Disappointed by Scripture: October 22, 1844 and the Limits of Biblical Hermeneutics

Every year on October 22nd, Adventists recall the events of 1844, the year when thousands of North American Millerites expected that the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 pointed to the “cleansing” of earth by the return of Christ. I too have started my own tradition at this time of year writing personal reflections about my church’s journey as it relates to 1844.

Millerites arrived at this date as the year of the Second Coming by applying a historicist-numerological interpretative method to the prophecies of Daniel, in particular to 8:14. Based on this numerological approach, Miller had no less than fifteen ways to calculate the coming of Christ for 1843.1 Kai Arasola argues that while the other “proofs” helped determine the year of the Second Coming, Daniel 8:14 was attractive to Millerites because it could be used to determine precisely the date of the event.2

When Oct 23, 1844 dawned, the hope of Millerites to meet their Lord lay shattered on the frozen ground. The profound emotional impact of such harrowing experience was formative to proto-Adventists. Ellen White would often refer back to those days with nostalgia, even calling 1844 “the happiest year of my life”.

The approach to Scripture that led post-Millerites to reinvent themselves after failure is fertile ground for students of the history of biblical interpretation, especially in regards to the power of personal spiritual experiences on one’s understanding of Scripture. In what Jonathan Butler describes as the “boundlessness” of antebellum America,3 Millerites were not hesitant to push the limits of biblical interpretation in order to validate their bittersweet experience. They were convinced that the the time prophecies of Daniel could not be wrong and set out to find out why they had been disappointed. When they revised just the event and not the date, the image of an infallible God coalesced into the infallibility of prophetic timetables. Scripture had been finally vindicated. The 2300 evening-mornings had effectively become the key to unlocking the divine oracles.

But in their efforts to prove that time prophecy was infallible and could be understood absolutely, they were setting themselves up to be disappointed by the very Scriptures they meant to defend. Their disappointment happened not because the Bible was prone to some intrinsic inadequacy; the biblical text has stood the test of time and it is reliable. It happened because they pushed the limits of what the text could endure before protesting in waves of prophetic disconfirmation.

Tell it Like It Is Very early on, attentive Adventists started noticing that the limits of biblical hermeneutics were being tested by the movement. And with no other passage of Scripture were these boundaries challenged as in the book of Hebrews. Contrary to assertions that Jesus only entered into the holy of holies in 1844, A. F. Ballenger pointed out correctly that Hebrews 6:19-20 places Jesus “within the veil”, i.e., inside the holy of holies at the time of his ascension. He showed as early as 1905 that nowhere in Scripture does the expression “within the veil” refer to any place other than the Most Holy Place.

Ballenger wrote a detailed letter to Ellen White which she never answered directly to him but criticized to third parties.4 Ballenger’s conclusions contradicted Ellen White’s use of the expression “within the veil” in the Great Controversy5 as referring to the activities of the priests in the holy place of the tabernacle instead of the holy of holies.

In the early 2000’s, an article in the DARCOM series defending White’s position was refuted by Roy Gane and Norman Young in a series of articles in the Andrews University Seminary Studies.6 Both the Hebrew text and the Greek of the NT point undeniably that “within the veil” always refers to the Most Holy Place in the Bible. The author of Hebrews considers Jesus’ ministry inside the Most Holy Place immediately at his ascension as the Christian’s “anchor”.

The Importance of An Intertextual Method The limits of biblical hermeneutics were once again tested on the meaning of the 2300 evenings-mornings of Daniel 8:14. The easy answer is that v.14 simply answers the question of v. 13 of “how long” the daily sacrifices would be removed and the profanations on the sanctuary would last: 2300 evenings-mornings = days7 (likely a rounded number) and then the sanctuary would be restored.

But by extricating Daniel 8:14 from its context Millerite Adventists suggested rather an allusion to the Day of Atonement rituals described in Lev 16 which in turn would point to an eschatological Day of Atonement commencing on Oct 22, 1844 according to their calculations. This was bold move characteristic of self-made revolutionary exegetes.

