Revelation resources -- Revelation and the Roman Emperors

Most recent revision May 26th, 2002

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Description: This page presents scholarly works which treats the Roman Emperors most often discussed with regard to Revelation (especially Domitian and Nero). There is some overlapping between this page and the page on persecutions and the imperial cult. (29 Mar 1997)


The contemporary-historical approach often focuses on the relationship between the Asian churches and their situation. This means that the dating of Revelation is an important issue. The role of the Roman Emperors are therefore highly interesting. The major views focus on either Nero (often presupposing an early date) or Domitian (presupposing a late date). Most scholars of the nineteenth century preferred the early date while the majority accept the Domitianic date in this century. An increasing number of scholars now argue that the Neronic date is the more likely (cf. introductory matters). However, Gaius may also be of some interest because of Philo's De legatione ad Gaium (cf. Borgen). Earlier in this century, it was assumed that there was a rather widespread persecution under Domitian, but recent studies have challenged this view (cf. Revelation, persecutions, and the imperial cult page). Nevertheless, Revelation apparently describes a number of events which have the character of persecution, but there are few clear references to past and present events. Most concern imminent or future events. An often overlooked issue is the distinction between what Revelation actually says about the situation of the churches, and what the Son of Man (Rev 2--3) says about the imminent or future events. The relationship between the present situation and the future events may not be as clear-cut as often assumed. The relationship could be one of association: The Son of Man's paraenesis refers to their real life-experiences, which may or may not be (highly) influenced by the the imperial policy and local imperial officials. Whether this also means that the future events are also of the same type, has apparently not yet been studied. The crucial issue is what the future events portrayed in Revelation are about. I will return to this issue later when my thesis becomes available. Cf. also my message on rev-list: The following works may be useful. (August 5th, 1999)




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© 1996-2001 Georg S. Adamsen Opdateret d. 26.5.2002