Fifth 2022 Winter Edition
When Was the Book of Revelation Really Written?
(Its Actual Semitic Milieu Determined by Internal Inferences) With a Reading of the Book of Revelation in the Original Koine Greek!
by Mark Mountjoy
Scripture reading: “And there was given to me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the Temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is [outside] the Temple leave out; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the Holy City shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2).
“The common method of interpretation founded on the hypothesis that the book was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, is utterly destitute of certainty, and leaves every commentator to the luxuriance of his own fancy, as is sufficiently evident from what has been done already on this book.” -Johann Jakob Wettstein, (Gr. Text. vol. ii. p. 889)
One of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of a willingness to discuss the possibility that prophecies are now already fulfilled can be summed up in a widespread assumption: The Apostle John was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos in the A.D.90s while the son of the late Emperor Titus, Domitian reigned. However, if it can be shown from the texts of Revelation itself that its content, context, and constraints are distinctively Semitic (not Roman or Catholic), I believe we can persuade many more Christians to join our discussion and help us reach a consensus and solve problems that naturally flow from fresh and relevant research of this change of outlook and perspective.
The assumption of the above claims that, in the face of what we know about Roman history—it suffered in 387 B.C., became an empire in 30 B.C., was almost destroyed by Simon Bar Kokhba in A.D.132-136; was sacked in A.D.410, its western capital fell in A.D.476 and its eastern capital succumbed to the Ottomans in A.D.1453.
Absolutely nothing even remotely resembling the prophecies given to John happened anywhere near the A.D.90s, (even if it could be argued that John had the demise of the Romans in mind, to begin with).
This essay will provide reasons why all Christians can rest assured that God gave the Apostle John something that is very real, important, and continually relevant, and edifying for the people of God of all times, world without end. The realization of just how critical Revelation is for the self-understanding of Christians begins to emerge when it becomes clear that the idea of John describing the “soon” fall of the Roman Empire using imagery of a Semitic world to do so is patently absurd.
We will demonstrate this in ten ways.
Facts: Language, idioms, descriptions, warnings, and prophecies within the Book of Revelation contradict the above assumption in so many ways that it is difficult to take external testimony as the final word over the superiority of internal evidence.
The declarations, testimonies, and data within betrays this document as a product delivered when the Second Jewish Commonwealth still possessed, intact, its glory and crown, the Second Temple and Jerusalem, and a functional Aaronic priesthood. And the point of Revelation is that some city (seeming to fit the description of Jerusalem rather than Rome) was on the eve of its own catastrophic downfall.
Did Anything Happen “Soon”?
In order for the Book of Revelation to legitimately relate directly to the Roman Empire, it needs to be asked if the following declarations were directed at the Roman people:-
Revelation 1:1,3 and 7:- “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to him to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. . .for the time is at hand. . .behold, he cometh with clouds and every eye shall see him and they that pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”
Revelation 2:24-25:- “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.”
Revelation 3:3:- “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
Revelation 3:10:- “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
Revelation 11:14:- “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”
Revelation 16:15:- “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
Revelation 18:8:- “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and morning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”
Vs. 10:- “Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”
Vs. 17:- “For in one hour so great riches is come to naught. And every ship-master, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!”
Revelation 19:1-3:- “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.”
Revelation 22:6:- “And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.”
Vs. 7:- “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
Vs 10:- “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.”
Vs.12:- “And behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
And finally vs. 20:- “He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly: Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
Can any of these passages be reasonably attributed to any event impinging on the continuity or existence of the early Roman Empire? Can the capital of the Roman Empire (Rome itself) be the scene of the Temple of God, that famous edifice made grand by the design of Herod the Great? Can the emperors of this empire be the captains who orchestrated the destruction of their own city in no long time as described for us in Revelation 17:16ff?
Can the threats of our Lord to come as a thief be applied to the city of his Desire, or to some other 1,434 miles away? No such things as the swift and sure coming of Christ with his kingdom, judgment, or resurrection ever happened to or against the Romans or their empire!
In fact, in the mid A.D. 116-118s, under Trajan, and later, under Hadrian and others, the Romans enjoyed a long period of exceptional peace and prosperity; military expansion went unabated till A.D.198.