The matter of whether these two texts are related at all can only be properly addressed by taking an intertextual approach. Such intertextual (or inner-biblical) method looks first at verbal parallels between two or more biblical passages in order to establish an intentional dependence of one author on another. This establishes thematic and allusive relationship between such passages. Jeffery Leonard has proposed a method to identify inner-biblical allusions8 which I summarize here:

(1) Shared language is the single most important factor in establishing a textual connection(2) Shared language is more important than non-shared language(3) Shared language that is rare or distinctive suggests a stronger connection than does language that is widely used(4) Shared phrases suggest a stronger connection than do individual shared terms(5) The accumulation of shared language suggests a stronger connection than does a single shared term or phrase(6) Shared language in similar contexts suggests a stronger connection than does shared language alone(7) Shared language need not be accompanied by shared ideology to establish a connection(8) Shared language need not be accompanied by shared form to establish a connection

In sum, inner biblical allusions need meaningful “shared language” in order to establish an allusive relationship. Based on the above method, we see that there is simply no relationship between Lev 16 and Daniel 8:14 because there is no “shared language” or meaningful contextual relationship. This impasse was insightfully articulated by Norman Young when responding to Richard Davidson:

Davidson’s study leaves me with a query. How is he able to see the Day of Atonement in Dan 8:11-14 where there is no mention of a high priest, blood, calves and goats, entering, sin offering, cleanse, annual (to the contrary, Dan 8:11, 12, 13 refer to the “daily” service, tamid), inner veil, or the burning of carcasses outside the camp? Yet despite their absence in Daniel, he is able to find the Day of Atonement in 8:14. However, despite their presence in Hebrews, he is unable to see the Day of Atonement in 6:19-20 or 9:11-12.9

Some have argued that because both the Day of Atonement and Daniel 8:14 deal with the cleansing/reestablishment of the sanctuary, they could be related. However, the Day of Atonement in Lev 16 deals with the sins of Israel which have soiled the sanctuary and jeopardized the relationship with Yahweh, while Daniel 8 describes the intrusive actions of the “little horn” which profanes the sanctuary for a period of time lasting 2300 evenings-mornings (2300 literal days) until the sanctuary is re-consecrated. Antiochus Epiphanes IV has been the prime suspect for most scholars and, although a flawed one, his actions in removing the daily sacrifices and desecrating the temple in Jerusalem for a period lasting roughly 2300 days seem closer to Daniel’s intention than relocating the fulfilment of such profanations to 2300 years away from Daniel’s time.

Not surprisingly, the removal of Daniel 8:14 from its contextual moorings has led to a long string of assumptions that further complicate things. Some of these are: a day for a year in biblical prophecy, the connection of the 490 years of Daniel 9 with the 2300 evenings-mornings of Daniel 8, the replacement of the decree of Cyrus for the reconstruction of Jerusalem predicted in Isaiah 45 for Artaxerxes’ weaker decree to make dates “fit” and Jesus’ impossible crucifixion in “the middle of the week” in 31 AD.

The Need for Timetables One of the most disturbing features of the interpretative method used by both Millerites and subsequently by Adventist to set precise dates for the mechanics of celestial events is the disregard for Jesus’ warning recorded in Acts 1:7. When asked by his disciples for some hint of “when” the end would come, Jesus responded: “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” It is for this reason that we do not find in Paul, Peter or John or any other writings in the NT any effort to decipher prophetic periods from the Old Testament. Paul warned the Thessalonians not to believe in “prophecy, report or letter” based on timelines (2 Thess 2:1-2) while Peter completely removed the temporal moorings from prophecy when he stated that God is not bound to act according to our human understanding of time (2 Peter 3:8). This analysis makes all the more jarring the notion, embedded in the traditional Adventist interpretation of 1844, that the activities of Christ in heaven would be regulated by the Jewish Karaite calendar!

The principle of the timelessness of prophecy sets important limitations on setting timetables for divine action. Not only does this principle prohibit future date setting by the church but also annuls past “fulfillments” which contradict this notion.

