Who is This Babylon

Formal Written Debate on the Dating of Revelation: Sergius Bale’s Final Negative

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This will be my 3rd negative in response to Preston’s 3rd and final affirmative.

Preston is supposed to be arguing that: “The Book of Revelation was definitively written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and is predictive of that event.”

Preston argues that I ignored his entire 2nd affirmative. What more can be said than that this is simply a lie? He claims that he gave arguments from Deut. 32, Isa. 2-4, Matt. 23, Lk. 23:38, 1 Thess. 2:14-16, 2 Thess. 1, Rev. 6 and 19 and claims they show “the perfect thematic and temporal correspondence that definitively demands a pre-AD 70 dating of Revelation”. Preston claims I “offered not one word of exegetical analysis”, then proceeds to produce an ad hominem that this is “unscholarly and arrogant, an overt violation of the rules”. As I noted, which you the reader can read, in my 2nd negative, Preston, unfortunately, was found to have broken many of the rules he agreed to and has done so since the question and answer part of the debate by not bothering to answer every question asked of him. It is unfortunate Mr. Preston has chosen to go down this unprofessional and unscholarly route but this debate will continue nonetheless as I agreed to.

As to the scriptures he tries to argue from, nowhere does Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 2-4, Matthew 23, Luke 23:28, 1 Thess. 2:14-16, 2 Thess. 1, nor do the texts in the Revelation itself, chapters 6 nor 19 mention the date of Revelation either to give us anything remotely definitive to make Preston’s claim that he will definitively prove Revelation was written pre-70 CE. I will remind the reader that there is a word limit to these debates, hence I will not be posting the entirety of the texts that are referenced unless absolutely necessary for the reader is fully capable of reading them for themselves to see if they, anywhere, show when the Revelation was written. One will clearly see that nowhere do any of these texts referenced does happen.

Preston will appeal to Daniel 9:24 here in his 3rd and final affirmative to prove definitively that Revelation was written pre-70 CE. While I am glad Preston decided to quote some scholars of some sort for once in this debate, the problem is none of these scholars he quotes give any information about the Revelation nor its dating with what he quotes.

He claims that Daniel’s mention of “‘Seal Vision and Prophecy’ is a prediction of the final fulfillment of all prophecy. This is the consensus of scholarly opinion…” as if this is a fact. It is begging the question as this is not all agreed upon in scholarship. Preston quotes Keil and Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament Vol. 9, p. 344: “Prophecies and prophets are sealed, when by the full realization of all prophecies prophecy ceases, no more prophets any more appear.” Keil also states that “The extinction of prophecy in consequence of its fulfillment is not, however (with Hengstenberg), to be sought in the time of the manifestation of Christ in the flesh; for then only the prophecy of the Old Covenant reached its end, and its place is occupied by the prophecy of the N.T., the fulfilling of which is still in the future and will not come to an end and terminate till the kingdom of God is perfected in glory at the termination of the present course of the world’s history, at the same time with the full conclusive fulfillment of the O.T. prophecy…[1]. With limited time, and the inability to go and fully read this commentary, I can presume these two scholars do not align with Preston in his full preterism view. They also I presume do not believe that the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem initiated the end of prophecy and the end of the Old Covenant as they clearly state here that this only happens with the full conclusive fulfillment of the O.T. prophecy.


Preston continues and quotes a commentary from Charles John Ellicott about the cessation of all prophecy. However, if you read the same commentary in the same part of Daniel, Ellicott states none of what he has said is definitive as Preston tries to make it out to be when he says in his commentary that on the seventy weeks that “Great difficulty is experienced in discovering what sort of weeks is intended. Verses 25-27 are sufficient to show that ordinary weeks cannot be meant. Possibly, also, the language…implies that ‘weeks of days’ are not intended here. On the other hand, it is remarkable that in Lev. Xxv.1-10 the word week should not have been used to signify a period of seven years if year-weeks are implied in this passage. However, it is generally assumed that we must understand the weeks to consist of years and not of days… The word ‘week’ in itself furnishes a clue to the meaning. It implies a ‘heptad’ and is not necessarily more definite than the ‘time’ mentioned in chap. Vii. 25.[2]” One can read on in this commentary where multiple times Ellicott states he is not forming a conclusive opinion on this text, something all scholars will acknowledge until something is proven unanimously to be fact. Preston tries and fails to use this commentator to present as if what Preston says is a fact when in fact it is not.