Thus we can observe and maintain that for the Romans nothing in the 90s, 100s, or anytime in the entire second or third centuries corresponds in any way, shape, or form to the visions of doom, wars, and destruction contained anywhere in the pages of the Book of Revelation.
End of the Era (Age)
Revelation 11:1-2, 8; 18:1-24 and 19:1-4 use the Temple of God, a forty-two-month long war, the city where our Lord was crucified, and the downfall of the Levite-priestly attired harlot. Who could this be? What city could this be? Where could this be? If the Temple of God, the civil war, and the place where our Lord was crucified, were intended to point to a place in Italy (Rome) rather than a place in Israel (Jerusalem) it would be awfully misleading; we have too many reasons to believe that that is simply not the case!
The reality that Jerusalem (which was ruled by the Sadducean Aristocracy) experienced the unlikely loss of its majestic Second Temple (which had stood since 520 B.C.) and that there was a sedition and civil war which raged around it (for precisely forty-two months) ending with the city itself being utterly burned, demolished, and pillaged suggests an amazing correspondence with the Revelation text: It was a horrific, vivid and visible and tangible symbol of God’s turning a chapter in Jewish salvation history.
That chapter turned from the Law of Moses, the Second Temple, and animal sacrifices to Jesus of Nazareth’s ultimate sacrifice, and the confirmation of a new people of God, the Church.
By contrast (and in direct contradiction to those motifs and events) there is NO such correspondence or historical parallel to any debacle in Rome in order for any of these divine goals to be achieved (as we shall see below).
The Heavenly Tribunal
Daniel 7:13-27 and Revelation chapters 4 and 5 foretold a heavenly tribunal where the fate of a particular civilization would be decided. In it, a decision was reached to confiscate rule, authority, and power from the Fourth Kingdom via a divine visitation of God in earthly affairs. This verdict, according to the prophecies contained in Daniel’s Night Vision, if it pertained to the Romans at all, is nowhere seen as an affirmation in any of the creedal confessions of the proponents of the Four Views. In other words, neither Amillennialists, Postmillennialists, Premillennialists nor Historicists will dare say Daniel 7:13-27 was fulfilled in connection with the historic decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Because. if the Fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire, and if that is what the Book of Revelation averts to, it is amazing that such a conclusion is not understood by any of them as a reasonable and natural claim.
The Martyred Souls of Jewish
Christians Were Under the Altar
Revelation 6:9-11 (compare with Luke 18:1-8). In this vision, the souls of people who had been killed for their witness of Jesus and for their testimony cried for the vengeance of God on those who had manhandled them. They were told to wait “for a little season” till their fellow servants joined them. Those to join them would be soon killed by the Sea Beast (as revealed in Revelation 13:1). However, in that chapter it was foretold that the Sea Beast would be given the power to continue only for forty-two months.
Forty-two months comes out to 1,260 days. Some have tried to solve this riddle by proposing it be understood as year-for-a-day. That would pan out to 1,260 years. Does the prophecy then comport to Rome? It does not! The Western empire fell 381 years later on 4 September 476 (if we assume John really wrote Revelation in the mid-90s). But 381 years is far, far short of 1,260 years!
On the other hand, if we assume John is describing the fall of the Eastern flank of the empire, which happened in 1453, then that is 1,358 years after A.D.95—too far into the future to fit the prophecy!
Besides that, however, by only the fourth century the Roman Empire began to be ruled by Christian emperors and not pagans. This further complicates the notion that Revelation is talking about the demise of the Roman Empire in any way, shape, or form.
Seals and Trumpets and Bowls
The fifth line of evidence in the Book of Revelation is the disbursement of twenty-one judgments under the categories of seven Seals, seven Trumpets, and Seven Bowls. (There is also a fourth grouping under seven Thunders but they are excepted and must remain part of a separate discussion).
Nevertheless, these twenty-one judgments tie Revelation chapter 6 through chapters 17, 18, and 19 together into a neat series of events leading to the Lord's marriage to his bride, the Church (Revelation 19:6-7 cf. Matthew 22:7-8).
A Three-and-a-Half-Year War
Mirroring the prophecy of Daniel 7:25 and Matthew 24:22, John’s revelation reveals that there would be a three-and-a-half-year war to bring the Sea Beast and the False Prophet to the judgment of fire baptism and Satan to the bottomless pit (Revelation 11:1-2; 12:6, 14 and 13:5; 19:20 cf. Matthew 3:11-12).
