According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, when was Daniel written?

SUMMARY 

The Book of Daniel claims to have been written in the sixth century BC, foretelling history until Christ’s return. The church has always believed that to be true.

Critical Scholars reject Daniel.

However, over the past 300 years, theological faculties of major universities have submitted to the anti-supernatural culture of modern intellectualism. Since critical scholars do not accept the supernatural and do not accept that it is possible to foretell the future, they claim that the Book of Daniel was written AFTER the events it describes. In other words, it is a history book presented in the form of a prophecy.

Specifically, they claim that Daniel was written during the reign of the Greek king Antiochus IV; around the year 165 BC because (they say) Daniel accurately describes history up to the Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus, but is confused about later history.

The Dead Sea Evidence

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the scrolls collected by an ancient Jewish sect. These scrolls were discovered around the year 1950 in caves at Qumran near the Dead Sea. Many of the scrolls and fragments were copies of books of the Old Testament, including the Book of Daniel. These scrolls confirm that the Bible and, specifically, the Book of Daniel, are reliable:

The Bible is reliable.

The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Old Testament is reliable:

The Old Testament in our Bibles is translated from the Masoretic Text (MT) which dates to about a thousand years AFTER Christ. But the Dead Sea Scrolls are a full thousand years older.

Comparisons of the MT to the Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated the unusual accuracy of transmission over those thousand years. The chief differences have to do with the spelling of words.

That means that we now have proof that the Old Testament, and by implication, our Bibles, has been accurately transmitted (copied) for more than 2000 years. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that the Old Testament has also been accurately copied before the time of the Qumran community as well.

Daniel is reliable.

Secondly, the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Book of Daniel is accurate. Before these scrolls were discovered, scholars had little confidence in the reliability of Daniel due to the differences between the ancient Greek translations and the Hebrew and Aramaic of Daniel in the MT.

However, the eight Daniel manuscripts discovered at the Dead Sea confirmed the accuracy of the Book of Daniel in our Bibles because they conform closely to Masoretic tradition.

Daniel is part of the Scriptures.

A third conclusion from the Dead Sea Scrolls is that Daniel was regarded as “Scripture” at Qumran. This is indicated by the large number of copies of Daniel discovered and by the way in which Daniel was used. For instance, the Florilegium (4Q174) quotes Daniel 12:10 as ‘written in the book of Daniel, the Prophet‘ (frgs. 1-3 ii 3-4a). This formula is typical of quotations from canonical Scripture at Qumran.

While critical scholars claim that Daniel was written in 165 BC by an unknown writer, the reference to “the book of Daniel, the Prophet” means that the Qumran community regarded Daniel as a real historical person and as a prophet.

The canonical status of Daniel at Qumran can be confirmed by comparing it to the Book of Jubilees, which is not in our Bibles. Both books were regarded as authoritative by the Qumran sect but with different levels of authority:

Daniel was regarded as having primary authority, namely as the word of God spoken through the prophet. In fact, during the centuries before and immediately after Christ, nobody regarded Daniel as describing past events in the form of a prophecy. All of Judaism regarded Daniel as a primary authority.

Jubilees, in contrast, was regarded as having secondary authority, meaning that it was an authoritative INTERPRETATION of Scripture. Jubilees was similar to a creed of one of the Christian denominations today, namely, regarded as authoritative by a subgroup but not by all.

Daniel is true prophecy.

These scrolls also show that Daniel was written BEFORE the time of Antiochus IV:

The Qumran community was formed around 150 BC; about 15 years after the time of Antiochus. Their earliest copies of Daniel are dated to about 50 years after Antiochus.

As discussed, the Qumran community regarded the Book of Daniel as inspired Scripture. But it takes at least 100 years for new documents to become accepted as Scripture. It must first undergo a slow process of distribution and copying until it wins the hearts of the people.

Daniel, therefore, must have existed for a long time before the Qumran community was formed. For example:

Two of the Daniel manuscripts discovered at the Dead Sea (4QDan(c) and 4QDan(e)), have been dated to the late 2nd BC. This was only about 50 years after critical scholars say Daniel’s prophecies were composed. That does not leave enough time. It is quite improbable, if not impossible, that the book was composed during the Maccabean revolt in 165 BC, as the critical scholars claim, and gained acceptance as an inspired book within 50 years.

It follows that Daniel was written before the time of Antiochus. If that is so, then Daniel accurately predicts future events.

Scholars treat Daniel differently.

In the case of Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Chronicles, after copies of these books had been found at Qumran, critical scholars were willing to push the date of composition for these books back a century or more. They say, for example:

“Each song had to win its way in the esteem of the people before it could be included in the sacred compilation of the Psalter. Immediate entrée for any of them is highly improbable.

“The discovery of a fragment of Chronicles at Qumran renders a Maccabean date virtually impossible for any part of Chronicles.”

But, although the evidence is identical, they refuse to draw the same conclusion for Daniel because it would mean that Daniel is a true prophecy.

Was Daniel a Known Forgery?

If the critical scholars are right, namely that Daniel was written under a false name during the Maccabean revolt, pretending to be an old book but really describing history in the form of a prophecy, then everybody who lived through the Maccabean revolt would have known that. That includes the first members of the Qumran sect. They would have known that the book failed to correctly predict the success of the Maccabean revolt a year or two after it was written.

No book of the Bible would be accepted as “Scripture” within 50 years after it was written. But that is even more true for Daniel if it was a known forgery.

Conclusion: Daniel is inspired.

Therefore, Daniel’s prophecies must have been written before the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus IV. Consequently, the detailed prophecies in Daniel 11, pointing to Antiochus, really were written before those events. 

This does not prove that Daniel’s prophecies were written in the sixth century BC. But this does prove that Daniel is divinely inspired and contains true prophecy. That forces us to conclude that Daniel is what it itself claims to be, namely that it was written in the sixth century BC.

– END OF SUMMARY – 


THE ACADEMIC CONSENSUS

Modern science presupposes that everything has ‘natural’ causes. The theological faculties of universities operate in that intellectual climate and, over the past 300 years, unfortunately, have submitted to that culture. In other words, the theological faculties of universities no longer presuppose that the Bible is the Word of God. In fact, the reverse is true today, namely that they presume that the Bible is NOT the word of God. This means that they assume that everything in the Bible, including the miracles and prophecies, has natural causes.