Below I summarize two points which feed the need for prophetic timelines:

  1. The false assumption that apocalyptic prophecy can/needs to be fully decoded. Current Adventist interpretations of apocalyptic prophecy implicitly assume that all biblical prophecy can be deciphered. The more one studies, the more one is close to finding the true meaning of a particular prophetic period. But the failures of historicism have caused modern students of prophecy to propose a more moderate view of apocalyptic prophecy, one that does not see the decoding fulfilments as prophecy’s primary goal. The reason is that the ambiguity of the language present in Daniel and Revelation does not allow for dogmatism in correlating prophecy with precise historical characters or dates. Doing so has brought much discredit to the Bible because it lowers it to the level of an Ouija board. It feeds shallow curiosity and sensationalism. New readings of apocalyptic prophecy see the small, peripheral details in the text (such as numbers or time periods) as the individual color strokes of a painting which form a larger picture that needs to be looked at from a distance in order to be properly understood and appreciated. Looked from this perspective, one could posit that the one overarching Leitmotif of all apocalyptic prophecy is: Evil wins for a time and God wins at the end and those who are on his side, will win too. Apocalyptic prophecy is like a complex puzzle missing half of its pieces; it gives you a general idea of what it it will look like when it’s done but you’re missing enough information to be absolutely certain.
  2. The false assumption that God is obligated to confirm our prophetic interpretations. As a corollary of the previous point, Adventists feel a sense of interpretative entitlement, for our position as the remnant people of prophecy is confirmed by the Bible which leads to a confirmation of all our other positions because, since we are the chosen people, God would not allow his remnant people to spouse incorrect prophetic interpretations. This circular reasoning was precisely the argument I heard from a pastor who, despite all the problems I pointed out in the traditional understanding, still was not convinced because he trusted God would ultimately vindicate our interpretations.

The pervasive notion that God has to miraculously rescue Adventism from erroneous interpretations was part of the post-1844 period. The pioneers believed that by earnest prayer and study, they could unlock prophetic mysteries. Ellen White writes that the new understanding of 1844 as they year of Christ’s entrance into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary providentially “explained” to the them the reason for the disappointment.10

But God is under no compulsion to supernaturally correct our exegetical shortcomings. All we have is the text of Scripture and if the history of Christian theology is an indication, the text is all we have. The litmus test of the doctrine of 1844 is whether is can be established in a self-evident manner from Scripture.

Revisioning Ellen White’s Role The problem for individual Adventists and the church at large is that challenging the traditional interpretation of 1844 casts a shadow on Ellen White’s staunch defense of this doctrine. For most, her calling as a prophetess is indivisible from absolute infallibility in all matters. But it should be pointed out that White’s visionary/revelatory confirmation of 1844 was rather ambiguous. The closest she came to a direct, divine revelation on this matter is found in Early Writings where she describes a scene in which both God and Jesus enter the Most Holy Place in chariots of fire.11 The header of this section reads “The End of the 2300 Days.”

But is it possible that this vision, if it meant to address 1844 at all, should be reinterpreted similarly to the vision of Dec 1844 that confirmed the shut door doctrine only to be “reinterpreted” later?12 Notably, the vision of “the end of the 2300 days” conflates elements from the ascension of Elijah in chariots of fire (cf. 2 Kings 2), the ascension of Jesus in a cloud surrounded by angels (cf. Acts 1:9-10) and the day of atonement ritual inside the holy of holies in relation to Christ’s sacrificial death (cf. Heb 6:19-20). If this comparison holds, as the verbal parallels seem to show, then the vision is best interpreted as Jesus assuming his role as the heavenly high priest by going “within the veil” at his ascension as described in Hebrews 6 and 9 and not necessarily in 1844.

Further, Ellen White’s comments supporting Oct 22, 1844 as the date of Jesus’ passage into the heavenly Most Holy Place are meant to repeat and support the interpretations of Adventist authors of her day as she acknowledged in the introduction of the Great Controversy. Thus, at face value, the doctrine of 1844 could have been dropped as easily as Ellen White revised her understanding of the “shut door doctrine” which she had understood as having been shown to her in vision.

More importantly, despite her continuous calls to maintain the “pillars” of the Adventist faith, including the doctrine of 1844, Ellen White also called for continued study, to the point that, if a doctrine was “shaky,” we should not be afraid to let it fall. In the aftermath of the 1888 law-grace debacle, she would write: “If every idea we have entertained in doctrines is truth, will not the truth bear to be investigated? Will it totter and fall if criticized? If so, let it fall, the sooner the better.”13

The Neutering of Prophecy In The Neutering of Adventism, maverick Adventist historian George Knight argues that Adventism must continue with the same apocalyptic emphasis lest it lose its relevance and unique contribution to Christianity. Although I agree with the overall premise of the work that an apocalyptic outlook has helped shape Adventism’s mission, Knight has defended most of the traditional Adventist views, including 1844 and the Papacy as the beast which not only are questionable from a biblical studies point of view, but create the wrong “apocalypticism” in the church by stressing exclusivism, an “us-against-them” mentality and perfectionism.

