Convention of the Angelic Narrators

The two banks of the Tigris River
Daniel’s Narrators were separated for a purpose.

Last week we concluded our analysis of Daniel 11, showing that it is a prophecy that spanned the period from Persia’s confrontation with “the realm of Grecia” and the rise of the Alexander in 336 B.C. (Daniel 11:2-3), until the waning days of his divided empire at the death of Pompey in 48 B.C. (Daniel 11:45). As we noted, the entire prophecy is fulfilled during the Greek period of Daniel’s visions, in a single Alexandrian Frame of Reference in which North, South and East refer to the same respective geographic territories from start to finish, and the “kings” of those cardinal directions are the kings that reign over those respective territories. Under the single frame approach, Daniel 11 ends just four years before Julius Cæsar was declared Dictator perpetuoDictator in Perpetuity, in 44 B.C.. The Empire of Rome had its first “king.” Julius was its first “emperor”—in function if not yet in name. He would be assassinated only two months later, but his descendants and relations would govern the Empire for the greater part of the next century. Continue reading Convention of the Angelic Narrators

The Single Frame Hypothesis

When Daniel 11 is read in a Single Alexandrian Frame of Reference, the Cardinal and Historical discontinuities disappear.
When Daniel 11 is read in a Single Frame of Reference, the cardinal and historical discontinuities disappear.

As our readers are aware, and as we explained in our article, The Shifting Frame, we maintain that Daniel 11 ought to be read in a single frame of reference from start to finish. The commentaries almost universally recognize what we call an Alexandrian Frame of Reference at Daniel 8:8 and 11:4. In those verses, Daniel’s narrators describe post-Alexandrian Hellenism as “four kingdoms” (Daniel 8:22) that are divided “toward the four winds of heaven,” North, South, East and West. For the rest of the chapter, the warring kings and the events related to them are described in terms of these cardinal directions. And yet, no sooner does the narrator of Daniel 11 establish an Alexandrian Frame of Reference at 11:4 than the commentaries introduce a Judæan Frame at 11:5. The reason for the introduction of a Judæan Frame is that the prophecy of a series of interactions between the North and the South—which ought to have been fulfilled between the kings of Asia Minor and Egypt—appears to have been fulfilled by the Seleucids and Ptolemies, ostensibly rulers of Syria and Egypt, respectively. The Judæan Frame, centered as it is on Judæa rather than on Alexander’s empire, is offered as the solution to the dilemma of a cardinal discontinuity that manifests at 11:6. Continue reading The Single Frame Hypothesis

Pirates in the Bay

The promontory of Coracesion, in the Bay of Pamphylia.
The promontory of Coracesium, in the Bay of Pamphylia.

In the last few weeks we have highlighted the significance of the Treaty of Apamea in 188 B.C., by which Rome imposed terms of peace upon Antiochus III after his devastating loss at Magnesia in 190 B.C.. As we noted in “When North was North…“, Asia Minor with Thrace comprised the Northern Kingdom under Lysimachus when Alexander’s empire was divided “toward the four winds of heaven” (Daniel 11:4). The North-South narrative only begins after the Seleucids have already taken the North from Lysimachus, and the Seleucids are then called “King of the North” by Daniel so long as they hold that territory. At Apamea, Rome evicted the Seleucids “from Europe and from all Asia on this side [of the] Taurus” (Polybius, The HistoriesBook 21.17.3), dispossessing them of the Northern territory. Magnesia and the subsequent treaty at Apamea are depicted in Daniel 11:18, and from Daniel 11:19-39 the Seleucids remain in view, but are never again called “King of the North.” This gives rise to two important conclusions: first, Syria is not the Northern Kingdom at 11:6, and second, the title “King of the North” does not attach to the particular dynasty, but rather to whomever happens to be ruling the particular geography. When the Seleucids possess Asia Minor and Thrace, they are “King of the North.” When they are evicted, they are no longer “King of the North.” Continue reading Pirates in the Bay

…and South was South

When Daniel says "King of the South," he is not referring to Egypt alone.
When Daniel says “King of the South,” he is referring not only to Egypt, but also to the territories south of the Taurus mountains.

Over the last few weeks we have addressed the matter of the four kingdoms that arose out of Greece after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C.. As we described in Reduction of the Diadochi, The Bounds of their Habitation, and The Shifting Frame, Asia Minor and Thrace together comprised the Northern Kingdom; Syria, Babylon and beyond, the Eastern. Yet even though the commentaries at Daniel 8:8 and 11:4 almost universally agree that Asia Minor with Thrace comprised the Northern Kingdom in an Alexandrian Frame of Reference, the commentaries just as universally shift to a Judæan Frame at Daniel 11:5. In that shifted frame of reference the “King of the North” in 11:6 is presumed to refer to Syria, which only two verses  earlier had been part of the Eastern Kingdom. No explanation is given for this change of reference except that it appears to make sense of the chapter, and further that the tradition of the shifting frame is to be received as authoritative for its antiquity. It is, after all, an ancient tradition. Continue reading …and South was South

When North was North…

"North" means "North," and "North" is exactly what Daniel meant.
“North” means “North,” and “North” is exactly what Daniel meant.

As we noted last week, the traditional approach to Daniel 11—whether Historicist, Dispensationalist, or Preterist—is to impose multiple frames of reference on the text, and then to interpret the chapter through those additional frames. One frame of reference—the only one explicitly identified in the chapter—is the Alexandrian Frame, centered on Alexander’s divided empire (Daniel 11:4). To this there is then added a Judæan Frame, centered on Israel, and then sometime later an Eschatological Frame, centered on the geographic location of a future antagonist who could be Antiochus IV, Imperial Rome, the Turks or Papal Rome, depending on the interpretation. The text does not so much as even hint at this shifting frame of reference, and yet it has been imposed upon Daniel 11 universally for almost two millennia to make sense of the chapter. Ironically, those additional frames of reference have had the opposite of the intended effect and have actually prevented us from making sense of it. Continue reading When North was North…