Thomas B. Slater, «Dating the Apocalypse to John», Vol. 84 (2003) 252-258
The present study re-examines the major arguments for dating the Apocalypse to John. It argues that internal evidence should be preferred over external witnesses and that the internal evidence suggests, based upon the ex eventu prophecy in Rev 17,9-11, that the book was written in 69, either late in Otho’s reign or early in Vitellius’ reign.
the writings of the Roman historians who were Irenaeus’ primary sources had themselves intentionally given a poor depiction of Domitian in order to ingratiate themselves to Trajan and his new imperial family. Thus, for these reasons, Irenaeus is not the most reliable source for dating the Apocalypse to John and can only be used as a supporting witness, if then.
While some have argued that there was great pressure upon Christians to conform to regional religio-political pressures during Domitian’s reign9, in actuality those pressures were present from the early days of the Empire in the Roman province of Asia. Price provides solid evidence of heavy competition among the cities of the province to be designated neokoros, an official site of the imperial cult10. More importantly, members of the imperial family received divine honors during Augustus’ reign. Dio Cassius writes that during Augustus’ reign Roman citizens in Asia were required to worship the divine Julius Caesar; the provincials, Augustus. Pausanias writes that there was a temple to Octavia, Augustus’ sister, in the first century BCE. By 14 BCE, Aphrodisias had a temple dedicated to Augustus. Later, Claudius’ living grandmother was given divine honors11. Thus, while there is no proof whatever of an empire-wide persecution of Christians under Domitian, by the time he becomes emperor the region has seen divine honors given to members of the imperial family for over a century. By this time, a substantial tradition and a large degree of expectation for adherence would have developed in the region. One purpose for the bestowing of divine honors was to establish a meaningful personal link with the imperial family that would result in positive political and economic benefits for the local community. Therefore, pressure to conform to religio-political traditions could have occurred in the region at any time in the latter decades of the first century BCE and the first century CE, not only during the rule of Domitian, when local residents felt that Christians (or anyone else for that matter) were not observant of those traditions. Similarly, Rowland argues those who resisted conformity to regional traditions and pressures might have produced protest literature at any time during this same era. Thus, a Domitianic date is not the only option for dating the Apocalypse12.
"Babylon" is indeed used as a code name for Rome in the latter decades of the first century CE and the early decades of the second century CE in 1 Peter, Sibylline Oracle 5, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch. As such it is an important internal witness in dating the Apocalypse. However, it should be noted that Daniel, written in the second century BCE, and Sibylline Oracle 3.300-309, usually dated in the first century BCE, also employ "Babylon" as a code name for an evil empire which opposes the people of God. In Daniel, Babylon is a code name for the Syrian empire and the Syrians did not destroy the temple. Babylon here is merely the name for the enemy of God and God’s elect.