Biblical Resurrection and Daniel Questions

On Saturday, January 24, 2004 “Josh G.” wrote:
Hi Ed,
I recently read some of your articles pertaining the the “many saints being seen by many” and it has given me extreme doubt about the inerrancy of the Bible. However, I found a site that claims this passage has a “divine link” to other passages in the bible. I would like your opinion on such a claim. His site.
He believes the canonical bible in its 66 books were prophesied and that he can prove that the bible itself divine.
His linking Matthew 27 verse 50 with Daniel does not particularly impress me as in context Daniel seems to be referring to a final end time.
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Matthew 27 (vs. 50f)
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
Book 27 (Daniel 12.2f)
The link between Matthew 27 and Book 27 (Daniel) is astounding to behold. Both passages use the same phrase sleep or slept to refer to the dead who would be raised. Searching the entire KJV for all verses containing the set (many, sleep/slept, awake/arose) [Verify] yields exactly two verses, both of which are quoted above. We have therefore the following KeyLink:
Here is Daniel in fuller context:
  1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
  2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
  3. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.
  4. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Any thoughts appreciated…Iʼm not really deeply into religion right now. Iʼve been attending a church that believes the bible is Without Error, and some of their ideas seem way out there to me.
Thanks!
Josh
Biblical Resurrection and Daniel Questions

From: “Edward T. Babinski”
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004

Edward: Hi Josh, Your name sounds familiar. I have no opinions at this time concerning the above hypothesis other than your own initial questions. But I have information to add concerning the raising of the saints and Daniel.

I wonder if my friend Bob Holdings (an “inerrantist” of sorts) has any opinion concerning the “Other Wheels” website you mentioned. Bob runs Tekton Apologetics on the web. He also offers explanations at his website as to the question of the “raising of the saints” that may draw you further into the fold of the church where you are now, or not. (As always, the real challenges take place inside each of us, whenever we think about things, or as Oscar Wilde once put it, “Itʼs so easy to convert OTHERS, but oh so difficult to convert oneself”). Mind if I forward this to him and a little group I am a member of? (Much more below.)

Your mind seems to have begun dividing matters into “what you personally believe” on the one hand, and “what can be known, or at least what can be shown to those without my beliefs to be convincingly true,” on the other. Thatʼs always unsettling, i.e., when you begin the mind-splitting process, a virtual “stepping back” from yourself, no longer simply identifying yourself with your beliefs, and instead trying to envision how others (lacking your beliefs) might question them from their perspectives. Of course, some minds continue to invent face-saving explanations whenever even the most prima facia “difficulties” or “questions” arise concerning their beliefs. They donʼt want to take a step back from themselves, they prefer to equate their beliefs with their innermost selves and also with God.

So people can either step back from themselves and admit doubts (doubters donʼt always leave the fold by the way, there are moderate and liberal Christians), or they can take the route of the apologist (even Christian apologists are not all fundamentalists, some leave room for considerable doubt like the British theologian, James D. G. Dunn, whose view of “Biblical authority” is about as far as you can get from inerrancy, yet still call yourself an evangelical Christian, though whether members of Americaʼs Evangelical Theological Society view him as an “evangelical” is doubtful).

Studying the Bible is a lifelong endeavor and your views are liable to change if you read widely enough and pay attention deeply enough to everything you read. Therein lies the danger, discomfiting change. While in contrast, membership and worship at a particular church may never change nor challenge you nor broaden you, since it repeats itself, Sunday after Sunday. That is the comfort of worship. In my journeying I have personally met and spoken deeply with people of a very wide range of beliefs (speaking of Daniel, we held a “Lionʼs Den” meeting here in town, hosted by an agnostic and a fundamentalist, and we brought in Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, fundamentalists, moderates liberals, Hindus, Wiccans, Unitarians, Ba’Haiʼs, Unification believers, etc. over a period of a few years). Speaking of reading broadly, articles on the internet do not cover everything. For that you need to still go to college and read books and professional religious journals.

