You are hereGetting Daniel Past the Second Century B.C.: Prologue to Daniel 7-12

Getting Daniel Past the Second Century B.C.: Prologue to Daniel 7-12

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By Islamaphobe - Posted on 08 February 2009

by John Evans
For over a century now, the view has prevailed in “mainstream academia” that the “end-time” prophecies of Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, and 11-12 were all designed so as to point to fulfillment in the second century BC in the time of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, who died ca. 164 BC. Among the many “liberal” mainstream scholars who hold skeptical views about biblical prophecy, it has commonly been assumed that the figure of a Daniel the Prophet who supposedly lived in sixth-century BC is a literary fiction and that even if much of the first half of the Book of Daniel was written well before the Maccabean Revolt in Judea against the rule of Antiochus erupted in 167 BC, the final product that has come down to us was assembled, largely written, and appropriately edited during the years 167 to 164 with the basic purpose of inspiring resistance to Seleucid tyranny. For over a century now, the view has prevailed in “mainstream academia” that the “end-time” prophecies of Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, and 11-12 were all designed so as to point to fulfillment in the second century BC in the time of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, who died ca. 164 BC. Among the many “liberal” mainstream scholars who hold skeptical views about biblical prophecy, it has commonly been assumed that the figure of a Daniel the Prophet who supposedly lived in sixth-century BC is a literary fiction and that even if much of the first half of the Book of Daniel was written well before the Maccabean Revolt in Judea against the rule of Antiochus erupted in 167 BC, the final product that has come down to us was assembled, largely written, and appropriately edited during the years 167 to 164 with the basic purpose of inspiring resistance to Seleucid tyranny. Consequently, liberals assure us, we can be certain that the prophecies enumerated above were not constructed with the Messiah of Christianity in view and that the villainous character of Antiochus IV is highlighted in each of the four sets of prophecies in Daniel’s second half. As the great conservative (and futurist) scholar Gleason Archer (1916-2004) noted, “liberal scholars throughout Christendom . . . consider the Maccabean date of Daniel one of the most assured results of modern scholarship.[1]

Among liberals, the prevailing view about the four earthly kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7 has long been that they correspond to four empires that successively controlled Judea and the adjacent lands from late in the seventh century BC to the middle of the second century BC, namely the Babylonia of Nebuchadnezzar, Media, Persia, and the “Greece” of Alexander and his Hellenistic successors, most notably the rulers of Seleucid Syria. Because liberals discern that the author of Daniel’s interest in providing historical detail did not extend beyond the climax or “time of the end” in which Antiochus IV is destroyed that is found in each of the visions of Daniel’s second half, they rule out any possibility that Rome can be seriously considered to be the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7. In liberal hermeneutics, the thought that this fourth kingdom should be identified as Rome and only Rome is not to be entertained seriously by genuine scholars.

Despite the pronounced bias toward secularlistic/liberal worldviews that has long prevailed in mainstream academia in the nations that have embraced different forms of Western Democracy, and notwithstanding that this bias has actually intensified since the late 1960s, sufficient intellectual freedom has been retained in these nations so that some scholarly works that do not totally exclude the possibility of genuine biblical prophecy are considered by it to be acceptable. Such works tend overwhelmingly to be of a “moderate” nature in that they typically avoid harsh criticism of biblical liberalism. Thus, while the liberal authorities who have imbibed deeply in the elixir of the Higher Criticism often completely ignore or summarily dismiss conservative writings on Daniel that deserve to be taken seriously on their merits, there are tenured moderates in mainstream academia who have succeeded in calling attention to some of the weak points in liberal scholarship on Daniel while refraining from giving undue offense to the most esteemed guardians of the dominant paradigm. Some of these tenured moderates have even suggested that there probably was a real prophet Daniel who lived in Babylon in the sixth century BC. In general, however, moderates have avoided a direct frontal assault on the liberals’ bedrock contention that the end-time prophecies of Daniel were written with fulfillment in the time of Antiochus in mind. They prefer instead to invoke the hermeneutical approach called “idealism,” which allows prophecies generous scope for multiple fulfillments. Thus, even though the end-time prophecies of Daniel were presented so as to have their primary fulfillments in the second century BC, these moderates hold, they can be and have been appropriately “recycled” so as to also apply to later times, including the first century AD.

By accommodating moderate interpretations of Daniel within mainstream academia’s conception of what constitutes acceptable biblical scholarship, its more secularist members have co-opted potential critics and induced them to cede vital ground. In effect, the moderates have obtained “a piece of the action” by tacitly agreeing not to be unduly harsh on liberals. In doing so, they have refrained from seriously challenging the bedrock liberal contention that the primary fulfillments of the end-time prophecies of Daniel 2, 7, 9, and 11-12 all took place in the second century BC; and they have failed to acknowledge that a strong case can be made for believing that in the four kingdoms sequence of Daniel 2 and 7, the fourth kingdom is Rome. That this kingdom is Rome, incidentally, was the prevailing belief of the leading authorities on Christianity until the nineteenth century.

That the Christian faith has necessarily benefited from academia’s recognition of moderate interpretations of Daniel as acceptable scholarship is open to question. “Half a loaf is better than none” goes an old saw, and it is certainly arguable that by being allowed to pose the possibility that there may, after all, have been a real prophet Daniel who lived in Babylon in the sixth century BC and foresaw events that would occur almost four centuries later (without foreseeing the Messiah of Christianity) does a good deal to inspire Christian belief. I confess, however, that it does not inspire me. On the other hand, it is obvious that a much greater boost to such belief would be achieved if some mainstream scholars seriously entertained the possibility that the end-time prophecies of Daniel 2, 7, 9, and 11-12 are genuinely messianic in the Christian sense; i.e. with end-time fulfillments that look beyond Antiochus IV to the time of the ministry of Christ and other events that culminated in the obliteration of Jerusalem and its Temple in AD 70.

Two outstanding examples of the application of idealism to Daniel so as to achieve prophetic recycling are provided by Daniel 7:13 and Matthew 24:15. In each case, moderates have managed to procure a little breathing space for Christian belief in academia by offering Messianic secondary applications of prophecies that supposedly received their primary fulfillments in the time of Antiochus IV. Here are both of these verses in full as translated by the NASB:

Daniel 7:13: “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming. And he came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

Matthew 24:15: “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)

In mainstream exegesis, because the “little horn” of Daniel 7 is Antiochus IV and the events associated with his demise occurred in the second century BC, the “One like a Son of Man” of Daniel 7:13 who comes before the Ancient of Days following the removal of the fourth beast cannot be Christ unless the prophecy is interpreted so as to allow a secondary fulfillment in the first century AD. The most popular mainstream explanation of the Son of Man figure of this verse is that he symbolizes the people of God as represented by the faithful Jews of the time of the Maccabean Revolt. Some mainstream scholars, however, have been dissatisfied with this “collective” view of the Son of Man and have suggested that he could be the angel Michael, who is identified in Daniel 12:1 as the guardian angel of the Jews. The moderates suggest that while the Son of Man is not a messianicly Christian figure with regard to the prophecy’s primary fulfillment, Christ appropriately reworked this figure so as to apply it to Himself. I submit that this is a rather tepid interpretation that has had a deservedly modest impact in terms of encouraging Christian belief. If, however, mainstream academia were to take seriously the possibility that the one like a Son of Man is Christ and only Christ, I suspect that the effect in terms of encouraging belief would be quite considerable.