Consequently, in academic circles, historical criticism (critical scholarship) has become the standard approach to Bible study. That means that they ‘criticize’ the Bible against secular history. Whenever they find a difference, they assume the Bible is wrong.

For example, the book of Daniel mentions two kings that were previously unknown, namely Darius the Mede and Belshazzar. Archeology has since revealed that a king named Belshazzar did exist but, before that, critical scholarship concluded that neither of these kings ever existed.

Due to its anti-supernatural presupposition, to avoid the strong evidence for the divine authorship of Scripture from the detailed prophecies in Daniel that ultimately came to pass, historical criticism takes the position that Daniel’s prophecies were written after the events it so accurately ‘predicts’:

“We need to assume that the vision as a whole is a prophecy after the fact. Why? Because human beings are unable accurately to predict future events centuries in advance … So what we have here (in Daniel) is in fact not a road map of the future laid down in the sixth century B.C. but an interpretation of the events of the author’s own time, 167-164 B.C.”1Towner, Daniel, Interpeter’s Bible, John Knox:1984, p. 115

They claim that the prophecies were written exactly in 167-164 BC because they are able to align the prophecies of Daniel 11 with the history of the Greek kings up until that date, but after that date, they say, Daniel’s prophecies no longer agree with actual history.

167-164 BC was during the Jewish Maccabean revolt against the armies of the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes. Critics claim that Daniel’s prophecies were written at that time to inspire the Jewish revolt.

For the same reasons, critical scholars also claim that the events predicted in Daniel 11 after that point in time were the uninspired attempts by an unknown author, but he (she?) failed miserably because the ‘prophecies’ did not foresee the success of that revolt.

It is a bit of a contradiction to say that Daniel was written to inspire the revolt but that its prophecies did not foresee the success of the revolt. Nevertheless, this view is the academic consensus today. One can see that in encyclopedias such as Britannica. In other words, it is the consensus of the theological faculties of universities.

For a further discussion, see historical criticism.

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

In 1947, a young shepherd boy made the discovery of the century: In one of the Qumran Caves near the Dead Sea, he found a scroll. From that year on to 1956, eleven caves were discovered. They brought back to light hundreds of ancient Old Testament manuscripts, along with a large number of other writings.

The manuscripts include thousands of fragments, larger manuscripts, and fewer than a dozen well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts.

Dating of Manuscripts

Historians use various techniques to date these manuscripts. However, the date of a document does not mean that the contents were first created at that time. For example, take the following two Dead Sea manuscripts:

They overlap in terms of text covered but are dated a century apart. Ulrich studied the orthography (the spelling of words) and wrote that the later manuscript may have been copied from the earlier one “by a scribe who was intent upon reproducing the text in the more contemporary, more full and clear and interpretative orthography of the late Second Temple period.” 2[The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999:162]

In other words, the later manuscript may appear to be written a century later because of changes in the spelling of words and writing style, but the contents are exactly the same as the earlier one.

But this means that the earlier manuscript, dated 50 BC, could well be a copy of an original document created centuries earlier. See Thinktank for a further discussion.

Daniel was not written at Qumran.

It is generally accepted that Daniel was not written at Qumran:

“There is no clear case of an apocalypse actually authored within the Qumran community.” (Collins Thinktank)

In the view of critical scholars, the prophecies of Daniel were created in 165 BC but the stories in the first half of Daniel were already in circulation by that time.

In the conservative view, Daniel was compiled in the 6th century BC, as the book itself also claims.

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE SCROLLS

The Bible is reliable.

The Old Testament in our Bibles is translated from a major manuscript of the Masoretic Text (MT). Up until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest MT manuscripts were dating to about a thousand years AFTER Christ. This allowed some scholars to question the faithfulness of the text of the Old Testament. Consequently, they took great freedom in amending, changing, and adjusting the Hebrew text. (Hasel)

But the Dead Sea Scrolls are much older. They date to between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD. Bronze coins found at the same sites are dated from 135 BC until 73 AD. This supports the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls. (Wikipedia)

Therefore, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest surviving manuscripts of books of the Bible and reveal how the Old Testament, including the book of Daniel, read a full thousand years before the oldest copy of the MT. They would either affirm or repudiate the reliability of textual transmission from the original texts to the oldest Masoretic texts at hand.

The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated the unusual accuracy of transmission over a thousand-year period, rendering it reasonable to believe that current Old Testament texts are reliable copies of the original works. For example, comparisons of the MT to the Dead Sea Scrolls show the following:

Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only 17 letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word “light,” which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly.3The Dead Sea Scrolls by Hebrew scholar Millar Burrow

“The chief differences … have to do with the spelling of words.”4G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949)

As proof of the accuracy of the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered one of the most important finds in the history of archaeology.

We have, therefore, proof that our Bibles have been accurately transmitted (copied) for more than 2000 years. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that the Old Testament has been accurately copied during the centuries before the time of the Qumran community; at least from the time of Ezra the Scribe.

Daniel is reliable.

Modern scholars question its reliability.

The official Greek translation of Daniel used in ancient times was that of Theodotion (ca. 180 AD). His translation has a close affinity with the MT. But the oldest Greek translation of Daniel, namely in the Septuagint, contains considerably added material and reads differently from the MT. Around 400 AD, Jerome ventured the opinion that the Septuagint “differs widely from the original [Hebrew], and is rightly rejected.” (Hasel)

Nevertheless, these differences and some other considerations have caused leading modern scholars to have little confidence in the text of Daniel. For example, Professor Klaus Koch suggested that, while we have a Hebrew/Aramaic text and two Greek versions, none of these three is original.5Koch et al. 1980:22, 23; Koch 1986:16–21

The Scrolls confirm its reliability.

However, the eight Daniel manuscripts discovered at the Dead Sea confirmed the accuracy of the book of Daniel in our Bibles today because they:

(1) Are very close to each other and conform closely to Masoretic tradition (Cross 1956:86).

(2) Do not contain any of the additions that are in the ancient Greek translation (the LXX, also called the Septuagint) but not retained in the Protestant Bibles, namely the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, and the Story of Susanna.

(3) Preserve the Hebrew and Aramaic sections of the book.

