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Historical Critique of Dispensationalism, Zionism, and Daniel’s Prophecy of 70 Weeks



    Any historical analysis and consideration of the Dispensational perspective on prophecy must take into account the paramount importance of the “Prophecy of Seventy Weeks” in Daniel 9: 24-27, particularly the 19th century historical developments which facilitated the creation of the “gap” or “parenthesis” theory between the 69th week and an allegedly futuristic 70th week; the recency of the doctrine of the pre-Tribulation rapture before the onset of the 70th week [1] ; and the derivative idea of the bifurcation of the coming of Jesus Christ into two stages, one involving His return for the saints before the Great Tribulation, the second involving His return with His saints after the expiration of the 70th week.

     After due consideration of these topics, the practical outworking of the “parenthesis” theory and the two-stage coming of Christ in Dispensational piety and action will be examined historically, both in terms of the 19th century and the 20th. [2]   Of special significance is the Dispensational religious/political alliance with the modern State of Israel and political Zionism, a development which has had profound impact on much of modern Protestant Evangelicalism’s understanding of the Kingdom and the role of the Church in political alliances and activism based on an eschatological belief system.

     The Dispensational position on Daniel 9 must first be understood in contrast to the two (2) other major exegetical schools of thought on the passage which have developed in history.  The first of these is the Maccabean; the second is the Traditional.  The former position is often associated with higher biblical critical assumptions about the dating and interpretation of the prophecy specifically, and the book of Daniel generally.  The Dispensationalist Emerson writes [3] : If Daniel were written 165 B. C. or thereabouts, how could a literary and religious writer have achieved complete anonymity among a people suffering persecution when any encouragement alleged to come from Jehovah would have been like a ray of light on a dark night?  If such a book achieved its purpose, someone (its author or its alleged discover) must certainly come to popular attention.  The Maccabees were not in the least anonymous.  Therefore why would the author of Daniel be, if he professed to have discovered a prophecy or to have written one?  We might ask ourselves what kind of a book should we expect from the exile period.  The two books of the Maccabees would be the types of books one naturally would expect to come out of the great persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes.  But Daniel shows sufficient evidence of belonging to the Babylonian Exile.  It has been rightly said: “If the Exile has that importance in relation to the development as already described, then the whole progressive development of the divine revelation as it lies before us in the Old and New Testaments, warrants such as are found in the book of Daniel.  Since miracles and prophecies essentially belong not only in general to the realization of the divine plan of salvation but have also been especially manifested in all the critical periods of the history of the kingdom of God neither the miracles in the historical parts of the book nor its prophecies, consisting of singular predictions, can in any respect seem strange to us.” [Emerson quoting C. F Keil, Bible Commentary on the Book of Daniel, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, p. 20]


     As we compare First Maccabees with the book of Daniel, we have in the former, the kind of book that embodies most of the elements that the book of Daniel should have had, had it been written in the Maccabean period.  To be more specific, Daniel should have been anti-Hellenic and shown zeal for the temple and temple worship and a holy indignation for those profaning it.  The book should have been full of zeal for the law and denunciation of those not so zealous.  First Maccabees is full of Palestinian places, names, local color and glorification of the Hasmonean exploits.  This we do not find in Daniel.  Even Montgomery [Emerson quoting J. A. Montgomery.  The Book of Daniel.  ICC Series.  Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1926, p. 90] says, “Further the historical background of these chapters is Babylonian.  Again their sumptuous barbaric scenery is obviously not that of Palestine:  one need only compare the arid scenery of the later chapters.”  Since 400 years had elapsed between the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and the Babylon of the Maccabean period, conditions utterly different had come into being with reference to the whole city and area.  The city had lost its preeminent position and was under Greek control.  What a wonderful research staff and what a wonderful source library the pseudo Daniel must have had.  He seems to have avoided the pitfalls into which Herodotus fell only a century after the events about which he wrote. How could the Jewish high priest in 332 B. C. have shown Alexander the Great the prophecy of Daniel as pertaining to his own conquests when, according to the theory, the book was not (to have been) written for another 164 years?  Josephus could hardly have imagined the dream that Alexander related to the high priest.  How also do we explain Jerusalem’s escape from destruction after its refusal to surrender?  And how do we explain its switch in loyalty from a nearly monotheistic Persia under which the Jewish people had peace, prosperity and governmental friendliness, to a polytheistic Macedonia? How could a book with such uncertain antecedents have ever become a part of the Canon of Scripture?

     It was not the Jewish custom to select the canonical books carelessly or at random [Emerson quoting Edersheim, The Life and Times of the Messiah, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1931, Volume 2, App. 5].  Even though Daniel is listed in the “writings” rather than in the “prophets”, we have no record of any hesitancy of including his book in the sacred Scripture until the time of Porphyry (233-304 A. D.).  It was the Jewish belief and criterion that all Scripture had a prophetic authorship. If the Maccabean authorship and the date of 165 B. C. for Daniel are rejected, when was it written?  If we were to accept the internal evidence aside from the evident familiarity of the author with the life and time of Nebuchadnezzar, we have two hints in the book itself.  The first chapter ends with the words, “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.”  If this is to be taken at face value, this chapter at least, may have been written 537-536 B. C.; i. e., in the first year of Cyrus.  On the other hand, Daniel’s final vision (Daniel 10: 1) dates the vision in the third year of Cyrus; that is 534-533 B. C., which would also be the dating of the last three chapters since they all are a part of the same vision.  The problem would thus be simple if we could be sure that all of the remaining chapters were written in the intervening two years.  We note that each chapter has a unity of style–in fact, all of the chapters together have a unity of style that would suggest that they were at least taken from notes put down on the spot at the time of the occurrence.  Since these were all written under inspiration and since the Holy Spirit brings to our minds not only from our own human experience but beyond our experience the things which he wills, there is nothing to prevent our dating the actual writing from 537-533 B. C.  After all, if John could write another apocalypse during a comparatively brief stay on Patmos, Daniel might well have written his prophecy in what could have been the last few years of his life.  Both books are the product of a long walk with God, and both are swan songs.