However, where can these months of rule, authority, and power be found in the annuls of Roman wars or history? They indeed can be found twice, but in BOTH cases they relate to the Roman Empire's successful engagement and the defeat of the nationalistic and messianic efforts of the Jewish People—A.D.66-70 and A.D.132-136.
But, so far as applying to and foretelling the defeat of Rome itself, we find no such correlation in any of the chronicles of the Roman Empire; yet suggestions of a disastrous fiery conflagration for Judæa do appear in Josephus’ descriptions of the Roman celebrations, the gala, and parades (Wars 7.5.5:137-152).
Furthermore, Josephus spoke of the timed disappearance of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people on the same day and the same hour across vast distances within the expanse of the Diaspora—then Caesarea, following after that, Antioch. Before very long violence spread like wildfire in Damascus and all the cities of the Jews in Syria till it came to pass that the Judaizers were slain in cold blood from as little as two thousand, thirteen thousand in some places and upwards of 50,000 in Alexandria (Wars 22.214.171.1247-8.498). Furthermore, (seeming to tie into Revelation’s prophecy) many thousands drowned while fighting for their lives in the bloody waters of Lake Gennesareth (Revelation 16:3-6 cf. Wars 3.10.9:522-531).
The Fall of Jerusalem
Revelation 11:13; 14:8; 16:19-21; 17:6; 18:1-24 and 19:1-4 form an overarching sequence related to just one place. These verses and chapters describe the downfall of a city that suffered the loss of 7,000 people—a tenth of its population (see Revelation 11:13-14).
If seven thousand people died and that was a tenth of the city’s citizenry that means that it had 70,000 inhabitants. But that number is far lower than what we know of Rome whose population was upwards of over a million people. This disaster was achieved by the second woe.
Did that happen to Rome?
We know of no reports of any earthquakes in Rome in the first century and certainly not in the 90s.
The same cannot be said of Jerusalem 25 years earlier. During the First Great Rebellion Jerusalem suffered an earthquake so severe that Josephus said thus,
“For there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continual lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and anyone would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming” (Wars 4.4.5:286-287).
In the very next chapter, Josephus reports that 8,500 Jews were killed in the Temple at the hands of the Idumeans.
Two things can be said of this: Either the earthquake killed precisely 7,000 people and the Idumeans turned around and killed another 8,500, or else the events are coincident and the 8,500 number is a miscount of the death toll.
In any event, no such confusions or calamities beset Rome for years and years to come. It must also be remembered that under no circumstances would God have any reason to describe Rome as either having a Temple, being a “holy” city nor was Rome ever designated as the place “where our Lord was crucified.”
Therefore, if Jerusalem is where Christ was crucified there would be no reason to interpret what he says about the great city to be Rome, instead! All three descriptions point unequivocally to Jerusalem and Jerusalem only.
The existence of the Second Temple in the middle of the Book of Revelation (chapter 11) while John was imprisoned on the isle of Patmos, is one of the many indications that the book was written as early as A.D.62 rather than A.D.95. No such structure [as the Temple of God] existed in the Roman capital, nor was it a “holy” city or the place where our Lord was crucified. Finally, Rome was not faced with seismic calamities or sacked, burned, and leveled to the ground anywhere near the first century.
Marriage of Christ to His Church
Revelation 19:7-10 (cf. Matthew 22:1-7; 23:29-39). Now, if we are confused about how and why, and when the Church was to be wed to Christ the Lord, the parables of the Wedding and Jesus' indictment of Jerusalem in Matthew 23 help us understand that this auspicious event would attend the Destruction of Jerusalem.
The Bible does not teach that the Church was married to Christ on the Day of Pentecost of A.D.33, which is inferred by a number of Christian churches, but, however, it is not accurate.
Paul, in Ephesians 5:27 and in 2 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 associates the marriage (gathering together) of the Church to Christ with the Second Coming. Finally, Revelation 19:1-21 ties the destruction of Jerusalem, the marriage of Christ to his Church, and the destruction of the beast and the false prophet's armies into ONE definitive event.
