Don K. Preston’s Third (Final) Negative
Formal Written Debate on the Dating of Revelation: Before AD 70 or After?
Before I present my final negative, here is what you need to know.
Sergius Bale is NOT the real name of my opponent. It was revealed on FB on 12-7-2021, that his true identity is Lance Conley.
What that means is that Bale / Conley, lied about his true identity.
He lied about being born in Greece and that Greek is his first language.
He lied, repeatedly, constantly claiming to have a Phd.
He lied, repeatedly, when he claimed to be a university professor in Australia.
In sum, he lied about everything concerning himself.
Some months ago, a private messenger suggested to me that “Bale” was actually Conley. So, I asked “Bale” pointedly if his true name was Sergius Bale. He affirmed that it was. Now, the truth comes out that he lied from the very beginning.
Conley is known to be a mentally disturbed young man, with anger issues and clearly, whose poisonous tongue manifests itself in vicious attacks against anyone that differs with him. That is exhibited in his final “affirmative.”
What is truly amazing and sad is that when he was exposed on the FB page, “Full Preterism: “A Thing of the Past,” (where he admitted to lying about his true identity), he said his constant lying did not hurt anyone, therefore, he did nothing wrong. He exhibited no remorse, no repentance, and no apology for his long time lying. In fact, since exposed, he has actually bragged about the entire situation, even saying he has been doing this kind of thing for years. In fact, on 12-10-2021 he claimed that his lying (“tricking Don Preston”) was not sinful! So, in his debased mind, lying about your birth place, place of residence, name, academic status, employment is not a sin! It is just to “trick” someone!
To compound the tragedy, it was revealed that many of the anti-preterists on that forum knew, for a long while, of his lies, and NOT ONE OF THEM spoke out against his lying. Some actually said they knew of it for a while and thought it was “funny”, “harmless” and no big deal. How is lying ever funny or harmless? Shocking, shameful and disgraceful!
Think about that! People who call themselves Christians refusing to condemn blatant, willful, habitual lying!
Proverbs says there are seven things that are an abomination to God; one of those is “a lying tongue.” But the anti-prets on that page think it is no big deal and even “funny.” In fact, I was told that I have no right to express moral outrage, because “we are all sinners” and “let the one without sin cast the first stone.” According to such ludicrous logic, no Christian can speak out against any sin, because, after all, “we are all sinners.”
So, the main anti-prets on that page– including William Vincent the owner of the page- refused to condemn what they knew to be purposeful lies. Vincent has refused to remove Conley from the page for his willful sin. BUT THEY CONDEMNED ME FOR SPEAKING OUT AGAINST IT! That speaks volumes about the lack of moral character of the owner of that site who allowed it to carry on, and the anti-preterists that have refused to condemn the lies of Conley.
With these facts before us, let me summarize what we have seen in this debate.
In my affirmatives:
I demonstrated the direct connection between Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 2-4, Matthew 23, Luke 23:28-31, 2 Thessalonians 1, and Revelation. Each of these texts speak of the vindication of the martyrs- in Israel’s last days. Revelation 19 even echoes Deuteronomy 32:43.
I challenged Bale (Conley) to show that these texts are not related, since, if they are related, Revelation, being the anticipation of the fulfillment of the earlier texts, was the prediction of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem for her guilt of killing the OT prophets, of Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. Totally ignored– except to say that my interpretation means nothing. That is not refutation.
For Bale to falsify any of this he must demonstrate– definitively- that Israel and her blood guilt- is NOT the focus in this unbroken chain of evidence. He admitted repeatedly that he cannot do this! All he has done is ridicule all scriptural arguments! Think about that.
Rome is not in Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 2-4, Matthew 23:29f, Luke 23:28-31, Thessalonians, or Revelation.
Deuteronomy 32 predicted the vindication of the martyrs in the judgment of Israel in her last days.
Revelation is about the vindication of the martyrs in the last days, in the judgment of Babylon, the city where the Lord was crucified.
Bale’s response was to say that since none of the texts specifically mention the dating of Revelation or Babylon that they cannot be speaking of Revelation or Babylon. This exposes his hermeneutical fallacy, since to demand that any given text use certain explicit language is specious. I challenged Conley to cite any accepted book on hermeneutic that says a text must explicitly say something for a given truth to be accepted. He did not even try. He knows he can’t and that his hermeneutic is false.
I proved that Revelation says that Babylon, had killed the OT prophets. It is where the Lord was crucified. It is the city guilty of shedding the blood of Jesus’ apostles and prophets. ONLY JERUSALEM had ever done or could ever done this.