In the MT, Daniel is written partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic. Hartman and Di Lella (1978:75) assumed that the book of Daniel in its entirety was written originally in the Aramaic language and that the Hebrew parts of the book are translations from Aramaic into Hebrew. (Hasel) However:

Two different manuscripts (4QDan(a) and 1QDan(a)) confirm the change from Hebrew into Aramaic for Daniel 2:4b.

Both 4QDan(a) and 4QDan(b) show the change from Aramaic into Hebrew in Daniel 8:1, just as in the MT. (Hasel)

Consequently, scholars conclude:

The Daniel fragments … reveal, on the whole, that the later Masoretic text is preserved in a good, hardly changed form. They are thus a valuable witness to the great faithfulness with which the sacred text has been transmitted.”6Mertens 1971:31

“Despite the fragmentary state of most of Daniel scrolls, they reveal no major disagreements against the Masoretic Text, although individual readings differ on occasion.”7Peter W. Flint, The Daniel Tradition at Qumran in Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“The chief differences (w.r.t. Daniel) … have to do with the spelling of words.”8G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949).

The overwhelming conformity of these Qumran Daniel manuscripts with the MT is evidence that the MT preserved the text of the book of Daniel well. It is incredible that a book should be copied for a thousand years and remain virtually intact.

Daniel is Inspired Scripture.

To date, eight manuscripts of the biblical book of Daniel have been discovered at the Dead Sea. This is more than as for much larger books such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. (Wikipedia) It is evident from the number of manuscripts that the book of Daniel was a favorite book in the Qumran community.

The Dead Sea Scrolls also include discussions of and references to Daniel in other works. Flint observes:

“Every chapter of Daniel is represented in these manuscripts, except for Daniel 12. However, this does not mean that the book lacked the final chapter at Qumran, since Dan 12:10 is quoted in the Florilegium (4Q174), which explicitly tells us that it is written in ‘the book of Daniel, the Prophet.'” (Thinktank)9Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Craig Evans and Peter Flint (eds). Eerdmans:1997. 43)

Flint (p44) continued:

“We may conclude that Daniel was regarded as a scriptural book at Qumran for two reasons:

(1) The large number of preserved copies is a clear indication of Daniel’s importance among the Qumran covenanters.

(2) The way in which Daniel was used at Qumran is indicative of its authoritative status; for instance, the Florilegium (4Q174) quotes Dan 12:10 as ‘written in the book of Daniel, the Prophet’ (frgs. 1-3 ii 3-4a). This reference has two implications:
– That Daniel was regarded by the writer as Scripture and
– That it may have belonged among the ‘Prophets’.” (Flint:44) (Thinktank)

The formula “which written in the book of Daniel the prophet” is typical of quotations from canonical Scripture at Qumran. (Hasel) It is similar also to Matthew 24:15, where Jesus refers to “Daniel the prophet.”

Another example of a Qumran document that refers to Daniel as a scriptural book is 11QMelch. Quoting Isaiah, it refers to “the messenger who announces peace” and interprets this as “the anointed of the spirit about whom Daniel spoke.” (Thinktank) This probably refers to “the Anointed One” (Dan 9:25; NIV), whom we interpret as Jesus Christ (See Daniel Nine).

In other words, while critical scholars claim that Daniel was written in 165 BC by an unknown writer, the Qumran community regarded Daniel as a real historical person and as a prophet.

These are clear, objective evidence of Daniel’s rightful place among the inspired Jewish Scriptures. (Hasel) As Professor Ulrich says:

“However one uses in relation to Qumran the category of what is later explicitly termed ‘canonical,’ the book of Daniel was certainly in that category.” (Hasel)10Ulrich 1987:19

JUBILEES WAS ACCEPTED SOON.

A possible objection to the arguments above is that the Book of Jubilees was written 160-150 BC, and was accepted at Qumran as an authoritative book, even being used in prooftexts. Does this mean that Daniel could have been accepted as inspired within 15 years?

Different Levels of Authority

The difference lies in the level of authority:

Primary (Bible) – In traditional Protestantism, we begin with sacrosanct Scripture as “primary” or “ultimate” authority.

Secondary (Creeds) – Every denomination, however, has somewhat different interpretations of the Scripture, and these interpretations are set forth in Creeds. For that denomination, those Creeds are ‘authoritative’. To disagree with the Creed is to relinquish membership in that sub-group. The authority of the Creed, however, is “secondary” to the “primary” authority of the Bible. The secondary character of the Creed’s authority can be seen in its usage of the primary authority: It will use the Scriptures to support arguments.

Teachers – But typically, the authority structure doesn’t stop at just these two levels, but additional levels can appear. Certain ‘teachers’ can assert their authority to interpret both Scripture and Creeds.

Primary Documents require more time.

It takes a very long time for a document to be accepted as a primary document. For example, if someone came forth with a book and said that it was a ‘lost’ book of the Sacred Scriptures, how long do you think it would take for Protestantism to accept it (if ever)? Right—forever!

But secondary documents are ‘instantly’ accepted by the group that produced them. If, for example, a group of theologians decided they didn’t like the current dominant creed and decided to craft a NEW ‘sub-creed’, how long would it take the membership of that sub-group to accept that new sub-creed? Right, very little time at all.

Daniel is Primary, Jubilees Secondary.

For the following reasons, while the book Daniel was considered primary authority at Qumran, Jubilees enjoyed only secondary authority:

Is it part of the Bible?

Daniel is part of the Bibles we have today but the Book of Jubilees is not. It was not considered ‘Scripture’ by Formative Judaism of the first century.

Is it accepted by all?

During the centuries before and after Christ, all of Judaism accepted Daniel as authoritative. None of those closest to the data – including eyewitnesses – considered Daniel to be describing the past events as if it describes the future:

“The book of Daniel … was considered prophetic at Qumran, in the New Testament, by Josephus, by Melito, and indeed, to judge by the evidence, by all.”11The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999.:91

Prof. Menahem Kister, Bible Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote:

“The last chapters of Daniel were thus accepted as sacred and worthy of interpretation and midrash in all streams of Judaism relatively shortly after they were composed.”

To come to this conclusion, he argued as follows12Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.102:

“Explicit and implicit citations of Daniel 12 are found elsewhere in the sect’s literature.

Outside the sect, an allusion to Dan. 11:31 is found in 1 Macc. 1:54;

The rabbis cite and interpret these chapters as part of their Bible, probably reflecting the Pharisaic acceptance of these visions as authoritative.

Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14 and Josephus, Ant. 10:269-276, treat Dan. 8, which is from the same period, as an authoritative text.”

Josephus was a Romano-Jewish historian who lived and wrote at the same time as when the books of the New Testament were composed. He wrote:

“If … there is anyone who … wishes to learn about the hidden things that are to come, let him … read the Book of Daniel, which he will find among the sacred writings” (Ant. 10.210).

“We are convinced … that Daniel spoke with God, for he was not only wont to prophesy future things, as did the other prophets, but he also fixed the time at which these would come to pass” (Ant. 10.266-67).

“Events under Antiochus Epiphanes … had been predicted many years in advance by Daniel, on the basis of his visions” (Ant. 10.276).

In contrast, Jubilees was very popular at Qumran but was not accepted as authoritative for all of Judaism.

Is the author regarded as a prophet?

As mentioned, Daniel is cited “as is written in the book of Daniel, the prophet.” There is no evidence that the unknown author of Jubilees was considered a prophet.

Did it generate pseudo works?

The book of Daniel has generated additional, transitory works associated with his name (i.e., the Pseudo-Danielic mss). Jubilees did not generate any “pseudo-” types of works or expansions on itself that we can find.

Do other documents interpret it?

Daniel was interpreted by other Qumran documents. It doesn’t present itself as something that interprets other scripture.

In comparison, the Book of Jubilees is a rewriting of the Bible “which include implicit exegesis and longer additions to the biblical narrative.”13Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.:101-2 In other words, it did not have primary authority.

“The Book of Jubilees is a rewritten version of Genesis 1Exodus 14 … The largest group of additions to the biblical text are halakhic (an interpretation of the laws of the Scriptures).”14Nickelsburg, in [Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus. Michael E. Stone (ed.), Fortress:1984.:97ff

The book of Jubilees, therefore, is a ‘re-telling of the bible’ document, and that genre added an ‘interpretative layer’ on top of the biblical narrative. It has interpretative or secondary authority rather than primary authority or ‘scriptural authority’.

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

DANIEL IS PRE-MACCABEAN.

The Qumran community, therefore, regarded the book of Daniel as inspired Scripture and referred to the author of the book as “Daniel the prophet.”

Before a document can be accepted as such, it has to go through a slow process of copying and distribution and more copying and distribution until it wins the hearts of the people.

Dated to the Late 2nd Century BC

Already in 1961, Professor Cross dated 4QDan(c) to the “late second century BC.” (Hasel)15Professor Frank M. Cross, Harvard University, The Ancient Library of Qumran 43

To date, two of the manuscripts are dated to the late 2nd BC, namely 4QDan(c) and 4QDan(e). (Thinktank)16The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years (vol 2). Peter W. Flint and James C. Vanderkam (eds). Brill: 1999: 53 Both these manuscripts are from the last half of the Book of Daniel (10:5 to 11:29 and 9:12-17). ) This is significant because the academic consensus is that the stories in the first six chapters of Daniel may be older, but they claim that the prophecies were added in 165 BC, during the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. For example:

Daniel 11:40-45 … is a vaticinium ex eventu, that is a record of the events of the recent past in the form of a prophecy for the future.”17‘Time and Times and Half a Time’: Historical Consciousness in the Jewish Literature of the Persian and Hellenistic Eras, Ida Frohlich (trans. Bea Vidacs), Sheffield:1996. 80

50 years are too few.

But that would mean that the oldest copies of the book of Daniel are dated only about 50 years after its composition in 165 BC. That does not leave enough time (Hasel). It is quite improbable, if not impossible, that the book was composed during the Maccabees revolt, as the critics claim, and gained acceptance as an inspired book within 50 years. (Thinktank) In 1969, based on the evidence available at that time regarding the Qumran Daniel texts, Roland K. Harrison had already concluded that:

The second-century dating of the book of Daniel was “absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumran, partly because there are no indications whatever that the sectaries compiled any of the Biblical manuscripts recovered from the site, and partly because there would, in the latter event, have been insufficient time for Maccabean compositions to be circulated, venerated, and accepted as canonical Scripture by a Maccabean sect.18Harrison, R.K. 1969 Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans):1127 (Gerhard Hasel)

After this, he stated, based on the Qumran manuscripts, that:

“There can no longer be any possible reason for considering the book as a Maccabean product.” (Hasel)19Harrison, R.K. 1979 Daniel, Book of. Pp. 859–66 in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). P. 862

Waltke wrote:

The “discovery of manuscripts of Daniel at Qumran dating from the Maccabean period renders it highly improbable that the book was composed during the time of the Maccabees.”20Bruce K. Waltke, “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra 133, no. 532 (October 1976): 321.

15 years are too few.

The Qumran community was an ascetic sect of Jews who lived in the Judean Desert near the Wadi Qumran, along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea roughly between 150 BC and AD 68 (Encyclopedia). As discussed, they regarded Daniel as a prophet and the book of Daniel as the word of God. Since interaction with the outside religious community would have been very limited, and largely polemical, their views would have remained fairly constant for the 200 years of its existence. This implies that Daniel was already accepted as FULLY INSPIRED Scripture when that community was formed – in 150 BC.

But this was only 15 years after the prophecies in the book of Daniel were composed (according to critical scholars) in 165 BC. This is completely too little time. You just cannot, within only 15 years, get from a known forgery to full acceptance as inspired Scripture. Remember, many of the first members of that sect lived through the Maccabean struggle. They saw all of this with their own eyes. And, being a sect, they would have been rigorous in accessing documents.

Daniel, therefore, must have existed LONG before the Qumran community was formed. But that would mean that Daniel was written before at least some of the events it predicts.

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

SCHOLARS TREAT DANIEL DIFFERENTLY.

For books of the Bible that do not claim to predict the future, critical scholars, when they date a manuscript copy of that book to the second century BC, are willing to push the date of the original a century or more back, but not for the book of Daniel. For example:

Psalms

It was previously proposed that some of the Psalms in the Bible were composed during the Maccabean struggle. But after Frank Cross found that one manuscript of one of these psalms is dated more or less to the same time as their supposed composition, critical scholars were willing to abandon the idea that any of the psalms were written during the Maccabean struggle:

“The fragmentary copy of the Psalter from Qumran (4QPsaa) … shows quite clearly … that the collection of canonical psalms had already been fixed by the Maccabean period.”21F.M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Study (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), p. 165.