A New Period of God's Longsuffering
Revelation chapter 20 is an “Achilles’ Heel” to the view that Revelation was written in the 90s or had anything to do with the fall and demise of the Roman Empire. In Revelation 20, John reintroduces a concept the Apostle Peter spoke of in his second work: one thousand years. Revelation chapter 20 mentions it six times in all (Revelation 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7).
That this number “one thousand” stands for the longsuffering or patience of God and not a literal number of years can be gained by reading and reflecting upon the implications of 2 Peter 3:8 with the surrounding apocalyptic claims Peter makes in his first and second epistles.
A number of things can be gleaned from what the Apostle Peter says there:
(1) The scoffers denied a Second Coming soon to come because it hadn’t happened already, Jerusalem still stood and their hopes, and aspirations for freedom from Roman rule still seemed perfectly feasible and, therefore, achievable (2 Peter 2:19).
(2) The riddle of the “thousand years/one day” is that it is a “God-day.” As such, it is intended to denote nothing more than something that would happen within a natural single human lifetime.
All of Peter's teachings (in 1 Peter as well as 2 Peter) confirm that the coming in question was set for their lifetime and not that of ourselves or others (1 Peter 4:7 and 17 cf.2 Peter 2:1 and 3:12-13).
(3) An example of a God-day can be seen in Hebrews 3:10 and 17. It was “a day of temptation in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:8) It was not a single 24 hour day, but a forty year day (Hebrews 3:9, 17).
In other words, just as the Israelites tempted, proved, and saw God's works in the wilderness in the forty years of their own lifetime, the unbelieving Jews who scoffed at the idea of Jesus going away and coming back in their own contemporary period were going to be met with the certainty that it would happen in their lifetime, nevertheless!
Thus Peter could boldly and without shame say, “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7), and “the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (4:17, see also 1 Peter 5:1, 4).
(4) Furthermore, in 2 Peter 3:10, the mockers that he discusses there are originally discussed and described in detail and at length in 2 Peter 2:1-22. Hence, it is clear from what Peter says that the people he has in mind are alive and at work at the very time of his writing. It is also clear that “they shall bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
In other words, Peter is saying an important event will happen in chapter 2 that the scoffers are saying won't happen in chapter 3!
(5) A number of Greek verbs show us that the Christians under the Apostle Peter's leadership were truly able to do something that would be otherwise impossible. If the timing of the Second Coming was understood to be much greater than their own lifetime.
These verbs are “see,” “look for,” “hasting,” “look,” and “seeing.” In 1 Peter 4:7 after he told them the end of all things was at hand he said to “watch” (1 Peter 4:7).
Now, in this second epistle we find out they were “seeing” (3:11), “looking for and hurrying” ( v. 12), they could “look” (v.13), Peter could genuinely say, “seeing that ye look for such things” (v. 14).
None of the imperatives of 3:11, 12, 13, or 14 could apply to first-century Christians if the satisfaction of those prophecies was understood to be far greater than and completely out of reach of their own lifetime!
(6) The patience of God leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem is not the same as the patience of God leading away from the destruction up to the zenith of Jewish salvation history seven decades after the destruction of Jerusalem.
This is an important distinction because the Day of Pentecost of A.D.33 marks the beginning of the period leading to the disappearance of the Temple, but A.D.73 marks the beginning of a newer period that led to the ultimate downfall and end of the continuous history of the Jewish State in the A.D.132-136 debacle.
In the same way, the millennium or longsuffering of Revelation 20 is neither literal nor greater than the lifetime of the people who saw Jerusalem fall.
How do we even know it began in the lifetime of the people who saw Jerusalem fall? We know because the ordeals of Revelation 13:5-17; 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2 and 19:20 connect the beginning of this new testing period to the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem (Revelation 19:1-4; 19:19-20 and Revelation 20:4).
In that, the overcoming Christians successfully withstood the beast and the false prophet, but at the expense of their very lives (Revelation 12:10-11; 13:15 and 15:2). This new period of God's patience would end with the old people of God clamoring for a Place (a Temple), but all hopes of obtaining it meant that they would have to once more go to war with the Romans.
This brings us to our last indicator that Revelation does not have the history or exploits or doom of the Romans in mind at all.
Scattering of the Power
of the Holy People
The development of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream begins with the head of gold and traverses all the way to the heavenly stone becoming a great mountain to fill the whole earth. However, before the stone could become a great mountain, it had to grind the metallic image into particles, particles as small as chaff on the summer threshing floor.