Bale argued that if he could find that a prophet had been killed in any other city this negated the argument. Clearly false. I asked him repeatedly who Jesus accused of these crimes. He refused to answer.
I proved that both Jesus and Paul identified Jerusalem as the city guilty of killing the OT prophets, Jesus and the apostles and prophets. Revelation likewise identifies Babylon as the city guilty of those crimes, proving that Babylon could be no other than Jerusalem.
Babylon in Revelation was spiritually called Sodom.
The only city in the Bible ever spiritually called Sodom was Old Covenant Jerusalem.
Therefore, Babylon in Revelation was Old Covenant Jerusalem.
I offered this:
All the blood of all the righteous, including the prophets, of Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets, would be avenged in the destruction of Jerusalem– Jesus.
All the blood of all the righteous, including the prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets, would be avenged in the destruction of Babylon– Revelation.
Therefore, Babylon was Jerusalem.
Since Revelation was written before the destruction of Babylon, that means Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem.
The arguments were ignored.
REVELATION- A BOOK OF JEWISH CHRISTIAN HOPE?
In my 1st negative I argued that the book of Revelation is a preeminently Jewish book, about the imminent fulfillment of God’s OC promises made to OC Israel. I cited scholarship in support; Bale ignored that testimony.
This is supported by the fact that in Revelation 6, the blood of the martyrs is at the base of the altar. This is Jewish Temple imagery, (not pagan) strongly suggesting Jewish culpability for shedding the blood of the martyrs. Bale tried to escape from this by saying “I never said this was a pagan altar!” Well, if Revelation is not about Israel, or the Jewish temple, but about Rome, then what altar is depicted here? It can’t- per Bale– be the Jerusalem temple altar! By eliminating THAT altar, he has in fact logically insinuated that the altar of Revelation symbolized a pagan altar! He entrapped himself- as usual.
Bale ignored my citation of scholarship. Early on, Bale ridiculed me for not citing “scholars.” But when I do, he ignored the citations or rejected them. I guess only the scholars that he cites are truly scholars.
Bale responded: “Don claims Revelation is a Jewish book… this is a Christian writing.” In his final, he doubles down on this, insisting that since John was a Christian that he could not have been writing about the imminent fulfillment of the OT promises made to Israel! This is the very epitome of bad logic.
Conley is totally out of touch with the Biblical narrative! How does the fact that Revelation is a Christian writing negate the fact that it is focused on the fulfillment of God’s OC promises made to Old Covenant Israel? All the first Christians were Jews, convinced the Jesus was the fulfillment of their OC kingdom hope.
Peter’s eschatology, (Acts 3:19-24 / 2 Peter 3:1-2, 13), Paul’s eschatology (Acts 24:14f; 26:6f, 21f), and John’s eschatology was nothing but their expectation of the imminent fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to OC Israel. Their statements cannot be construed otherwise, without perverting them.
Scholarship is virtually united in positing Isaiah 65-66 as the source of both 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21. Conley admitted THAT IT IS! He defeated his own claim that Revelation is not about the fulfillment of God’s OC promises made to OC Israel!
I documented that virtually all scholars agree that John was anticipating the resurrection and the New Creation foretold in Isaiah 25-27, 65-66, Daniel 12:2, Ezekiel 37, the book of Zechariah, etc.. These were THE OLD TESTAMENT PROMISES MADE TO OLD COVENANT ISRAEL! How did Bale respond? Ignored the entire argument.
Here is why this is so important and relevant:
The New Creation- and the resurrection prophesied by Isaiah 65-66- Ezekiel 37, Daniel 12, etc.)- is the same New Creation / resurrection anticipated by Revelation 20-22 (Conley agrees).
But the New Creation of Isaiah 65-66 / resurrection would arrive when God destroyed OC Israel (Isaiah 65:13-17 / Daniel 12:7).
Therefore, the New Creation of Isaiah 65-66 would arrive when God destroyed OC Israel.
This is confirmed by the fact that the New Creation of Revelation would come when the city “where the Lord was crucified” was destroyed.
Paul said that if ANYONE taught a different Gospel from that which he taught, he was anathema. Thus, if John’s eschatology was different from Paul’s, (undeniably from the Tanakh), then Bale is accusing John of teaching a different gospel. And he is himself teaching another Gospel. Conley engaged in a personal attack on me, but did not address the argument.
