Turkey Day 6 – Didyma, Miletus and Priene

This day was a series of firsts for me since I have not visited any of these three locations on previous tours of Turkey. Since this is a “missionary journeys of Paul” tour I wanted to include Miletus, the location of Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20), although we will not be visiting Ephesus (Acts 19) until tomorrow morning. Since we are driving all the way over to Miletus, it made good sense to start the day in Didyma, then visit Miletus and Priene after lunch.

Temple of Apollo at DidymaUnfortunately, it rained heavily on the drive from Izmir to Didyma on the Aegean Sea. Although it was barely sprinkling when we arrived, we had to deal with mud and slippery marble while exploring the Temple of Apollo and Artemis (the twins implied by the name Didyma). The Temple was founded sometime after Alexander the Great took the territory from the Persians, the temple was designed by the same architect as the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. A ten-mile sacred road connects Miletus and Didyma.

Even though the temple was not completed it functioned as an oracle. This gave me an opportunity to talk about how oracles functioned in the Greek world and I related this to Paul’s encounter with the slave girl in Philippi (Acts 16:16-18). Alexander the Great, Seleucus I and Seleucus II all received oracles from the temple at Didymas. The temple was finally closed by under Theodosius I (A.D. 379-395).

One of the nice side-benefits to this day is the drive through the countryside of the south western end of Turkey. The area between each of these sites is largely agricultural (cotton, but also fruit trees and olives).

At Miletus we walked from the parking area to the theater. Once again, it rained while we were driving, but as soon as we got out of the minibus the rain stopped and for most of our visit it was sunny. The main thing to see in the is a seat with a Greek inscription mentioning the God-fearers. The God-fearers were Gentiles who chose to worship the God of the Jews and even keep most of the Law, although the men stopped short of full conversion because of the stigma of circumcision. Both Cornelius (Acts 10) and Lydia (Acts 16).

Theater at Miletus

After lunch (a lamb kabob), we drove back to Priene. This is a beautiful site but is a long steep hike from the parking area to the Hellenistic city. The first half of the hike is on a broad, smooth path, but eventually the path becomes a stairway of Roman stones, very uneven and rough. But the hard walk is worth it since this is one of the more beautiful archaeological sites I have visited. There are pine trees shading most of the area and there is a constant view of the a forbidding Mount Mycale behind the city and the fertile plain below.

Temple of Athena at Priene

There are several highlights, including a small theater. Even though it is small, there are five thrones for elite members of the audience right at the floor level. Each has animal feet carved into the base and inscriptions below the seat (I took photographs to work on later). From the theater we moved into a later Byzantine church and made our way to the temple of Athena. Like the temple at Didyma, this impressive structure was initially sponsored by Alexander the Great but never completed. It is comparable to Didyma or Sardis, but only five of the massive pillars have been re-assembled. The whole area of the temple is a maze of pillar drums, although I cannot imagine how anyone could do a major restoration project on the top of this hillside. Nevertheless, the Temple is very impressive. Prine also has a small synagogue with two or three small graffiti menorahs. Other than these marks, there is little in the building to hint at the use as a synagogue.

We are staying at a very nice hotel right on the Aegean Sea (an advantage of off-season travel) and will visit Ephesus in the morning.

Turkey Day 5 – Pergamum

The cryptoportico at the Asclepion at Pergamum

The cryptoportico at the Asclepion at Pergamum

Today we headed to the city of Pergamum. For those who have visited this impressive Roman site in the past, you might recall the sky-tram running from the base of the mountain to the park entrance. At this time, the system is being repaired so the larger busses have to hire a series of cabs to ferry people to the top. Since we are a smaller group traveling in a van we went up the winding road ourselves. There was one larger group ahead of us, otherwise we had the acropolis to ourselves. 

The city has a rich history. Pliny the Elder considered the city “the most important in the province” (Naturalis historia 5.126). Pergamum was the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon 281–133 BC; in 133 BC Attalus III died without an heir and gave the kingdom of Pergamon to Rome in his will. 

