Timeout: Revelation and the Crisis of Historicism

(André Reis) #107

Nope. Weeks in Jubilees 48 is of years not days. Do the math.

The original Hebrew of Dan 10:2 says shabuim yamim = weeks of days.

Daniel is intentionally differentiating between weeks of 70x7 sabbatical years in Dan 9 and the 3 weeks of days of his fast.

To be consistent with your own interpretation the fast should have lasted 21 years!

The implication should have been clear: Daniel speaks of “weeks of years” in Dan 9 because of the sabbatical cycle of 7 years of the captivity and “weeks of days” for his fast in Dan 10. There’s NO year-day principle in Dan 9 because both were unique time periods for the Jews. This is the implication of the use of shabuah in Jewish literature.

Confimation bias pulls you into thinking that “70 weeks” in Dan 9 were “490 days” but there’s nothing in the text to demand this reading if you accept that Jews used shabuah = “week of 7 years”.

(Allen Shepherd) #108

You are correct, the words in Dan 10 are shabuim yamim… weeks modified by days, or weeks days

I looked up several Bible translations of this verse. Only one had weeks of days, the Jubilee Bible. All the rest had something like “complete weeks”, or “entire weeks”, etc.

So I consulted Shae, Selected Studies on Prophetic Interpretation. On page 91 he explained that when a word like week or year or month is modified by the word for days, it means complete or entire. Your idea is a misunderstanding of the idiom. (see Gen 29:14, Num 11:20-21 etc. For an example with the word year see Gen 41:1, Lev 25:29 etc.)

Week days does not imply at all that in Dan 10 he is talking of days, but that the weeks in Dan 9 are implying years. In fact you are the one with the confirmation bias. To quote Shea: "Linguistically, this idiom prevents the conclusion from being drawn that “weeks of days” in contrast to “weeks (of years) is implied in this passage.”

All agree that the weeks of Dan 9 are years. But the issue is to try to avoid the year/day principle. The NIV tries to get around it by translating the world for weeks as “sevens”, and it never does so with the same word anywhere else. You refer to the sabbatical years, and say there is NO year/day principle, but ignore that the word really is weeks, not weeks of years in the text.

Thus 70 weeks is 490 days, equal to 490 years. The word is weeks, clear and simple, the year/day principle is affirmed.

(André Reis) #109

I think the real issue is to see such “principle” where there is none and NOT seeing it where it’s inconvenient for your position. Why again are not reading a fast of “3 weeks of years” in Dan 10?

Shabuah is commonly used for “week” in Hebrew because the root comes from the word “seven” or “besevened” i.e., dividided in to 7. The word “week” separated from the word “seven” doesn’t existe in Hebrew. Further, as I’ve demonstrated, the word is commonly used with the meaning of “7 years” in Jewish literature.

Lastly, there is really no grammatical reason not to read “sh’loshet shabuim yamim” as “3 weeks of days”. If Shea is right, you must ask why Gabriel didn’t use “yamim” in Dan 9? There would be no question that a year-day conversion was the intended meaning if he had.

But Shea is incorrect, contradicted by Ezekiel 45:21:

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the festival of the passover, and for seven days [shabuot yamim] unleavened bread shall be eaten.”

In this verse of you have shabuah meaning numeral “seven” and “yamim”, days = seven days not “weeks of days.”

(Allen Shepherd) #110

Only 1 Bible translated it weeks fo days. All the others said, three full weeks or three entire weeks. So most, almost all, do not see it your way.

Yes, the Hebrew word weeks is related to seven. But the two words are different, and the word weeks is specific for a period of time (Sabua). The word occurs 13 times outside of Daniel 9 and in each instance, it is translated as weeks, not sevens. Shae: “…on the basis of comparative linguistic evidence, it should be rendered weeks in Daniel 9.” (page 90)

Every interprets sees weeks as years in Dan 9. to add a “of days” would confuse interpreters that might think he means actual weeks, that is, about a year and a half.

But Daniel uses the simple term weeks, but clearly means years. The year/day principle is in play, and he does it elegantly.

