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He not only mentions the reign of Domitian, but he mentions that John’s vision occurred at the end of Domitian’s reign.
Hitchcock writes, “This specific dating of Revelation suggests that Irenaeus possessed special, intimate knowledge of the timing and conditions under which Revelation was written.” Third, Irenaeus lived in Smyrna, where Revelation originally circulated.
We date the book of Revelation some time during the end of the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 95).
There is both internal and external evidence for the dating of the book of Revelation: External evidence is the attestation for the date of Revelation that exists outside of the book.
Other Preterists argue that Irenaeus erred when he made his assertion about the dating of the book of Revelation.
Preterists point out that Irenaeus erred before in his writing, when he claimed that Jesus was forty years old when he died.
For instance, Zane Hodges is a futurist, who holds to the early date of Revelation. Therefore, the dating of Revelation is relatively inconsequential for the futurist, but it is absolutely essential for the preterist interpreter.
If Revelation is dated to AD 95, which has been the traditional dating for the last 1,900 years, then this would render preterist obsolete to Bible believers.
There, he saw the Apocalypse; and when grown old, he thought that he should at length receive his quittance by suffering, Domitian being killed, all his judgments were discharged.
Since Domitian was assassinated on September 18, AD 96, this would date the book of Revelation around AD 95.
However, two objections have been raised against Irenaeus’ straightforward assertion: Some Preterists argue that Irenaeus’ statement is not that clear.
In his work Roman History, Dio Cassius confirms the fact that Domitian was in the practice of banishing prisoners to islands.
Hitchcock writes, “While Dio does not specifically mention John’s banishment during the reign of Domitian he does refer three times to Domitian’s practice of banishment.