You are hereSome Funny Things Happened to the Statue of Daniel 2

Some Funny Things Happened to the Statue of Daniel 2

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By Islamaphobe - Posted on 20 June 2007

by John Evans
When I took my first serious look at the Book of Daniel almost twenty years ago, I did so without the benefit of familiarity with scholarly opinion. In general terms, I knew that in mainstream academia, where liberals dominate biblical scholarship, the prevailing view is that Daniel is a pseudepigraphal product of the second century BC whose “prophecies” need to be understood in that light. I also knew that those scholars who have accepted it for what it claims to be have generally used it to reinforce a futurist and premillennial hermeneutic. Upon my first careful reading of Daniel, I immediately rejected the opinions of mainstream scholars. I then flirted for a while with the futurist approach but ultimately rejected it in favor of preterism. When I took my first serious look at the Book of Daniel almost twenty years ago, I did so without the benefit of familiarity with scholarly opinion. In general terms, I knew that in mainstream academia, where liberals dominate biblical scholarship, the prevailing view is that Daniel is a pseudepigraphal product of the second century BC whose “prophecies” need to be understood in that light. I also knew that those scholars who have accepted it for what it claims to be have generally used it to reinforce a futurist and premillennial hermeneutic. Upon my first careful reading of Daniel, I immediately rejected the opinions of mainstream scholars. I then flirted for a while with the futurist approach but ultimately rejected it in favor of preterism. In this article, I focus my skepticism about the scholarly treatment of Daniel upon how mainstream academics and conservative premillennialists have analyzed the great statue of Daniel 2. We learn in verses 32-33 of this chapter that the statue has a head of pure gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and baked clay. Subsequent verses inform us that the head of gold symbolizes Nebuchadnezzar, that the other three metals symbolize a sequence of three kingdoms that will follow him, that the kingdom of iron will “crush and break all the others” (NIV, v.40), and that the clay in the feet and toes indicates that the fourth kingdom will become a divided kingdom “whose people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay” (NIV, v.43).

When I first read Daniel 2, my natural inclination was to assume that the metals that symbolize the four kingdoms should be expected to show particularly close historical associations with those kingdoms. After all, I reasoned, prophecies are supposed to relate to the future, and this means that we should expect that each of the four kingdoms symbolized by the metals should have had a particularly close association with the metal used to identify it. Moreover, I knew that as a matter of historical fact, the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar had placed great emphasis upon gold, that the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great had enjoyed a particularly close association with silver, that Greece had maintained a particularly close association with bronze that extended into the post-Alexander Hellenic Age, and that Rome had improved the technology of iron usage and greatly expanded the use of that metal. I thought it especially significant that the Romans surpassed the Greeks in their reliance upon iron armor and weaponry. This evidence is discounted by mainstream scholars, however, who either ignore it or dismiss it as irrelevant. In their world, it is an article of “faith” that the kingdom of iron cannot be Rome, and all analysis of the four kingdoms must reflect that assumption.

Most mainstream scholars are liberals who regard the “prophecies” of Daniel with great skepticism and are confident that the book was authored in its final form in the second century BC toward the end of the reign of the Seleucid monarch Antiochus IV, who died late in 164 or perhaps in 163. There are some mainstream scholars who look to the time of Antiochus IV for the primary fulfillments of the “end-time” prophecies in the visions half of Daniel (chapters 8-12) and who deny that that the fourth kingdom can be Rome but who nevertheless incline toward the belief that the Book of Daniel is, in some sense, “inspired.” For them, even though the fourth kingdom of the statue symbolizes the “Greece” of the post-Alexander Hellenic Age, it may be that Daniel contains some genuine prophecy, particularly if you generously apply the theology of idealism and recycle prophecies through the use of typology.

When I began my study of Daniel, I initially had difficulty in understanding the historical association to be applied to the clay. I was temporarily thrown off course by reading commentaries by premillennial scholars, who insist on searching for future fulfillments of Daniel’s end-time prophecies and in believing that the fourth kingdom will somehow play a part in man’s apocalyptic windup. Perhaps, I thought, the clay belongs to our future. In due course, however, I came to realize that it is foolish to look to the future for the completion of the fourth kingdom’s time on Earth, and that realization brought me to the conclusion that the clay in the feet and toes corresponds historically to the Jews, whose homeland became integrated into the Roman Empire a considerable time after Rome became the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Already present in some predominately Greek-speaking areas of the empire, Jews migrated northward and westward after the incorporation of Judea into the empire and grew in relative numbers through both natural increase and prosyletization. As I came to embrace the idea of first-century AD fulfillment for Daniel’s end-time prophecies, I had no difficulty in concluding that it was the Jewish people who gave the empire the divided character indicated by the mixture of iron and clay.

In my initial foray into the study of Daniel, I surmised that since prophecies relate to the future and the four kingdoms symbolized by the metals are sequential, it makes sense to assume that each of the five sections of the statue corresponds to a distinct time period whose duration is roughly proportional to the percentage of the statue’s total length allocated to it. In calculating that length, I assumed that the statue’s proportions would be those of a normal man, and I added to the length the portion of the feet extending beyond the ankles since I assume that the movement along the feet corresponds to a movement in time. Also, one can plausibly assume, in calculating the relative time to be allocated to the five sections of the statue, the silver portion should receive a substantial “bonus” at the expense of the other sections to reflect its inclusion of the arms, which would normally hang below the waist. In any event, I suggest that a very rough but reasonable allocation of the relative time corresponding to each of the five portions of the statue is as follows: head and neck, 15 percent; shoulders, chest, and arms, 26 percent; belly and thighs, 26 percent; legs (knee joints to ankle bones), 20 percent; feet and toes, 13 percent. As I indicate later in the article, these percentages roughly coincide with the dates that should be given to the historical counterparts of the five portions of the statue. Obviously, these percentages are affected by where you mark the precise boundaries between different sections. In assigning these percentages, I assume that the geographical theater for their application was the Holy Land and the immediately adjacent territories.

The idea that the proportions of the five different sections of the statue should roughly match the historical periods that correspond to their symbolism is noticeable in the work of mainstream scholars for its absence. The reason for this, I am confident, is that in any sequence of four kingdoms where Rome is not the fourth kingdom, the historical correlation between the sections of the statue and their supposed real-world counterparts is unacceptably poor. Some of these authorities do acknowledge that the fact that the clay shows up only in the feet and toes implies that its arrival occurs in the latter part of the time of dominance of the fourth kingdom, but that is about it as far their effort to correlate the statue’s proportions with history is concerned.

In response to the question of how the four metals of the statue came to be chosen, the answer given by mainstream scholars is that the sequence of gold, silver, bronze, and iron reflects a familiar mythical theme in which a succession of kingdoms symbolized by metals of declining value conformed to the widespread belief among ancient peoples in the existence of a kind of idyllic state in the distant past from which mankind had gradually slipped away. The Book of Daniel, it must be conceded, does not appear to be the original source of the four metals sequence. The idea of presenting this sequence in the form of a statue does, however, appear to be original with Daniel, as does the mixing of the iron with clay. Moreover, while Daniel informs Nebuchadnezzar in verse 39 that the kingdom that follows his will be “inferior” to his, there is no clear indication in Daniel 2 or elsewhere that the succeeding kingdoms are, in fact, inferior. It seems plausible to believe that in telling the prideful Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdom that would displace his would be inferior to his, Daniel was seeking to soften the blow received by learning that his kingdom was destined to soon disappear, and it may also be that “inferior” here simply means being located below the head of the statue. In any event, mainstream scholars seem perfectly content with the idea that the four metals sequence was chosen because of its familiarity and was not intended to be historically predictive.

Again I remind the reader that the Book of Daniel purports to be a book of prophecy, and genuine prophecy provides insights into the future. I think it is therefore appropriate to ask mainstream scholars the following questions: what insights into the future are provided by the choice of the four metals and the order of their appearance, and what insights into the future are provided by the relative proportions of the statue assigned to each of its five sections? In effect, the answer to the first of these questions that these scholars offer is that there is some sort of qualitative decline in the four kingdoms and the fourth kingdom—that of Antiochus IV—is particularly mean and nasty, which coincides with iron’s ability to crush and break other substances. As for the second question, mainstream scholars simply do not address it. To limit the historical significance of the statue’s features in this manner is equivalent to holding that “Daniel” was not much of a prophet, but this is no problem for liberals since they deny that a genuine prophet of that name existed. For those mainstream scholars who believe that the Book of Daniel may contain genuine prophecy, however, this resolution of the problem should be troubling.