Of course, Conley does not believe that Revelation is about the imminent fulfillment of ANYTHING because he claims it is about the destruction of Rome FOUR CENTURIES REMOVED FROM JOHN’S “DO NOT SEAL THE VISION OF THIS BOOK, FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND”. Sorry, “Behold, I come quickly”; “do not seal the vision of the book, for the time is at hand,” does not equate to 400 years! Totally ignored.
I argued from Matthew 23:29f:
Fact: Jesus: Jerusalem killed the prophets.
Fact: She would also kill him (Matthew 21:33f).
Fact: She would kill Jesus’ apostles and prophets.
Fact: She was guilty of all the blood shed on the earth.
Fact: She would fill the measure of her father’s blood guilt, and be destroyed in the first century generation.
These are not disputable facts, unless you want to pervert the text. BALE NEVER ANSWERED THIS. HE CAN’T.
ONLY JERUSALEM DID OR COULD DO WHAT REVELATION SAYS “BABYLON” HAD DONE! ROME DIDN’T AND COULDN’T. Bale never answered this.
Revelation says that Babylon is “where the Lord was crucified.” Bale tells us that in actuality, ROME IS WHERE THE LORD WAS CRUCIFIED! Amazing. No, Mr. Bale, Rome was not the city “Where the Lord was crucified,” or the city spiritually called Sodom. In the Bible, Jerusalem is the only city ever spiritually designated as Sodom. Bale was so desperate to avoid these historical and scriptural facts, that he spiritualized “Where the Lord was crucified” WHICH IS THE INTERPRETATION OF THE SPIRITUAL DESIGNATION OF SODOM AND EGYPT. Being the interpretation, it is not a spiritual designation. Bale turns the interpretation of Sodom and Egypt into another symbol.
Fact: In Revelation 6:9f, the martyrs were told to rest “for a little while” for their vindication. Bale would have that to be hundreds of years! Totally ignored.
Fact: Revelation 6:12f – Their vindication would come at the Day of the Lord, when men would “run to the mountains, hide in the caves and cry “fall on us”– A DIRECT QUOTE OF ISAIAH 2:19F!
Significantly, Bale “responded” to this by claiming (again) that I overtly lied when I said that Revelation 6 is quoting Isaiah 2:19.
Well, Isaiah 2:19 (parallel Hosea 10:8)- men would run to the hills, hide in the caves and say to the rocks ‘fall on us.’
Revelation 6:16: “every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us!”
Yet we supposed to believe that Revelation is not quoting from Isaiah! Bale’s ridicule proves nothing.
FACT- Isaiah 2-4 is irrefutably a prophecy of the last days Day of the Lord when the martyrs would be vindicated by the destruction of Jerusalem.
FACT: Jesus undeniably applied Isaiah 2:19f to the coming judgment on Jerusalem for killing him- Luke 23:28-31– Virtually all scholars agree that Jesus was citing Isaiah (parallel of Hosea 10:8)- applying it to AD 70.
FACT: Paul applied the same verses from Isaiah that Jesus applied to AD 70, to the coming judgment of the Jews for persecuting the saints. Again, Bale claimed that I lied when I said Paul was citing / quoting Isaiah. He is ignorant of scholarship.
John A. T. Robinson, Jesus and His Coming, (Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1979), 107, n. 1 says that 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is “almost an exact quotation of Isaiah 2:19f.” Charles Wanamaker likewise says that v. 9 “reproduces the text of Isaiah 2:9f / 19f” (New International Greek Text Commentary, (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, Paternoster, 1990), 229). More citations could be given. Bale is denying the undeniable.
FACT- John- like Jesus and Paul- cited Isaiah to speak of the coming soon, (not centuries away) judgment on “Babylon” for killing the prophets, Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. Jesus had earlier explicitly laid the blame for killing the prophets, himself, and his apostles and prophets at the feet of Jerusalem (Matthew 23 / Luke 11:49). Not Rome – no other city – Jerusalem.
Conley says all of this is my own personal, subjective interpretation, and therefore, irrelevant. He says I lie when I say that John quoted from Isaiah. No, scholars agree that Jesus quoted from Isaiah, Paul quoted the same verses. John quoted the identical verse. Bale made no effort to prove the argument wrong. He simply ridiculed.
In my final affirmative I offered two arguments from Daniel 9:
Seventy weeks were determined to seal vision and prophecy.
Seventy weeks were determined to seal vision and prophecy.
I cited a host of scholars from across the theological spectrum in support. All he did was scoff at that scholarship.
