Monday, February 8, 2010

How not to interpret the Book of Daniel. Part 7

Duncan McKenzie has written several essays on the Book of Daniel. You may find them here. Recently, he published a book entitled The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination. In the first volume, he deals (mainly) with the Book of Daniel and 2 Thessalonians.

According to McKenzie, he has "been studying Bible prophecy for the last 25 years". Unfortunately, he lacks any formal training in Biblical languages and the serious study of religion. That might explain why the results of the 25 years of studying remain somewhat disappointing. First, McKenzie's position is not the classic preterist position. Instead, he argues – following most futurist and historicist scholars – that the fourth kingdom in the Book of Daniel should be identified with the Roman Empire. We have already pointed out reasons for rejecting this interpretation (see the first 6 parts of "How not to interpret the Book of Daniel). In the following, we'll deal with McKenzie's criticism of the classic preterist understanding of Daniel's prophecies.

McKenzie writes:

In his commentary on Daniel, Moses Stuart Stuart attempts to take the critical position (i.e. that Daniel shows primarily the events surrounding Antiochus IV) and harmonize it with the NT teaching that the kingdom of God came in the first century AD. He maintains that Daniel 7 shows the kingdom of God being established after the fourth empire (Dan 7:7-14). This position has at least two problems:
First, Daniel 2:44-45 says that the kingdom of God would be established either during the kings of the fourth empire or during the reign of the kings of all four empires. Either way, Daniel 2 does not say that the kingdom of God would be established after the fourth kingdom. Daniel 7 settles the matter, however, by clearly showing the kingdom being established during the fourth kingdom (Dan. 7:17-21). (McKenzie, The Antichrist and the Second Coming, p. 428)
But all of this is wrong!

First, Stuart does not attempt "to take the critical" position". He advocates the classic preterist position, which probably is the oldest interpretation of Daniel (cf. 1-2 Maccabees, Book of Revelation, Qumran).

Second, Dan 2 does not indicate that the stone arrives at the time of the fourth kingdom per se.

In what follows I will explain why I do not share McKenzie's identification of "these kings" (Dan 2:44) with the kings of the fourth kingdom (or the kings of all four empires).

McKenzie's interpretation does not hold up under scrutiny for the following reasons:

(a) The phrase "these kings" (or "those kings") in Dan 2:44a suggests that the kings referred to are already known (viz. mentioned before), but the preceding co-text (vv. 41–43) has "not specifically said that the fourth regime constituted a dynasty rather than just one reign" (Goldingay, Daniel, p. 52). Thus, Mckenzie's interpretation lacks (text) linguistic support. An appeal to an interpretation 'ad sensum' is only justified if a logical and/or grammatical linguistic reference point is missing. But we do have such a reference point – cf. (b):

(b) The Aramaic word mlk ('king') is found in vv. 37-38, where a certain king (Nebuchadnezzar) is identified with the first part of the statue (viz. the head). However, in v. 39 we read: "After you [= king Nebuchadnezzar] shall arise another [!] kingdom (…)" (NRSV). Obviously, "king" and "kingdoms" are used synonymously. Now, if we accept this and that king Nebuchadnezzar represents the Neo-Babylonian Empire and that the first part of the statue may be identified with Neo-Babylonia (as a "king" might be seen as the "symbol and incarnation" of a kingdom, then we do have a linguistic counterpart, or reference point, to "these kings" in v. 44a. Thus, "these kings" in v. 44b should be identified with all the four kingdoms [= the four parts of the statue], as confirmed by v. 44b: "It [= the messianic kingdom] shall crush all these kingdoms [= all four kingdoms] and bring them to an end" (NRSV).

(c) The (text) linguistic analysis in (b) is again supported by some important exegetical observations:

(i) All parts of the statue are destroyed (by the stone) at the same time (cf. vv. 34-35; 45); this is made explicit by the use of the temporal verb khde ('as one', 'simultaneously') in v. 35.

(ii) The parallelism between "those kings" and "all these kingdoms" vv. 44a and 44b (NRSV):

[44a] "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed (…).