     The non-Dispensational scholars, R. K. Harrison and E. J. Young, also take issue with the higher Biblical criticism and late dating approach of the Maccabean school of interpretation.  Harrison notes the seminal role of Porphyry (3rd century A. D.) in denying a 6th century date for Daniel, and assigning to it the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.  Harrison also underscores the anti-supernaturalistic assumptions of the neo-Platonic philosopher, who “. . .  commenced his reasoning from the a priori assumption that there could be no predictive element in prophecy, so that the work could only be historical in nature, and therefore of a late date.  This formidable heathen antagonist of the Christian faith maintained that the author of Daniel had lied in order to revive the hopes of contemporary Jews in the midst of their adversities. . . .  The German literary-critical movement seized avidly upon the supposition that the prophecy could contain no predictive element, and repudiated the Jewish and Christian tradition of a sixth-century B. C. date of composition for the book. . . .  At the outset it has to be stated that there can be no question whatever as to the influence that the views of Porphyry exercised over the minds of scholars who denied a predictive element to Hebrew prophecy.  For them, prophecy consisted in forth telling rather than foretelling, so that any aspect of the latter could have no place in true prophecy.” [4]   Young agrees with this specifically [5] where the dating of the entire book of Daniel is concerned, as well as in the case of the “Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks” in chapter 9. [6]


Read, Study, Think, Discuss in a Class.

     Thus, both Dispensational and non-Dispensational evangelical scholars dismiss the Maccabean school of interpretation of Daniel 9 as rooted in a presuppositional anti-supernaturalism which either distorts or ignores internal evidences which point to the unity of the entire book under the authorship of the 6th century prophet.  The higher critics, who almost uniformly adhere to the interpretation, assert their position with equal vehemence: This chapter [chapter 9 of Daniel] consists, not of a symbolic vision, as in chs. 7-8, but of a revelation made directly by an angel.  In answer to Daniel’s prayer for a solution to the problem of why Jeremiah’s prophecy of a restoration of Israel after 70 years has not been fulfilled, the angel Gabriel explains to him that the prophecy means 70 weeks of years–i. e., 7 times 70 years.  Moreover, Gabriel divides these 490 years into three very unequal periods of 49, 434, and 7 years, respectively.  Because the writer’s calculations are only approximate and his historical references not always clear, there is still some difference of opinion in interpreting certain details in Gabriel’s explanation.  But practically all exegetes now agree that the 490 years terminate in the end of Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ persecution; the once common opinion that saw in vv. 26-27 a reference to the death of Jesus Christ is now abandoned by almost all exegetes [emphasis mine]. [7]

     The Catholic exegete, Hartmann, provides an excellent synopsis of the Maccabean summary of the prophecy. [8]   He translates the “Seventy Weeks” as “seventy Sabbatical periods.”  The change from the 70 years of Jeremiah to 7 times 70 years is based not only on the fact that Israel’s lack of complete repentance merited this sevenfold punishment (Lv. 26: 34-35) but also on 2 Chr. 36: 21, where Jeremiah’s prophecy is connected with the Sabbatical years spoken of in Lv. 26: 34-35.  Verse 24, for Hartmann, involves a brief summary of the whole period of 490 years.  If reckoned at its longest, from the time that Jeremiah first spoke his prophecy (605) to the end of Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ persecution (164), this period would be “only 441 years.  But the writerwho no doubt knew little of the chronology of the early post-exilic period, would not be disturbed by this discrepancy between his symbolic numbers and the historical facts.” [9] [emphasis mine].  Hartmann indicates that the reference to the “most holy will be anointed” almost certainly refers to the consecration by Judas Maccabeus of the restored Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple, although he acknowledges that the Church Fathers often applied it to Jesus, “the Anointed One.” [10]   In verses 25-27, the three main periods of the 490 years are acknowledged to exist.  Hartmann takes the reference to the anointed one of verse 25 as “probably” Cyrus the Great; less likely as Zerubbabel or the high priest Joshua.  “Only if one reckons from the second utterance of Jeremiah’s prophecy (ca. 595) to the anointing of Cyrus as king of Persia (558–a date the writer of Dn 9 would hardly know!) could the required 49 years be approximately obtained.  But the following words imply that the first period extends to the beginning of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which would embrace much more than seven weeks of years.” [11] [emphasis mine] He then indicates that the 62 weeks of years, or 434 years, allowed for the rebuilding of Jerusalem are “too many by far; from 538-171 (the next date) is only 367 years.” [12] [emphasis mine] In verse 26, Hartmann assigns to the “anointed shall be cut down”, the historical referent of the deposed high priest, Onias III, and his murder in Antioch in 171 B. C., thus his failure to possess the city of Jerusalem.  Also in verse 26, “the people of a leader” is linked to the Syrian army of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, which plundered the Jerusalem Temple in 169 and 167.  The phrase, “for one week” in verse 27 is the period after Onias’ death (170-163), with the accompanying theory that the writer of the chapter was writing a few months before the persecution ended in December, 164.  The “firm pact with the many” is allegedly Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ alliance with renegade Jews who favored the Hellenization of their culture.


     “‘Half the week” is for Hartmann, the second half of the seven year period beginning in 170, although he insists that the Temple desecration actually lasted only three years–from December, 167, to December, 164. Young and O. T. Allis, comprising the best of what Reiter calls the “Princeton-Westminster tradition,” [13] offer an interpretation of the prophecy which simultaneously rejects higher critical anti-supernaturalism while affirming the historical fulfillment of the 70th week in the events surrounding the first advent of Jesus Christ.  These respective schemas are representative of the Traditionalist, or what Reiter would term the Historicist school of interpretation. [14] 

     Allis deals most extensively with Daniel 9: 24-27 in Prophecy and the Church, chapter five, entitled, “Old Testament Prophecies Concerning the Kingdom,” where he begins by stating: The effect produced on the interpretation of prophecy by the “parenthesis” doctrine of the Church as set forth by Dispensationalists is one of the clearest proofs of the novelty of that doctrine as well as of its revolutionary nature.  In 1835 an article appeared in the Christian Witness, the earliest organ of the Brethren, in which the claim was made that all of the prophecies of Daniel are still unfulfilled, that they do not relate to the Church age but are to be fulfilled in the future kingdom age.  At the time this article was written the view was generally held that the Christian Church or dispensation was the great theme of Old Testament prophecy.  Today in Dispensational circles it is regarded as axiomatic that the Church is completely ignored by the prophets.  Consequently, the prophets have a very important role in deciding the issues raised by Dispensationalism.  And since the Dispensational doctrine that the Church was unknown to them was first applied to the Book of Daniel, we shall confine ourselves largely to it in testing the correctness of this method of interpreting the prophecies of the Old Testament. [15]


Turn off the TV. Read, think, pray, meditate, ruminate.

