August 11, 2017 at 4:09 am #9259
The Muratorian Fragment is a list of the books of the New Testament dating to the second century A.D. Though copied during the seventh century, the original manuscript was likely written around A.D. 170 as the author mentions the episcopate of Pius I of Rome who died in A.D. 157 as recent. According to the Muratorian Fragment Paul is said to follow the example of his predecessor John by writing to seven churches. The fact that Paul is said to follow John’s example by writing to seven churches as John does at the beginning of Revelation implies, of course, that Revelation was written at least before the last of Paul’s seven letters. According to the Muratorian Fragment the last of Paul’s seven letters is his letter to the Romans which modern scholars date sometime around A.D. 57, a few years after the start of Nero’s reign in A.D. 54:
It is necessary (47) for us to discuss these one by one, since the blessed (48) apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor (49-50) John, writes by name to only seven churches in the following sequence: To the Corinthians (51) first, to the Ephesians second, to the Philippians third, (52) to the Colossians fourth, to the Galatians fifth, (53) to the Thessalonians sixth, to the Romans (54-5) seventh. It is true that he writes once more to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians for the sake of admonition, (56-7) yet it is clearly recognizable that there is one Church spread throughout the whole extent of the earth. For John also in the (58) Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, (59-60) nevertheless speaks to all. [Paul also wrote] out of affection and love one to Philemon, one to Titus, and two to Timothy; and these are held sacred (62-3) in the esteem of the Church catholic for the regulation of ecclesiastical discipline [emphasis mine].
In the excerpt above, we can see evidence of an early Christian belief that Revelation was written long before Domitian’s reign. (The above information was graciously provided by PB Cook.)