There are three passages in Daniel in which the translation “abomination of desolation” or “abomination that causes desolation” is to be found: 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11. Since mainstream analysts associate each of them with the time of Antiochus IV, they correspondingly suggest that in Matthew 24:15, Christ is asking his followers to reapply prophecies that were fulfilled two centuries earlier to their own time. Some scholars have suggested, of course, that since Daniel the prophet never existed, Christ here demonstrates his lack of divine status. Others have opined that it could be that although He knew that Daniel never existed, He sought to capitalize on the fact that most Jews did regard Daniel as an actual prophet. Within the context of mainstream analysis, it is also possible, of course, to suggest that the parenthetical wording “let the reader understand” was inserted to alert readers and listeners that Christ was applying to Himself prophecies that were initially fulfilled in the time of Antiochus.

Once Rome is recognized as the fourth kingdom, the interpretation of Matthew 24:15 changes dramatically. In subsequent articles, I shall argue that Daniel 11:31 is to be applied to the time of Antiochus, while 9:27 and 12:11 were both fulfilled in the first century AD. Christ, I am confident, knew very well that 11:31 referred to the great crisis in Jewish history that had occurred two hundred years earlier, and in Matthew 24 He warned His followers that another great crisis lay before them that would come to a head in the lifetime of some of them. This crisis would result in the complete destruction of the Temple (v.2), but that great complex was to be defiled before being demolished. Accordingly, verse 16 has Christ telling His followers that when they witness the defilement that Daniel warned about, “then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” Notice that the warning here is to “those who are in Judea,” not “those who are in Jerusalem.”

For well over a hundred years now, mainstream academia has shown great resistance to the idea that Rome might be Daniel’s fourth kingdom. This resistance has undoubtedly contributed to the general decline in fervency of Christian belief that has occurred in the West. Contributing to the negative influence of mainstream biblical scholars’ embrace of Maccabean dating for the fulfillment of Daniel’s end-time prophecies has been the impact of that scholarship upon historians and other academics who have relied upon it when referring to theology and ancient history. With depressing uniformity, non-biblical scholars tend to assume that the judgment of the academic authorities on Daniel is to be trusted.

Reinforcing the certainty with which mainstream academia has pronounced its verdict on the dating of Daniel’s end-time prophecies has been its general (and correct) perception that the prevailing approach for presenting the case that Rome is the fourth kingdom is weak. Regrettably, those who assert that Rome is the fourth kingdom have generally been evangelicals who have insisted on futurist interpretations of these prophecies. It is true that some futurist scholars have accurately pinpointed numerous weaknesses in mainstream scholarship on Daniel, but their insistence on speculating about fulfillments that have yet to occur for such prophecies as the striking of the feet and toes of the great statue of Daniel 2, the judgment scene and the persecution of the “saints” of Daniel 7, and at least part of the seventieth “week” of the Daniel 9 has allowed liberals to “get off the hook.” By highlighting the glaring weaknesses of futurist interpretations of Daniel, mainstream scholars have diverted attention from the shortcomings of their own position.

Among mainstream scholars, it is generally taken for granted that the “little horn” that emerges in Daniel 7:8 by uprooting three of the ten horns on the fourth beast is identical to the “small horn” of Daniel 8:9 that grows out of one of the four horns of the goat that is identified in 8:21 as Greece. As the context of 8:21-22 makes clear, these four horns symbolize the four kingdoms that arose in the immediate aftermath of the struggle among Alexander’s generals for control of his empire after his death. Note that since the “small horn” of 8:9 is said to come from one of the Hellenistic kingdoms that was formed from Alexander’s empire, equating this horn with the “little horn” of 7:8 would appear to be ruled out if the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is taken to be Rome. Nevertheless, there are some biblical authorities who identify Rome as the fourth kingdom who also manage to equate the “little horn” with the “small horn” of Daniel 8, but this is an interpretation that I summarily reject. I am firmly of the opinion that the little horn of Daniel 7 goes with Rome and that its counterpart in Daniel 8 goes with the “Greece” and Seleucid Syria of Daniel 8.

That the reign of Antiochus IV led to a major crisis in Judea that threatened the existence of the system of worship centered on the Temple of Jerusalem is clear. Indeed, it was by far the greatest crisis to confront the Jewish people since the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Accordingly, if there really was a Jewish prophet in the sixth century who was empowered to foresee key features of the future of God’s people during the next few centuries, it would hardly be surprising if he prophesied about the reign of Antiochus IV. But an even greater crisis arose in Judea around two centuries after the demise of Antiochus, a crisis that permanently ended the Temple-centered system of worship and brought forth a New Covenant that enormously expanded the potential for recruitment into the ranks of God’s people. It thus stands to reason that if the Book of Daniel is genuinely prophetic, its prophecies should give greater emphasis to the events of the first century AD than to those of the second century BC. The first-century events, it should be noted, provided confirmation of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that were not fulfilled in the Maccabean era.

In forthcoming articles, I shall emphasize how both Daniel 8 and Daniel 11 highlight the crisis brought on by the persecution of Antiochus IV, but I shall also argue that Daniel 8 does not look beyond that crisis and that the last ten verses of Daniel 11 and all of Daniel 12 skip from the time of Antiochus to an even greater crisis, the one that culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in AD 70. I shall also argue that the end-time events of Daniel 7 and 9 fit comfortably into the time of this second great crisis. In presenting my case, I shall direct my critical observations more toward the “moderate” position on Daniel than toward the position held by liberals.

In the second article in this series, I argued that the prophecies of Daniel 2 point to a sequence of four kingdoms that would successively dominate the part of the world that includes the Holy Land prior to the ministry of Christ. This sequence consisted of the Babylonia of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, the Medo-Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great and his successors, the Greece of Alexander and the Hellenistic kingdoms that succeeded him, and the Rome that became the empire of the Caesars. Among the points that I emphasized were the following: (1) the great statue of Daniel 2 is a remarkably accurate historical timeline; (2) the four metals that symbolize the four “kingdoms” had remarkably close historical associations with the metals chosen to represent them; (3) the feet of clay symbolize the incorporation into the Roman Empire of a discordant element that undermined its cohesiveness, namely the Jews; (4) the rock that strikes the feet of the statue and causes the statue to disintegrate symbolizes the arrival of the Kingdom of Christ in the first century AD and its spiritual authority over all earthly dominions; and (5) the growth of the rock into a mountain that covers all of Earth symbolizes the gradual growth of this Kingdom until it comes, in fact, to exercise dominion over the whole world. In my judgment, the growth of the rock into the mountain corresponds to the thousand years of Revelation 20:3.

