Re: Rev 6.6 and edict of Domitian

From: Otto Nordgreen (
Date: Mon Sep 30 1996 - 12:12:25 EDT

Dear Juan,

You wrote:

>I'm working on an exegetical commentary of REV (in Spanish) and need some
>help, if possible, on an alleged historical allusion in Rev 6.6d: "do not
>damage (MH ADIKHSEiS; Spanish usually translates "do not destroy") the oil
>and the wine". Many commentators have seen here an echo of an edict by
>Domitian in the year 92, which according to my Spanish sources read
>something like "do not plant more vineyards in Italy, and destroy half or
>more" of the vineyards in the provinces each year. (RH Charles translates
>it somewhat differently but does not give the original Greek).
>The basic source is Suetonius DOMITIAN 7.2.15 (and an oblique reference in
>14.2; also mentioned in Euseb CHRON 92 AD; Philostratus VA 6.42 & VS
>1.21..520; Statius SILV 4.3.11s; 4.2.34ss).
>Can anyone shed light on whether the author could be referring to this
>edict (for the wine; he would have added oil, from his own knowledge of
>imperial economy).

I have been working with the Apocalypse for quite some time now, and last
year I wrote a paper [for my history class] entitled _Between History and
'Supra-History': The Roman Empire in the Book of Revelation_). Now I am
working with questions regarding the date of the text, and the true
identity/identities of 'Babylon the Great' (Rev 17). So, I have been working
with some problems that are related to yours. I will try to help you!

To your first question:

(1) I think it's a question about when you believe John the Seer wrote the
Apocalypse. If you think, as I do, that the whole text was composed sometime
during the reign of Domitian, let say towards the end of his reign, viz. ca
year 94/95 CE., such an 'allusion' or such a reference would be quite possible.

(2) However, as pointed out by e.g. J. Christian Wilson, it seems (at least
to me) that we still cannot exclude the possibility that John wrote much
earlier, viz. during or just after the reign of Nero. If this is the case,
John would hardly have been thinking about some edict related to Domitian.
The same goes for those who want to date the Apocalypse to the reign of
Vespasian (e.g. S. Giet).

As to your second question:

(3) Yes, it seems (at least to me) that the author, John, of the Apocalypse
had a great interest in the, and knowledge about, the imperial economy - cf.
Rev 18!

You will probably find some very interesting information in the book
_Imperial Cult and Commerce in John's Apocalypse_ (= JSNT Supplement Series
132 [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996]) by J. Nelson Kraybill.
Kraybill's main focus is on Rev 18.

>Could anyone do me the immense favo of finding the Greek text for
>Suetonius DOM 7.2.15? I would especially like to know what verb is used
>for "destroy" ("damage") for the vineyards in provinces. Many thanks, and
>thanks to all the contributors of B-GREEK.

I'll try!

Question for you: What are you writing about (thesis, etc....)? Sounds very
interesting to me!!

        - Otto

         Otto Nordgreen
         Department of Germanic Studies,
         University of Oslo, Norway

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:53 EDT