It all began with three interviews on forms of Premillennialism: Dispensational (Paul Henebury), Historic (Jim Hamilton), and Progressive Dispensational (Darrell Bock). This got some great feedback, but I was constantly asked “but what about rapture?” so I did a series on rapture views: Pretribulational (Mike Svigel), Pre-Wrath (Alan Kurschner), and Posttribulational (Craig Blomberg). It’s been a huge privilege having these scholars take the time to give their views, why they hold to them, and pointers for further studies.
I never intended to make these interviews a “thing”, especially limiting them to eschatology, but with two series well received – and the release of the Left Behind movie – I’ve decided I’ll just run with the idea! While the interviews on eschatological systems were very helpful, I wanted to tackle important passages one-by-one; ones that play a large role in how one puts together the Bible and goes on to develop an eschatological system. Ultimately the question ought to be what does the Bible actually say?
With that in mind, I’m putting together interviews with scholars on key eschatological passages. My list is still nebulous, so please comment below with suggestions! I’m looking for texts that a) have interpretative difficulties and b) play significant roles in larger theological systems. Here’s my list so far:
- Daniel 9:24-27
- Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Mark’s Gospel)
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
- Revelation 20 (it has to go there!)
Nine Questions on Daniel 9: The Interviewees
Though debatable, it seems the best place to begin is Daniel 9:24-27. This is one of the most difficult texts in the Bible but it plays such a fundamental role for one’s end-times views. Though I haven’t seen the Left Behind movie (and don’t plan to), much of its end-time presentation depends on a particular understanding of Daniel 9. It could be argued that without Daniel 9:24-27 Left Behind, and the theology is it based on, would have no pre-tribulation rapture, no seven-year tribulation, no future peace treaty with Israel, no “Church Age” gap, no future destruction of a Jerusalem temple, and perhaps even a radically different anti-Christ figure and no rebuilt Jerusalem temple. For many Christians these ideas are a ‘given’ so a lot is at stake in Daniel 9! One’s entire grid will be adjusted depending on how Daniel 9:24-27 is read.
Though I encourage my readers to have their Bibles open for each interview, here is the passage:
Dan 9:24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
Dan 9:26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
Dan 9:27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
Now, there are numerous difficulties in interpreting this passage. Here are a few:
- Does the prince (v25) come after 7 weeks or 7+62 weeks? Different English translations reflect this difficulty, which goes back to the original texts.
- Is the anointed one in v26 the same as in v25?
- Who is the “prince who is to come” (v26)? Is he the same as the prince in v25?
- Who are the people of the prince who is to come (v26)? Are they contemporaries to the prince?
- What is the nature of the covenant (v27)?
You get the idea (for more, see Heiser’s posts #7-10). For every question there are various answers. So over the past months I have arranged four interviews with biblical scholars to give a spectrum of opinions and have asked them each the same nine questions. I’m thrilled about having each of the following scholars on this blog:
- Thomas Ice
- Robert Chisholm
- Peter Gentry
- Dale Ralph Davis
The interviews will run each Monday for the next four weeks. I hope that they will be thought-provoking and helpful. A passion of mine is properly understanding and representing the different views of our Christian brothers and sisters. Our allegiance is not ultimately to our systems but God’s words, and with that in mind we should always be humble and ready to adjust our views or even throw them out and start again. What I don’t hope is that this series will spark arguments or further harden those with bad attitudes towards different views to their own.
Comments are very welcome, but not those with obvious iconoclastic or obstinate attitudes behind them.
I’ll end this with a simple assignment: familiarize yourself with this following chart in preparation for next week’s post. There will (not) be a test…