Although both Isaiah (64:8) and Jeremiah (18:6) contain passages that refer to the Jews as potter’s clay, mainstream scholars, including those who entertain the idea that Daniel is, in some sense, “inspired,” strongly embrace the idea that the clay in the feet and toes of the statue refers to marriage(s) between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. There are clear references to such marriages in Daniel 11:6 and 17, and it is commonly assumed that the author of Daniel intended them to be understood as referring to 2:43. It must be conceded that determining just what 2:43 means is a challenge and that to claim that it refers to some kind of intermarriage is defensible. That it requires both intermarriage and interdynastic marriage, however, is dubious.

In the interest of scholarly objectivity, I must note that although I believe that the NIV’s translation of 2:43, which I presented earlier, captures the intended meaning of this verse, it is arguable that it forces a meaning that the Aramaic of the text does not mandate. The NIV indicates that the people of the fourth kingdom will become a disunited mixture, but a word-for-word translation of this verse reads more like the NASB: “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.” I submit that “they” does not necessarily point to royal families and that the mixing of the “seed of men” does not necessarily require intermarriage between either royal families or distinct social groups. The passage may simply imply the uneasy coexistence of disparate groups within the same territory. Joyce Baldwin, a conservative English scholar who wrote a valuable short commentary on Daniel, pointed out that the “seed of men” reference in 2:43a constitutes “an unusual expression, reminiscent of the prohibition to mix seed in the field” that is found in Leviticus 19:19.[1] I submit that it is not the mixing of seed in the field that produces hybrids.

A serious problem with identifying the clay with the Ptolemies, as mainstream scholars insist on doing, is that it is not specifically associated with a kingdom. Indeed, since the four metals are all identified with kingdoms, one is entitled to surmise that the clay does not symbolize a kingdom. Furthermore, by insisting on identifying the iron with Seleucid Syria, mainstream scholars effectively exclude Ptolemaic Egypt from the fourth kingdom, which contradicts the fact that when they identify the original composition of the fourth kingdom, Ptolemaic Egypt is a part of it. For mainstream scholars, however, this contradiction is no problem because it can be attributed to the deficiencies of the author of Daniel rather than to the shortcomings of their own hermeneutic.

Conservative scholars; i.e. those who accept Rome as the fourth kingdom, have sought to assign greater historical relevance to the statue’s composition than mainstream scholars have been willing to grant, but most of them have gone badly astray because of a misguided insistence on making Daniel conform to a futurist hermeneutic. Some of them, particularly among those who have taken large bites from the dispensationalist “apple,” have performed impressive feats of imagination that, unfortunately for them, lack solid support from the text of Daniel 2. These feats include trying to explain how “Rome” manages to extend from ancient times into our future. Although Rome fell to barbarians for the last time in 476, some conservatives have argued that it never really fell, at least in a cultural sense, and it is noteworthy that an argument along those lines persisted for a long time after the fall. The existence of the Catholic Church with its headquarters in Rome contributed greatly to this persistence, and the term “Holy Roman Empire” reflected the fiction that Rome had never really fallen. Unlike liberals, however, conservatives have tended to assume that the five sections of the statue must have a correlation with historical reality; and with the passage of time, it has become increasingly obvious that if this correlation is to be shown, there is a problem in reconciling that reality with the limitations of human anatomy. To be specific, if Rome never really fell, then the idea that the statue is a kind of time line would seem to necessitate that it look like a man with incredibly long stilt-like legs and feet that would make those of a circus clown look normal by comparison.

Largely as a response to the stilt-like legs dilemma, some futurists have offered the solution that there must be a gap somewhere in the fourth kingdom’s portion of the statue that corresponds to the gap they find between verses 69 and 70 in the seventy “weeks” prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. Gary DeMar suggests that in order to make the supposed gap in Daniel 2 equivalent to the supposed gap in Daniel 9, dispensationalists must insert it between the feet and the toes. As he also notes, however, nothing in the text of either chapter suggests that such a gap exists.[2] Undeterred by this “little” detail, however, many futurists have barged ahead with speculations based on various assumptions about the clay, the two legs, and the ten toes of the statue. The text of Daniel 2 offers nothing to suggest that the fact that the statue has two legs has eschatological significance, however; and while it refers to the toes without mentioning the feet in verse 42, it does not mention their number. For that matter, neither does it mention the numbers of the arms and fingers. I suggest that the special significance of the toes is that they connote the very end of the time allotted to the statue and lie in the zone of impact with the rock that is not cut out by human hands (v.34).

The futurist approach to Daniel 2 has, no doubt, influenced some readers of Daniel toward accepting dispensationalism and other hermeneutical systems that revive the Roman Empire, but it has certainly had the opposite effect on people who are not so affected by “last days madness.” The implausibility of the futurist hermeneutic has contributed to the fact that the systems that reject Rome as the fourth kingdom have not been subjected to close scrutiny on various points, one of the most obvious examples being their very limited effort to recognize the possible historical symbolism of the statue. Among the hermeneutical systems that reject Rome as the fourth kingdom, the most prevalent is the one that I like to call the “Greek sequence,” in which the four kingdoms symbolized by the metals are, sequentially, (1) the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar; (2) the Median Empire represented by the allegedly fictitious ruler Darius the Mede, who is a central character in Daniel 6 and is mentioned as the ruler of Babylon in chapters 5, 9, and 11; (3) the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great; and (4) the “Greece” of Alexander and the Hellenic kingdoms that succeeded him. In this Greek sequence, the earliest feasible starting date is 626 BC, which is when Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, succeeded in driving the Assyrians from Babylonia. Because Daniel 2 gives the date for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the great statue as the second year of his reign, however, it seems more appropriate to place a date of around 603 at the top of the statue’s head. Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylonia upon the death of Nabopolassar, which occurred in 605, shortly after the great battle of Carchemish, in which Nebuchadnezzar vanquished the Egyptians and the remnants of the Assyrians. The obvious terminal date for the Babylonian kingdom is 539, which is when Babylon fell to the army of Cyrus, though Daniel 5:31 credits Darius the Mede with being the man in charge when Babylon fell. Notice that if we subtract 539 from 603, we get 64 years as the time of the kingdom of gold, Babylonia. And since the proponents of the Greek sequence insist that it ends with the death of Antiochus IV, which occurred in 164/163, the statue’s “career” in the Greek sequence lasts for about 440 years. This means that the gold part of the statue accounts for about 14-15 percent of its total length, which is a very plausible result.

With the selection of Media as the second kingdom in the Greek sequence, however, the feasibility of trying to apply the time line concept to the statue in that sequence comes to a crashing halt. At most, the reign of Darius the Mede over Babylonia lasts no more than two years in the Book of Daniel, and this cold fact makes it pointless to continue with the time line analysis. Incidentally, I am one of those who believe that Darius the Mede is none other than Cyrus the Great, and my conviction that the time line concept should apply to the statue is one of a number of reasons for my holding this view. But this is not the time and place for explaining my position on this particular point.

The Greek sequence has many other problems, and even though it has enjoyed a sheltered existence that has allowed it to enjoy “immunity from prosecution” for a remarkably long time, there seems to be a growing recognition of these problems in mainstream academia. To date, however, this awareness does not seem to have led to many defections of mainstream scholars to the “Roman sequence” camp, whose appeal has been greatly strengthened by the growth of preterism. Instead, those mainstream scholars who have come to question the version of the Greek sequence favored by liberals have turned increasingly to idealism and typology, a shift of emphasis that I find somewhat analogous to the rise of postmodernism. And some mainstream scholars seem to be showing more interest in what I call the “modified Greek sequence” or (more facetiously) “liberal light sequence,” in which the four kingdoms consist of Babylonia, Medo-Persia, the “Greece” of Alexander, and the collection of kingdoms that emerged from the struggles among Alexander’s generals (the diadochi) after his death, which occurred in 323 BC. Thus, in the liberal light approach, the four Hellenic kingdoms that emerged soon after the death of Alexander are merged into one in Daniel 2.