This is based on the following argument:

“Each song had to win its way in the esteem of the people before it could be included in the sacred compilation of the Psalter. Immediate entrée for any of them is highly improbable.”22Brownlee, professor of religion, Claremont Graduate School

As a result, scholars have pushed those compositions formerly regarded as “Maccabean psalms” to the Persian period. (Thinktank)

Ecclesiastes

Similarly, two scrolls of Ecclesiastes found at Qumran were dated to the middle of the second century BC. This is not much later than the time at which many scholars have thought the book was originally written. From this, critical scholars conclude that this “somewhat enhanced” “the probability of its composition in the third century, if not earlier.”23M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), p. 118

Chronicles

Likewise, “the discovery of a fragment of Chronicles at Qumran renders a Maccabean date virtually impossible for any part of Chronicles.”24Myers, professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The same principle should apply to Daniel.

Harrison concluded:

“It is now evident from the findings at Qumran that no canonical writing can be dated later than the end of the Persian period, i.e., much beyond 350 B.C.”25R.K. Harrison, “Historical and Literary Criticism of the New Testament”, in EBC, vol. 1

This conclusion should apply to all canonical writings (books of the Bible), but critical scholars refuse to apply this principle to the Book of Daniel. Waltke complains about this inconsistency:

“Equivalent manuscript finds at Qumran of other books where the issue of predictive prophecy is not in question have led scholars to repudiate a Maccabean date for their compositions. … But critical scholars have refused to draw the same conclusion in the case of Daniel even though the evidence is identical.”26BibSac—V133 #532,Oct 1976,p.322

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

WAS DANIEL A KNOWN FORGERY?

No book of the Bible would be accepted as “Scripture” only 50 years after it was written but, for the following reasons, it is even more true for Daniel for, if the critical scholars are right, during the Maccabean struggle, everybody would have known that:

      • Daniel was written under a false name,
      • Pretending to be an old book making long term predictions, but really describing past history, and that
      • It failed to correctly predict the success of the Maccabean revolt a year or two after it was written.

Would Daniel be renowned as a prophet if it were known that he had lived a mere 50 years earlier? In that event, he would have been a contemporary person writing fiction.

This is almost a death blow to the Maccabean theory of the composition of Daniel.

CONCLUSION

The high regard that this community had for Daniel can be much better explained if one accepts an earlier origin of Daniel than proposed by the Maccabean hypothesis of historical-critical scholarship. (Hasel)

Notice that all the historical and linguistic ‘problems’ in the Book of Daniel are irrelevant to a discussion of this “Maccabean or Pre-Maccabean” question. These kinds of problems could be used to argue for a 3rd century BC date versus a 6th century BC date, or for an uninformed writer versus an eyewitness writer, or for a fictional versus historical genre, perhaps, but NEVER for a Maccabean or Pre-Maccabean dating.

For a further discussion, see Thinktank.

OTHER ARTICLES

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Towner, Daniel, Interpeter’s Bible, John Knox:1984, p. 115
  • 2
    [The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999:162]
  • 3
    The Dead Sea Scrolls by Hebrew scholar Millar Burrow
  • 4
    G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949)
  • 5
    Koch et al. 1980:22, 23; Koch 1986:16–21
  • 6
    Mertens 1971:31
  • 7
    Peter W. Flint, The Daniel Tradition at Qumran in Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • 8
    G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archeologist, (No. XII, 1949).
  • 9
    Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Craig Evans and Peter Flint (eds). Eerdmans:1997. 43)
  • 10
    Ulrich 1987:19
  • 11
    The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. Eugene Ulrich. Eerdmans/Brill:1999.:91
  • 12
    Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.102
  • 13
    Biblical Perspectives: Early Use & Interpretation of the Bible in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Stone and Esther Chazon (eds.). Brill:1998.:101-2
  • 14
    Nickelsburg, in [Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus. Michael E. Stone (ed.), Fortress:1984.:97ff
  • 15
    Professor Frank M. Cross, Harvard University, The Ancient Library of Qumran 43
  • 16
    The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years (vol 2). Peter W. Flint and James C. Vanderkam (eds). Brill: 1999: 53
  • 17
    ‘Time and Times and Half a Time’: Historical Consciousness in the Jewish Literature of the Persian and Hellenistic Eras, Ida Frohlich (trans. Bea Vidacs), Sheffield:1996. 80
  • 18
    Harrison, R.K. 1969 Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans):1127
  • 19
    Harrison, R.K. 1979 Daniel, Book of. Pp. 859–66 in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). P. 862
  • 20
    Bruce K. Waltke, “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra 133, no. 532 (October 1976): 321.
  • 21
    F.M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Study (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961), p. 165.
  • 22
    Brownlee, professor of religion, Claremont Graduate School
  • 23
    M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), p. 118
  • 24
    Myers, professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • 25
    R.K. Harrison, “Historical and Literary Criticism of the New Testament”, in EBC, vol. 1
  • 26
    BibSac—V133 #532,Oct 1976,p.322
  • 27
    The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • 28
    Discussion of the prophecy and the four main interpretations
  • 29
    Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
  • 30
    The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain the mark of the beast.
  • 31
    Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
  • 32
    There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book.
  • 33
    This is the apex of Revelation, providing an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, with emphasis on the end-time persecution.
  • 34
    These plagues will follow after the end-time Christian persecution and will be followed by Christ’s return. What is the purpose of these?
  • 35
    Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon, the beast from the sea, and a scarlet beast.
  • 36
    Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically. Then Revelation 17 and 18 explain who and what she is.
  • 37
    The conclusion that Jesus is ‘God’ forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine.
  • 38
    The decision to adopt the Trinity doctrine was not taken by the church.
  • 39
    Including Modalism, Eastern Orthodoxy view of the Trinity, Elohim, and Eternal Generation
  • 40
    Discussions of the Atonement – How does God do away with sin?
  • 41
    How people are put right with God
  • 42
    Must Christians observe the Law of Moses?
  • 43
    Must Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • 44
    Are the dead still alive and aware?
  • 45
    Will the lost be tormented in hell for all eternity?
  • 46
    And why does God not make an end to all evil?
  • 47
    Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
  • 48
    When? How? Has His return been delayed?
  • 49
    I do not have any formal theological qualifications and I am not part of any religious organization. These articles are the result of my studies over many years.

