Daniel 10 and the Notion of Territorial Spirits -- By: David E. Stevens

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:628 (Oct 2000)
Article: Daniel 10 and the Notion of Territorial Spirits
Author: David E. Stevens


Daniel 10 and the Notion of Territorial Spirits

David E. Stevensa

A plethora of books and articles testify to a renewed interest in the mysterious realm of celestial powers and their relationship to the terrestrial world.1 In spite of such interest the study of this important theme has often been ignored or relegated to the periphery of serious biblical and theological study.2 In the 1950s Scottish theologian James Stewart noted that the study of the celestial powers—and in particular malevolent powers—was a neglected aspect of New Testament theology.3 More recently, however, the writings of such authors as Walter Wink and Peter Wagner have highlighted the existence of cosmic powers and “territorial spirits” that exert influence in the world.4

In the 1989 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, held in Manila, five workshops were devoted to the subject of “territorial spirits.” Since then many books and articles have been published on this much-debated topic,5 and they frequently refer to Daniel 10

as a chapter that speaks explicitly of territorial spirits. For example Wagner states, “The Bible teaches that the things we today call ‘territorial spirits’ do exist. A key passage is found in Daniel 10 where the ‘prince of Persia’ and the ‘prince of Greece’ are mentioned specifically”6 in verse 20. Speaking of the spirit princes of Persia and Greece, Otis writes, “Here we have a well-defined case of an evil spiritual being ruling over an area with explicitly defined boundaries.”7

Priest, Campbell, and Mullen underscore the determinative nature of this passage in relation to the contemporary notion of territorial spirits. “All other passages which advocates of spiritual mapping, and spiritual warfare based on that mapping, have appealed to, are read in the light of this passage as well as in the light of anecdotes, native beliefs and demonic revelations. This passage is crucial. If this passage is discovered not to teach the notion of demonic territoriality—the notion that demonic power is

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