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Historicist readings of Daniel 7

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Below is a catalogue of some of the most important and influential historicist interpretations of the identity of the "little horn" relative to his uprooting of three of the other ten horns. This summary is itself a summary of 3 major historicist interpretations of Daniel 7 provided here. This author agrees with that the interpretation of Daniel 7 by E.P. Cachemaille is the most accurate interpretation.

Historicists typically understand this text as referring to a Roman Catholic Pope, whose office arose from the ruins of the Roman Empire. The controversial text (Dan. 7:24) reads as follows:

"As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings"(Dan. 7:20-24).

1) Isaac Newton: Writing in Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John, Newton argued that the little horn is the Pope, who uproots the Lombards, the Exarchate of Ravenna, and Rome itself. He believes this is fulfilled in 726-800.

2) George Dawe: Dawe argues that the Pope uproots the Vandals, the Ostrogoths and the Heruli during the years 493-553.

3) E.P. Cachemaille: Writing in The Visions of Daniel and of the Revelation Explained identifies the 3 horns as the Vandals (uprooted in 533-536 by the Greek commander Belisarius, under Justinian), Ostrogoths (uprooted also by Belisarius) and Lombards. They were removed by the Roman pontiff after they had conquered the Exarchate in 752 A.D., when popes Stephen II and Adrian I enlisted the Frankish kings Pepin and Charlemagne. It was at this point, according to Cachemaille, that the Roman pontiff attained the temporal power which Daniel 7 predicted he would attain. confirms the accuracy of Cachemaille's interpretation with other historical resources, some of which are provided by unbelievers.

1. The fall of the Vandals - The fall of the Vandals (see Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity Vol 1 [HarperCollins, 1984; Prince Press, 2001], pp 231-232).

2. The fall of the Ostrogoths - "Since the Ostrogoths were Arian, the older population of Italy, which followed the Nicene or catholic faith, looked to Constantinople for support…Finally, when the Byzantine Empire, under Justinian, had a short period of renewed grandeur, Justinian’s general Belisarius invaded Italy and, after twenty years of military campaign, he and others put an end to the kingdom of the Ostrogoths (237; c.f. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol 2 [New York: The Modern Library, 190?], 118-122.)"

3. The fall of the Lombards - (Gonzalez, pp 237-238).

Some appeal to E.B. Elliott's second list of the 10 tribes into which the Western world had become divided, pointing out that he does not list the Lombards, but replaces them with the Heruli. This is the view taken by The following is an exposition of their view:

Many historicists believe that the Heruli are a better candidate than the Lombards, appealing to Gibbon's work, though they are otherwise in agreement with Cachemaille that the other two horns represent the Ostrogoths and the vandals.

Uriah Smith, for example, takes such a position in his work "Daniel and Revelation." Many trace the ascent of the little horn to temporal sovereign to 538, when Justinian notoriously bestowed upon Pope Vigilius the title of "Universal Bishop." This, of course, would foreshadow the title "Pontifex Maximus," which not notably been used by the Romans up until Emperor Gratian in 375.

Such historicists argue that the the Heruli are a better candidate because of their defeat by Emperor Zeno, who commissioned Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, for the task in 487. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1990, confirms in its article on the Heruli that within 50 years, this resulted in the permanent dissolution of the Heruli as a tribe. Justinian ascended to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire as Emperor in 527, and defeated the very Ostrogoths who had just defeated the Heruli, on the grounds that the Ostrogoths were heretical Arians. Thomas Hodgkin is therefore justified in writing that the soldiers of the Roman Catholic Church "dug the crave of the Gothic monarchy" ("Italy and Her Invaders," Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1899, Volume 4, page 250).

The Vandals were likewise Arians, and Justinian defeated them in 536. The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963, confirms likewise that this resulted in the utter dissolution of the Vandals. What is remarkable is that this happened within 2 years of Pope Vigilius being given the title "Universal Bishop." The rise of the antichristian little horn is thus temporally coordinate with the uprooting of one of the 10 horns.



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