King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream around 600 years before the appearance of Jesus, which he struggled to interpret. He summoned the insights of magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, and enchanters, expecting them to interpret his dream without giving them any details about it. They protested, telling him that no one could ever interpret a dream of someone who wouldn’t share the dream’s details, so Nebuchadnezzar did what all good kings of the time had the option to do: he had them executed.
When Daniel heard about this event, he prayed to God for help in interpreting the dream, which God then revealed to him. Then he approached Nebuchadnezzar and said the following:
““You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
“This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” (Daniel 2:31-49)
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was later fulfilled. The first kingdom was Babylon, which began under Nebuchadnezzar; the second was the Medo-Persian kingdom, which began under Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian; the third was the Greek kingdom, which began under Alexander the Great; and the fourth was the Roman Empire. Jesus appeared during the Roman Empire around 2,000 years ago. In Daniel 7, Daniel recounted another similar dream with 4 kingdoms. In this one, Daniel described the third kingdom as a leopard with four wings and four heads. Alexander the Great was swift as a leopard. Upon his death, the Greek kingdom was divided up among his four generals.
As Nebuchadnezzar’s dream prophesied, the Roman Empire split into its East and West halves (between 285 and 395). Emperor Constantine founded Constantinople, which was the powerful capital of the East, while Rome was the much weaker capital of the West. The West eventually crumbled while the East thrived for another 1,000 years.
Despite the collapse of the government of the Roman Empire in the West, the Roman Catholic Church grew from within the Empire and established its legitimacy in the centuries to come throughout Europe. Christians have played a strong role ever since in building hospitals, universities, charities, and granting equality of opportunities to all. Christians have contributed to artwork, music, architecture, philosophy, and science. We’re sitting on the shoulders of some great Christian minds of the past, such as Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, Joseph Haydn, Michelangelo, and Mozart.
But then the age of the “enlightenment” arrived in the 17th – 19th centuries and deep atheistic thinking clouded the windows of our society. They ushered in materialist agendas, claiming physical science had an explanation for all we know in this world. The “rational” supplanted the “traditional” and the “natural” supplanted the supernatural.” People in the West began to reject claims of spiritual experiences and supernational causation, stabbing holes in the traditional and religious fabric that had shielded our societies against dark and intellectually shallow notions for centuries.
It was a time where challenging religion became somewhat fashionable in elite intellectual circles. Atheists, Marxists, and postmodernists came rallying with their bullhorns out of the cracks in our Christian foundations, lambasting God, rejecting order, and claiming our world is a lucky product of chaotic and undesigned processes. They denied that we have any objective moral values or duties, such as the values of life, liberty, justice, equity, truth, and the duties to pursue them. Yet their absolute statements of denial are self-refuting claims of absolute truth.
How Should We Then Live?
God gives those who reject Him over to reprobate, perverse minds, which we witness when they advocate for the slaughter of the innocent, inconvenient unborn while decrying capital punishment for those guilty of murder. They’ve waged a war against God and are out to destroy everything He has proclaimed to be true and sacred: our minds, our bodies, and our souls. We should never forget we’re made in the image of God and our bodies are sacred vessels of the Holy Spirit.
The warnings Isaiah (5:20) shared around 2,700 years ago are still relevant today: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness,” (Isaiah 5:20)
Thankfully, we know that darkness can never overcome light. Around 2,000 years ago, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us as our loving Savior and beacon of light. Jesus foreknew the challenges of the world, which He addressed in all throughout the pages of the Bible. For example, in Genesis 1:26-27, He distinguished human beings as having dominion over all other life forms and being made in His image. He clarified His position on marriage and let us know how special He considers us.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you;I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
He pre-emptively dealt with the scholars today who question the timing and validity of the books of Moses, Daniel, and Isaiah by referencing them as prophets and attributing their writings to them.
Jesus stands for peace, love, freedom, human dignity, and servant leadership. One would think that all would embrace Him, but sin powerfully binds. Jesus came to rescue us from our sins. How did those in Jesus’ time repay Him for His miracles, wisdom, and love? One of His twelve chosen apostles betrayed Him and the “strong bulls of Bashan” beat Him, spat at Him, stripped Him of His clothing, and crucified Him. Rather than claiming victimhood and scorning His earthly enemies, Jesus forgave them. In doing so, He set the example for us of how we’re to live, lead, and love in these modern tribulations.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If you’re seeking hope, seek Him. If you’re seeking truth, seek Him. If you’re seeking forgiveness, seek Him. If you’re seeking love, seek Him. But these actions may only be actions and not enough. They only begin our walk with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death. To get to the light, all fear must subside (see Psalm 23). To do that, we must fully give our lives to Him, following the examples of the prophets and seekers, and followers of Jesus who’ve gone before us.
