Some Funny Things Happened to the Statue of Daniel 2


Some Funny Things Happened to the Statue of Daniel 2

When I took my first serious look at the Book of Daniel almost twenty years ago, I did so without the benefit of familiarity with scholarly opinion.  In general terms, I knew that in mainstream academia, where liberals dominate biblical scholarship, the prevailing view is that Daniel is a pseudepigraphal product of the second century BC whose “prophecies” need to be understood in that light.  I also knew that those scholars who have accepted it for what it claims to be have generally used it to reinforce a futurist and premillennial hermeneutic.  Upon my first careful reading of Daniel, I immediately rejected the opinions of mainstream scholars.  I then flirted for a while with the futurist approach but ultimately rejected it in favor of preterism.

In this article, I focus my skepticism about the scholarly treatment of Daniel upon how mainstream academics and conservative premillennialists have analyzed the great statue of Daniel 2.  We learn in verses 32-33 of this chapter that the statue has a head of pure gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and baked clay.  Subsequent verses inform us that the head of gold symbolizes Nebuchadnezzar, that the other three metals symbolize a sequence of three kingdoms that will follow him, that the kingdom of iron will “crush and break all the others” (NIV, v.40), and that the clay in the feet and toes indicates that the fourth kingdom will become a divided kingdom “whose people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay” (NIV, v.43).

When I first read Daniel 2, my natural inclination was to assume that the metals that symbolize the four kingdoms should be expected to show particularly close historical associations with those kingdoms.  After all, I reasoned, prophecies are supposed to relate to the future, and this means that we should expect that each of the four kingdoms symbolized by the metals should have had a particularly close association with the metal used to identify it.  Moreover, I knew that as a matter of historical fact, the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar had placed great emphasis upon gold, that the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great had enjoyed a particularly close association with silver, that Greece had maintained a particularly close association with bronze that extended into the post-Alexander Hellenic Age, and that Rome had improved the technology of iron usage and greatly expanded the use of that metal.  I thought it especially significant that the Romans surpassed the Greeks in their reliance upon iron armor and weaponry.  This evidence is discounted by mainstream scholars, however, who either ignore it or dismiss it as irrelevant.  In their world, it is an article of “faith” that the kingdom of iron cannot be Rome, and all analysis of the four kingdoms must reflect that assumption.

Most mainstream scholars are liberals who regard the “prophecies” of Daniel with great skepticism and are confident that the book was authored in its final form in the second century BC toward the end of the reign of the Seleucid monarch Antiochus IV, who died late in 164 or perhaps in 163.  There are some mainstream scholars who look to the time of Antiochus IV for the primary fulfillments of the “end-time” prophecies in the visions half of Daniel (chapters 8-12) and who deny that that the fourth kingdom can be Rome but who nevertheless incline toward the belief that the Book of Daniel is, in some sense, “inspired.”  For them, even though the fourth kingdom of the statue symbolizes the “Greece” of the post-Alexander Hellenic Age, it may be that Daniel contains some genuine prophecy, particularly if you generously apply the theology of idealism and recycle prophecies through the use of typology.

When I began my study of Daniel, I initially had difficulty in understanding the historical association to be applied to the clay.  I was temporarily thrown off course by reading commentaries by premillennial scholars, who insist on searching for future fulfillments of Daniel’s end-time prophecies and in believing that the fourth kingdom will somehow play a part in man’s apocalyptic windup.  Perhaps, I thought, the clay belongs to our future.  In due course, however, I came to realize that it is foolish to look to the future for the completion of the fourth kingdom’s time on Earth, and that realization brought me to the conclusion that the clay in the feet and toes corresponds historically to the Jews, whose homeland became integrated into the Roman Empire a considerable time after Rome became the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean region.  Already present in some predominately Greek-speaking areas of the empire, Jews migrated northward and westward after the incorporation of Judea into the empire and grew in relative numbers through both natural increase and prosyletization.  As I came to embrace the idea of first-century AD fulfillment for Daniel’s end-time prophecies, I had no difficulty in concluding that it was the Jewish people who gave the empire the divided character indicated by the mixture of iron and clay.

