Catholic Encyclopedia
Church Fathers
Classics Library
Church Documents
Prayer Requests
Ray of Hope
Social Doctrine

Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. DIVISION OF THE PROPHECY.—The chapter consists of two parts, a vision of Daniel (vv. 1–15) and its explanation (vv. 16–28). The vision is of four beasts emerging from the sea: a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear, a leopard with four wings and four heads, and a fourth beast with powerful iron teeth, destroying all things, and with ten horns, among which another little horn springs up, speaking proud things, before which three of the other horns are rooted out (vv. 1–8). The second part of the vision is of a celestial assize: the Almighty, represented as an aged man, is seated on a throne of flame and surrounded by myriads of attendants; the fourth beast is slain; one like unto a son of man comes in the clouds of heaven into the presence of the Almighty, and receives from him a universal and never-ending dominion (vv. 9–15). The second part of the chapter explains the vision: the four beasts signify four kingdoms; the fourth will be more powerful and formidable than the first three, but will be split up into ten kingdoms, and finally an eleventh will arise waging fearful war against the men and the kingdom of God, till it shall be destroyed by the power of the Most High. Then the people of the saints of the Most High will receive dominion over the entire earth.

2. THE TIME OF THE PROPHECY is indicated in the text; it is given in the first year of Belshazzar (Baltassar). But there is the greatest difficulty with regard to the question of Belshazzar’s identity. He is named king in Dan. 8:1; king of Babylon in 7:1; king of the Chaldees in 5:30. In the second of these passages Daniel speaks of Belshazzar’s first year; in the first passage of his third year. We find a king of a similar name mentioned in Bar. 1:11, 12. But outside of these passages there occurs no Babylonian king of this name in either inspired or profane sources. Hence the most diverse opinions as to Belshazzar’s identity have been advanced and defended:

a. Belshazzar is identical with Naboned, the last Babylonian king before the city’s capture by Cyrus (Flavius Josephus, Jerome, Hengstenberg, Auberlen, Havély). Reasons: α. Dan. 5:30, 31 (Heb. 5:30; 6:1); β. besides his official name Nabunahid, the last king of Babylon might have a family name like that of his son Bel-sar-ussur, by which he might be known to the Jews. γ. The Assyrian inscriptions speak of Nabunahid’s son under the name Bel-sar-ussur.

b. Belshazzar is identical with Laborosoarchod, or Labosardoch, as Josephus writes the name (Scaliger, Calvisius, Pererius, Maldonatus, Ebrard, Delitzsch). Reasons: α. According to Jer. 27:7 the nations shall serve Nebuchadnezzar (Nabuchodonosor), his son, and his son’s son. Now Laborosoarchod was the son’s son or grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Hence he was the last Babylonian king before Cyrus. β. The appearance of the queen in the history of Belshazzar supposes that the latter was very youthful; the same conclusion is reached from Dan. 6:1, where it is intimated that a full-grown man took the place of a boy in the royal dignity. Now Berosus (cf. Jos. c. Ap. i. 20) tells us that Laborosoarchod reigned only nine months, and was then murdered by the Babylonian patriots, because he gave all the signs of a bad character, though he was still a boy. γ. As to the statement of Dan. 8:1, in which the prophet speaks of the third year of Belshazzar, the patrons of this second view contend that Daniel there includes the years of Neriglissar, Laborosoarchod’s kinsman, who was regent in his place. There is hardly need to point out the fallacy of these arguments.