To date, I have not had a great deal of feedback to this second article, to my other articles on Daniel 2, and to the book that I put out last year entitled The Prophecies of Daniel 2. The most notable response of which I am aware is Kurt Simmons’s review of this book, which he featured in his newsletter of last November.[2] I very much appreciate that Kurt took the trouble to read my book and carefully review it, and given that we have some differences about the interpretation of Daniel 2, I thought he was quite kind. I remain convinced, however, that my interpretation is correct.

Simmons is in general agreement with my proposition that the statue serves as a remarkably accurate timeline, at least with respect to the four earthly kingdoms in what I term “the Roman sequence” that runs from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the first century AD. He differs from me here in that while I associate the rock’s arrival with the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ ca. AD 30, he prefers the date of AD 70 for that event. Tellingly, none of the alternatives offered by either mainstream scholars or futurists comes remotely close to having the statue serve as a timeline. Consequently, the mainstreamers simply ignore or deny the possibility that the statue was intended to do so while futurists tend to invent a gap somewhere in the feet of the statue that allows “Rome” to reemerge in the apocalyptic windup of human affairs that yet awaits us. Of course, nothing in the description of the statue suggests the existence of such a gap. And in view of the facts that verse 45 specifically states that the dream of Daniel 2 was revealed to Nebuchadnezzar in order that the future would be revealed and that the five different portions of the statue obviously form a sequence, it is implausible to argue that the statue was not intended to be understood as a timeline for a continuous period of human history.

Simmons tends to dismiss the importance of my finding that the four metals of the statue had close historical associations with the specific kingdoms that they symbolize. Thus, he disposes of my linkage of silver to Medo-Persia with the comment that “the only historical association of silver with the Persian Empire is that it was allegedly used to pay the army,” and he fails to mention the close linkage I describe in detail between bronze and Greece.[3] In response, I must insist that the ability of the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great and his successors to amass the huge military establishment of that empire was directly—not allegedly—dependent upon the possession of large amounts of silver derived from Cyrus’s conquest of Lydia. Also, while Kurt dismisses my emphasis upon the fact that the Roman military machine developed a historically great reliance upon iron with the comment that the important thing about iron and the fourth kingdom is that “the fourth empire would be ‘strong as iron’ (Dan. 2:40) not that it made the most abundant use of that metal,” I must observe that Rome was “strong as iron” both symbolically and literally, and I simply do not see why these two understandings of the meaning of the iron must necessarily be opposed to each other.

In my analysis of the five distinct segments of the statue, I assume that the solid iron portion runs from just above the knees to the area where the ankles (feet) begin. Just what years this should correspond to historically is difficult to nail down precisely. Arguably, Roman domination of the area that encompasses the Holy Land began as early as 190 BC, when the Romans defeated the forces of Antiochus III (father of Antiochus IV) at the Battle of Magnesia in what is now southwestern Turkey. At the other end—and, I think, more plausibly—one could go with a date as late 146 BC, the year in which the Romans destroyed Corinth, or 142 BC, which is when Maccabean Judea, with Roman diplomatic support, formally gained its independence from Seleucid Syria. In my book on Daniel 2’s prophecies, I opted for 164 BC as the most reasonable starting point for the historical equivalent of the iron, that being the year when the Maccabees wrested Jerusalem from the Syrian forces. In retrospect, I am not certain that this year is better than either 146 or 142.

Locating the historical equivalent for the beginning of the clay in the feet is also a challenge. In my book on the prophecies of Daniel 2, I suggested that a reasonable beginning point for the clay would be 63 BC, the year in which Pompey occupied Jerusalem and effectively incorporated Judea into the realm of the Roman Republic. I also suggested that terminal date for the iron and the clay should be about AD 30. Subsequently, I have become inclined to go with a somewhat later starting date that coincides more closely with the designation by the Roman Senate of Herod as the King of the Jews. This designation was conferred upon him in 40 BC, but it did not become effective until three years later, by which time the Romans had finally managed to establish firm control of Judea. At present, therefore, I tend to view the clay in the feet as corresponding to a historical period of about 66 years (no year zero). This compares with a period of roughly 109 years corresponding to the solid iron portion of the statue, 186 years corresponding to the bronze, 207 years for the silver, and 66 for gold.

I have insisted in my writings on identifying the clay in the feet with the Jews of the Roman Empire, and this is a point with which Simmons definitely disagrees. He denies the validity of my using Isaiah 64:8 and Jeremiah 18 to warrant applying the concept of potter’s clay specifically to the Jews of the Herodian era. “Clearly,” he states, “these verses provide no basis for identifying the Jews as the clay to the exclusion of other people and nations,” and he suggests that I have allowed my paradigm to drive my analysis.[4] In reply, I argue that it is my understanding of these passages that while God ultimately acts as the “potter” who shapes all of humanity, these passages do lend themselves to being applied to specific historical periods in which God intervenes to shape the destiny of particular peoples. And among the peoples of the Herodian era, where do we find the most persuasive evidence of divine intervention to shape the destiny of a particular group? If not the Jews, then who? I trust that Kurt will be elaborating upon the matter in his soon to be in print full commentary on Daniel, whose appearance I very much look forward to. With the publication of James Jordan’s commentary last year and Kurt’s this year, it appears that important headway is now being made toward the cultivation of one the most neglected and mismanaged fields of biblical scholarship.

In my next article to be posted in this series, I shall undertake the analysis of Daniel 7. Among other things, this will involve the harmonization of Daniel 7 with Daniel 2. My expectation is that it will take me two articles to cover the ground that I want to cover before moving on to Daniel 8.

Notes

[1]Gleason L. Archer, Jr., “Daniel,” Daniel-Minor Prophets, vol. 7, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelin (Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan, 1985), 13.

[2]Kurt Simmons, “Review of John S. Evans’ The Prophecies of Daniel 2,” The Sword & the Plow, Vol. X, no. 10 (November 2008), 1-6.

[3]Ibid., 2.

[4]Ibid., 3.

Duncan2's picture

Here is something from my forthcoming book (The Antichrist and the Second Coming) which should be out in a few months. Josephus saw two different abominations of desolation in Daniel. I would argue that Jesus did also.

Some would argue that Jesus’ claim that the abomination of desolation was to happen in the first century (Matt. 24:15) did not mean that He believed the book of Daniel contained prophecy relating to AD 70; rather, they argue, He was saying that there would be a first-century event similar to the abomination of desolation of Antiochus IV. The idea conveyed being that Jesus and first-century Jews did not view the book of Daniel as real prophecy; instead, Jesus was merely using Daniel as background to illustrate events He saw approaching on the horizon. We find it interesting that those who take this position seldom give an example of a first-century Jew who believed this. That is not to say that no Jews held this position, just that one rarely sees any evidence given for it.

