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.
Wilson also emphasizes internal evidence. The most important internal evidence is 17,9-11. He also includes Galba, Otho and Vitellius in reckoning the list of emperors. He concurs with Bell and Rowland that it is most important that Nero is clearly the fifth emperor. Wilson identifies 666 as a gematria for NERON KAISAR. "When the name is put into Hebrew and the numerical equivalents of the Hebrew letters are added together, the sum is 666." Moreover, "The 616 (variant) would take the final nun off the name Neron in order to render it Nero, the acceptable way of saying the name in Greek"21. Since Nero is the fifth emperor, Galba is the sixth, the one who is and Otho is yet to come. For Wilson, as with Bell and Rowland, the Apocalypse was written during the reign of Galba.
Furthermore, Wilson argues that the Apocalypse has no ex eventu prophecies and that the book is clearly not a pseudepigraphon (see Rev 22,10). This is important to him in dating the book. Thus, for Wilson, the Apocalypse should be dated at the point when it speaks of present events. That would be the reign of Galba. The lack of ex eventu prophecy also relates to Wilson’s next point: the temple in Jerusalem is still standing when the book was written (see Rev 11,1-2). He notes that the prophecies concerning the Temple were not fulfilled by history: (1) the entire Temple was taken over, not merely the outer court; (2) the Romans took only a few days to destroy Jerusalem, not 42 months. The fact that the temple is still standing, as I noted earlier, is a key element in dating the book. Frequently, scholars date books in this period by whether or not the books refer in any way to the destruction of the temple.
While I agree that the book is not a pseudepigraphon, I would add two minor correctives to Wilson. First, I would argue that the Apocalypse to John is not an apocryphon as well as not being a pseudepigraphon. Many ancient works could be pseudepigraphal but not apocryphal. A pseudepigraphon is a work written falsely and intentionally in the name of an ancient worthy in order to make it more credible to its readers. The Psalms of Solomon is an example of a pseudepigraphical writing that is not apocryphal. An apocryphon is a book that is supposedly hidden until the time when its final prophecies would come true. The Apocalypse is not an apocryphon because John believed that the prophecies would come true soon: "And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near’" (22,10; cf. 1,1-3). And this brings me to my second corrective: while the Apocalypse is not an apocryphon, it is clearly a book of prophecy for John. In both instances when John says that the events will occur soon, he refers to his book as one of prophecy. John sincerely believes that his work provides a vision of coming events. For this reason, there is no extended ex eventu prophecy, but there is some and it is found in Rev 17,9-11. The reference to Nero as the fifth emperor is ex eventu prophecy in that it speaks of Nero’s death after the fact and