c. Belshazzar in the prophecies of Daniel and Baltassar occurring in Baruch are identical with Evilmerodach, the son and immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar (Lapide, Tirinus, Hofmann, Haevernick, Öhler, Hupfeld, Niebuhr, Zündel, Keil, Kranichfeld, Kliefoth, Favre d’Envieu). Reasons: α. Both Daniel and Baruch call Belshazzar Nebuchadnezzar’s son, and this testimony is confirmed by several other inferences. β. A careful reading of the first four chapters of the prophet leaves one under the impression that Belshazzar is the immediate successor of Nebuchadnezzar. γ. Berosus’ account of Evilmerodach agrees exactly with what we know of Belshazzar—of his luxury and his cruel tyranny. δ. These same characteristics render the appearance of the queen, the Median princess Amuhea and wife of Nebuchadnezzar, quite natural, since Belshazzar had been entirely careless about business affairs which had happened under his predecessor. ε. If both Berosus and the canon of Ptolemæus assign only two years to Evilmerodach’s reign, they may be easily so divided as to give us three calendar years (Dan. 8:1); besides, the canon of Syncellos expressly assigns three years to the reign of Evilmerodach. Boscawen has found among the Egibi-tablets inscriptions dated “the 23d day of the month Kislev of the third year of Marduk-sar-ussur.” Now, Marduk is identical with Merodach, so that Marduk-sar-ussur and Evilmerodach (son of Merodach) are in all probability identical. May we not suppose that Evilmerodach assumed this name only when he ascended the throne on account of the Jewish Messianic hopes? His attempt to identify himself with the Redeemer promised by the Hebrew prophets would well explain the fact that Daniel has avoided the use of that name, since it must have been a true abomination in the eyes of the seer. ζ. Both Megasthenes and Berosus relate that Evilmerodach was murdered, so that Daniel’s account of Belshazzar’s end agrees with the narrative of the historians. η. As to Dan. 5:30, 31, Daniel’s gift of prophecy becomes even more striking, if we suppose that he predicted not only the imminent death of Belshazzar but also the far-off fate of the Babylonian empire, though Cyrus was not yet at the gates of the city. ϑ. It is also certain that Naboned named his second son Nebuchadnezzar after the great king who had borne that name; may we not then suppose that he called his first son Belshazzar, after Nebuchadnezzar’s son, who was reigning at the time of Belshazzar’s birth?

d. The Belshazzar of the Book of Daniel is the Bel-sar-ussur of the Babylonian inscriptions, the first-born son of Naboned, who was habalsarru or co-regent, even in the lifetime of his father. It must, however, be noted that even if this view be followed, the Baltassar of Baruch is Evilmerodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar (Delattre, Düsterwald, Duncker, Schrader, etc.). Reasons: α. From the inscriptions it is not only certain that Naboned’s first-born son was called Belshazzar, but it is equally certain that the father was especially interested in the advancement of his first-born. Belshazzar commanded the army in Accad even in the seventh year of his father’s reign, who stayed at that time in Teva. Similar reports may be seen in the annals of the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh years of Naboned’s reign. β. The term habalsarru, by which Belshazzar is known, must be regarded as a technical term for “viceroy.” In this manner we remove, or satisfactorily explain, a number of difficulties: γ. In the taking of the city by Cyrus, no mention is made of Belshazzar, because, being at the head of the army, he must have been slain among the first. That his death was a well-known fact may be inferred from the circumstance that under the reign of Darius Hystaspis a pretender gave himself out to be Naboned’s second son, Nebuchadnezzar, and as such he claimed the right to the Babylonian throne. δ. Again, Jeremias had predicted that God would give rule over the nations to Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and his son’s son. Now, according to Herodotus (i. 186–188), Naboned’s mother was a person of extraordinary political importance. Knowing that Naboned himself did not belong to the royal family of the Babylonian kings, his mother, or, according to others, his wife, must have been the source of his right to the throne. She must therefore have been a daughter of the great Nebuchadnezzar, so that Belshazzar was really the great monarch’s grandson (or great-grandson). It must not be inferred from this that the queen mentioned at the banquet of Belshazzar is the same as Naboned’s mother or wife; for we know that the latter had died before the time of the banquet, on the fifth day of Nisan in the ninth year of Naboned. The queen mentioned by Daniel must be either Belshazzar’s wife, or perhaps the wife of Naboned. ε. There is another fact mentioned in Dan. 5:7 and 5:16 which is fully explained by the present view. Belshazzar promised him who should satisfactorily interpret the vision the third rank in the kingdom. The question naturally presents itself: “Why the third?” From such passages as Gen. 41:40, 1 Kings 23:17, and Esther 10:3, we expect that the successful interpreter will become the second personage in the realm. If we, therefore, suppose that Belshazzar himself was the second person in the kingdom, being only co-regent, it becomes clear why he promises the third place to the successful interpreter. ζ. Nor can it be said that if Belshazzar was only co-regent he could not be called king of Babylon. For we know that Nebuchadnezzar was called king of Babylon at a time when his father was certainly still alive (Dan. 1:1; Jer. 46:2). Solomon and Assurbanipal too bore the legal title during their fathers’ lifetime. Neriglissar too calls himself son of Bel-sum-iskun, king of Babylon. Now, Bel-sum-iskun, the first-born son of Nebuchadnezzar, died before his father. He must, therefore, have borne the name “king of Babylon” while his father still lived and reigned in Babylon.