In contrast, if one looks at Josephus, a first-century Jew who was a Pharisee, he clearly saw Daniel as a great prophet. He saw the book of Daniel as containing wondrous prophecies, some of which spoke of the time leading up to AD 70. In fact, Josephus (c. AD 90) believed that Daniel contained two different abominations of desolation: one committed by Antiochus IV in the second century BC (Dan. 8:11-13; 11:31) and another committed by the Romans in AD 70 (Dan. 9:27 and probably 12:11). Of these abominations, Josephus wrote:

[Daniel prophesied] that from among them [the four divisions of the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great] there should arise a certain king that should overcome our nation and their laws, and should take away our political government, and should spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years’ time [cf. Dan. 8:11-14; 11:31]. And indeed it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision, and what he wrote many years before they came to pass. In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them [cf. Dan. 9:26-27; 12:6-11]. All these things did this man leave in writing, as God had shewed them to him, insomuch that such as read his prophecies, and see how they have been fulfilled, would wonder at the honour wherewith God honoured Daniel. (Antiquities of the Jews 18, 2, 2)

While Antiochus spoiled Jerusalem and the Temple in the second century BC, it was Titus and the Romans that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 (Dan. 9:26-27), shattering the Jewish nation (Dan. 12:7). Thus, the coming desolation by the Romans was the abomination of desolation of Daniel (9:27 and 12:6-11) to which Jesus was referring; this was the event from which He warned first-century Judeans to flee (Matt. 24:15-16). Jesus was not reinterpreting the book of Daniel in terms of events He saw on the horizon; rather, He was confirming that a number of Daniels’ prophecies would come to pass in the time leading up to the destruction of the Jewish nation in AD 70.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

You wrote:

"Some would argue that Jesus’ claim that the abomination of desolation was to happen in the first century (Matt. 24:15) did not mean that He believed the book of Daniel contained prophecy relating to AD 70; rather, they argue, He was saying that there would be a first-century event similar to the abomination of desolation of Antiochus IV. The idea conveyed being that Jesus and first-century Jews did not view the book of Daniel as real prophecy; instead, Jesus was merely using Daniel as background to illustrate events He saw approaching on the horizon. We find it interesting that those who take this position seldom give an example of a first-century Jew who believed this. That is not to say that no Jews held this position, just that one rarely sees any evidence given for it."

Are you serious? I find your view to be somewhat strange. Of course, Jesus thought the Book of Daniel was real prophecy. And he thought they were already fulfilled! So, what's the problem? The problem (for you) is that you for some reason wants the Book of Daniel to be about the Jewish War 66-70 CE. That's the only problem.

The re-use of prophecy/OT-oracles is very common -- the Book of Revelation is filled with such re-use. The Book of Daniel, too, contains an example: the re-use of Jer 25:8ff. and 29:10 in Dan 9:1f.

Now, It seems clear to why you have to self-publish your book... Good luck with that, by the way. You'll need it!

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Are you serious Thomas?

The usual critical position is that the "prophecies" of Daniel are ex eventu, that they are after the fact. I like the following from Pitre on how a second-century BC fulfillment does not fit what Daniel says about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple:

While the destruction of both the Temple and city is quite explicit in the text of Daniel [9:26], it is routinely downplayed by proponents of the ‘Antiochus Epiphanes’ interpretation of Daniel 9 (since, I would suggest, it is the Achilles heel of that interpretation). With reference to Dan. 9:26, John Collins briefly and quietly admits, ‘The Syrians did not demolish Jerusalem, but they made it desolate by the corruption of the cult’ (Daniel [A Commentary on the Book of Daniel], 357; emphasis by Pitre), and then proceeds to continue interpreting Daniel 9 as an ex eventu prophecy of events which he just admitted did not take place. This is a weak attempt to correlate the text with known events; Daniel 9 clearly envisions not just the cultic desecration of Temple but also the destruction of both Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Brant Pitre, Jesus, The Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), footnote on 304-305.

Although Jerusalem was damaged by Antiochus IV and the Temple stripped of its furnishings, neither was destroyed. To the contrary, work to restore the Temple began soon after Antiochus’ desolation and subsequent defeat (cf. Dan. 8:13-14). It was at AD 70 that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed; there was no restoration of the Temple after its desolation by Titus (Dan. 9:26-27).

So how do you explain Daniel 9:26? It certainly did not happen in the second-century BC.

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

I know that you do not see Dan 9:24-27 fulfilled in the second century BCE. But there are conservative scholars who actually think this prophecy was fulfilled -- cf. E.C. Lucas's commentary for starters.

In Dan 9:23, there seems to be a reference back to Dan 8. So, if you think (like most scholars) that Dan 8 is about Antiochus IV (not Titus or some other candidate for the "antichrist"), I really do not see how you are able to get Dan 9 to be about Christ Jesus.

For the record: I am not talking about liberal scholars who think the NT is pure fiction and that all prophecies are "ex eventu". So, there is no need to use Collins against my interpretation. Nice try, though! :)

PS! I have no ideological problems with a "messianic" interpretation of Dan 9:24-27; It would be great if one could prove that this prophecy was fulfilled by Christ Jesus. Unfortunately, I don't think that's possible. I know you disagree, and that's fine with me.

I am not familiar with Pitre's book. Is it worth every cent?

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

So how was Daniel 9:26 and its prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple fulfilled in the 2nd century BC?

ThomasS's picture

Dear Duncan,

I guess your not familiar with the interpretation suggested by e.g. M. Terry and E.C. Lucas -- hence the question?

I think you will find the question in the Jewish perception of historical events as described in Antiquities 12:252; cf. 12:320, 322; 1 Macc 4:38-40a.

I do not think that the city was literally destroyed; but I do not believe that apocalyptic prophecies are supposed to be taken literally. You may, of course, think otherwise -- most futurists/historicists have a tendency to advocate a literal interpretation. I guess it goes with the territory...

Hope this helps

Th.S.

Duncan2's picture

Thomas,

I of course understand that apocalyptic language uses symbolism. I see no indication of any sort of symbolic destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in Daniel 9:26, however.

ThomasS's picture

I guess you are not able to see that (= you choose when to take things literally) -- as you do not see the obvious reference to Dan 8 in Dan 9:21-22.

On the other hand, you do seem to be able to see two little horns (but only one fourth kingdom, right?), and, of course, the quite invisible change of national identity between "the king of the north" (= Syria) in the first part of Dan 11 and "the king of the north" in the last part of Dan 11 (counting from v. 36?).

Sometimes, I wonder if we actually read the same (Hebrew/Aramaic) text.

Regards

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

"Sometimes, I wonder if we actually read the same (Hebrew/Aramaic) text."

Can you read the Hebrew and Aramaic text? If my memory serves me correct, you've stated in the past you can not.

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Dear Rich,

I have for two semester only (here in Europe that's about 1 year) studied basic Biblical Hebrew and (some) Aramaic. I am certainly no expert; which is why I do not consider experts like J.J. Collins stupid. I may disagree with their liberal approach, but I consider them to highly qualified scholars.