     Allis continues by saying that the importance of the “Prophecy of 70 Weeks” in Dispensational teaching can: hardly be exaggerated.  It is often appealed to as the conspicuous proof that the entire Church Age is a parenthesis in the prophetic program which is to be discovered between vvs. 26 and 27 of Dan. ix. . .  Since Dispensationalists hold that the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks is directly Messianic, it is not necessary for us to discuss the various anti-Messianic interpretations that have been proposed.  Our concern is to defend the form of the Messianic interpretation which has been called the “traditional” one because it has been so widely accepted, and to show its superiority over this “parenthesis” interpretation, the discovery of which has furnished, so Dispensationalists tell us, the key to the interpretation of prophecy. [16]

     Allis begins his summation of the Traditional perspective by acknowledging the points of agreement with Dispensationalism, chiefly that the seventy weeks represent weeks of years, a total of 490 years; that only one period of weeks is described, as is proved by the fact that the subdivisions (7+62+1) when added together give a total of 70; that the “anointed one, the prince” of verse 25 and the “anointed one” of verse 26 are the same person, the Messiah; and that the first 69 weeks or 483 years had their terminus in the period of the first advent–their fulfillment is long past. [17]   He then focuses on the two chief differences between the Traditional and Dispensational schools of interpretation.  First, the question of whether or not the great events described in vs. 24 have been fulfilled, or are yet future; second, the issue of whether or not the 70th week is past or future. [18]   Dispensationalists take the futurist perspective on both questions, a development Reiter freely acknowledges to be of 19th century origin.  The latter locates the genesis of the futuristic position on Daniel’s 70th week to a time just subsequent to the introduction of the futuristic approach to the Apocalypse in 1826 by Samuel R. Maitland. [19]   John Nelson Darby, the central figure in Brethrenism and “founder of dispensationalism,” then advanced the position that a “gap existed between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks, with the result that the seventieth week is still future.” [20]

     Allis’ presentation of the “Traditional” interpretation begins on page 113 of Prophecy and is as follows.  First, that according to the view, all of the great transactions referred to in vs. 24 are to be regarded as having been fulfilled at the first advent and, more specifically, in what is to be regarded as the “climactic event of the prophecy, the redemption at Calvary, which is referred to literally in verse 26 and figuratively in vs. 27.” [21]   The words, “to finish transgression and to make an end of (or seal up) sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity” are to be regarded as referring to that atonement for sin which was accomplished once and for all on the Cross.  This interpretation is in accord with many New Testament statements, e. g., Heb. x. 12-14.  Thus Allis reminds us that Paul says that: . . .  Jesus has “abolished death.” (2 Tim. 1. 10).  Death was a very real thing to Paul.  He was living under its shadow, when he wrote these words to Timothy.  But the fear of death and the power of death had been destroyed, because Christ had brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.  For Paul, death was indeed “abolished.”  Sin is, likewise, very much alive; it is very active in the world.  But sin was finally dealt with (“made an end of”) and reconciliation brought about through the death of Christ, His passive obedience as a sufferer for sin.  It only remains that the benefits of that finished work be applied to all those for whom it was performed.  The same applies to the three other matters referred to in this verse.  An “everlasting righteousness” was provided for all the redeemed through the active obedience of Christ, His perfect keeping of the law of God.  Prophecy was “sealed,” i. e., authenticated in a unique way by the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Christ; and prophetic gifts ceased in the Christian Church with the close of the apostolic age.  The “anointing of a most holy” may refer either to a person or to a place.  If to a person, the reference may be to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus to fit Him for His Messianic work (Lk.  iii.22; iv. 18); if to a place, it may refer to the entrance of the risen Christ into heaven itself, when “through his own blood he entered once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb.  ix.  12) for all His elect.


Under an Armenian Sky.

     In a word we have in vs. 24 the prophecy of the “satisfaction of Christ,” of His obedience and sufferings, by virtue of which the sinner obtains forgiveness and acceptance with God. According to this view, the 69th week ended with the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus; and the 70th week followed immediately upon it.  Consequently, the “cutting off” of the Anointed One which occurred, “after the threescore and two weeks” must be regarded as having taken place in the 70th week; and a reference to it is to be found in the words, “In the midst [half] of the week, he [the Messiah] shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”  That Christ by His death put an end to the Jewish ritual of sacrifice, substituting for bulls and goats “a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they,” is the great argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews.  So interpreted, it is the Messiah who makes firm or confirms the covenant for the one (the 70th) week;  and the crucifixion which takes place in the midst of it is the great event of that week and may be regarded as the climax of the entire prophecy. [22]

     Allis admits that the Traditional interpretive scheme is not without problems, simply that the problems posed are far less exegetically and historically problematic than those posited by the Dispensationalist grid.  He does concede that one difficulty resides in the fact that the Traditional interpretation does not clearly define the “terminus of the 70th week.” [23]   If “in the midst” is taken in its natural sense to refer to a half week, or 3 ½ years, the latter 3 ½ years must be accounted for.[24]   Allis regards as “possible” [25] the options that either the last half refers to the period of the founding of the Church and the preaching of the Gospel exclusively to the Jews, a period ending with or about the time of the martyrdom of Stephen; or that the time in question was “graciously extended to some 35 years, to the date of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, a reference to which is found in vs. 26.” [26]   His main point continues to be that if Calvary took place “in the midst of the week,” there can be “no interval between the 69th and the 70th weeks.” [27] 

     It is to be noted that the scheme of E. J. Young, another Traditionalist, is not without its mathematical problems.  In a summation which coincides with that of Allis, Young notes: The traditional Messianic interpretation entails less [emphasis mine] difficulty than do the others and at the same time does justice to the language of the text.  Upon this view the seventy sevens serve as a symbolical number for the period that has been decreed for the accomplishment of the Messianic salvation (v. 24).  In v. 25 we are taught that two segments of time elapse from the issuing of a word from God to rebuild Jerusalem until the appearance of Christ.  After these two segments have elapsed, the Messiah will be cut off by death and Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed by the Roman armies of Titus.  The Messiah, however, will cause the Jewish sacrifice to cease by means of His death, and He will do this in the midst of the seventieth seven.  As a consequence, the Temple will be destroyed, and the destruction will continue until the end appears which has been appointed by God.  The precise point of termination of the period of seventy sevens is not revealed.  The emphasis, rather, is not so much upon the beginning and termination of this period as it is upon the great results which the period has been set apart to accomplish. [emphasis mine] [28]


Mark Dankof photo of a Sunset in the Western Sky in South Texas.

