The dating of revelation
What kind of sense would it make for Irenaeus to refer to copies of the apocalyptic vision as “ancient,” but also maintain that the vision itself occurred almost in his own lifetime?
This problem is alleviated if we understand ἑωράθη as a reference to John himself (“he was seen”), rather than the apocalyptic vision (“it was seen”).
In terms of external evidence, there’s a quote from the church father Irenaeus (130–202 AD) that is often referenced in debates about the date of Revelation.
There are two questions I want to address here: (1) what Irenaeus actually said, and (2) what Eusebius thought Irenaeus said.
But what needs to be noted here is that ἑωράθη is a third-person singular verb, which means the subject can be either he, she, or it.
So this particular verb in this particular form can just as easily be translated “he was seen.” And plenty of examples can be produced from Greek literature where the word ἑωράθη refers to a person who was seen rather than a thing or object.
If Eusebius was only seeking to provide evidence for the more general claim that John was alive during Domitian’s reign, then his use of Irenaeus does nothing to support the late date of Revelation.What Eusebius Thought Irenaeus Said Here’s how Eusebius utilized Irenaeus’s statements: “There is ample evidence that at that time the apostle and evangelist John was still alive, and because of his testimony to the word of God was sentenced to confinement on the island of Patmos.Writing about the number of the name given to antichrist in what is called the Revelation of John, Irenaeus has this to say about John in Book V of his Heresies Answered: ‘Had there been any need for his name to be openly announced at the present time, it would have been stated by the one who saw the actual revelation.And this word is commonly taken to refer back to “the actual revelation” which had just been mentioned.Thus, Irenaeus would be stating that John saw his apocalyptic vision at the end of Domitian’s reign, and this would support the later date for Revelation (late-90s).
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Specifically he’s asserting that John was alive during (and affected by) the reign of Domitian.