I guess you have to lack any formal training in the Biblical languages in order to consider the experts stupid just because they take a so-called liberal take on the Bible.

Regards

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

Thomas,

gee, that's all great and all but "how do you explain Daniel 9:26? It certainly did not happen in the second-century BC."

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Dear Rich,

I have answered this question.

Are you familiar with Lucas' commentary? I follow his view re: Dan 9:24-27.

One question for you: Do you think the little horn in Dan 8 is Antiochus IV? If so, how do you cope with Dan 9:21-22 and the reference back to Dan 8.

Best wishes

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

don't answer the question by asking me a different question. You did not answer the question, just as Duncan pick up too.

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Rich,

I have answered the question. Read my message for Duncan.

But you have not answered my question.

Regards

Th.S.

Starlight's picture

Duncan,

My question to Thomas was how do you get the 70 weeks or the 62 weeks to work with the timing of Antiochus Epiphanes'. Maybe they cut the weeks into half weeks or something.:)
How Does anyone seriously think that an "end to sin" and "to bring in everlasting righteousness" was accomplished during the time of Antichus?

Norm

ThomasS's picture

Norm,

this is a question of how you understand apocalyptic language. I do understand why you think the prophecy is about Christ. I think I share your "Christian" bias, so I think your interpretation is understandable. Still, based on the text (e.g. the reference back to Dan 8 in Dan 9:23), I think it is more likely that the prophecy is about the Maccabean era, like the rest of Dan (especially Dan 11).

Regards

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

Again, Thomas, answer the question! Your dancing around is obvious. Do you not think everyone here sees you trying your best to avoid answering questions such as Norms?

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Rich,

Which question. Just for the record: Just because you do not like the answer does not mean that there is no answer.

Hope this helps!

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

Thomas,

stop your nonsense. You gave no answers! So, don't give me this crap that I just didn't like the ones you gave.

Here they are again.

"My question to Thomas was how do you get the 70 weeks or the 62 weeks to work with the timing of Antiochus Epiphanes'. Maybe they cut the weeks into half weeks or something.:)
How Does anyone seriously think that an "end to sin" and "to bring in everlasting righteousness" was accomplished during the time of Antichus?"

Here is you "answer" (notice there is no answer to the questions!)

"this is a question of how you understand apocalyptic language. I do understand why you think the prophecy is about Christ. I think I share your "Christian" bias, so I think your interpretation is understandable. Still, based on the text (e.g. the reference back to Dan 8 in Dan 9:23), I think it is more likely that the prophecy is about the Maccabean era, like the rest of Dan (especially Dan 11)."

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Dear Rich,

I thought you were familiar with the classic preterist understanding of Dan 9:24-27. If not, I have to ask you to read Lucas' commentary and M. Terry's book on "Biblical Apocalyptics". I just cannot do the study for you. Sorry about that.

Blessings!

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

What a cop out Thomas. Still no answer, which is what I expected.

-Rich

-Rich

Islamaphobe's picture

Rich,

I regard Thomas as a "gift that keeps on giving" and greatly enjoy having him post here. But since I am finally getting a bit tired of hearing this particular broken record repeat itself during this round, I shall refrain from further responses to taunts from our name-dropping friend from the academic establishment until my next article, which will deal with Daniel 7. In the meantime, I shall continue walking farther down my unenlightened path.

JSE

mazuur's picture

John,

I must say, you do have a lot of tolerance. The numerous insults he laid at your feet was amazing. That, I think, is what finally got me to post something (plus his dancing around your questions with no answers insight). I was reading along and, like you stated, he just keeps repeating the same thing without saying anything (outside the insults to your "scholarship", which he never has enough words about while boasting of his own informed wisdom...ugh). I just couldn't stomach it any longer.

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Rich,

I find it interesting that you do fine my messages insulting -- but all the insults from Evans is OK by you? According to Evans, all those he labels "liberals" are more or less stupid:

"[...] it is impossible to take this claim seriously if you are wide awake, of normal intelligence, and not a committed liberal" (Evans, Four Kingdoms of Daniel, p. 219).

See also the interesting review by T.R. King, published at:

http://www.presence.tv/cms/review_four_kingdoms.php

According to Evans, my postings on Daniel includes the attempt to "belittling the opposition, sidestepping inconvenient questions or completely ignoring them, and repeating points made before in the apparent hope that quantitative repetition will divert attention from weak points and somehow [metamorphose] into qualitative improvements"...

I just say: Look who's talking!

I guess your (indirect) approval of Evans' "nice" conduct says a lot -- about you.

Regards

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

Thomas,

"I find it interesting that you do fine my messages insulting".

So you admit they were insulting!?

Maybe you need to go back and read through the series of post made here on this thread. It was you who immediately came out throwing the insults.

Your first post, "I highly recommend the serious, academic study of the Bible. Unscholarly "rant" isn't much helpful, regardless of how "conservative" it is."..."A more scholarly approach, however, demonstrates that this view is erroneous." Notice the constant belittling of John.

John responded by stating, "Fortunately, I feel confident that I can help compensate for my lack of training in biblical languages by safely relying on authorities on biblical Greek other than you. In any event, I do not dispute that the Greek of Matthew 24:15 is closer to that of Daniel 11:31 than to the Greek of Daniel 9:27. What I say is that the historical situation of 11:31 does not fit with the first century AD while that of Matthew 24:15 does.

And what is the relevance of bringing in the fact that some conservative Protestants have identified the little horn of Daniel 7 with the papacy? As I suggest in my article, that kind of thing is one big reason why folks such as yourself have been enabled to ignore weaknesses in mainstream scholarship. I certainly do not challenge the belief that much conservative scholarship on Daniel has been terrible, but conservatives have no monopoly on the ability to indulge in bad scholarship, though perhaps they have had less success in devising diversionary smokecreens."

Notice no insults!

You responded back, "You seem to think that your own reading of Daniel, based on unscholarly "interpretation", is superior to "mainstream scholarship". I guess you have to be ignorant of Biblical Greek in order to subscribe to such a position."

Notice your continued use of insults. This entire thread basically flows just like that Thomas. So, spare me your crap!

"According to Evans, all those he labels "liberals" are more or less stupid:"

Is that not what you did (basically call John stupid) and continue to do in every single post you made on this thread????

"belittling the opposition, sidestepping inconvenient questions or completely ignoring them, and repeating points made before in the apparent hope that quantitative repetition will divert attention from weak points and somehow [metamorphose] into qualitative improvements"

The amazing thing about this statement is...that is exactly what you do Thomas. One only has to read everyone of your post on this thread and see that to be true.

Norm asked you what I thought was a very good question. Here is the same question again.

"how do you get the 70 weeks or the 62 weeks to work with the timing of Antiochus Epiphanes'. Maybe they cut the weeks into half weeks or something.:) How Does anyone seriously think that an "end to sin" and "to bring in everlasting righteousness" was accomplished during the time of Antichus?"