Although Pergamum was the site of the first imperial cult in Asia under Augustus, the imperial cult site at the acropolis was redesigned for Trajan (who died before it was completed) and Hadrian. The city reached its peak population of about 200,000 at this time. 

One of the main points of interest is the platform of the Temple of Zeus. The temple itself was dismantled and moved to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, but one can still imagine how impressive the building would have been sitting at the time of the acropolis. For many interpreters, Revelation 2:13 refers to this temple as the “place where Satan has his throne.” For others, this is a reference to the imperial cult, although the impressive imperial Temple was not constructed until after Revelation was written. A few have suggested Satan’s throne is the Asclepium (see below).

Imperial Cult Temple at Pergamum

Imperial Cult Temple at Pergamum

The imperial temple has been partially reconstructed. There are a number of impressive pillars and the vault system is open to visitors. A partial statue of Trajan is still standing, everything else has been moved to a museum. In a small open-air collection of inscriptions next to the imperial temple is an inscription honoring Trajan. After listing many of his imperial titles, the main part of the inscription ends with the words, “of the earth and the sea, Lord.” This is the imperial claim that the Emperor was the Lord of the Land and Sea, probably reflected in Revelation’s beast of the earth and beast of the sea (Revelation 13).

The theater is the steepest in the ancient world. The 78-rows could hold up to 10,000 people. Pergamum also boasted a large library containing as many as 200,000 volumes. 

One member of our group grabbed a wooden handrail and was skewered by a massive splinter. After a brief detour to the hospital for stitches, we spent some time at the Asclepion. (I suppose we could have waited for the healing waters of Asclepius, but we thought a tetanus shot was a better idea). 

Theater at Pergamum

I had not visited the this site in my two previous trips to Turkey, I was really looking forward to seeing this center of healing in the Ancient world. Asclepius was the god of medicine and the Asclepion was equal parts cultic center and medical center. Certainly the sick  benefited from medicine and hygiene, but they were also encouraged to sleep in the presence of the god and listen for his voice in the night suggesting medical treatments. The famous ancient physician Galen worked at the Asclepion in Pergamum for many years, 

We had a late lunch and a visit to an onyx shop (many contributed to the local economy) before heading back to the hotel for our last night in Izmir. 

Turkey Day 4 – Sardis and Smyrna

We left our hotel and headed to Sardis. Two of the cites of Revelation do not have much to see, Philadelphia and Thyatira. The problem is both of these locations have modern cities built over them, making the kind of archaeology seem at Hierapolis or Laodicea impossible. I read the letter to Philadelphia as we drove past in our van rather than make the stop. This also freed up time to spend at Smyrna later in the day.

Synagogue at Sardis

Synagogue at Sardis

The highlight of the day was Sardis. This is not a large site, but it has three very significant features. First, there is a large synagogue dating to the fourth century A.D. The mosaic floors are partially restored including several mentioning the donors who contributed to the synagogue. There are two niches which could have been used to store a Torah scroll or possibly individual scrolls of the Septuagint.

Although is is surprising to see a synagogue in Turkey, Sardis is probably mentioned in Esther 3:12-14 and Josephus reports Antiochus III moved a large number of Jews to Sardis (Ant 12.148–49). This synagogue dates at least 400 years after that time and there are several odd things about the Synagogue, First, a Lydian stone table with lion motif have been placed near the front of the synagogue, Our guide suggested this table was a sacrificial / cultic table which was reused by the synagogue for Torah readings. This strikes me as odd, especially since it is really too tall for that purpose. It is certainly possible this table was use for Torah readings, but the reader would need a step-stool! Second, there are no benches along the walls as in other early synagogues, but rather a set of seats which looked more like a Greek boule to me. These seats are on the far end of the room, behind the table. I suppose the reader could face this semi-circle and men could sit there and hear the Torah, but there is room for only a small audience and the whole building could accommodate several hundred people.

