Theologians from a number of traditions point out that the Book of Revelation was included late in the Biblical canon, because of lingering questions regarding its usefulness to the Christian faith, which many early teachers thought should be single-mindedly preoccupied with what is most transparently understood concerning salvation. The book is not included in the liturgical readings of most traditions. Nevertheless, a great number of Christians consider the effort to understand the Book of Revelation and other prophecies to be one of the most important issues, if not the chief objective, of their Christian faith.
The Book of Revelation was written sometime around 96 CE in Asia Minor. The author was probably a Christian from Ephesus known as "John the Elder." From tradition we know that the Seer the Apocalypse was John the Apostle the son of Zebedee, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus. Some scholars put forward that these works were all by at least three different "Johns" -- one who wrote the Gospel and probably 1 John (traditionally the apostle himself), a second who wrote 2 & 3 John (whose real name is not given), and the third, the author of Revelation (traditionally known as John the Elder).
According to the Book, John was on the island of Patmos, not far from the coast of Asia Minor, "because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 1.10). This has traditionally been taken to mean that he had been exiled there as a martyr for his Christian faith.
It is now thought that this arose in Ephesus after the year 89 CE when Domitian instituted a new imperial cult sanctuary dedicated to his family, the Flavian dynasty. It had included his father, Vespasian, who as Roman general led the war against the Jews from 66-69. When the Emperor Nero was killed, Vespasian was summoned from Judea to Rome to become the new Emperor. Vespasian then appointed his elder son, Titus, as the commander of the legions in Judea. It was Titus who led the seige and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. When Vespasian died in 79 CE, Titus became the next Emperor. Titus, however, died just two years later in 81, and this left the empire to Vespasian's younger son, Domitian. Domitian was known as a strong-willed emperor who tolerated no disagreement with his policies. Nonetheless, there is no clear indication that he consciously tried to persecute Christians for their faith.
The traditional view of Revelation, and of apocalyptic literature in general, is that it grew out of circumstances of persecution. So, Revelation is often compared to Daniel in this regard, since Daniel was supposed to have been written in direct response to the oppressive anti-Jewish measures of the Seleucid monarch, Antiochus Epiphanes IV, at the time of the Maccabean Revolt (167-164 BCE).
Because of intricate and unusual symbolic language, the Book of Revelation is hard for modern people to read. It was written for people who already knew something of the situation and of the symbols that were used to portray it.