Revelation’s Beast is the Church of the Roman Empire.

This is an article in the series on Revelation 13. The purpose is to identify the Beast that comes out of the Sea; the Sea Beast (Rev 13:1). A previous article has shown that the Sea Beast is the same as the evil 11th horn of the fourth animal in Daniel 7. The purpose of the current article is to identify it more specifically. The ultimate purpose of this series is to identify the Mark of the Beast. This article assumes that the articles on Daniel 7 and Revelation 13:1-4 have been read. See the list of articles below.

The current article identifies that as the Church of the Roman Empire, meaning, the church that the Roman Empire, in the person of Emperor Theodosius, in the fourth century established as the state religion of the Roman Empire, which that Empire thereafter has protected for several centuries, and which was the remnant of that empire after it had fragmented into many parts. One specific manifestation of that ‘Roman Church’ was the church of the Middle Ages, which continued the principles of the Roman Empire, killing countless numbers of God’s people. That church no longer exists as one single organization but its principles and practices are found in many denominations.

SUMMARY

The Beast identified from Daniel 7

The only reason that Daniel 7 mentions the four animals and the other ten horns is to allow us to identify that evil 11th horn. Daniel 7 lists several specific characteristics of this horn. This section considers five of them and, for the reasons below, identifies it as the Church of the Roman Empire:

The 11th Horn Church of the Roman Empire
1 Grew out of the Roman Empire. Was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented.
2 Blasphemes God by attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” Blasphemes God with doctrines and practices that insult God.
3 Persecutes God’s true people. Engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the people who resisted its practices and doctrines.
4 Uprooted three of the others as it came up. In the sixth century, Justinian uprooted three of the Arian Christian nations that previously dominated the ‘Roman Church’.
5 “Was larger in appearance than its associates.” During the High Middle Ages, the church became dominant over the other kingdoms that arose from the Roman Empire.

Since Revelation’s Beast is the 11th horn of Daniel 7, and since that horn symbolizes ‘the Roman Church’, Revelation’s Beast symbolizes the state religion of the Roman Empire.

The Beast identified from Revelation 13

The previous section identified the Sea Beast by identifying Daniel’s evil horn. The current section identifies it based on what Revelation 13 itself says about it.

The fatal wound and resurrection of the Sea Beast suggest that this world power would have a period of great authority for “42 months,” followed by a period of death before its ‘resurrection’. This may be applied as follows to the ‘Roman Church’:

1. The 42 months represent the many centuries during the Middle Ages when it massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

2. Its authority received a fatal wound through religious liberty and the separation of church and state in the time of the French Revolution.

3. In the end-time, the wound will be healed (Rev 13:3) when an image of the beast (a copy of the system during the Middle Ages) will be set up which will again kill its opponents.

A further indication – that the beast is the ‘church’ – is that the Sea Beast is not just a political power; it is also a religious power, for it “blaspheme His name and His tabernacle“and “make war with the saints.”

More specifically, the Sea Beast is a Christian organization, for it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus Christ, it:

      • Receives its authority,
      • Looks like one from which it receives its authority, and
      • Has a ministry that lasts three and a half years, followed by a death and a resurrection.

Other indications that the Sea Beast is a Christian organization are:

      • It specifically persecutes God’s people. Only a Christian organization is able to do that.
      • It uses a lamb-like beast as its agent. Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb.
      • The Bible predicts in various places that the church would become corrupted.

The End-time Antichrist

The Sea Beast is not ‘personally’ involved in the end-time. Just like it received its authority from the Dragon (Rev 13:2), which symbolizes the Roman Empire, the Sea Beast gives its authority to its end-time assistant; the Beast from the Earth (Rev 13:12). The Earth Beast then convinces the people of the world to make an Image of the Sea Beast (Rev 13:14), which is an end-time organization in the likeness of the Sea Beast. In other words, it is an end-time organization that functions on the principles of the church in the Middle Ages. It is this ‘Image’ that persecutes and kills God’s end-time people (Rev 13:15).

The religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar to the Church in the High Middle Ages. The Holocaust and similar more recent religious cruelties make it clear that today’s version of institutional Christianity is not significantly improved over that of the Middle Ages. The end-time Antichrist is not any of the specific organizations that exist today, but an application of the principles of the church of the Middle Ages. Whenever we see persecution and killing of people for their religious convictions, whatever form that persecution takes, then we must know that the principles of the Roman Empire are at work, for God never uses force.

– END OF SUMMARY – 


PREVIOUS CONCLUSIONS

The Beast is the remnant of the Roman Empire.

Daniel 7

In Daniel 7, ten horns grow out of the fourth animal. After them, a little horn comes up that becomes larger than the rest. This 11th horn is the Antichrist because, different from the others, it explicitly opposes God. It blasphemes the Most High and persecutes His people (Dan 7:8, 24-25).

For clarity, this article reserves the term “Beast” for the Beast in Revelation 13:1 and refers to the creatures of Daniel 7 as animals.

Revelation 13

In Revelation 13, a Beast comes up from the Sea and receives its authority, throne, and power from a Dragon (Rev 13:1-2). A previous article identified the Dragon as the fourth animal in Daniel 7, which has been identified as the Roman Empire. A further article has identified the Sea Beast as the 11th horn growing out of that fourth animal. Therefore:

Firstly, since the Sea Beast receives its authority from the Dragon, and since the Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire, the Sea Beast receives its authority from the Roman Empire.

Secondly, since the Sea Beast is one of the horns that grow out of Daniel’s fourth animal, it is one of the kingdoms into which the Roman Empire fragmented about 500 years after Christ.

Thirdly, more specifically, since the Sea Beast is Daniel’s evil 11th horn, it is the remaining fragment of the Roman Empire after it has already fragmented into 10 parts.

THE ROMAN CHURCH

To identify the Sea Beast more specifically, this section identifies the Horn of Daniel 7, and therefore the Sea Beast, as the Church of the Roman Empire, referred to here as the Roman Church but not referring to any specific present-day organization. This identification is based on the marks of identity found in the book of Daniel: 

1. It is a fragment of the Roman Empire.

Firstly, as stated above, the evil horn grew out of the Roman Empire. The church, similarly, was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented:

A major task of the Roman Emperors was to ensure the unity of the Empire, which consisted of a multitude of nations. The sword was one means of maintaining unity but religion was another. The emperors, therefore, always governed religion. They decided which religions were legal and they managed the legal religions closely.

