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.
Sibylline Oracle 3, which Collins dates between 163-45 BCE, mentions the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians13. In this case, the Babylonians are probably the Syrians as Sibylline Oracle 3 is probably written in Ptolemaic Egypt. It is worth noting that the reference to the destruction of the temple is not elaborated upon but used as a standard reference to an enemy. Again, the Syrians did not destroy the Jerusalem temple. Therefore, for Sibylline Oracle 3 the connection between the Babylonians and the Syrians is based upon the perception that both are evil empires and not the destruction of the temple per se. Indeed, Thompson correctly notes that Kittim, Edom, and Egypt are symbols for the enemies of God and there is no reason to believe that Babylon could not function in this more general way as in Daniel.
Again, it is noteworthy that the Apocalypse does not refer to Babylon/Rome as the destroyer of the temple. Indeed, the temple is still standing in the Apocalypse to John (11,1-2)14. Rather than commenting upon the destruction of the second temple, the Apocalypse could be using the code name Babylon to represent the political presence of Satan in the world and its eventual downfall. This is precisely what one finds in Rev 12,1–13,18 and 17,1–9,4: Babylon is the enemy of God that must be punished in the end-times. Using Babylon in this way is consistent with the use of such names to symbolically refer to an enemy of the elect community, in some instances using Kittim, in others, Egypt. Furthermore, it is consistent with the use of Babylon in both Daniel and Sibylline Oracle 3 to refer to an evil empire as mentioned earlier. It is just as conceivable that Revelation is reading Daniel and re-applying the meaning of Babylon for a pre-70 date prior to the destruction of the temple. Indeed, Farrer showed long ago that John re-applied traditional images and it is clear that he often re-interpreted them to fit his situation15. Jewish apocalypses regularly adapted and transformed traditional materials for their own times. The Apocalypse to John clearly follows suit. For example, Davidic messianic expectations (Rev 5,4-12; cf. 4 Es 11,36-46), the one like a son of man (cf. Dan 7,13 and Rev 1,7-16) and the Leviathan-Behemoth myth (Rev 13,1-18; cf. 4 Es 6,49) are all recast in John’s Apocalypse.
The symbolic references to the emperors found in Revelation 13 and 17 are also important internal witnesses. However, too many exegetes have omitted Galba, Otho and Vitellius from their listing of first century CE Roman emperors without proving that John would have also omitted them. Rather, they worked backward from Domitian in order to make their presupposed dating fit the data instead of the reverse. After Nero’s death in 68 CE, Galba, Otho and Vitellius all ruled briefly as emperor until Vespasian eventually took control in 69 CE. Bell, Rowland and Wilson have all shown that ancient writings, including Sibylline Oracle 5 and writers such as Suetonius, Tacitus and Eutropius, included these three men in their respective lists of emperors. If John included Galba, Otho and Vitellius, and there is no