The dating of revelation
What Eusebius Thought Irenaeus Said Here’s how Eusebius utilized Irenaeus’s statements: “There is ample evidence that at that time the apostle and evangelist John was still alive, and because of his testimony to the word of God was sentenced to confinement on the island of Patmos.
Writing about the number of the name given to antichrist in what is called the Revelation of John, Irenaeus has this to say about John in Book V of his Heresies Answered: ‘Had there been any need for his name to be openly announced at the present time, it would have been stated by the one who saw the actual revelation.
What kind of sense would it make for Irenaeus to refer to copies of the apocalyptic vision as “ancient,” but also maintain that the vision itself occurred almost in his own lifetime?
This problem is alleviated if we understand ἑωράθη as a reference to John himself (“he was seen”), rather than the apocalyptic vision (“it was seen”).
For it was seen not a long time back, but almost in my own lifetime, at the end of Domitian’s reign.” (Against Heresies, 5.30.3) The phrase “it was seen” is translating a single Greek word: ἑωράθη.
And just to belabor this point beyond what is necessary, here are a few of those examples: “And he was seen (ἑωράθη) by practically all mankind.
For there was no city of repute, and no nation, which he did not visit; and among all alike the same opinion of him prevailed — that they had seen no one more beautiful.” (Dio Chrysostom, Discourse 29, section 6) “In the capture of the city, no Theban was seen (ἑωράθη) begging the Macedonians to spare his life, nor did they in ignoble fashion fall and cling to the knees of their conquerors.” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 17.13.2) “And when he came to the last hall, then he mounted a chariot, but sometimes he mounted a horse; but on foot he was never seen (οὐδέποτε ἑωράθη) outside of his palace.” (Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, 12.8) The point to draw from this is that only the context can determine whether ἑωράθη is best translated as “it was seen” or “he was seen.” And that’s what needs to be kept in mind when we’re interpreting Irenaeus’s use of the word.
In terms of external evidence, there’s a quote from the church father Irenaeus (130–202 AD) that is often referenced in debates about the date of Revelation.
There are two questions I want to address here: (1) what Irenaeus actually said, and (2) what Eusebius thought Irenaeus said.