Preston continues on quoting A.C. Gaebelein. Gaebelein certainly gives his interpretation of Daniel 9 here and that is good and well but it is an interpretation and other valid interpreters would disagree with his take and Gaebelein even admits as such in this commentary when he says that if they understood the text the way he does If this had been understood the learned commentators would not have invented that misleading, blundering interpretation of the seventy weeks prophecy which is so universally taught in our day. We shall touch upon these errors in the course of our exposition[3]”.


Preston then quotes Edward J Young. I admittedly could not get access to this book and commentary so I can only go with the answer of I do not know Mr. Young’s full opinion on the topic he brings up or if he comes at Daniel 9 with proper scholarship though I assume from what I know of him via the internet that as a Reformed theologian of Westminister Theological Seminary, that he would, likely be one to readily admit multiple interpretations have their merits, strengths, and weaknesses.


Preston then quotes James Leon Wood. Strangely, upon my first search for this commentary, I found dispensationalist Thomas Ice quoting Mr. Wood to make a point about the end of time[4]. Admittedly, I am not a dispensationalist but from the looks of things, it seems Ice would be in complete opposition to Preston’s viewpoint but here they are quoting from the same theologian’s works. I obviously could not read this commentary in full due to time restraints. I also could not find access to this commentary but I did manage to find in archives Wood’s Study Guide to Daniel where he says on the 70 Weeks that the atonement was at the Cross where Christ atoned for the sins of all people. He then gives how he sees Daniel 9 to be about Christ’s atonement at the Cross and then the destruction of Jerusalem at 70 CE. He also mentions this is the case he thinks fits best, implying as all good scholars do, that there are other options one may also consider in interpretations that could be better and more valid[5]. Wood also is a dispensationalist as I also found in archives a book of his titled The Bible and Future Events where he clearly says “the clearest sign of Christ’s return is the modern state of Israel. The Scriptures teach in the last days that Jews will return to their homeland in large numbers, with a resultant reestablishment of their sovereign state.”[6] Woods even says prophecy is being fulfilled concerning Israel and began to occur in the 19th Century. Preston wants to make it out as if this scholar of dispensationalism agrees with Preston when anyone can see that would not be the case as Preston is completely opposed to it being a full preterist.


Next quoted is S. R. Driver. I’m not particularly sure why Preston quotes this bible critic and it makes one curious that Preston quotes Mr. Driver who says in p. 135 of this same commentary that of Daniel 9:24 that “The 70 years foretold by Jeremiah are to be understood as 70 weeks of years (i.e. 490 years); at the end of that period sin will be done away with, and the redemption of Israel will be complete. Jeremiah’s promises, which, while the city and nation are being made prey for Antiochus, seem a dead letter, will, with this new explanation of their meaning, receive their fulfillment; and )as vv.26, 27 shew) the time when this will take place is not now far distant.” If Preston read this commentary he knows that Driver has an entire critical commentary about how these verses in Daniel 9 is generally accepted by historians such as Ewald and Schurer as being an account of the end of Onias III and shares that he finds while not definitive that there seem to be a clear reference to Antiochus’s persecution when he profaned the sanctuary and the Maccabean Revolt fought against this ruler[7]. Driver in fact gives multiple potential ways to interpret Daniel 9 in his writing here.


Next Preston quotes J. R. Dummelow which again, I have to wonder if Mr. Preston read anything beyond what he quotes… Dummelow says on Daniel 9 that “the interpretation of this is not without difficulty on any view of the book. Its explanation of the 70 years… is, of course, an artificial one… [He says clearly] There are two main interpretations to be considered” and then gives them, even giving reference potentially to Onias III just as we just saw scholar Driver[8] do confirm these scholarly men gave their opinions and also gave other positions and discussed the pros and cons of each viewpoint, something Preston seems to conveniently omit and overlook in this debate.