There are numerous problems with the liberal light approach, but I shall confine myself here to its inability to be reconciled with the time line approach to the statue that I advocate. Because this approach identifies Medo-Persia as the second kingdom, it overcomes the problem of having the second kingdom be around for only a year or two. Unfortunately for it, it overcorrects. If we date the beginning of Medo-Persia’s time as the kingdom of silver in 539 and end it in 332, which is the year in which Alexander established firm control of the Mediterranean coastal area, we arrive at a figure of 207 years for the second kingdom. Since the total amount of time represented by the statue is the same in the liberal light approach as in the regular Greek sequence, and since I have estimated this quantity at 440 years, this means that in the liberal light approach, the second kingdom accounts for about 47 percent of the total time, a quantity that seems disproportionately large. The excessive allocation to Medo-Persia is then largely offset by the compression of the third kingdom, that of Alexander the Great, to a time span as short as nine years. One could add a few years to this by allowing for the time that it took for the diadochi to really get going at it with each other, but there is really no need to go to the trouble—it is obvious that the liberal light or modified Greek sequence is incompatible with the idea that the statue serves as a time line.

Now that I have indicated that neither futurist nor mainstream scholars can present a plausible demonstration that the statue of Daniel 2 serves as a time line, I have to confront the question of whether the version of the Roman sequence that I support does what they fail to do. In my view, it passes the test with flying colors. Admittedly, there are problems in setting the precise boundaries of the different portions of the statue and in determining the precise periods in history that correspond to them, but the admittedly rough correlation between the statue and history that can be shown with the preterist version of the Roman sequence is closer by huge margins than what can be claimed by the alternatives.

In my calculations, the Roman sequence runs from 603 BC to AD 30, the latter being the date that I assign to the Resurrection, which I regard as being equivalent to the striking of the statue by the rock in Daniel 2:34. Allowing for no year zero, this gives a total of 632 years. Babylonia’s time as the kingdom of gold runs from 603 to 539, a period of 64 years, or 10 percent of the total. For Medo-Persia, the kingdom of silver, the number of years is 207, or 33 percent of the total. By comparison, the “ideal” figures that I suggested earlier for the first two kingdoms are 15 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

When we come to Greece, the kingdom of bronze, we encounter the problem of determining just when it lost out to Rome. There are several plausible choices for the year in which Rome displaced Greece as the dominant power in the area around the Holy Land. The first is 190 BC, which is when the Romans under Scipio Asiaticus decisively defeated Antiochus III of Seleucid Syria at the Battle of Magnesia in western Asia Minor. To me, this date is too early because Antiochus III retained much of his power and Greece, Macedonia, and Egypt remained at least nominally independent. Then there is 168 BC, when the Romans forced Antiochus IV to abandon his effort to subdue Egypt. My preference, however, is for 146 BC, which is when Rome formally incorporated the Greek heartland into the empire. Admittedly, the choice of 146 also supports my correlation argument since it lengthens the time of Greece to 186 years; i.e. 332 BC to 146 BC. That amounts to 29 percent of the 632 years. Another possible date, incidentally, is 142 BC, which is when Hasmonean Judea finally firmly established its independence from Selucid Syria.

In calculating the time for “clay free” Rome, my preference is to date the appearance of the clay from 37 BC, the year in which Herod the Great ascended to the Judean throne. Admittedly, Judea was actually incorporated into the Roman Empire in 63 BC, when Pompey occupied Jerusalem, but Rome did not establish firm control over Judea until Herod was installed as king. If, then, we use 146 BC as the starting point for the pure iron section of the statue and 37 BC as the ending point, this gives us 109 years, or 17 percent of the total. Finally, if the iron mixed with clay portion of the statue corresponds to the period from 37 BC to AD 30, this gives 66 years, or 10 percent of the total.

Now compare the percentages I have calculated as admittedly rough estimates of the relevant time periods with those that I suggested earlier as rough approximations of the “ideal” percentages. The “ideal” percentages are, going from the gold to the clay, 15, 26, 26, 20, and 13. The corresponding historical percentages are 10, 33, 29, 17, and 10, which adds to only 99 percent because of rounding. I submit that the correlation is remarkably close, though it must be admitted that the percentages can be altered considerably through the rearrangement of dates. Even so, the preterist version of the Roman sequence offers the only approach that can incorporate the time line concept with arguably plausible results. This means, of course, that proponents of the alternative approaches will continue to deny the relevance of the historical correspondence criterion for the exegesis of Daniel 2.

I now return to the matter of the association between the metals of the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 and their historical counterparts. Recall that I asserted early in this article that Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon had a close association with gold, and that Persia, Greece, and Rome had close historical associations with silver, bronze, and iron, respectively. I shall now elaborate a little on these associations.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon is identified as the kingdom of gold in Daniel 2:38, and it is a fact that this kingdom did indeed stand out among its contemporaries for its splendor, which included the lavish display of pure gold in statuary, altars, furnishings, drinking utensils, and jewelry, as well as numerous gold-plated decorations on buildings. On the other hand, the New Babylonian kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar failed to develop the use of silver coinage, and it is doubtful that its use of bronze and iron noticeably surpassed that of other nations.

The Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great was, in reality, an extension of the Median Empire that had been assembled by Cyaxares, who was probably a maternal great-grandfather of Cyrus. Historically, therefore, it is correct to view the empire that Cyrus took over as a Medo-Persian empire. In fact, while the Book of Daniel indicates that Darius the Mede briefly ruled in Babylon, it otherwise consistently treats Media and Persia as forming a united kingdom. In 546, Cyrus conquered the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor, thereby gaining possession of that nation’s ores of precious metals and the technology that had allowed it to develop the world’s first high-quality gold and silver coins. Cyrus and the rulers who followed him used their ability to mine and coin silver to assemble a force of mercenary warriors of unprecedented size. Gold was also important to the these rulers (the Achaemenids), but with gold being used to designate Babylonia, it is silver that stands out has having a had a particularly strong association with the what is called the Persian Empire.

Although the Bronze Age of archeological fame had been superseded by the Iron Age by the time of the New Babylonian kingdom, the Greeks continued to make conspicuous use of bronze long after iron became the preferred metal for most weapons. Particularly noteworthy is that Greco-Macedonian soldiers characteristically wore protective armor of bronze, including helmets, shields, greaves (shin guards), and, climate permitting, breastplates. Their bronze armor stood in marked contrast to the tunics that were typically worn by the Medes and Persians. The Greeks also armored their famed triremes with bronze plates and provided them with a bronze-headed battering ram. They even used bronze hardware for these naval vessels. Also of note is the fact that Ezekiel 27 provides a valuable account of the trade between Tyre and various locations in which Greece (Javan) is identified as a source of slaves and bronze. Given all this evidence, Greece obviously qualifies as the bronze kingdom when historical association is allowed to be considered.

And just as Greece qualifies as the kingdom of bronze, Rome stands out as the kingdom of iron. Rome’s military technology surpassed that of even the Greco-Macedonian forces of Alexander’s day. While Roman soldiers sometimes wore bronze helmets, their armor, in contrast to that of the Greeks and Macedonians, was overwhelmingly of iron. Like the Greeks and Macedonians, the Romans had iron swords and iron-tipped pikes and javelins, but they also had a type of “artillery” consisting of iron-tipped bolts fired by catapults. Some Roman ships carried bronze battering rams like those used by the Greeks, but the Romans relied more heavily upon iron armor and hardware. Moreover, the Romans developed the use of the corvus, a gangplank with a large iron spike at its far end. When boarding an enemy ship, the corvus would be flipped over so that it stuck into the deck of the enemy vessel, and Roman soldiers would then scramble over it to attack their foe. Finally, we need to recall that Daniel 2:40 calls attention to iron’s ability to crush and break other things and specifically relates that ability to the fourth kingdom’s ability to crush other kingdoms. I submit that this description applies far more appropriately to Rome than to Seleucid Syria!

Given the evidence presented in this article, I think it is quite clear why biblical scholars who reject the preterist hermeneutic cannot afford to give much weight to the idea that we should look for historical associations that correspond to the four metals and the five sections of the statue of Daniel 2. To do so would be disastrous for them, and I suspect that they know this to be the case, at least intuitively. Again, however, I insist that prophecies give insights into the future, and I am confident that the statue was intended to be prophetic. In my judgment, you can believe that the Book of Daniel is a pseudepigraphal “pious fraud” or you can believe that it is a work of genuine prophecy. I opt for the latter.

Notes

[1]Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel, vol. 21, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978), 93.