3. AUTHENTICITY OF THE PROPHECY.—The authenticity of this prophecy must be specially treated, because Daniel’s enemies have impugned it in a special manner. Not to mention their exception that it contains too clear a description of future events to be written at the time of Daniel,—as if the prophetic prediction of the future were impossible,—they explain all the prophetic visions of the book in such a manner that their last fulfilment falls in the time of the Machabees. About the time of the Machabees, therefore, the second part of Daniel, beginning with c. 7, must have been written. This manner of reasoning, besides being based on a false foundation—for we shall see that Daniel’s visions do not terminate at the period of the Machabees—is directly refuted by the following positive argument. In the second part of Daniel we recognize the language of the prophet, his peculiar symbolism, and the manners of his country. On the other hand, no one at the time of the Machabees can be assigned who could have written in the same language, used the same symbols, and imitated the Babylonian manners so true to life. Hence, the second part of Daniel has been written by the prophet Daniel.

All the single statements implied in this argument rest on a solid foundation. a. The whole second part of Daniel, up to c. 12, is written in the style of the first part; c. 7 in particular is written in Chaldee, as are several of the preceding chapters. Thus the Babylonian people could understand the prophetic visions of Daniel and profit by them in so far as the Gentile world was permitted to be assisted by the Hebrew revelation. Then, c. 7 is entirely parallel to the explanation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in c. 2; c. 8 too explains certain of the preceding visions more in detail. The connection between the first and the second part of the book is, therefore, so intimate that if the first part is admitted to be authentic, the authenticity of the second follows as a matter of necessity. Finally, the Chaldee dialect, in which the seventh chapter has been written, contains forms which are too ancient to be used by an author of a later period (cf. Baer and Delitzsch, ed. Daniel, Introductory Remarks).

b. Then, the second part of Daniel has an entirely Babylonian coloring. It is wholly different from the literary productions of Isaias and Jeremias, and indeed from anything that had up to Daniel’s time been written by Hebrew authors. It may have been imitated after Daniel’s time, but there was nothing in existence in Hebrew literature of which the Book of Daniel might be an imitation. Ezechiel’s writings are the only ones that can in any way be compared with Daniel’s; but then Ezechiel too wrote in Babylon. To illustrate what we have said, let us draw attention to the description of God in Dan. 7. In the Psalms, and even in Isaias, there may be found single figures and metaphors taken from human qualities and properties under which God Almighty is represented: he may be seated on a throne, exercise justice or mercy or power; but nowhere is the human image applied to God in its entirety as it is in Dan. 7. Here God is the Ancient of days, his garments are white as snow, and his hair is like clean wool; his throne is brilliant like the flame of fire, and a river of fire issues forth from the throne, and flows majestically before it. A thousand times a thousand servants attend on the Ancient of days, and myriads of ministers stand before him while he holds judgment. All this outward splendor surrounding God’s majesty is easily understood if the Book of Daniel was written in Babylon; for the Babylonians were accustomed to the greatest display on the part of their kings, and needed therefore such a magnificent description of God in order to conceive a true idea of him. Had Dan. 7 been written in Palestine, at the time of the Machabees, such a representation of God would not only have been unintelligible, but would have been highly improper, since it might have encouraged the idolatrous worship that Antiochus had introduced into the temple by erecting in it a statue of Jupiter Olympius (2 Mach. 6:2).