I just read today in the Journal of Biblical Literature 122 : 3 Fall 2003, about a new hypothesis regarding the “raising of the many” in Matthew, “Matthew 27:52-53 as Apocalyptic Apostrophe: Temporal-Spatial Collapse in the Gospel of Matthew” by Warren Carter, in which the author suggests that those verses have been placed in Matthew and misinterpreted due to where they were placed, as events in the past, when they might be predictions of the future, i.e., the “holy city” might be the “New Jerusalem” in Rev., and the “raised saints” might be Christian martyrs from the end of time, and the “many” to whom they show themselves might be the eschatological community of Jews analogous to the 144,000 in Rev. 7:4, 14:1. Apparently Carterʼs hypothesis is that someone wrote such an eschatological future back into the Gospels. He does agree that the phrase “after his resurrection” and other aspects of his hypothesis present “hermeneutical difficulties” that he tries to cover such difficulties best he can with further hypotheses. In all, he tries to argue of those verses “they are not history, nor are they being presented as history.” My own view is that Carterʼs hypothesis is only partially right. Heʼs right that those verses were inspired by first-century apocalyptic expectations. But he neglects to mention for instance the Gospel of Nicodemus that certainly did interpret those verses as having happened in the past, and even named some of the “raised saints” to be “Adam and Isaiah.” He also neglects to mention that the Greek version of the Old Testament (from which the Gospel authors quoted) translated Ezekielʼs “resurrected dry bones” story as having occurred during an earthquake. Matthewʼ story of the raised saints and their old dried bones rising up, also added an earthquake. It is possible that the Gospel authors were citing Old Testament tales (Ezekielʼs tale was a metaphorical one), and adding them to the Jesus story, making them literal in the process. Anyway, the very meagerness of the whole raised saints tale, a mere two verses, is probably going to invite further hypotheses and speculations for a long time to come. Like Voltaire said, all it takes to understand God is one holy book, and about a million commentaries (along with doctrinal dissections and dissensions over hundreds of years, and a church group to sing “truly and verily” behind everything else).

Speaking of the Book of Daniel, I recently was at a yahoo group called CreationEvolutionDesign and the manager of the group sent me this email (my reply follows his email).

Steve: Here is another tagline quote on Danielʼs 70 weeks. Maybe Ed has the courage to accept my conditions (since significantly no non-Christian on CED yet has), i.e. state publicly in advance that he would not beg the question by ruling out the supernatural, so that the objectively best explanation (naturalistic or supernaturalistic), i.e. that best fits all the facts, wins.

BTW, I am not necessarily claiming that I accept *everything* in these quotes about Danielʼs 70 seeks, but they provide valuable information that will help me when I come to writing up PE 2.2.2.1 section on fulfilled Biblical prophecy (e.g. Dan 9:24-27 and Mic 5:2) as a refutation of the philosophy of naturalism upon which the theory of evolution depends:

I have said that my opponents can quote from outside non-Christian sources critical of these two prophecies, as long as they own as theirs a *single* position of the source they are quoting. I see no point in debating a plethora of positions, none of which my opponents themselves believe.

Edward: “Courage” does not answer questions. And any full definition of “courage” must also include having the “courage” to let oneʼs doubts be doubts, i.e., having the courage to live a life of true faith instead of constantly trying to spackle up every crack in the edifice of your list of beliefs with “proof texts,” and ad hoc spackle added to the original spackel whenever the “proof texting” gets a little “fuzzy.”

There is a Christian site dedicated to the Book of Daniel and its author has been cruising the web for quite a while trying to get a firm handle on the “69 weeks of years” prophecy. His latest conclusion is that “we canʼt all agree, at this time, on every specific detail involved in calculating a starting point for Danielʼs prophecy about the 69 weeks of years.” Here is a quotation from his website:

My conclusions about Danielʼs ‘69 weeks of years’ Perhaps we canʼt all agree, at this time, on every specific detail involved in calculating a starting point for Danielʼs prophecy about the 69 weeks of years. But, eventually, we might have additional information from archaeologists and historians to help pinpoint that starting point.”

Meanwhile, the skeptic Richard Carrier [M.Phil. Ancient History, Columbia University (2000), I believe he is going for his Ph.D.] wrote an essay in 1999 that discussed Danielʼs “seventy weeks” and he argued that the prophecy does not fit Jesus to the year, since the prophecy does not fall within the known reign of Pilate [see his footnotes]

To echo your own concerns above, neither do I want to debate a variety of ad hoc hypotheses invented by inerrantists in a vain effort to try and remove all questions concerning “prophetic fulfillment.” There are alleged “prophecies” galore in the Bible, some of which raise the most obvious prima facia questions and that require a premium amount of “wiggling” by inerrantists in order to “prove” that they are “fulfilled.” Other such “prophecies” seem like they have a better chance of being used to “prove” something to non-Christians or Jews. Still others fall in the middle.

