Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know (NT use of Dan 7, etc.)

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Fri Mar 2 17:50:28 EST 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2001 09:14
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know
> >> What got put into the mouth of Jesus doesn't equal what Jesus
> >> said. You are historicizing literary figures. Do you think 
> Shakespeare's
> >> Richard III is the real Richard III?
> >
> >Richard III is obviously *intended* by its *author* as a 
> non-historical
> >characterization in drama.
> When you don't have anything other than the text (or the 
> performance) you
> can't be so smart.

Yes you can, Ian. Skakespeare's works were presented to people and written
for people who knew what genre it was (some exceptions maybe). Much more so
the NT writers wrote to people who knew who the authors were (even if
sometimes *we* might not with certainty, such as epist. to Hebrews, but even
there the author requests that the readers pray for him and associates
himself with Timothy, so his *original* readers obviously knew who he was),
and they knew why they wrote and the genre of writing. Furthermore, it is
often in the very argument of the text itself that it *must* be taken
literally about a historical person. Read 1 Cor. 15 sometime again; it's
explicit. Paul argues for his theology concerning life-and-death issues
(unlike Shakespeare), and he says that if it's not based on a literal,
historical fact re: the historical person of Jesus, then it's all a myth and
Christians should be most miserable people. The genre of the Bible is not
the same as Shakespeare's genre (or other historical fiction or drama), and
typically the original audience of works of literature knew the
difference--and were intended to have known it by their respective writers
(even if you have not figured it out yet for yourself!).

> >The Biblical writers present their characters as
> >fully historical--not mere drama--and argue that such a position as
> >necessary to everything they say. Some subtle, hidden, minor 
> difference,
> eh?
> This is rot. You read what you want to read based on a priori 
> assumptions.
> For many people Ricky III was that nasty Machiavel brought to 
> life on stage
> by Shakespeare. You seem to be doing just the same.

I don't doubt some historical exceptions in the audience of certain works.
But it's evident that the Biblical writers are claiming a vital theological
message that has no relevance to Shakespeare's agenda (if/when he wanted to
misrepresent history). Paul actually *believes* what he's saying about
Jesus, right? (He wasn't out to deceive but sacrificed himself for his
readers at every point.) Do you think Shakespeare believed that his Richard
III was the real guy of history? Think again, Ian. 

Generally speaking, however, people know that a play is a play, and it
doesn't have to represent history precisely. Naive people even today take
historical fiction and go away with a warped view of histroy. That is the
fault of the idiots who believe things that way (and is not true for
everybody). But the Biblical writers are sincere in their communication
(even if you think their message is not true, you must admit that Paul, et
al, are sincere). And it's clear enough from the persecution of the very
early church that those early readers took it as sincere history.

> >> >Jesus was not a mere literary fraud but a
> >> >real, historical person according to Paul in 1 Cor. 15 (and
> >> other places).
> >>
> >> I'm making no statements about Jesus per se. I'm talking about you
> deciding
> >> what is historical without showing any means to allow you to do so.
> >
> >So now you know why the difference: authorial intent.
> You show no knowledge about the individual authors, so you 
> wouldn't know
> anything about their intent, though you do have a priori 
> assumptions about
> the "integrity" of the text.

The author's intent is not a matter of my a priori assumption. Paul is
always asking his audience to pray for him and saying he prayed for the
recipients of the letter. They knew exactly who he was. They knew he
believed it all as historical fact and wanted them to do the same. Even
before some of the Gospels were written, Paul is arguing for the historicity
of the most incredible aspects concerning Jesus, such as His deity,
resurrection, and the reality of miracles in the early church (he assumes
them--does not argue for them--and obviously believes they were real).

> >> >Authorship and integrity, if i recall correctly, of 1 
> Corinthians is
> >> >accepted even by unbelieving scholarship. They don't believe
> >> >it's true, but they accept that Paul believed it. Paul is 
> not disputed
> as a
> >> historical character, and it's my personal opinion that he 
> was also a man
> of
> >> integrity.
> >>
> >> Hey, Paul seems kosher.
> >
> >Good. He's an honest man with a lot to say about the issues we're
> discussing
> >here!
> Rubbish...
> >He was also well-trained in the HB and says an awful lot about it.
> ...b-hebrew as I understood it is aimed at Hebrew, not the 
> midrash or pesher
> of someone writing in Greek.

Paul didn't use a Midrash pesher approach (at least in the abusive sense or
reinterpretation), and the fact that he wrote in Greek does not negate the
legitimacy of his interpretation any more than everyone on this list writing
in English negates our interpretations.

