Understanding Apocalyptic writing – Saturday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Daniel 7:15- 27

Chapters 1-6 of the book of Daniel contained 6 stories of faithfulness. Chapter 7-12 contains 4 visions that Daniel saw. These visions pertain to the religious crisis that the Jews were undergoing in the second century under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The setting or the background of these visions is still Babylon where Daniel is an official though now advanced in age. Daniel is still the hero of this section as he was in the last section but there are differences.

In the stories previously Daniel was the interpreter of visions now he is the recipient of dreams; he narrates  them. In the stories previously, Daniel is spoken of in the third person. Now, Daniel narrates the visions in the first person. In both sections the message is the same; to encourage Jews of the Maccabean age to remain loyal to their religion but the form of the message is communicated differently. Now the form used is not stories, but VISIONS. The author looks forward to the end of the present age.

From this section onwards, the literary form used is Apocalyptic. Apocalyptic thinking and writing arose out of a historical situation consisting of three elements. The problem of evil, the emergence of “righteous remnant” who were loyal to God against the prevailing mood of compromise and the cessation or the end of prophecy at the very time when the people needed a divine explanation for their historical plight.

Apocalyptic thought is always eschatological, focusing on the end times. The eyes of apocalyptist are focused on some future period of time when God will break into this world of time and space to bring the entire present world system to a final judgement. Apocalyptic thought also has signs like cosmic upheaval. Besides this, apocalyptic thought is dualistic; it believes in the existence of two supernatural powers (God and Satan), two worlds (heaven and hell) and two ages.

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