As Collins notes, “[U]sually the entire work is clearly set in an earlier time and the seer is a venerable figure of the distant past.
In other words, the English could just as easily be, “…
he was seen …” This translation may in fact fit better with the logic of the passage as well.
Moreover, it is pivotal that we recognize clearly the questionable quality of this witness for one crucial reason: the so-called “unanimity” of the fathers’ witness on the matter apparently stems entirely from the Irenaean source.
Now it should first be noted that the “unanimity” is nothing of the sort.
What is crucial is the question of why the date under the Roman emperor Domitian has become so widely accepted. As Wilson notes, “Throughout the nineteenth century the majority of New Testament scholars favored a pre-70 dating of the Book of Revelation.” How then did the pendulum swing?
It seems in many circles to be an issue one dares not question. Before the turn of the century, the date seemed unshakable, and by the middle of the twentieth, the same had become true for the opposing position! Why are so few willing to come out in favor of an earlier date today?Moreover, it is my personal estimation that the internal evidence (especially the issues raised in this thesis) may actually help us to evaluate the date itself, rather than vice versa, as has been the common order of method. Some difficulty arises in this question from the fact that the Book of Revelation differs so greatly in style from the Gospel of John.It seems unlikely that if the two were both written by John the Apostle they could have been written in the same decade.As we shall see, there is much more diversity among the witnesses than is often admitted.But for now, suffice it to say that the allegedly numerous “testimonies” to the Domitianic date are in reality merely a chorus of voices echoing one testimony.On the other hand, we need not necessarily prove a pre-70 date, per se, in order to take seriously the Jerusalem view either.