Therefore, after Constantine legalized Christianity in the year 313, church and state became one. The modern concept of a distinction between church and state did not exist. The church became a department of government, with the emperor as the real head of the church 1“Simonetti remarks that the Emperor was in fact the head of the church.” Hanson RPC, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381. 1988, p849 and the ultimate authority in disputes about church doctrine, 2“If we ask the question, what was considered to constitute the ultimate authority in doctrine during the period reviewed in these pages, there can be only one answer. The will of the Emperor was the final authority.” Hanson RPC, p849 much like the king of England is still today the head of the Church of England. The so-called “ecumenical councils of the fourth century were the means by which the emperors governed the empire. 3“The general council was the very invention and creation of the Emperor. General councils, or councils aspiring to be general, were the children of imperial policy and the Emperor was expected to dominate and control them.” Hanson RPC, page 855

In the year 380, Emperor Theodosius made the Trinitarian version of Christianity, which, at the time, was a minority in the Church, the only legal religion in the Empire and ruthlessly persecuted all opposition. In this way, Trinitarian Christianity became the State Religion of the Roman Empire, referred to here as the ‘Roman Church’.

In the fifth century, Germanic tribes, which had migrated into the territory of the Roman Empire over the previous century or more, gained control over the Western Empire and it between themselves. Although these tribes were so-called ‘Arian’ and, in theory, should opposed the Trinitarian ‘Roman Church’, the ‘Roman Church’ flourished in the West because these Germanic people regarded themselves as part of the Roman Empire and respected the Roman Church as part of that empire. (See – Fifth Century) The Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire was the guardian of the ‘Roman Church’ and these Germanic tribes sought his approval.

In the sixth century, the Eastern Emperor Justinian, seeking to free the ‘Roman Church’ in the West from Arian domination, sent troops that significantly weakened the Germanic tribes in the West. Over the subsequent two centuries, the Eastern Roman emperors, reigning from Constantinople, continued to rule the nations in the West THROUGH the ‘Roman Church’. This period is known as the Byzantine Papacy. The ‘Roman Church’ functioned clearly as an important part of the Roman Empire. See – Byzantine Papacy.

2. It blasphemes and persecutes.

The horn of Daniel 7 will blaspheme God and persecute His people. These two things are related: It blasphemes God by disregarding God’s Law and through teachings and practices that insult God. God’s true people protest and refuse to submit to its law. Consequently, it persecutes them. In support of this, note the parallelism in Daniel 7:25:

Blaspheme Persecute
He will speak out against the Most High  and wear down the saints of the Highest One
and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

According to the column on the left, the horn “will speak out against the Most High” by attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” According to the column on the right, the consequence will be that God’s true people will protest, with the result that the horn will persecute them.

Blaspheme – The church in Rome blasphemed God by developing doctrines and practices that insult God. It gradually deviated from biblical truth in multiple areas, for example, deviations in Christology eventually resulting in Mariology. Other examples include false teachings concerning salvation and indulgences, confession, and the veneration of people declared to be saints.

Persecute – “He will … wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25). As a clear mark of its identity, the church of the Middle Ages engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the true people of God who dared to stand up against these evil innovations. It killed and massacred God’s people. For example, see the massacres of the Waldensians. In so doing it had drifted far from the spirit of Jesus, as recognized by such medieval “saints” as Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Eberhard of Salzburg.

Other Identifications

The little horn uprooted three of the others as it came up (Dan 7:8; 20, 24). In the sixth century, Justinian uprooted three of the Arian Christian nations that previously dominated the Church in Rome. This allowed the papacy to become a dominant force in the territory of the previous Western Roman Empire.

The evil horn “was larger in appearance than its associates” (Dan 7:20). During the High Middle Ages, the church became dominant over the other kingdoms that arose out of the Roman Empire.

In this section, we argued that the dominant horn of Daniel 7 is the church of the Middle Ages. We only discussed four indicators:

      • Fragment of the Roman Empire;
      • Blasphemy & Persecution;
      • Uprooted three; and
      • Larger than the others.

A series of articles is available on this website that discusses the history of the church. Some of these articles have been referenced above. That series discusses all marks of identity provided in Daniel 7 to identify the church of Rome as the only historical entity that fits both the timing and the characteristics of the 11th horn of Daniel 7.

Evidence from Revelation

The previous section discussed evidence from Daniel 7. The current section identifies the beast as the church based on marks of identity in Revelation 13 itself:

1. 42 Months, followed by Death and Resurrection

The death and resurrection of the beast suggest that the world power, of which the beast is a symbol, would have a period of great authority for “42 months,” followed by a period of death (the fatal wound – Rev 13:5) before its ‘resurrection’ (“his fatal wound was healed” – 13:5). Then the beast would play a major role in the final conflict in the history of this world.

The nature of Revelation, with things such as beasts with seven heads and ten horns, that are worshiped by the people of the world, implies that time indications are also symbolic. For example, the ten horns are ten kings that reign “for one hour” (Rev 17:12). This must be symbolic for a much longer period than one literal hour, but still a short period; perhaps only some months. Compared to one literal hour, 42 literal months (3½ years) is a very, very long time.

It is, therefore, quite possible that the 42 months represent the many centuries during which the mainstream church of the Middle Ages in the most horrendous ways massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

The authority of the church received a fatal wound through religious liberty in the time of Napoleon and the French revolution. Today, the church is not able to kill God’s people as it did during the Middle Ages. The mainstream church, therefore, also had a long period of dominance, followed by a period of death; the fatal wound.

Revelation predicts that, in the end-time, an image of the beast (a copy of the system during the Middle Ages) will be set up which will again kill its opponents.

2. Religious Power

The beast is not just a political power like ancient Babylon and Rome but, like the church of the Middle Ages, it is also a religious power, for it “blaspheme His name and His tabernacle“ (Rev 13:6) and “make war with the saints” (Rev 13:7).