I would also add further comments and questions which the text states. So:

1) how do you get the 70 weeks or the 62 weeks to work with the timing of Antiochus Epiphanes

2) Dan 9:24 - the 70 weeks are decreed for "your people" and "your holy city".

Question: your view attempts to answer the "holy city" part of the prophecy, but what of the "people" to which all the events laid out in the 70 weeks apply to (see below)??

3) all that was to be accomplished after the 70 weeks are:
a) finish transgression
b) put and end to sin
c) atone for wickedness
d) bring in everlasting righteousness
e) seal up vision and prophecy
f) anoint the most holy

How can your view answer any of this items, assuming you can get 70 weeks to transpire at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (which you can't)???

A) Israel's (the people) nor the city's transgressions were certainly not finished at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

B) Sin was not put to an end.

C) The "people" and the "city's" wickedness was certainly not atoned for.

D) "everlasting righteousness" was certainly not brought to fruition at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

E) There was certainly more vision and prophecy after your fulfillment of Daniel at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

F) Not sure what you can possible say about the "most holy" being anointed in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, but it sure seems like a clear reference to the "people" and "city's" Messiah.

-Rich

P.S. And your weak attempt at trying to turn it all around to redirect the attention off of you and redirect it at me will not Thomas.

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Rich,

First, I have never said that Evans is stupid. But he has called his opponents stupid; at least those who he thinks are "liberal".

Second, I have just pointed out that Evans does not know Biblical Hebrew/Aramaic. That might explain why he is not able to make a qualified evaluation of the textual evidence at hand. That most certainly does not make him stupid in my eyes.

Third, when I read your questions, I get the feeling that you do not know even the basics -- is this correct? I do hope that I am mistaken.

I have suggested that you pick up Lucas' commentary on Daniel. There you will find a plausible explanation of Dan 9:24-27. I just cannot do all the study for you! However, here is some information for you:

If we stick to the text (The Book of Daniel), the following conclusions may be drawn:

(1) The vision (Hebr. "mar'eh") in Dan 9:23 is a reference to Dan 8:27, "(...) the vision, which [Daniel] could not understand". Thus, Dan vv. 24 offer an explanation of the vision in Dan 8;

(2) There is a reference to Dan 8:26 in Dan 9:24.

(3) There is a reference (back) to Dan 9:27 in Dan 11:31 and 12:11.

(4) The over-all theme in the Book of Daniel: The coming of one like the son of man/God's kingdom after the fall of four secular kingdoms (viz. [1] Neo-Babylonia; [2] Medo-Persia; [3] Alexander's Greece; [4] the 'rival diadochoi' Egypt and Syria with Antiochus IV as the 'little horn').

(5) that the prophecy in Dan 9:24-27 covers a round number of years (= a long period) -- as Jeremiah's seventy years was an approximation for a very long period, the 490 years should not be taken literally;

(6) that Dan 9:27 is about Antiochus IV "abolishing of the daily sacrifice and setting up the horrible abomination" (cf. Dan 11:31); and

(7) that this prophecy has something to do with the fall of the little horn (= Antiochus IV) in Dan 8 (and, of course, Dan 7).

As to your point D), in Biblical Hebrew, the word for "everlasting" does not always indicate 'without any end'. This is why celebrated scholars have realised that the oldest interpretation of Daniel 9 is the correct one. I stick to this interpretation -- that's how conservative I am :)

Furthermore: The concern of v. 24 is (Ancient) Israel and Jerusalem; the prophecy is not speaking of the sin of the whole world. Deliverance from Antiochus IV (and the fourth kingdom) is in view.

Or, as pointed out by Goldingay:

"Like that vision [= Dan 8], it [= Dan 9:24] looks forward from the time of Daniel himself to the Antiochene crisis, and promises God's deliverance. There is no reason to refere it exegetically to the first or second coming of Christ" (Goldingay: Daniel, p. 260.)

Hope this helps you a little bit!

Regards

Th.S.

Islamaphobe's picture

Norm and Duncan,

For liberals it doesn't matter that prophecies such as "an end to sin" were not fulfilled during the time of Antiochus IV because they were false prophecies. "Moderates" like Thomas S. are confronted by a much more difficult task because they need to show how such prophecies can be reconciled with the events of that monarch's day. Trying to do this results in cognitive dissonance, which reveals itself in various ways, including belittling the opposition, sidestepping inconvenient questions or completely ignoring them, and repeating points made before in the apparent hope that quantitative repetition will divert attention from weak points and somehow metamorpohse into qualitative improvements.

ThomasS's picture

John S. Evans,

True, the liberals who do not believe in the gift of prophecy have no problems when they think a Biblical "prophecy" fails.

However, many conservatives who do not accept that prophecy may fail, use eisegesis to "save the text". Your own books on Daniel are filled with such eisegesis; e.g. how you twist the flow of events in Dan 7 in order to save your erroneous interpretation, and how you ignore the Aramaic in Dan 2 in order to accomplish the very same thing.

I prefer an honest, academic attempt to deal with a very difficult text. I see no honesty in reading something into the text or forcing a certain interpretation onto it.

Your own books are filled with attempts to "belittling the opposition, sidestepping inconvenient questions or completely ignoring them, and repeating points made before in the apparent hope that quantitative repetition will divert attention from weak points and somehow [metamorphose] into qualitative improvements". For once, I see you really know what you are talking about!

Regards

Th.S.

Islamaphobe's picture

I plead "guilty" to being very critical of "scholars" like you. They are a very rich and easy to hit target! On the other hand, I make it a point in my work to address the arguments made by "liberals" and "moderates" in detail. No doubt I fall short sometimes. But if I ever feel that you make a worthwhile point, I shall try to acknowledge it.

ThomasS's picture

I have nothing against criticism. The problem with you criticism is that it is based on unscholarly "research". Few, if any, within the scholarly world will accept your interpretation for reasons obvious to those with at least some basic understanding of Biblical Hebrew/Aramaic.

But I'll give you one thing: You seem to generate interest for the Book of Daniel. That's very nice!

Th.S.

mazuur's picture

Oh brother,

Is your constant demeaning of individuals, who are obviously beyond you concerning Daniel, the only recourse you have for dealing with them?

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Dear mazuur,

I am providing accurate information for the readers who want truth rather than unscholarly interpretations based on eisegesis. I know that some readers do not accept the academic and serious study of the Bible; but I still believe that there are those who actually seek the truth.

Regards

Th.S.

Starlight's picture

John,

Thanks again for your work. I agree with you that the events of Daniel were expected to transpire with Rome ultimately. More importantly that is how the earliest of Christians read Daniel as well. The Epistle of Barnabas which was believed to have been written before AD70 (verified by internal evidence) documents how the early Christians were being instructed about the 10 Horns as being fulfilled upon them.

Barnabas 4:1
It behooves us therefore to investigate deeply CONCERNING THE PRESENT, and to search out the things which have power to save us. Let us therefore flee altogether from all the works of lawlessness, lest the works of lawlessness overpower us; and let us loathe THE ERROR OF THE PRESENT TIME, that we may be loved for THAT WHICH IS TO COME.