I will say this however, if you want to study history, study history, donʼt just pluck a few “Bible proof texts” out of the Bible and think you have plucked out all the plums, and so you can then toss away all the rest of the questions related to history, the book of Daniel, man, God, etc. I was involved with a debate over the historicity of the Book of Daniel that took place over the years 1997-2001. An evangelical friend, Everette Hatcher, had read my book, Leaving the Fold, and wrote me soon after my book was published in 1995. We kept in touch via snail mail. He had grown disillusioned with some of the so-called quotations of Americaʼs “Christian” Fathers that Barton was citing, but Everette continued to believe in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. (I believe he still does.) Everette got into a debate with Farrell Till on the historicity of the book of Daniel, and since Everette knew that I knew Till, he sent me copies of his debate as well as copies of letters that Everette recʼd from theologians on the topic of the historicity of Daniel, some were conservative scholars, some were moderate. Everetteʼs debate with Till took place from 1997 to 2002 and is on the internet. I have a file of letters from Everette and some letters I also wrote him on the topic. (My own doubts were not overturned.)

If there is one thing that I learned via the debate, it was the name of ostensibly the worldʼs greatest living Daniel scholar: John Joseph Collins, whose works include:

The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception (2-Volume Set) by John Joseph Collins (Editor), Peter W. Flint (Editor) (Hardcover - June 2001)

Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible) by John Joseph Collins, et al (Hardcover - June 1994)

Amazon Reviewer: This book is massive, but justifies its size by giving a thorough and comprehensive survey of one of the strangest and most incomprehensible books of the Bible. It covers every aspect that would interest the diligent Bible scholar. Beginners will find it very tough going! Collins believes that Daniel himself had no hand in writing the book, but that it was the product of the age of the Maccabean struggle. However, he presents all the evidence and arguments fully, being fair to those of a more conservative viewpoint. What you will not find in this book is an attempt to show that Daniel was successfully predicting events in the 20th century or even further in the future.

Daniel: With an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature (Forms of the Old Testament Literature, Vol 20) by John Joseph Collins, et al (Paperback - December 1984)

The Apocalyptic Vision of the Book of Daniel (Harvard Semitic Monographs, No. 16) by John Joseph Collins

Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age (Old Testament Library) by John Joseph Collins (Hardcover - October 1997)

The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism: Apocalypticism in the Modern Period and the Contemporary Age by Stephen J. Stein (Editor), John Joseph Collins

Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls by John Joseph Collins (Paperback - September 1997)

The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (The Biblical Resource Series) by John Joseph Collins (Paperback - April 1998)

Seers, Sybils, and Sages in Hellenistic-Roman Judaism (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, V. 54)by John Joseph Collins, Florentino Garcia Martinez (Paperback - December 2001)

Everette Hatcherʼs and Farrell Tillʼs articles on the question of the historicity of the book of Daniel can be found at the sites below.

  • Farrell also debated an Evangelical named Price on the “70 weeks prophecy” in Jeremiah [that the author of Daniel appears to have drawn upon as a precedent]. Price and Farrellʼs debate was slightly shorter than Hatcherʼs and Farrellʼs, though I do not list the Price debate below, just brief synopses of Farrellʼs debate with Everette on Daniel. The synopses give you an idea of the twists and turns the debate took:

  • The Criticsʼ Admissions Concerning Daniel — Inerrantist Everette Hatcher defends the traditional view that the book of Daniel was written in the 6th Century B. C.

  • The Inerrantist Way of Misrepresenting “Critics” — Farrell Till responds to Everette Hatcher and shows that he has misrepresented sources in an attempt to show that even some “liberal” critics see evidence of an early authorship of Daniel.

  • The Prophecy Farce — The editorial page discusses reasons why biblical prophecy fulfillment is impossible to prove.

  • Deliberate Misrepresentations After All — Editor Farrell Till continues his response to Everette Hatcherʼs claim that Modern “critics” have made damaging admissions to their view that the book of Daniel was written after the sixth-century B. C.

  • “Bad History in the Book of Daniel” — Editor Farrell Till discusses some of the cases of “bad” 6th-century B. C. history in the book of Daniel that have led scholars to conclude that it was not written by a Jewish captive who had become an important official in the Babylonian empire.

  • “Convenient Coincidences in the Book of Daniel” — The remarkable parallels in trials and ordeals faced by both Jewish captives in Babylon and the Maccabean Jews support the view that the book of Daniel was written in the 2nd century B. C.