I offered this:
Seventy Weeks were determined on Jerusalem to fulfill ALL vision and prophecy. (Daniel 9 is not about a singular specific prophecy, but vision and prophecy comprehensively considered, as scholarship confirms).
The Seventy Weeks would end no later than the destruction of Jerusalem. (In AD 70- per Jesus).
All things written would be fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:22) the city where the Lord was crucified– i.e. Babylon (Revelation 10:7 / 11:8f).
Therefore, Babylon of Revelation, the city where the Lord was crucified, was Jerusalem.
Conley deflected the power of this by telling us how controversial Daniel 9 is, therefore my argument cannot be accepted. So, per Bale, if something is highly controversial, it cannot be true!
The very existence of Jesus is “highly controversial.”
The Deity of Christ is “hotly debated.”
The inspiration of scripture is hotly debated.
The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most controversial claims in history!
The fact that something is hotly debated, highly controversial, does not mean that a person cannot know it is true. If so, we can just cast the Bible and Christianity aside.
The parable of the Vineyard and Wicked Husbandmen is an echo of Daniel 9- “to finish the transgression.”
Israel was the Vineyard of the Lord (Isaiah 5). This is not a subjective interpretation.
We have the time of the harvest of the vineyard.
We have the persecution of the saints and the Son- filling up the measure of sin.
We have the destruction of the persecutors AT THE COMING OF THE LORD.
Like Daniel all of it relates to Israel as the persecutor and the prediction (s) of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Nothing about Domitian or Rome here!
I asked Conley, does Matthew 21:33f predict the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem for persecuting the saints? No answer.
Notice now Revelation 14:
V. 6-8 – The announcement of the Judgment of Babylon (the city where the Lord was crucified) had come; her judgment was at hand.
This is the Father, who knew the Day and the Hour of the end, declaring that the hour had come. The destruction of Rome 450 years later violates the language of “at hand” and, “has come.”
V. 18f- Another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried…, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” This is the same altar where the martyrs were- once again pointing us to a “Jewish” context.
Unless Bale can prove- definitively – that John is using the imagery of the Vine / vineyard in a way divorced from its OT source, this effectively proves that Revelation 14 is parallel with Matthew 21 in predicting the coming, imminent destruction of Jerusalem. That proves that Revelation was written before AD 70. Totally ignored.
The NT is clear that the time of the harvest had come. It was announced by John the Baptizer (Matthew 3:7-12), and by Jesus (John 4:35). It was to occur at the end of the age, in fulfillment of Daniel 12:3-7, which is explicitly posited for the time when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered (Daniel 12:3–>Matthew 13:43). Paul said that the end of the ages had come (1 Corinthians 10:11). Conley totally ignored this.
I asked Conley / Bale:
Is the vineyard in Matthew 21 different from Revelation 14? Ignored.
Is the time of the harvest in Matthew 21 different from the harvest in Revelation 14? Ignored.
Is the coming of the Lord to destroy the persecutors in Matthew 21 a different coming of the Lord to judge the persecutors from that in Revelation 14? Ignored.
Matthew 22 and the Wedding
Matthew 22– A king made a Wedding Feast for his Son.
I asked – to whom was the promise of the Wedding given? The Tanakh is definitive: It was Israel, Hosea 2:19f– ‘I will betroth you to me again…” Isaiah 62: “You shall no longer be forsaken…. you shall be called Beulah” (married). IGNORED.
Note: The wedding of Isaiah 62 would be at the coming of the Lord in judgment (v. 10-12). This is quoted directly by Jesus in Matthew 16:27, and emphatically said to take place in the first century generation – v. 28.
In Revelation 22:12, Jesus reiterated Matthew 16:27, (and Isaiah 62) saying, “Behold I come quickly.” Thus, the Wedding– of Revelation– was to occur in the lifetime of the first century generation.
Matthew 22- and Revelation – is about God fulfilling His promise to “re-marry” Israel. It has nothing to do with Rome, WHO WAS NEVER MARRIED (AND NEVER DIVORCED) TO YHVH. IGNORED.
The servants sent to invite the guests were persecuted and slain.
This is the message found in Matthew 23:34– “I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city.”
v. 7: “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
In Revelation, the Harlot, persecuting city, is burned with fire (Revelation 17:10f).
At the destruction of the persecuting city, the Wedding took place (19:6-8).
I asked: In Matthew 21 what city persecuted the saints, and as a result, the “King” sent out His armies and burned that city? If this was not Jerusalem, what city was it? IGNORED.