Gymnasium at SardisThe second impressive feature of Sardis is the façade of the gymnasium restored by a team from Harvard. Although much is not original, the reconstructed façade give the visitor a sense of the grandeur of the building. The inscriptions on the cornice pieces appear to have been colored in so they are more clearly visible, as they would have been when the building was new.

Temple of Artemis at Sardis

Temple of Artemis at Sardis

The third important feature of Sardis is a huge unfinished Temple of Artemis. This is a short drive from the main city and could be overlooked by a visitor, but for me this is really a treat. Since there is nothing left of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, this temple will give the visitor a taste of the immense size of an Artemis Temple, you can tell it was unfinished because the bases of several of the huge pillars have not been trimmed and several have incomplete or missing decorations. Like the temple of Artemis at Jerash (in Jordan), several massive pillars have stood since construction stopped. A small Byzantine chapel was eventually built on the sight and there are several examples of Christian graffiti on the temple walls.

After an excellent lunch (lamb kabob and a Turkish coffee) we drove all the way to Izmir to visit the Smyrna agora. Like Philadelphia and Thyatira, Smyrna is under the modern city of Izmir, with the exception of a portion of the agora discovered under an Ottoman era cemetery, The graves were relocated and excavations are ongoing. The highlight of the Smyrna agora is the underground vaults, but unfortunately we were not able to visit the closed section where archaeologists have preserved a large number of Greg-Roman graffiti. As odd as that sounds, these scribblings on the wall can tell you a great deal about what average people were like in the second century A.D.

The Agora at Smyrna

Under the Agora at Smyrna

We are staying at the Mövenpick hotel in Izmir, an excellent hotel right on the bay. Since we arrived at the hotel a bit earlier than other nights on this trip, most of our group headed out to explore the city and seaside promenade (while I dutifully updated this blog!) The wifi is quite fast at this hotel, so I was able to add a few more pictures here and on yesterday’s post, Turkey Day 3 – Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Check it out.

Turkey Day 3 – Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis

Today began with a long drive north out of Antalya, following the general route of the via Sebaste. I was struck by several things on the four hour drive to Laodicea. First, most people reading Acts do not realize how high the Taurus Mountains are. Paul traveled more than 4000 feet above sea level on a Roman Road to reach Pisidian Antioch. Second, depending on the time of year, the trip may have been quite cold. It is the first week of March and there is still a great deal of snow in the mountains, and at one point we travel miles in a think fog. People tend to think of Paul traveling in blazing hot sands with a camel and a donkey, but that was not always the case.

There are two prohibitions in that chapter (to not preach in Asia and to not enter Bithynia). By observing the Roman province names and the location of the roads, The prohibitions make sense. Paul was in Asia already, so he was not to preach there, but the road went north toward Bithynia, so he was command to even to enter there.

Before arriving at Laodicea we made a brief stop at Colossae. There is virtually nothing to see there except the unexcavated mound. The city was small and unimportant in Paul’s day, and it is still a sadly overlooked site by the archaeological community. Despite several efforts in recent years, there is not much to see there. Many of us climbed to the top of the mound and then walked around the backside to see the outline of a small theater, but nothing of ancient Colossae remains.

Imperial Temple at Laodicea

Imperial Temple at Laodicea

Laodicea on the other hand has received a great deal of attention lately. Year-round excavations by the local university and the support of the Denizli community has revived interest in this large Roman site. Although the two theaters have not been restored, some work has been done once smaller theater. The skene has been exposed and now the orchestra area has been cleared.  We watched workers restoring some of the seating in the theater, lowering large stones into place with a crane. In addition, there has been work on the larger agora near the theater, with a gate already restored and many of the pillars put back in place. I except to return in another year and see even more of this ongoing work completed.