     Finally then, must come a summation of the basic position of the best representatives of the Dispensational “gap” or “parenthesis” theory regarding Daniel 9: 24-27.  These representatives include modern exegetes John Walvoord, [29]Leon Wood, [30] Herman Hoyt, [31]   Paul Feinberg, [32] and Charles Ryrie, [33] as well as the classic, older Dispensational scholars, including Sir Robert Anderson, [34] Arno C. Gaebelein, [35] William Blackstone[36] and William Bell Riley. [37]   In summation, the basic outline of the Dispensational interpretation of the passage, beginning with Darby, is as follows–first, in contrast to the Traditional perspective, verses 24 and 27 are deemed to be future in their fulfillment. [38]   The “Prophecy of 70 Weeks” is part of the division of Daniel’s book (chapters 7-12) that records visions of future earthly kingdoms, both human and divine. [39]   J. Randall Price [40] continues the summary of the Dispensational position by mentioning the six restoration goals [41] of 9: 24, which are outlined by the remainder of chapter 9, in terms of events which will unfold in Israel’s subsequent history.  As Price notes, Dispensationalism joins with most Christian scholarship in holding that the seventy weeks are to be interpreted as seventy weeks of years; the resulting period of 490 years (70 x  7) is divided, according to the text (vv. 25-27), as periods of seven weeks (49 years), sixty-two weeks (434 years), and one week (7 years).  Dispensationalism is also in agreement with most evangelical scholarship in interpreting the context of the passage as messianic, with the coming of Messiah taking place after the sixty-nine weeks. [42] 

     What follows with Price is the crux of the Dispensational view of the passage: However, dispensationalism (classical) is distinct in its interpretation of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (v. 27) as future.  With Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and His death taking place after the sixty-ninth week (v. 26), the completion of the six restoration goals for Israel (v. 24) is left for the Seventieth Week.  If the Seventieth Week immediately succeeds the sixty-ninth week historically, then the expected restoration must be applied spiritually to the church as a new Israel [emphasis mine]. Because dispensationalism adheres to the principle of literal interpretation and recognizes the scriptural distinction between God’s program for Israel and for the church, it understands the historical completion of Israel’s restoration must take place in a future week [emphasis mine].  During this time (as described in v. 27), there is a resumption of the messianic program for Israel with the overthrow of the Antichrist (the apocalyptic prerequisite to the establishment of the messianic kingdom).  This interpretation requires [emphasis mine] a prophetic postponement [emphasis mine] (older writers referred to this as a gap or parenthesis [emphasis mine]) between the events of verses 26 and 27.  The revelation of a prophetic postponement in the fulfillment of the eschatological aspect of the messianic program is in harmony with numerous passages in the Old Testament [emphasis mine] that reveal the two [emphasis mine] advents of Christ [numerous passages cited]. . .  The six restoration goals of Daniel’s seventy-weeks prophecy (v. 24) may have a near fulfillment in the experience of the nation (Messiah’s redemptive advent) but must wait for its complete fulfillment in the future (Messiah’s restorative advent [emphasis mine]).


The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia.

     The postponement understood between verses 26 and 27 is the consequence of partial and complete fulfillment in the messianic program.  The first phase of the messianic program accomplished spiritual redemption for ethnic Israel in the First Advent (Matthew 1: 21; cf. Luke 2: 11).  National rejection of Messiah (Matt. 23: 37; cf. Acts 3: 13-15, 17; 4: 25-27), while fulfilling the promise of Gentile inclusion (Acts 15: 14-18; Rom. 11: 11, 25, 30), necessitated a second phase of the messianic program to apply spiritual redemption to Israel nationally (Acts 3: 18-21; Rom. 11: 26-29, 31) and complete the promise of national restoration (Matt. 23: 39; Acts 1: 6-7; 3: 22-26; 15: 16), which will be fulfilled at the Second Advent (Zech. 12: 10-13: 2; 14: 3-11).  The dispensational view depends on the validity of interpreting the Seventieth Week eschatologically [emphasis mine]. [43]

     This then, is the summation of the Dispensationalist exegesis of the passage.  In a review of different commentators in the literature, there are minor revisions and differences in emphasis, but the basic adherence to the parenthesis theory and the futuristic fulfillment of the 70th week is absolute.  One variance worth mentioning is the occasional difference over the dating of the beginning of the prophecy.  Most of the Dispensational commentators begin the 70 weeks at either 458 or 444 B. C. (Nehemiah 2), utilizing one of two decrees of an Achaemenid king of Persia to the Jews as the commencement of the allotted time for the unfolding of events in Israel’s prophetic program.  Occasionally, one will see reference to 538 B. C. as the commencement (Cyrus’ decree), but this is rare in comparison to the other two beginning points noted.

     What then, are the historical considerations presented by the Dispensational system, with particular reference to the futuristic view of Daniel 9, and the way in which 1 Thessalonians 4; 2 Thessalonians 2, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation 4-22 are woven around it?  It would seem that the initial paramount consideration would be the establishment of the genesis of the position in history; secondarily would be an examination of the way in which the Dispensational system has impacted American Evangelicalism, particularly in its understanding of the Kingdom, its historical pessimism about society and the Church, and the fascinating, often paradoxical character of the political/religious link it has forged with modern Zionism and the State of Israel.

     What are the sources, in terms of individuals and historical epochs, which enable the Dispensational theories of a parenthesis Church, a pre or mid-Tribulational Rapture, a Great Tribulation corresponding to Daniel’s 70th week, and a two stage coming of Christ, to be traced to their provable origins?  The absolute answers to these questions are a matter of debate, but ongoing historical research provides some clues, the meaning of which is in dispute between adherents of the Dispensational system and its opponents.

     At a bare minimum, it can be reliably asserted that the Dispensational distinctives aforementioned are 19th century developments, a developing system of Biblical interpretation that was unknown in earlier epochs and especially in the early Church.  It is true that Dispensational adherents attempt to maintain that their system is a continuation of historic premillennialism [44] , yet Ladd maintains that, “For all practical purposes, we may consider that this movement–for dispensationalism has had such wide influence that it must be called a movement–had its source with Darby and Kelly.” [45]    Robert Cameron  in 1896, had reacted with some others in the Niagara Bible Conference to some of the dispensational elements, blaming the movement completely on the Darbyists, saying that they had introduced “a theory absolutely without a single advocate in the history of the Church, from Polycarp down.” [46]   Timothy Weber, whose work, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming–American Premillennialism 1825-1982, is probably the most definitive historical appraisal of Dispensationalism since C. Norman Kraus’ 1958 book, Dispensationalism in America, agrees that futurism made its way into the English-speaking world in the early nineteenth century, with Darby its most creative innovator in the development of the Dispensational distinctives which subsequently received further refinement from such contributors as James Brookes and C. I. Scofield.  Interestingly enough, Weber traces the modern futurist movement to a Jesuit named Ribers, who proposed as early as 1590 that the prophecies concerning Antichrist would not be fulfilled until the very end of the church age, all in an attempt to undermine the Protestant claims that the papacy was in fact the Antichrist. [47]


Armenian Christians in Iran await the Savior’s return.

