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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 6i (Barr – Daniel's 70-Weeks Prophecy)

In the last Part 6h of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1), I reviewed the objections of Professor James Barr († 2006) to biblical chronology based on his insistence that Scripture be "reasonable" and "sensible"... for him.
Again, these reviews of Barr make use of his four essays:
  1. UBC – Ussher and Biblical Chronology, 1985 (archived here)
  2. BCLS – Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?, 1987 (archived here)
  3. LBC – Luther and Biblical Chronology, 1990 (archived here)
  4. PSC – Pre-scientific Chronology, 1999 (archived here)
In this Part 6i, I will cover Barr's comments against Luther's use of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) to date the period between the Old Testament and New Testament.  I highlight in yellow the pertinent wording and in some cases I follow with some comments of mine directly afterward highlighted in green:

LBC, pg 52:
According to him [Luther], the death and resurrection of Jesus fell in the year 34 AD (= 3994 AM), and this ushered in the final 'week' of the seventy weeks of Daniel. This final week, being seven years, brings us to the year 4000 from creation, or 40 AD. ... The year 40 AD was thus 4000 from creation; it was also the completion of the seventy weeks, or 490 years, of Daniel. This momentous quatermillenary, bringing the end of the law and freedom from it, was a marvellous chronological illustration and vindication of Luther's own theology.
*** Ah, but you have a trick up your sleeve, Professor Barr, for you are going to raise questions on Luther's chronology -- could it be you don't see "Luther's own theology" as the true doctrine?  Maybe there isn't quite an end to the Law... maybe we still need something of the Law for our salvation? The reality is the Law Shows Our Sin, the Gospel Shows Our Saviour.  ***

LBC, pg 56-57:
Such creation of interregna and co-regencies, as a device for the overcoming of discrepancies and difficulties, is not uncommon in Luther's work. The overriding motive, visible several times, lay in the seventy-week or 490-year prophecy of Daniel.  It was of supreme importance to ensure that this fitted in...

LBC, pg 58:
Here again we see the centrality of the Danielic prophecy.
*** "Danielic prophecy" does not seem to be as important to Barr as it is to Luther.  But Daniel's prophecy is Scripture, and the prophet Daniel's other prophecy was given great weight by Jesus in the N.T. (Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14) ***

LBC, pg 58:
He was aware that 'almost all' place Alexander about thirty years earlier, but he made it clear that it did not matter very much to him where Alexander, Antiochus and other persons are located by historians, so long as he knew the one absolutely vital fact, namely, the date of the second year of Darius Longimanus, from which point the 490 years of Daniel are reckoned.
*** Yes indeed, it was important to Luther to not ignore God's Word in Daniel's Seventy Weeks. ***

LBC, pg 65: of the most powerful forces governing Luther's chronological thinking, the Danielic prophecy of the seventy weeks.
*** Very good, Prof. Barr, you got the message – that the Danielic prophecy of seventy weeks was indeed a powerful force in Luther's thinking of biblical chronology. ***

PSC, pg 381:
The major place that offered figures was the Book of Daniel, but these were figures of days and not of years: “From the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1290 days. Blessed is he who waits and comes to the 1335 days [Daniel 12:11–12, right at the end of the book].
*** But what about Daniel's seventy weeks... did Barr forget these?   Surely not, for he is a great scholar.  Why did he omit Daniel's seventy weeks when writing to the American Philosophical Society?  Didn't he remember Luther's great use of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel? ***
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The reader may notice that only Luther and not others like Ussher are spoken of as using Daniel's Seventy Weeks prophecy.  I have not yet studied any of the biblical chronologies in detail, yet Luther's use of Daniel's prophecy gives enormous weight to it's use for the intertestamental period, so often spoken of as the "Silent Years" by today's scholars.  Why do even today's Lutherans practically ignore it?  Too touchy to talk about?

In the next Part 6j, I will cover Barr's demand for extra-biblical information or secular histories to have a true biblical chronology.

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