Goldingay on Quasi-predictions

From the Word Biblical Commentary on Daniel:

The quasi-predictions begin this process by interpreting recent history in the light of Scripture. They are not indulging in mere theological apologetic, but in a radical theological necessity (Fishbane, Interpretation, 510–11 [and see 509–22 generally], against Hartman, ―The Functions of Some So-called Apocalyptic Timetables NTS 22 [1976] 1–14). Nor is it the case that the mere—pretended!—ability to predict the future in 11:2–39 gives grounds for believing the actual prophecy in 11:40–12:3. It is rather the quasi-predictions’ ability to make sense of the past by relating it in the light of Scripture that implies grounds for trusting the actual prophecy’s portrait of what the future will bring, painted in the light of the same Scripture. When they speak about the past, they do so on the basis of having historical data, and scriptural text as a means of interpretation. When they speak about the future, they have only scriptural text, and are providing an imaginary scenario, a possible embodiment of that text, which is not to be pressed to provide (or be judged by) historical data. Its object is not to provide historical data but to provide scriptural interpretation of what the events to come will mean. The seer implicitly wishes to commend a certain form of behavior, namely, resistance to Seleucid/reformist pressures. His explicit focus, however, is a cognitive one. He aims to provide a way for conservative Jews to understand their present experience, looking at it in the light of various scriptural texts. The supernatural being provides this for the seer (10:1, 14); the ―discerning‖ provide it for the multitude (11:33).


  1. I was recently challenged by a Biblical Unitarian concerning my belief in the Trinity. He was very respectful and asked if I thought a plain reading of Scripture shows the Trinity. He then asked, if the Trinity is so evident in Scripture, why are elaborate explanations come up with to explain things and an ultimate appeal to mystery made? Also, since as an open theist I take Scripture at face value, why I have to give explanations as to why certain verses “really mean” the Trinity instead of the face value reading, then he asked if I thought that was a double standard. WOW ANY HELP WILL BE APPRECIATED. I was completely taken off guard.

    1. You are going to have to ask someone else. I think your friend has a point. If the Trinity was such a huge make or break for orthodoxy, it would have been given more treatment in the Bible. I don’t think unitarians are heretics or unsaved. I just don’t think it is an essential doctrine. One would think that if this was a “go to hell” issue, it would have been given fuller treatment in the text we have. Jesus purposely did not tell his own hearers who he was, and often couples anyone guessing who he was with commands not to tell anyone. This would be an odd practice if Jesus’ message is one of the nature of the incarnation, rather than what the gospels really claim as his focus “the imminent Kingdom of God.”

      The nature of the Trinity is more of a third century concern, as opposed to a 1st century concern.

      1. I appreciate your response. This was my first encounter with a Unitarian. I also do not think it is a salvation issue, he actually has some very strong biblical points. I am going to study this out. Just re examining what I have “always been taught” in light of his challenge. Thanks again.

  2. excellent book. Someone needed to present the plain meaning of Daniel and to explain its value… and to help to answer its purpose for being included in the Bible.

    I wish Goldingay’s commentary on Daniel had not been a Word commentary, with its convoluted complicated format; but this particular volume is worth having.

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