REVELATION AND THE LENGTH OF THE JEWISH WAR

PMW 2019-073 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

A reader of this blog site wrote an insightful and important question. This question is important because preterism emphasizes the history of the Jewish War as it relates to the judgment scenes in Revelation. Rather than treat his question as a comment which would not be seen by many, I thought I would make it an article. I hope you find this helpful.

Bryan Kuranaga question

I don’t know if this question is completely relevant to this post, but I figured it’s a good place to ask it. I was wondering if you have heard/read Phil Kayser’s messages on Revelation? He is also a partial preterist postmillennial and in preaching on Revelation 11:1-7, he writes (taken from the sermon, “The Two Witnesses, Part 1” preached on January 29, 2017):

“So how long was the war? If the only thing you read was the Partial Preterist commentaries (and I am in the Partial Preterist camp that believes most of chapters 1-19 has already been fulfilled) you would get the impression that the war was only three and a half years long. But all the early and later histories of the Jewish War with the Romans refer to it as a seven year war. Josephus, Eusebius, Hegesippus, Yosippon, Seutonius, Tacitus, and other ancient historians are consistent. And modern historians like Cornfeld, Mazar, Maier, and Schurer say the same.”

And

“And that is why it is such a mystery to me that the vast majority of Partial Preterists think of the war as ending in AD 70. It’s a huge mistake. They completely miss the references to the second three and a half years – which in some ways were even more devastating – with millions more being killed during that period.”

This is all from his finished sermon series on Revelation, titled “Revelation Project”

I was wondering if you are familiar with his arguments and what your take on it is.

Thank you so much! I appreciate all the past work and continued work you are doing.

Grace and peace,
Bryan

Gentry Reply

Yes, I know Phil Kayser and appreciate his ministry. And I am thankful for his work on various issues.

I also am familiar with the historical fact that you bring up. However, the point of the Jewish War as God’s judgment was the destruction of the temple (see Matt. 24:2–3), which occurred half-way through the war. By God’s providence, Revelation’s figure or 3.5 years or 42 months also fits the judgment-pattern of a broken seven.

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The Jewish War was effectively over when the capital city and temple fell. The remaining military engagement was a mopping up operation. This is noted by many historical scholars.

For instance, Jason Thomas Parry (JETS 2011: 524) writes that Vespasian made war “roughly April 67 at Ptolemais [J.W. 3.29] until the fall of Jerusalem in September 70 (J.W. 6.407; 435), a period of three and a half years.”

Neil Faulkner (Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD 66-73, p. 359) observes that “the Jewish Revolution against Rome ended, to all intents and purposes, when, on 7 September, the morale of the militiamen, who had struggled so hard for so long, suddenly collapsed” (cp. John Court, Myth and History in the Book of Revelation, p. 87 who cites Stanislas Giet).

As Roland Worth expresses it: though Masada remains unconquered until 73, “the conquerors officially treated the war as over, and Vespasian and Titus returned to Rome and celebrated a magnificent Triumph.” This is because “from the practical standpoint, after the fall of Jerusalem all else were mopping-up operations” (Worth, The Seven Cities of the Apocalypse and Roman Culture, 1999, 176).

Considering the above scenario, Moses Stuart (The Apocalypse, 2:279) correctly observes that “the active invasion of Judea continued almost exactly this length of time, being at the most only a few days more; so few that they need not and would not, enter into a symbolical computation of time.”


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Margaret Barker (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 186) agrees that this figure represents “the duration of the final struggle with Rome [for] Vespasian entered Galilee with his armies in the Spring of 67 CE (War 3:29-34) and Jerusalem fell forty-two months later, in September 70 CE.”

This view is also held by J. S. Russell; David Chilton; David Clark; Stanislas Giet; Alan F. Beagley; Alan McNicol; Mireille Hadas-Lebel; G.K. Beale; and Randall C. Gleason (documentation to appear in my commentary on Revelation — if that ever gets released!).

So, from Spring of AD 67 to August/September of AD 70, the time of formal imperial engagement against Jerusalem, is a period right at forty-two months. John Court (87) speaks of “the period of the Flavian war, from the spring of AD 67 to 29 August 70, during which time Jerusalem was ‘profaned.’” Even in Rabbinic tradition we read: “for three and a half years Vespasian surrounded Jerusalem” (Lam. R. 1:31). Of course, all of this fits perfectly within Rev’s temporal limits (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10).

Consequently, I believe the association of forty-two months in Revelation with the Jewish War in history is valid — and helpful.

Thanks again. Keep studying!

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8 thoughts on “REVELATION AND THE LENGTH OF THE JEWISH WAR

  1. Bryan Kuranaga (@bryanwithaynoti) September 10, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Thanks, Dr. Gentry. This is all very helpful!

  2. J. Elliott September 10, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for this response, Mr. Gentry. Because you mentioned Vespasian, I’m curious if you believe he is mentioned in prophecy. I’ve heard some argue that he may be the little horn, or 11th horn, of Daniel 7. When counting from the Roman emperor Pompey, through the Caesars, to Vespasian, he is seen as the 11th horn that destroys Jerusalem and the temple. Do you have any thoughts on this view, and would it in any way impact the identity of the “seven kings” of Revelation 17? Thanks again for your insightful and interesting work in these areas.

  3. Kenneth Gentry September 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    I haven’t heard that about Vespasian.

  4. J. Elliott September 11, 2019 at 3:17 am

    Just a quick follow up on Vespasian possibly being the little horn of Daniel 7:8 and 7:24. Counting from Pompey to Vespasian is 11 kings, and the three that fell before Vespasian (Galba, Otho, and Vitellius) are the three after Nero comprising of three of the “Year of the Four Emporers” of the Roman Empire, leading to Vespasian and the destruction of 70AD. Thanks again for the information on this site!

  5. jamesmcmaster September 12, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Dear Dr Gentry, Many thanks for another very interesting article. One difficulty I have with the preterist approach is that whille much is (rightly) made of the book being highly symbolic (Rev 20 and the 1000 years) , it would appear that whenever it is convenient some numbers are taken very literally- like the 42 month war. I find this a bit inconsistant. How would you explain this? Many thanks, James

  6. Kenneth Gentry September 12, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    It seems that the short-term numbers are generally literal (42 months) for they are in the life experience of the original recipients. But the long term numbers are more symbolic, picturing the long-term in perfectly rounded numbers (1000 years).

  7. jamesmcmaster September 12, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks for that Dr Gentry- best wishes from Ireland!

  8. J. Elliott September 13, 2019 at 5:27 am

    I would like to add also that never in scripture (to my knowledge) is there a symbolic month of 30 years, but there are for symbolic days for years (Ez 4:5-6, Numbers 14:34, and assumed in Daniel’s 70 weeks, perhaps because of Gen 29:27-30). Perhaps in Revelation 11 the apostle John paralled the 1,260 days with the 42 months to avoid this very assumption that this is another “day=year” prophecy but is in fact a literal short period of time. The historicist view of Revelation seems to have run its course based on the 1,260 year theory and has now expired.

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