Then, once the image was completely reduced a great wind was to violently carry these away and there was “no place found for them” (Daniel 2:35).
When reading Daniel’s description there does not appear to be anything special meant by the term “place.”
We notice, however, that after the thousand years period of Revelation 20, those who fled from the face of Christ came to the same crossroads: “and there was found no place for them.”
So what could this term “place” mean? It might be taken to mean they had nowhere to go. However, if the Spirit of God had the termination of State Temple history in mind, it would mean the Jewish people were unable to obtain what they sought because Christ in his power and prerogative as God withheld it from them.
Proof of this term ‘place’ is intended to speak of a Jewish State Temple may be seen in what was said by Caiaphas in his emergency meeting with the Sanhedrim recorded in John 11:48. There it reads,
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. [Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead after he had already begun to rot in his grave clothes. Spies fled to Jerusalem and told Caiaphas and the chief priests and Pharisees what had happened, MEM]. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away our place and nation.”
In this account, the word “place” does not stand for something generic, but stands specifically and particularly for the Second Temple of God. Caiaphas appears here to understand and interpret Daniel 9:26 as foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem via the Romans.
However, in Acts chapter 6 a dispute between Stephen and pilgrims from disparate parts of the Diaspora appears to put blasphemy in the mouth of Stephen with the idea that Christ would himself destroy the “place.” And it reads as follows:-
“Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the Synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.
And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the Law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto us” (Acts 6:9-14).
In the comments above, Stephen’s enemies allege that he has been heard speaking against Moses and against God. In court, they said that he had spoken blasphemies against “this holy place” and the Law. Then in verse 14, they say they have heard him say “Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered unto us.”
Thus, in these three instances that speak of the “place,” it is clear that the “place” is not a general area but specifically the Jewish Temple. In the situation of Paul and his near brush with death at the Temple in Acts 21:28 (and also see Acts 24:6, 18) it is clear that the State Temple and the “place” are one and the same thing.
Thus we may say, with a measure of confidence, that the God-day of Revelation 20 commences after the destruction of Jerusalem and ends with a renewed effort by the Jews to take the Holy Land and rebuild their traditional Place, a central item in their national identity from the time of their departure from the Land of Egypt under Moses, Aaron and Miriam.
However, in the end, they were unable to obtain what they sought, as New Testament preaching had sustained from the very beginning, that their era was waning and decaying and its time was up (Galatians 4:21-31; Hebrews 8:13).
Those who strove to remain in loyalty and obedience to the Law and the State Temple would perish with it and all efforts to make it persist (Colossians 2:20-22 cf. Philippians 3:18-19; Revelation 20:11).
Bar Kokhba coins. These examples show a Jewish Temple facade. The star above it is surrounded by the name “Shimon.” On the obverse side, there is a lulav fruit and text which says: “To the freedom of Jerusalem.”
Continuous Salvation History
Revelation chapter 20 ends with the downfall and judgment of the ancient Jewish State. This event was a terrific disappointment to the Jewish people; that disappointment has had a negative impact and ongoing reverberations in Rabbinic Judaism to this very day.
Their failure to see their first century or Seventh Sabbatical cycle hopes realized gave them an ambivalence towards God and Bible prophecy because others (Christians) were assisted in becoming established on the earth whilst they were dispossessed, taken captive, or killed in staggering numbers.
In the aftermath of being stripped of every good expectation in a mere one hundred and three year period of spectacular disappointments, they spent the next eighteen centuries wandering from place to place.
Finally, after 1,800 years, they have been finally able to seize the land again. However, in all that time the continuous phase of the salvation history inaugurated by the actions of Jesus Christ has endured and grown fantastically against great odds: Roman litigation, brutality, death and suppression, State-church and Islamic persecution, Roman Catholic inquisitions, and efforts to deny the Bible in the languages of the common people, and Nazi and Communist plots.
The success of the Christian people, as varied as we are in some very large issues and small particulars, does not deny the truth of the prophecy that “of [Christ's] kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
However, all in all, when the evidence is examined, it will be seen that the most destructive dynamic aspects of Bible prophecy belong in the middle of the continuum, not the end of it (as most Christians generally perceive and misunderstand it).