> This of course doesn't mean that passing
> reference to Paul's interpretations, but this is not in the 
> direction of
> understanding the Hebrew textface.
> >> >I assume at least a minimum of historicity/integrity to 
> something as
> >> >obvious even from the most critical standpoint; you *appear* to
> >> assume nothing in the text could have integrity if it's 
> inconvenient
> >> for your presuppositions.
> >>
> >> Actually, it's safer not to assume anything about the historicity
> >> of a text until you can place the text in its original context.
> >
> >Perhaps, but which thing *cannot* be done without assuming 
> *something*
> about
> >that text (even if it is only to presume that the text is 
> false at every
> >point where it claims divine authorship)! (a circle here maybe?)
> We have texts. They were written by people. Divine authorship 
> is a dogma
> which not everyone can afford to hold when attempting to work 
> out what a
> text means. I don't think you can show a coherent way of 
> incorporating the
> dogma of divine authorship into the analysis of texts without 
> ceding your
> responsibility as a philologist, for the first thing we have 
> is a text,
> which under normal circumstances is a human artifact. Until 
> one can show
> that a particular text is not so, we would normally and 
> rationally work
> under the notion that any specific text is such a human 
> artifact and that it
> in some way reflects the human(s) which produced it.

I agree that it's a human artifact, but that does not negate a divine
origin. It remains my contention that the best scholar of the Biblical text
is the one who maintains precisely the same presuppositions as the writers
of that text, namely that their message has its ultimate origin in God (even
though its form and thought is also still thoroughly human in the best sense
of that term). 

> We were not talking about assuming about just anything, but 
> assuming about
> historicity. Part of the task of reclaiming the semantic 
> content of a work
> is to reclaim something of the context in which it was 
> produced. You cannot
> understand authorial content without that. (This doesn't mean that you
> cannot find content in it: you can import as much content as 
> you like.) With
> the exception of some of the Pauline corpus, we don't know 
> who wrote the
> texts, where they were written, who exactly was the audience, 
> why they were
> written, or their redactional history.

We do have good basis on both external and internal evidence for dealing
with all these issues from a scholarly perspective, so i don't need to
import content to the text, it's already there. You might follow Bultmann's
extreme; i think it's absurd.

> We have texts which 
> look back to some
> time before the earliest copies we have. The starting point for our
> investigation is from the first copies and we work our way 
> backwards from
> there.

> >> >> >Further, since such interpretations are significant to
> >> >> >Christians for understanding the Hebrew Bible,
> >> >>
> >> >> This is a statement of (obviously some form of Christian)
> >> >> belief which will not be acceptable to all on this list.
> >> >
> >> >Which is precisely what i assume in stating it. It only applies to
> >> >Christians.
> >>
> >> Subset of Christians, Dan, subset.
> >
> >Depending on ones definition of the term. I follow the one 
> presented in the
> >NT.
[SNIP of unedited rhetoric per your follow-up email]
> so, when you talk about "the one", this sounds like pure vanity.

Paul is not ambiguous when he defines things in 1 Cor. 15. I am not aware of
any liberal commentary who says otherwise. His claims are clear. Now, i'm
not saying you have to agree with Paul or the rest of the NT, but i am
saying it's clearly defined by the text.

> >However, i am not aware of *any* professing Christian who 
> considers the
> >NT obsolete/irrelevant for understanding the OT/HB. Perhaps 
> it is only my
> >ignorance.
> Cutting through your rhetoric, the above means to me that you 
> are incapable
> of separating personal belief from scholarly responsibility. 

They are fully integrated; you are correct! It is largely my faith that
compels my scholarly pursuit. (Incidentally--since you're willing to give
your opinion of me--i think your faith-system and scholarly work are also
fully integrated.)


> >> I guess then that GMk 13:26 for example, when it talks about
> >> THE son of man coming in clouds, is not a change of meaning from
> >> the original text it cites.
> >
> >Correct. The Son of Man in Dan. 7 "was given authority, glory, and a
> >kingdom;
> I'm sorry, but here I get the impression you haven't not even 
> *looked* at
> the text. There is NO son of man in Dan.7.

OK, you're correct to the extent that i was careless in my wording for that
context (capitalized "Son of Man", for example), but that was incidental to
the point i was trying to make (a point which you didn't address at all, so
i'll clarify...).

> There is one which 
> looks (I'm
> inserting this verb) "like a son of man (k-br 'n$)", just as 
> there is one
> which looks like a lion and one like a bear, etc. Being like 
> a son of man is
> a description, not a title.