In my initial foray into the study of Daniel, I surmised that since prophecies relate to the future and the four kingdoms symbolized by the metals are sequential, it makes sense to assume that each of the five sections of the statue corresponds to a distinct time period whose duration is roughly proportional to the percentage of the statue’s total length allocated to it.  In calculating that length, I assumed that the statue’s proportions would be those of a normal man, and I added to the length the portion of the feet extending beyond the ankles since I assume that the movement along the feet corresponds to a movement in time.  Also, one can plausibly assume, in calculating the relative time to be allocated to the five sections of the statue, the silver portion should receive a substantial “bonus” at the expense of the other sections to reflect its inclusion of the arms, which would normally hang below the waist.  In any event, I suggest that a very rough but reasonable allocation of the relative time corresponding to each of the five portions of the statue is as follows: head and neck, 15 percent; shoulders, chest, and arms, 26 percent; belly and thighs, 26 percent; legs (knee joints to ankle bones), 20 percent; feet and toes, 13 percent.  As I indicate later in the article, these percentages roughly coincide with the dates that should be given to the historical counterparts of the five portions of the statue.  Obviously, these percentages are affected by where you mark the precise boundaries between different sections.  In assigning these percentages, I assume that the geographical theater for their application was the Holy Land and the immediately adjacent territories.

The idea that the proportions of the five different sections of the statue should roughly match the historical periods that correspond to their symbolism is noticeable in the work of mainstream scholars for its absence.  The reason for this, I am confident, is that in any sequence of four kingdoms where Rome is not the fourth kingdom, the historical correlation between the sections of the statue and their supposed real-world counterparts is unacceptably poor.  Some of these authorities do acknowledge that the fact that the clay shows up only in the feet and toes implies that its arrival occurs in the latter part of the time of dominance of the fourth kingdom, but that is about it as far their effort to correlate the statue’s proportions with history is concerned.

In response to the question of how the four metals of the statue came to be chosen, the answer given by mainstream scholars is that the sequence of gold, silver, bronze, and iron reflects a familiar mythical theme in which a succession of kingdoms symbolized by metals of declining value conformed to the widespread belief among ancient peoples in the existence of a kind of idyllic state in the distant past from which mankind had gradually slipped away.  The Book of Daniel, it must be conceded, does not appear to be the original source of the four metals sequence.  The idea of presenting this sequence in the form of a statue does, however, appear to be original with Daniel, as does the mixing of the iron with clay.  Moreover, while Daniel informs Nebuchadnezzar in verse 39 that the kingdom that follows his will be “inferior” to his, there is no clear indication in Daniel 2 or elsewhere that the succeeding kingdoms are, in fact, inferior.  It seems plausible to believe that in telling the prideful Nebuchadnezzar that the kingdom that would displace his would be inferior to his, Daniel was seeking to soften the blow received by learning that his kingdom was destined to soon disappear, and it may also be that “inferior” here simply means being located below the head of the statue.  In any event, mainstream scholars seem perfectly content with the idea that the four metals sequence was chosen because of its familiarity and was not intended to be historically predictive.

Again I remind the reader that the Book of Daniel purports to be a book of prophecy, and genuine prophecy provides insights into the future.  I think it is therefore appropriate to ask mainstream scholars the following questions: what insights into the future are provided by the choice of the four metals and the order of their appearance, and what insights into the future are provided by the relative proportions of the statue assigned to each of its five sections?  In effect, the answer to the first of these questions that these scholars offer is that there is some sort of qualitative decline in the four kingdoms and the fourth kingdom—that of Antiochus IV—is particularly mean and nasty, which coincides with iron’s ability to crush and break other substances.  As for the second question, mainstream scholars simply do not address it.  To limit the historical significance of the statue’s features in this manner is equivalent to holding that “Daniel” was not much of a prophet, but this is no problem for liberals since they deny that a genuine prophet of that name existed.  For those mainstream scholars who believe that the Book of Daniel may contain genuine prophecy, however, this resolution of the problem should be troubling.