28 Replies to “Daniel’s Fulfilled Prophecies, Postmodernism, and Walking with Jesus Today”
1. The life of Nebuchadnezzar II is quite well documented, and there is no outside corroboration of this dream incident from Daniel 2.
2. There was no “Medo-Persian kingdom.” There was a Median kingdom which exerted control over former Assyrian territories, and then Babylon very briefly before Cyrus the Great conquered the city, and established the long-standing Persian, or “Archaemenid” Empire.
3. “Darius the Mede” is a fictional character, completely unknown from history outside of the Book of Daniel. The most likely, straightforward and simply plausible explanation is that the writer of this imagined tale in Daniel confused Darius the Great—a Persian king who followed Cyrus—as the ruler of Media. This is nonsense.
4. If the third kingdom was Greece, then the description in Dan 2:39 is bizarre for its brevity. The Empire of Alexander the Great was possibly the most consequential kingdom of the entire 500 year period between the decline of Assyria and the emergence of Rome. The almost dismissive mention of the third kingdom here followed by the much more extensive description of the fourth kingdom—which also completely, obviously aligns with the history of Greece and the Diadoche—shows with unambiguous clarity that the fourth kingdom can only be Greece.
5. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream did not prophesy a split between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, and the description in v. 43 of “mixture by marriage” makes absolutely no historical sense of the period. On the other hand, this aligns perfectly with the division of Alexander’s Empire, and the problematic marriage alliances which followed. In short, the four Empires are NOT Babylon, “Medo-Persia,” Greece and Rome. The four empires—as attested in other texts such as Tobit, the Sybilline Oracles and 4Q552 + 4Q553—are Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece.
6. All this stuff about the Roman Catholic Church, the Enlightenment, atheism, Marxism and post-modernity are totally absent from even the most outlandishly non-contextual reading of Daniel 2, and are purely imagined by SJ in the text without any basis at all.
Much of what I stated is in alignment with Daniel’s own dream, in Daniel 7. I believe what Daniel has written and do not need corroboration in “outside” texts for anything in the Bible. I also believe we’ll see more on Darius the Mede as we did with Belshazzar. Here is a recent and very interesting theory that Rob Rowe shared with me: Young, R.C. (2021). Xenophon’s Cyaxares: Uncle of Cyrus, friend of Daniel. Journal of Evangelical Theological Studies, 64 (2), 265-285.
Of course, my response was deleted.
Without repeating everything I will simply say that the theories connecting the fictional character “Darius the Mede” to the fictional character “Cyaxares II” from Xenophon’s Cyropaedia are unconvincing. So much so that they have been universally rejected by actual scholars (Rodger Young is a mathematician with no formal training in either history or antiquity, and he has two years of biblical languages under his belt; he is a very poor source on this subject).
Of course, I am quite sure that SJ will come back with something formidably challenging like “that’s just your opinion,” or “I disagree.” It would be useful, SJ, if you actually addressed arguments instead of dismissed them in favour of asserting your own pre-formed conclusions.
Kipp – You can comment all you want on my YouTube or blogs. The only reason the last comment was deleted is you resorted to personal insults. If you don’t do that, I’ll keep your comments. Don’t attack me.
It’s interesting when the ancient historians say something that contradicts some modern propositions, people do everything they can to squash the ancient people’s words. I’d rather read what the ancient historians like Josephus and Xenophon had to say – and what Biblical authors had to say – than what those desperate to claim prophecies can’t happen have to say.
In any event, the points of contention I originally made remain unaddressed and continue to stand without sufficient challenge: 1) There is no third-party corroboration of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2; 2) There was no “Medo-Persian Kingdom”; 3) “Darius the Mede” is a fictional character, most likely the result of the authors confusion about actual history; 4) the third kingdom in Daniel 2 cannot be Greece; 5) the fourth kingdom in Daniel 2 cannot be Rome, and must be Greece; 6) everything you wrote about the Roman Catholic Church, the Enlightenment, atheist, Marxism and pos-modernity does not appear anywhere in the text of Daniel 2—nor in any other place in Daniel, the Bible or any other piece of ancient literature.
Feel free to counter any of these points directly, and with evidence.
1. We don’t always have more than one source for events in history.
2. We have evidence from several Biblical authors, Josephus, and Xenophon of a unity between the Medes and Persians.
3. We have an ancient source saying Darius the Mede wasn’t a “fictional character,” Daniel. That has support in the Midrash too.
