My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Saturday, March 24, 2007

Daniel 8

This time, only two beasts

Summary:
Daniel had a vision of a ram with two horns, one bigger than the other. He was powerful, but then a goat who rushed above the ground came from the west and beat the ram. At the height of the goat's power, it's horn was split into four. One of the horns took over God's people and desecrated the temple and considered himself God. This blaspheme lasted 2,300 days.

Gabriel, the angel, described the vision to Daniel. The ram was the Medes and Persians, and the goat was Greece. The horns were kings. The final horn will get much power, but will eventually be defeated by God himself.

It was a vision about the future.

Key verse:
25. he will be destroyed, but not by human power.

My thoughts:
This is obviously referring to Antiochus Ephiphanes who was overthrown in the Maccabean revolt.

There's really no way to win. People say that the Bible contains no predictive prophecy, but when you show them something which accurate describes an event in the future, they just say it was written after the event.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Deane said...

Pete:
There's really no way to win. People say that the Bible contains no predictive prophecy, but when you show them something which accurate describes an event in the future, they just say it was written after the event.

Deane:
I wonder who "they" are that merely dismiss parts of the Bible that accurately describe events in the future as "written after the event"? "They" would be guilty of the "No True Scotsman Fallacy". You know the one. Somebody says that that no Scotsman doesn't like porridge. And then, a Scotsman comes forward and says, "But I don't like porridge". And then the first person says, "Ah... but no true Scotsman doesn't like porridge!"

What's the fallacy? The issue (whether or not there exist Scotsmen who don't like porridge) can only be decided a posteriori. But by defining them out of existence, they try to solve something which can only be solved a posteriori as though it could be solved a priori. But it can't.

Which brings me back to Daniel... I don't know about this "they" that you speak of. But, assuming "they" are not just a phantasm of your mind - a straw person - then "they" are guilty of the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

... which is why scholars usually don't argue this way (not that I'd accuse you of misrepresenting them...). The dating of Daniel is not based on a bias against prophecy coming true, but is soundly based on the internal textual and theological evidence of the Book of Daniel itself. As John J Collins puts it:

"The issue is not whether a divinely inspired prophet could have foretold the events which took place under Antiochus Epiphanes 400 years before they occurred. The question is whether this possibility carries any probability: is it the most satisfactory way to explain what we find in Daniel? Modern critical scholarship has held that it is not."

Briefly, the main reasons that scholars have decided on a c165 BC dating for Daniel are as follows:

- Historical inaccuracies in both the ‘court-tales’ and ‘vision’ sections of Daniel demonstrate that this is not a book written by someone high up in the Court of Nebuchadnezzar, because the author is ignorant of many key facts he should have been aware of if he were indeed a 6th-century author. The author of Daniel creates a deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim. He mistakes Belshazzar for the son of Nebuchadnezzar (he was the son of Nabonidus). He invents an intervening ‘Median Empire’ as one of the four empires of the visions, and also a ‘Darius the Mede’, who is described as the son of Xerxes, and is said to have conquered Babylon (instead of Cyrus).

- The linguistic characteristics support the late dating. There are tell-tale Persian loan words which suggest a long period of Persian influence, and also some Greek words, including the musical instrument the ‘symponia’.

- The apocalyptic theology is quite late. The legalist food-laws, highly-developed angelology and doctrine of the resurrection in Chapter 12 are 2ndC BC features, but not 6thC features.

- There is an incredible correspondence of events between Daniel (especially Chapter 11) and profane history of the Hellenistic Empires right up until the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. However, the events in Daniel 11.40ff were not fulfilled. Unsurprisingly, only the ex eventu prophecies (‘prophecies’ made after the fact) were ‘fulfilled’.

1:38 pm

 
Anonymous Mark said...

mmm...porridge

3:00 pm

 
Anonymous Mark said...

p.s. I have to say that Deane makes a pretty good case for dating Daniel at 130BC.