[2]Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs, Ga.: American Vision, 1999), 326.

tom-g's picture

Hey JL,

You've been following this argument, what is your take on the whole thing between Evans and ThS?

Tom

JL's picture

Tom,

That event is usually dated to the spring of AD 68. It is followed fairly closely to Vespasian starting his siege of Jerusalem.

I don't know if or how to confirm that date, but it is the event Tim and I use in our book.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr. JL,

I failed to mention that I appreciate your response. So far I seem to like it the best. When would this event have happened (in relation to the record of the Wars and Cestius) so that the Christians recognized it and fled?

Thanks,
Tom

tom-g's picture

Hey everyone,

I'm sorry I have been away for a few days, but my original question was for my own understanding.

I am a preterist in that I believe all prophecy has been fulfilled and our Lord has returned and makes his home within his church his body.

My question about HIS reference to Daniel was to clarify what (event/person?) was being described. For it to be recognized by his disciples it had to have been an actual well known historic event/person that had occurred in their nation's past.

Our lord said that after recognizing Daniel's A of D they were to flee. Whiston's note in Josephus about the event under Cestius would seem to be the event/person that the disciples recognized as the A of D and did in fact take that occasion to flee to Perea.

What I was trying to understand was what event/person in Daniel would correspond to the Cestius event (this event/person occurred after Math. was written because he instructs those who read his gospel were to be able to understand and flee) that the Christians recognized and fled.

How could they, whose lives were immediately at risk, flee based upon our Lord's words in Math about Daniel's A of D if they didn't know exactly what to look for? How can we, Monday morning quarterbacks with the benefit of having divinely inspired fulfilled prophecy to teach us, not be in unanimous agreement?

Regards,
Tom

chrisliv's picture

Thomas,

See the post below for a response to this thread, which has gotten too stringy.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

chrisliv's picture

Thomas,

You can accuse me of lying, but your claim will be a false one.

If you really do advocate a Preterist interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27, (which would demand that Christ did call for it's fulfillment at Mat. 24:15) why do you refuse to accept that Christ was referring to it at Mat. 24:15, because it prophesied Messiah being cut-off and the destruction of Jerusalem, with its Temple, both of which occurred in the 1st Century AD like Christ (in the Olivet Discourse) and Daniel's vision called for?

So, I have proven the cross-reference, which is obvious on its face by correlation of the words themself and the timely fitness of their fulfillment. And I have also proven that mainstream scolarship agrees that Dan. 9:26 is a cross-reference to Mat. 24:15 by the fact that even my OnlineBible software cites the cross-reference.

I'll, again, show the verses below.

I'm the one arguing the Preterist interpretation of Dan. 9:24-27 as the fulfillment of Mat. 24:15 at 70 AD. For you to argue to J.L., and others, that Christ was only "re-using" (at Mat 24:15) an already fulfilled (by Antiochus Epiphanes) oracle via Dan. 11:31 is certainly not the Preterist interpretation.

So, you should be honest about that.

I never argued about Dan. 8.

Claiming superior "linguistics" and "you don't know the Aramaic or the Greek Septuagint" is not a refutation; it's just a cowardly evasion.

So, Thomas, my argument stands.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

-------------------------------------------------

Daniel 9:

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Mat. 24:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I advocate a Preterist interpretation of Dan 9:24-27. That means that I think the prophecy has been fulfilled in the past; that's what "preterist" means.

Like Mr. Evans, I think Dan 11:31 is about Antiochus IV, not the Jewish War (66-70 CE). I think Jesus has re-used an OT oracle against Antiochus. John did the same thing in Revelation; reusing oracles against ancient Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh etc.

You have accused me of being a futurist and, thus, said that I think Dan 9:24-27 will be fulfilled in the future. As I have never argued such a thing, you are not telling the truth. And if your are not telling the truth... It may be that you are not lying; what you've done is to replaced what I actually have said with something you think I said or want me to have said without any attention to my point that Dan 9:24-27 seems to be an explanation of Dan 8.

Unfortunately, you keep on arguing that Matt 24:15 is a reference to Dan 9:27; I wish you were able to read the Greek texts. If you did, you would be able to see that the reference in Matt 24:15 is to Dan 11:31 not Dan 9:27. I do know that historicists believe Dan 11:31 is about the Jewish War (66-70 CE), but this is very unusual amongst Preterists. Are you a Preterist or a Historicist? :)

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Thomas,

You keep contradicting yourself.

I am the one advocating the 70 AD fulfillment of Dan. 9:24-27 and Mat. 24:15. And we know that Messiah was "cut-off" (crucified) but "not for himself" (sinless/atonement) and that Jesusalem and the Temple were destroyed in the 1st Century AD, just like Dan. 9:24-27 and Mat. 25:15 (and the Olivet Discourse) called for.

That is the capital "P" Preterist position.

Are you really suddenly advocating the same thing? I doubt that you are.

If so, congratulations! And thank you for finally agreeing with me and the Preterist position.

But, you contradict yourself immediately, saying, "Unfortunately, you keep on arguing that Matt 24:15 is a reference to Dan 9:27; I wish you were able to read the Greek texts. If you did, you would be able to see that the reference in Matt 24:15 is to Dan 11:31 not Dan 9:27. I do know that historicists believe Dan 11:31 is about the Jewish War (66-70 CE), but this is very unusual amongst Preterists..."

So, in your own words, you suggest that Christ's obvious reference (at Mat.24:15) to Daniel 9:24-27 was not fulfilled at the Jewish War (66-70 AD), but at some other time, or not at all, hence my tendency to demand an answer as to why you refuse to acknowledge why Christ's prophecy that Daniel's abomination that makes desolate should not include Daniel 9:24-27 (which calls for Messiah's being cut-off and Jerusalem being destroyed) but should rather refer to something you consider fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes about 200 years before.

That is just nonsense and has nothing at all to do with the capital "P" Preterist position.

Futurists believe that prophecies predicting that Christ would atone for Sin are fulfilled, too, but that doesn't make them "preterists" at all. So, your arguments and evasions are very weak, Thomas. And your wishing that I could "read the Greek texts" are not refutations. You have not demonstrated any insight into the two texts that I continually cite, which provide their own prima facie evidence.

So, my argument stands, unassailed.

Again, you obviously haven't looked at the text, which I'll include below, for the twelfth time.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

-------------------------------------------------

Matthew 24:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened...

33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

Daniel 9:

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

ThomasS's picture

Dear Mr. Livingstone,

If Dan 9:24-27 is (cf. v. 23) an explanation of Dan 8, I am not able to see how you can see Dan 9:27 in Matt 24:15. We all know that Jesus did not refer to Dan 9:27 (in Matt 24:15 -- if you were able to read Greek, you would be able to see it), so why all the eisegesis?

But perhaps you take a historicist position on both Dan 8 and Dan 11?

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Thomas,

Dan. 9:24-27 was nothing at all in common with Dan. 8.

Dan. 9:24-27 is a prophetic reference to events that we see were fulfilled in the 1st Century AD, namely:

"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince... (Christ's earthly ministry). Dan. 9:25

"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: (Christ's crucifixion and sacraficial atonement) and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD); and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." Dan. 9:26

Take a look at the preface of the above context at Dan. 9:11-13:

11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

You see, the context of Dan. 9 is primarily about the curse written into the law of Moses falling upon Jerusalem for its breech of contract with God.

It is perfectly fitting for Christ to cite this context from Daniel 9 at Mat. 24:15 as the quintessential passages from the O.T. Book of Daniel that would describe the soon coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

And we know that Mat. 24 and Daniel 9 were both fulfilled by events in the 1st Century AD which came to their dramatic and gruesome climax in Judea with the Fall of Jerusalem, just like Christ said they would within lifetimes of some of those people whom he preached to.

Again:

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand. Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains." Mat. 24:15 & 16

And:

"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Mat. 24:34

So, Daniel 9:26 was fulfilled by the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and Christ cited this passage from Daniel at Mat. 24:15, warning, about 40 years beforehand, that it would come to pass in the 1st Century AD.

Why do you resist such simple biblical and historical facts, Thomas?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

It is clear from your latest posting that you are not able to read Biblical Hebrew; I guess that is why you are not able to see the reference to Dan 8 in Dan 9:23.

Now, as you are only able to read into the text whatever you want the text to say (or, perhaps it's me?), I think we should agree on disagreeing...

