As a source, the book of Revelation is something of an outlier for a book of the Bible that got accepted into the canonical New Testament of most branches of Christianity: it is the only explicitly eschatological work in the New Testament, its date of composition is generally taken to be far later than the other books, its content is dramatic, and its author is not certain.

According to Wikipedia:

Revelation was the last book to be accepted into the Christian biblical canon, and even at the present day some Nestorian churches reject it. It was tainted because the heretical sect of the Montanists relied on it and doubts were raised over its Jewishness and authorship, and it was not until 419 that it was included in the canon.

Is this the full story of why it was accepted late (reaction against Montanists, doubts over its Jewishness and authorship), and what justification was there for it's final inclusion that overcame these barriers to admission to the canon?

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    @Bloch I'm sure hermeneutical studies(if your interested) shed considerable light on the Book of Revelations. The greatest reason why it is canonical is it's authenticity; Polycarp was a disciple of John and attested to it's veracity; both Irenaeus and Hippolytus have written and exegeted it. Justin Martyr, a disciple of Polycarp quotes it and Jerome states it authorship and included it in the Vulgate. Modern criticism in it's desire to affirm it's date before 70AD has attempted to challenge it's canonicity, but further evidence has established it's composition between 92-95AD.
    – Tau
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 12:18
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    Quite frankly I don't buy the idea it was ever rejected. The Pauline corpus was rejected entirely by several groups, yet Eusebius doesn't class it among the "disputed books," but he classes Revelation there. Its classic slight of hand. Revelation was probably largely ignored, not preached on much, etc., even as it is today in many churches, due to its cryptic content and the fact that out of control end-times mania isn't healthy, but truly "rejected"? I don't buy it. Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 7:00
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    @JackDouglas - Thank you for the excellent edit. I do need to work on my undiplomatic tone...
    – Bloch
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 16:15
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    You are welcome, credit is due to ScottS though as he brought this up in chat. It's good to have you active on the site. Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 16:18
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    Bloch, I think one of the answers that was brought over as a result of the merger of this question with an older one was already marked as "accepted." You're under no obligation to "accept" that answer but should be able to un-check it by clicking on the green checkmark again. You can then accept whatever answer you prefer. Sorry for that quirk.
    – Susan
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 16:53

10 Answers 10


As a prior answer has examined where Enoch failed in canonicity, this one shall turn to the Book of Revelation to determine what factors led the church to recognize its canonicity.

Though a popular genre, few apocalyptic works found their way into the New Testament canon. The most obvious exception comes to the modern world as The Revelation to John or The Apocalypse of John. Though a few books have apocalyptic sections, no other New Testament work is apocalyptic from the first to last verse.1

Historical Background

Before any work can be properly studied, its historical background must be examined. Revelation easily places itself within the apocalyptic genre by its opening verse ("the apocalypse of Jesus Christ") and by following the accepted apocalyptic characteristics with only two exceptions: pseudonymity and statements of authority.2 Other than those two factors, Revelation contains all the characteristics of the apocalyptic genre: 1) dualism; 2) complete determinism; 3) life beyond history; and 4) imminent expectation of the eschaton. Furthermore, Revelation is also prophecy (Rev. 22:18f) and an epistle (Rev. 2 and 3). This section will speak of Revelation's author, location, date, and sitz im leben.


Whereas Enoch had at least five authors working over several centuries, Revelation has one author and comes from the first century. However, scholars debate the exact identity of the John who wrote the Apocalypse. Briefly, they give four possibilities: 1) John the Apostle; 2) John the Elder; 3) John Mark; 4) an unknown/pseudonymous John. As Revelation displays no similarities with Mark's gospel in style or grammar the third option has never been a serious consideration.3 Likewise, an unknown or pseudonymous John would be unlikely to gain major acceptance in the churches. Indeed, a pseudonymous work had little chance of becoming canonical.4 Therefore, only John the Apostle and John the Elder remain as serious considerations. Of these two, the early church held the same author wrote the Gospel of John and the Revelation, namely, John the Apostle. Though not unanimous, this view prevailed.

Judging the book on its own merits gives a similar story. From the beginning, the author identifies himself as "John" with no qualifying title. Obviously, the area knew John so well that he had no need of any further title—his own name gave authority to the work.5 If choosing a pseudonym, the author would have wanted to qualify which John he meant.