Although both Isaiah (64:8) and Jeremiah (18:6) contain passages that refer to the Jews as potter’s clay, mainstream scholars, including those who entertain the idea that Daniel is, in some sense, “inspired,” strongly embrace the idea that the clay in the feet and toes of the statue refers to marriage(s) between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.  There are clear references to such marriages in Daniel 11:6 and 17, and it is commonly assumed that the author of Daniel intended them to be understood as referring to 2:43.  It must be conceded that determining just what 2:43 means is a challenge and that to claim that it refers to some kind of intermarriage is defensible.  That it requires both intermarriage and interdynastic marriage, however, is dubious.

In the interest of scholarly objectivity, I must note that although I believe that the NIV’s translation of 2:43, which I presented earlier, captures the intended meaning of this verse, it is arguable that it forces a meaning that the Aramaic of the text does not mandate.  The NIV indicates that the people of the fourth kingdom will become a disunited mixture, but a word-for-word translation of this verse reads more like the NASB: “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.”  I submit that “they” does not necessarily point to royal families and that the mixing of the “seed of men” does not necessarily require intermarriage between either royal families or distinct social groups.  The passage may simply imply the uneasy coexistence of disparate groups within the same territory.  Joyce Baldwin, a conservative English scholar who wrote a valuable short commentary on Daniel, pointed out that the “seed of men” reference in 2:43a constitutes “an unusual expression, reminiscent of the prohibition to mix seed in the field” that is found in Leviticus 19:19.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>  I submit that it is not the mixing of seed in the field that produces hybrids.

A serious problem with identifying the clay with the Ptolemies, as mainstream scholars insist on doing, is that it is not specifically associated with a kingdom.  Indeed, since the four metals are all identified with kingdoms, one is entitled to surmise that the clay does not symbolize a kingdom.  Furthermore, by insisting on identifying the iron with Seleucid Syria, mainstream scholars effectively exclude Ptolemaic Egypt from the fourth kingdom, which contradicts the fact that when they identify the original composition of the fourth kingdom, Ptolemaic Egypt is a part of it.  For mainstream scholars, however, this contradiction is no problem because it can be attributed to the deficiencies of the author of Daniel rather than to the shortcomings of their own hermeneutic.

Conservative scholars; i.e. those who accept Rome as the fourth kingdom, have sought to assign greater historical relevance to the statue’s composition than mainstream scholars have been willing to grant, but most of them have gone badly astray because of a misguided insistence on making Daniel conform to a futurist hermeneutic.  Some of them, particularly among those who have taken large bites from the dispensationalist “apple,” have performed impressive feats of imagination that, unfortunately for them, lack solid support from the text of Daniel 2.  These feats include trying to explain how “Rome” manages to extend from ancient times into our future.  Although Rome fell to barbarians for the last time in 476, some conservatives have argued that it never really fell, at least in a cultural sense, and it is noteworthy that an argument along those lines persisted for a long time after the fall.  The existence of the Catholic Church with its headquarters in Rome contributed greatly to this persistence, and the term “Holy Roman Empire” reflected the fiction that Rome had never really fallen.  Unlike liberals, however, conservatives have tended to assume that the five sections of the statue must have a correlation with historical reality; and with the passage of time, it has become increasingly obvious that if this correlation is to be shown, there is a problem in reconciling that reality with the limitations of human anatomy.  To be specific, if Rome never really fell, then the idea that the statue is a kind of time line would seem to necessitate that it look like a man with incredibly long stilt-like legs and feet that would make those of a circus clown look normal by comparison.

Largely as a response to the stilt-like legs dilemma, some futurists have offered the solution that there must be a gap somewhere in the fourth kingdom’s portion of the statue that corresponds to the gap they find between verses 69 and 70 in the seventy “weeks” prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27.  Gary DeMar suggests that in order to make the supposed gap in Daniel 2 equivalent to the supposed gap in Daniel 9, dispensationalists must insert it between the feet and the toes.  As he also notes, however, nothing in the text of either chapter suggests that such a gap exists.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[2]<!–[endif]–>  Undeterred by this “little” detail, however, many futurists have barged ahead with speculations based on various assumptions about the clay, the two legs, and the ten toes of the statue.  The text of Daniel 2 offers nothing to suggest that the fact that the statue has two legs has eschatological significance, however; and while it refers to the toes without mentioning the feet in verse 42, it does not mention their number.  For that matter, neither does it mention the numbers of the arms and fingers.  I suggest that the special significance of the toes is that they connote the very end of the time allotted to the statue and lie in the zone of impact with the rock that is not cut out by human hands (v.34).

