“Jesus is trumping that time, saying that the coming desolation of the Temple in A.D. 70 will be worse, and he is using the language of Daniel. He is not, then, saying, “this is that”, but “this will be worse than that.” ”Great tribulation” is a term, interestingly enough, that is related throughout Israel’s history. In Judges 2:15; 10:9; Nehemiah 9:37 we find the same phrase “
By Samuel Frost, Th.M.
Eminent Scholar James Barr commented on Dan 12.2 stating, “The resurrection of the dead is not seen as universal here” (Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, p. 602). James B. Jordan notes, “The resurrection of Israel is in view here” (Handwriting on the Wall: A Commentary on Daniel, p. 619). He interprets the passage much like Philip Mauro (The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation), thinking that the “resurrection” spoken of here is the spiritual application of Christ’s resurrection to the believer. This certainly has merit to it, though it is not commonly held. Kiel, Young, representing a good majority of conservative scholars, take it to refer to the “general resurrection” at the last day. Albert Barnes noted the issues (and debate) surrounding the word “many”, which some take at face value, and others take as meaning “all”. This debate continues to this day (Barnes wrote in the 19th century). He also mentioned those scholars who, referring the book as a whole to the Maccabean period, take the verse to mean an “arousing of the Hebrew people in the time of Maccabees” (Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical on the Old Testament: Daniel, 259). Of course, this arousing would be seen not as a literal raising of the dead, but a figurative trope denoting spiritual awakening. Barnes continued, “It might, indeed, be applied to an arousing from a state of lethargy and inaction” (260). Barnes does not, in the end, take it to mean that, but it is of interest that he noted the possibility of such an interpretation (and that some in his day took it that way).
Tom Wright forthrightly states, from Collins, that there is a “virtually unanimous agreement among modern scholars” that the Prophet here is speaking of bodilyresurrection (Resurrection of the Son of God, 109-111). From my studies as well, this appears to be the case. The problem, however, is one of timing. In the context, Dan 12.2 is connected directly to 11.45: “And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.” This is followed immediately with, “At that time, Michael, the Great Prince, shall arise…” The question now becomes, what time is the action of 11.45, and who is the subject? Wright notes (again, with the great majority of scholars) that 11.45 is the time of the Maccabees and the fall of Antiochus Epiphanes. ”…[A]t the time of Antiochus’ fall, [is] a time of unprecedented anguish for Israel (12.1)” (Wright, 113). The resurrection of the dead does not happen at that time, but the context affords the promise that those who suffered valiantly during those times (the martyrs) are promised life from the dead at the end of the days (i.e., the last day). In other words, the timing of the resurrection of the dead is not addressed, other than to say it is promised.
From a syntactical point of view, it is possible to interpret the passage in this manner. ”At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” Michael shall arise to defend Israel at the time of the king in 11.45. It will be a time of trouble. However, God will deliver the elect, those written in the book (and often occurring theme from Moses onward). Then we read, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” There is no “time” indicator here. If it read, “at that time many of those who sleep shall awake” we would have a different issue. But it doesn’t. ”And” (waw) can be seen as a simple connector. Those who suffered will be delivered, and, by the way, they are also promised to awake unto eternal life. A good number of scholars take this approach.
Calvin appears to have taken the same interpretation: ”The angel seems here to mark a transition from the commencement of the preaching of the gospel, to the final day of the resurrection, without sufficient occasion for it. For why does he pass over the intermediate time during which many events might be the subject of prophecy? He unites these two subjects very fitly and properly, connecting the salvation of the Church with the final resurrection and with the second coming of Christ. Wheresoever we may look around us, we never meet with any source of salvation on earth. The angel announces the salvation of all the elect. They are most miserably oppressed on all sides, and wherever they turn their eyes, they perceive nothing but confusion. Hence the hope of the promised salvation could not be conceived by man before the elect raise their minds to the second coming of Christ. It is just as if the angel had said, God will be the constant preserver of his Church, even unto the end; but the manner in which he will preserve it must not be taken in a carnal sense, as the Church will be like a dead body until it shall rise again. We here perceive the angel teaching the same truth as Paul delivers in other words, namely, we are dead, and our life is hidden with Christ; it shall then be made manifest when he shall appear in the heavens. (Colossians 3:3.) We must hold this first of all, God is sufficiently powerful to defend us, and we need not hesitate in feeling ourselves safe under his hand and protection. Meanwhile it is necessary to add this second point; as long as we fix our eyes only on this present state of things, and dwell upon what the world offers us, we shall always be like the dead. And why so? Our life ought to be hid with Christ in God. Our salvation is secure, but we still hope for it, as Paul says in another passage. (Romans 8:23, 24.)”