c. But the second part of Daniel does not merely express the language and thoughts of Daniel; it does not merely exhibit Babylonian coloring in its description of even the most important subject, of God Almighty himself, but it also employs symbols and figures which are entirely Babylonian in their nature, and which cannot be understood in their full significance unless the Babylonian symbolism is understood. To return once more to the description that Daniel gives of God, it is in exact keeping with the Babylonian statue of the Ancient of days. The whiteness of the garments may still be recognized; the hair of its head entirely resembles the curls of wool, while its beard streams down in long white locks. The colossal size of the figure, its position on wheels, are in perfect agreement with Daniel’s description. Then again, take the images of the beasts that the prophet introduces where he describes the divers kingdoms: the winged lion is a common Babylonian image, called in the text of the inscriptions “nirgalli,” or lion of the good principle. The bear, the leopard, the ram, are one and all animals that occur again and again on the Babylonian monuments. Before the recovery of the Babylonian literature it was almost impossible to understand the meaning of the horns in the prophecies of Daniel. The beast with the ten horns, for instance, appeared rather a piece of unbridled fancy than an image worthy of a place in the prophetic visions. But now all this has been changed: in the Assyro-Chaldee sculpture we see winged lions and gods and heroes, all alike represented with horns. Some figures have four horns, others six; but in all cases the horns are a real ornament to the figure, arranged as they are in pairs, and in regular order. In Palestine our late explorers have searched in vain for traces and vestiges from which these images might have been borrowed. The Jordan and the sea, the dew of heaven and the vineyards of Judea, may have served Isaias and Jeremias as the sources of their special imagery; but there is nothing in Palestine that could have suggested the symbols of the Book of Daniel. It follows, therefore, that the author of this book wrote under Assyrian and Babylonian influence, was acquainted with Chaldee myths and fables, and wrote for a people that must be impressed by figures and symbols taken from Babylonian sources. Daniel, therefore, is the only person who could have written the whole book now known under his name (cf. Fabre d’Envieu, pp. 556 ff.; Vigouroux, “La Bible et les découverts mod.,” iv. p. 494).

4. THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL HAS NOT BEEN TAKEN FROM BABYLONIAN SOURCES.—The inscriptions mention a Silik-moulou-khi as mediator between the gods and men. His attributes are essentially human, and exercised for the benefit of the human race. Approaching his father Hea, the Ancient of days, he prays for and with men. Hea gives him the power to conquer the evil spirits, and in general the enemies of man (cf. Lenormant, “La Magie,” sub v. Silik-moulou-khi). A later hymn identifies this mediator with the Chaldee-Babylonian Merodach, or Mardouk, and the Assyrian translators of the magic texts thus always translate the name “Silik-moulou-khi.”

The mediatorial functions of the Silik-moulou-khi closely resemble those of the Sosiosh in the most ancient texts of the Zoroastrian religion, and those of Mithra in the Achæmenian dynasty. Mithra means “friend,” and this is the equivalent of Silik-moulou-khi, which signifies “he who disposes good for men.” Now M. Nicolas (Des doctrines religieuses des Juifs, p. 270) maintains that these mythological fables were precisely the sources from which Daniel drew his predictions. “Change the names in the Mazdean drama,” the author says, “and you will fancy yourself reading a Jewish apocalypse. There are resemblances affecting the minor points of detail. The fifth monarchy of Daniel corresponds to the fifth dynasty founded by the liberator Sosiosh. The prince of the evil spirits who places himself at the head of the idolatrous people to fight against the chosen people of God resembles greatly the prince of darkness leading the Devas and the impure nations against the prince of light and his worshippers. The Messianic reign of a thousand years recalls the ‘hazare,’ or similar period of the two precursors (Oshedar-Bami and Oshedar-Mah) of the modern liberator. And in the Jewish apocalypse as in the Mazdean eschatology, a resurrection of the dead is placed at the commencement of the reign of the deliverer and of the proclamation of a new law.” From these parallel features the author infers: “The doctors of the Synagogue, without absolutely intending it, without perhaps being altogether conscious of their act, recalled Persian opinions to aid them in the explanation of the Messianic expectation of their fathers.”