Also from internal evidence, one may deduce the author is a Palestinian Jew turned Christian. The author shows an affinity and familiarity for the Jewish Scripture that few converts would have had. Revelation contains a higher percentage of Old Testament allusions in its verses than any other New Testament work (278 allusions in 404 verses).6 Also lending credence to the Jewishness of the author, Revelation uses many semitisms and grammatical solecisms that a Greek would be unlikely to use.7

Those who argue for John the Elder say that Revelation contains too many differences in style and grammar from John's Gospel and Epistles. Dionysius used such an argument in A.D. 247.8 However, the style differences may be answered by the different genre or the use of a different scribe. Furthermore, Revelation and the Gospel contain many similarities in motif, Christology, eschatology, and expressions.9 Based on these facts, this paper concludes that John the Apostle wrote the Revelation.


John wrote the book of Revelation while exiled to the Isle of Patmos.10 From the Isle, John sent Revelation as an epistle to the seven churches under his care in Asia minor. One notes his choice of which churches to address. He did not choose only large churches or only small churches. He chose some wealthy and some poor. However, all seven lay along a major Roman trade route in the province of Asia Minor. By writing to these seven, John's book would travel fastest and spread farther.

Date and Occasion

Like other Apocalyptic works, Revelation comes from a time of crisis.11 Though John writes little of history before Christ, he tells enough of the situation that the modern reader can determine the crisis with a little effort. Commentators usually fall within two dates for Revelation: A.D. 65-68 and A.D. 96. Both dates require examination here.

The Late Date (A.D. 96)

If Revelation is written late, the book aims to encourage Christians during an imperial persecution. Those who argue for a late date to Revelation use both internal and external evidence. As external evidence they point to the early church writers like Iraneus (A.H. 5.30.3), Victorinus of Pettau (Apocalypse 10.11), Eusebius (H.E. 3.17-18), Clement of Alexandria (Quis Dives Salvetur 42), and Origen (Matthew 16.6) who all agree John wrote during the time of Domitian.12 Further, late-date advocates point out how several of the churches addressed in the first three chapters had historical circumstances that do not match an early date for Revelation.

First, several of the churches addressed had lost their ardor for Christ, and heresies had infected others. Churches usually do not lose their ardor or find heresies in their first generation.13 Second, John calls Laodicia rich, but an earthquake almost leveled the city in A.D. 60. The city took many years to rebuild its wealth. Third, the church at Smyrna was not founded until A.D. 64, so it cannot have endured for a long time (as Revelation 2:8-11 seems to imply) if only three years old.14

Likewise, those who claim a late date for Revelation point out that the emperor worship described in chapters 13-20 matches best with Domitian.15 Though some earlier emperors proclaimed themselves gods, Domitian took the title "Lord and God," usurping kyrios a title of Christ.16

Another piece of evidence comes from the use of "Babylon" as a code word for a city in Revelation. Though early daters say Babylon refers to Jerusalem, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, and The Sibylline Oracles all refer to Rome as Babylon. Jews and Christians linked the cities together because both powers had sacked the holy city.17 In a similar manner, the Pauline epistles refer to several heretical groups but never to the heresies plaguing the churches of Asia Minor, the Nicolatians. Both pieces of evidence point to a later first century date for Revelation.

An Early Date

Those who argue for an early date tend to see Revelation as a polemic against the Jews who rejected the Messiah.18 They see at least partial fulfillment in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Though they read Revelation 11:1-2 literally with its temple measurements, the measurements better match Ezekiel's eschatological temple.

Other problems come from the early date. For instance, the early daters insist that the number 666 refers to taking the Hebrew letters of Caesar Nero(n) and adding them up in a gematria. Though the arithmetic does indeed come to 666, such a view supposes a knowledge of Hebrew in a thoroughly gentile audience. Likewise, with little to no justification in the Greek, they tend to read Revelation 1:7's "all the tribes of the earth will mourn Him" as "all the tribes of Israel will mourn Him."19

Based on the evidence, this paper concludes that John wrote Revelation about A.D. 96 during Domitian's anti-Christian persecution, which John saw would expand in later years. Thus, Revelation serves to encourage to Christians facing their first major persecution that the Messiah will be victorious over their enemies. However, it also warns them of persecution for keeping the faith.