I did nor take Hebrew so am not sure if shabout is he same as week, but it seems an ordinal, that is it is saying there were seven days, and did not then have the meaning of “full”. but I cannot tell. The translators are translation it as an ordinal, seven. So it is not weeks days as in Daniel 10.

(André Reis) #111

On the same basis then it needs to mean 490 days. Period. No conversion is warranted since it never occurs elsewhere in Scripture.

(Allen Shepherd) #112

You would stand alone on that one.

Everyone sees the weeks as symbolic. Even you do. The word is weeks, though, and Daniel is a book of symbols, with the times mentioned are really odd (2300 days, time, times and half a time etc.) implying that they are all symbolic.

What gives? Why this resistance? The preterists and futurists take your position. You are welcome, but it is not an Adventist position. Shea is really thorough on this. The book gives all kinds of reasons why the year/day principle is valid. I am no scholar, but he goes into discussions of all sides of the controversy.

(André Reis) #113

Where did I give that impression?

There’s 0 textual support for the conclusion that these periods of 70x7 are “symbolic” as they’re part of the explanation of the prophecy which describes real events with nothing “symbolic” in them. I take them as 70X7 LITERAL years which was a common Jewish datum according to Lev 25; 2 Chron 36:21.

Your position on the other hand is incoherent. You insist that shabuah in Dan 9 means “weeks of days” only, but then refuse to interpret as such. Then you cop out by saying they’re ”symbolic.”

Why the resistance?

I’m keeping your position coherent. What event fulfilled the prophecy within 490 consecutive week days?

Shea’s book is a prime example of the deductive method: start with a conclusion (year-day) and then look for evidence to support it. It would get an F in seminary (at least the good ones).

I’ve demonstrated how his whole premise is built on a fallacy and falls in the face of biblical evidence.

(Frankmer7) #114

I already did, Rev. 1:4 says, “John, to the seven churches in Asia.” The text clearly states to whom John addressed the book. They were seven literal churches in seven literal cities in the first century. How do you read this simple, clear greeting?

This is starting to sound like arguing whether the sky looks blue on a sunny day! The bias is so thick that you and others, in the defense of seven ages of church history, and a historicist framework, can’t even read the text for what it’s saying.

If one wants to see the number seven as completion, and apply it in principle as a complete diagnosis of what the church of Christ would face in all ages, I could see this as a possible application. But, to try to extrapolate specific time periods from each message to apply to each church, is a game with moving goalposts. Luther saw his day as Laodicea. Miller saw Laodicea differently than Adventists after him. Other interpreters before them interpreted it differently in the historicist framework, applying Laodicea to their own time. The SS quarterly has changed the dating of the time periods from that of earlier Adventism.

Additionally, seeing the Adventist denomination as the Laodicean church is simply a monolithic distortion of the text. First, it excludes Adventist congregations that may be suffering persecution for their faith. Secondly, it excludes congregations that may match the descriptions of the other six churches in the text. Thirdly, it excludes all other Christian congregations throughout the world, as if they are Babylon, and not included in the church of Christ. It makes zero sense, and does violence to the text, its meaning, and its contemporary application. It all stems from an arbitrary imposition of an historicist framework onto the text, that the author simply didn’t intend!

Revelation speaks on different levels to the churches. First, it was a letter to them, to be read in its entirety in their meetings. The text indicates this. Just as Galatians is read in light of the situation that the Gentile Christians faced in Galatia, and how it was to shape their response to their situation, so should Revelation. it was anchored in the life settings of the seven churches in Asia Minor.

Secondly, Revelation is a prophecy, bringing a word directly from the Lord through John, addressing a specific set of people facing specific situations. This is similar to how and why the prophets wrote in the OT, with a thus saith the Lord. It revealed Jesus’s perspective on their actions, on the challenges they faced, and what they needed to do to remain in or return to favor with God.

Thirdly, Revelation is an apocalypse, as its title states. It sought to unveil the larger, cosmic backdrop behind what the churches were facing. It showed the everyday problems and issues with which they were dealing in the light of the worship of God in heaven around the throne, the reality of his judgements upon idolatry and injustice, and the rewards of faithfulness. It interpreted their life situation by lifting the cosmic veil through startling imagery and biblically and culturally anchored symbolism, showing that the stakes and issues before them were far higher and deeper than they could ever realize.