I asked: Is the persecuting city of Matthew 22 the persecuting city of Revelation? IGNORED.
In Revelation we find that- just as in Matthew 22– the Wedding takes place at the destruction of a city, i.e. Babylon.
19:5f – I heard a loud voice … in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! …. because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” And I heard, … a great multitude… saying,…Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
This Babylon was the city that killed the prophets (16:6). She is “where the Lord was crucified” (11:8). She killed the apostles and prophets of Jesus (18:20-24).
Her destruction is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32:43 the prophecy of Israel’s last days. It is not about Rome. – as proven in my 2nd Affirmative. IGNORED BY BALE.
Babylon was THE GREAT HARLOT. In the Tanakh- the source of Revelation- the word “harlot” is used to speak of A WIFE THAT HAS VIOLATED THE MARRIAGE COVENANT:
“In the OT, almost all of the occurrences of the prostitution metaphor (86 / 91) apply to the people of the Covenant (Israel, Judah or Jerusalem).” (Sebastian R Smolarz, Covenant and the Metaphor of Divine Marriage in Biblical Thought, (Eugene, Ore., Wipf and Stock,2011), 8f). IGNORED.
Jesus called Jerusalem an “adulterous generation” three times (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38). What other city than Jerusalem was an adulterous wife, Mr. Bale? IGNORED.
YHVH was NEVER MARRIED TO ROME. Rome could not be an adulterous, (harlot) wife. Only Old Covenant Jerusalem was EVER married to the Lord, divorced and given the promise of being re-married. IGNORED.
Mr. Bale, If Babylon is Rome, when was YHVH EVER married to her? Did the Lord marry a pagan city and call her “the new Jerusalem”? IGNORED.
Mr. Bale, is the Wedding of Matthew 22 different from the Wedding in Revelation? IGNORED.
Is the persecuting city in Matthew 22 different from the persecuting city– the city that killed the prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets- in Revelation? If so, PROVE IT! IGNORED.
The persecuting city of Matthew 22, (that was to be destroyed for persecuting the servants of the Lord), was first century, Old Covenant Jerusalem.
The persecuting city of Revelation, Babylon, was about to be destroyed for persecuting the OT prophets, Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets.
Therefore, Babylon of Revelation was first century, Old Covenant Jerusalem– unless Bale can definitively prove otherwise. (He has admitted that he cannot prove this wrong!)
All we got from Bale is more vitriol, more claims that the arguments are irrelevant.
He offered us speculations from archaeology– none of which proved anything. In fact, I shared this:
Ken Laffer says: “Early attempts to use archeology to prove that certain Christian individuals were involved in the alleged persecution have, in recent times, found to be faulty and in need of correction. Improved assessments of dating techniques have effectively placed the key individuals outside the persecution time frame that could have involved Domitian.
…. It is extremely likely that Domitian was not as bad as he has been portrayed and that he did not persecute Roman Christians at any time during his troubled rule.” (The Alleged Persecution of Roman Christians by Domitian, Ken Laffer, Doctoral Thesis, Edith Cowan University, 2005; Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/639). IGNORED.
He tried to argue that John was banished, and that Nero was not known for banishing people, but killing them, in contrast to Domitian who preferred banishment. I demonstrated that this is not true, as we have record of Nero banishing many people. Thus, his supposed argument failed.
He argued that Domitian may have been referred to as “the beast that rises from the sea” inferring a connection with Revelation 13. But of course, he did not PROVE such as connection, and as I noted, earlier testimony (Apollonius- 1st century) called Nero the worst of all beasts! But Bale prefers late testimony to that of John’s contemporaries!
He called attention to Domitian’s megalomania. In my response, I noted that he did not document with even one citation, ANY PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS FOR NOT WORSHIPING HIM! He noted that Domitian persecuted Jews– but did not- COULD NOT – document that he persecuted the church!
Bale tried to counter this by claiming that in the time of Domitian, “Jew and Christians were mostly seen as two rivaling sects of Judaism versus each other rather than two distinct sects.” False. A. T. Robinson said that by the time of Domitian, the distinction between Jews and Christians was an established “certainty” and became so, “in the summer of 64. …. both Nero and Rome now clearly distinguished between the religio licita and the new sect.” (Redating, 294). Conley says even if this is true it does not prove anything. Wrong. It proves that since Domitilla and Clemens were killed for converting to Judaism, they were not persecuted as Christians. Conley is ignoring the evidence.