[44b] "It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever."

(iii) The identification of "kings" with "kingdoms" is supported by Vulgata and at least six mss of Th (Hartman & Di Lella, The Book of Daniel, p. 141). One should also note that he difference between "kings" in v. 44 MT (malkayyâ) and corresponding Aramaic molkayyâ ('kingdoms') is only a matter of different vocalising.

For scholars advocating the same position on "those kings" in Dan 2:44 as outlined above, one could mention: (besides E. Young, Daniel, 1954) K. Marti (Das Buch Daniel, 1901); A. Bentzen (Daniel, 1952); O. Plöger (Das Buch Daniel, 1965); Hartman & Di Lella (The Book of Daniel, 1978); J. Goldingay (Daniel, 1989).

Thus, the coming of the stone does not influence the fourth part more than the first three parts of the statue. Obviously, the meaning here is theological, not chronological (although a chronology might be adduced).

According to Dan 7, it is clear that the coming of one like the son of a man happens after the fall of the fourth kingdom. Dan 7 does not say or in any way indicate that the fourth kingdom would be even more powerful and continue for centuries after the killing of the little horn. Dan 7 does not even suggest that the fourth kingdom would continue to exist after the "kingdom" was given to the holy ones of the Most High. All of this happens after the fall of the fourth kingdom. True, it is not said when (how long after the fall of the fourth kingdom) it would happen. Nevertheless, the chronological order is clear: first end of fourth kingdom, then coming of one like the son of a man with the holy ones inheriting the kingdom.

McKenzie continues:

Second, if Stuart's position were correct, it would make Daniel 2 the sloppiest prophecy God ever gave. If the kingdom of God was to come in the first century AD, why would God stop showing empires in Daniel beyond the second century BC? If Stuart were right, why would God not even show the Roman Empire in Daniel, if indeed that empire would be in power when the kingdom of God intervened in history? If Stuart were correct, it would not make sense for God to have out the Roman Empire in Daniel's prophecy of the coming of the kingdom. (McKenzie, The Antichrist and the Second Coming, p. 428f.)
Look who's talking! As pointed out by Stuart: any identification of the fourth kingdom with Rome "seems to be an exegetical impossibility" (Stuart, A Commentary on Daniel, p. 188). The same goes for McKenzie's identification of the little horn with Titus. As we know, Titus didn't die in 70 CE. On the contrary, he became emperor in 79 CE and died in 82 CE.

Of course, the classic preterist position does not make any prophecy in the Book of Daniel sloppy! What we have in Dan 2 is the coordinated destruction of four successive kingdoms by the same force (viz. the Messiah, sent by God). The vision makes it impossible for us to argue that the Messiah were to come during the fourth kingdom rather than the first, second or third kingdom. From a certain perspective, his coming would be relevant to all of them, because they were all destroyed because of his coming.If we relate the fourth kingdom with Antiochus IV this understanding of the vision actually makes sense historically: If Antiochus had finished his extremely Anti-Semitic policy, he would probably have accomplished what Hitler and Nazi-Germany tried some two millennia later, and the royal Seed of David would have been lost for ever. Dan 2 demonstrates that God is in control; the fourth kingdom was destroyed and it made room for God's kingdom. This is why the stone grew into a mountain after the destruction of the statue (and therefore the fourth kingdom).

Finally, McKenzie argues:

Daniel 7 does not show the kingdom of God being established after the demise of the fourth kingdom. The kingdom was to be established in the days of the ten kings of the fourth kingdom, when the little eleventh horn would arise (Dan. 7:23-27). It helps to understand that the visions of Daniel 7 show two events: the AD 30 ascension of Jesus, the Son of Man, to the Father (Dan. 7:13-14) and the AD 70 coming of God (Dan 7:8-12, 21-27; cf. Rev. 19:11-20:14). (McKenzie, The Antichrist and the Second Coming, p. 429)
As we have already demonstrated, McKenzie is wrong regarding Dan 2:44. Now it is clear that heis wrong as to Dan 7 as well. The Aramaic text in Dan 7:21–22 does not necessarily support the idea that the saints received the kingdom at the same time as the little horn was destroyed. For instance, the NET Bible renders Dan 7:21–22 like this: "[21] While I was watching, that horn began to wage war against the holy ones and was defeating them, [22] until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was rendered in favor of the holy ones of the Most High. Then the time arrived for the holy ones to take possession of the kingdom." Cf. Dan 7:26–27 (NET, NAB).

