An Interesting Perspective

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by Neil Godfrey

A short article in the online scholarly magazine Aeon:
“It draws an interesting link between the establishment of year dates by the Seleucids as a continuous series of advancing numbers and the phenomenon of apocalyptic thinking in and around the eastern Mediterranean.”
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Neil Godfrey

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11 thoughts on “An Interesting Perspective”

  1. Yep, this is a terrific article. I guess the end-time was first predicted in 165 B.C.E. According to this article (https://www.ancient.eu/Seleucid_Empire/) in Ancient History Encyclopedia, the end-time actually came in 83 BCE.

    “The wild intrigues which characterized the last decades of the Seleucid Empire were ended by the invasion of the Armenian king Tigranes II in 83 BCE. Even if after Tigranes some rulers of Syria claimed to be Seleucid kings, they were no more than Roman vassals.”

    The end-times came in 83 BCE, but the counting went on.

    “The Seleucid legacy in Asia was strong, because Hellenism was established in Asia during two centuries of Seleucid rule. The method of dating years in Asia, for example, was called the Seleucid Era, beginning at the return of Seleucos I to Babylon in 311 BCE, which was continued to be used as late as the 6th century CE. In fact, the Seleucid legacy lasted throughout Roman, Parthian and Sassanid dominion until the Arabian invasions of the 7th century CE introduced Islam.”

    Isn’t it nice to know that we are living in the post-apocalyptic time and God’s kingdom on Earth has been established for 2101 years (83 BCE to 2019 CE).

  2. If the author of the crucifixion narrative (Mark?) knew how to connect the 20th year of Artaxerxes I to the Seleucid dating system, then he would have reason for placing the crucifixion in the time of Pontius Pilate’s rule (AD27-37). That is because it turns out that Daniel’s “70 Weeks” prophecy, when framed in 360 day prophetic years, ends up with the messiah prince being cut off in 32 or 33 AD. (Daniel 9.24-30 and Nehemiah 2)

    1. More likely, “Mark” understood the “messiah prince” as referring to Onias III. Consequently he did not set the passion narrative in the time of Pilate as a result of datings alluded to in Daniel. But sometimes the less likely thing may turn out to be the case, especially with the numbers turning out to be convenient.

      …..The cut-off date for the messiah prince has been derived from the 445-444 AD prophecy’s beginning date at Artaxerxes’ 20th year (Neh 2; Dan 9).

      …..The prophecy specifies “69 Sevens” elapsing before the messiah prince’s cut-off. If the 69 Sevens refers to years then 69 x 7 = 483 years.

      …..If it is assumed Daniel had in mind 360 day “prophetic years”, then that 483 years represents 173,880 days.

      …..Divide this number of days by the 365.25 average number of days in an actual year and you arrive at approximately 476 years. Then subtract the BC portion of the 476 years (minus 445) and you have the remainder of 31 years which are AD years. This happens to be a mid-office date for Pilate.

  3. I am here to comment just for a moment…

    apocalypticism triggers so many wild imaginations ,inspirations, illluminations, and intuitions, insights, etc. And much of it is attractive…

    there is an attractive idealism in this apocalyptic stuff,,but it goes sour in the end…Jesus’ was intensely apocalyptic and he ended up dead….for good….though it does say his breath went out.. Mark’s way of saying his inspiration went out “symbolically” via “spirit” etc. A dead man is still somehow breathing!!!!! It is highly parabolic and poetic.

    This is my translation of that enigmatic verbal clause. (“His breath went out”. or in some other way …He breathed out……or expired.. Swoon-theorists would translate it..”He fainted” and not necessarily died. Perhaps.

    But Mark is parable to the core…… and so I am not amiss here in my transation or way of telling what I think is going on it Mark. It is clear.. whatever Mark did , he did to get us all thinking about what on earth he wrote…

    I would like to suggest literary “recapitulations” …re-animations…re-writings due to trying to make the Judaic texts stay alive, despite even the denigrations of Greek perceptions and renderings…translations of their tradtions and texts (the LXXX) .

    The world has felt at specific times very apocalyptic and people today..whether believers or not are feeling apocalyptic at many levels..

    This does not prove biblical texts .

    Moreover..let us not dismiss connections to other traditions and texts..

    All of these studies in these fields keeps confirming parallels among many contacts..and not just parallels but also “border-crossings” ….transgressions, assimiliations, etc. of culture and texts.

    The NT Texts reflect this almost everywhere…… it doesn’t mean none of it is true or untrue in this or that or the ultimate sense, but the teleological goal as the Lukan writer puts :: it is “Catechesis”” see Luke 1:1-4 a very second century concern and the lingo to go with it ……..

