Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 05:2 (Fall 1994)
Article: Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation
Author: Robert L. Thomas


Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation

Robert L. Thomas

Professor of New Testament

In 1989, a well-known spokesman for the theonomist camp, Kenneth L. Gentry, published a work devoted to proving that John the Apostle wrote Revelation during the sixties of the first century A.D. Basing his position heavily on Rev 17:9–11 and 11:1–13, he used internal evidence within the book as his principal argument for the early date. His clever methods of persuasion partially shield his basic motive for his interpretive conclusions, which is a desire for an undiluted rationale to support Christian social and political involvement leading to long-term Christian cultural progress and dominion. If the prophecies of Revelation are yet to be fulfilled, no such progress will develop—a prospect the author cannot accept. Inconsistency marks Gentrys hermeneutical pattern. Predisposition keeps him from seeing the books theme verse as a reference to Christs second coming. His explanation of Rev 17:9–11 is fraught with weaknesses, as is his discussion of 11:1–2. Two major flaws mar Gentrys discussion of Johns temporal expectation in writing the book. Besides these problems, five major questions regarding Gentrys position remain unanswered.

* * * * *

Theonomist1 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., makes evidence derived from exegetical data within the Apocalypse his major focus in building a case for dating the book prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in

A.D. 70.2 Though acknowledging that other advocates of either a Neronic (i.e., in the 60’s) and Domitianic date (i.e., in the 90’s) for Revelation’s composition find no such direct evidence within the book, he proceeds to find “inherently suggestive and positively compelling historical time-frame indicators in Revelation.”3 He uses the contemporary reign of the sixth king in 17:9–11 and the integrity of the temple and Jerusalem in 11:1–13 to exemplify arguments that are “virtually certain” proof of a date some time in the sixties.4

Before a look at his exegesis of these two passages and several others, however, Gentry’s general methodology d...

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