I have to wonder if Preston didn’t read these men and simply quote-mined them to try and make it appear that they all validate his assumptions. Preston closes this list of scholars he references by then referencing himself and saying that he cites 20 scholars in his book and could have cited many more who all verify the interpretation he assumes. Perhaps he should have cited them then… Maybe they could have aided his affirmative which still has yet to actually be proven and, at least for this debate will not be since Preston never made any argument that proves definitively that the text Revelation is written before 70 CE.


Having read the majority of these scholars and just doing some very basic searches on them to some degree I can safely assume those scholars listed are not in agreement with Preston on everything, share there to be multiple opinions and methods of interpretation that are all just as valid to take as positions. It seems they don’t even agree with Preston half the time. None of these people besides Preston are full preterists. Nothing any of these men claim about Daniel 9 share anything definitive about the dating of Revelation nor do they share anything that has to do with the Revelation.


I’d also add that the text Daniel 9 as well does not speak one word about the Revelation nor when the Revelation was written. Even if we make the assumption Preston was correct about his interpretation of Daniel 9, none of this gives any conclusive nor concrete examples of Revelation being written before 70 CE? Therefore, all we have had so far is a very long plethora of quotes that prove nothing except Preston holds an interpretation of Daniel 9. He has not shown us anything of substance that will confirm or give us a concrete example to show definitively that Revelation was written before 70 CE.


Don begs the question and claims it is a fact that “the vision of Daniel 9 does not extend beyond the destruction of the ‘city and the sanctuary’ at the time of the Abomination of Desolation” and claims it is a fact that “Jesus emphatically posited this for HIS generation (Matthew 24:15-34)”. Preston claims it to be a fact that “Jesus said that in the destruction of Jerusalem, ‘all things written must be fulfilled (Luke 21:22), claims that “Revelation 10:7 says that in the sounding of the 7th (the last) trumpet, the mystery of God foretold by the prophets would be fulfilled”, and claims that “At the sounding of the 7th trumpet, the city, ‘Where the Lord was crucified’ was to be (future, yet imminent to John) destroyed (Revelation 11:8-15f)”.


These are obviously hotly debated in terms of interpretation and are simply that, interpretations. None of these are established facts. Preston can claim something is a fact but that does not make it necessarily true. “Because I said so” is nothing more than a fallacy called proof of assertion and that unfortunately seems to have been most of Preston’s entire modus operandi this entire debate to just assert something is true because he wants to believe it is true. It obviously doesn’t fly in the field of anything in the field of academia or scholarship. Many scholars do not accept Preston’s interpretations of any of the texts he references and can lay their claims that they are just as valid. Furthermore, none of the passages Preston quotes tell us what year Revelation was written. The texts he quotes and references in Revelation 10-11 do not need to be written before 70 CE for them to be accurate nor inspired by God if we will argue that the text is from God and inspired. These are all merely assumptions Preston makes as a full preterist. The canon and prophecy also do not have to cease just because Preston is a cessationist. Many do not buy into that interpretation of Scripture and can be said to be just as valid in their interpretations of what they claim to be inspired scripture. Many scholars in fact interpret from a later date perspective these chapters and verses referenced and will argue their interpretations are just as valid as Preston claims he is. From the scholarly perspective, Preston’s claims will just not stand up to scrutiny in definitively proving Revelation was written on a date that is pre-70 CE. One should also note that by 80 CE, Jerusalem, though without a temple, did reform the Great Sanhedrin and did begin to rebuild Jerusalem. Jerusalem it is established fact in history and archaeology did not cease to exist until 136 CE when Jerusalem would be flattened after the Bar Kochba Revolt and be renamed Aelia Capitolina. Rome would even erect a statue to the pagan god Jupiter/Zeus for a time where the Temple once stood. It would take until the 7th Century that any Jew would be able to enter the city again except on the day of Tisha B’Av.