4. The Kingdoms are as I stated: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Greek conquers were speedy as a “leopard” and Alexander’s 4 generals split it up, just as Daniel prophesied in Daniel 7. 4 wings.
5. I never said things I said about those topics were prophesied in Daniel. I was explaining our history.
“I’d rather read what the ancient historians like Josephus and Xenophon had to say – and what Biblical authors had to say – than what those desperate to claim prophecies can’t happen have to say.”
But Herodotus contradicts Xenophon. What criteria will you use to determine which of these authors is the more reliable one?
Josephus lived hundreds of years after the Babylonian captivity, and his only source for it is clearly the biblical text. We know this. Since we know this, how does it follow that he is a reliable historian for the events of this period when it contradicts actual source material from the period itself?
Why should we listen to any historian today?
“Why should we listen to any historian today?”
Because they have earned the benefit of the doubt through their quality of research and responsible handling of all the source material. Virtually all historians are unanimous regarding the events told in the book of Daniel, and concur that they do not align with everything else we know about the period, and from a fair appraisal of all of the sources.
Insofar as ancient historians are concerned, it helps to understand how history was written in antiquity, and then it requires skill and discipline developed over years of study to evaluate each text individually, and on its own merits. In the case of Herodotus and Xenophon, the former was writing a history in his “Histories,” while the latter was writing a propaganda piece in his “Cyropaedia.” The texts themselves provide clear indications about their own historical merits, and this is something that quality historians are able to detect and evaluate. Hence why Xenophon’s singular attestation for the existence of Cyaxares II is rejected out of hand as a fictional invention.
It’s interesting that when Xenophon and Josephus and numerous Bible authors make statements with which you disagree, they’re suddenly “propagandists” in your view. Do you not see that as problematic and conspiracy theorist qanon-like propositions?
“1. We don’t always have more than one source for events in history.”
But in this case, that is not what is happening. We have numerous sources from a variety of places which contradict the stories offered up in Daniel.
“2. We have evidence from several Biblical authors, Josephus, and Xenophon of a unity between the Medes and Persians.”
Why would Josephus count if his only source for the period is the Bible? How would he know one way or the other about the accuracy of the reports if he has nothing else from which to draw? And besides, Josephus is deeply invested from the outset at demonstrating the historicity of the biblical text, which in turn prejudices his own writing. And no, while Xenophon does not necessarily disqualify a unity between the Medes and Persians, he also does not actually demonstrate it either.
“3. We have an ancient source saying Darius the Mede wasn’t a ‘fictional character,’ Daniel. That has support in the Midrash too.”
The Midrashim (there is no one “Midrash”) were written centuries after the fact, their only source for the period was the Bible, and these texts are on the face of them NOT histories. They were never intended as historical, nor were they ever received as such within Jewish communities.
“4. The Kingdoms are as I stated: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Greek conquers were speedy as a ‘leopard’ and Alexander’s 4 generals split it up, just as Daniel prophesied in Daniel 7. 4 wings.”
If the Kingdoms are as you have suggested in Daniel 2, then as I mentioned it would make no sense given the description of each one. No. The fourth kingdom in neither Daniel 2 nor in Daniel 7 is Rome. In Daniel 2 it is obviously Greece. In Daniel 7 the third beast is Alexander’s empire, and the fourth beast with ten horns and the little horn is the succession of rulers in the Diadoche, culminating with Antiochus IV. The fourth kingdom is ALWAYS Greece. If you have any doubt of that, Dan 8:21–22 makes this explicit: “and the buck, the he-goat—the king of Greece; and the large horn on his forehead, that is the first king. One was broken and four came in its stead—that is: four kingdoms will arise out of a nation, but without its power.” This is a clear description of the Diadoche.
“5. I never said things I said about those topics were prophesied in Daniel. I was explaining our history.”
I fail to see what that has to do with the vision in Daniel 2.
“It’s interesting that when Xenophon and Josephus and numerous Bible authors make statements with which you disagree, they’re suddenly ‘propagandists’ in your view. Do you not see that as problematic and conspiracy theorist qanon-like propositions?”
No. This is nothing at all like a conspiracy theory. My reasons for calling Josephus, Xenophon and numerous of the biblical authors has nothing at all to do with a disagreement of views. It has to do with what they have written, and why they wrote it. Josephus himself tells us as much what he is doing: “Now I have undertaken the present work, as thinking it will appear to all the Greeks worthy of their study; for it will contain all our antiquities, and the constitution of our government, as interpreted out of the Hebrew scriptures.”
Josephus is honest about the fact that he is writing an apologetic exposition of Jewish culture and history based on the Hebrew Bible.
