Monday, July 21, 2014

Daniel and Jerusalem

The climax to which chap. 8 looks lies in the crisis in the second century BC…The Antiochene crisis is heralded by the death of one high priest and the wickedness of another (26)…its real focus lies on the events of the 160s. 
In Jewish and Christian tradition, Gabriel's promise has been applied rather to later events: the birth of the Messiah, Jesus' death and resurrection, the fall of Jerusalem, various subsequent historical events, and the still-future manifesting of the messiah. Exegetically such views are mistaken. The detail of vv24-27 fits the second-century BC crisis and agrees with allusions to this crisis elsewhere in Daniel. The verses do not indicate that they are looking centuries or millennia beyond the period to which chaps. 8 and 10–12 refer…The passage refers to the Antiochene crisis. J. Goldingay, Daniel (Word 1989), 266-67.

That's the standard liberal interpretation. Ironically, it backfires even on its own terms, posing a dilemma for the liberal interpretation. In particular:

And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. (Dan 9:26). 
This predicts the destruction of the Second Temple as well as the destruction of Jerusalem. Problem is, neither event took place during the Antiochean crisis. And this isn't some incidental detail, given the central importance of both in Judaism. 
If, according to the liberal reconstruction, the anonymous author of Daniel was writing "prophecy" after the fact, if he was writing history in the guise of prophecy, how could he be so inaccurate about something so important and so well-known–both to himself and his immediate audience? 
Since, moreover, as Goldingay rightly points out, we need to interpret these verses as a literary unit, if 9:26 doesn't fit the 2C BC situation, then that reorients the other passages. In retrospect, Dan 9:26 is a prediction which was actually fulfilled in the Fall of Jerusalem (70 AD) and Bar Kokhba revolt (132-36 AD).

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