3 THE LAST OFFENCE IS AT HAND, concerning which the scripture speaketh, as Enoch saith. For to this end THE MASTER HATH CUT THE SEASONS AND THE DAYS SHORT, that His beloved might hasten and come to His inheritance.

4 And the prophet also speaketh on this wise; TEN REIGNS SHALL REIGN UPON THE EARTH, AND AFTER THEM SHALL ARISE ANOTHER KING, WHO SHALL BRING LOW THREE OF THE KINGS UNDER ONE.

5 IN LIKE MANNER DANIEL SPEAKETH CONCERNING THE SAME; AND I SAW THE FORTH BEAST TO BE WICKED AND STRONG AND MORE INTRACTABLE THAN ALL THE BEASTS OF THE EARTH, AND HOW THERE AROSE FROM HIM TEN HORNS, AND FROM THESE A LITTLE HORN AND EXCRESCENCE, AND HOW THAT IT ABASED UNDER ONE THREE OF THE GREAT HORNS.

Barnabas 4:9
But though I would fain write many things, not as a teacher, but as becometh one who loveth you not to fall short of that which we possess, I was anxious to write to you, being your devoted slave. Wherefore LET US TAKE HEED IN THESE LAST DAYS. For the whole time of our faith shall profit us nothing, unless WE NOW, IN THE SEASON OF LAWLESSNESS and in the offenses that shall be, as becometh sons of God, offer resistance, that the Black One may not effect an entrance.

If one studies Barnabas it is without a doubt written in anticipation of AD70 and its fulfillment. That is the theme of Barnabas and there should be no doubt that the author believed that they were living under the influence of the fourth Beast which was Rome.

In my estimation scholars who go off track thinking that there was a fulfillment earlier and then an idealized fulfillment later on simply do not understand the major theme of scripture. The theme of all scripture from beginning to end focuses upon the time of the Messiah and its fulfillment. This is the continuity that holds the scripture together in awe over hundreds if not perhaps more than a thousand years. Those who wrote the scriptures under the influence of the Holy Spirit were all in one accord in that matter and weren’t piecing the scriptures together in a patchwork incoherent manner.

Blessings

Norm

ThomasS's picture

Dear Norm,

When do you think Barnabas was written?

Thanks!

Th. S.

Starlight's picture

Thomas,

My best estimate is late 60's AD and maybe up almost to 70AD. This is going strictly by the internal evidence which is very much how we have determined the dating of Revelation. Some think Revelation was dated around 95AD but internal evidence says earlier.

Take a look at some of the language from Barnabas which is typical of the NT writings of the same era. And these are just from a few verses that I quoted.

“CONCERNING THE PRESENT”
“THE ERROR OF THE PRESENT TIME”
“THE LAST OFFENCE IS AT HAND”
“THE MASTER HATH CUT THE SEASONS AND THE DAYS SHORT”
“LET US TAKE HEED IN THESE LAST DAYS”

To Preterist this kind of language is instrumental in verifying the timing. Also I have been told that Sam Frost in his book “Misplaced Hope” puts the date around the late 60’s but this is based upon a quote of Ed Stevens since I do not yet have a copy of Frost book.

Of course dispensationalist and futurist leaning scholars may well disagree just as they do with Revelation.

Norm

ThomasS's picture

Norm, it all depends on how you understand the "internal evidence". Most scholars would say that the "internal evidence" is inconclusive. Personally, I agree with scholars (like e.g. Bachmann) who argue that e.g. Rev 11 points to a date after 70 CE.

As to the date of Barnabas I have noticed that few scholars will agree with you. But I guess that's insignificant for you. Why listen to those who actually know what they are talking about, right?! ;o)

Blessings!

Th.S.

Starlight's picture

Thomas,

You are indeed correct as I keep a wary eye toward those who pronounce themselves as scholars but get some important basic details wrong. Now I will say that I also greatly appreciate good scholarship and will heap praise upon those who deserve it. The important point is I get to pick and choose what I consider good or bad. ;-)

Yes it is a shame that those of us Preterist who actually know what we are talking about are ignored by those who could greatly benefit from our input. :(

By the way Thomas these scholars who disagree with me on the date, do you understand why they disagree? Isn’t it because they are trying to read a futurist paradigm into their preconceived positions and simply do not understand the dynamics of fulfilled eschatology.

What do you think personally about Barnabas and what do you make of the section I quoted about the application of Daniel’s fourth beast that was upon them at their present time. Was Barnabas just simply the earliest example of Evans, Jordan and Simmons misapplication of Daniel in your view? Even if one posits its date a few years later it would still be positioning Rome as the Beast would it not.

Blessings

Norm

ThomasS's picture

Dear Norm,

Like most (if not all) scholars (you know, the people who actually are able to read the original texts in question), I think texts like Barnabas and 4 Ezra demonstrate that after the Jewish War (66-70) the futurist/historicist interpretation of Daniel and the identification of the fourth empire with Rome originated.

The earliest interpretation of Daniel is reflected in the DSS, 1-2 Maccabees and the New Testament. The fourth kingdom is not identified with Rome in these texts.

Hope this helps!

Th.S.

Starlight's picture

Thomas,

Just as some misidentified the coming of the Messiah at times so too did some misidentify the application of Daniel and the Beast. There is strong precedent for many misadventures in identifying the correct application of Biblical prophecy; that is indeed no mystery and proves little.

As I stated earlier the culmination of all Biblical prophecy was centered upon the end times of the Messiah. Daniel 12:7 highlights this end game that has been prophesied from early scripture bringing about the shattering of the power of the Holy people. It seems odd that the seventy weeks of Dan 9:24 falls in line with this timing which then portrays the Beast as Rome just as many have identified.

It is critical to Biblical scholarship to acknowledge and understand that scripture is constantly pointing to Christ and the End times. Scholarship that ignores that principle is a house built upon shifting sand no matter how brilliant it is.

Norm

ThomasS's picture

Norm,

I have never said that the Book of Daniel does not point towards the coming of "one like the son of man". But I do not see Rome in Dan 2 & 7. Nor do I see Rome in Dan 9. The four kingdoms were destroyed before the coming of the Son of Man. This is obvious from Dan 7 (and the parallel vision in Dan 2).

Hope this helps

Th.S.

