Home > Daniel's 70 Weeks, Dispensationalism, Preterism > Bertholdt’s list of methods for adjusting the 70 weeks

Bertholdt’s list of methods for adjusting the 70 weeks

August 29, 2011

In the quest for solution to the puzzles presented by Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks, many curious devices have been employed. Otto Zöckler quoted the following list of methods that scholars had devised for interpreting the 70 weeks, by Leonhard Bertholdt (1806). They are methods that various commentators on Daniel had “adopted in order to obviate, by means of exact calculation, the discrepancy between the termin. a quo and ad quem, which was either too large or too small.” [1]

  1. The method of parallelism by which the seven and the sixty-two weeks were reckoned from the same point of time, or by which these periods were not regarded as successive in their order, but as contemporaneous with each other (Harduin, Jungmann, Collins, Marsham, etc.).
  2. The method of intercalation which consisted in interpolating intervals of greater or less extent between the several periods of hebdomads, and especially between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks (l’Empereur, Newton, Koch, Beer, Uri, etc.).
  3. The method of tranposition by which the first two periods of hebdomads were enumerated in inverted order, i.e., the sixty two first, and the seven afterward (thus, in imitation of Tertullian, Theodoret, etc., some of the most recent expositors, especially Hofmann, Delitzlich, Wieseler, etc.).
  4. The analogical method which estimates the hebdomads in the several sections by an unequal standard, e.g., regarding the seventieth week as a “septimana magna” or Jubilee period of forty nine years (Newton, Frank; similarly Calmet, A. Kluit [Vatieinium de Messia duce primarium s. explic. Sept. hebdd. Dan., Mediol., 1774], and already many of the church fathers mentioned above, as Eusebius, Polychronius, etc.).
  5. The method of reckoning by lunar years of 354 days, without an intercalated month (Hassenkamp and J. D. Michaelis–after the precedent of Jul. Africanus and his patristic successors).
  6. The method of counting by jubilee periods of fifty years each, by which the seventy years appear to be exactly equal to 500 years (Sostmann and others).
  7. The method of reckoning by Chaldee years of 360 days, by which the seventy hebdomads are reduced to 483 years (Pet. Brinch, Diss. chronol. critica de 70 hebdomadd. Danielis, Hafn., 1702).
  8. The mystical method of enumeration, which seeks either to limit or extend the seventy weeks of years by the use of a year of any abnormal and mystical length. Hippolytus and others led the way in the ancient church in this method; and following them we have J. J. Hainlinus (Clavis sacror. temporum, Tüb., 1692, and Sol temporum s. Chronol. mystica. Tüb., 1647); Bengel, Thube, Crusius (Hypomnemata in theologiam propheticam). Among them Hainlin assumed shorter years than the ordinary, giving them 343 days each, and thus obtained 460 Julian years for the seventy weeks. Bengel, Thube, etc.. on the other hand, sought to amplify, and therefore fixed the length of a mystical year at 1 51/441 solar years, and thus obtained 555 5/9 years for the period of seventy weeks.

The seventh method listed above was invoked by William Lloyd (1627-1717), bishop of Worcester, who was responsible for introducing dates based upon Ussher’s chronology into the 1701 English Bible. Lloyd reckoned 483 years from a permit given to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (Neh. 2:1), from which he counted years of 360 days each. A similar approach has become popular among dispensationalists in the USA, but they rarely mention Bishop Lloyd, or Brinch, but associate the idea with the ultradispensationalist, Sir Robert Anderson, who was a Scotland Yard detective. Lloyd identified the 70th week with the years 63 AD – 70 AD, thus invoking a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks. Dispensationalism extends the gap to a yet future seven years.

German Lutheran scholar Theodor Friedrich Dethlof Kliefoth (1810-1895) employed a mystical approach to Daniel’s seventy weeks, corresponding to item 8 in the above list, in which the first section of seven weeks extend from the decree of Cyrus to the advent of Christ, “regardless of the fact that that period does not consist of seven weeks of years, nor of seven centuries, nor of any cycle whatever, whose aggregate of years is divisible by seven –the sixty-two sevens from Christ to the time of the great apostacy, or of the antichrist at the end of earthly history (during which period of indefinite duration the church is to be ‘built’ and ‘restored,’ or brought back to God), and finally, the last week from the great apostacy to the appearing of Christ, the last judgment, and the consummation of the world.” [2]

Another approach, by U.S. lawyer Philip Mauro (1859-1952), was to try to change ancient chronology, to fit the dates indicated by Daniel’s prophecy.

Mauro was sure that the 70 weeks began with the decree of Cyrus.  Mauro assumed that the units in all sections of the prophecy are the same, and they are weeks of years. But this meant that the time span from the decree of Cyrus, to the appearance of Christ, seemed to be about 82 years too much. Mauro supported Martin Anstey’s Bible Chronology, published in 1913. Anstey attempted to revise conventional chronology, to fit his interpretation of Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy, in which all sections consisted of weeks of seven years. [3]

Later in his career, Mauro prepared the brief used by Democrat politician William Jennings Bryan, at the Tennessee-Scopes trial at Dayton in July 1925. In the trial, teacher John T. Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act by teaching the theory of evolution. Scopes was defended by Clarence Darrow, and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. Bryan won the case, but died five days after the trial ended on July 26, 1925.

References

1. Otto Zöckler. The book of the prophet Daniel theologically and homiletically expounded. In: Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Ezekiel, Daniel. C. Scribner & co., 1876. [See p. 208.]

2. Ibid., p. 211.

3. Philip Mauro. The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation

 

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