The 1290 and 1335 years prophecies in historicism reviewed

(Koot van Wyk 27 March 2020)


A proper discussion on the 1290 and 1335 years prophecies in biblical historicist interpretation, will first have to present a proper midrash of Ellen White’s 1850 statement in Present Truth, Hiram Edson’s reflection in 1856 and Uriah Smith scooping under the same rug of these numbers with the 2300 years statement in 1867.

If these three statements are cleared or providing a possible license for difference of the 1843 chart, then one can continue with the interpretation of the biblical text in historicist manner utilizing still the year-day principle.

Ellen White is cited by many scholars to say that she was shown that after 1844 there would be no longer longterm prophetic periods.

The midrash to this is that it may mean that Ellen White means that after 1844 there will be no long period starting, but she did not include the possibility that a period would end starting some time under the umbrella of the 2300 years? This is my midrash on it.

Ellen White’s 1850 statement is interesting. She said that the 1843 prophetic chart was accurate and that all the figures were correct. God’s Hand however was over “some mistakes in the figures”. Well, some will say quickly, it is the 1843 that was supposed to be 1844, the year between BC and AD. And it was. However, midrash of Ellen White’s statement demands to we have to point to the plural in “figures”. To change 1843 to 1844 is only one figure. Some may argue that one should not be so literal in hermeneutics here. The intention is not to throw out Ellen White. If there is a license here to think different, by all means different thinking can be investigated. In no manner can anyone end up with a result opposed to the divine light that was given to Ellen White. This is a rule.

In the liberal scholarship of Adventism there is always the call for creative work. New paradigms. New hermeneutics. A change from hermeneutics of affirmation to hermeneutics of difference. Critical investigation. Challenging of traditional views. This spirit is wrong. Abner F. Hernandez (2015) is apologetic for it in his AUSS article of that year, see last paragraphs. Anyone citing George Knight on this call for new views or park Ellen White’s “truth still to be discovered”- statement with their endeavor outlined here, is wrong. Ellen White’s statement has nothing to do with challenging the inspiration of her works or the biblical text. They do she doesn’t. Noteworthy is it that many persons working with liberalism in Adventism are questioning her authority, inspiration and constantly pleading for a looseness to live, work, operate, publish and comment in. They call it present truth and progressive thinking.

I love the way Peter Kreeft talked about progressivism:

“Worst of all, Progressivism clearly contradicts the very idea of a divine revelation. If there is such a revelation, Progressivism corrects it, corrects God Himself, and arrogates to itself the right to edit rather than deliver the divine mail, evaluating it by dating its postmark. Even religions that do not claim a direct divine revelation, like Confucianism, Taoism, or Buddhism, get their teachings from their past, from their founders. Progressivists make it up as they go along.’

Peter Kreeft, Progressivism: The Snobbery of Chronology

Of course, one must be careful with Kreeft as well. He was a Calvinist who converted to Catholicism and is basically worshiping Thomas Aquinas.

George R. Knight maintained that the concept of “present truth” as an identifying mark of Adventist theology involves a rejection of “creedal rigidity” as well as an acceptance of “progressive understanding” of the biblical doctrine.( George R. Knight, A Search for Identity: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Belief (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2000), 21-26). In the same vein also Roberto Badenas said “for Adventist Christianity, the very word ‘truth’ ought to mean discovery and growth.”(Roberto Badenas, “Dealing with ‘Present Truth:’ 2 Peter 1:12 Revisited,” in Exploring the Frontiers of Faith, eds. Børge Schantz and Reinder Bruinsma (Lüneburg, Germany: Advent-Verlag, 2009), 211). These two sources are your identifiers for a liberal researcher. It shows that they argue for a hermeneutics of cynicism or hermeneutics of difference. They normally go one step further to scoop Ellen White up for a prooftext: “There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible . . . No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation” (Ellen G. White, Councils to Writers and Editors (Hagerstown, MD: Pacific Press, 1993), 35). A good rebuttal of this of course is pointing to the warning of Ellen White against new ideas at the end time: ““the great deceiver has many agents to present any and every kind of errors to ensnare souls–heresies, prepared to suit the varied tastes and capacities of those whom he would ruin.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy Ended . . . A Glimpse into Eternity (Silver Spring, MD: Better Living Pub., 2002), 292.