Pax et bonum!

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Thomas,

I thought you said the cite of Christ at Mat. 24:15 to Daniel was via the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version (I agree that it is).

So why are you now claiming that my inability to read Biblical Hebrew somehow supports your assertion?

Of course, the Masoretic Text, though it's in Hebrew, doesn't hold a candle to the Greek Septuagint in age or integrity, especially in the areas that are Messianic and in which the Jews knew that Christians ascribed to being fulfilled by Christ Jesus.

Your claim to read (or is just to translate) Ancient Greek and Hebrew is still not an argument or a refutation.

Are you a Franciscan, too?

Pax te*****,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I said "Biblical Hebrew" because of the reference in Dan 9:23 (MT) to Dan 8 (MT).

MT = Hebrew text.

See? :)

Th. S.

Islamaphobe's picture

Chris,

You may as well hang it up. Thomas is committed to the "liberal light" interpretation of Daniel, which requires that the primary fulfillments of the end-time prophecies have to be in the time of Antiochus IV. Therefore, the primary fulfillment of the "abomination that causes desolation" passage Matthew 24:15 HAS to be in the time of Antiochus even though the words preceding it are "when you see standing in the holy place," which seems to mean to those of us who do not read Greek that the audience being addressed as "you" consists of His listeners and refers to the future. What we have here is a good illustration of how the multiple fulfillments exegetical tool can be used to promote utter nonsense.

For most of us who post here, I think, it is easy to see that the liberal light approach to Daniel is a road that leads to nowhere. That it contains obvious weaknesses is, I think, the reason that neither mainstream scholars nor conservatives have given much attention to it. I am currently doing some work for a little book that I intend to put out on Daniel 2 before this year is over and am taking the trouble in it to address some of the weaknesses in the modified Greek or "liberal light" sequence favored by Thomas. Because of Thomas's insistence on attacking the idea that Rome is the fourth kingdom of Daniel whenever Daniel is discussed on this site, I have resolved to post an article here during the next few months that is devoted SOLELY to examining the lberal light sequence.

John S. Evans

ThomasS's picture

Dear Mr. Evans,

As you seem totally committed to the "historicist light" interpretation of Daniel, which requires a lot of eisegesis, I see no purpose in any further discussion re: your modified historicism vs. sound Biblical preterism.

I wish you the very best!

Th. S.

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

You wrote:

"Why don't you just come out and say the obvious, that you have wedged a period of 2000 or more years in between Dan. 9:26 and Dan. 9:27, because you want Dan. 9:27 to still be futuristic, even though Christ prophesied, at Mat 24:15 that it would be fulfilled in the 1st Century AD?"

Why are you lying? (I advocate a Preterist interpretation of Dan 9:24-27.)

If you continue lying, I don't think I will use more time on you. IF you are a Christian, I think you will understand that.

Finally, as you have not been able to prove that Jesus was referring to Dan 9:27 (based on linguistics, it is obvious that he was referring to Dan 11:31) you really do not have a case here. Also, you have not been able to explain why there is a reference to Dan 8 in Dan 9:23.

All the best

Th. S.

ThomasS's picture

I usually point out to my students that, basically, one should always look for two kinds of problem with any given essay or article. First, we have all the (factual) errors that may be presented directly in the text. Second, we have problems due to information that for some reason is not presented in the text.

In his essay on the statue of Dan 2, John Evans again tries to advocate what I call the "modified historicist sequence" or (more facetiously) "historicist light sequence", in which the four kingdoms consist of (1) Babylon, (2) Medo-Persia, (3) the Greco-Macedonian kingdoms of Alexander and his 'diadochoi', and (4) the Roman Empire. Like all historicists he has to assume something not stated in the text (neither in the dream vision nor in the interpretation of the dream); whereas classic historicists assume that the "stone" symbolises the second coming of Christ (which they think is still a future event), Evans assumes "that each of the […] sections of the statue corresponds to a distinct time period whose duration is roughly proportional to the percentage of the statue's total length allocated to it". According to Evans, only his "historicist light sequence" seems to be in harmony with "the admittedly rough correlations between the statue and history".

The main problem with Evans' interpretation, of course, is that it is based on a certain assumption with no real support in the text. One may assume all kinds of things, but assumptions should not be the foundation of a (sound) interpretation. Reading a necessary premise for a given interpretation into a text may be seen as eisegesis, not exegesis. This is probably why few so-called conservative scholars have advanced this kind of thinking. The same goes for Evans' idea that iron would more naturally indicate Rome than, say, some of the Macedonian kingdoms (cf. the 'conservative' commentaries by Young, Baldwin and Longman). Evans would probably like us to believe that only their futurist bias prevent them for accepting his idea that the iron (necessarily or most naturally) indicates Rome; but perhaps they have realised that the idea (presented in Boutflower's In and Around the Book of Daniel ) is based on conjecture, not historical facts.

Evans openly admits that there are problems with what he considers to be "admittedly rough correlations between [his interpretation of] the statue and history"; but he does not seem to realise how severe these problems are. According to Evans, "the striking of the rock" is equivalent to the resurrection of Christ (in "AD 30", according to Evans). But the Roman Empire was not "crushed" ca. 30 CE. In fact, the Roman Empire grew more powerful after 30 CE. One may want to ask how this corresponds to the dream vision and its explanation. Fact remains that all parts of the statue was destroyed by the striking rock. Of course, Evans has to explain this (away) by assuming either that the fourth kingdom was to co-exist with the stone kingdom and only gradually be destroyed or that the fourth kingdom was to be destroyed in some kind of spiritual sense. I, for one, do not by this kind of 'interpretation; I consider it to be nothing but special pleading!

There are some problems in what Evans states; let me review but a few:

(1) Evans argues that according to those who opt for the "Greek sequence", the Median kingdom is represented by Darius the Mede. This, however, is not entirely true! The "Greek sequence" is advocated by at least one 'liberal' scholar (B.E. Colless) who actually thinks "Darius the Mede" = Cyrus II and by scholars who are open for such an identification (E.C. Lucas). Obviously, the identification of the second kingdom with Media could be based on other reasons than those presented by J.J. Collins. Several conservative scholars have accepted the "Greek sequence" (cf. Terry, Gruenthaner, Gurney, Wenham).

(2) According to Evans, "the mixing of the iron with clay" seems to be original with Daniel. One may wonder what makes him believe that. The fact is that the mixing of metal with not-metal strongly points to the fourth kingdom being Macedonian in nature.

It is interesting that Evans wants to downplay the (obvious) links between Dan 2:43 and Dan 11 (and, of course, the likely link between the toes of the statue and the ten horns of the fourth beast in Dan 7).

It is also interesting to notice that Evans does not seem to pay any attention to a possible correlation between the, anatomically speaking, obvious link between the two thighs and the two legs and the, historically speaking, relationship between the third and the fourth kingdoms. One may ask why the vision lets the two thighs (= two parts) of the third kingdom be linked to and followed by two legs. If we speculate the way Evans does, one may, perhaps, find some support for another interpretation as well (according to Dan 8, the 'diadochoi' originated from Alexander's kingdom). This line of thinking, however, is based on speculation, which cannot prove any interpretation. Hopefully, it demonstrates how easy it is to play with ideas and assumptions in order to back up any given interpretation.

The oldest interpretation of the Book of Daniel (known to us), which is found in 1 and 2 Maccabees and the Qumran writings, is Preterist in nature and links the fourth kingdom of Daniel to the Seleucid kingdom of Syria. This is how the fourth kingdom was identified by people living in a culture similar to the milieu in which the Book of Daniel was made. Historically, the historicist sequence is a novelty, made by people who wanted to update the Book of Daniel to be about their very own time. Historicism (light) is not supported by the Book of Daniel or the rest of the Bible. Conservative Christians should reject it.

Much more could be said about this, but I think any open minded reader is able to see that the modified historicist interpretation of the Book of Daniel cannot be proven by the means suggested by John Evans.

E.C. Lucas (whose dissertation on Dan 7 I strongly recommend) has done extensive research on the origin of the four kingdoms schema in the Book of Daniel; this research led him, eventually, to reject the idea that the fourth kingdom = Rome. I think he had some very good reasons to do so.

Th. S.