Preston gives an ad hominem and completely unprofessional dialogue for anyone claiming to be a scholar where he says he suspects that he will get nothing more than “‘this is just Preston’s subjective opinion’ or, ‘this says nothing about when Revelation was written’, or some other obfuscatory verbiage, but no actual response. Mr. Bale has no probative answer.” Perhaps Preston can show us then where it says DEFINITIVELY (caps for emphasis) in Daniel 9 where the Revelation was written before 70 CE. Clearly, he won’t be able to give an answer for that.

I find it humorous Preston quotes Eusebius here since Eusebius clearly agrees with fellow patristics that Revelation was written after 70 CE in the reign of Domitian but I digress. Eusebius interpreting Daniel 9’s seventy weeks to have ended in 70 CE does not mean all prophecy has been fulfilled. Neither does it mean the Revelation was written before 70 CE. Eusebius even claims the Revelation wasn’t written before 70 CE but after. Humorously, Preston announces Rashi and Saadia Gaon and Levi ben Gershon all agree with each other and that he got this information from someone named Reuvan Brauner who claims to be a world-class Hebrew scholar from Israel and doesn’t share what any of these people think, believe, or say about anything. I have yet also to find any scholarly work or dissertation or anything for that matter to show this Mr. Brauner is who Don claims he is. To be charitable, perhaps he is a scholar but as for the rest of this sentence, with charity, perhaps this is just all typo from Don?

As I noted in the first and second negative in response to Preston’s first and second affirmatives, Jerusalem did not kill all prophets. Jews and Rome killed many of the New Testament prophets and took part in these killings. Therefore, while Preston can claim Babylon is Jerusalem as fact all he wishes, it does not make it definitive nor necessarily a true statement. It is nothing more than him begging the question. He can claim I have not touched his arguments but in fact, I have and I have kept to the actual debate premise we both agreed to, to which Preston has given nothing to assist his affirmative stance beside his interpretation. He quotes as fact that Matthew 21 “is an echo of Daniel 9” and begs the question. An interpretation one makes does not make it a fact. Matthew 21 does not give us a definitive date of Revelation. Whether Israel is the Vineyard of the Lord, Isaiah 5 does not give us a definitive date of Revelation.

Preston claims “We have the destruction of the persecutors AT THE COMING OF THE LORD.” As a matter of fact, Rome also persecuted the Christians and Early Church before 70 CE and they were not destroyed in 70 CE. During the destruction of Jerusalem, not every single Jew died either nor were they all destroyed. This is a HISTORICAL FACT (caps on emphasis) as Jews and Romans exist and continued to exist after 70 CE. I will also note Jews still exist as well. If as Preston claims the 2nd Coming happened at the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus the Messiah didn’t destroy all the persecutors. He left Jews and Romans especially standing after 70 CE. Historical facts disprove Preston’s claim.

Preston begins to try asking me questions now. Whether Matthew 21 was about 70 CE’s destruction of Jerusalem or not, it does not share with us any definitive account of the book of Revelation and its date. Nothing in Revelation 14 gives us a date of Revelation. Preston makes a false dichotomy claiming that “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”.

First, proving or disproving John’s imagery of the Vine/vineyard doesn’t make sense since it is Matthew using this quote. Second, Revelation’s dating is not dependent on proving or disproving definitively the imagery of the Vine/vineyard. Third, Revelation 14 nowhere quotes Matthew 21. As a matter of fact, while Revelation makes allusions to them, Revelation does not actually quote a single Old Testament nor New Testament work or book.

“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).”

Is Preston trying to claim the 2nd Coming happened when John the Baptist announced it? During Jesus’ first coming and incarnation? Paul when he states the end of the ages had come? Certainly not, these are obviously about Jesus’ in His first coming and His Incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Either way, nothing here gives us any information about Revelation being written before 70 CE. Of note, Matthew 13 doesn’t quote Daniel 12. Matthew 13 quotes Isaiah 6 and Psalm 77 (LXX).