Small theater at Laodicea

Small theater at Laodicea

Another interesting discovery is a marble pillar with a menorah, shofar and perhaps and etrog, with a prominent cross cut into the top of the menorah. Is this evidence of a synagogue in Laodicea? Was the cross added later (perhaps as a sign of supercessionism after Christianity became dominant in the city? I doubt this was the intent, since it would be just as easy to obliterate the menorah. Based on Josephus, there is little doubt of a Jewish presence in Laodicea in the first century Josephus (Ant 14.241–3). Nevertheless the menorah seems to be evidence of a Jewish community in Laodicea well into the Christian Era.

From Laodicea we drove the short distance to Hierapolis. Hierapolis is a very large Roman city, although the association with the white cliffs of Pamukkale, a Turkish word meaning something like “Cotton Castle.” There was an early Christian community in Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13) but there is no evidence Paul ever visited the city. Like Colossae, he may have sent people like Epaphras to the city.

We took a shuttle up to the martyrion of Philip, an octagonal church built on the site of the martyrdom of Philip, although which Philip is unclear. The relevant passage in Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 3.31.2–5; 3.39.9; 5.24.2) has confused the apostle and the evangelist (who had four daughters. The walls of the church have been nicely reconstructed and the arches between the sections of the octagon are restored. Down a steep flight of stairs is the martyrion,  the tomb of Philip and a small chapel.

The Theater at Hierapolis

The Theater at Hierapolis

 

The shuttle the took us down to the large theater. This theater has been restored, although visitors are only allowed to walk on the upper section. The skene has been partially rebuilt and there are two statues in the niches. Originally the theater seated up to 15,000 people and could stage mock navel battles. I was a bit annoyed at the photographers offering to take my picture with a Roman soldier. Why are there never any Artemis or Aphrodite cosplayers?

We ended the day at the Doga Resort and Spa, one of the thermal hotels just a few minutes from Hierapolis. The rooms are comfortable, although the air conditioning is not functioning before April 1. Opening the slider provides a nice breeze (and I can hear the music from the lounger area). Unfortunately the internet is poor at best, so I will update the photographs when I get to Izmir tomorrow night.

Turkey Day 2 – Perge and the Perge Museum

Out second day in Turkey started with a short flight from Istanbul to Antalya. I don’t think I mentioned it before, but we are using the all-new airport in Istanbul (which does not seem to have a name yet). This is a huge airport with all the modern amenities you might expect. Or it will have them all when everything is finished up. Still, we checked in fine and made the hour flight south in comfort.

Our new driver picked us up in the shiny new Tutu mini-van. Since there are only ten of us, this is the perfect vehicle (and we even fit inside with all our luggage). We drove from the airport directly the the Perge Archaeological site. There is only a small but important biblical significance for Perge, Paul passed through the city on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:14). After leaving Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas traveled north to Psidian Antioch, passing through Perge.  This is where John Mark left Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem. This will eventually lead to the break between Paul and Barnabas after the Jerusalem Council. In Acts 14:25 Paul and Barnabas “spoke the word” in Perge, but Luke does not mention the founding of a church as he did in other cities on the first missionary journey.

Ward Gasque comments in his Anchor Bible Dictionary article that the remains of Perge “are second only to Ephesus among the cities associated with the apostle Paul” (ABD 5:228). He is correct, although the site is not as well-maintained as Ephesus, probably because it is not nearly as popular with tourists. Nevertheless, this is an excellent visit which illustrates many of the features of a Greco-Roman city. 

The first gate was built to honor Hadrian and a second Hellenistic gate with two round towers. On the back side of the Hellenistic gate are niches which once held statures. Some aches still had bases with inscriptions, but the scaffolding which used to be built around the gates has been stacked inside this area and we could not get very close enough to inspect them. Just inside the city is a large Roman bath with a palaestra (an exercise yard), although neither is fully reconstructed. At least on this tour, it is the only bath house we will have a chance to see.

