boring, William Barclay, and many others. References in Revelation which seem to reflect emperor worship are found in scattered places. See especially Revelation 13:4, 8, 12, 15; 14:9, 11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4. The most noteworthy statements re found in Revelation 13, where worship of the “beast” is compelled.

Unfortunately, for this view emperor worship dates back to Julius Caesar in the last century before Christ. And it is endorsed by Nero, the emperor who commissions Vespasian to put down the Jewish rebellion (which results in the destruction of the temple). The emperor cult had a prominent role in the political and social life of the Roman empire well before Domitian, and even before Nero.

Although it is true that historical development continued to introduce new features and requirements into the practice, nevertheless after 30 B.C. “we can observe a swift spread of the emperor cult throughout the Roman Near East.” [2] As even late-date advocate James Moffatt wrote: “The blasphemous title of dims, assumed by the emperors since Octavian (Augustus = sebastos) as a semi-sacred title, implied superhuman claims which shocked the pious feelings of Jews and Christians alike. So did theos [god] and theou huios [son of god] which, as the inscriptions prove, were freely applied to the emperors, from Augustus onwards.” [3]


Before Jerusalem Fell Tyler

Before Jerusalem Fell Lecture (DVD)
DVD by Ken Gentry

A summary of the evidence for Revelation’s early date. Helpful, succinct introduction to Revelation’s pre-AD 70 composition.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


The appearance of emperor worship in Revelation is held by many late-date theorists as the strongest evidence for a date during the last year of the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96). It is true that Domitian required people to address him as “Lord and God.” Certainly the emperor cult was prominent in his reign. Yet when we scrutinize the relevant historical evidence we discover abundant testimony to emperor worship at various stages of development well before both Domitian and Nero. Indeed, such clear statements exist of so many aspects of the emperor cult, it is surprising that this argument is used at all against the early date. One wonders why it is deemed “the principal reason” (Morris) that makes it “almost impossible” (Moffatt) for the early date view to stand is wholly incredible.

Notes

  1. James Moffatt, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, vol. 5 in W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rep. 1980), 317.
  2. Doron Mendels, The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism: Jewish and Christian Ethnicity in Ancient Palestine (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 278.
  3. Moffatt, Revelation, 429. See also: Aune, Revelation 1-5, lxviii; Leonard L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (New York: Oxford, 1990), 104-190.

IS AMILLENNIALISM PESSIMISTIC?

GloomPMW 2021-054 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The basic evangelical eschatological positions may be broken down into two classes: optimistic or pessimistic. Only postmillennialism is characterized as optimistic. In fact, this is the distinctive feature of postmillennialism, which resembles amillennialism in most other respects.

Amillennialists do not like being deemed pessimistic. And they will often complain that postmillennialists wrongly designate them as “pessimistic.” They generally reject this evaluation for two reasons: (1) It is negative sounding in itself, and (2) it overlooks the fact that they argue that ultimately Christ and his people win the victory at the end of history. Still other amillennialists deny this designation because they call themselves “optimistic amillennialists.” Continue reading