     This late 16th century historical source for futurism made a contribution uniquely suited to the gifts of Darby in his seminal development of the classic Dispensational system, first in the British Isles, then through his travels to the United States in post Civil War America, where the distinctives of the system received further refinement and promulgation in the 19th century American prophecy conferences, which both Weber and Kraus provide historical documentation of.  19th century America was in the midst of radical shifts in its culture, economy, and political structure subsequent to the Civil War.  Historicism had suffered a setback through the date-setting disaster of William Miller, a Baptist preacher from Vermont, who had calculated a foolproof arrival date for Jesus Christ of October 22, 1844.  Miller and his followers became the “laughing stocks” of American Evangelicalism when Christ failed to appear. [48]   The “Great Disappointment” resulted in the Millerite formation of the Seventh-Day Adventists, many of whom wrote off the rest of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism as the great whore of biblical prophecy (Rev. 17). [49] 


     By 1845, Premillennialism had fallen on hard times through Miller’s catastrophic mistake–yet by 1875 had rebounded in a new form called Dispensationalism, which held that no “last days” prophecy will be fulfilled until just before the return of Jesus Christ; which rejected the historicists’ “year-day theory” for dating prophetic events, and the idea that the Papacy was the Biblical Antichrist.  As Weber notes, the Dispensational denial that the prophecies were intended for the Church Age as a whole, served to relieve them of the “dangerous and often embarrassing task of matching biblical predictions with current events, and the task of setting dates for the second coming.” [50]   Weber adds that a key distinctive in the new system was the conviction that God has two completely different plans operating in history, one for an earthly people (Israel) and one for a heavenly people (the church).  “Rightly dividing the Word of Truth,”came to mean, in particular the maintenance of the distinction between the two people of God. [51]   C. H. Mackintosh, whose popularizations of Darby’s theology sold well in the United States, gave a clear exposition of the new, novel idea of the “parenthesis” or “gap” theory based on Daniel 9 to the 19th century faithful.[52] 

     Weber seizes upon the emerging radical implications and derivatives of this idea: In essence this meant that the Christian church had no prophecies of its own.  It occupied a mysterious, prophetic time warp, a “great parenthesis,” which had no place in God’s original plans.  . . .  This perspective left dispensationalists, to say nothing of the church, in a difficult position.  According to their reasoning, the church is in the world but can lay claim to none of the prophecies of future earthly events.  As we have already seen, dispensationalists blushed at the thought of assigning earthly prophecies to God’s heavenly people.  Furthermore, as every dispensationalist knew, the Bible bulged with predictions of future events. Daniel’s seventieth week, postponed for the time being, must occur sometime.  This time of trouble, called the great tribulation by all pre-millennialists, was described in great detail in Revelation and other places (e. g. Matt. 24 and II Thess. 2).  To complicate matters even further, dispensationalists believed that God was unwilling or unable to deal with his two peoples or operate his two plans at the same time.

     Consequently, it seemed necessary to remove the church [emphasis mine] before God could proceed with his final plans for Israel.  This rather difficult problem was easily solved by dispensationalism’s most controversial and distinctive doctrine–the secret, pretribulational rapture of the church [emphasis mine]. . . .  Up to the early 1830’s it seems that all futurist premillennialists had seen the rapture in conjunction with the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation.  But dispensationalists, taking their cues from the creative teaching of John Darby, separated them.  At the rapture, they said, Christ will come for his saints, and at the second coming, he will come with his saints.  Between these two events will occur the tribulation, which dispensationalists equated with Daniel’s seventieth week and the reign of Antichrist.  In this way the church will be removed from the scene so that God can resume his prophetic countdown and his dealings with Israel. [53] 


     The charge that a preconceived ecclesiology was forcing novel exegetical schemes and conclusions upon Daniel 9 and other Biblical texts proved irresistable to opponents of Dispensationalism.  Incredibly, some of its adherents, including John Walvoord, have agreed that the bifurcation of Israel and the Church is even more important than eschatology itself. Richard Reiter writes: Additional evidence for the importance of the doctrine of the church came from the vigorous and capable presentation of pretribulationism carried on throughout the early 1950s by John F. Walvoord, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, in Bibliotheca Sacra.  Published in 1957 as The Rapture Question, the series of essays that preceded The Blessed Hope by Ladd in 1956 picked up and answered Ladd’s criticisms along with those of earlier posttribulationists.  Walvoord clearly established that “the rapture question is determined more by ecclesiology than eschatology” for the definition of “church” and “the doctrine of the church is. . . determinative in the question of  whether the church will go through the tribulation” [Reiter quoting Walvoord, The Rapture Question page 50]. [54]

     This line of analysis mirrors Darby himself, who claimed that the doctrine [of the pre- Tribulational rapture] “virtually jumped out of the pages of Scripture once he accepted and consistently maintained the distinction between Israel and the Church.” [55]   He writes: It is this conviction, that the Church is properly heavenly in its calling and relationship with Christ, forming no part of the course of events of the earth, which makes its rapture so simple and clear; and on the other hand, it shows how the denial of its rapture brings down the Church to an earthly position, and destroys its whole spiritual character and position.  Prophecy does not relate to heaven.  The Christian’s hope is not a prophetic subject at all. [56]

     Kraus duly notes the prior importance of the ecclesiology issue for Darby, noting that, “It was not until several years after his break with the Anglican Church in 1827 that he became specifically interested in prophecy.  His interest in this subject is at least second handedly traceable to the Albury Conferences, out of which grew the Irvingite movement.” [57]   Kraus also quotes James Bear as indicating that the Albury Conferences, and the subsequent Powerscourt House conferences, were the traceable location and genesis of the Dispensational distinctives, where the “truths of the distinctive nature of the Church and the ‘rapture’ were discovered, which led to the development of a new complex of ideas which we know today as ‘Dispensationalism.’” [58] When the significance of Darby’s trips to Canada in 1859, 1864, and 1866, and his trips to the United States in 1870, 1872-1873, and 1874 are duly noted, [59] it is clear that Kraus is correct in demonstrating that all of the key figures in American Dispensational thought were merely repristinating and further developing and systematizing the basic ecclesiology and eschatology of Darby himself: Even a casual review of these outlines and explanations makes it clear that the American writers were influenced by Darby.  Their outlines are essentially repetitions; at best they are variations on a theme.  The differences in the outlines grow out of the relative emphasis placed on the definition of a dispensation as a historical or theological concept.  In each case a dispensation is a combination of both elements, the theological superimposed upon the historical.  However, dispensationalism is basically theological rather than historical in its orientation.  It is not primarily an attempt to trace the rise and fall of political, social, or religious movements in the passage of time.  It is, rather, a philosophy of history–an attempt to interpret history according to a theological norm.  Thus the differences which appear in the outlines are not essential, but are merely individual applications of the accepted dispensational norm.  When this point is clearly recognized it is immediately apparent what Darby’s relation is to those who follow.  He expounded the norm. [60]


A Western Sunset in Texas:  Mark Dankof photo during an evening walk thinking of the Second Coming of Christ.