Islamaphobe's picture

Norm,

Because I am quite contemptuous of the pedantry of our friend Thomas and am an uncouth type who lacks proper respect for some academics and revels in exposing what I perceive to be flaws in "mainstream" biblical "scholarship," I shall inject a comment here in response to Thomas's last remarks to you. To say that the fourth kingdom is not identified with Rome in the NT is, of course, an interpretation that many will reject. However, it is true that 1 and 2 Maccabees do not identify Rome as the fourth kingdom. Personally, I am of the view that many Jews of Maccabean times did indeed believe that all the end-time prophecies of Daniel were to be fulfilled in their day. When the expected fulfillments did not occur, opinion tended to be revised, and this is what 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) shows. Whereas Thomas injects his standard tendency toward distortion into his work in stating that Barnabas and 4 Ezra demonstrate that Rome came to be identified with the fourth kingdom AFTER the Jewish War, this is, I think, ridiculous. For Thomas, the wish is often father to the thought, with the result that he exhibits the tendency toward employing eisegesis that he likes to attribute to others. Notice that he omits that Josephus identifed contemporary Rome as the fourth kingdom. I have no doubt at all that many Jews and Christians of the time of Christ saw contemporary Rome as the fourth kingdom and that the futurist/historicist approach evolved when the first century did not turn out as many had expected.

JSE

ThomasS's picture

JSE,

the New Testament makes it clear that the fourth kingdom cannot be the Roman Empire (cf. Rev 13:1ff.). According to 4 Ezra , the historicist-futurist identification of the fourth kingdom with Rome was a novelty, not the original message of Daniel.

Hope this helps!

Th.S.

ThomasS's picture

If one is able to read Biblical Greek, one should be able to see that the text in Matt 24:15 is much closer to Dan 11:31 than to Dan 9:27. You don't have to be (a) liberal to see that. But you do have to know some Biblical Greek :)

I highly recommend the serious, academic study of the Bible. Unscholarly "rant" isn't much helpful, regardless of how "conservative" it is. Among many Protestants, it's "conservative" to identify the little horn in Dan 7 with the papacy. A more scholarly approach, however, demonstrates that this view is erroneous.

It's better to be correct (and liberal) than conservative (and wrong)!

Th.S.

Islamaphobe's picture

Fortunately, I feel confident that I can help compensate for my lack of training in biblical languages by safely relying on authorities on biblical Greek other than you. In any event, I do not dispute that the Greek of Matthew 24:15 is closer to that of Daniel 11:31 than to the Greek of Daniel 9:27. What I say is that the historical situation of 11:31 does not fit with the first century AD while that of Matthew 24:15 does.

And what is the relevance of bringing in the fact that some conservative Protestants have identified the little horn of Daniel 7 with the papacy? As I suggest in my article, that kind of thing is one big reason why folks such as yourself have been enabled to ignore weaknesses in mainstream scholarship. I certainly do not challenge the belief that much conservative scholarship on Daniel has been terrible, but conservatives have no monopoly on the ability to indulge in bad scholarship, though perhaps they have had less success in devising diversionary smokecreens.

JSE

ThomasS's picture

Dear JES,

Your problem is that you ignore the many weaknesses in your own interpretation. You seem to think that your own reading of Daniel, based on unscholarly "interpretation", is superior to "mainstream scholarship". I guess you have to be ignorant of Biblical Greek in order to subscribe to such a position.

If we stick to the text ("sola scriptura", as it ware), we have to conclude that Matt 24:15 is a reference to Dan 11:31 rather than Dan 9:27. The Greek in Matt 24:15 is much closer to Dan 11:31 (LXX) than to Dan 9:27 (LXX).

In fact, there does not seem to be any (direct) reference at all to Dan 9:27 in the so-called New Testament. Any serious student of the Bible should be able to see that -- if they at least know some basic Biblical Greek and reject any attempt to force a certain interpretation on the text in question.

For the record, not only some, but a large number of Protestant commentators have identified the little horn (in Dan 7) with the papacy. They were all very conservative. But they were all wrong!

Again, better (liberal and) correct than conservative (and wrong).

Regards

Th.S.

Islamaphobe's picture

In terms of HISTORICAL context, there is NO reason to hold that Matthew 24:15 refers to Daniel 11:31. Daniel 12:11 is a different matter. But then since I know nothing about biblical Greek, I am supposed to know my proper place and remain silent in deference to members of the mainstream establishment, or at least some of its members. In due course, I shall cite conservative scholars who know their biblical Greek who have a different perspective, and I am quite certain that they exist.

ThomasS's picture

So, basically, you ignore the obvious textual reference to Dan 11:31 in Matt 24:15. Fascinating! So much for "sola scriptura"! :)

As to your strange idea that "there is NO reason to hold that Matthew 24:15 refers to Daniel 11:31", I guess it's just the result of your eisegesis and/or wishful thinking.

For those of us who are able to read Biblical Greek, it is obvious that the text makes it quite clear that Matt 24:15 is a reference to Dan 11:31. The meaning is that what happened to the Jews under Antiochus IV will happen again (during the Jewish War). This re-use of OT oracles against foreign/pagan nations are very frequent in apocalyptic discourse -- cf. the use of oracles against "Babylon" in the Book of Revelation. All scholars agree that John didn't think of Ancient Babylon, but a "Babylon" of his own time.

Hope this helps!

Regards

Th.S.

yngwie7's picture

Hello Thomas,

I just wanted to address your statement that: "For those of us who are able to read Biblical Greek, it is obvious that the text makes it quite clear that Matt 24:15 is a reference to Dan 11:31." I went and checked the text of Matthew, the LXX as well as Theodotion's greek translation (which actually resembles matthew in Daniel chapter 9 more than chapter 11)

This isn't quite as clear as you are making it out. Here are the phrases in greek:

Matt 24:15 τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως

Daniel 9:27 βδέλυγμα τῶν ἐρημώσεων

Daniel 11:31 βδέλυγμα ἐρημώσεως

The similarity that you are referring to is that Daniel 11 and Matthew both use the genitive singular, while daniel 9 uses the plural genitive. However, matthew isn't directly quoting daniel 11 because matthew uses definite articles on both abomination and desolation while daniel 11 has neither.

But your argument assumes that Matthew used the old LXX when he quoted Jesus. Why didn't he quote the phrase word for word then? He could have simply been making an approximation of Daniel 9 as he remembered it. Or, he could just as easily have been referring to the Hebrew version and made his own translation of the phrase. If this were true then he could be referring to either chapter or to both.

I'm personally not sure how to interpret all of Daniel. The identification of Rome as the 4th beast of chapter 2 and 7 makes the most sense to me. But to have two different abominations of desolations separated by hundreds of years is a weak point to this interpretation.

Islamaphobe's picture

Thanks for making a well-informed comment. As for the observation that "to have two different abominations of desolations separated by hundreds of years is a weak point," I suggest that since there were two great crises that endangered the future of Judaism and Judea, it is a point that is not really weak. I shall be arguing in a future article that it is not difficult to make the case that the abominations of 11:31 and 12:11 are different.

JSE

ThomasS's picture

And, of course, there was a third crisis for the Jewish people.... but do you really find a reference to the so-called "Shoah" (1939-1940 CE) in the Book of Daniel?

Having two different little horns and two different abominations of desolations, is nothing but eisegesis. Why not having two series of four kingdoms as well?

It seems to me that you desperately are trying to read the Roman Empire into the Book of Daniel without any real support in the text. I think the majority of scholars would agree with me on that.

But I am looking forward to reading your next essay.

Regards

Th.S.

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