The futurist approach to Daniel 2 has, no doubt, influenced some readers of Daniel toward accepting dispensationalism and other hermeneutical systems that revive the Roman Empire, but it has certainly had the opposite effect on people who are not so affected by “last days madness.”  The implausibility of the futurist hermeneutic has contributed to the fact that the systems that reject Rome as the fourth kingdom have not been subjected to close scrutiny on various points, one of the most obvious examples being their very limited effort to recognize the possible historical symbolism of the statue.  Among the hermeneutical systems that reject Rome as the fourth kingdom, the most prevalent is the one that I like to call the “Greek sequence,” in which the four kingdoms symbolized by the metals are, sequentially, (1) the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar; (2) the Median Empire represented by the allegedly fictitious ruler Darius the Mede, who is a central character in Daniel 6 and is mentioned as the ruler of Babylon in chapters 5, 9, and 11; (3) the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great; and (4) the “Greece” of Alexander and the Hellenic kingdoms that succeeded him.  In this Greek sequence, the earliest feasible starting date is 626 BC, which is when Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, succeeded in driving the Assyrians from Babylonia.  Because Daniel 2 gives the date for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the great statue as the second year of his reign, however, it seems more appropriate to place a date of around 603 at the top of the statue’s head.  Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylonia upon the death of Nabopolassar, which occurred in 605, shortly after the great battle of Carchemish, in which Nebuchadnezzar vanquished the Egyptians and the remnants of the Assyrians.  The obvious terminal date for the Babylonian kingdom is 539, which is when Babylon fell to the army of Cyrus, though Daniel 5:31 credits Darius the Mede with being the man in charge when Babylon fell.  Notice that if we subtract 539 from 603, we get 64 years as the time of the kingdom of gold, Babylonia.  And since the proponents of the Greek sequence insist that it ends with the death of Antiochus IV, which occurred in 164/163, the statue’s “career” in the Greek sequence lasts for about 440 years.  This means that the gold part of the statue accounts for about 14-15 percent of its total length, which is a very plausible result.

With the selection of Media as the second kingdom in the Greek sequence, however, the feasibility of trying to apply the time line concept to the statue in that sequence comes to a crashing halt.  At most, the reign of Darius the Mede over Babylonia lasts no more than two years in the Book of Daniel, and this cold fact makes it pointless to continue with the time line analysis.  Incidentally, I am one of those who believe that Darius the Mede is none other than Cyrus the Great, and my conviction that the time line concept should apply to the statue is one of a number of reasons for my holding this view.  But this is not the time and place for explaining my position on this particular point.

The Greek sequence has many other problems, and even though it has enjoyed a sheltered existence that has allowed it to enjoy “immunity from prosecution” for a remarkably long time, there seems to be a growing recognition of these problems in mainstream academia.  To date, however, this awareness does not seem to have led to many defections of mainstream scholars to the “Roman sequence” camp, whose appeal has been greatly strengthened by the growth of preterism.  Instead, those mainstream scholars who have come to question the version of the Greek sequence favored by liberals have turned increasingly to idealism and typology, a shift of emphasis that I find somewhat analogous to the rise of postmodernism.  And some mainstream scholars seem to be showing more interest in what I call the “modified Greek sequence” or (more facetiously) “liberal light sequence,” in which the four kingdoms consist of Babylonia, Medo-Persia, the “Greece” of Alexander, and the collection of kingdoms that emerged from the struggles among Alexander’s generals (the diadochi) after his death, which occurred in 323 BC.  Thus, in the liberal light approach, the four Hellenic kingdoms that emerged soon after the death of Alexander are merged into one in Daniel 2.