In regard to Domitian’s megalomania, Bale says: “We must note that the poet Statius in Silvae 1.6:83–84 does claim that Domitian rejected the titles. However, the majority consensus of historians at the time seems to suggest that Domitian did claim deity while living.”
Bale ignores key facts. He just tells us that a “poet” claims that Domitian rejected the exalted titles. That is not the whole story.
Robert Briggs points out that it was DOMITIAN’S OWN PERSONAL HISTORIANS, Statius [the poet, DKP] and Quintillian, who record how he would not allow men to deify him (Robert Briggs, Jewish Temple Imagery in the Book of Revelation, Studies in Biblical Literature, (New York, Peter Lang, 1999), 33, n. 93). Thus, it was not just “a poet” in view. IT WAS DOMITIAN’S OWN PERSONAL HISTORIANS WHO SAID HE REJECTED THE TITLES OF DEIFICATION. Bale purposefully ignored these inconvenient facts.
Conley admitted that the supposed Domitianic persecution of the church began in the last year of Domitian’s reign. This means, by his own admission, that Domitian’s “persecution” LASTED ONE YEAR- AT MOST!
That contradicts the long history of persecution found in Revelation.
Babylon (Rome per Bale) had a long bloody history of killing the OT prophets (FACT: ROME NEVER DID THIS! Period).
Rome is not where the Lord was crucified.
Even granting for argument sake that Domitian “may” have persecuted some isolated individual Christians, he still only did so for ONE YEAR– AT THE MOST! Totally ignored.
Robinson says of the proposed Domitianic persecution, that Conley admits was local and brief:
When this limited and selective purge, in which no Christian was for certain put to death, is compared with the massacre of Christians under Nero in what two early and independent witnesses speak of as ‘immense multitudes’ it is astonishing that commentators should have been led by Iranaeaus, who himself does not even mention a persecution, to prefer a Domitianic context for the book of Revelation” (Redating, 233).
Conley said none of this proves anything– but of course, it does. It proves that the widespread, long term severe persecution of Revelation cannot be the short term, limited and localized “Domitianic persecution” that Bale posits. His own words refute him!
We are to also ignore what Jesus and Paul said about Israel filling the measure of her sin, in the first century, for the killing of the OT prophets, of Jesus, and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. And we are to believe that Domitians’ ONE YEAR AT MOST had filled the measure of Rome’s guilt. Bale ignored this– completely.
Revelation says the Beast– Domitian, per Sergius– was to persecute for 3 ½ years- Revelation 13.
So, according to Revelation, the Beast, ostensibly Domitian, was to persecute the church for 3 ½ years. Yet, per Bale, Domitian did not begin persecuting the church until THE LAST YEAR OF HIS REIGN! TOTALLY IGNORED.
Bale offered us four– count them– FOUR- supposed cases of Domitianic persecution of the church. Not one of his cases can be proven to be: 1. Persecution by Domitian, 2. Persecution of Christians! And the fact that he gave us “The Acts of John” a fictive, phantasmagoric work in support of his claims proves that he knows he has no solid definitive proof for his proposition. Amazingly, he comes back defending his use of this fictve book even though scholars and even the creeds reject it.
ANTIPAS– There is no solid evidence that Antipas was killed by Domitian. The supposed “evidence” was written centuries after the fact and is “hotly debated” and rejected as spurious. He tried to escape from this by simply criticizing the scholars I cited. That is not an answer.
His appeal to the case of Domitilla and Clemens are examples, not of Christian persecution but Jewish. When I shattered this argument he said that it does not matter because all he had to do was to show that there was “potentially” a persecution! Nonsense.
Revelation is not about a “potential” persecution, but a major, widespread, on-going persecution. Yet, Conley admitted that if Domitian persecuted at all, it was localized, and short-lived. This contradicts Revelation. He gave not one keystroke of proof that Domitian did what Revelation describes. Again, his own admissions refute him.
His appeal to the descendants of Jude is specious: THEY WERE NOT EXILED OR KILLED. They were not punished in any way. They were interrogated, and released! That is NOT PERSECUTION! But, per Bale, they were Christian martyrs! Conley says this proves nothing because Domitian “could have” exiled them and not had them killed. No, that violates the record. They were not persecuted AT ALL- PERIOD!
Incredibly he gave us the “example” of Symeon of Clophas! Reader, that case took place– NOT UNDER DOMITIAN, BUT UNDER TRAJAN! Why would Bale appeal to this case of persecution to prove a Domitianic persecution of the church, when it took place well after the time of Domitian?? He tries to deflect from his error by claiming that Symeon’s persecution was just a continuation of Domitian’s persecution. That is his personal, subjective (UNPROVEN) interpretation, and does not negate my point that his death was not under Domitian.