We have to remember that both Dan 7:21–22 and Dan 7:26–27 are based on the vision in Dan 7:8-10 and 13–14 (cf. Dan 7:15ff.). In fact, the Book of Daniel does not say how long it could/should take from the fall of the fourth kingdom until the saints inherited the kingdom. But it does make it clear that it would happen after, not during or before, the fall of the fourth kingdom. Egypt fell about 30-40 years (= one generation) before the first advent of Christ (the arrival of the messianic kingdom); that is close enough for me.

Like in the prophecy in Dan 2, the vision in Dan 7 demonstrates that the line of four kingdoms would be destroyed before and because of the arrival of one like the son of man and his everlasting kingdom. Surely, from a Christian perspective the fourth kingdoms cannot be the Roman Empire unless one seriously would argue that the fourth kingdom was destroyed in the fourth century CE.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Notes on Dan 9

If we stick to the text (The Book of Daniel), the following conclusions may be drawn:

(1) The vision (Hebr. "mar'eh") in Dan 9:23 is a reference to Dan 8:27, "(...) the vision, which [Daniel] could not understand". Thus, Dan vv. 24 offer an explanation of the vision in Dan 8.

(2) There is a reference to Dan 8:26 in Dan 9:24.

(3) There is a reference (back) to Dan 9:27 in Dan 11:31 and 12:11.

(4) The over-all theme in the Book of Daniel: The coming of one like the son of man/God's kingdom after the fall of four secular kingdoms (viz. [1] Neo-Babylonia; [2] Medo-Persia; [3] Alexander's Greece; [4] the 'rival diadochoi' Egypt and Syria with Antiochus IV as the 'little horn').

(5) The prophecy in Dan 9:24-27 covers a round number of years (= a long period) – as Jeremiah's seventy years was an approximation for a very long period, the 490 years mentioned in Dan 9 should not be taken literally.

(6) Dan 9:27 is about Antiochus IV "abolishing of the daily sacrifice and setting up the horrible abomination" (cf. Dan 11:31).

(7) that this prophecy has something to do with the fall of the little horn (= Antiochus IV) in Dan 8 (and, of course, Dan 7).

(8) In Biblical Hebrew, the word for "everlasting" does not always indicate 'without any end'.

The concern of v. 24 is (Ancient) Israel and Jerusalem; the prophecy in Dan 9 is not speaking of the sin of the whole world. Deliverance from Antiochus IV (and the fourth kingdom) is in view. Or, as pointed out by celebrated scholar John Goldingay:
"Like that vision [= Dan 8], it [= Dan 9:24] looks forward from the time of Daniel himself to the Antiochene crisis, and promises God's deliverance. There is no reason to refere it exegetically to the first or second coming of Christ". (Goldingay: Daniel, p. 260.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How not to interpret the Book of Daniel. Part 6

John S. Evans and Daniel 7
Because texts are polysemic, it's possible to manipulate any given (Biblical) text to meet a certain view of what one feels it should be. Thus, if the natural reading of a text does not support your interpretation, you either have to reject your (mis-) understanding or try making the text say something else, something which supports your theory.