In other words, the timing of the resurrection is not found in this verse, but the promise is. Calvin’s remark, very similar to Wright’s, notes that the “angel” skips over from the timeMichael arises to the time of the resurrection of the dead. How many years separates them is left unstated. James B. Jordan notes Wright’s interpretation, “N.T. Wright has suggested that verse 2 is a promise of eventual resurrection” (Jordan, 616). Jordan dismisses this, however, because of that tricky word, “many”. However, his dismissal is not convincing (even though, for a time, I flirted with his interpretation). Eminent scholar Moses Stuart (1850, founder of Society of Biblical Literature), understood, like Wright, that the timing of the deliverance is under Antiochus’ onslaught and eventual fall. Stuart asked the question: “Does it relate to a period immediately succeeding the death of Antiochus, or to a subsequent and undefined period?” (A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 361). Stuart comes down explicitly in favor of what Wright (and Calvin) proposed: “Verse 2 and 3, I regard, therefore, as having reference to the Messianic period and its ultimate results. No notation of time, however, is here made, at the beginning of the second verse. The prophetic vision looks forward to the distant future, but it is undefined as to any particular time” (Stuart, 362). The Messianic kingdom is set up “in the days of those kings” (Dan 2.44), i.e., the kings of the fourth world empire, and an undefined notation of time (again, Stuart) is hinted at in the word, “and it became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (2.35). The Messianic arrives in the days of those kings, and it gradually fills the whole world, consuming all the nations.
What Daniel, then, saw, when it is all put together, was the coming of three great world empires (he was living in the first one, Babylon, to be followed by three others). He foresees the coming of a Syrian king (Antiochus) and his fall. He also foresees that the exiles of Babylon will return under the edict of Cyrus, the Persian. The city will be rebuilt, and, will be destroyed. He foresees the coming of a Messianic figure, one like a “son of man coming on clouds” (which probably refers to Jesus’ Ascension). He foresees a coming time of “tribulation” (which, perhaps, refers to the Maccabees), which might be in reference the “great tribulation” spoken of by Jesus in Mt 24.
On Mt 24, Jesus alludes to Daniel specifically in 24.13. He is not saying that this is the prophecy of Daniel (most take the “abomination of desolation” in reference to, again, Antiochus), but can be understood as saying, the thing that is considered an abomination, one that Daniel spoke of in the past, let the reader understand, will happen again (or, he could be alluding to Dan 9.27). The problem is that Dan 8.23-25 speaks of Antiochus (all agree, virtually) setting up an “abomination”. Thus, there appear to be two “abomination” acts that lead to desolation. The same can be said for what appears to be an echo of Dan12.1 in Mt 24.21. The angel spoke of a time when Michael would arise in the days of the King of the North (11.45), and there would be “great tribulation” for the people at that time, such as has not happened before. Jesus is trumping that time, saying that the coming desolation of the Temple in A.D. 70 will be worse, and he is using the language of Daniel. He is not, then, saying, “this is that”, but “this will be worse than that.” ”Great tribulation” is a term, interestingly enough, that is related throughout Israel’s history. In Judges 2:15; 10:9; Nehemiah 9:37 we find the same phrase “great tribulation” or “great distress” in the Greek Septuagint. Jesus, then, is simply saying that another time of “great distress” is coming upon the temple and Israel, such that has happened before under the Babylonians, but this time will be far worse than that, even worse than the time of the Maccabeans.
Finally, Daniel foresaw, and was himself promised, resurrection (12.13). From Babylon, to Antiochus to Messiah and the growth of the kingdom throughout the world, to the resurrection of the dead at the last day – Daniel foresaw the entire span of human history. The author of the Gospel of John used the phrase “the last day” for the resurrection, borrowing from the language, it appears, of Dan 12.2 (John 5:28,29). Paul appears to have this in mind as well (Act 24.15). Daniel was told to “go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” The last phrase is an equivalent to “the last day” and resurrection is to occur on that day. Bodily resurrection. The first phrase, however, is the end of Daniel’s life. Obviously, for the angel is not telling Daniel to “go your way” until “the time of the end”! (note the Septuagint in loc). Neither is the “end of the days” referring to the 1,290 or 1,335 days. The “end of the days” is in reference to Dan 12.2, the resurrection of the dead. Daniel, who will eventually die (reach his end) is promised participation in the resurrection. No notation of time is given for that time other than “the last day” or “end of the days” of history (which was thoroughly common in Second Temple Judaism).
Now, why say all of this? Because I am primarily known as a former prominent leader and teacher of what I now denounce as heresy, Hyper Preterism, many among that group, and I was one of them, confidently felt secure that by comparing the passages mentioned above, and noting certain scholars, we had a lock solid, air tight, iron clad argument that provedthat the resurrection of the dead took place in A.D. 70. However, having read the above, that is not the case. At all. At least two attractive views are out there, one noted by James B. Jordan (and Kenneth Gentry, recently) and the other noted by Calvin, Wright and Stuart, which has a considerable scholarly consensus. I lean towards the latter (although I endorsed the former before). Both are attractive. Both survive exegetical scrutiny. Both are fully compatible with the affirmation of the bodily resurrection of the dead. When one is so certain, like the Hyper Preterist often thinks he or she is, one does not entertain any other views, except with an eye to demolish them. In a more academic mentality, several views can be appreciated, noting that the details are often left out of the Scripture which leads to several “possible” understandings of a given text(s). This is a more sober approach. Thank you for your time in reading.