Correct. The whole point is that this being is of the human race, or at
least that his appearance is like that of a man in contrast being a beast.

> You'll note the fourth beast doesn't get a
> simple "like an X", but gets a full description. Opposed to these four
> beasts is the one like a son of man -- naturally it is the 
> one in human form
> which represents the Hebrews.

I have no problem with all this and didn't intend to make any point in
contradiction to this.

> The title "son of man" is a 
> later development
> within Christian circles:

I won't argue with that, necessarily. It's a mistake, probably, to
capitalize "as a Son of Man" in the Daniel context (as if a Messianic
title), even though the reference is to the Messiah, that is not yet the
point from a literary perspective. It's a text that builds to that to be
sure, but not by a title which is only a designation to reference his
humanity (and perhaps his Jewishness, as you imply).

> there is no Jewish messianic 
> tradition based on
> "the son of man". "Son of man" in the Hebrew tradition often simply
> indicates a *mere* human.

Here's where you err. He is not a "*mere* human" as you say, not in this
context. My point is based on the part after your cut (which is below),
namely, that "all peoples, nations and every language should worship Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His
kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Ian, maybe you know "*mere*
humans" who have everlasting reigns and who are worshiped by the entire
world of Gentiles and whose kingdoms never end, but i don't know any. It
seems also that He is a man somehow qualified to represent Israel before the
"Ancient of Days," as a priest would do. Thus, Messianic interpretation of
Daniel 7 was nothing more than good exegesis by Jesus (quoted by Mark). 

> Dan, I see you wilfully abnegating your responsibility. You 
> know what the
> text says, so why read it? 

You can continue to say such things if you like; no one will police you. But
you have not demonstrated anything against my scholarship, instead you
ignored my main point from Daniel's text.

> (You know what Isaiah 7:14 says 
> despite the words
> used.)

Ian, you don't read me well (again). I said--in very clear terms with my
follow-up post and comparison with the sign to Hezekiah--that my argument
was *not* based on the vocab word choice for "virgin" (or for "sign") but on
the necessary implication that the birth be a miraculous sign from the
context of vv. 1-14 and a parallel passage in Isaiah. If you could at least
attack my actual arguments it would give your attempt at refutation more

> >that all peoples, nations and every language should worship Him.
> >His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass 
> away, and His
> >kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." So He is the 
> divine Messiah.
> >Mark, quoting Jesus,
> This is not a step of analysis but of belief. The GMk writer 
> here said that
> Jesus said... Tacitus, a relatively good historian for the 
> era, puts words
> in the mouths of historical people, having them say what he 
> thinks they
> should have said on the occasion. What was the writer doing in Mk 13,
> quoting Jesus or putting words in his mouth? And how would you know?

Mark wrote under Peter's authority (who promised a record of the Gospel in
his epistle). Peter was an apostle who Jesus commissioned to communicate the
Gospel and who promised that the Spirit would remind him of "whatever
things" that Jesus said. That's how i know. 

> >I can definitely demonstrate this but it's too much work for 
> the moment! I
> >suggest instead that you try reading a few books: G. Vos _Biblical
> >Theology_, J. Barton Payne's _Theology of the Older 
> Testament_, Walter
> >Kaiser's _Toward an OT Theology_, O. T. Allis' commentary on 
> the Pentateuch
> >(very short, just came back in print), also his work on the 
> unity of the
> >Pent. and on unity of Isaiah if your interested in those books.
> I suggest you stick to what can come from evidence and not be 
> dispersive.
> What the text itself says is always more important that 
> secondary sources,
> more important than putting people off to read your 
> presumably tendentious
> literature.

Ian, it is a huge subject. Read the literature. There is much beside what i
gave. Do some study in literary analysis. Good literary analysis depends on
the integrity of the text, and what you discover is that if you start taking
out the supposedly redacted/inserted layers, you rob any original author
(and the final product) of a coherent message. I don't buy that. But don't
ask me to reproduce all the arguments for the unity of the entire OT text
here in this list. That's absurd!

> >> >One ultimate Author
> >> >behind the texts gives the one unified message we find;
> >>
> >> Another.
> >
> >It's stated in the various texts. So it's not an assumption 
> which in impose
> >from the outside. You are the one imposing an assumption 
> from the outside
> >(from your own mind) upon those texts (namely, that all such 
> claims are
> >false).
> You might not have derived the assumption yourself.

Thank you. I promise you it's not from myself but from the text(s).

