May 3, 2019

Today our introduction into Daniel chapter seven consists of the second argument from critics. Again, we can thank the meddling pagan Porphyry for this also. You will see why I said in the previous blog, why both arguments are connected.

In his later years, Porphyry wrote a fifteen-volume work call Against the Christians. Approximately thirty Christian apologists of their day responded to his challenge. In 435AD, and then again in 448AD, Theodosius II, who was the Eastern Roman Emperor, ordered all copies to be burned. We, therefore, only have much of what we know of this man in the writings of several of these Christian apologists, one of which was Eusebius.

It is said that it was not Porphyry’s aim to disprove the substance of Christian teachings but rather he challenged the records that these teachings were recorded in, and subsequently, communicated. That intent alone should raise the hairs on the back of a Christian. But this is nothing new. The Canon of Scripture has always been challenged not only as to which books should have been included, but also the actual contents as being correct. But here lies the problem. If a person does not believe that the content of Scripture is correct, then they are forced to admit they don’t believe God. If they don’t believe God, then what is their belief? It certainly cannot be God, for they openly challenge His word.

Jerome stated that Porphyry attacked the prophecies contained in Daniel because both Jews and Christians alike pointed to the historical fulfillment of its prophecies as a decisive argument. However, Porphyry argued that the prophecies Daniel were written not by Daniel but by a Jew who lived during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164BC). (More on him in a moment.) Porphyry claimed this mystery Jew gathered up traditions of Daniel’s life and then decided to write a history of past events and apply them in a future tense. All along, this mystery writer was dating the story to appear as though all the events were written back in Daniel’s time period. Confused? Try writing the explanation!! Let me try and simplify it. The claim is that this mysterious Jew wrote Daniel not to predict future events but narrated past ones. Therefore, the claim is that what was written up to the time of Antiochus was, indeed, history and therefore, when we get to discuss Daniel chapter twelve, we are seeing the events that this pseudo writer wrote which really has no prophetic content. Antiochus (real name Mithradates) was a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire whose ancestry was derived from Seleucus I Nicator, the founder of the Empire, who was given the portion of Babylonia after the death of Alexander the Great. His reign lasted ten years during which time he attacked Jerusalem and ransacked and desecrated God’s Holy Temple.

Daniel chapter two describes the four kingdoms as historic and that would be the case also during the life of Porphyry. So, if Porphyry was only interested in attacking the prophetic portions of Daniel, why did he question the historicity of Daniel chapter two? It was because he decided that the historical events that were contained in Daniel had been predicted long before Daniel. This really highlights the skullduggery of Porphyry in his attempts to accuse Scripture of being fake.

In order to make his argument sound more plausible he invented his own interpretation whereby Greece was indeed the third kingdom, but then assigned the fourth kingdom to be the rulers who were assigned after Alexander the Great’ death, namely, the Ptolemies and Seleucids. From among these leaders he chose ten kings making the eleventh to be none other than Antiochus Epiphanes. By doing this his scheme was complete. If he could gain acceptance of this false narrative, then it would undermine all of the prophecies of Daniel. By claiming Daniel did not write the book containing his name but rather it was written by a mysterious Jew then his accusation was that the book of Daniel was a lie. If it was a lie, then God’s prophecies were never spoken, and the miracles never occurred. Ultimately, the prophecies contained in Daniel pointing to Christ would also prove Him to be an imposter.

Sadly, Porphyry’s lies (and this was, indeed, lying on a grand scale) have been adopted by many philosophers, scholars and regrettably some theologians. My own opinion of Porphyry is that, despite being known in his day as someone who was remarkably intelligent and well versed, he was nothing more than an agent of Satan. One can only imagine if he had only used his intellect to support the truth of God’s Word what he could have become – perhaps even being one of the outspoken supporters of Scripture. Clearly, he wasn’t, and his spurious rhetoric has influenced many others to accept his interpretation of Daniel rather than believing God.