According to John S. Evans:
Although it is natural to assume that in Daniel 7, verses 13-14 come after 11-12 chronologically, I have tended to argue in the past that this assumption is not necessarily correct. Verse 13 begins: "I kept looking in the night visions"; i.e. the "vision" of chapter 7 is actually a collection of visions. Given this, one can argue that verses 11-12 are part of a vision pertaining to the beasts that is presented in verses 2-8 while verses 13-14 are part of a vision belonging with the judgment scene of 9-10. It then becomes possible to understand 11-12 as occurring in time after both 9-10 and 13-14. (John S. Evans: The Prophecies of Daniel 2, p. 131; Evans' emphasize)
His point about the "visions" in Dan 7, however, is without merit – it only demonstrates that he has misunderstood the Aramaic expression. But of course, as the progression of events suggested by the natural reading of the text does not support his position, he has to come up with an alternative.

(If the text does not support your position, you should change your position instead.)

The natural flow of events suggested by Dan 7 is supported by the dream "visions" (sic!) in Dan 2; the arrival of the stone (= Christ's first advent) is the real course for the downfall of all four empires. But Rome did not fall ca. 7/6 BCE. (Of course, Rome did not fall in 70 CE either!) Thus, the fourth kingdom cannot be identified with the Roman Empire.

How not to interpret the Book of Daniel. Part 5

If you want to identify the fourth kingdom in the Book of Daniel with the Roman Empire, the following 'hermeneutical principles' might come in handy:

(1) First, there is absolutely no need to know the languages in which the Biblical texts are written in. Liberal scholars tend to know the Biblical languages, and, hey, we all know what that leads to.

(2) Second, you really do not need to have any formal training in Biblical or religious studies. True, if you want to say something about psychology or economics you should probably have some done some academic studies within this field, but when it comes to reading the Bible, there's no need for that! If you have to back up your interpretation, you just need to read what others have said (in English) and pick and choose what ever seems to support your interpretation. Use the following device: "N.N. made the following observation [which, of course, supports my argument]"...

(3) Do your research on the Internet – only if you do not find anything supporting your theory, you should try some of the commentaries.

(4) You should always be guided by the following religious bias: The Bible cannot be wrong in any way. Thus, if a natural reading supports an interpretation which may create problems, you should try twisting the words so that they could indicate something else.

(5) Finally, you should never forget: You may always manipulate any given (Biblical) text to meet a certain view of what we feel it should be. It is with this type of 'hermeneutic' that a guy like Nostradamus still remains popular to this day. So, if there in the text exists a problem for your interpretation, you can simply say it is a "future" event, or it is "metonymous", or "symbolic", or at least it is "spiritual", or "allegorical", and then you should be able to walk away and believe that you have the only correct interpretation.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

How not to interpret the Book of Daniel. Part 4

John S. Evans and the metals of the statue in Dan 2

Following the fantasies of Charles Boutflower (In and Around the Book of Daniel, 1923), John S. Evans argues that the four metals and the clay either historically (the metals) or Biblically (the clay) are associated with the kingdoms and people they represent. According to Evans, the Neo-Babylonian Empire was uniquely associated with gold. Likewise, silver and bronze were historically associated with Medo-Persia and Greece respectively. The Roman Empire is supposed to have uniquely been associated with iron. Finally, Evans thinks Isaiah 64:8 demonstrates that the Jewish people was associated with clay.

Although Kurt M. Simmons subscribes to the very same "Roman Sequence" advocated by John S. Evans, he has recently presented valid criticism of Evan's thesis regarding the four metals of the statue in Dan 2. In his review of Evans' book on Dan 2, Simmons (correctly) states:

Although Babylon may have been the richest and therefore possessed the most gold, yet the only historical association of silver with the Persian Empire is that it was allegedly used it to pay the army. However, it is probable that each of the empires used silver this way and that Persia was not unique in this regard. In any event, the historical association seems too tenuous for this to be an identifying feature of the Persian Empire. But even if an historical association exists and could be adequately demonstrated, this ignores the symbolical association of the metals. Daniel says that the fourth empire would be “strong as iron” (Dan. 2:40) not that it made the most abundant use of that metal. Thus, it is the inherent symbolism of the metals that should guide us, not an ambiguous historical association. Moreover, why are only the metals historically associated with their respective kingdoms? Shouldn’t the clay have an historical association also? Yet, there is nothing in history that makes “clay” an identifying feature of the Jewish nation.