This is how Revelation and other apocalypses in the NT period, such as First Enoch and Fourth Ezra (the latter was so highly regarded that anonymous Christians wrote a prologue and epilogue to the work) derived their power to comfort the afflicted, and to warn the comfortable. It was by revealing the other worldly, and by revealing an eschatological perspective upon the material and mundane, through visionary experiences, angelic communication, and heavenly experiences that enabled the writer to shine light on everyday reality.

That John wrote an apocalypse, and that Jesus spoke in this way to the seven churches were not an indication that a long term historicist understanding was the point. It was that the early Christians were familiar with the language and point of apocalyptic communication, and that in light of the death and resurrection of Christ, were aware that the eschatological breaking in of God and his reign had come…the hour of his judgement. The gospel, when preached, always carries this implication with it, and did so in a dramatically symbolic way in Revelation for Christians in those first century congregations.

It carries no less for all Christians today. To think that such an understanding neuters the power and relevance of the book to us is to miss the point of what it is saying.



(Allen Shepherd) #115

No you haven’t…

(Allen Shepherd) #116

You have a hard time answering him, though. Not bad for an F.



You didn’t prove that the seven churches are not symbolic. You just stated what is written but the question is to know whether the churches are (also) symbolic or not.

When we read the book of Daniel, the other apocalyptic book, we see that it is about the entire people of God through history, from Babylon to the advent of God’s kingdom. It is then doubtful that the apocalyptic text of Revelation is just for seven local churches in Asia. And it is even more doubtful when considering the rest of the book that speaks also of the events up to the advent of God’s kingdom, like in the book of Daniel (the two books being connected).

(Frankmer7) #118


It is the greeting of a letter. If you want to twist the obvious meaning, go ahead. That is what it surely is. I gave a symbolic connotation that takes into account universal meaning for the people of God, without the problematic and changeable date setting of the supposed church ages of the historicist approach.

To say that Revelation has to do what Daniel did is imposing one book upon the other because of correlation of genre and imagery. While acknowledging the commonalities, Revelation should still be read on its own. Other apocalyptic books from the NT period, that were highly regarded by the early Christian community, did not do what Daniel did. Revelation should not be forced into such a mold.

Apocalyptic spoke eschatologically in a way that 1st century Christians could understand and apply to their contemporary situation, in light of the inbreaking of God’s reign through the death, resurrection, enthronement, and anticipated parousia of Jesus…the gospel. Revelation communicated the gospel cogently to its original audiences in ways that unveiled the true nature of their challenges. It has no less power to do so today, even if one does not read Revelation according to an historcist viewpoint…which I believe is imposed upon the text.


(André Reis) #119

How so?

Shea’s premise is flawed because the word shabuah usually translated “weeks”did not always have the meaning of “seven days” only as I’ve shown. If you did not understand the implications of the use of shabuah for 7 years in Jewish literature—following the sabbatical year cycle in Lev 25—that’s on you.

You’re blinded by Adventist assumptions. You don’t see what you can’t see.

I repeat my question again. What event fulfilled the prophecy within 490 consecutive week days according to your rendering of weeks of days in Dan 9?

(André Reis) #120

IMO Daniel fits better within the classical prophecy genre, despite some apocalyptic features. Revelation is letter and apocalypse and is mostly symbolic without exact correspondence with reality.


Not at all. Revelation should be read in the context of the Bible. This is because people don’t do this that the book remains a confusing mystery to them.

First of all, it is written that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ. Where do find mentions of Jesus? In the Gospel, of course. So, we have to link Revelation with the Gospel.

Then the imagery, symbols and references used in the book come from the Old Testament. So, Revelation is also to be read in the context of the Old Testament as well.

To do that is good exegesis.

Those who insist to read the book out of it context will never understand much of it.