Consideration of Canonicity

Revelation had the longest and hardest fight of any book to be recognized as inspired. Though numerous early authors quoted and approved of it, others argued against Revelation.

History of Inclusion and Exclusion

Revelation appears in canonical listings as early as the Muratorian fragment in the second century. Iraneus quotes it often and approvingly, even making Revelation the basis of his “already-but- not-yet” eschatology.20 Cyprian, Clement of Alexandira, and Origen all accept the book. Likewise, though Dionysius interprets the book allegorically and rejects apostolic authorship, he accepts it as canonical.21

On the other hand, many in the early centuries disputed Revelation’s place in the canon. Marcion rejects Revelation because of the numerous Old Testament references in the book. Gaius and the Algoloi also reject it because the Montanists use Revelation so often.22 Eusebius places Revelation in both his "universally acknowledged" and "spurios" lists. Both times he qualifies his judgement with "should it seem right." Chrysostom never quotes from Revelation, leaving the modern world no clue to his thoughts on the book of Revelation. Gregory of Nanzianus, and Cyril leave it out of their listings of the canon. Moreover, the Nestorian churches still leave Revelation out of their canon.23 Revelation has never held a very secure place in the Eastern Orthodox canon. The Syriac Peshitta omits it, and the Council of Laodicia did not recognize it.24 As late as 850, the Eastern Church listed the book as disputed. They still do not read from Revelation regularly. Greek commentaries written in the fifth and sixth centuries probably helped Revelation gain acceptance in the Eastern empire.25

Even though the East had trouble with the book, the West recognized Revelation as inspired fairly early. Jerome, Ambrose, Rufinus, Augustine, and Innocent all accept it as canonical.26 The Third Council of Carthage (397) listed as canonical, and at the Third Constantinople Council officially ratified Revelation in 680. The book then follows a bumpy path into the modern world. Calvin could not understand the book and refused to write a commentary. Though Luther leaves Revelation in his translation, he sees it as "unapostolic" and cannot find Christ.27

Factors in Consideration of Canonicity

As said above, the early Church did not place any book in the canon haphazardly. In summary, a canonical work has to contain adaptable wisdom on how to live at any time.28 However, three other factors come into play: the book must 1) come from Apostolic circle in the first century; 2) contain only orthodox teachings; and 3) show inspiration.

As discussed above, John the Apostle did write Revelation. Though debated early, the view of John the Apostle as author prevailed, much to the delight of Justin Martyr, Bishop Melito of Sardis, and Theophilus of Antioch who all defended the Apostle as author.29 After the view became accepted, the West almost stopped arguing against Revelation.

Having settled the question of authorship, Revelation also came under attack because of its theology. The Eastern church did not like the earthly eschatology taught in the book. Many in the West viewed Revelation as obscure and used it to speculate the future. To combat these positions, the East interpreted it allegorically and Augustine argued that Revelation be included only with an admonition against using the book speculatively (City of God XX.6-9).30 Eventually, the Church recognized Revelation as inspired.

Assessment of Determining Factors

As with all books, inspiration determined Revelation's canonicity. Though one can never empirically prove inspiration, it can be disproven. For example, had Revelation attempted to deceive people by being pseudonymous, one could almost guarantee the non-inspiration. However, the Church became convinced of the Apostolic origin of the book. Likewise, had Revelation contained doctrines contrary to already accepted Scripture, the Church would have seen the Holy Spirit was not behind it.

On the other hand, Revelation contains much to recommend its inspiration. The book more than adequately fulfilled Luther's rule of "Does it teach Christ." The book itself claims to be Scripture, and as the author was an Apostle, one is hard pressed to think the author might be wrong on such an important matter. Furthermore, the book contains adaptable wisdom on how to live at any time. Revelation has a message for both its original audience and today's reader.31 The book encourages readers from all times to hold fast to the faith while warning of the persecution to come later.

Unlike First Enoch, which showed its lack of inspiration by contradicting orthodox doctrine and presenting a faulty soteriology, Revelation fulfilled the criteria for inspiration more than adequately. The book comes from the first-century, Apostolic circle, sustains and expands orthodox teaching, and has a message for believers beyond its first audience. Beyond these three traits, Revelation has some undefinably characteristics commending it to Christian readers.

End Notes

1 For a differing viewpoint, see Robert L. Thomas “A Classical Dispensationalist View of Revelation” in Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin Pate (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), 181 who defines the book as simple prophecy based on Revelation 22:18ff.

