Home > Daniel's 70 Weeks, Preterism, The 3 ½ years > How preterism mangles the “time, times and a half”

How preterism mangles the “time, times and a half”

January 20, 2011

The “little horn” of the prophecy of Daniel 7, which dominates the saints for a period Daniel calls  a time, times and a half, would “think to change times and laws.” [Daniel 7:25] The times and laws referred to must include the “times” mentioned in the same verse, the time, times and a half.

Daniel 12:7 shows that this period extends to the end of the age, when all of Daniel’s prophecies would be fulfilled.

There are at least three preterist interpretations of the prophecy of the 70 weeks, and the “time, times and a half,” and the equivalent 1,260 days of Revelation 11:3 and 12:6. These are discussed below.

1. One preterist interpretation of the 70 weeks says there was no gap; the last half-week of the 70th weeks was three and a half years, that followed the ascension of Jesus to heaven after his resurrection. This approach was adopted by Philip Mauro (1859-1952), who was a patent lawyer, and a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mauro proposed that 70 weeks expired 3.5 years after the crucifixion. He dismissed the dispensational theory of a gap between the final two sections of the 70 weeks. He wrote: [1]

We cannot pass this note of number without remarking on the singular coincidences presented by its frequent occurrence both in history and prophecy. The drought in the days of Elijah lasted three years and six months. The little horn which appeared on the head of the fourth beast was to have the saints given into his hands ‘until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.’ The public ministry of the Messiah was to continue for half a week (or heptad) of years; that is, for three years and a half. His Gospel was to be preached to the Jews after His ascension for another half heptad before it was proclaimed to the Gentiles. Then, in the Book of Revelation, it is said that the woman shall be nourished in the wilderness ‘for a time and times and a half a time,’ and that the holy city should be trodden under foot forty and two months, which are three and a half years.

Mauro’s idea implies that none of the apostles noticed when Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled, as no mention of it occurs in The New Testament. That is preposterous!

2. Another preterist interpretation invokes a gap in Daniel’s 70th week, and says the 1,260 day period in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 is the three and a half years that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. An example of this approach was contained in the book “The Parousia,” by James Stuart Russell (1816-1895).

Russell has been called the “father” of full preterism; he saw the second coming as a past event that took place in conjunction with the Roman destruction of the Jewish temple in AD 70. In his book, he claimed the “time, times and a half” and the 1,260 days were three and a half years, fulfilled in the period 67-70 AD. He wrote: [2]

The times of the Gentiles can only mean the time during which Jerusalem is in their occupation. That time is distinctly specified in the Apocalypse as forty-two months. Now this is a period repeatedly spoken of in this book under different designations. It is the `thousand two hundred and sixty days’ of the next verse, and the `time, times and half a time’ of chap. xii. 14, that is to say, three years and a half. Now it is evident that such a space of time in the history of nations would be an insignificant point; but for a tumultuous and lawless rabble to domineer over a great city for such a period would be something portentous and terrible. The occupation of such a city by an armed mob is not likely to continue over ages and centuries: it is an abnormal state of things which must speedily terminate. Now this is exactly what happened in the last days of Jerusalem. During the three years and an half which represent with sufficient accuracy the duration of the Jewish war, Jerusalem was actually in the hands and under the feet of a horde of ruffians, whom their own countryman describes as `slaves, and the very dregs of society, the spurious and polluted spawn of the nation.’ The last fatal struggle may be said to have begun when Vespasian was sent by Nero, at the head of sixty thousand men, to put down the rebellion. This was early in the year A.D. 67, and in August A.D.70 the city and the temple were a heap of smoking ashes.

Russell’s theory invokes a gap. And it does not satisfy Daniel’s prophecy, as Daniel puts the ending of sacrifices and and oblations “in the midst of the week.” [Daniel 9:27]

3. A third preterist interpretation says the 1,260 day period was fulfilled in the time of Hadrian, 135 AD.

Henry Hammond (1605-1660) was an English churchman and scholar, and a friend of King Charles I. He was the King’s chaplain, when the King became a captive in the hands of parliament, after the First Civil War (1642-1645). King Charles was tried for treason against England by using his power to pursue his personal interest rather than the good of England. He was found guilty and beheaded on 30 January 1649.

Hammond related the 1,260 days of the two witnesses to the time of Hadrian, and the Jewish revolt by Simon bar Kokhba. The Romans crushed the Jews with an army of 12 legions in a war lasting three and a half years. Hadrian then rebuilt Jerusalem, and built a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus there, but barred Jews from living there.

Hammond claimed that the 1260 days of Revelation 11:3 was the period 132 AD – 136 AD; the bishops of the Jewish Church and the Gentile Church in Jerusalem in that period, he said, were the two witnesses. [3]

The numbers provided by Daniel, that represent the “time, times and a half,” are 1,290 days and 1,335 days. [Daniel 12:11-12] These numbers do not fit any real, earthly three and a half years. The same is true of the 1,260 days that John introduces in Revelation. But they all fit the pattern of “a time, times and a half,” or three and a half symbolic years, where months are 30 days, and there are various combinations of regular years of 12 months, and leap years of 13 months.

1,335 days = 12 x 30 + 2 x 13 x 30 + 13 x 30 / 2
1,290 days = 13 x 30 + 2 x 12 x 30 + 12 x 30 / 2
1,260 days = 12 x 30 + 2 x 12 x 30 + 12 x 30 / 2

These all represent an “unreal” or non-literal three and a half years. They apply to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Church. When Christ ascended to heaven, the Jerusalem of prophecy became the heavenly city. Thus it is invalid to apply these numbers to the earthly Jerusalem. The time prophecies that apply to the heavenly city are not like the previous ones; the units are symbolic. The 1,335 days, the 1,290 days, the 1,260 days represent the diminishing time remaining for the age of the church, the last half week of the 70th week when Christ continues to confirm the covenant with his saints. He reigns in the heavenly Jerusalem, which is a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly one. And so the time units for its duration are not given in terms of earthly years, or months, or days, but in divine language, that is, in symbolic units. Failing to recognize this, the preterists have applied these non-literal prophetic periods of time to the history of the earthly Jerusalem. They fail to understand prophecy, and like the “little horn” with “eyes like the eyes of a man,” representing a human viewpoint, as opposed to a divine one, they “think to change times and laws.” [Daniel 7:25]


1. Mauro, Philip. The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation: A Study of the Last Two Visions of Daniel, and of the Olivet Discourse of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1921. p. 71.

2. James Stuart Russell, The Parousia.
http://richardwaynegarganta.com/Parousia Russell.rtf

3. Hammond, Henry. A Paraphrase and Annotations Upon All the Books of the New Testament. Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, 1845. p. 506.

  1. Roger
    April 4, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Daniel 12:7 “time, times, and half”. “Time” and “times” according to Strong’s is 4150. How can this be 3-1/2 years as I have always heard?

  2. August 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I know this is an old article, but concerning the preterist view #2, which is my personal view, I believe the first half of the 70th week was fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus which lasted roughly three and a half years. Thus Jesus is the one who brought an end to sacrifices because He was the ultimate sacrifice and then as you said the last half of the week was fulfilled in the time from Jerusalem being surrounded by armies in 66AD to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70AD.

  1. January 26, 2011 at 9:43 am
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