> The 
> reason I mentioned
> the Hindu in my last post was that I consider you incapable 
> of dealing with
> the text using strict philological analysis.

NO!! Ian, i still deal with it philologically with the Hindu unbeliever just
as with any Jewish, Catholic, or Christian unbeliever (using those terms in
the broad religious sense which is typical throughout much of the world, not
necessarily as defined in Scripture). I still bring the *meaning* of the
text to the surface--whether it is believed or rejected does not change its
meaning. (Thus, i disagree with much of reader-response criticism in this
regard, which often becomes an absurd concept!)

> You need a theological
> superstructure which is not transportable. I wonder if you 
> can actually say
> anything about the text as it is written without imposing a 
> theological
> filter on your reading glasses.

I don't need that superstructure; rather, i derive it from the text
afterwards. This is the nature of Biblical theology. Systematic theology
*tends* to have trouble in regard to the issue you raise, which is why most
of my study has been in BT and exegesis focusing on the intent of the writer
in his original context.

> Claims don't need to be rejected as being false not to be 
> used. 

This is one of the more substantive things you've said here and i have a
certain appreciation for it. However, you need to recognize that you are
dismissing the issue in your next sentence... That's OK, it's your choice.

> If a claim
> cannot be shown to be relevant, it may not be false, but it 
> still should not
> to be used, especially when its utility to the job at hand will not be
> accepted by all.

... please recognize that it *does* have *huge* implications for the
interpretation of the text; it *necessarily* has relevance. (Obviously,
since you and i always disagree; for example, i find no errors, you find one
at every possible turn.) If my view is correct, yours is radically flawed.
If your view is correct, mine is radically flawed. Either way, it's a huge
issue for dealing with the text, and you make a mistake to dismiss it simply
because it cannot be proven. (Also, its non-acceptance by some does not
negate the significance of the issue--one way or the other--for all.)

> >> >He had one agenda.
> >>
> >> Yet another. Dan, you're not doing the job at all. You are
> >> not establishing a means of making the interpretations that
> >> interest you relevant to the production of the texts under
> >> discussion by merely a series of assumptions and apparently
> >> uncritical approach to our texts.
> >
> >Obviously my summary does not include all the critical 
> analysis upon which
> >it is founded. If that is what you were expecting, i apologize from
> >disappointing you. For now, i again suggest you read those 
> works above and
> >others,
> I would appreciate suggestions regarding the tasks we have to 
> deal with
> here. Your supplementary reading does not deal with those 
> tasks, but with
> your attempts to justify what I would consider to be your 
> non-scholarly
> approach to the philology.

Read the works; give me your critique afterwards, not before. Start maybe
with G. Vos. No work is perfect. Vos is fabulous! (I forgot Oehler's OTT
also, from late 19th cent. which is quite profound though maybe not as
relevant to my point.)

> >and perhaps from time to time (to try to satisfy you!) i'll make
> >some posts that relate to the unity of the HB/OT from a
> >critical/scholarly/philological perspective.
> I would be happy if you made posts that relate to any of the 
> OT/HB from "a
> critical/scholarly/philological perspective."

You imply i've not made any?

> >But i have other reasons for
> >being on this list and don't want to spend all my time on 
> "apologetics" for
> >my views in contrast to the constant "apologetics" which you 
> have for your
> >views.
> This is not a matter of "apologetics" but of coherent methodologies.
> >Unlike yourself, i am not a single-agenda person on this list.
> Not only deluded, but probably self-deluded.
> >There
> >is much to learn, discuss, contribute, and enjoy here 
> besides just being an
> >apologist for your own personal system of believe, Ian.
> This is an interesting dose of projection, Dan. As a recent 
> arrival, you
> impose your own personal belief system on nearly everything 
> you have said on
> this list. I've been here quite a while and learnt much.

I joined for a year or so in about 1994-5, then rejoined in 1998 after
teaching in Africa. I've made various posts occasionally but not had a lot
of time. Only recently have i made a few apologetically related posts,
partly because my faith was continually being lambasted without any
philological foundation, and i could respond to the bad philology. But i've
noticed that from the beginning you've focused regularly on making attacks
at every possible juncture in the defense of faith in your own mind and its
unbelief/skepticism concerning that "message of the text" that you don't
like me to mention--mostly against Evangelical Christian ideas. I'm not
implying that you've not learned too, but that it often appeared that you
have an agenda, long before i ever replied to anything you or others said.

Anyway, my primary reason for replying was to talk about Daniel 7 and the
historiography issues (re: author's intent), and i don't intend to reply
again to these other issues.

Dan Wagner


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