And there is an even more serious danger in this dynamic, that of neutering prophecy itself. By promoting a purported final and unassailable interpretation of the apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, we are in essence castrating the text because it no longer speaks to new readers. That is an even worse outcome than the concern about neutering our church.

The warnings against adding or removing anything from the “word of this prophecy” (Rev 22:18-19) ultimately have to do with impeding its understanding. Does imposing a single fulfilment on prophecy fall into the same condemnation?

ConclusionAs part of the celebrations of the Great Disappointment this year, the Adventist Church has released Tell the World, a movie sponsored by the Adventist church in Australia which recounts the early Adventist experience.

I have enjoyed watching some of its leaked chapters on YouTube before its official release with my two young daughters. I took the opportunity to instill in them the sense that they are part of a long line of believers in Jesus’ Second Coming. We suffered with the pioneers as they waited and waited. We relived the struggles of Ellen White’s family as they were cast out of their congregation for their Millerite views and felt the sting of Joseph Bates’ financial struggles after having sold all he had to support the work. The movie is an emotional palette, depicting from the unbounded entrepreneurial spirit of 19th century America, to the romantic love of James and Ellen, the death of their first child and the family quarrels of the Bates. I have come away from it with a conviction that, despite its shortcomings, God has a plan for the Adventist Church.

The only hope for Adventism is to keep the flame of the Second Coming alive. Our part as keepers of that flame is to make it relevant to 21st century society without overstating our case.


1. See Kai Arasola, The End of Historicism available here.2. See Arasola, p. 128.3. Jonathan Buttler, “The Making of a New Order: Millerism and the Origins of Seventh-Day Adventism” in The Disappointed: Millerism and Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century, eds. Ronald Numbers and Jonathan M. Butler (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1993): 189-206.4. See Gary Land, Seeker of Light (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 200), 131-149.5. Cf. The Great Controversy, 420: “The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, “within the veil” which formed the door and separated the holy place from the outer court, represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension.”6. Cf. Roy Gane, “Reopening Katapetasma (“Veil”) in Hebrews 6:19-20,” Andrews University Seminary Studies Vol. 38, No.1 (Spring 2000): 5-8.7. See Siegfried J. Schwantes, “Ereb Boqer of Daniel 8: 14 Re-Examined.” Andrews University Seminary Studies (AUSS) 16.2 (1978) Available here. 8. Jeffery M. Leonard, “Identifying Inner-Biblical Allusions: Psalm 78 as a Test Case JBL 127, no. 2 (2008): 241-265. 9. Norman Young, “The Day of Dedication or the Day of Atonement? Background to Hebrews 6:19-20 Revisited,” Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring 2002): 66.10. Early Writings, 236; Evangelism, 222.11. Early Writings, 54-56.12. See the helpful timeline of the “shut door doctrine” available here. 13. Letter 7, 1888 – Written to William H. Healey, Dec 9, 1888.


Image: Still from the film, "Tell The World."

André Reis is completing a PhD in New Testament Studies.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7708

The “hope of Millerites” was doomed even before they could articulate the hope for the simple reason that James Miller studied his bible to prove his father wrong. “Following his conversion, Miller’s Deist father soon challenged him to justify his newfound faith. He did so by examining the Bible closely, declaring to one friend “If he would give me time, I would harmonize all these apparent contradictions to my own satisfaction, or I will be a Deist still.””

Should we draw parallels between William Miller and his father’s challenge with TW and his father’s legacy?


This is so helpful and important. Thank you for this. What it means for the church is profound and could have/should have been clearly seen fifty years ago, but certain key individuals, enamored with their own theological importance, fought the obvious with fear mongering about those raising the questions.

A balanced piece affirming Adventism’s importance, while not cavalierly affirming its prophetic significance in history.