There are numerous problems with the liberal light approach, but I shall confine myself here to its inability to be reconciled with the time line approach to the statue that I advocate.  Because this approach identifies Medo-Persia as the second kingdom, it overcomes the problem of having the second kingdom be around for only a year or two.  Unfortunately for it, it overcorrects.  If we date the beginning of Medo-Persia’s time as the kingdom of silver in 539 and end it in 332, which is the year in which Alexander established firm control of the Mediterranean coastal area, we arrive at a figure of 207 years for the second kingdom.  Since the total amount of time represented by the statue is the same in the liberal light approach as in the regular Greek sequence, and since I have estimated this quantity at 440 years, this means that in the liberal light approach, the second kingdom accounts for about 47 percent of the total time, a quantity that seems disproportionately large.  The excessive allocation to Medo-Persia is then largely offset by the compression of the third kingdom, that of Alexander the Great, to a time span as short as nine years.  One could add a few years to this by allowing for the time that it took for the diadochi to really get going at it with each other, but there is really no need to go to the trouble—it is obvious that the liberal light or modified Greek sequence is incompatible with the idea that the statue serves as a time line.

Now that I have indicated that neither futurist nor mainstream scholars can present a plausible demonstration that the statue of Daniel 2 serves as a time line, I have to confront the question of whether the version of the Roman sequence that I support does what they fail to do.  In my view, it passes the test with flying colors.  Admittedly, there are problems in setting the precise boundaries of the different portions of the statue and in determining the precise periods in history that correspond to them, but the admittedly rough correlation between the statue and history that can be shown with the preterist version of the Roman sequence is closer by huge margins than what can be claimed by the alternatives.

In my calculations, the Roman sequence runs from 603 BC to AD 30, the latter being the date that I assign to the Resurrection, which I regard as being equivalent to the striking of the statue by the rock in Daniel 2:34.  Allowing for no year zero, this gives a total of 632 years.  Babylonia’s time as the kingdom of gold runs from 603 to 539, a period of 64 years, or 10 percent of the total.  For Medo-Persia, the kingdom of silver, the number of years is 207, or 33 percent of the total.  By comparison, the “ideal” figures that I suggested earlier for the first two kingdoms are 15 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

When we come to Greece, the kingdom of bronze, we encounter the problem of determining just when it lost out to Rome.  There are several plausible choices for the year in which Rome displaced Greece as the dominant power in the area around the Holy Land.  The first is 190 BC, which is when the Romans under Scipio Asiaticus decisively defeated Antiochus III of Seleucid Syria at the Battle of Magnesia in western Asia Minor.  To me, this date is too early because Antiochus III retained much of his power and Greece, Macedonia, and Egypt remained at least nominally independent.  Then there is 168 BC, when the Romans forced Antiochus IV to abandon his effort to subdue Egypt.  My preference, however, is for 146 BC, which is when Rome formally incorporated the Greek heartland into the empire.  Admittedly, the choice of 146 also supports my correlation argument since it lengthens the time of Greece to 186 years; i.e. 332 BC to 146 BC.  That amounts to 29 percent of the 632 years.  Another possible date, incidentally, is 142 BC, which is when Hasmonean Judea finally firmly established its independence from Selucid Syria.

In calculating the time for “clay free” Rome, my preference is to date the appearance of the clay from 37 BC, the year in which Herod the Great ascended to the Judean throne.  Admittedly, Judea was actually incorporated into the Roman Empire in 63 BC, when Pompey occupied Jerusalem, but Rome did not establish firm control over Judea until Herod was installed as king.  If, then, we use 146 BC as the starting point for the pure iron section of the statue and 37 BC as the ending point, this gives us 109 years, or 17 percent of the total.  Finally, if the iron mixed with clay portion of the statue corresponds to the period from 37 BC to AD 30, this gives 66 years, or 10 percent of the total.

Now compare the percentages I have calculated as admittedly rough estimates of the relevant time periods with those that I suggested earlier as rough approximations of the “ideal” percentages.  The “ideal” percentages are, going from the gold to the clay, 15, 26, 26, 20, and 13.  The corresponding historical percentages are 10, 33, 29, 17, and 10, which adds to only 99 percent because of rounding.  I submit that the correlation is remarkably close, though it must be admitted that the percentages can be altered considerably through the rearrangement of dates.  Even so, the preterist version of the Roman sequence offers the only approach that can incorporate the time line concept with arguably plausible results.  This means, of course, that proponents of the alternative approaches will continue to deny the relevance of the historical correspondence criterion for the exegesis of Daniel 2.