The subject of the 1290 years and 1335 years has been the study by various scholars and three or four camps were identified: traditional which is the 1843 chart by the two men honored by Ellen White in an 1850 Present Truth statement regarding the correctness of the figures in this chart, the 1856 statement of Hiram Edson about this chart and the Uriah Smith statement about it in 1867. Those who kept to this view is called the traditional interpreters.

If one should accept the 1260 years and the 2300 years interpretation of this chart and the year-day principle for all these periods, can one in the words of Ellen White sideline the 1290 and 1335 periods for “mistakes in figures (plural)” to be reconsidered?

I will take the position here that one can. For now as a working/experimenting hypothesis.

So the Traditional view is that of W. Shea also. But then there is the Preteristic view of R. Cottrell in 1997 who waited for Hasel to die to come out of the preteristic closet where he was hiding and show his true colors in the open. He completely rejected the 2300 years prophecy and made in days, by making the 2300 days half. A number of scholars followed him.

Then there is the view of Desmond Ford which is a fusion of preterism, historicism and futurism plus. Multiplicity approach.

The Idealist view of Z. Stefanovich is also listed here. He does not want to commit to the historicist view and wish to remain vague but turn out to be bizarre. He is looking either for a then application when the book was written or a now application in our lives. Listen to his explanation of the numbers going up from 1260 then 1290 and finally to 1335. Why? Well he has the answer he thinks: “This progression lets the reader of the book know that a seeming or apparent ‘delay’ in the expectation of the end is possible from the human point of view.” What Z. Stefanovich came to forgot is that Hebrew historians and chronographers were very careful with numbers. So God is trying to confuse Daniel into a “delay” mode? There is no pretext for such a way of communication by God to man in the whole Bible. This is not exegesis and I struggle to find words to say what it is. The mantra of a wizard looking at a crystal ball? Defnitely not Adventism at all.

My own view is none of these. It is rather an offshoot of the Traditional view. It claims that the reading of Daniel 12:11 is about the building of the Dome of the Rock over the mount Moriah rock of Abraham’s offer. J. N. Loughborough was correct in 1907 that the tamid needs to be explained properly and so were others as well later. Unless the tamid is understood in relation to the beginning of the 1290 and added also for the 1335, a connection G. Pfandl insists should be made, then one will run into problems. Of course Denis Kaiser studied the historical development of tamid in Adventism between 1831-2008.

For me the abomination is not in heaven or considered so in heaven but on earth as a sign, a marker for humans and especially the remnant. It helps them to understand the time is at hand. But the knowledge of that had to wait until further revelation.

It is not a religious event or struggle but a historical building operation that was on the spot where the famous offer of Abraham was supposedly in the past. It had no meaning for Jewish religion nor Christian religion nor the Sanctuary Message in heaven by our High Priest. Daniel is describing pure historical events. He is not John the Revelator that focuses on the Great Controversy and the spiritual events during the same periods.

When was it built? That is the terminus ad quo for the beginning period and related to the “mysterious tamid” that Gerhard Pfandl was looking for but did not see it the way it is portrayed here.

The answer is 684-691 A.D. Arabic scholars said. So that places 1974 as the end of the 1290 years and 2019 as the end of the 1335 years. But it is a sliding calculation since scholars are not sure which year exactly it was started. So until 2024, we may not know what is to happen at the end of the 1335 years.

Let the reader know that because I threw out the spiritualization hermeneutics of Louis Were (1947) for Daniel 11:36-45, I was able to predict Ghaddafi’s conversion in 2002 on the basis of verse 43 (much to my catholic friend Tsolombo in Utsunomiya, Japan outcry that it is impossible), I predicted in that year already in writings to the Jerusalem Post that the US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem according to verse 45. Am I a prophet? No. Daniel is the prophet provided we interpret him correctly.

The king of 11:36 is not the King of the North but just a king [nothing] and it is the second beast of Revelation 13 that follows the first beast of Revelation 13 ending in verse 35. Louis Were destroyed Adventist Hermeneutics for 73 years until now with his allegorical, symbolic spiritualization and superimposition of John the Revelator’s views over Daniel and silencing Daniel completely.

My appeal is for our scholars to get back to where we are supposed to be. Wake-up from this prophetic interpretational “sleep” and start seeing the End ushered in before our eyes as Daniel clearly predicted it. There are three parties in 11:40 with the USA sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan! You missed it with your Were-istic epistemological stereotypes.




Koot van Wyk

Kyungpook National University Sangju Campus, South Korea

Conjoint lecturer of Avondale University/College, Australia