A little reflection will show that the above inferences are not entirely legitimate: 1. They imply that the prophecies of Daniel have been written at a comparatively recent date, at the Machabean period, for instance. Now it has been already shown that this supposition is not admissible. 2. Even if we were to admit the late authorship, it would be most improbable that at that late date the Jews should have had recourse to the mythology of an extinct power in order to explain their own national teachings, for which they had repeatedly risked life and liberty. 3. It is impossible to explain the doctrines of either Hebrew or Persian system satisfactorily, if imitation, reproduction, or adaptation are the ultimate cause of their presence in either creed. 4. The presentiments and predictions found among the Babylonians and Persians are nothing but a dim and floating vision of a better future, with nothing in the past or present to which they can attach themselves; they are, therefore, destitute of moral power and practical results. But Daniel’s Messianic doctrine is living, coherent, and in keeping with the whole Hebrew system of Messianic predictions and expectations. 5. Finally, it is sufficient to put side by side the fabulous and extravagant myths of the Persians with the sober and earnest prophecies of the Hebrew seer in order to be convinced of their distinct origin. Compare, for instance, Daniel’s abomination of desolation, his decreed ruin and downfall with the Mazdean torrents of blood, powerful enough to turn mill-wheels, or with the Persian comet Gurzshehr precipitating itself on the earth, and making men, both pure and impure, pass through a fiery stream of molten metal.

5. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF DANIEL’S PROPHECY.—The reference of Daniel’s prophecy to the Messias is principally inferred from its announcement of the “son of man.” To prove that this latter term is a Messianic name is to establish the Messianic character of the whole prediction. 1. The first proof for the reference of the “son of man” to the Messias may be based on Old Testament passages in which God’s coming is connected with phenomena similar to those accompanying the advent of the son of man: Ex. 13:21, 22; 14:24; Ps. 104:3; Nah. 1, 3; Is. 19:1; 14:14; Ex. 16:10; 19:9; 24:16; 33:9; 34:5; Lev. 16:2; Num. 9:15; 10:34; 11:25; Deut. 31:15; Ps. 17:10; 96:2 ff.; 3 Kings 8:10–12; 2 Par. 6:1; Ezech. 1:4; 10:3, etc. Besides these passages in which God’s appearance is described as resembling that of the son of man, we may draw attention to the fact that according to the Old Testament prophecies universal dominion belongs to the Messias: Gen. 49:10; Ps. 2:6; 44:5 f.; 71:1 f.; Is. 11:10; 49:6; 53:11; Jer. 23:5; 30:21; Ezech. 34:23; Mich. 5:4, etc. Now according to Daniel, all power and dominion over all the nations and tribes of the earth is given to the “son of man.” He is therefore identical with the Messias of the other prophecies.

2. That the “son of man” is identical with the Messias is still more patent from the New Testament. The expression occurs not less than 82 times in the Gospels: in that of Matthew, 30 times; in that of Mark, 14 times; in that of Luke, 26 times; in that of John, 12 times. Besides, the expression occurs in Acts 7:55 and in Apoc. 1:13; 14:14. It is hardly probable that the New Testament should use this expression so often in the same meaning, applying it invariably to Jesus Christ, without ever indicating that it has in Daniel a different signification, had Daniel really used it in a different meaning. But more than this: Jesus expressly applies Daniel’s description of the “son of man” to himself where he speaks about the last judgment: Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; cf. Apoc. 1:7, and especially where he stands before the judgment of Caiphas and gives solemn testimony of his Messiasship, Matt. 26:63, 64; cf. Act. 7:58. It is therefore certain beyond all reasonable doubt that the New Testament views the expression “son of man” as a peculiarly Messianic title.

