"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced
by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitians's reign." - Irenaeus, concerning the Antichrist, John, and the Revelation.
Irenaeus' Statement, originally composed in Greek, comes down to us today only in Latin. Nevertheless, the text in question is found in the original Greek two times in Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History.
Those who believe that the Revelation was written long after the fall of Jerusalem, like the WTBTS, often quote Irenaeus to support their teaching. Yet they do not relate the rest of the facts concerning Irenaeus; this they do so that all of the evidence cannot be considered. So for the benefit of those who have not had the opportunity to consider the rest of the evidence the following is presented:
1) Irenaeus' statement is held to be ambiguous by many grammarians. The problem is found in the fact that the expression "that was seen" or "it was seen" (as it is often translated) can also be translated "he was seen;" and that raises the question, "Which of the two antecedents, "he who saw" (John) or "Revelation," "was seen" almost in Irenaeus' time and near the end of the reign of Domitian? The possibility that John, who saw the Revelation, and was seen alive almost in Irenaeus' generation, was the intended antecedent cannot be ruled out. This meaning, which is accepted as correct by many grammarians, does not prevent the Revelation from having been written before the fall of Jerusalem.
2) Irenaeus also wrote:
"[Christ] came to Baptism as one Who had not yet fulfilled thirty years, but was beginning to be about thirty years old. . . .But the age of 30 years is the first of a young man's mind, and that it reaches even to
the fortieth year, everyone will allow: but after the fortieth and fiftieth year, it begins to verge towards elder age: which our Lord was of when He taught, as the Gospel and all the Elders witness, who in Asia
conferred with John the Lord's disciple, to the effect that John had delivered these things unto them: for he abode with them until the times of Trajan. And some of them saw not only John, but other also of the
Apostles, and has this same account from them, and witness to the aforesaid relation." - Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:22:5.
Can we rely on the testimony of a man, who claimed that Christ was between 40 and 50 when he taught, to be a reliable witness about dates?
Surely, the WTBTS does not want you to know about these things when their sole means of support for the late-date of the writing of Revelation is from Irenaeus! Please consider my comments to their remarks (from their publication) concerning this matter:
*** si 264 Bible Book Number 66-Revelation ***
According to the earliest testimony, John wrote the Revelation about 96 C.E., approximately 26 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. This would be toward the close of the reign of Emperor Domitian. In
verification of this, Irenaeus in his "Against Heresies" (V, xxx) says of the Apocalypse: "For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign."
(From the evidence that I have presented above this view cannot be considered credible.)
Eusebius and Jerome both agree with this testimony.
(Eusebius lived sometime between 260 C.E. and 340. At best he was born 58 years after Irenaeus had died. And Jerome live from 340 C.E. until 420. Both of these witnesses were well removed from the time of Irenaeus, who lived from 130 C.E. until 202 C.E. In fact Irenaeus wrote over a century after the fall of Jerusalem, and never saw John at all.)
Domitian was the brother of Titus, who led the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem. He became emperor at the death of Titus, 15 years before the book of Revelation was written.
(This statement was based on the idea that the persecution that resulted in John's exile to Patmos came in the reign of Domitian and not in the reign of Nero. Yet nothing prevents John's exile from having occurred in the reign of Nero when that emperor persecuted Christians.)
He demanded that he be worshipped as god and assumed the title Dominus et Deus noster (meaning "Our Lord and God"). Emperor worship did not disturb those who worshipped false gods, but it could not be indulged in by the early Christians, who refused to compromise their faith on this point. Thus, toward the close of Domitian's rule (81-96 C.E.), severe persecution came upon the Christians.
(The WTBTS fails to mention the persecution under the reign of Nero in the mid-sixties, during which time John was exiled to Patmos. They also fail to mention that emperor worship existed in the time of Nero as well.)
It is thought that John was exiled to Patmos by Domitian. When Domitian was assassinated in 96 C.E., he was succeeded by the more tolerant emperor Nerva, who evidently released John. It was during this
imprisonment on Patmos that John received the visions he wrote down.
(John was released after the death of Nero in 68 C.E. The Revelation was written about 65 C.E. during the reign of the sixth king mentioned in Revelation 17:10 - Nero.)
In addition, I have read that Eusebius wrote of John's banishment in the same sentence with the execution of Peter and Paul. Three scholars have seen a problem with this statement if one holds to the view that John wrote in 98 C.E. - F.N. Lee, "Revelation and Jerusalem"; A. R. Fausset, "Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Commentary; and P. S. Desprez, "The Apocalypse Fulfilled." Is it likely that John was banished twice? The Syriac "History of John, the Son of Zebedee" makes reference to John's banishment under Nero. It states: "After these things, when the Gospel was increasing by the hands of the Apostles, Nero, the unclean and impure and wicked king, heard all that had happened at Ephesus. And he sent [and] took all that the procurator had, and imprisoned him; and laid hold of S. John and drove him into exile; and passed sentence on the city that it should be laid waste." I note also that both of the Syriac Versions of the Revelation give in the title the statement that John was banished by Nero - their titles say: "written in Patmos, whither John was sent by Nero Caesar."
The Watchtower wants you to believe that the Revelation was written after the fall of Jerusalem so that they can apply many of the prophecies that were fulfilled in 70 C.E. (the destruction of Jerusalem) to the time period beginning in 1914. If you want to find out about the other anachronism in their theology, which they use to support the date of 1914, consider my work Jehovah's Witnesses - 1914. ( http://members.aol.com/gparrishjr/index.html)