I now return to the matter of the association between the metals of the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 and their historical counterparts.  Recall that I asserted early in this article that Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon had a close association with gold, and that Persia, Greece, and Rome had close historical associations with silver, bronze, and iron, respectively.  I shall now elaborate a little on these associations.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon is identified as the kingdom of gold in Daniel 2:38, and it is a fact that this kingdom did indeed stand out among its contemporaries for its splendor, which included the lavish display of pure gold in statuary, altars, furnishings,
drinking utensils, and jewelry, as well as numerous gold-plated decorations on
buildings.  On the other hand, the New Babylonian kingdom
of Nebuchadnezzar failed to develop the use of silver coinage, and it is doubtful that its use of bronze and iron noticeably surpassed that of other nations.

The Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great was, in reality, an extension of the Median Empire that had been assembled by Cyaxares, who was probably a maternal great-grandfather of Cyrus. Historically, therefore, it is correct to view the empire that Cyrus took over as a Medo-Persian empire. In fact, while the Book of Daniel indicates that Darius the Mede briefly ruled in Babylon, it otherwise consistently treats Media and Persia as forming a united kingdom.  In 546, Cyrus conquered the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor, thereby gaining possession of that nation’s ores of precious metals and the  technology that had allowed it to develop the world’s first high-quality gold and silver coins.  Cyrus and the rulers who followed him used their ability to mine and coin silver to assemble a force of mercenary warriors of unprecedented size.  Gold was also important to the these rulers (the Achaemenids), but with gold being used to designate Babylonia, it is silver that stands out has having a had a particularly strong association with the what is called the Persian

Although the Bronze Age of archeological fame had been superseded by the Iron Age by the time of the New Babylonian kingdom, the Greeks continued to make conspicuous use of bronze long after iron became the preferred metal for most weapons.  Particularly noteworthy is that Greco-Macedonian soldiers characteristically wore protective armor of bronze, including helmets, shields, greaves (shin guards), and, climate permitting, breastplates. Their bronze armor stood in marked contrast to the tunics that were typically worn by the Medes and Persians.  The Greeks also armored their famed triremes with bronze plates and provided them with a bronze-headed battering ram.  They even used bronze hardware for these naval vessels.  Also of note is the fact that Ezekiel 27 provides a valuable account of the trade between Tyre and various locations in which Greece
(Javan) is identified as a source of slaves and bronze.  Given all this evidence, Greece obviously qualifies as the bronze kingdom when historical association is allowed to be considered. 

And just as Greece qualifies as the kingdom of bronze, Rome stands out as the kingdom of iron.  Rome’s military technology surpassed that of even the Greco-Macedonian forces of Alexander’s day.  While Roman soldiers sometimes wore bronze helmets, their armor, in contrast to that of the Greeks and Macedonians, was overwhelmingly of iron.  Like the Greeks and Macedonians, the Romans had iron swords and iron-tipped pikes and javelins,
but they also had a type of “artillery” consisting of iron-tipped bolts fired by catapults.  Some Roman ships carried bronze battering rams like those used by the Greeks, but the Romans relied more heavily upon iron armor and hardware. Moreover, the Romans developed the use of the corvus, a gangplank with a large iron spike at its far end.
When boarding an enemy ship, the corvus would be flipped over so that it stuck into the deck of the enemy vessel, and Roman soldiers would then scramble over it to attack their foe.

Finally, we need to recall that Daniel 2:40 calls attention to iron’s ability to crush and break other things and specifically relates that ability to the fourth kingdom’s ability to crush
other kingdoms.  I submit that this description applies far more appropriately to Rome than to Seleucid Syria!

Given the evidence presented in this article, I think it is quite clear why biblical scholars who reject the preterist hermeneutic cannot afford to give much weight to the idea that we should look for historical associations that correspond to the four metals and the five sections of the statue of Daniel 2.  To do so would be disastrous for them, and I suspect that they know this to be the case, at least intuitively.  Again, however, I insist
that prophecies give insights into the future, and I am confident that the statue was intended to be prophetic.  In my judgment, you can believe that the Book of Daniel is a pseudepigraphal “pious fraud” or you can believe that it is a work of genuine prophecy.  I opt for the latter.

This article is also posted at


[1]Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel,
vol. 21, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman (Downers Grove,
Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978), 93.

DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church
(Powder Springs, Ga.: American Vision, 1999), 326.

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