     These American writers included S. H. Cox (1793-1880), Henry M. Parsons (1828-1913), the Christian Zionist William E. Blackstone (1841-1935), A. J. Frost, James Hall Brookes (1830-1897) who is termed by Kraus the “outstanding leader of the Bible conference movement from 1875 to the time of his death,” [61] and G. Campbell Morgan (1864-1945).[62]   These names were accompanied by pulpit presences influenced by Darbyism which included A. J. Gordon at the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston; D. L. Moody in Chicago; and of course, Brookes himself at the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. [63]   Kraus notes the significance as well, of the early division in the Plymouth Brethren movement over Darby’s Dispensational distinctives, coming chiefly from Benjamin Wills Newton (1805-1898) and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875), who became increasingly marginalized in Darby’s takeover of the mainstream of the movement, and in the latter’s exportation of the distinctives to a waiting American audience: Early in the Brethren movement two viewpoints concerning eschatology emerged. As Darby developed his dispensational concepts he met with opposition within his own group.  Benjamin Wills Newton (1805-1898) and the great textual scholar, Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875), disagreed with his dispensational distinctions.  George Muller who had joined the Plymouth Brethren in 1830 also felt, as he told Robert Cameron, that he had to make a choice between Mr. Darby and the Bible, and that he had chosen the Bible. But it was the “exclusive Brethren” under the leadership of Darby that made the initial contacts in America [emphasis mine].  Probably the two most popular writers, and the widest read by American ministers, were William Trotter and Charles Henry Macintosh, although the writings of William Kelly and Darby also circulated widely.  Until about 1880 the literature of Tregelles, Newton, and George Muller had very little influence upon the Bible conference movement; and when it did become known it did not turn the tide of dispensationalism [emphasis mine]. [64]

     Thus, a historical line of development in the development and promulgation of Dispensational Distinctives may legitimately be drawn from Darby and his “exclusive Brethren” to his most distinguished 19th century exponents, including Brookes, Trotter, Macintosh, and Blackstone; subsequently to C. I. Scofield and his most significant editor for his early 20thcentury Scofield Reference Bible, Arno C. Gaebelein; [65] later to the more recent responsible refinements of the Dispensational system through the work of Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles Ryrie, and John Walvoord; and finally to the Sensational Dispensationalism of Hal Lindsey and the Late Great Planet Earth in 1970, whose 18 million copies in sales popularized a position whose lineage is traceable to the Irishman Darby and his disenchantment with the Anglican communion.  In all of these writers, the futuristic 70th week of Daniel, the two-stage coming of Christ, and the secret, “at any moment” pre-Tribulational Rapture predominate, in the interest of maintaining the Church/Israel dichotomy.

     But is there any conclusive historical evidence for how or where Darby received his inspiration for the doctrine of the pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church?  According to Weber, “historians are still trying to determine how or where Darby got it.” [66]   Darby’s opponent, Tregelles, charged that the idea originated in about 1832 during an ecstatic utterance in the congregation of Edward Irving, where the charismatic gifts of the Spirit were alleged to have been poured out. [67]   Weber remarks that: A newer though still not totally convincing view contends that the doctrine initially appeared in a prophetic vision of Margaret Macdonald, who was a teenager from Glasgow, Scotland, in the early part of 1830. According to some recently discovered (and confusing) manuscripts, Miss Macdonald claimed special insight into the second coming and may have even advocated a pretribulation rapture of the church.  Shortly after her vision of the end, Margaret began speaking in tongues and became, along with other members of her family, one of the main attractions of a charismatic type of revival in western Scotland.  Deeply disturbed by the reports of a new Pentecost, the Plymouth Brethren commissioned Darby to investigate.  He arrived in the middle of 1830 and, according to his own testimony twenty-three years later, actually met and heard Miss Macdonald.  According to recent theory, Darby returned home totally against the so-called outpouring of the Spirit, but borrowed Margaret Macdonald’s view of the rapture, modifying it at a number of points and fitting it into his system, without ever acknowledging his debt to her. [68]


God’s peace in Iran.

     The riposte between Dave MacPherson [69] and John Walvoord is apropos here.  MacPherson, in the Great Rapture Hoax, states definitively that Margaret MacDonald’s revolutionary revelation of a two-stage Second Coming came to her as she studied various Scripture passages in the spring of 1830 in Port Glasgow, Scotland.  He develops this line of argument by claiming in Appendix A, entitled, “Margaret’s Revelation,” that: One of her unique thoughts was that the first stage (the Rapture) would take place before the revealing of the Antichrist–an idea that had never been heard of in Church history before she expressed it!  Not long after her revelation, she wrote down her account of everything and sent handwritten copies of it to a number of Christian leaders.  The Morning Watch, a leading British publication, quickly copied some of her distinctive notions.  Her revelation was first published in Robert Norton’s Memoirs of James and George Macdonald, of Port Glasgow (1840), pp.  171-176.  Norton published it again in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861), pp.  15-18. [70]

     MacPherson then reproduces the text of Macdonald’s “two-stage revelation” with numbered  lines of 1-117 for easy reference. [71]   He divides the 117 line revelation into three (3) basic divisions entitled, 1) Preparation for the Rapture [lines 1-60]; 2) The Revealing of Antichrist [lines 60-87]; and 3) General Exhortations [lines 87-117]. [72]   An extremely detailed and difficult analysis of the 117 lines follows on pages 133-180 of Hoax, where MacPherson draws certain conclusions about Darby based on a written communication of the latter allegedly penned in 1833: I trust many have been aroused since I have been here, and the Lord’s coming looked for by many, and some brought to peace.  We have also some very nice scripture reading meetings, to which any of the clergy who hold the truth, have fallen in, though quite mixed, and every one at liberty to speak.  It is chiefly, of course, on what may be called first principles, but I trust thorough ones practically.  It is a remarkable circumstance, that a dear young lady, who was instrumental in setting them afloat for me, and at several members of whose family they were held–who had been only called about a year by the Lord, but was very decided ever since–was suddenly called away the other day in the midst of it all.  The people in Limerick felt it a good deal, and I trust it may be the instrument of good to many.  The whole family, which was a principal one here, had been all thoroughly worldly a year ago, and herself and her sister at the head of all idleness. [MacPherson quoting Darby in Letters, vol. 1, p. 15) [73]

     MacPherson then concludes that: Why did Darby admit such things about a young Irish lady (written three years after Margaret’s revelation) and not give Margaret any credit for her prior Rapture?  Surely he must have known that sooner or later someone could discover the real Pre-Trib origin.  The answer, as I see it, is that Darby was a well-read, knowledgeable opportunist, one who had studied to be a lawyer.  He had been in Margaret’s home in mid-1830 and knew that her distinctive views had been picked up quickly by The Morning Watch and also by other Irvingites and his own Plymouth Brethren.  He knew that, in time, memories and personalities would fade away and that he could well be regarded as the Pre-Trib Rapture’s great systematizer and promoter, if not immediately its originator. [74]