Preston tries to force some questions to be answered by me. Nothing he asks of me to answer is relevant to this debate and is nothing more than an attempt to rabbit trail this debate down something other than the accepted premise which is over the dating of Revelation: pre or post 70 CE.

It is safe to dismiss these questions but I will note that Matthew 21, Rev 14, Matthew 22, Matthew 23, Hosea 2, Isaiah 62, Matthew 16, Revelation 22, Revelation 19, Revelation 11, Matthew 12, 16; Mark 8;

Preston is also trying for a tactic where the debater bombards the opponent with questions – a gish gallop fallacy. It is safe to say Brandolini’s Law also applies here.

Preston next proceeds to unprofessionally mention conversations made on Facebook to others and not what I have written in this debate. Ad hominem arguments abound here again and Don does as he did in his second affirmative and breaks the rules of the debate he agreed to. This violates the agreement in the debate where “no arguments or materials shall be altered by additions, deletions, or any other alterations in any way”. I would again ask Preston to be professional but this has fallen on deaf ears as he, yet again, breaks the rules of the debate agreed upon here in his 3rd affirmative.

Preston claims a false dichotomy and a non-sequitur here that “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!)” Then he claims he “offered the following in my affirmatives and on FB repeatedly. I have challenged Bale to answer it. He has not typed one word of response. He has no answer”. I do not need to answer Preston’s questions on Facebook. They are not part of the debate we agreed upon. Preston needs to stop acting unprofessional and unscholarly here. He would have already been dismissed in any academic debate setting due to his actions and violations of agreed-upon rules.


Preston continues claiming what he says is to be counted as a definitive fact. This is begging the question and simply a fallacious way of arguing. I was going to say this is an appeal to authority but this is more of an appeal to himself as an authority and begging the question. He simply continues giving his interpretation as if it is authoritative and a definitive truth when it is not; an argument of authority. Divine fallacy abounds here.


Preston proceeds to bring up a FB discussion yet again. This is not pertinent to the debate and violates the rules of the debate yet again. Quite simply, Preston cannot seem to stop violating the very rules we agreed upon and continues to act and engage in this debate in an unscholarly and unprofessional manner. Preston is supposed to answer the dating of Revelation is definitively written before 70 CE. Instead, he resorts to making an argument about me being a Trinitarian. I haven’t answered these questions because they are irrelevant to the debate. Me being a Trinitarian does not determine the date of Revelation. Preston should stick to the topic of debate instead of trying to straw man and push red herrings and make ad hominem arguments.


“The rules of this debate state that the negative is to follow and answer, to the best of ability, the affirmative arguments. Everyone that has read Mr. Bale’s “negatives” knows he has failed, completely, to follow my arguments and to answer them.”

Don tries to argue that he can demand irrelevant questions to be answered here. I only need to answer questions that are relevant to the debate. The same is true of Preston. If I ask for example: “Is Don Preston a Jehovah’s Witness?” or “is Don Preston accepting of polygamy?” or “does Don share a ministry with William Bell who is openly teaching polygamy is acceptable?” Mr. Preston does not have to answer a single one of these questions as none of them are relevant to the dating of Revelation. Whether he is or isn’t, or agrees or disagrees with those things is irrelevant to the debate. It would also be spreading the offense fallacy.

“The contrast between Bale and myself is glaring and revealing. He refused to offer a word of exegesis in response to my exegesis of numerous Biblical texts, saying he did not do so because of “word count” restrictions. Yet, he wasted over 250 words telling us that some scholars claim Revelation was a post eventu production from someone falsely claiming to be John. When cornered on that, he said he did not believe what he shared”. I have already explained in my second negative in response to Preston’s second affirmative why I used that example. Don is trying the ergo decedo fallacy, non sequitur again, red herring, and I am sure a logician could find more fallacies here.