3. The reference of the “son of man” to the Messias is also evident from the Book of Enoch, xli. 1–3. Even an author so little open to suspicion as Schürer has it (The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, II. iii. p. 69): “Further, the objection based upon the circumstance that, according to Matt. 16:13–16, John 12:34, the expression ‘son of man’ was not as yet a current designation for the Messias in the time of Christ, whereas it is of frequent occurrence in this sense in the allegories (of the Book of Enoch), is without force. For we are by no means at liberty to infer from those passages that the expression ‘son of man’ was not at that time currently in use as a Messianic title. In the case of the passage in John this inference is based simply upon false exegesis. The passage in Matthew again is disposed of by the circumstance that, in its original form as preserved in Mark 8:27; Luke 9:18, the expression ‘son of man’ does not occur at all.” The Sibylline oracles too apply the expression “son of man to the Messias; for in lib. iii. we have nothing but a paraphrase of the passage in Daniel (cf. Düsterwald, p. 179):

ἥξει ἐν νεφέλῃ πρὸς ἄφθιτον ἄφθιτος αὐτός ἐν δόξῃ Χριστὸς σὺν ἀμύνοσι ἀγγελιτῆρσι καὶ καδίσει κ.τ.λ.

4. For the testimonies of the Fathers concerning the real meaning of the expression “son of man,” we refer our reader to the passages indicated in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. II. i. 465. It appears from these testimonies as well as from the views expressed by the scholastics and by the more recent theologians that Christian tradition is practically unanimous in considering “the son of man” as a Messianic title.

5. Considering this agreement between the Old and the New Testament, between the apocryphal and the Christian tradition regarding the meaning of the expression “son of man,” it cannot astonish us to find that Jewish tradition too harmonizes with these religious sources. The Talmud (Sanhedrin, fol. 38, col. 2; cf. Hagigah, fol. 14, col. 1) has the following comment on Dan. 7:9: “What will this say? (the placing of the thrones). One throne for himself, and one for David, these are the words of Rabbi Akiba. Said to him Rabbi Jose: Akiba, how long wilt thou render the Shechinah profane?” The peculiar meaning of the Shechinah in Jewish theology is well enough defined to show that the passage was evidently regarded as Messianic, and could not, therefore, be applied to David without seeming profanity.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin, fol. 98, col. 1) interprets Dan. 7:13: “Rabbi Joshua ben Levi asked: In one place it is written, ‘Behold one like the son of man, etc.,’ and in another, ‘Lowly and riding upon an ass’ (Zach. 9:9). (He answered), If they be worthy, he (the Messias) will come with the clouds of heaven; if not, he will come lowly and riding upon an ass.” Similar Messianic references we find in the later Jewish writers: Saadia, for instance, who flourished in the ninth century, has the following passage: This (one like the son of man) is the Messias our righteousness; for is it not written with reference to Messias, “Lowly and riding upon an ass? (Zach. 9:9.) Surely he comes in humility, for he does not come upon a horse, in glory. But since it is written, With the clouds of heaven, it signifies the angels of the heavenly hosts, which is the great glory the Creator will give to the Messias, as it is written, With the clouds of heaven. Then he shall be great in government. When it is said, The Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool, he speaks after the manner of men. They brought him to the Ancient of days; for it is written (Ps. 109:1), The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand; and there was given him dominion, i.e., he gave to him a government and a kingdom, as it is written (Ps. 2:6), Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Sion; and as it is written (1 Kings 2:10), He shall exalt the horn of his anointed; his kingdom shall not depart, and shall not be destroyed for ever and ever.”