     In appendix C of Hoax, MacPherson provides the complete text of a letter he penned to Dr. Robert H. Gundry of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.  Gundry, after receiving the letter dated January 21, 1980, allegedly changed his book The Church and the Tribulation, deleting his previous support for Edward Irving as the pre-Tribulation Rapture originator, and substituting MacPherson’s evidence about Margaret Macdonald as the historical explanation for the doctrine’s origin.  The corrected text appeared in Gundry’s sixth printing in December of 1980. [75]   In his letter to Gundry, MacPherson continues his conclusions about Darby: No one disputes the fact that modern Pre-Tribism can be traced back to John Darby.  In the Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Vol.  II, p. 102, Darby claimed in an 1850 work of his that II Thessalonians 2: 1-2 was the passage that gave him a seal of approval for believing in Pre-Trib.


     His statement follows: “It is this passage which, twenty years ago, made me understand the rapture of the saints before–perhaps a considerable time before–the day of the Lord (that is before the judgment of the living.”  Darby, unlike many of today’s Pre-Tribs, rightly held that the day of the Lord starts at the end of the Tribulation.  Note that in the early development of his Pre-Tribism Darby didn’t dogmatically see a big gap between the Rapture and the end of the Tribulation; he did say “considerable” (whatever that meant) but tied in that word with “perhaps.” Note also the reference to “twenty years ago”–which brings us back to 1830.  But was he figuring precisely or only approximately?  Where, in his 1830 writings, did he give evidence of such a doctrinal change-over?  In the Dec 1830 Christian Herald Darby’s article entitled, “On ‘Days’ Signifying ‘Years’ in Prophetic Language,” was a defense of historicism and the year-day theory, with not even a hint of a two-stage coming.  It should be remembered that Margaret was teaching a two-stage coming in the spring and summer of 1830, that the Irvingite journal I’ve already mentioned printed the same concept in its Sept 1830 issue, and that the Plymouth Brethren were preaching a two-stage coming in 1831.  Existing evidence indicates that Darby was clearly a Post-Trib prior to 1830 (as he indicated in his 1850 work), the earliest moment he could have derived it from anyone else (and I’m taking all available documentation into consideration) was when he visited Margaret in her home in Scotland in the middle of 1830. [76]

     Walvoord evaluates the MacPherson evidence in The Rapture Question [77] and The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation [78] citing five specific reasons for casting aspersion on the historical accuracy and motives of some of MacPherson’s sources, not to mention the latter’s conclusions that Darby definitively received any of his ideas or positions on the Rapture from Margaret Macdonald.  His points are cogently argued, and underscore Weber’s description of the manuscripts in question as “confusing.” [79]   What is more revealing, however, than Walvoord’s well crafted response to MacPherson, are the former’s admissions that: “One of the strongest arguments of the posttribulational view is the claim that pretribulationism is a new doctrine. . . .  He [Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of Christ, pp. 30-33] went on to trace the rise of pretribulationism.  “About 1830, however, a new school arose within the fold of Pre-millennialism that sought to overthrow what, since the Apostolic Age, have been considered by all pre-millennialists as established results, and to institute in their place a series of doctrines that had never been heard of before.  The school I refer to is that of ‘The Brethren’ or ‘Plymouth Brethren,’ founded by J. N. Darby.” . . .  The assertion that pretribulationism in its modern form can be traced to some extent [emphasis mine] to Darby is supported by Darby’s own writings.  In his search for premillennial truth, Darby arrived at the position that the church is a special work of God distinguished from His program for Israel.  This in turn led, to the position that the Rapture is a special event for the church itself. [80] [emphasis mine] . . .  The statement of Ladd [George Eldon Ladd] that pretribulationism until the nineteenth century is a half truth.  Pretribulationism as it is known today is comparatively recent [emphasis mine], but the concept of imminency of the Lord’s return–which is the important point–clearly dates to the early church[81] 

     So the recency of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, the Two-Stage coming of Christ, and a futuristic view of the 70th week of Daniel would appear to be on solid ground historically, dating back to Darby and the 19th century, regardless of the question of the legitimacy of the evidence surrounding the Margaret Macdonald allegations by MacPherson.  Weber, in the course of his work, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming–American Premillennialism 1825-1982, surveys other items of historical concern and significance in any survey of Dispensationalism.  These include the pivotal importance of the American Civil War and World War I in facilitating the societal turbulence and uncertainty which created fertile soil for the apocalyptic pessimism associated with Dispensationalism; the theological crisis created by German higher critical Biblical scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries which saw Dispensationalism increasingly perceived as the “conservative” alternative to anti-supernaturalism and rationalism (a perception aided and abetted by the effective development of Dispensationally oriented publishing houses and the Dispensationally oriented Bible Institute movement); and the developing, often paradoxical, political alliance between modern Zionism and a Dispensationally oriented Protestant Evangelicalism.


Mark Dankof in Moscow, Russia in October 1992.

     In this last regard, Weber’s October 5, 1998 Christianity Today article chronicles the amazing career of William E. Blackstone as the premier American Dispensationalist in energizing the Zionist-Dispensationalist alliance for the purpose of creating the modern State of Israel, an alliance made possible only by the Dispensationalist “postponement of the Kingdom for Israel” theory based on its exegesis of Daniel, chapter 9:

No American dispensationalist beat the drum for a Jewish state more than William E. Blackstone (1841-1935).  Born in New York and reared in an evangelical Methodist home, after the Civil War Blackstone settled in Oak Park, Illinois, and established himself as a successful businessman and lay evangelist to the Chicago business community.  He became a dispensationalist and a close friend of D. L. Moody.  In 1878, he published Jesus is Coming, which went through three editions, was translated into 42 languages, and was dispensationalism’s first bestseller in America. In the late 1880s, Blackstone visited new Jewish settlements in the Holy Land and returned to Chicago committed to helping the restoration of the Jews.  In 1890 he organized the first conference of Christians and Jews in Chicago and used the occasion to push for a new Jewish state.  Most participants, including the Jews, were not interested. Undeterred, in 1891 Blackstone drew up a petition (or “memorial”) advocating the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.  In short order, he collected 413 signatures from leading Americans, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the speaker of the House, the mayors of Chicago, New York, and Boston, and business leaders such as Cyrus McCormick, John D. Rockefeller, and J. Pierpont Morgan.  Blackstone forwarded the memorial to President Benjamin Harrison, who ignored it, and later he sent others to Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. In spite of his ongoing efforts to convert Jews to Christ, he became good friends with Zionist leaders and regularly sent them the results of his prophetic study.  In 1918, at a Zionist conference in Philadelphia, organizers hailed Blackstone as a “Father of Zionism”; and in 1956, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of his memorial to President Harrison, the citizens of Israel dedicated a forest in his honor. [82]