I just had a look at the notes in my NIV study Bible. They date Daniel to 530BC. But the notes are rather unconvincing in many of their arguments (except on issues of linguistic characteristics, which I'd say lean more towards an earlier dating)

anyway, someone convince me one way or the other...

3:14 pm

 
Anonymous Deane said...

There's endless tendentious apologetics on this, as you can probably guess. But one thing that is fairly compelling is the degree of correspondence of Daniel 11.1-39 with profane history to c165 BC (the prophecy 'after the fact'), and the complete failure of everything predicted in Daniel 11.40-45 (the future prophecy).

See:

Daniel 11.3 - The Warrior King rules with great dominion (Alexander the Great's conquests, 333BC)

Daniel 11.4 - The kingdom was broken while rising in power, but not with the same posterity or dominion Alexander had (division of the Macedonian Empire into 4, 323BC)

Daniel 11.5 - The King of the South grows strong (Ptolemy I Soter in the Ptolemaic Empire was strong in this period, 323 - 283 BC. Two of the 4 empires affected Israel: the Seleucid in the North, and the Ptolemaic in the South.)

Daniel 11.5 - but his officer grows stronger and rules over larger realm (Seleucus acquires Asia Minor, 281BC)

Daniel 11.6 - Marriage between daughter of King of South and North. She does not retain power, and offspring do not endure. She shall be given up, together with her son and one who supported her. (Antiochus II (261-246) (Seleucid) married to Bernice (daughter of Ptolemy II). Antiochus II's divorced wife Laodice poisons him and murders Bernice and sons. Seleucus II Callinicus (son of Laodice) succeeded - 252BC)

Daniel 11.7-8 - A branch from her roots shall take the North, plundering the North (Ptolemy III Euergetes (Bernice's brother) attacked the Seleucid realm, reaching Babylon and plundered it)

Daniel 11.9 - King of North invades the South and retreats (Antiochus III the Great, 223-187BC)

Daniel 11.10 - His sons will continue the war as far as the South's fortress (Battle of Raphia, 217BC)

Daniel 11.11 - The King of the South attacks and wins (Ptolemy IV is victorious, but settles for peace)

Daniel 11.13-14 - The King of the North will again bring an army to the South, Many shall rise up against the South at this time, including the Jews - but they shall fail. ( Antiochus III consolidates his army; Ptolemy IV dies in 203; alliance with Phillip V of Macedonia)

Daniel 11.15 - King of North takes a well- fortified city ( Capture of Sidon)

Daniel 11.16 - Then he takes the "beautiful land" (Seleucids take possession of Judah and Jerusalem, 198BC)

Daniel 11.17 - The King of North will give South a wife, but the alliance will fail (Wishing to extend influence ot Egypt, Antiochus III gives his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy V; but Egypt makes an alliance with Rome)

Daniel 11.18-19 - The North takes the coastlands. A Commander shall put an end to it. The King of the North returns to his own land (Antiochus moves to Greece. Defeated by Romans, and made to pay crippling tribute, 191BC)

Daniel 11.19-20 - King of North dies. He is replaced for a short time by an official who does not die in battle. (Assassinated at Bel, Elymais in attempt to rob Temple there, 187BC. Tax collector Heliodorus (after visit to Palestine to collect tribute) involved in plot to kill Seleucus IV)

Daniel 11.21-22 - In his place is the rise of a contemptible person. Comes in without warning. Gains kingdom by intrigue; without majesty. Armies to be swept away before him. (Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 175-163BC. He is implicated in the death of Seleucus IV and other rightful rivals to power, including Seleucus IV's son)

Daniel 11.22 - Antiochus IV's armies break prince of covenant as well. (Antiochus' invasion of Israel)

Daniel 11.23 - after an alliance is made with Antiochus IV, he shall act deceitfully and become strong with a small party. (Chooses Jason and Tobiad family after death of Onias III as high priest)

Daniel 11.25 - Wages war against King of South (Egyptian campaign)

