Daniel’s vision of the Four beasts – woodcut by Hans Holbein the Younger

Crushing the little horn- Friday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Daniel 7: 2-14

Chapters one to six of the book of Daniel contained six stories of faithfulness.  Chapters’ seven to twelve contains four 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 of the visions is still Babylon where Daniel is now an official, though advanced in age.  Daniel is still the hero of this section as he was in the last section but there are differences in the two sections.

In the previous stories Daniel is the interpreter of visions, now he is the recipient of the dreams; he now narrates them. In the stories Daniel is spoken of in the third person, here Daniel narrates the visions in the first person. In both the sections the message is the same; it is an encouragement to the Jews of the Maccabean age to remain loyal to their religion however the form of the message is communicated differently.

The forms used in this section are not stories, but visions; the form is apocalyptic. The author looks forward to the end of the present age.  Apocalyptic thought is always eschatological.  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 judgment.  Apocalyptic thought is also 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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