3. Christian Organization

More specifically, the beast, like the church of the Middle Ages, is a Christian organization. Firstly, it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ:

It looks like the dragon because it has the same number of heads and horns and gets its authority from the dragon (Rev 13:2). This mirrors the relationship of Jesus with His Father because Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and because the Father has given Jesus “all authority … in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18).

Like Jesus, the beast has a ministry that lasts three and a half years, followed by a death and a resurrection.

Secondly, the beast specifically persecutes God’s people. That only a Christian organization is able to do, for God’s people are identified by their protest against unbiblical doctrines and practices in the church.

Thirdly, the beast works with a lamb-like beast (Rev 13:11-12). Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb. This is the only instance in Revelation where “lamb” does not refer to Jesus. The lamb-like beast looks like Jesus but “spoke as a dragon” (Rev 13:11).

The beast is something dragon-like that has a Christian face! It names Jesus as its reason for existence, yet its actions serve the dragon!

Other Bible Evidence

Revelation is not alone in such a prediction. There are numerous other texts in the New Testament that forecast a similar future for the church, though in less dramatic terms. For example:

“The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1; cf. Acts 20:28-31; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 2:18-19).

In summary, so far, the main sections of this article have argued as follows:

        1. Revelation’s beast and daniel’s horn are two different symbols for the same world power – the Antichrist.
        2. That horn is the church of the Middle Ages. Therefore the beast is the same.
        3. Revelation itself identified the beast as a Christian organization.
        4. Various other Bible texts predict that the church would become corrupted.

The End-time Antichrist

Given that the beast represents the church of the Middle Ages, the question in this section is about the identity of the Antichrist in the end-time war.

Each beast is a head.

To discuss the seventh head, we first need to review the phases of the beast. As previously argued, each beast is one of the heads (phases) of the beast-power. According to the article on the Seven Heads:

      • The first four heads are the four beasts of Daniel 7. The fourth beast is the Roman Empire, represented in Revelation 12:3 as a dragon.
      • The last three heads are the three phases of the beast (the 11th horn); before, during, and after the fatal wound.

In other words:

      • Head 4 is the dragon in Rev 12:3, representing the Roman Empire.
      • Head 5 is the beast from the sea in Rev 13:1; another symbol for Daniel’s evil horn – the Antichrist.
      • Head 6 is the scarlet beast in Rev 17:3, which is in prison (the Abyss – Rev 17:8). This is the fatal wound (Rev 13:3).
      • Head 7 is the beast after its resurrection.

Indications of Dissimilarity

The beast, therefore, is the Antichrist in both the fifth and seventh phases, but that does not mean that the same organizations will be involved in both phases. For example, in Revelation 12, the dragon symbolizes Satan’s forces in different forms at different times:

      • At the time of Christ (Rev 12:3);
      • In the war in heaven (Rev 12:7);
      • During the Middle Ages (Rev 12:14) and
      • In the end-time war (Rev 12:17).

In the same way, the beast is a symbol for Satan’s forces in different forms at different times. Just like the Babylonian Empire was the first of the seven heads but very different from the church of the Middle Ages, the final phase (head) of the beast, when the fatal wound is healed, may again be very different from the church of the Middle Ages. We should, therefore, not necessarily expect the same organizations to be involved in the end-time crisis. That beast of the fifth phase was the mainstream church of the Middle Ages does not mean that beast of the seventh phase is the Catholic Church.

Indications of Similarity

On the other hand, Daniel and Revelation indicate a significant continuity between the Middle Ages and the end-time, because:

      • The evil horn of Daniel 7 is the Antichrist in both eras, and
      • In the end-time war:
        • The sea beast will be resurrected, and
        • An “image” of the beast will be set up (Rev 13:14).

The question then, given these indications of similarity and dissimilarity, is how to define the beast.

Mainstream Church of Christendom

History teaches that the mainstream church of Christendom in the Middle Ages brutally persecuted and executed believers who dared to stand up to its doctrines and practices, but the mainstream churches of our day will act similarly. The religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar. For example; the role which Calvin played in the murder of Michael Servetus. Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Holocaust make it clear that today’s version of institutional Christianity is not significantly improved over that of the Middle Ages.

To make provision for both the indications of similarity and dissimilarity, I propose that we define the beast as the mainstream church of Christendom. That definition would allow it to be represented by different organizations at different times.

God never uses force.

As we continue to read Revelation 13, we will see further indications of the form which the beast will assume during the final crisis of this world’s history. However, whenever we see persecution and killing of people for their religious convictions, then we must know that the spirit of Satan is at work, for God never uses force. If God used forced, He would not have allowed evil to develop. But He created us with the wonderful ability to make our own choices. He protects our freedom, for if He would override our freedom to choose against Him, He would be destroying the miracle which He has created.

God knows the future.

Is it also not wonderful to be reassured that God know the future? The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were given thousands of years ago and, according to the interpretation above, correctly predicted events over these centuries. But, for that reason, God shrouded these predictions in symbolic language so that only people that want to believe, will believe. The others will hear but not hear, see but not see”

“None of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Dan 12:10).

Final Conclusions

The beast of Revelation is the mainstream church of Christendom. This is based on the following:

 – The beast of Revelation is another symbol for the world power (the Antichrist) that is symbolized by the evil horn in the Book of Daniel.
 – The evil horn of Daniel is the church of the Middle Ages.
 – Consequently the beast in Revelation is a symbol for the church of the Middle Ages.

Further evidence of this is that the description of the beast in Revelation 13 identifies it as the church; both during the Middle Ages and in the end-time (after the fatal wound has been healed).

More specifically, the description of the beast in Revelation 13 identifies it as a Christian organization.

Consequently, the beast symbolizes the Antichrist in both the Middle Ages and in the end-time, but different organizations may be involved in the two phases. In the end-time, the beast could take the form of the Protestant Orthodoxy.

Other Articles

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    “Simonetti remarks that the Emperor was in fact the head of the church.” Hanson RPC, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381. 1988, p849
  • 2
    “If we ask the question, what was considered to constitute the ultimate authority in doctrine during the period reviewed in these pages, there can be only one answer. The will of the Emperor was the final authority.” Hanson RPC, p849
  • 3
    “The general council was the very invention and creation of the Emperor. General councils, or councils aspiring to be general, were the children of imperial policy and the Emperor was expected to dominate and control them.” Hanson RPC, page 855