Hi Kipp, I respect your knowledge on this subject from a secular perspective, but it’s important to recognize that there are conservative scholars who disagree with you. Take for example Darius the Mede. Consider this brief entry from the Encyclopedia of the Bible:
Darius the Mede
DARIUS THE MEDE də rī’ əs (דָּרְיָ֨וֶשׁ׃֙). Medo-Pers. governor (“king”) of Babylonia under Cyrus the Great mentioned esp. in the sixth ch. of Daniel. Immediately following the death of “Belshazzar the Chaldean king” in Oct. 539 b.c., Darius the Mede is said to have “received the kingdom” (Dan 5:31), prob. having been made “king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (9:1) by Cyrus the Great (1:21; 6:28). He is best remembered for the unalterable decree which his officers tricked him into signing, which resulted in Daniel being cast into a den of lions (6:7-18). In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, this ruler was helpless to reverse his own decree, vividly illustrating the inferiority of the silver kingdom of Medo-Persia to the golden kingdom of Babylon in the matter of royal sovereignty. Compare Daniel 3:29; Esther 1:19; 8:8, and the testimony of Diodorus Siculus (xvii, 30), that Darius III (335-331) wanted to free a man he had condemned, but realized that “it was not possible to undo what was done by royal authority.”
Darius the Mede is not to be confused with the later Pers. monarch, Darius I Hystaspes (521-486 b.c.), for he was of Median extraction (“of the seed of the Medes,” Dan 9:1 KJV), and his father’s name was Ahasuerus (the Heb. equivalent of “Xerxes,” the name of the son of Darius I. See Esth 1:1). Darius the Mede was born in the year 601/600 b.c., for at the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c. he was sixty-two (Dan 5:31).
A major assumption of negative higher criticism has been that the Book of Daniel was authored by an unknown writer of the Maccabean age (c. 164 b.c.) who mistakenly thought that an independent Median kingdom ruled by Darius the Mede followed the fall of Babylon and preceded the rise of Persia under Cyrus. Darius the Mede, however, is not depicted in the book as a universal monarch. His subordinate position (under Cyrus) is clearly implied in the statement that he “was made king (Heb. passive, homlak) over the realm of the Chaldeans” (9:1 KJV). Also, the fact that Belshazzar’s kingdom was “given to the Medes and Persians” (5:28) and that Darius found himself incapable of altering the “law of the Medes and Persians” (6:15) renders the critical view untenable.
The early 20th cent. publication of additional cuneiform texts from this period has enabled one to understand much better the circumstances surrounding the fall of Babylon in 539 b.c. It seems quite probable that Darius the Mede was another name for Gubaru, the governor under Cyrus who appointed sub-governors in Babylonia immediately after its conquest (“Nabonidus Chronicle,” ANET, 306; cf. Dan 6:1). This same Gubaru (not to be confused with Ugbaru, governor of Gutium, the general under Cyrus who conquered Babylon and died three weeks later, according to the Nabonidus Chronicle) is frequently mentioned in cuneiform documents during the following fourteen years as “Governor of Babylon and the Region Beyond the River” (i.e., the entire Fertile Crescent). Gubaru thus ruled over the vast and populous territories of Babylonia, Syria, Phoenicia, and Pal., and his name was a final warning to criminals throughout this area (cf. J. C. Whitcomb, Darius the Mede , pp. 10-24). The fact that he is called “king” in the sixth ch. of Daniel is not an inaccuracy, even though he was a subordinate of Cyrus. Similarly, Belshazzar was called “king,” even though he was second ruler of the kingdom under Nabonidus (5:29).
The Book of Daniel gives more information concerning the personal background of Darius the Mede than of Belshazzar or even of Nebuchadnezzar; for he is the only monarch in the book whose age, parentage, and nationality are recorded. Although he was a subordinate ruler like Belshazzar, it is evident that he ruled Babylonia with far greater zeal and efficiency than did his profligate predecessor; and even more important, he honored the God of Daniel (6:25-27). See Book of Daniel.
Bibliography R. D. Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel: A Discussion of the Historical Questions (1917); H. H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires of the Book of Daniel (1935); E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel (1949); J. C. Whitcomb, Jr., Darius the Mede: A Study in Historical Identification (1963); D. J. Wiseman, et al., Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (1965), 9-16.
The link is here if you’re interested: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Darius-Mede
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Hi philosophicallogic21: This is nothing new to me. I am well aware of the postulated connection between Gubaru and the fictional “Darius the Mede” from Daniel 6. I am not remotely convinced by the arguments, which have no bearing outside of the biblical text.
