Daniel 7 and Homer Studies

by koot van wyk   Seoul   South Korea  12 February 2009

Seventh Day Adventists work with a chronographical understanding of the book of Daniel and also with such an understanding of Daniel 7.

It means that the four animals mentioned in the chapter are historically separated from each other or chronologically linked one after the other from one to four.

These four animals symbolized four successive empires in world history starting from the Babylonian period, the time the vision was received and written down (For a discussion on the four winds in Ancient Near History, see J. W. Swain, "Theory of the four Monarchies" Classical Philology 35 [1940]: 1ff.).


Four periods in Hesiod

The Ionian poet Hesiod also knew of a four global kingdoms in his Works and Days and also in his Theogony (see B. Gatz, Weltalter, goldene Zeit und sinnverwandte Vorstellungen [Hildesheim, 1967], 28-51).


Four periods in Homer

Another poet of the Greeks was Homer and in his Odusseus he talks about four animals:


"Doch der Alte vergass seine heimlich

Listigen Künste durchaus nicht: er wurde ein Löwe mit Mähne

Wurde zur Schlange, zum Panther, zum mächtigen Wildschwein; wurde

flüssiges Wasser, ein Baum sogar mit ragendem Wipfel

(Odusseus IV, 455-458)


Terrible appearance description compared to Daniel 7

The description of Homer of Sculla is as follows:


auf jedem Schädel

Schrecklich und furchtbar. Dreifach geordnete Reihen von Zähnen

Sitzen fest und eng, voll scharzen getöteten Aases

(Odusseus XII, 90-92)


a. The three times ordered rows of teeth compares to the bear in Daniel 7 with three ribs in his mouth.

b. The appearance is also terrible with terrible results.

c. Source: Edgar Marsch, Biblische Prophetie und Chronographische Dichtung: Stoff-und Wirkungsgeschichte der Vision des Propheten Daniel nach Dan. VII in Philologische Studien und Quellen edited by Wolfgang Binder, Hugo Moser and Karl Stackmann Heft 65 (Erich Schmidt Verlag), 23.


Noth misunderstanding of sea as the mythological sea of the origin of all things

M. Noth considered this sea as the mythological sea that is the origin of all things. He brought it in connection with the chaos lake (M. Noth, Das Geschictsverständnis der alttestamentlichen Apokalyptik in Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen 21 [Köln und Opladen, 1935]). There is nothing in the language of Daniel 7 that indicates that Genesis 1 is involved here or that the Creation motifs of Moses in his works are thought of by Daniel in his description. Noth's connection of the Apocalyptic here with Primordial Origins in the Ancient Near Eastern Literature at large and Genesis 1 in particular is out of place. F. Nötscher differed with Noth by indicating that the sea or lake is visionary or in the vision (see F. Nötscher, Buch Daniel [Würzburg, 1958], 595).


Chicken or the eggs who came first?

Since scholars are dating Daniel late to ca. 130 BCE due to their Antiochus Epiphanes 167-164 BCE misapplications of the book of Daniel, therefore they argue that Homer and Hesiod predate Daniel by hundreds of years and thus Daniel took over the information from Homer or Hesiod as building elements for his vision. Nothing can be further from the truth.


Textcritical status of Homer and Hesiod

Anyone who wants to compare the book of Daniel with Homer and Hesiod has to start with this question: textcritically, which text is older and which is later?

The dating of Daniel to 130 BCE is done on postulations about the events in the life of Antiochus Epiphanes, utilizing a later source of Josephus in the first century of the Christian era to date Daniel.

This method ignores the linguistic argument of the book of Daniel as dating, the loanwords in the book of Daniel argument, the imperial court protocol argument (both Babylonian and Persian), the internal dating coinciding with people events and history of those times (Babylonian and Persian periods); the relatively "vagueness" of Greek and Roman periods in the book Daniel and many other issues.