Islamaphobe's picture

My latest article is built around the following points. One, I assert that it is reasonable to assume that since the Book of Daniel purports to be prophetic, then the statue of Daniel 2, with its sequence of four metals and its five distinct sections, is to be understood as being historically predictive. Two, I indicate that that both those who deny that the kingdom of iron is Rome and those who say that it is Rome but think that this "Rome" is part of our future are vulnerable to the observation that they are weak with regard to demonstrating the historically predictive aspects of the statue. This is particularly the case with those who deny that Rome is the fourth kingdom, who must insist, at least implicitly, that the author of Daniel did not intend that the four metals and five sections should imply close historical association. Third, I indicate that the version of the "Roman sequence" that I advocate, which has the statue being hit by the rock in AD 30, passes the historical association tests that the alternatives FLUNK.

As I assumed would be the case, Thomas Sachariassen has responded to my article with a lengthy attempt at refutation. Thomas likes to label my approach to Daniel as "historicist," which, I suppose, is intended to cause me to be identified with SDAs and others who labor hard to find historical events that could be fulfillments of biblical prophecies. This label doesn't bother me because historicism at least accepts the principle that genuine prophecy should be evaluated in light of the historical record. Of course, Thomas intends for the label to be pejorative, and I fear that we are left to infer that he prefers a non-historical approach to the evaluation of Daniel.

"One may assume all kinds of things," writes Thomas. Of course, I am not assuming "all kinds of things," but I AM assuming that the symbolism of prophecy needs to be understood historically. Now if one believes that Daniel is not genuine prophecy, then it makes perfect sense to proceed as Thomas does. I don't think, however, that he really wants to rule out the possibility that Daniel is genuinely prophetic in a quite limited sense. What he likes to do is to criticize positions that he disagrees with without providing an in-depth defense of his own position, which, in the case of Daniel is what I call (accurately) "liberal light." Thomas is much more a critic than he is an apologist, but I sympathize with him in this case because defending the liberal light position in depth is, in my opinion, impossible.

One of the points that Thomas habitually makes in these exchanges is that the claim that Rome is the fourth kingdom founders on the historical fact that the fourth kingdom was NOT destroyed or crushed in the first century AD. He insists on a political interpretation of Daniel 2 and 7 with regard to the fourth kingdom's demise, as opposed to a "spiritual" interpretation. Isn't it interesting, by the way, that in this instance, Thomas finds it convenient to INSIST on a very strict application of history? Oh well, someone said, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." But despite this "telling" criticism, I stick with my position. Those readers interested in reading a detailed elaboration of my position on how the destruction of the statue is to be understood can consult the article I posted here last year on the prophecy of the rock.

Thomas likes to drop the names of mainstream scholars with great frequency, and I certainly do not doubt his great familiarity with the mainstream literature on Daniel. I am of the opinon, however, that mainsteam academia suffers from a profound liberal bias. Having spent forty years earning a living in mainstream academia, I am quite confident of my opinion on this score. I do think there is some weakening of mainstream biblical scholars with regard to their positions on Daniel and Revelation. They have a long way to go, however. As for Stuart, Terry, Colless, Gurney, Wright, Perriman, and Lucas, I have read their positions on Daniel and and grown more confident of my own position as a result.

John S. Evans

ThomasS's picture

My latest posting is built around the following points:

One, I assert that it is reasonable to assume that since the Book of Daniel purports to be prophetic, then the statue of Dan 2, with its sequence of four metals, is to be understood as being historically predictive. The real question, however, is how the parts of the statue should be understood.

Second, do not accept assumptions about Dan 2 that are not supported by the text -- even if such assumptions are made by John Evans.

As to Evans' arguments, it should be pointed out that it simply is not true that only those who accept his modified historicist interpretation are able to maintain that the author of Daniel did intend that the four metals should imply close historical association. Again, the question is how the correlation should be understood. And again, I think we should rather stick to the text and not make unnecessary assumptions (in order to back up a given interpretation). As I have pointed out, Lucas has demonstrated that the mixture of metal and non-metal strongly indicates that the fourth kingdom would be Macedonian.

We all know that the Roman Empire did not fall in 30 CE; in fact, it grew more powerful after the resurrection of Christ. Thus, it should be obvious that the modified historicist interpretation advanced by Evans FLUNKS.

John Evans likes to label my approach to Daniel as "liberal light", which, I suppose, is intended to cause me to be identified with those who do not believe that the Book of Daniel is a collection of genuine divine prophecies. So far, however, he has not been able to say what is liberal about the interpretation of the Book of Daniel reflected in the Qumran writings, in 1-2 Maccabees, the ancient Syrian churches or highly conservative scholars like Bossuet, Stuart, Rinaldi, Lagrange, Buzy, Lattey. Of course, John Evans intends for the label ("liberal light") to be pejorative, and I fear that we are left to infer that he prefers a historicist approach to the interpretation of Daniel.

Many liberals assume that the Book of Revelation was written before 70 CE. But does that make all those opting for an early date liberal? I really do not think so.

True, John Evans does not assume all kinds of things -- he only assumes what is necessary for his interpretation. The problem, however, is that this kind of assumptions tend to be arbitrary in nature. But perhaps Evans wants to reserve the right to make assumptions to himself?

Now if one is not satisfied with what the text says or does not believes that Daniel is genuine prophecy, then it makes perfect sense to proceed as John Evans does. This is why also liberal scholars thinks the fourth kingdom could be identified with Rome; and this is why historicists would like to identify the fourth kingdom with Rome.

I don't think, however, that John Evans really wants to advocate a modified historicist interpretation. What he likes to do is to criticize positions that he disagrees with. Usually, Evans calls liberal scholars (like J.J. Collins) stupid and/or heavily biased. It may seem that he wants us to believe that he is much less biased.

As John Evans is not able to read ancient Aramaic and Hebrew, he has not been able to provide us with an in-depth, scholarly defence of his position, which, in the case of Daniel is what I call (accurately) "historicist light". When it comes to Biblical studies, John Evans is much more an apologist than a scholar. Perhaps one should sympathize with him in this case because defending the historicist light position in depth is, in my opinion, an impossible task.

Those readers interested in reading a detailed elaboration of my position on how the destruction of the statue is to be understood can consult the works by Stuart, Lagrange and Buzy. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Unfortunately, John Evans seems to like attacking mainstream scholars with whom he disagrees. Now, I certainly do not doubt his great familiarity with the mainstream literature on Daniel; I am of the opinion, however, that even if it could be said that mainstream academia suffers from liberal bias, he should not be so sure as to his own conservative bias (cf. Matthew 7:3). On one thing, Evans has been quite clear: he takes any interpretation of Daniel over a liberal approach. Thus, for him historicism and futurism (regardless of the crazy eisegesis) is acceptable as long as the Book of Daniel is viewed as divine prophecies. I find that to be an extremely biased opinion.

As for Evans and other historicists, I have read their positions on Daniel and grown more confident of my own position as a result.

Th. S.

PreteristAD70's picture

Thomas S wrote: "Many liberals assume that the Book of Revelation was written before 70 CE."

"Many liberals"? Could you so kindly list those liberals whom you are aware date Revelation pre-AD 70? I'd love to get my hands on their works. (I'm already aware of John A. T. Robinson.)

Best,

Mike Beidler

ThomasS's picture

Dear Beidler,

I am sorry, but I cannot do the research for you, but I can give you some names.

In addition to J.A.T. Robinson, we have:

F.A. Farrar,
F.C. Baur,
J.C. Wilson,
J.M. Ford,
T.B. Slater (he used to advocate a late date),
F. Düsterdieck,
A.D. Momigliano,
C.C. Torrey
F. Engels

Hope this helps!

Th.S.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

If you lived in the pre-Christian Era, had only the O.T., and listened to the interpretations of the Jews and the Essenes, you could never comprehend the Book of Daniel. And the Maccabean Theory holds to a liberal view and dating of Daniel at second century Greece BC, rather than sixth century Babalonia, which implies that Daniel was a fraud. But, the one other Book widely accepted as written from Babylonia, Ezekiel, actually mentions Daniel (Ez. 14:14,20; 28:3)

But, with the advent Christ, who said He had come to fulfill all that was written (which includes Daniel), and the direct corellation in the Book of Revelation to the Book of Daniel, in which started the prophetic clock was started, by saying, "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand." (Rev. 22:11)

So, Rome is the natural fit for the feet of iron in Daniel, but only for those living beyond the Biblical Century, because Rome was just getting started at the time of Daniel. That's obviously why it said to "seal up the vision and prophecy" (Dan. 9:24), because it would only be comprehensible after-the-fact. So, it's foolish to criticize Evans' interpretation by saying it has "no real support in the text."