(george chung) #122

the sda historicist interpretation of revelation’s 7 churches tries to “fit” everything into one tidy history box that incorporates 1844 a.d. through to the second coming of God, symbolized by the final Laodicean period. the sda obsession with 1844’s disappointment i believe had a lot to do w/ adopting this interpretation. Alternate interpretations of the seven churches could be: 1. god wanted to preserve the message of revelation and therefore had John produce seven manuscripts to the 7 churches which have shown a very high degree of correlation w/ each other. 2. Or simply, the praise and criticism of each church by Jesus could well symbolize each christian’s relation to god at some point in his/her’s spiritual journey of sanctification. Logically, since revelation is a divine prophecy, it therefore must also be a history of the last days of earthly mankind. I believe it is one of a modern Christian’s duty to evangelize by reconciling today’s knowledge in areas of science, math, biology, evolutionary genetics and the cosmos with the historical reality of Jesus as God and the Bible message to love God and Man. Is it not reasonable to think about God by the light of the relativity of time ? i.e. "eternal life is time simultaneously being the “now, was and will be” and therefore the first death equals instant eternal life. Or to ponder why God has planet earth(so far) alone among all the galaxies to have living beings? i.e. Is God testing Man to see how much Man can love his fellow man and this planet to make it “heaven on earth” before the linear earth time occurrence of the second coming of God. And to ponder why god made DNA, RNA, bacteria, archaea and viruses hereditary agents in relation to making humans and other life forms?i.e. will God allow man to create life forms from “dust” before the second coming?

(Ikswezdyr) #123

Some good insight here. I personally believe that John was writing to the churches at the time. They could be used as history as well. Revelation, of course,is not linear. It is one of my favorite books so full of mystery to us and puzzles to contemplate. It’s filled with symbol and allegory but the theme is the Lamb. I recommend Jan Paulien’s THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD. It’s the best I’ve read. Anyone interested in Revelation can find valuable research here and see how it fits in with the whole Bible. It doesn’t take a scholar/theologian to understand Paulien’s common sense approach.

(Allen Shepherd) #124

OK, sharbah sometimes means weeks of years. it also means regular weeks of seven days. So, one has to decide on context. My assertion, and that of Shea is that the word in Dan 9 is weeks, as it actually is. But it means years. it does not say weeks days there, but weeks alone, nor does it say weeks years, but weeks alone. There word is weeks.

I looked up your objection about “weeks days” of Dan 10 and showed it was an idiom for full weeks, as it is translated in almost all the Bibles, not as a clue to show the the weeks in Dan 9 are meant to be weeks of years. The word again in Dan 9 is weeks

Then you bring up a verse in Ezekiel that is an ordinal, “seven days”, a number, and think that answers our assertion about Dan. 10. It is a misapplication and does not answer the translation of all the Bibles as full weeks.

?? I believe the weeks in Dan 9 represent years. They are not literal weeks, but weeks of years. But the word is weeks. The year day principle is in play. and thus in play for all the book of Daniel.

I don’t see so much of a problem here. The idea of a year for a day was a Jewish idea held by all kinds of folk in the past. It is not some Adventist aberration, but was believed by many of the Ancient Jews and early Christians and protestants. Adventists did not invent it. So I am not:

but am following an established principle, used by many before me.

(Allen Shepherd) #125

You said we should use the other books of the Bible, such as Isaiah etc. to find the meaning of Revelation, a bewildering piece of literature. And then here, it should stand on its own.

What you really object to is a Historicist interpretation. Historicism is reasonable one of the four interpretations that are put forward today. Adventists do not do as modern historicists do. So that objection is not valid.

But you have your way, and the church has it. But you cannot say the historicist view is imposed on the text. It is a way to view it and Paul and Jesus were historicists.

(Roman) #126

The sad reality that I see in my and other churches (I have moved several times and I know this doesn’t just apply to members of my current church) is that members do not understand the most basic principles of biblical interpretation. In addition, we don’t speak Hebrew or Greek. We don’t understand idioms and expressions in these languages. We are quite clueless about cultural issues related to the biblical times. So, how can we even begin to understand symbols found in the Book of Revelation? Most people are not capable to critically evaluate the content of the quarterly, even if they did take time to try to do so.