2 The other apocalyptic writers see themselves as heirs to the prophets and not prophets. Revelation’s claims to being a prophecy (10:11; 22:18ff) as well as its apocalyptic genre and the seven small epistles within make it unique in the ancient world.

3 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), 9.

4 Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 261; G. K. Beale The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 34.

5 Collins, John J. The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1998), 271.

6 B. S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994), 509.

7 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 35. Edward McDowell, The Meaning and Message of the Book of Revelation. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1951), 11.

8 Scott Gambrill Sinclair, Revelation: A Book for the Rest of Us (Berkely, California: BIBAL Press, 1992), 25; Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1993), 14.

9 See C. Martin Pate, “A Progressive Dispensationalist View of Revelation” in Four Views on the Book of Revelation, 171-172 for a chart favorably comparing some of the key elements in John’s Gospel and Revelation.

10 Amazingly, this author found little if any dissent to this view.

11 As the nature of the crisis determines the date, this section will combine what was two sections in Enoch.

12 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 19.

13 Edward McDowell, The Meaning and Message of the Book of Revelation, 4.

14 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 16.

15 Henry Barclay Swete, Commentary on Revelation: The Greek Text with Introduction, Notes, and Indexes, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1977), ci.

16 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 5.

17 Ibid., 18-19.

18 Kenneth Gentry, Jr. “A Preterist View of Revelation” in Four Views, 51.

19 Ibid., 48.

20 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 20.

21 Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 85, 191, 192, 195.

22 D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 480.

23 Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 198, 212-215.

24 Carson, Moo, and Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament, 481.

25 Swete, Commentary on Revelation, cxvii.

26 Ibid., cxviii.

27 Carson, Moo, and Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament, 481. Luther later changed his mind. With Revelation’s references to the Lamb who was slain in chapter 5 and the vision of Christ coming in glory in chapter 19, one wonders why Luther could not find Christ in it.

28 James A. Sanders, Canon and Community, 28.

29 Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 930.

30 Many before and since have used Revelation as a blueprint of the future (See, Marvin C. Pate, Four Views on the Book of Revelation, and Arthur W. Wainwright, Mysterious Apocalpyse (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1993), 21-87 for a history of the millennial interpretation to Revelation). Such use of Revelation is wrong if, as Sinclair says, “[Revelation’s] authority came from Christian leaders who insisted Revelation must not be used for futuristic speculation” (Scott Sinclair, Revelation: A Book for the Rest of Us, 27) However, if Revelation’s authority comes not from the Church but from God, then the fourth century Church’s opinion on the book’s interpretation matters does not bind later believers. The job of the early Church was to recognize Revelation’s authority and place it in the canon, not to dictate its interpretation for all eternity.

31 For this reason, this author now holds an “already-but-not-yet” view of Revelation.

  • Superb, and the complete resume of views concerning canonicity. Thank you for the in depth focus and the gaps you filled in.
    – Tau
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 1:17
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    This kind of comparative answer paints a very persuasive picture. Thank you. I am minded to accept it, but I shall wait a little.
    – Bloch
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 19:33
  • @Bloch, I always wait to accept answers, also. And thank you.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 1:03
  • Did you do all of this work just to answer this question or was it a prior research project?
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 6:34
  • This was prior research. "Formation of the Biblical Canon" required a term paper in two parts: 1) a book rejected by the majority of Christianity and 2) a book debated and then accepted into the canon. 1 Enoch was part 1. Revelation was part 2.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 14:22

The Book of Revelation had a mixed reception among the early Church Fathers. This is exemplified by Eusebius, who (Ecclesiastical History, VII, xxv) quotes Bishop Dionysius the Great of Alexandria:

Some indeed of those before our time rejected and altogether impugned the book, examining it chapter by chapter and declaring it to be unintelligible and illogical, and its title fake. For they say that it is not John's, no, nor yet an apocalypse, since it is veiled by its heavy, thick curtain of unintelligibility; and that the author of this book was not only not one of the apostles, nor even one of the saints or those belonging to the Church, but Cerinthus, the same who created the sect called ‘Cerinthian’ after him, since he desired to affix to his own forgery a name worthy of credit. . . . But for my part I should not dare to reject the book, since many brethren hold that the interpretation of each several passages in some way hidden and more wonderful.