We walked up the main road (the cardo) through the center of the city. Although some of the columns have been replaced, the site has not been well-maintained and there is a good grip of weeds growing on the cardo. There is a small shop about half way down the road out of Perge which has a fascinating mosaic floor with Agamemnon and other characters from Homer. There is a sign explaining the mosaic (“possibly a religious function” but that is not at all clear).

We back-tracked to the partially reconstructed agora. There is an unexplained round structure in the center (again, explained as a possible religious site). The stadium has some magnificent vaults on one side and has been partially reconstructed on one end. Although the theater appears to be open now, we were not able to visit it on this tour. 

After Perge, we made a short stop at the St. Paul Cultural Center in Antalya for snacks and coffee. It was good to chat with the people who run the shop and hear about the what they are doing there.

HadrianThe rest of the day was spent at the Perge Museum. This is one of the better museums you will even visit in terms of artifacts on display (perhaps better than the Ephesus Museum although there are a few things in Ephesus which are more important). Many of the statues which were recovered from the main gates and the theater are now in this museum. One gallery is dedicated to the statues and friezes from the theater, including a massive Hercules statue. 

In addition to the statues, the museum has an extensive collection of tombs, many in excellent condition. Most tourists like the small basket made for a pet Dog, Stephanos. 

On the third floor is a nice collection of Greek icons and I enjoyed a short time with two people from our group trying to figure out who is who on these icons. I believe they have misidentified John of Patmos with John the Baptist (the seven headed dragon is a give-away). 

We have a long drive tomorrow from the warm and sunny coastal city of Antalya to visit Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Pamukkale. 

Turkey Day 1 – Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and the Museums

I am currently leading a “Missionary Journeys of Paul” tour in western Turkey. I have been planning this trip for a long time and I am very happy to be traveling with some good friends. I am using Tutku Tours, the same company that helped me with the May 2019 Israel trip. They did a great job helping me plan the itinerary and (so far) everything has gone according to plan. 

To answer your first question: Yes, we are quite safe. We are traveling almost exclusively in southwest Turkey, very far from anything which might be considered troubling, And there is less risk of getting sick here than in the States, at least at the moment. Sadly the paranoia about the Corona Virus has reduced tourism greatly. We are the only group staying in this hotel and most of the usual tourist sites are not as crowded as expected.   

Hagia SofiaOur day started with a drive through Istanbul traffic to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more popularly known as the Blue Mosque, is currently under renovation and many of the beautiful mosaic domes are unfortunately not visible. When I visited in 2018 the Mosque was totally closed, at least we could get inside this year. There is scaffolding blocking the view of the main dome, which is unfortunate. The mosque is  know for its 20,000 hand-painted glazed ceramic tiles, which we were able to see in the main gallery.

The Hagia Sofia is just a short walk from the Blue Mosque. Built in A. D. 537 by the emperor Justinian, the church is known for its dome and many mosaics. There are a number of stunning mosaics in various parts of the church as well as four seraphim in each corner. After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the church was converted to a mosque. Fortunately the mosaics were plastered over rather than destroyed. After Atatürk converted the mosque into a museum in 1935, this plaster was carefully removed and many mosaics were restored. Other than a few large groups of school children, the usually crowded site was not very full at all. 

Basilica Cistern After Hagia Sofia, we crossed the street and made a short visit to the Basilica Cisterns. The cistern is about 100,000 square feet at has capacity for about 21 million gallons of water, although most of the water is now drained for cleaning. Last time I was there the water was a few feet deep and there were large fish. Most of the columns in the cistern are recycled from other places, so there was a need for bases of varying sizes to support the columns. The most interesting of these are two blocks featuring medusa heads. I noticed one block which looked like it had been dressed for an inscription, but was never actually inscribed (a factory reject?) If none of this interests you, the Basilica Cisterns were featured in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love and the film, Inferno, based on the Dan Brown book.