Textual criticism of Daniel

Similar to the textual theories of textual criticism in Homer and Hesiod, in Biblical Textual Criticism there are also two camps: the nomistic approach and the anomistic approach. The nomistic approach is trying to reconstruct one single authoritative text only. The anomistic approach is the one by F. Deist and E. Tov or the multiple text theory approach. This second approach utilize a method called the eclectic approach which is a "pick and choose method". All texts are seen as equal, whether versions or Hebrew. In the nomistic approach, only the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition is authoritative.

How do we know that the Ben Aser or Codex Aleppo of 1008 CE is the original of Daniel until his death around 520 BCE?


The test

a. Find a text, the oldest, that compares 99 or 100% with that text and you can be sure that the text was transmitted very accurately.

b. If the margin of difference is 1% or close to 1%, you can be sure that the text was probably the same period between the earliest probe and the Codex Aleppo in 1008 CE, that same period accurate before the earliest probe.


The evidence

From cave four comes the Daniel Fragments 4QDan that compares 99% with the Codex Aleppo. The remarkable accuracy of this text dating to ca. 100 BCE and Codex Aleppo in 1008 CE force one to accept:

1. A transmission accuracy of 1100 years.

2. Allow one to assume that the 500 years of no data before this probe was also accurate.

3. None of the versions comes near to even 75% comparison in this regard.  Degenerative scribal practice seems to be the problem with the versions.

4. All less than perfect texts at Qumran falls under this category of "degenerative scribal practices".


Textual Criticism of Homer

For this part of the description, it is necessary for us to ask what the condition or reliability of texts are for Homer. How do we know whether someone, who was acquainted with the book of Daniel, did not lean heavily on the text of Homer, adding these pro-Daniel sections in varied form to Homer?


a. Textual Criticism of Homer is a can of worms. Gregory Nagy of Harvard University recently published online an excellent bookreview on the textcritical condition of Homer (Gregory Nagy, Bookreview Bryn Mawr Classical Review, online).


b. We do not need to agree with all he said but the data gives us a very good insight into the instability of the text and its textual history.


c. Some scholars rely on the medieval manuscripts or vulgata as standard. Other scholars bypass these medieval manuscripts and tries to work to the days of Aristarchus, the Alexandrian librarian between 160-131/145 [so M. Frazer] BCE  (Gregory Nagy would like to do that). Contrary to that is Martin West (1998) who would like to bypass Aristarchus to the Classical Athenian period of Homeric studies between the sixth century BCE and Aristarchus. Where to focus and how to go about reconstructing Homer is the big issue.


d. Many scholars have investigated Aristarchus and his methods and Homer studies are in two camps regarding the matter: either they have to avoid him (West) or they have to follow him (Nagy).


e. West like Didimus who appeared on the scene about 30-40 years after Aristarchus and who criticized Aristarchus for his approach in his commentaries on the diorthosis of the Iliad by Aristarchus. These commentaries are in part and pieces in the Scholia of the manuscript Venetus A (see A. Ludwich, Didymi commentarii qui inscribebatur Περι της 'Αρισταρχειου διορθωσεως fragmenta (Ludwich, 1884).


f. Aristarchus operated in the stormy years of Antiochus Epiphanes 167 BCE.


g. Around the 6th century BCE, said G. Nagy, the Iliad consisted of 14600 verses but during the Classical Athenian period a thousand verses were added, not belonging to Homer.


h. Aristarchus was the one who deleted these 1000 so-called extras with a method that he called hupmnēmata which is a combination of a commentary and an apparatus criticus.


i. He used an obelus in the margin when he doubted a reading and deleted a verse when he thought it was a plus verse (see M. J. Apthorp, The Manuscript Evidence for Interpolation in Homer [Heidelberg, 1980], xv and xvi. See also his other articles and books on the same topic looking at the authenticity of Homer (1992, 1999), interpolations (1996), whether it is genuine (1996), omission and athetesis (1995).