Evans’ relies instead upon an asserted biblical association identifying clay with the Jews. However, we found this unpersuasive. For example, Isaiah says “we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isa. 64:8). We would suggest that it would be a case of one’s paradigm driving his interpretation to say that this passage is uniquely applicable to the Jews. Isaiah uses the same parable elsewhere saying “Woe to him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands” (Isa. 45:9). The context of this passage suggests that it refers to Cyrus and the Persians whom God would raise up and ordained to release the captives (Isa. 45:1, 13). The point of the parable is the impropriety of men and nations questioning God’s judgment in raising the powers of the earth. God has a purpose and it is not for man to call God to account for his work among the nations. The other passage cited by Evans is Jeremiah’s famous parable of the potter. But this parable is expressly applied to all nations by the prophet, not just the Jews. “At what instant I shall speak concerning a kingdom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it,” etc (Jer. 18:7-10).

Clearly, these verses provide no basis for identifying the Jews as the clay to the exclusion of other people and nations. Allowing one’s paradigm to drive his interpretation is a common mistake. (...) Obviously, a “good argument” can always be made, but the test is what did the author intend? It seems fairly obvious that neither Isaiah nor Jeremiah intended to uniquely identify the Jews with clay. Rather, all peoples and nations are clay in God’s hands, and this is precisely how Daniel uses it. In any event, the biblical association is beside the point. It is the historical association Evans builds his case upon and here there simply is none connecting the Jews with “clay.” (Kurt M. Simmons: "Review of John S. Evans' The Prophecies of Daniel 2", The Sword and The Plow 10:10 (2008), p. 2-3.

There are several ways in which we can understand the symbolism of the four metals; we find traces of this symbolism in different ANE sources (Hesiod, Ovid, Zoroastrian texts). In some of these texts, the iron or something iron-mixed is used to signify Macedonian rulers!

Much more could be said on this; suffices to say that historically, the iron-mixed seems more suitable for a Macedonian kingdom than for Rome. Thus, based on the relevant ANE background, it is possible to link iron to the Seleucid dynasty.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How not to interpret the Book of Daniel. Part 3

John S. Evans and the statue in Dan 2

In one of his essays on the Book of Daniel (which can be found here), John S. Evans suggests, "that the prophecies of Daniel 2 were designed to be messianicly Christian with first century AD fulfillment". In order to reach this conclusion, he argues that the different parts of the statue correspond with the history of the Ancient Near East during the period running from 605 BCE to about 30 CE (cf. his essay "Getting Daniel Past the Second Century BC: Introduction", which is found here). Now, this may seem impressive (at least to the less informed reader), but in reality his theory does not hold up to scrutiny.

First, it should be noted that Evans' theory is without real support in the text. All Dan 2 provides us with is a sequence of five 'kingdoms'. Absolutely nothing indicates that the size of the different parts of the statue (which is not know to us anyway) corresponds to certain historical periods.

Second, as admitted by Evans himself, it's not that easy to assign all the different parts of the statue to known history:

Following the flow of history in the Book of Daniel, Evans suggests that the first part of the statue corresponds to the period from 605 BCE (when "King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and laid siege to Jerusalem", Dan 1:1) to 539 BCE, when Babylon was conquered by the Medo-Persian kingdom (cf. Dan 5:28; 6:1). This seems reasonable.

The second part, if understood as Medo-Persia, could be taken as corresponding to the period between 539 BCE to 333 BCE, when Alexander defeated Darius III (in the battle at Issus), or as Evans suggests, 532 BCE "the year in which Alexander the Great wrested control of Judea and the surrounding territory from the Persians".