We may add here the testimony of the Midrash on Numbers (6:22, sect. 11): “Because the Israelites observed the law among them (the Edomites), the Holy One will make them inherit in the future the throne of glory, as it is said, And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness.…” See also Abarbanel (Comm. in h. l. fol. 50, col. 1); Jacchiades (Jer. 33:6); David Kimchi (Comm. in Zach. 93); Jarchi, R. Simeon.

DAN. 7

In the first year of Baltassar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and the vision of his head was upon his bed, and writing the dream, he comprehended it in few words, and relating the sum of it in short, he said: I saw in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts, different one from another, came up out of the sea. The first was like a lioness, and had the wings of an eagle. I beheld till her wings were plucked off, and she was lifted up from the earth, and stood upon her feet as a man, and the heart of a man was given to her. And behold another beast like a bear stood up on one side, and there were three rows in the mouth thereof, and in the teeth thereof, and thus they said to it: Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another like a leopard, and it had upon it four wings as of a fowl, and the beast had four heads and power was given to it. After this I beheld in the vision of the night, and lo a fourth beast terrible and wonderful and exceeding strong; it had great iron teeth, eating and breaking in pieces, and treading down the rest with its feet; and it was unlike the other beasts which I had seen before it, and had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold another little horn sprung out of the midst of them, and three of the first horns were plucked up at the presence thereof; and behold eyes like the eyes of a man were in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things.

I beheld till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days sat. His garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool, his throne like flames of fire, the wheels of it like a burning fire. A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him, thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened. I beheld because of the voice of the great words which that horn spoke, and I saw that the beast was slain, and the body thereof was destroyed, and given to the fire to be burned; and that the power of the other beasts was taken away, and that times of life were appointed them for a time, and a time. I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days, and they presented him before him. And he gave him power and glory and a kingdom; and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him; his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away, and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed. My spirit trembled, I Daniel was affrighted at these things, and the visions of my head troubled me.

I went near to one of them that stood by, and asked the truth of him concerning all these things. And he told me the interpretation of the words and instructed me: These four great beasts are four kingdoms, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most high God shall take the kingdom, and they shall possess the kingdom for ever and ever. After this, I was desirous to be fully instructed concerning the fourth beast, which was very different from all the others, and exceeding terrible: his teeth and claws were of iron, he devoured and broke in pieces, and the rest he stamped upon with his feet; and concerning the ten horns that he had on his head, and concerning the other that came up, before which three horns fell; and of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and was greater than the rest. I beheld, and lo that horn made war against the saints, and prevailed over them, till the Ancient of days came and gave judgment to the saints of the Most High, and the time came and the saints obtained the kingdom. And thus he said: The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be greater than all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns of the same kingdom shall be ten kings, and another shall rise up after them, and he shall be mightier than the former, and he shall bring down three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall crush the saints of the Most High, and he shall think himself able to change times and laws, and they shall be delivered into his hand until a time, and times, and half a time. And judgment shall sit that his power may be taken away, and be broken in pieces, and perish even to the end. And that the kingdom and power and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven may be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all kings shall serve him, and shall obey him. Hitherto is the end of the word. I Daniel was much troubled with my thoughts, and my countenance was changed in me, but I kept the word in my heart.

1. It will be found instructive to study the consideration on the Son of man proposed by Baldensperger (Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu, pp. 169 ff.). Jesus called himself neither “son of David” nor “Christ,” but “Son of man.” He appears to have intended to break in this manner with the current Messianic ideas of the Synagogue. It has been urged indeed that the term “Son of man” was not at all current among the Jews as a Messianic title, so that Jesus proposed himself to his countrymen as a riddle, or employed the word as a symbol of an esoteric school; or, again, he represented himself by the term as the ideal man, or finally, implied his own humiliation by applying the name to himself. The thesis that the “Son of man” was not connected in the mind of the Jews with the Messias is inferred from John 12:34: “The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” But a moment’s reflection shows that this passage identifies the “Son of man” with the Messias; for it does not imply any doubt as to the meaning of the “Son of man,” but expresses surprise at a “Son of man” who does not seem to agree with the current idea of the Messias.