Thomas, as a Dispensationalist, do you really teach your students that 69 of the 70 "Weeks" have passed about 2000 years ago, and that a "Gap Theory" is still waiting for the 70th Week to be fulfilled in another Apocalypse someday?

Arguing for either Preterism or Dispensationalism from the O.T., and using Maccabean or Essene interpretations alone is problematic. I think it can only be done after some basic scriptural anchors from Christ or the N.T. writers have been established first.

I certainly agree with you, Thomas, when you write, in the context of the Book of Daniel "how easy it is to play with ideas and assumptions in order to back up any given interpretation."

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

As I am not able to follow your historicist interpretation, I have a hard time understanding your questions. The NT excludes any identification of the fourth kingdom with Rome; this is in harmony with how the Jews understood the Book of Daniel before the Jewish War and the rise of historicism.

Do you really believe that Jesus fulfilled all parts of the Book of Daniel (say, Dan 8:9)? And what about other parts of the Bible usually thought to be fulfilled long before Jesus -- like e.g. Jer 25:8-10; 29:10.

Regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Additionally, Thomas,

You may have read this at some point, in Matthew 24:

15 When ye (those in that Century) therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea (not North America or Europe) flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: (note the local, 1st Century, Jewish relevance)
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be...

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Notice how verse 21 is nearly verbatim from Daniel 12:1:

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."

Stuff like this is just some of the plentiful evidence from the words of Our Lord, which is lying around openly in the pages of the N.T., and which demands that the Book of Daniel and all of the New Testament were either fulfilled within the 1st Century by the events surrounding 70 AD, or that they missed their chance at being properly fulfilled by about 2000 year.

Of course, only us Preterists affirm that all was fufilled within the 1st Century AD, as Christ predicted.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

Your logic is highly problematic. You want me to accept a literal understanding of apocalyptic language -- I do not think such an approach is sound.

If we insist on understanding Dan 2 literally, we have to assume that all the four kingdoms would be destroyed at the same time. But they did not. For skeptics that may be a good argument against Daniel as being trustworthy, but students of the Bible know better: Apocalyptic language cannot be taken literally.

As to Dan 12:1, the texts says "at that time" -- linking the event in Dan 12:1ff. to the death of the king of the north (Dan 11:40-45).

If you take a look at the NT, you will find several parts that are taken from the so-called OT. In the Book of Revelation, for instance, the author uses oracles against ancient Babylon and Tyre for his oracle against "Babylon the great". But that should not lead us to believe that "Babylon the great" = ancient Babylon or ancient Tyre. (This is pretty basic!)

Th. S.

mazuur's picture

Sheeesh Thomas, your pride is huge. I have been reading your various post on this topic here with folks, and I'm completely dumb-founded by your responses. You just can't admit you're wrong can you? I see it in every post you make. You hang on to threads of nothingness because you can't bring yourself to admit what is screaming from the pages of Scripture.

You're like a futurist who sees the plan time statements (like Matthew 24:34) throughout the whole NT, but to save face, he invents, out of thin air, other definitions of "generation".

Give it up Thomas, and you'll feel so much better.

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Rich,

Perhaps you some day will be able to put forward a serious argument; if so, I will see if I have time to review it.

All the best!

Th. S.

mazuur's picture

Thomas, I have given up trying to from past experience with you. It seems Livingstone is on the verge himself too when he said to you, "I don't know what more I can say to you, Thomas. You seem to want to worm out of affirming virtually every (very basic) biblical example that contradicts your futurist Dispensational orientation."

He too is starting to see you're the typical, "don't confuse me with the facts, I know what I believe" type of individual. It was made clear to me long ago that no amount of anything will change your mind as your pride will not allow it.

Again, give the pride up, you'll feel so much better.

-Rich

-Rich

ThomasS's picture

Rich,

You sound more and more like a Futurist. You turn to ad-hominem as you do not have any real arguments. It's sad, really.

Th.S.

chrisliv's picture

Rich,

Thanks for the support.

But, I can tolerate Thomas, until such time as I choose not to. He's a good one for us Preterist's to interact with, because he is so tough to pin down.

He's stubborn in his view. That doesn't offend me.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

mazuur's picture

Chris,

I can see that you can handle him just fine. It just started to look like you were at that point I reached a long time ago. So, more power to you. You have thicker skin than me.

Personally if you ask me he is not just stubborn, he is very evasive. As soon as he sees that you have him, the subject changes to another point real quick. Then he'll continue to state over and over something you have already clearly shown to be false. He'll just move on and keep stating it like its true and you haven't already dealt with it. It's like having a one-sided phone conversation. The other side (Thomas) doesn't hear a word you say, he's just busying preaching to the choir (himself) while all along thinking he's doing a great job.

Maybe you'll get through..well, maybe not.

Good luck!

-Rich

-Rich

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

Someone else notes how Thomas doesn't seem to refer to Christ our Lord as anything except by the name Jesus.

Maybe Thomas Zachariassen is not so much a Dispensationalist as he is a Jewish Zionist, with an affection for the N.T. Book of Revelation, since it is so much like Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zachariah.

It would be nice if Thomas would affirm as much, either way.

Maybe that's the reason he's so evasive, because he's having so much fun letting us all believe that he is a Dispensational Christian, while he's something altogether different, and is only critical of Preterism because of a non-Christian bias and not a Dispensational bias.

I'm just guessing, though.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

mazuur's picture

Chris,

hmmmm...you know he does seem to have a fixation on Daniel and Daniel alone. Sure would explain a lot.

-Rich

-Rich

chrisliv's picture

Well,

You're mistaken, Thomas. I don't argue for a literal interpretation of O.T. prophetic imagery.

I continue to point out to you where O.T. prophetic imagery is imported in to the N.T. with the interpretation given to us in concrete terms by Our Lord and the Apostles, in which they tell us how all of the unfilled portions of Daniel were to be fulfilled in the 1st Century AD with that climax at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

Again, look at Mat. 24:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

I don't know what more I can say to you, Thomas. You seem to want to worm out of affirming virtually every (very basic) biblical example that contradicts your futurist Dispensational orientation.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

If we are to take your "argument" seriously, it would indicate that you believe Dan 11:31 is about the Jewish War 66-70 CE. Do you really believe that?

Again, the (re-) use of OT texts in the NT does not mean that the NT author in question was referring to the same OT event. When John the Seer uses oracles against ancient Babylon, he didn't address ancient Babylon (but "Babylon the great").

I do not accept your historicism.

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Thomas,

Both of my arguments still stand, unanswered. You can try to go off on tangents, if you like.

Again, the fulfillment of the Book of Daniel (as cited by Christ Himself) and the identity of the forth kingdom are revealed for all to see by that army which would (as prophesied by Christ) encircle and destroy Jerusalem within a generation during the 1st Century, AD.

It was Rome that encircled Jerusalem and leveled the Temple in a spectacularly gruesome fashion in 70 AD, just like Christ prophesied would happen.

Why not just accept these biblical truths and historical facts, Thomas?

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Again:

Mat. 24:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

And Luke 21:

20 ¶ And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

Like most (if not all) Preterists, I see Dan 11:31 fulfilled with Antiochus IV. He did not live 66-70 CE!

As Matt 24:15 is a reference to Dan 11:31, I see v. 15 as reapplication of an OT oracle (originally spoken against Antiochus IV). We all know that John the Seer was able to re-use OT oracles against "Babylon" of his own time, the same goes for Jesus in Matt 24:15. He re-used an OT text for his prophecy about the Jewish War (66-70).

So, I still haven't seen any reference to Rome being the fourth kingdom. I also think it is interesting that there are no reference to Dan 9:24-27 in the NT. Such silence speaks volumes! Also, Rev 13:1ff. makes an identification of the fourth kingdom with Rome pretty much impossible.

Th.S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

Christ makes the identity of which ever army encircles Jerusalem to destroy it and the Temple, in His Olivet Discourse, inescapable as the fulfillment of Daniel to be in the 1st Century.

Rome accomplished that in 70 AD, at the order of Nero "The Beast" Caesar in 67 AD.