The third part of the statue has to correspond to a period starting in 333/332 BCE. So far so good! But then the problems start:

Beginning with the bronze portion of the statue, the assignment of discrete dates becomes more difficult. While 332 BC is a suitable starting date for the beginning of the Hellenistic period, choosing the date for the displacement of the Greek bronze by the Roman iron is problematic. One could take a date as early as 192 BC, when the Romans defeated Antiochus III in a great battle at Magnesia in southwestern Asia Minor. But Rome did not incorporate Greece into what was then the Republic for several more decades. Specifically, it annexed Macedonia in 148 and mainland Greece in 146. Seleucid Syria and Ptolemaic Egypt continued to be independent states for some time afterward. The Maccabean Revolt against the rule of Antiochus IV probably began in 166, and it was not until December 164 that the rebels succeeded in driving the Greco-Syrian forces out of Jerusalem. Warfare between the Maccabean (or Hasmonean) leaders of Judea and the rulers of Seleucid Syria continued until 142. The Romans did not formally incorporate Judea into the empire until 63 BC, when Pompey took Jerusalem; and they did not establish firm control over Judea until around 37 BC, when Herod the Great was formally installed as King of Judea.

In light of this historical background, I suggest that a reasonable time slot for the bronze portion of the statue; i.e. the belly and the thighs, is the period from 332 to 146 BC, a total of 184 years. For the solid iron portion running from just above the knees to the ankles, I suggest the period 146 to 37 BC, a total of 109 years. This leaves the period 37 BC to AD 30, a span of 66 years (no year zero), to correspond to the feet of mixed iron and clay.
Here, Evans has a problem both regarding the end of the Hellenistic kingdoms and the rise/fall of the Roman Empire:

(a) His date for the end of the third part (146 BCE) is arbitrary at best. Syria continued to be a kingdom until 64 BCE (when Philip II Philoromaeus died); Egypt became a Roman province in 30/29 BCE. (According to Evans' interpretation, Syria and Egypt were parts of the third kingdom!)

(b) Second, the Roman Empire did not fall in the first century CE! According to the vision in Dan 2, all parts of the statue (viz. all four empires) were destroyed (lit. 'pulverized' according to the Aramaic text: be'dayin daqu) at the same time. Thus, there is absolutely no way Evans can make the fourth kingdom (viz. the fourth part of the statue) exist after the arrival of the stone hewn from the mountain.

Ironically (for Evans' interpretation), the Roman Empire got more powerful after the first coming of Christ; reaching the zenith of its power during the reign of Trajan (98-117 CE).

Thus, in view of the evidence at hand, it seems clear that Evans' thesis is not persuasive at all. It rests on conjectural 'evidence' rather than sound observation of the text; it has little to recommend it to serious scholarly acceptance.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The ANE background: 4 Ezra indicates that the "Roman View" originated after 70 CE

The Jewish 'apocalypse' 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) is usually dated to the last decade of the first century CE. Interestingly, the text in 4 Ezra 12:11–12 seems to indicate that the interpretation of the 'fourth beast' in (Dan 7) as the Roman Empire was not Daniel's own view, but rather a later interpretation.

In addition, we should note the lack of any reference to an identification of Daniel's fourth kingdom with the Roman Empire in the DS sources and, especially, the lack of any evidence for this interpretation in the NT writings. Obvioulsy, such silence tend to speak volumes!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The intertextual evidence against the "Roman View"

We've seen that the internal evidence from the Book of Daniel is in conflict with an identification of the fourth 'kingdom' with the Roman Empire. Now, we'll consider the evidence from the rest of the Bible:

(a) Evidence from the so-called Old Testament
1–2 Maccabees demonstrate that the Jews in the 2nd. and 1st. century BCE identified the 'little horn' in the Book of Daniel with the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (cf. Dan 11: 2–4, 21; Dan 8: 9 and 1 Macc 1:1–10).

(b) Evidence from the so-called New Testament
It's generally accepted that in the Book of Revelation (Rev), the Roman Empire is depicted as a beast rising from the sea (cf. 13:1–2). A close comparison between the fourth beast in Dan 7 and the beast 'from the sea' in Rev 13 will demonstrate, I think, that they cannot be one and the same entity:

First, in Rev 13:1b–2a, John has employed Daniel's description of all the 'beasts' (viz. empires) for the portray of the beast 'from the sea' (= the Roman Empire). Second, one should note that according to Daniel, the fourth 'beast' was different from the other three 'beasts'. John's "beast fromthe sea", however, has features from all of the four beasts (in Dan 7).