  • “Good History in the Book of Daniel” — Farrell Till discusses the uncanny accuracy of many of Danielʼs prophecies about 3rd- and 2nd-century B. C. events. The remarkable accuracy of these prophecies contrasted with very basic mistakes that the writer of Daniel made in 6th-century B. C. history supports the view of a 2nd-century authorship.

  • “Silliness in the Book of Daniel” — Editor Farrell Till discusses various absurdities in the book of Daniel that cast suspicion on the tradition that it is a divinely inspired work.

  • “Lions 1, Daniel 0” — William Sierichs, Jr., discusses various mistakes and errors in the book of Daniel that discredit the traditional claim of divine inspiration.

  • “Till Is Batting Around .250 on Daniel” — Inerrantist Everette Hatcher III continues his efforts to prove that the book of Daniel was written in the 6th century B. C. by an important Jewish official in the Babylonian and Persian royal courts.

  • “Hatcher Can Quote and List” — In Farrell Tillʼs reply to Hatcher, he shows that most of Hatcherʼs “arguments” consisted of appeals to fundamentalist authors whom he quoted and listed with only sketchy comments of his own in support of their claims.

  • “Biblical Anachronisms” — Biblical characters and events presented out of their proper time sequences show that the Bible is not inerrant.

  • “Still Grasping for Straws” — Farrell Till concludes his response to Everett Hatcherʼs last article in defense of a 6th-century B. C. authorship of the book of Daniel.

  • “What Daniel Didnʼt Know” — Farrell Till concludes his response to Everette Hatcherʼs attempt to defend the 6th-century B. C. dating of the book of Daniel.

  • “A Simple Dispensational Exegesis of the Book of Daniel” — Michael Bradford attempts to defend the traditional view of a 6th-century BC authorship of the book of Daniel.

  • “Speculation Is Not Exegesis” — Farrell Till replies to Bradford to show that he has recycled old fundamentalist arguments that ignore the major historical problems in Daniel.

  • “Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B. C. Events?” — Everette Hatcher continues his quest to prove that the book of Daniel was written by a 6th-century B. C. Babylonian official.

  • “Nothing New: Same Song, Second Verse” —Farrell Till replies to Hatcher.

  • Which Is More Likely? — The editor explains why it is more likely that biblical references to persons and events known to have existed were written after the time of the persons and events rather than by prophetic insights.

  • Dating Daniel: A Response to Everette Hatcher III — Bruce Wildish replies to several of Hatcherʼs claims that the book of Daniel was written in the 6th century BC.

  • The Point That Hatcher Keeps Evading — Farrell Till discusses again the numerous father-son references to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar in Daniel 5, and urges Hatcher to address this issue.

  • More Problems in Daniel — Chronological inconsistencies in Daniel 1 and 2 are identified and discussed.

  • Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B. C. Events? — Everette Hatcher makes another attempt to defend the 6th-century BC dating of the book of Daniel.

  • Still More of the Same — Farrell Till replies to Hatcherʼs rehashing of old fundamentalist attempts to authenticate the book of Daniel.

  • “Daniel and the Watchers” — Usage of the word “watcher” in reference to angels in the book of Daniel supports the view that this book was written at some time in the late centuries BC.

  • “Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th Century Events?” — Everette Hatcher continues his attempt to prove that the book of Daniel was written in the 6th century BC.

  • Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B. C. Events?

  • “The Linguistic ‘Evidence’” — Farrell Till replies to Hatcherʼs attempt to show that the Aramaic section of Daniel contains linguistic features that date this book to the 6th century BC.

  • “Daniel and the Resurrection” — Evidence of the late authorship of the book of Daniel is found in its references to a general resurrection of the dead, a belief that differed significantly from earlier beliefs in a shadowy existence in a realm of the dead called Sheol.

  • “The Chronology of the Book of Daniel” — Dave Matson shows the unlikeliness of the fundamentalist belief that Nebuchadnezzar took Jewish captives from Jerusalem as early as 605 BC.

  • “Daniel and the Shoehorn” — William Sierichs, Jr., replies to issues that Everette Hatcher had previously raised in the debates on the book of Daniel.

  • “Hatcher, the Liar” — In his reply to Hatcher, Farrell Till quotes from internet exchanges to show that Hatcher intentionally distorted what had really happened in the internet debate.

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