“The fact that he is called ‘king’ in the sixth ch. of Daniel is not an inaccuracy, even though he was a subordinate of Cyrus. Similarly, Belshazzar was called “king,” even though he was second ruler of the kingdom under Nabonidus.”
Irrespective that the source you cited claims this is not a problem, it very much is. Citing the same erroneous misidentification of Belshazzar as the King of Babylon does not in any way help the situation, and actually makes it all the more convincing that the book of Daniel is just factually incorrect. What is extremely problematic for the argument is the fact that the Bible is the ONLY source in all of antiquity that identifies these figures as kings (to say nothing for the fact that the Bible also misidentifies Belshazzar as the son of Nebuchadnezzar II).
I know that SJ cannot see this, but maybe you can understand that all these attempts to salvage the historicity of the text of Daniel are akin to grasping at straws. These sorts of desperate, unfounded explanations that contradict the wider collection of data are the result of assuming the conclusion, and shoehorning even the most banal and irrelevant bits of information in to make it work. On the contrary, the MUCH simpler, less ad hoc and most rational explanation for the numerous historical problems in the book of Daniel which makes use of ALL the available evidence is that the text was written in the second century BCE. This is why there are so many egregious historical blunders pertaining to the sixth century, including the botched identifications of Darius, Belshazzar and his ancestry.
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Kipp – you and I differ in an important way. I use the Bible as the metric against which I judge the accuracy of ancient texts whereas you use anything but the Bible as the metric. When ancient people support the Bible, you claim they’re biased or propagandists. When ancient people seem to be at odds with the Bible, you exalt their claims. We both let our theological presuppositions establish our viewpoints – but it seems that mine are more flexible than yours. Yours involve much postulating on motivations.
Great insights, Jason. Thank you!
No, SJ. The difference between us is that one of us has trained at the highest level for dozens of years, and honed his skills to read and understand the ancient languages and cultures from which these texts originate, and the other one has not. I am most definitely not beholden to any pre-formed conclusions about the Bible beyond the same healthy dose of scepticism that I apply to virtually every ancient work. Like all writings from antiquity, the Bible gets some things right, and some things wrong. It requires training and discipline in reading well beyond the biblical texts to develop the skills to know which us which—training which you neither have, nor seem to respect. THIS is the difference between me and you.
“I use the Bible as the metric against which I judge the accuracy of ancient texts.”
SJ, what methods do you use in determining that the Bible is the proper metric by which to judge the accuracy of all other ancient texts?
I have posed this question to you a few times now in different ways, and you have yet to answer. I think—and I suspect your readers would also think—it is an important question for you to respond to.
Kipp – Jesus is the metric. I have witnessed Him in many ways in my life, including a one-time audio message (a correction) in 2016.
“Jesus is the metric.”
Yes. So, let’s agree that you are not approaching the text with any historical interest at all, and that it would never even matter what history has to say about it, since you have concluded from the outset that your experiences with what you think was “Jesus” trumps everything else.
I trust you can see why that could never be an acceptable metric for undertaking ANY historical investigation interested in discovering the facts about the distant past.
Sorry Kipp, but you’re mistaken. Jesus is the reason for everything we experience in this life. He is love and light. I realize that you’ve built a little fortress in your mind against Him, but that’s terribly unwise. Open the door. He’s been knocking for a while.
“You’re mistaken. Jesus is the reason for everything we experience in this life.”
I have no doubt that you think so. Now demonstrate it. In the meantime let’s leave a deep conviction that cannot be externally demonstrated and confirmed outside of historical research, shall we?
Kipp, I’m deleting your personal attacks. Feel free to comment on my blogs or on YouTube, but refrain from the personal attacks. This is not how you would speak to anyone in real life…I hope.
Wow, really great historical information here! I also loved your presentation of the Gospel. This was a really good post, thanks. 🙂
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Thanks so much Jason. I really appreciate your feedback. Have a great week!
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Thanks so much for explaining that Kipp, it’s definitely something to think about, and thank you for having a look at the article.
Thanks, philosophicallogic21. Please know that all of these are texts that I have been carefully reading and studying for decades. My criticism of various interpretations of the Bible does not stem from a place of dismissal or disregard. Rather, I am so invested in these conversations because I have deep passion, inrerest and love for the Bible. I have devoted most of my life to reading it and understanding it as deeply as I possibly can, and that always means not simply accepting everything it says on the basis of a surface or plain reading. Especially since all of these texts survive from an ancient and thoroughly foreign time and culture, it is all the more necessary to read carefully, thoroughly, znd very broadly.