For more on this, see R. van der Water: "Reconsidering the Beast from the Sea (Rev 13.1)", NTS 46:2 (2000), pp. 245–561.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The internal evidence against the "Roman View"

If we let 'Scripture interpret Scripture', we should start by letting the Book of Daniel be understood in its own light. Now, when we make a comparison of the different parts of the Book of Daniel, we realise that they contain 'parallels'. And because we find similar language, symbols and metaphors across the various parts of Dan, we are able to see that they are referring to the same historical realities (kingdoms, kings, events) – they indicate the same flow of history: From the Neo-Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:37f.), through the Medo-Persian kingdom (cf. Dan 8:20, 11:2), via Alexander's Greek Empire (Dan 8:21; 11:3f.) to the 'rival diadochoi' Egypt and Syria (Dan 2:40-43, 11:5ff.) with Antiochus IV Epiphanes as the "little horn" (Dan 8:9-12, cf. 23b-25, 11:21ff.).

Some 'Interpretative Clues'
(1) Dan 7 should be understood in the light of Dan 2.
(2) Dan 8 (especially v. 9) gives us the identity of the little horn in Dan 7.
(3) Dan 11:6, 17 refer (back) to Dan 2:43.
(4) Dan 9:23 may be referring (back) to Dan 8:27.
(5) Dan 11:31 = Dan 12:11 (cf. Dan 9:27).
(6) Dan 8:25b cf. Dan 11:45b.

The Sequence of 'kingdoms'
This leads us to the conclusion that the "little horn" mentioned in Dan 7:8, 24-26 is the same as the "little horn" mentioned in Dan 8. Antiochus IV committed great insult against YHWH and the Jewish people; that's why he/his kingdom is referred to in all of Daniel's prophecies.

The Book of Daniel ends with the promise that after the death of Antiochus IV and the downfall of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies, a fifth kingdom – God's kingdom – will be established. Thus, according to Daniel we have the the following sequence of empires:

(1) Neo-Babylonia (cf. Dan 2:37);
(2) Medo-Persia (cf. Dan 5:28, 6:9, 13, 16, 8:20, 11:2);
(3) Alexander's Greece (Dan 8:21, 11:3-4a);
(4) Egypt and Syria (Dan 8:22; Dan 11:4b-5ff., Dan 2:41-43, 11:6, 17).
(5) God's kingdom (Dan 2:44f., 7:14, 22, 27)

The "little horn" in Dan 7 and 8 = the Syrian king Antiochus IV (cf. Dan 8:9, 25c; Dan 11:21ff., 45).

Reference to the Roman Empire?
I see but a few references to Rome in the Book of Daniel; cf. Dan 11:18 (the Roman consul Scipio) and Dan 11:30 (the "Kittim"). These are important as they indicate that neither the king of the north nor the king of the south may be identified with Roman 'kings'. (More on this later.)

How not to interpret the Book of Daniel. Part 2

According to John S. Evans, the four kingdoms of Daniel should be identified with: (1) Neo-Babylonia, (2) Medo-Persia, (3) Alexander's Greece and his successors, and (4) the Roman Empire. He identifies the "little horn" in Dan 7 with the Roman emperor Vespasian, whereas the "little horn" in Dan 8 is understood as the Syrian king Antiochus IV. (So much for being consistent!)

Evans' (or, indeed, any) attempt to identify the fourth kingdom in the Book of Daniel with the Roman Empire has to be rejected for the following reasons:

(a) It is in conflict with the internal (or intratextual) evidence of Daniel.
(b) It is in conflict with the rest of the Bible (viz. the intertextual evidence).
(c) It is in conflict with the ANE background.

In addition, there are some exegetical problems (at least from a Christian point of view). I'll deal with them after I have dealt with (a)–(c).

To be continued here.