Thank you for a very detailed, articulate and eloquent description of October 22, 1844 and it’s unfortunate aftermath of the Sanctuary doctrine.

It is very clear that the Millerites were humiliated, mortified and hugely embarrassed by their failed prophecy. They were “grasping at straws” when they fortuitously came up with the face saving Sanctuary “snake oil” solution.

For me, the fact that the whole doctrine relies on a very abstruse academic date, 457 BC, as its underpinning, makes it hugely suspect.

Bible doctrines should be able to be understood by humble, poorly educated, semi-literate,believers. The start date of this,prophecy required historical research in archeological ancient history tomes buried in Ivy League libraries. That makes it too complex, too inaccessible for the average Joe or Jane and therefore probably invalid.

Very dismaying, is the fact that no other Christian theologians, seminaries, nor academics have subscribed to it nor endorsed it.

As you point out, if EGW had not been intimately involved in the doctrine’s origin and proclamation, it would have been jettisoned long ago.

Christ exclaimed emphatically and unequivocally three times in the last chapter of Revelationm, BEHOLD I AM COMING SOON!

Had His father not informed Him that no way could He proclaim that – He had some magic mission to fulfill nearly two millennia later, thus making His proclamation a falsehood?

When Christ made that proclamation circa AD 60/70, I do not believe that He was constrained by some mythical future event in 1844 of which He was unaware.


It seems Jews had their own Great Disappointment, and this involves the FIRST ADVENT of Christ. Certain parallels are evident with the Millerite Disappointment however.The Jews had been under the iron heel of various world powers for nearly three quarters of a millennium by the time of Jesus’ birth in 7 B.C. Their priests (both Saducees and Pharisees) and Holy men prayed for a Messiah to deliver them. In the mean while they steadfastly maintained the Jewish diaspora in Kashmir to which many Jews fled to avoid oppression. Indian scholars and the Indian Government claim to have reams of olden records detailed the Acts of the “Pierced Jewish Messiah” in INdia. Those Jews who awaited the first advent gathered at the Qumran Plateau. They included descendants of the Old Temple elite during the time of their greatest King, David. The promised Messiah was therefore seen as a conquering warlord. Not only that, but The reigning Priests claimed that they had spoken to the almighty by prayers and other means, and that the sign of his legitimacy would be that he would be born of a virgin and also in the month of September , the month of the Holy Festivals. Jesus WAS born of a Virgin that is a sect of young women calling themselves Mary, collectively in honour of Miriam, sister of Moses.attached to the tribe of DAN However, God apparently deliberately did not hold to the so-called timetable of birth. He was born six months too early. Because of this he was never accepted as ,legitimate by the purists , especially the PhARisees who demanded that he even be crucified with A CROWN of thorns. The thorn was a sigh of illegitimacy in the Sadduceean Abbeys. These priests would search the banks of the wadis and streams where unmarried Jewish girls from Jerusalem would come to have their illegitimate babies and leave them to die there. These were rescued and cared for by Saducean Priests to become acolytes, The rescuer would then be his/her "father"God cannot be pinned down by mans. often faulty reading of prophecy. We are happy though when we decipher right.

Andre, I appreciate your interesting essay. I have some responsive thoughts about intertextuality, inner-biblical exegesis, and inner-biblical allusion.

We should always be mindful that the predominant question is–What is the meaning of the text? The text means not what the words say but what the author intends to say. Meaning is inextricably connected to authorial will, not words. I think we can agree that an intertextual analysis is synchronic and divorced from authorial will. We are merely looking at commonalities that exist between or among texts. An intertextual analysis is an exercise of structuralism. The texts in that sort of analysis enjoy semantic autonomy. We don’t care when the texts were written or who wrote them. And we don’t care about a trajectory or development of thought that occurs as we move from one text to another.