I can also see how Antiochus Epiphanes was seen by the Maccabees and some futurist Christians as an Antichrist-like figure who did abominable things to the Jews:

"His generals burned the sacred scrolls, banned circumcision and the celebration of the Sabbath, and set up a pagan altar and established ritual prostitution inside the Temple."
- John Romer, Testament

"Women who had had their children circumcised were put to death...with their babies hung round their necks."
- I Maccabees 1:60, 61

But that interpretation ruins the timeline in the Book of Daniel for the arrival of Messiah. And the Jews recovered from the Seleucid period of domination and humiliation, as they enjoyed a period of about 100 years of relative freedom before the Romans dominated them for about 100 more years, until the tiny Jewish nation and Temple were stuffed out in 70 AD.

Again, Christ Himself, in Mat. 24, called for the Book of Daniel's final fulfillment within the 1st Century, by whatever army encircled and destroyed Jerusalem.

I'm sticking with the interpretation given to us by Christ, which was manifest in 70 AD.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

-----------------------------------------------

Mat. 24:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

And Luke 21:

20 ¶ And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I think "king of the south" in Dan 11 = Syrian kings. The king in Dan 11:31 is, in my opinion, Antiochus IV.

I see from your postings that you disagree. OK, I guess you just have to disagree with both John Evans and me on that one. (Because re: Dan 11:31, I seem to be in agreement with Mr. Evans.)

All the best

Th.S.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

I can see how Dan. 11 looks like the Seleucid period. But then Dan. 12 seems to ruin that interpretation, even moreso if you also see the words of Christ as authoritative, like at Mat. 24:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

So, maybe someone could say there is a double-fulfillment. But it was the Romans who really brought the time of the end to the old covenant and its Temple.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

So, according to you -- who is "the king of the south" and "the king of the north" in Dan 11:6ff.

Do you think all four kingdoms fell at the same time (pace Dan 2:35, 44)?

Regards

Th.S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

I don't if anyone can say for certain who they are.

In a chronological sense, no, I don't think the four world empires fell at the same time.

I think the context prophetically shows that at the time of emergence of Christ's Kingdom, which was, formally speaking, at the Ressurection of Christ or at the Day of Pentecost shortly thereafter, that all hostile and worldly kingdoms became obsolete for citizens of New Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Heaven.

The context of Dan. 2 is anti-statist, and the fulfillment is seen in the fact that Christian remained politically Separate from the State, some time living literally underground in the catacombs of Rome. That was true for about 250 years, a saavy Caesar Constantine legalized Christianity to entice the Clergy to convince Christian to participate in the State and begin fighting on the battlefields for Caesar and the State.

That's when the Clergy accepted a Position of Power alongside of Caesar as a State Corporation, and it immediately lost its birthright as the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth.

Of course, ever since the Edict of Milan in 312 AD, so-called Christians have mindlessly committed atrocities for their Lord, Caesar and the State, and they continue to reject the commands of the true Lord of Heaven and Earth, to do so to this day.

"And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But it shall not be so among you..." (Mark 10:43, Luke 22:25 & 26, Mat 20:25)

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Islamaphobe's picture

Chris,

My position on the disappearance of the four kingdoms is, as I outlined in my article on the prophecy of the rock I posted here last year (plug, plug), that their destruction in a secular or political sense does not occur at the same time or "instantaneously." The rock's striking the statue on its feet (toes first, no doubt) symbolizes the arrival of the spiritual Kingdom of Heaven, which took place first in Romanized Judea. Although all of the statue is destroyed by the rock, the statue is not vaporized but is instead broken into pieces and is then blown away over time by the wind (the force of history)like chaff from the threshing floor. A lengthy historical process is here telescoped into what seems to some, like our friend Thomas, a historical instant.

We know from Daniel 7:11-12 that the fourth kingdom is evidently destroyed (spiritually) first and that the other "beasts" are allowed to live for a while. This means that if Dan. 2 and 7 are consistent with each other, then we are to understand that all the parts of the statue are not destroyed at the same time. Now those folks who genuinely believe in the divine inspiration of the Book of Daniel, people like you and I, assume that the two chapters have to be consistent with each other. A modern scholar like Thomas does not necessarily assume that, however.

John S. Evans

ThomasS's picture

John S. Evans,

Just one question: Where does the text say/indicate that the fourth kingdom was destroyed spiritually (only)?

Th.S.

Islamaphobe's picture

If we follow the principle of letting Scripture interpret Scripture, then we frequently rely upon other passages to determine the meaning of one that is in question. In my judgment, there are numerous other passages in Scripture that allow the interpretation that the destruction of all four kingdoms is spiritual and gradual.

And now on to other matters. You are welcome to the last word.

John S. Evans

tom-g's picture

Dear Dr. Evans,

I find your answer to Dr.S question very evasive. I would think that using other scripture, (remote context, parallel?) to interpret a specific scripture in which the 6 fundamental "W" questions are not fully answered, would be very simple to demonstrate by chapter and verse. Other Scriptures speaking to the same subject, using the same supposition of the terms, about the same time frame, should be a simple matter. Especially since you have already identified them and considered them in formulating your premise.

Respectfully,
Tom

ThomasS's picture

Dear Tom,

Like John Evans, I think we should follow the principle of letting Scripture interpret Scripture.

Thus,

(1) Dan 7 should be understood in the light of Dan 2;

(2) Dan 8 (especially v. 9) gives us the identity of the little horn in Dan 7.

(3) Dan 2:43 <-- Dan 11:6, 17

(4) Dan 9:23 <-- Dan 8:27

(5) Dan 11:31 = Dan 12:11 (cf. Dan 9:27)

(6) Dan 8:25b <-- Dan 11:45b

etc.

Best regards

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Thank you DR.S,

Rather than evading the question it seems to me that Dr. Evans should have been able to do this very easily also.

Could you help me Dr.S by boiling down the differences, that are in dispute between you both, in several bullet points?

I have a great difficulty with the Dr. Evans interpretation in this latest article. Personally the primary truth and first principle by which I judge his or anyone's interpretation of prophecy, is 2 Peter 2:20-21. And frankly, Dr. Evans interpretation stretches the imagination and I realize that without him continuing to explain the system by which he arrived at his conclusion. I would never have gotten there by myself. Not only that, but it would seem that even Daniel, who was used by God to interpret the statue, did not come to the same conclusion. It seems you, with all of your work on this subject, have also not interpreted in the same way.

The only method I know of to preclude any private interpretation is to apply the laws of grammar and logic to the text, to examine the text and ask only the questions the text can answer.

Thanks Dr.S,
Tom

Islamaphobe's picture

Tom,

If you really want to understand my take on Daniel, I suggest that you read the various articles I have posted on it on this site. My views have evolved a little since the earliest articles, but they essentially explain where I stand. Thomas S. was gracious enough to suggest buying my book. If you should consider doing that, you had better hurry. I have ordered the book taken off the market because I can do better and intend to do so in the near future. It is my plan to publish a version entitled The Five Kingdoms of Daniel next year.

In my book I did not address these sequence favored by Thomas S. because I did not take it seriously. I still do not take it seriously, as it has numerous weaknesses that Thomas fails to seriously address, but I shall include commentary on in it in the new and improved verson.

JSE

ThomasS's picture

JSE,

I cannot address something that I am not able to see. I guess you have failed to address weaknesses with your own interpretation for the very same reason.

Now, as you think that my interpretation has "numerous weaknesses", you should be able to point out some of them, say two or three...

I also hope that you, in the next edition of your book, explain

(1) why we should believe that the fourth kingdom in Dan 7 = the beast from the sea in Rev 13 (while, at the same time, accept your idea that the list of kings in Dan 7 is different from the list of kings in Rev 13);

(2) why we should abandon common rules of communication/interpretation in Dan 11 in order to avoid that the "king of the north" indicates Syria all through the chapter;

(3) how you understand the Hebrew syntax of Dan 8:9;

(4) why you do not think that Dan 9:23 is a reference to Dan 8;

(5) how you determine the reference to Daniel in Matthew 24:15.

Finally, it would be great if you could make some comments on the rise of historicism in general, and it would be nice if you would include your paper on Dan 2 in the next edition.

PS! IF you would downplay sarcastic remarks on those who do not share your point of view, I am sure that your book will be much more appreciated -- perhaps you will reach out to those who do not already share your view.

Th.S.

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