The Nero Redivivus Suggests that Revelation was Written before A.D. 68.

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    danielmorais
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    The Nero Redivius legend is the Roman belief that despite rumors of his suicide, Nero would soon return to reclaim the throne. Why would such an odd belief emerge throughout the Roman Empire? When was any other emperor expected to return after a public funeral? How and why did such a legend emerge? I believe the fact that Revelation had already been written and was widely circulated prior to Nero’s death in A.D. 68 explains the emergence of this atypical and surprising expectation. In light of public knowledge of Nero’s many vices, and blasphemous character, it would not be surprising if many Christians expecting Christ to return in their lifetime would have seen Nero as the beast in John’s apocalypse especially in light of the fact that his name is encoded in the 666 cryptogram. Further confirming in their minds Nero’s identity as the beast often mentioned in Revelation, Nero died after having stabbed himself in the throat seemingly mirroring Revelation 13:3 which mentions one of the heads of the beast having a fatal wound: “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.” When Nero then also died in a way suggested in Revelation 13:3 it would not be surprising if many Christians believed and spread their belief that Nero would recover from his wound or resurrect from the dead and reclaim the crown since this fact is strongly suggested in the remainder of Revelation 13:3 when it says that “the fatal wound had been healed.” This fact in conjunction with the scattered references to the beast rising out of the Abyss, the underworld of the dead, (Revelation 9:11; 17:8) would have further nourished the idea that Nero would soon return. Thus the bizarre expectation of the return of Nero after his suicide is, I believe, compelling evidence suggesting that Revelation was written and widely circulated prior to Nero’s death in A.D. 68.

    But is there any historical evidence that early Christians believed that Nero was the beast?  Yes.  This belief is suggested in the Ascension of Isaiah, a Pseudepighrapical Christian work written sometime in the first to third century A.D.  In the Ascension of Isaiah 4:2-14 Nero, “a lawless king, the slayer of his mother” and persecutor of the early church, is identified as the devil, Beliar, in the flesh and is ultimately slain by Christ at the Parousia.  In other words, Nero is identified in this early Christian document as the Antichrist or Lawless One.

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