Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Pre-Christian Messianic Interpretation of Daniel 7
That Daniel 7.9-14 was interpreted messianically is evident from 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra. However, both of these documents (in their final form) clearly post-date 70 A.D. Is there any evidence for a pre-Christian messianic reading of Daniel 7? There probably is in the "Son of God" text from Qumran, 4Q246 2.1-10! The text reads:
"He will be called the Son of God, they will call him the son of the Most High. But like the meteors that you saw in your vision, so will be their kingdom. They will reign only a few years over the land, while people trample people and nation trample nation until the people of God arise; then all will have rest from warfare. Their kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and all their paths will be righteous. They will judge the land justly, and all nations will make peace. Warfare will cease from teh land, and all the nations shall do obeisance to them. The great God will be their help. He Himself will fight for them, putting peoples into their power, overthrowing them all before them. God's rule will be an eternal rule and all the depth of [the earth are His]. (Trans. Wise, Abegg, Cook)".
Is this "Son of God" a self-divinized king like Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Israel, an angelic figure, or a Jewish monarch? What is interesting is that John Collins (Sceptre and the Star, pp. 163-69) opts for a messianic meaning and he says the text as indebted heavily to Daniel 7. He notes the points of comparison: (1) 2.5 with "its kingdom is an everlasting kingdom" = Dan. 3.33; 7.27; and (2) 2.9 with "his sovereignty will be an everlasting sovereignty" = Dan. 4:31; 7:14. In addition, there is, like Daniel 7, an intimate relationship between the Son of God figure and the people of God. The Son of God figure is followed by reference to transient human kingdoms and the conflict between peoples which is once more reminiscient of Daniel 7. Other texts in Qumran also given "Son" or "Son of God" a messianic meaning, e.g. 4Q174, 4Q252. Collins concludes: "The Son of God text suggests that the messianic interpretation of Daniel 7 had begun already in the Hasmonean period" (p. 167).