j. Aristarchus was viewed critically in his work by G. M. Boling, The External Evidence for Interpolation in Homer (Oxford, 1925). Boling provided very useful information on the quantity of the Iliad of Homer in different periods, pre-Aristarchian and at the time of Aristarchus.


k. G. Nagy is at odd with contemporaries plus he treated with respect all his contemporaries on the topic of the problems of finding or reconstructing a text of Homer. He suggested that a diachronic method should be done which includes various readings on an equal basis. In essence he is opting for moving away from a one text approach to an eclectic or anomistic text approach. The approach is anormative not seeking any one text as the standard but a text that Aristarchus created for himself in 160 BCE.


l. R. Janko is a recent scholar that thinks that the works of Homer were dictated (see R. Janko, "Homeric Poems as Oral Dictated Texts," Classical Quarterly 48 [1998]:1-13. See also his other works on the role of Dictation with the Editors and Redaction [1990]; also Homer, Hesiod and the Hymns: Diachronic Development in Epic Diction [Cambridge: 1990]).


m. A scholar that opens for us the questions of what the critical signs of the Alexandrian editors Zenodotus 282-260 BCE and Aristarchus 160-145 BCE mean, is M. Schmidt (M. Schmidt, "Variae lectiones oder Parallelstellen: Was notierten Zenodot und Aristarch zu Homer" ZPE 115 [1997]: 1-12).


n. M. West published a number of articles on the textual criticism of Homer (M. West, "The Textual Criticism and Editing of Homer," Most [1998]: 94-109); on interpolations (1999).


o. It is not clear what J. D. Wyrick said in his dissertation of the relationship between the Bible and Homer, but with such a state of problems regarding the text and textual history of Homer, one can agree with scholars like Friedrich August Wolf (1795; 1804; 1807) and Pierre Alexis Pierron (1869); Helmut van Thiel (1991, 1996) and M. West on the problem to find Homer or his texts (see J. D. Wyrick, “The Genesis of Authorship: Legends of the Textualization of Homeric Epic and the Bible” Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1999). Harvard scholar G. Nagy is doing his best to insist for the historicity of Homer.


Textual Criticism of Hesiod

The textual condition of Hesiod suffers the same problem that one finds in the works of Homer. A contemporary of Aristarchus, Cratus of Pergamon worked on Hesiod. As Maria Broggiato indicates in her work Cratete di Mallo: I frammenti, Edizione, Introducione e note La Spezia (Agorà Edizione, 2001), Crates practiced allegory since he was an anomalist. His contemporary Aristarchus was an analogist. About Crates the bookreviewer James I. Porter said: "Crates, less madly, merely ascribed to Homer knowledge of the spherical nature of the cosmos and the earth, a thesis he seems to have expounded in relentless lemmatic detail along the philological model of the Alexandrian scholars but to their discomfort, to judge from other critical notices in the Homeric scholia and elsewhere" (James I. Porter, Bookreview Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.11.33).

What Crates did is that he allegorized Hesiod and reformulated it the way he sees best.


An editor of one of Homer's works, Aratus, was asking Timon at Pella where he can find a good copy of Homer's Odusseus. Homer answered by saying "As long as it is an old copy and not one of the recent edited ones". This was in the year 260 BCE, almost a hundred years before Aristarchus.


Daniel and Homer final conclusions

1. It is not profitable to try to argue that any form of the book of Homer predates the book of Daniel since what exactly the form was, is not clear.


2. Daniel originated in the 6th century BCE and although Homer's works were produced ca. 1000-800 BCE or later, the textual form was problematic due to the Athenian scholarship and Alexandrian scholarship and their reworkings.


3. The optimism of scholars in comparing Homer and Daniel stands under this umbrella of doubt and suspicion that makes comparison difficult and furthermore, may rather suggest a pro-Daniel addition by Alexandrian editors to Homer?


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