    The texts are so highly liturgical/didactic ..a big word for Luke-Acts.. Luke and the Gospel writers are writing what they “see” in terms of salvation history…not any secular history. It is seeing the “spirit” of the apostles at work in Acts..

    Salvation history is big time for Luke and he high-jacks hermeneutically the previous “many” whom he has mined for his own apologetic. The Jewish texts. their sounds, and feel and actualizations were taken seriously by them. These texts for the Jews were meant to live on……..and on..and so many re-writings coming to birth….and people gained inspiration from them…and had no skills or resources anyway to check out if this or that is true…and so on..

    We hear and feel and see so many echoes of previous experiences, texts, etc. that move us to another plane.. only perhaps, of a higher consciousness, but this is still unverifiable phenomena..It is clear though that these texts stimulate consciousness in various ways… and it is a mystery that has a long history…. heavenly tablets or texts have a great impact on earthly realms…

    The biblical texts draw attention and it is hard to dismiss what someone said , whether privately or publicly,, but how is the “other voice” to be taken, these texts that cause us to see so many problems….

    But we must stay patient as best as we can in the face of all the cacophanies offered by unthinking, uncritical… agenda ridden apologists on questions of history and even texts that often show a very uninformed viewpoint and method.

    Thanks Neil for so many interesting things you have brought forth ..

  4. The establishment of dates, a calendar, leads to a sense of order in Time. To history and often unfortunately, teleology.

    When the Mayan or Aztec calender expired a few (10?) years ago, there was a cosmic jaguar group who thought it meant the end of the world.

      1. Mr. Wesley

        Are you just adding comments re apocalypticism from some different sources or do you yourself “believe” and adhere to these diverse apocalyptic scenarios yourself..??

        Just curious… I was not sure if you are commenting or criticizing something in that scenario you mentioned….perhaps when you said “To history and often unfortunately, teleology.” That may indicate your serious comments about apocalypticism…btw

        I think apocalyptic thinking and action is increasing in a way today that is worse than
        when I was just a 16yr old and got so sucked into since I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life and where I was going…I did not want it to just go away..
        I was deeply attracted by the Hal Lindsey type stuff and 100’s of scholars and pastors
        spouting their “dispensational” histories and one trying to outdo the other bad believer who can’t figure out where history came from and where it is going…

        These theological bumpkins had it all figured out…Ya Right!!!

        I am looking back now and all these prophets, including myself were just plain wrong (but “we” and any other dispensationalist was just wrong….

        …not only the so-called prophecies but about all the other doctrines and dogmas that had to go with their apocalyptic world view , and long ago I could see Occam’s Big Swinging Pendulum Blade cutting off large parts of their asses!!! . What a joke!! Many years later …but even then I fought in these circles as well and couldn’t stand it back then either and ended up just saying to all the various views….Not one of you has the exact or even most probable view re these texts which get everyone going…. with lots of apocalyptic anxieties of every kind….all of them monsters in their own right according to the Book of Revelation…..a man wrote it while falling into or entering what he thought Jesus the spirit was saying to him and showing him… etc. He was channeling Jesus as he was writing…… using many OT prophets,, Wisdom Texts…etc.. A pile of stuff hijacked from the OT and people’s present perspectives…. and then these texts have been rewritten so many times one can;t count…

        and I see today a plethora of more of the biblical bullshit propounded everywhere these days….. Indeed we may experience a “real” apocalypse” some day… How in hell do I know for sure what is going to go down….. but this or that event doesn’t prove this text or that text is true and so you should join our Christian cult group…which are all apocalyptic to the core.

        worse yet and highly costly is to invest even in one of these apocalyptic views,whether financially and more and more propaganda like those floating around today is quite upsetting to me ..

        Sites like this are here to give out the best information we can to help others who are interested in such things and their implications for us “divine ” humans here on earth.

  5. I’ve had some thoughts on how linear time vs cyclic time has led to history and historical memory of what we see in scripture. Coupled with the notion that early Christianity was perhaps the fulcrum of this change over from cyclic time to linear time.

    It appears that is how zodiacal predictions might have started based on their memory of past events taking place at given times in cyclic past. It was less important when or how long ago something happened and more important in what season, what event was unfolding in the night sky at the time. It may also explain the crunching of time during the advent of Jesus – perhaps things said to happen might have actually not happened over the course of a single year? But over a decade?

    These are just stubs at the moment for later investigation.

  6. Just a note, the Olympiads, which I don’t see mentioned in this article, were used for dating prior to this. The article is very interesting, but I find it odd that they don’t mention the use of Olympiads in dating…

    1. Well, I have no excuse not to now that you’ve given me the link to the book! I have a little pile in my “to read” tray. Reading as fast as I can but sometimes I need to read slowly and follow up leads along the way.

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