Inner-biblical exegesis and inner-biblical allusion are different in that they require a diachronic analysis that is tied to authorial will. Inner-biblical exegesis represents a later author’s attempt to modify the earlier text in some way. Inner-biblical allusion is a later author’s allusion to an earlier text. The problem with Jeff Leonard’s proposed methodology for the study of inner-biblical allusion is that he focuses on language rather than authorial will. I briefly checked online to see if he believes in inerrancy. I couldn’t tell. The proponents of inerrancy are desperate critics of the study of linguistics, which falsifies the notion that words can be divinely inspired. (By the way, the makeshift compromise proposed by conservative Seventh-day Adventist theologians between word inspiration and thought inspiration–that God inspires thought but provides some “apt” words–is hermeneutical error, because there is no such thing as an “apt” word. I don’t have time or space to demonstrate this, but I can if you are interested). Whether there is a biblical allusion intended must be based on everything we know about the text, not just the words of the text.

Leonard’s proposed methodology is a veneer that is placed upon the text. His methodology is meritorious in that it constrains our analysis with objective and neutral criteria. But his methodology does not get to the truth about what the author has done. There can be allusions in which there is no commonality of words between or among the texts. We must also be mindful that a biblical author’s allusion can be made not only to a text but to an oral tradition. And nobody who ever alludes to something perceives that he or she is following some sort of methodology or somehow making the allusion in a right or wrong way. Even after we determine there is an allusion, what sort of allusion it might be or how that allusion informs the meaning of the text is not clear cut. In sum, Leonard’s methodology has the feel of intertextual analysis.


Hey good André,

It’s always a great, refreshing experience to read your articles. Straightforward talk, no cosmetics, things as they are not as people want them to be. My style, as you well know.

I am glad you made it a tradition to take some time around this time of the year to write some reflexions related to our good friend “October 22,” a day that has always been so meaningful to Adventists.

I am also glad that in your tradition, you always remind us of the book of Hebrews, that easily clarifies and debunks all the nonsense that the Adventists have been teaching about 1844. (For the record, I have done it many times in the years past, until I learned better studying Fesmond Ford and others). If I would be allowed to keep only one of the biblical books, that would be it, The Book of Hebrews. It has the Gospel of Jesus, it has the story of God’s mercy, it has the story of salvation, the Cross, and everything we need to know about the future, the eternity.

Great article, again!!!


A bold statement, correcting a gross error, but mighty close to dire consequences. Music is much safer. cheers. tZ


I doubt André Reis need to worry about any administrative consequences of pointing out the obvious, that the founding dogma of Adventism arose out of a shared, traumatic experience, and not exegesis. As the old adage goes, a text without a context is a pretext, and nobody has ever read Daniel 8:14 as story about what happened in Heaven the week before Halloween in 1844 who did not have a vested interest in the movement that arose from that event. There is simply no Adventist sheol left into whose darkness serious scholars can be thrown, it seems to me. The GC is busy wasting its authority on a hopeless and discrediting fight to keep women in their place, a re-run of sorts by Wilson Two of Wilson One’s disastrous Marikay crusade, and I doubt there is enough wrath left in the system to impugn the integrity of honest people dabbling in the quaint discipline of exegesis.

As far as I can see from my distant perch, the SdA church has basically conceded the view voiced by André Reis. That does not mean that it will be an easy thing to move beyond it and replace it with a New World theology that might work in the 21st century.

First of all, while it is true that EGW abandoned her vision enhanced view that the world mission field after 1844 had been reduced to those who had participated in an apocalyptic crusade in the north-eastern corner of the United States, it is also true that EGW felt so embarrassed about that period of her life that she distorted, to the point of lying, her involvement in both the fanatical charismatic phenomena that followed and the period’s exclusivistic theology later in life.

And while she advocated in favor of Bible study and openness to new ideas, she really only was open to ideas that she herself pushed, such as the move towards a more Evangelical theology in the aftermath of 1888. Her brutal take-down of Albion Ballenger is a case in point.

My guess is that until the church is willing to reduce EGW to a mere mortal, an SdA version of John Wesley and Jean Calvin, the dogma of 1844 will remain lying around like a dead albatross until it has been absorbed by the advancing century.


Thanks for reading Phil! I appreciate your knowledgeable feedback.

In our position, centuries removed from the autographs of these ancient texts, the only thing we have to understand “authorial will” is the text. That is why any study of intertextuality or inner-biblical allusive method is limited to language/words.

But the meaning of the text for us today can only be determined by putting the microscope on the text in its original language and attempting to understand to the best of our ability what the author is actually trying to say. So I don’t see how meaning can be separated from “words”.