Conley claims that he did not have to even prove that Domitian actually persecuted the church but rather that that “there was potentially persecution.” Total nonsense. REVELATION TALKS ABOUT ACTUAL PERSECUTION. We KNOW Nero did that; we do NOT know that Domitian did.
I cited Candida Moss, early church historian, WHO OMITS ANY MENTION OF PERSECUTION UNDER DOMITIAN. She also claims that the descriptions of persecution by Eusebius were in many cases fabrications for political purposes. All Bale could do is to impugn her scholarship– of which he knows nothing. She is professor Of New New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, and is a graduate of Oxford and Yale. Her speciality is early church history and Christian persecution. But I guess Conley knows more than she does.
The Roman Emperors
Revelation speaks of the emperors of Rome, and says: “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.”
According to the ancient sources closest to the first century Roman situation, (with the exception of Tacitus) they all say – definitively – that Julius was the first emperor. This included Josephus, Suetonius, Dio Cassius, The Sybylline Oracles (5:12) and 2 Esdras 12:15. They all list Julius as the first emperor. (See Robinson, Redating, 243f / also http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts/Lists%20of%20Roman%20Emperors.htm ).
Gentry adds the Epistle of Barnabas (late first century, maybe even pre-AD 70), and the testimony of the second century writer praised by Eusebius, Theophilus of Antioch, who said that the list of Roman emperors began with Julius. (Gentry, Beast, 107).
The list of emperors therefore is: #1 – Julius, #2 – Augustus, #3 – Tiberius, #4 – Caligula, #5 -Claudius–> #6 – NERO- THE ONE “WHO IS” WHEN JOHN WROTE.
This one argument DEFINITIVELY falsifies Bale’s entire debate attempt! There is no good reason whatsoever to reject this countdown, and Bale knows it. That is why he totally ignored it- not a word of response!
THE IRANAEAN CITATION
Conley confidently set forth the quote from Iranaeus claiming that only Calvinist preterists have fairly recently questioned the quote. (He now changes his claim that it is all church of Christ folks! Confusion reigns!) This is a pejorative and false claim.
Of course the key is that one of the top Iranaean scholars in the world said:
“things are not necessarily as they seem at first sight” referring to the view espoused by Bale. Behr says, “It is almost certain that the subject of the passive verb ‘was seen’ is John himself rather than the apocalytic vision.” (John Behr, The Theologian and His Paschal Gospel, Oxford University Press, 2019). 68).
Bale tries to escape the force of this with more insults claiming that Behr, “does not claim anything Preston claims.” False. Behr denies the very thing that Conley affirms: that the Iranaean quote supports Conley’s position. Conley then insults Dean Furlong– which stems from his personal encounters with Furlong on FB- in which Furlong totally devastated “Bale’s” arguments.
THE DATE OF 1 PETER AND REVELATION
Conley tried to escape the evidence from Revelation and 1 Peter by claiming that it is possible that both books are false productions, written by false authors years after the time of the apostles. (He admits the possibility of amenuensis / secretaries, doing the actual writing. BUT THAT DEMANDS THAT BOTH PETER AND JOHN DID THE DICTATING– DEMANDING A PRE-AD70 AUTHORSHIP OF PETER FOR SURE!
I cited scholarship that dates 1 Peter to AD 64-65. Bale once again said that I am wrong because this is hotly debated. He just scoffed at it.
1 Peter SAYS it was written by Peter. PETER DIED BEFORE AD 70. Conley denies that Peter wrote the epistle, an overt denial of what the book says. This denial is essential for his position. I challenged Conley to tell us if he believed that THE APOSTLE PETER WROTE OR DICTATED 1 PETER? YES OR NO? In his final he said it is likely that Peter’s amenuensis penned it.
THAT STILL DEMANDS THAT PETER DICTATED THE EPISTLE BEFORE HIS DEATH! AND THAT DEFINITIVELY DATES 1 PETER BEFORE AD 70.
Ponder the fact that HIS ENTIRE POSITION HINGES ON PROVING THAT 1 PETER IS A FALSE PRODUCTION BY A PRETENDER! But at the very least, it was written by Stephanus, Peter’s secretary- which, again demands that Peter dictated the epistle before AD 70– falsifying Bale’s claims.
