A Critique of the Preterist View of “Soon” and “Near” in Revelation -- By: Mark L. Hitchcock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 163:652 (Oct 2006)
Article: A Critique of the Preterist View of “Soon” and “Near” in Revelation
Author: Mark L. Hitchcock

A Critique of the Preterist View of
“Soon” and “Near” in Revelation

Mark L. Hitchcock

Mark L. Hitchcock is Pastor, Faith Bible Church, Edmond, Oklahoma.

This is the first article in a five-part series “Preterism and the Date of the Book of Revelation.”

Many intriguing questions surround the background and interpretation of the Book of Revelation. One issue that has drawn renewed interest and investigation is its date of composition. This is a critical factor in establishing the historical setting of the book.1 A decision about the date of Revelation can dramatically affect one’s view of the audience, purpose, and message of the book. Although the date of Revelation has always been an issue, the discussion has been reopened in recent years primarily by preterist interpreters who argue that the book was written in the time of the Roman emperor Nero.

Most scholars hold to one of two main dates for the composition of Revelation—in A.D. 65–66 during Nero’s reign or in A.D. 95–96 in Domitian’s reign.2 The Neronic date is strongly championed (and the other is most vehemently criticized) by contemporary

preterists, who view Revelation primarily as a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 and the forty-two months leading up to that destruction.3

Contemporary preterists have painted themselves into a narrow corner for the date of Revelation. According to Gentry, Revelation anticipated the destruction of Jerusalem (August, A.D. 70), the death of Nero (June, A.D. 68), and the formal imperial engagement of the Jewish War (spring, A.D. 67). He also maintains that the book was written after the initial outbreak of the Tribulation, which he believes began with the Neronic persecution in November, A.D. 64. Therefore for Gentry and other preterists the terminus a quo for Revelation is the beginning of the Neronic persecution in November, A.D. 64, and the terminus ad quem is spring, A.D. 67.4 If Revelation is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (in August, 70) and the forty-two-month Tribulation that preceded it, then it had to be written no later than the spring of A.D. 67. The preterist interpretation therefore depends on a pre-spring 67 date of composition, not just a pre-70 date, as is often implied.

The other view, which has been the dominant one throughout church history...

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