We ate lunch at the famous Pudding Shoppe, always a good lunch with great service. If you do not know why it is famous, read this.

After lunch we made a short walk to the Istanbul Museum. Like everything else in Istanbul, large portions of the museum are being renovated. Unfortunately this meant we were not able to visit the floor with many important archaeological finds from Israel, including the Siloam Inscription and the Gezer Calendar. The whole section for Greco-Roman archaeology was also closed, I do not know how long this area will be closed, but if you are planning a trip to the museum you might want to check to see what is actually open at the time. The Museum book store had a number of very good books on archaeology sites in Turkey, I managed to restrain myself and selected only two published in Turkey (one on the Terrace Houses in Ephesus and another on Luwian history). 

Ishtar GateThe Ancient Near Eastern museum was open and is well-worth a visit. There is a nice collection of Hittite, Assyrian and Babylonian items, including panels from the neo-Babylonian period Ishtar Gate and a collection of uniform documents. In the main museum, several new displays (to me) were open. Although they they were nice, they did not make up for my disappointment at missing the biblical archaeology. The section of Greco-Roman tombs is always interesting.

Tomorrow, we fly to Antalya and begin tracking the first missionary journey of Paul at Perge.

Daniel 11:36-12:3 – The Willful King

“The Antichrist interpretation of these verses is exegetically witless and religiously worthless.” (Hartman and Di Lella, Daniel, 303).

For many interpreters, Daniel 11:36-45 shifts away from Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the persecutions which lead to the Maccabean Revolt to a future, ultimate persecutions by an ultimate enemy of God, sometimes called the antichrist. Those who take a second century view of Daniel take the entire chapter as referring to Antiochus. Seow, for example, considers this a “recapitulation” of Antiochus’ offenses, with some general predictions which are only accurate in the most general sense, i.e. Antiochus will die (Daniel, 182).

Daniel 11:36-40 appears to say Antiochus will launch a new attack against the Ptolemaic Egypt, Judea will suffer greatly although Moab, Edom, and Ammon will be spared. Antiochus will be successful in plundering all of North Africa, including Egypt, Lydia and Ethiopia. As he is waging a successful war in the south, he will hear a rumor from the north, likely from his Syrian base, and return there. He will, however, make camp between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea, where he will be killed.

Who Is the Antichrist?The problem with this reconstruction is that it never happened. Up until verse 36, reasonable connections may be drawn between historical events and the words of Daniel, but after 36 the connections become strained at best, or contradictory to the historical record at worst. Antiochus was not successful in his second invasion of Egypt, there is no record of a third invasion which was successful. He did not return home after hearing a rumor, but Rome told him to leave. He did not die in Judea at all, but in Persia after raiding a Temple in Elymas in 168 B.C.

This is why some read this as a shift from a historical survey to actual prophecy about “the last days.” Typically, the leader of this end-times rebellion is called antichrist, although Daniel never uses the word and is not a part of the vocabulary of apocalyptic until the Christian era. Daniel calls this person a willful king and describes his activities as defiant against God. This willful defiance is reminiscent of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14.

Why should we begin to read Daniel as prophetic of the great end time conflict between humanity and God? It is difficult to harmonize Daniel 11:36-45 with events in the life of Antiochus. But as John Collins suggested, Daniel 11:36-45 may be a “deliberate polemical distortion” (Daniel, 386).

It is possible the writer of Daniel 11-12 begins making a prediction of events that have not yet occurred in his lifetime, but hopes they soon will (Towner, Daniel, 164, Montgomery, Daniel, 465). “The quasi-prophecy closes with an evaluative summary of Antiochus’s religious attitudes as king” (Goldingay, Daniel1, 304). Daniel 11 is expressing wishful thinking about how the current conflict might come to an end, but that prediction was mostly wrong. For example, the death of the “king” 11:45 takes place in Israel, but Antiochus died in Tabae, over a thousand miles from Israel. It is also possible the writer is generally right about the events he predicts, although not precisely so. Daniel got the “gist of things” right (Seow, Daniel, 185). The general idea that Antiochus would be killed I the near future is right, but the details are not correct.