We see in the comments of Dionysius that some Church Fathers were reluctant to reject the book, simply because they did not understand it. Not understanding it, they feared that it might contain hidden mysteries that should not be lost. For others, the fact that the book was signed by a man named John meant that this otherwise unknown author might be the apostle John, in which case they dared not reject the book.

In addition to the above quotation from Dionysius, Eusebius provided the first complete surviving list of what the Christian Bible should contain. He wrote:

It will be well, at this point, to classify the New Testament writings. We must, of course, put first the holy quartet of the Gospels, followed by the Acts of the Apostles. The next place in the list goes to Paul’s Epistles, and after them we must recognise the Epistle called 1 John, likewise 1 Peter. To these may be added, if thought proper, the Revelation of John …. These are classed as Recognised Books ... as for the Revelation of John, if this seems the right place for it: as I said before, some reject it, some include it among the Recognised Books and so it has remained, but not without argument! Moreover, some have found a place for the Gospel of the Hebrews …

We can say that there were, from the beginning, objections to the inclusion of the Book of Revelation, but that it was eventually included in the canon at least partly because the Church Fathers were uncertain whether it contained an important hidden message and because of the possibility that the author, John, might be John, the son of Zebedee, or perhaps John the Elder.


The book was accepted into the canon at the Council of Carthage in 397 AD.

It was, at the time when the canon was being constructed, believed to be authored by the Apostle John. Anything written by one of the disciples of Jesus tends to be held sacred.

There was some opposition to its inclusion. One of the views against this was that it was one of the main books of Montanism, which was considered heretical at that time. Gregory of Nazianzus argued against its inclusion due to the difficult in interpretation and the possibility of abuse.

However there was a precedent of it being included in the canon that extended back to the 2nd century.


Given the tradition of it being included in the early precursors to the canon and its generally accepted authorship by an apostle, the book was included in the canon.


the book of Revelation (...) got accepted into the canonical New Testament of all the major branches of Christianity

This is not true, Book of Revelation isn't accepted in Church of the East and its descendandts (Assyrian Church of the East).

Can hermeneutics cast light on how this book overcame these barriers to admission to the canon?

"Barriers" you mentioned can be problems for people of today but not for early christians. They didn't need to know everything in detail and it was supported by some early authorities. They had another problems - there were some doubts wheter Book of Revelation is not a forgery created by Cerinthus the Heresiarch and there were troubles with millenialistic beliefs which were derived from some interpretations of the book. When those issues were cleared, Book of Revelation was accepted into canon at the synod of Carthage in 419 AD.

  • Thanks: (1) Wikipedia-depth research tells me that with I am excluding from "major branches of Christianity" something very significant over a long period of history; excuse my ignorance; (2) The table you link to at ntcanon.org does begin to give me a picture of how the consensus formed: did the Syrians reject BoR because of the doubts of Eusepius (that the oethers considered cleared up)?
    – Bloch
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 13:28
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    @Bloch, christians from Assyrian Church of the East believe that they have all of the original manuscripts of NT and that they have revieced them straigth from the hands of the Apostles in ancient aramaic language. Because there is no BoR in these ancient manuscripts and also all known european BoR manuscripts are written in Greek then they simply see it as some invention made by western christians. Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 14:29
  • @Bloch: I guess it depends on what is meant by "major branches" since the reported membership of the Assyrian Church of the East is ~500,000. Not the multiple millions of other denominations (even many subgroups within denominations), so I probably would not have classified it as "major" either. Nevertheless, that it was an early split in Christianity, one that continues today, and happens to have relevance to the discussion regarding canonicity of Revelation, it might be considered "major" in this context.
    – ScottS
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 15:54
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    @ScottS, you're referring to population of Church of the East today, while it could have literally millions of members in the past, before the rise of Islam. Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 16:11
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    @ScottS, the page you linked about Aramaic Church and the Peshitta contains false (or incomplete) information. There are TWO New Testament "Peshittas": original aramaic one and so called "western one" which is a translation of Greek texts. "Western One" contains Revelation and the "Eastern One" does not. The latter is used by ACoE. Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 15:46

The Book of Revelations is one of the most controversial books of the Bible, given the Apocalyptic nature of the messages it carries. However, in regards to it's authenticity it has always been seen as being written by the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos-a barren 30 sq. mi. island in the Aegean Sea where both common and political prisoners were held. Rick Renner, a noted Greek scholar, as well as pastor of a church in Moscow, Russia, wrote a book called "A Light in the Darkness", which described Patmos as the "Alcatraz of the 1st Century". It was a treeless, rocky craggy place with treacherous currents surrounding it.