“He has complained that I have not given any ‘historical arguments.’ Well, I consider the inspired Word of God to be of more value and more authoritative than any uninspired, highly debatable writings, some written hundreds of years after the fact. Mr. Bale is free to cite them all he wants.” I have not complained (ad hominem there) about Preston giving no historical arguments. It is a fact that nowhere in his first nor second affirmative does he give any historical arguments. Preston then argues a divine fallacy that he considers “the inspired Word of God to be of more value and more authoritative than any uninspired, highly debatable writings, some written hundreds of years after the fact. Mr. Bale is free to cite them all he wants.” One should readily ask this. Why did Don bother to quote all those biblical scholars if they are all uninspired and full of highly debatable writings and are all written hundreds of years after the texts were written? Calling the kettle black much? Secondly, Don claims this “inspired Word of God” is more valuable and more authoritative… this begs the question… what does Don claim the “inspired Word of God” is? Never is that defined. Mormons for example will say they believe Jaredites existed in the Americas but if one brings up archaeology with them and shows there is no case for this being true, they can claim a divine fallacy too by Preston’s failed logic here. Again, this is not how scholarship or academia works. Preston commits a divine fallacy claiming that something is true because he wants it to be just like a Mormon debating historical truths. All Preston apparently has are his interpretations of what he believes and nothing remotely close to definitive nor substantial beyond that to prove that Revelation was written before 70 CE.

Don claims that “For those who value the Word of God as I do, the fact that Mr. Bale has totally ignored every Biblical argument, every syllogism I have offered is more than revealing. Scoffing at my arguments is not refutation. Calling them my “subjective opinions” does not prove them wrong. Insulting me has no polemic value, and simply reveals his desperation”.

This is a no true Scotsman fallacy being done here trying to make it out that I do not value the Bible. He attempts an appeal to the bandwagon as well here and blatantly lies when he claims that I have ignored every Biblical argument he has made. As a matter of fact, I have dealt with each and every piece that he has brought up and every single time, Don has not proven definitively that Revelation was written before 70 CE. I would also note that none of his arguments would work even from a Christian apologetics standpoint. They certainly would not work at all if he were debating a non-Christian who doesn’t care about his opinion about what books he thinks come from God or not over this. Clearly, it doesn’t work with one who identifies as a Christian either but I digress. Preston next charges me with ad hominem by sharing the fact that he has given nothing as of yet except for his subjective opinions. Then he pulls his own ad hominem by calling me a person who insults him and is desperate. Don has proven throughout this debate that he is unwilling to be professional about this debate.

“What I have offered is but a fraction of the evidence that DEFINITIVELY proves that the book of Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and was predictive of that event”.  Perhaps he should have brought those arguments up then if they are so good? Alas, he has not and this is nothing more than a nonsensical statement. Preston has given us no proof beyond his subjective opinion that Revelation is written before 70 CE. He has repeatedly broken the rules of the debate multiple times and acted in an unscholarly and unprofessional manner.


In conclusion, as has been shown above in this final negative against Preston, he has simply done more or less the same as before. He has given nothing to definitively prove that the Revelation of St. John was written before 70 CE except proof of assertion for the most part and then a plethora of needless logical fallacies, ad hominem, no true Scotsman fallacies, and more as shown above.

[1] Keil and Delitzch’s Commentary on the Old Testament. Volume 9. 344-345.

[2] Charles John Ellicott, Commentary on the Whole Bible. Cassell and Co. London. 1884. 387.

[3] A.C. Gaebelein. The Annotated Bible. Daniel Commentary. 54. http://www.swartzentrover.com/cotor/E-Books/christ/Gaebelein/Daniel/The%20Prophet%20Daniel.pdf

[4] Thomas, Ice. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=pretrib_arch

[5] James L Wood. Study Guide to Daniel. 115-120. Lamplighter Books. Zondervan. 1975.

[6] James L Wood. The Bible and Future Events. 18-19.

[7] S. R. Driver, The Book of Daniel, (Cambridge University Press Warehouse, 1905), 140-142

[8] J. R. Dummelow. A Commentary on the Holy Bible. New York; McMillan Co. 1923. 539-541.