And what this means is that the end of the Fourth Kingdom up to the scattering of the chaff (when no place was found for them) are a specific dynamic period in Jewish history from the troubles of the early 60s of the first century to the complete route and oblivion of Simon Bar Kokhba’s sinister efforts to re-establish the form of godliness that God no longer needed or wanted.
On the other hand, nothing in the long history of the Roman Empire even comes close to corresponding to those images, motifs, and symbols that properly describe the end and eschaton of Biblical Judaism and the civilization which was beholden to it.
Summary and Conclusion
We have shown from internal evidence that John, whilst on the Isle of Patmos, wrote of the soon-coming destruction of Jerusalem, a city the remainder of the Book of Revelation assumes was still standing. Prophecies at the beginning of John’s letter give voice to the idea that Jesus’s personal Second Coming was to be soon in relation to the lifetime of the seven churches of Asia Minor. In point two this was connected to the end of the Jew’s religious era which was sustained and energized by the existence of the Temple of God in Jerusalem.
We noted that the tribunal of Jesus Christ and heavenly authorities was (in the prophecy of Daniel) to be held during the final course of the Fourth kingdom’s appearance on earth. However, the Roman Empire’s decline and fall never took shape and did not take place in any manner resembling John’s forecasts. Jewish history, on the other hand, did.
We discovered that the martyred saints under the altar in Revelation 6 were told to wait for a short period. They were consoled to hear that their fellow servants would join them and in the very same chapter, God’s prophetic determinations against their enemies ensued with alacrity and vigor.
These newer events took place under the symbols of seven trumpets and seven bowls. In them, God brought tragedy and disorder to the world of his rebellious people through fire, pestilence, sword, wild beasts, and infernal beings from nether regions of this planet earth. Furthermore, a three-year and six-month war only served to mire the combatants still more secure in their doom and fate till, at last, the city of their pride went up in fire and smoke and disappeared.
We noted that nowhere in prophecy or parable does Rome stand to gain or lose, but Jerusalem, being the recipient of God's initial call, stood guilty of offering fresh examples of her notorious behavior from time immemorial.
Accordingly, she (not Rome) was to be burnt to ashes and cinders, and the planned [marriage] event was to take place anyway (see Matthew 22:8-13).
Then, after the city was destroyed the armies who had defiled her were themselves brought to swift justice after which those victorious over the mendacity and iniquity of that great trial were exalted to heavenly thrones. There they exercised power over the [rebellious] nations, who were then thrown off balance, reeling and rocking over devastating losses and hoping against hope that the upcoming expectations of the Seventh Sabbatical Cycle (commencing in A.D. 132) would prove favorable to their cherished but sinister kingdom hopes.
We then discussed the significance of the fact that the second war failed to give them a “place” and saw, by comparing several related texts that “place” in these instances was intended to be understood as the State Temple of God.
Daniel 2:35 and Revelation 20:11 would then indicate the disappointed hopes for a third Temple.
In all, we believe, the general thrust of the Book of Revelation, where it describes those things happening, and why it says those things were happening completely excludes the Romans on too many critical and objective levels.
I believe a circumspect examination of this evidence will lead to the conclusion that the Book of Revelation was certainly written early rather than late. The evidence appears to suggest that Revelation (like the Book of Hebrews) was meant to be understood as encouragement for Christians who faced daunting existential challenges. These challenges mounted as extreme violence escalated as the State-Temple era was in its last throes.
The message of the New Testament was clear from the very beginning: the kingdom of God was at hand and the then-present age would speedily pass away, even as its citizens were deluding themselves to believe that it would go on to messianic glory, without interruption, into the foreseeable future.
Recommended reading . . .
From Library Journal
This new title in the “Anchor Bible Reference Library” series proves that nationalism is not a modern phenomenon in the volatile Middle East but existed as a major force in ancient times as well. Mendels (ancient history, Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) presents an in-depth study of Jewish nationalism in the Hellenistic world, from 200 B.C.E. to the failure of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 C.E. Mendels anchors his work in four key concepts that, he states, form the basic foundation for defining ancient nationalism: territory, temple or cult, kingship, and army. This is an excellent political history of ancient Judea during this period, but the tone is far too scholarly for general collections. Recommended solely for academic and scholarly libraries.- Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to an out-of-print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Professor of ancient history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Audio-Visual Book of Revelation in Koine Greek