But there are several indications the writer has shifted focus to future events in the passage. [NB: I am following Paul Tanner, “Daniel’s ‘King of the North’: Do We Owe Russia an Apology?” JETS 35 (1992):315-328. His commentary in the EEC series was released March 2020 but I have not had the chance to read his comments yet.] First, The subject of verse 36 is not referred to as the “king of the North” but only as “the king.” Normally in chapter 11 a qualifier such as “south” or “north” is included (except in vv. 2–3, which refer to the Persian kings, and verse 27, which refers to both the kings, clearly implied the north and south).

Second, in 11:21–35 Antiochus IV served in the role of the “king of the North,” as did the other Seleucid kings before him. In v. 40, however, “the king” is apparently in contention with both the “king of the North” and the “king of the South.” This argument assumes some exegesis on verse 40, noted below.

Third, 11:35 still anticipates the “end time,” but 11:40 indicates the “end time” has finally arrived. This is also anticipated in 10:14, in which the angelic visitor says the vision which Daniel saw concerns “the days yet future,” or the “latter days.” Those who hold to the Greek view see this as the end of Antiochus rather than “the end times” eschatologically.

Fourth, Daniel 12:1-3 begins with “Now at that time,” and refers to a “time of great distress” in 12:1 and the mention of the resurrection in 12:2 gives the whole unit an eschatological setting.

Fifth, A leap forward in time from Daniel 11:35 to 11:36 is consistent with other leaps in time throughout the chapter. For example, 11:2-3 cover 200+ years of Persian history without comment.

Sixth, the comment in Daniel 11:36 that the king “will exalt himself above every god” is not precisely true in regard to Antiochus. Antiochus exalted Zeus on the reverse side of his coinage.

Seventh, if the description of Antiochus found in Daniel 11 is an expansion of the previous prophecies in Daniel 2, 7 and 8, then the “final kingdom” is destroyed by the kingdom of God. Antiochus does not represent the last kingdom, rather, he is one of the last kings of the third kingdom. To a large extent, the activities of Antiochus III and IV are responsible for drawing Roman attention to the eastern regions, including Palestine. Antiochus’ kingdom was not replaced by the kingdom of God in any way, nor was the Maccabean revolt ultimately successful in establishing a real messianic kingdom. In fact, the rulers that follow the war are fairly corrupt high priest / kings who are nearly as evil as Jason and Menelaus were!

Is there any precedence for multiple fulfillment of prophecy?  Daniel 11 seems to predict in remarkable detail the general outline of history down to about 164 B.C. If it also looks beyond the Maccabean period, then there seems to be two (or more) “fulfillments” of the prophecy. This is analogous to several Old Testament prophecies which are literally fulfilled in the context of the prophet’s life, but also again at a later date, usually the ministry of Christ. A possible objection to these examples is that they assume the New Testament for the second fulfillment. For this reason, we might better speak in terms of “second application” of a prophecy.

In the case of the “sign of Immanuel” in Isaiah there is an immediate point of contact in the prophecy (a woman in Ahaz’ household will give birth, and before the child is a few years old, the kingdom of Damascus will fall), but also a distant fulfillment / application in the birth of Christ (Matthew 1: 22-23). The call of Isaiah included a prediction of futility. The people to whom Isaiah was sent would be “ever hearing, but never understanding.” This text is quoted in Matthew 13 by Jesus to explain why he taught in parables, a “second fulfillment / application” of the prophecy.

It seems appropriate to interpret Daniel 11:36-12:3 as referring to an ultimate, final eschatological persecution on a grand scale. Antiochus foreshadows a future persecution prior to God’s decisive action in history to restore a kingdom to God’s people.