Is Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks Prophecy Messianic? Part 2 -- By: J. Paul Tanner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 166:663 (Jul 2009)
Article: Is Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks Prophecy Messianic? Part 2
Author: J. Paul Tanner

Is Daniel’s Seventy-Weeks Prophecy Messianic? Part 2

J. Paul Tanner

J. Paul Tanner is Middle East Director, BEE World, Bullard, Texas.

Throughout church history the seventy-weeks prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 has been considered one of the most cherished messianic passages of the Old Testament. Part 1 in this series surveyed views on this crucial passage by the early church fathers up through the early part of the fifth century.1 Although they differed widely in their interpretations of various details and their chronological calculations, they were in near unanimous agreement that Daniel 9:24-27 is to be fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not surprisingly the messianic interpretation of these verses has been vociferously attacked by critical scholars, most of whom maintain that this passage is not predictive prophecy at all but is an after-the-fact allusion to various events during the Maccabean period when the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes sought to impose Hellenism on Judea and suppress Jewish observance of the Mosaic Law.2 These skeptics typically interpret the מָשִׁיחַ of Daniel 9:25 as either Cyrus, Zerubbabel, or the high priest, Joshua son of

Jehozadak, all of the sixth century B.C. On the other hand they say the מָשִׁיחַ in verse 26 is Onias III, who served as high priest at the time Antiochus IV Epiphanes took the throne of Syria.

In recent times even a few evangelicals have abandoned the messianic interpretation. Noteworthy examples are John Goldingay in the Word Biblical Commentary and Thomas McComiskey in an influential Christian journal.3 Yet these two writers differ significantly. Goldingay writes, “The form of the revelation suggests it is a quasi-prophecy, whose setting would then be Jerusalem between the introduction of new forms of worship in 167 B.C. and their abolition in 164 B.C. . . . The narrative introduction refers explicitly to a setting in the exilic period and presumably in Babylon, but that is presumably part of the fictional scene-setting for the revelation which aligns the chapter as a whole with the rest of the book.”4 Such words as “quasi-prophecy” and “fictional scene-setting” are hardly evan...

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