2. There is another proof for the opinion that “the Son of man” was not connected with the Messias in the Synagogue. Jesus called himself “the Son of man” very early in his public life, while the disciples did not acknowledge the Messiasship of Jesus till a later period. But this could not have been the case had the name “Son of man” been connected with the Messianic dignity.—This exception is wholly based on a false premise: The first time that Jesus applies the name “Son of man” to himself he speaks to Nicodemus in the privacy of the night. The next time the name is assumed by Jesus in the beginning of his second year of teaching, after he has cured the man sick of the palsy; here he attributes to the “Son of man” the power to forgive sins. The third time Jesus applies the name to himself about the Passover-feast of his second year of public life, when he attributes to the “Son of man” the power over the Sabbath. After this almost a year elapses before Jesus uses the term again in his Eucharistic discourse. It is therefore quite clear that Jesus does not use the name “Son of man” so early and so frequently in the presence of his disciples that the latter ought to have been, on that account, fully conversant with his Messianic character, even in the earlier part of his public life. The disciples were of slow understanding in the truths pertaining to the person and the office of their master, so that their neglect of his occasional self-imposed name is not at all surprising.

3. On the other hand, it is a priori probable that the term “Son of man,” as occurring in the teaching of Jesus, is only another instance of dogmatic development of theological ideas that had been current even in the Old Testament. There is first a series of instances in which the term “Son of man” has a meaning similar to that which it has in the books of Daniel and of Enoch (Matt. 10:23; 13:41; 16:27; 19:28; 24:27; Acts 7:56; Apoc. 1:13; 14:14; John 5:27). In both series the bearer of the name is represented as the Lord of glory and majesty. Besides all this, Holsten, following the initiative of Usteri, has analyzed the 42 instances in which the term “Son of man” occurs in the synoptic Gospels, and has found that its meaning is identified with that of the Messias, because all its attributes are contained in or derived from the concept of the Messias, while they are foreign to the concept of a mere man. Remembering, then, that Jesus did not add merely formal terms to the theological teaching of the Old Testament, it is probable that the term “Son of man” had in the Old Testament the same meaning that he gave it.

4. It follows from all this that we must reject the opinions of a number of scholars touching the value of the name “Son of man.” Weisse, e.g., makes the name “an unstamped concept;” Keim, “a name of concealment and of manifestation;” Weizsäcker attributes to the term “an ambiguous profundity;” Weiss finds in the name the designation of “something singular among the children of men.” Brückner is right in maintaining that “never and at no time has [the name ‘Son of man’] served to conceal and to cover up the Messianic intentions [of Jesus];” it rather served “to manifest the kind of his Messiasship.” Usteri has shown that the synthesis of the glorious with the opprobrious attributes given to the “Son of man” is explicable only on the supposition that the name “Son of man” expresses the peculiar Messianic vocation of Jesus.

5. And how can we maintain that Jesus employed the name in an obscure or an ambiguous or an esoteric meaning, seeing that the disciples were not at all afraid to inquire concerning doubtful expressions and phrases? But they never inquired about the meaning of this name. Nor can it be said that the “Son of man” merely signifies the “ideal man,” his work consisting in civilizing the human race. For this would be to carry our own manner of thinking and speaking back for over a thousand years, into a period where there was no trace of such language or expression.

6. It follows, then, that Jesus employed this title in speaking of himself, not in order to conceal his person and his mission, but to rectify the current Messianic idea of the times. The names “Christ” and “son of David” carried with them ideas which Jesus did not wish to fulfil, and the accomplishment of which he did not intend to promise. Hence he chooses a name which has not yet been abused in this manner, and in which the glorious and the ignominious attributes of the Messias are properly tempered, while the name itself connects the person of its bearer unmistakably with the prophetic promises of the Old Testament.

Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com