The Cambridge "Greats" Behind the Neronic Date
Henry Barclay Swete vs. the Big Three
Notwithstanding the external and internal evidence which supports the Domitianic date, the great Cambridge theologians of the last century were unanimous in regarding the Apocalypse as a work of the reign of Nero." Henry Barclay Swete.
Henry Barclay Swete (1835-1917) was Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. He was considered to be an authority on the dating of the Apocalypse.
The great Cambridge theologians Swete refers to above are the familiar trio Lightfoot, Hort and Westcott. These men were very influential in the generation before him at Cambridge and he knew knew them well.
In 1911 he published a special edition of his classic Commentary on the Apocalypse to refute Dr. Hort on the date of the Apocalypse. Swete acknowledges the weight of the "threefold cord of scholarly opinion" of these men but makes three interesting observations:
- They had not done any serious work on the subject.
- They did not challenge the testimony of the early fathers.
- Their arguments on "internal evidence" were not substantiative.
Known for his modesty, Swete nevertheless took a bold stand for the Domitian dating while downplaying the "authority" of his Cambridge predecessors.
Swete, Henry Barclay, Commentary on the Apocalypse, Macmillan, London, 1911, 3rd ed., pp 99-110.