In the case in point, i.e., what Daniel has in mind, it is not possible for us to fully discover outside the confines of what he wrote. In this case, we can determine which texts he had in mind when penning down his vision. We can be fairly certain that it was not Lev 16 since there is no trace of it in Daniel 8. As I argued, when read in context, Daniel 8:14 makes perfect sense.

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Thanks @aage_rendalen. I always appreciate your insightful comments!


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There is a lag, a disconnect, between thought and language. Even though our thoughts are structured by language, what we speak and write does not completely encompass and communicate what we think. Gadamer is correct in his observation, as related by Grondin, that the universal claim of hermeneutics lies not in the spoken or written word but in the verbum interius. Fundamental to hermeneutical activity is the dialogue, the question and answer, the back and forth, all of which moves us past the spoken and written word toward an understanding of the verbum interius.

There is no doubt that Daniel is aware of Leviticus 16. We do not need a text to specifically inform us of this awareness of his. And we should not require shared language between Leviticus 16 and Daniel 8 in order to recognize his allusion to Leviticus 16. We see in Daniel 8 extensive sanctuary imagery, dramaturgy, and a judgment scene. That is more than enough to evoke Leviticus 16. I would suggest that we entertain a post-structuralist response to Leonard’s structuralism. Instead of rigid arborescent thinking, let us be a little more rhizomatic in how we interpret the sprawl of the 66 books of the Bible. I recall from reading one of Richard Davidson’s book reviews that he has counted all the judgment scenes he sees in Scripture. I offer that all of the judgment scenes in Scripture are rhizomatically connected.


Thanks George! I appreciate your feedback! :wink:

While there is “more than enough to evoke Leviticus 16” in Daniel 8–for those who believe on dogmatic grounds that there must be connection, exegesis does not support such wishful thinking.


If so, a good amount of scholarship is called for.

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No doubt Daniel was aware of Leviticus 16 but did he mean to allude to it in 8:14? If so, how would we know if not through verbal allusions? Without strong exegetical grounds, we’re in a no-man’s land where anyone can argue for allusions where there are none. An intertextual approach offers controls in order to avoid wild interpretations.


I am not sure we can set forth neutral criteria for determining an inner-biblical allusion. I think we just have to do the best we can and follow the biblical evidence wherever it leads. Remember, all hermeneutical thinking is circular. We cannot rest satisfied on a point of the circle but must continue to move around the circle in the hope that we are spiraling to greater understanding. I just read one of Roy Gane’s essays I found on the Internet to see if I could find any remarkable hermeneutical errors. https://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Pre-Advent_Judgment.pdf. It’s pretty clean. His finding of an allusion to Leviticus 16 in Daniel 8:14 persuades me. But of course, I am showing a little bit of deference, in that unlike Gane I am not an exegete or world authority on Leviticus.


Here I am in Berrien Springs and it is October 23, 2016.

Yesterday, Sabbath, October 22, I attended PMC’s worship service held in the Howard Performing Arts Center where Pastor Dwight Nelson, in the HopeTrending.org evangelistic series, addressed the Sabbath/Sunday issue. He began by reading, in toto, Sam Walter Foss’s “The Calf Path.” He employed this poem in an eloquent and powerful appeal for all to read what the Scriptures assert and not to blindly follow custom, no matter how old, that contradicts Scripture.

As he spoke, I could not help thinking of the universal, and necessary, application of this principle. On one hand, we have our denomination insisting on the universal application of this principle. On the other hand, when it comes to the teaching about the investigative judgment, the principle is ignored.

Proof-texting is favored over context. The context of Daniel 8:14, and even the angel’s explanation, are considered inconsequential (tacitly, of course), as the newcomer to SDA doctrine is taken on a journey from verse 14 into other passages of Scripture about atonement and judgment.

While I admire the SDA pioneers’ determination to find the answer to their problem I must fault them in their method and and their conclusions. And we do wrong when, in this day and age, we prop them up and, by using erroneous exegetical methods, lead newcomers to accept those very same conclusions.

Brother Reis, well done, and well said.


Thank you Andre for explaining how I have felt in the back of my mind but have not been able to articulate. You have inspired me to study these passages in Daniel again.


Come out of her My People that ye be not partakers in her sins.