Bale wrote 250 words telling us that Revelation may have also been an ex eventu fabrication– not written by John. Now, he tells us that Peter probably did not write 1 Peter! Conley seems to have no problem believing that Peter (and Revelation) are fabrications- FALSE books!
Conley MUST deny any relationship between 1 Peter and Revelation. Let me repeat my argument– which he tried to dismiss by his appeal to the fictive nature of 1 Peter:
1 Peter was written to the saints in Asia (1 Peter 1:1f); as was Revelation.
The saints were being persecuted (1 Peter 1:5f; 4:11-12), as in Revelation.
Their persecution, was “filling up the measure of suffering / sin (1 Peter 5:10- epiteleo). This is directly parallel to Revelation 6:9-11 / 17:6f. It is likewise in perfect harmony with Jesus and Paul who said (Matthew 23 –>1 Thessalonians 2:15-16) that it was Israel that would fill up of the measure of sin through persecution in the first century. Bale says these connections can be dismissed because they don’t mention the dating of Revelation. That is total smoke- and false.
If the filling up of the measure of sin – by Israel- in Matthew 23 and 1 Thessalonians 2 is the same as in Revelation, (and it is since Babylon was the city guilty of killing the Lord) – then since both Matthew 23 and Thessalonians are dealing with first century, Old Covenant Israel prior to AD 70– not Rome- that proves that Revelation was written prior to AD 70.
Peter promised the saints they would only have to endure persecution for a short time (1 Peter 1:5f 4:5, 7, 17), just as the Spirit told the Revelation martyrs that their vindication would be “in a little while” (Revelation 6:9f).
In Revelation 3:10 Jesus promised the Philadelphia saints: “I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” The persecution was literally “about to come” (mellouses– from mello in the infinitive). The Blass-DeBrunner Greek Grammar says: “mellein with the infinitive expresses imminence” (Blass-DeBrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1961), 181).
So, we have an already present Asian persecution, but we have a “fiery trial” of persecution that was “ABOUT TO COME.” Then, in an epistle written in AD 65– well before Domitian- we find Peter saying: “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial THAT IS AMONG YOU.” The Greek of the text is “The fiery trial that is (present tense) among you (en humin).” It is not a future tense.
John, writing to the Asian saints said a time of trial (persecution) was about to come. Peter, writing to the Asian saints, said the fiery trial WAS AMONG THEM. They were not to think that trial strange. WHY? The logical answer is that John in Revelation had told them it was about to come, AND NOW IT WAS AMONG THEM! Revelation was clearly written before Peter.
Bale must prove that Revelation and 1 Peter are speaking of two totally different Asian persecutions, both of which were present but about to imminently get worse, and, both of which were to consummately fill the measure of sin and suffering! And relief from both persecutions would be at the coming soon parousia of Christ– “Behold, I come quickly.” He totally ignored this- naturally.
If Peter wrote 1 Peter, (he did) then since he was writing to the same people as John, about the same issue, persecution of the saints, and made the same promises as John (imminent relief at the parousia), then since John FORETOLD what Peter said was then present, this demands that Revelation- was written before AD 70.
Unbelievably, Conley says all of this is irrelevant to our discussion! Wrong. It is critical.
No less than three times, Conley claims that my use of his comments on FB were “irrelevant” and a violation of the rules of the debate. He did not document that, because he can’t. The rules say NOTHING ABOUT USE OF COMMENTS MADE OUTSIDE THE DEBATE. That is a blatant falsehood. Anyone that knows anything about debating– which he clearly does not– knows that anything a disputant has said or written outside the debate can and will be used against them! He never documented a single violation of the rules by me. Just empty false claims.
Finally, look again at my argument (among many) that Bale totally ignored– for good reason.
Revelation is about the imminent- to John- judgment of Babylon.
Babylon is “where the Lord was crucified”- (Revelation 11:8).
Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem– NOT ROME.
Therefore, Babylon of Revelation was Jerusalem.
This debate is now over. I strongly believe that any honest, objective reader knows that Bale / Conley has utterly failed in his attempt to prove a late date for the writing of Revelation. Just think about it: Conley told us repeatedly that he did not have any definitive or conclusive evidence and yet, he claims that he has proven that the late date is probable. How in the name of reason and logic can you prove ANYTHING by not offering conclusive, definitive evidence?
The debate has exposed Bale / Conley as a willful liar and his supporters as those who willfully condoned his sin.
If you want to look deeper into the massive, powerful evidence for the early dating of Revelation, see my groundbreaking book: Who Is This Babylon?
Source: Don K. Preston