Tertullian(160-220AD) writes in Ch. 36 of "Prescription Against Heresies",

How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! Where Peter endures a passion like his Lord's! Where Paul wins his crown in a death like John's where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile! See what she has learned, what taught, what fellowship has had with even (our) churches in Africa!(Taken from here)

Further sources include Eusebius's Church History, which record the following,

It is said that in this persecution the apostle and evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island of Patmos in consequence of his testimony to the divine word. 2. Irenæus, in the fifth book of his work Against Heresies, where he discusses the number of the name of Antichrist which is given in the so-called Apocalypse of John, speaks as follows concerning him: 3. “If it were necessary for his name to be proclaimed openly at the present time, it would have been declared by him who saw the revelation. For it was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.”(Taken from here)

Domitian's reign as an emperor ended in 96AD; since John was a political, and not a criminal prisoner, the Roman Senate took the unusual means of declaring Domitian's reign "Damnatio Memotiae", thereby destroying all the temples he had erected to his 'cult of worship' and all political prisoners, like John, were freed. However, he ruled for 14 years, following the death of his brother Titus, in 81AD; which places John's miraculous delivery from the '92-'95AD range. Tradition has it that he lived on Patmos with a disciple called Prochorus(Acts 6:5), who attended to the needs of the elderly Apostle and smuggled out Book Of Revelations to his church in Ephesis. There is no record of Prochorus being with John on Patmos, but ample reasons to believe it was so, as no rations, clothing, or shelter was provided for political prisoners. They were free to roam, unlike the common criminals, yet on the treeless, waterless rock without some external provision it is hard to imagine how they would survive. According to Rick Renner, most sources agree on John living until 100AD, some place his death at 104AD, which would have made him 100 years old.

The question of the canonicity of Revelations had been firmly decided since it's origin; Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, who died in 202AD, states.

Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it(Against Heresies, Ch.5:1)

Polycarp(69-155AD), who was seen by Irenaeus as a young man, was a disciple of John and appointed by John as the Bishop of Smyrna, according to Tertullian(Prescriptions Against Heresis, Ch. 32) Justin Martyr(100-165AD) does not quote Revelations, but says,

Moreover also among us a man named John, one of the apostles of Christ, prophesied in a revelation made to him that those who have believed on our Christ will spend a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that hereafter the general and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all will likewise take place. (Dial. 81.4)

In all accounts, St. Jerome(340-420AD), who compiled the Latin Vulgate, said about John and Revelations,

In the fourteenth year then after Nero Domitian having raised a second persecution he was banished to the island of Patmos, and wrote the Apocalypse, on which Justin Martyr and Irenæus afterwards wrote commentaries. But Domitian having been put to death and his acts, on account of his excessive cruelty, having been annulled by the senate, he returned to Ephesus under Pertinax and continuing there until the time of the Emperor Trajan, founded and built churches throughout all Asia, and, worn out by old age, died in the sixty-eighth year after our Lord's passion and was buried near the same city.(On Illustrious Men, Ch. 9)

Given the subsequent endorsement by St. Jerome, it was included in his Latin Vulgate and has withstood the question of canonicity ever since.

  • Thank you. To be clear, I understand from this that all the branches of Christianity that accept BoR accept that Apostle John authored the locus solum on Patmos (Rev 1:9 names the island as the place of revelation) as an epistle to Ephesus (per Rev 2:1, which does not actually entail that the writing also happened on Patmos) in Greek (so we can infer that Apostle John wrote or dictated Greek) during the period of his confinement by Domitian on the island. Which is in fact a very detailed sourcing, an outlier in the opposite direction.
    – Bloch
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 23:38
  • @Bloch The best we have are the Patristics, who verified and accepted the writings of John at Patmos. Short of the author coming in and taking the stand, they were as sure about the authenticity of Revelations as they were about any other New Testament document, and perhaps more so, as the writings occurred later and John was able to confer to those who also were prolific in their writings. As I inferred in my last statement, it's only modern day skepticism that has blemished this otherwise straightforward rendering of canonicity,
    – Tau
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 7:02
  • @Bloch The meat of your question, the linguistic comparisons, I apologize for not answering, as I'm not a linguist. I know Rick Renner does an amazing job in his analysis
    – Tau
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 7:07
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    I'm torn on this, I want to upvote it and downvote it at the same time! I think it's a good answer, right up until the last statement: "The argument of canonicity of Revelations did not really come into play until Preterism, and the advent of Modern Critical scholarship made it an issue in the 17th and 18th centuries." You've offered no support for this statement, and from my historical readings, it's false. There was considerable controversy about the book, so much so that it was not read in the early churches, thought to be a Montanist work by some (and still rejected by Nestorians).
    – Dan
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Tau I see your point, and with the latest edit, you gladly have my +1 :) - also, did you know Revelation is still not read aloud in Eastern Christian churches?
    – Dan
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 21:22