Daniel 11.26 - but there are plots against him by his own court (Courtiers Eylaeus and Lenaeus incited political unrest against Antiochus IV)

Daniel 11.27 - the 2 kings shall sit at the table and exchange lies; he returns to his land but sets to break the covenant (Antiochus IV & Ptolemy VI attempt to make peace)

Daniel 11.29 - Returns to South, but defeated by ships of Kittim (Returns to attack Egypt, but Rome came to Egypt's aid)

Daniel 11.30-39 - Enraged, he shall turn against those who forsake the holy covenant. Forces profane temple; he abolishes burnt offering; set up abomination of desolation. King speaks horrendous things against God, and even pays no respect to own gods. (Troops desecrate the Jerusalem Temple, alter calendar, abolish Jewish cult, sets up worship of Zeus in Temple)

Daniel 11.40-45 - ah ...no.



Another thing you'll notice is that half of the "predictions" (from Dan 11.21ff) actually relate to Antiochus in 175-163 BC, although the whole period being covered is from the conquests of Alexander to Antiochus (333-163 BC). I guess we tend to think our own times are more important!

There are also a number of cross-references between what Antiochus does in Chs 10-12, and the visions in Chs 2, 7, 8 & 9. The desecration of Jerusalem in 167 BC is described in similar terms in 11.31, 7.25, 8.11-13, and 9.27. The time, two times and a half, or 3 1/2, or half a week & variations appear in 12.7, 7.25, 8.14, 26 & 9.27. Antiochus' death is foretold in 11.45, 2.34, 7.11, 26, 8.25 & 9.27 ... etc.

5:29 pm

 
Blogger Pete W said...

I have to admit that defending a truly Babylonian/exilic dating of Daniel is difficult given current information and understandings.

There is, of course, much time between the exilic period and 160BC.

I'm not entirely convinced by the theories you refer to in your first post to argue for a 160BC date. I don't know enough history (and don't have time to research it) to really properly comment on your observations of Daniel 11.

Anyway, what is larger in my head is that in my reading and understanding, Daniel refers to events even after 165BC, like the Roman empire

9:11 am

 
Anonymous Mark said...

Well I'd say that Deane has a good point in that the "apocalyptic theology", "legalist food-laws, highly-developed angelology and doctrine of the resurrection in Chapter 12 are 2ndC BC features, but not 6thC features".

And it also seems a bit lame to claim that as of Daniel 11:40 the events described suddenly switch from historical events to end time events. So those are a couple of points pointing to later authorship.

However, it does seem that the accepted dating of Daniel to the second century BC is due as much to the assumption that long-range prophecy isn't possible as it is to hard evidence.

The author of Daniel creates a deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim.
If you use the Babylonian dating system, then it was the third year of Jehoiakim.

Historical inaccuracies in both the 'court-tales' and 'vision' sections of Daniel demonstrate that this is not a book written by someone high up in the Court of Nebuchadnezzar, because the author is ignorant of many key facts he should have been aware of if he were indeed a 6th-century author.
like what?

He mistakes Belshazzar for the son of Nebuchadnezzar (he was the son of Nabonidus).
The Aramaic term translated as "son" can also mean "grandson" or "descendant".

The linguistic characteristics support the late dating. There are tell-tale Persian loan words which suggest a long period of Persian influence, and also some Greek words, including the musical instrument the 'symponia'.
Yes, but "[s]ome of the technical terms appearing in ch. 3 were already so obsolete by the second century BC that translators of the Septuagint translated them incorrectly".[Bible notes]

Plus, when compared with sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the 2nd century BC, it becomes clear that the Hebrew and Aramaic chapters of Daniel "must have been composed centuries earlier".[Bible notes again]

Of course I haven't studied theology, so I'm just throwing other people's arguments out there...

9:30 am

 
Blogger Pete W said...

That's a nice wee summary, young Markus.

7:54 pm

 

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