Revelation (no 's') is an example of apocalyptic literature, a genre of religious writings common to the intertestamental period, though appearing in Scripture prior to this time in places like Ezekiel. Though this genre is different than, say, discourse or historical narrative, it was common and well recognized by the original audience.

The genre is characterized by a focus on eschatological truths / events, the assistance of angelic messengers, and the heavy employment of symbolism to communicate its truths. So, while these features seem to modern readers to be very foreign and out of step with the rest of the New Testament, it would not have seemed at all odd to the early Church.

As for authorship, it is no more difficult to determine than other anonymous NT works. It is traditionally taken to be authored by the Apostle John, and dated just after his other writings.

  • 1
    OK, although the summary at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Johannine_works paints a more complicated picture of the writings of Apostle John, and there are several important eschatological manuscripts of Early Christianity that differ from BoR in not being canon for most branches of Christianity.
    – Bloch
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 23:48
  • @Bloch The same could be said of any NT genre though.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 22:06

The point that Revelation meets the criteria of showing forth Christ according to Luther is untrue. Reread his 1522 preface to the book. He says it does NOT do this, yet he leaves it to the reader to decide for himself. As for inspiration: it was not explicit as criteria for determining canonicity. Yours is an argument from silence, clearly fueled by an evangelical bias. While I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge differing views and agree with your claim about its later composition, this essay reads a lot more like apologetics than sound scholarship.

  • 1
    Dan, you need to take a tour of the site to get a feel for how it functions. Your answer hasn't addressed the question that was asked, "What historical reasons resulted in Revelation being included in most Christian canons?". Please edit your answer to do so, or delete it and start again.
    – enegue
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 13:47
  • This looks like a comment on another answer. Could you say which answer, so that we can understand what you are getting at?
    – Bloch
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 6:58

While the Apocalypse met with a mixed reception among Church Fathers, it was widely accepted among earlier Christians. To account for the imperialist Church Fathers' reluctance one only has to consider that the theme of this book is the destruction of all the kingdoms of the world toward the reign of God. enter link description here

Also, Jenkins connects WW1 to the biblical clime in his book. http://www.amazon.com/Great-Holy-War-Religious-Crusade/dp/0062105140/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431907263&sr=8-1&keywords=%27The+Great+and+Holy+War%27+by+Philip+Jenkins

  • 1
    This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. Commented May 16, 2015 at 21:01

liveforforever.com/revelation.html questions the legitimacy of revelations' entry into canon.

whitepill pastebin.com/zhin4G33

  • You're welcome to join us at BHSE! Please make sure you take our tour and act accordingly. Re: Questions and answers, we'd like to see Biblical text to analyze. Everyone's allowed to have his/her opinion...We just request some legitimate documentation to support it. Thanks. Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 22:50
  • Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 9:17

Keep it simple. Canonical acceptance as late as 413, but cited as 10 yrs earlier. Used by pastors whenever a dramatic event is crushing people. It demands interpretation and has the earmarks of the Roman Churches style of 'Mystery'. By 413 the Papacy had emerged and this Book, rejected by Luther, Zwingli, and never mentioned by John Calvin, became the 'end-all' of indecipherable messages.
Forgive me if I've offended any Catholics.

  • Please see the Tour and Help (below, bottom right) as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. Please see the comment made by @Tau regarding the early church fathers such as Polycarp and Jerome (which you have not even considered in your answer which has no citations or references but - as it stands - is merely hearsay and opinion).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 19:39

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