     The historical import of the Blackstone activities on behalf of the Zionist movement cannot be exaggerated, either for Israel or the Evangelical movement in America.  In the case of the latter, Blackstone set the foundation for the subsequent development of what Weber terms the “pro-Israel network,” [83] encompassing much of the televangelist community, including Jerry Falwell, John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and Pat Robertson; the burgeoning number of pro-Zionist Evangelical para-church organizations, ranging from Jan Van Der Hoeven’s International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, to the Tulsa based Bridges for Peace, the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI), the Restoration Foundation of Atlanta, the Arkansas Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the First Fruits of Zion Ministries. [84]   Closer examination reveals the foundation of the Fundamentalist/Pentecostal political/religious network–the belief that the second coming of Jesus Christ is tied, eschatologically, to the reestablishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, and the resumption of Jewish control of the united city of Jerusalem.  As Weber states, “Obviously, the key to this entire prophetic plan is the re-founding of Israel as a nation state in Palestine.  Without Israel the whole plan falls apart. [85]

     The paradoxes of this alliance are legion. The cooperative relationship between Protestant Evangelicals of Dispensational ideology and Israel has muted the former’s criticism of the obvious political and financial links of the American Jewish lobby with many of the far political left’s most recognizable names, movements, and organizations, including the disturbing amount of Jewish money generated for the homosexual rights nexus, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Norman Lear’s People for the American Way, the last of which underscores the acknowledged, but downplayed role of American Jews in the financial underpinning of the Hollywood establishment and culture.  Simultaneously, the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and its disbursement of money for Presidential, Senatorial, and House campaigns reveals a similar curiosity–the contribution of cash to politicians across the ideological spectrum from port to starboard, ranging from Bella Abzug to Jesse Helms–politicians who share in some cases only one position in common–the desirability of maintaining a Jewish state in Palestine.


     The Evangelical-Liberal alliance is not without its tensions.  Earlier in this decade, Abraham Foxman, the executive director of the Anti Defamation League of B’nai Brith, mailed a fund-raising letter to his national constituency, energizing their desire to contribute money by raising the red herring of the alleged threat to Jewish civil liberties and freedom in America inherent in the existence of the politically oriented Religious Right in America.  The letter specifically cited the threat to the homosexual rights movement and the continued legalization of abortion in America as definitively Jewish concerns.  It then proceeded to suggest that the appeal of televangelists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell–two of Israel’s biggest supporters within Evangelicalism–was suggestive of a latent, burgeoning anti-Semitism in the United States.  This amazing attack upon two of Protestant Evangelicalism’s biggest heavyweights in the pro-Israel network by Foxman, was considered sensational, ill-advised, and without historical context by many Evangelicals familiar with his communication.  The latter were amazed that the media access and popularity of The Old Time Gospel Hour and The 700 Club could possibly invoke images of hatred and anti-Semitic progroms.

     Behind Foxman’s visceral attack, however, could have lurked a historical context unfamiliar to most modern Evangelicals–the curious, tragic, ill-advised linkage of several prominent Dispensationalists in the early part of the 20th century with the benchmark of international anti-Semitism, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. [86]   The Protocols articulated an alleged international Jewish linkage and foundation for a global ideological, political program, which included the extermination of Christianity and the sponsorship of International Communism, particularly through the control of international finance and banking, the manipulation and overthrow of existing governments, and subversive utilization of the print media.

     The Jewish Student Online Research Center (JSOURCE)’s web site on the Protocols reveals the extent of the ongoing relevance of the Protocols for Jewish fears of an international resurgence of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence.  Its synopsis of the Protocols states: The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the most notorious and most successful work of modern antisemitism, draws on popular antisemitic notions which have their roots in medieval Europe from the time of the Crusades.  The libels that the Jews used blood of Christian children for the Feast of Passover, poisoned the wells and spread the plague were pretexts for the wholesale destruction of Jewish communities throughout Europe.  Tales were circulated among the masses of secret rabbinical conferences whose aim was to subjugate and exterminate the Christians, and motifs like these are found in early antisemitic literature. The conceptual inspiration for the Protocols can be traced back to the time of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century.  At that time, a French Jesuit named Abbe Barruel, representing reactionary elements opposed to the revolution, published in 1797 a treatise blaming the Revolution on a secret conspiracy operating through the Order of Freemasons.  Barruel’s idea was nonsense, since the French nobility at the time was heavily Masonic, but he was influenced by a Scottish mathematician named Robison who was opposed to the Masons.  In his treatise, Barreul did not himself blame the Jews, who were emancipated as a result of the Revolution.  However, in 1806, Barruel circulated a forged letter, probably sent to him by members of the state police opposed to Napoleon Bonaparte’s liberal policy toward the Jews, calling attention to the alleged part of the Jews in the conspiracy he had earlier attributed to the Masons. This myth of an international Jewish conspiracy reappeared later on in 19th century Europe in places such as Germany and Poland. The direct predecessor of the Protocols can be found in the pamphlet, “Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu,” published by the non-Jewish French satirist Maurice Joly in 1864.  In his “Dialogues,” which make no mention of the Jews, Joly attacked the political ambitions of the emperor Napoleon III using the imagery of a diabolical plot in Hell.  The “Dialogues” were caught by the French authorities soon after their publication and Joly was tried and sentenced to prison for his pamphlet.


     Joly’s “Dialogues,” while intended as a political satire, soon fell into the hands of a German anti-Semite named Hermann Goedsche writing under the name of Sir John Retcliffe.  Goedsche was a postal clerk and a spy for the Prussian secret police.  He had been forced to leave the postal work due to his part in forging evidence in the prosecution against the Democratic leader Benedict Waldeck in 1849.  Goedsche adapted Joly’s “Dialogues” into a mythical tale of a Jewish conspiracy as part of a series of novels entitled, “Biarritz,” which appeared in 1868.  In a chapter called “The Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the Council of Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel,” he spins the fantasy of a secret centennial rabbinical conference which meets at midnight and whose purpose is to review the past hundred years and to make plans for the next century.

     Goedsche’s plagiary of Joly’s “Dialogues” soon found its way to Russia.  It was translated into Russian in 1872, and a consolidation of the “Council of Representatives” under the name “Rabbi’s Speech” appeared in Russian in 1891.  These works no doubt furnished the Russian secret police (Okhrana) with a means with which to strengthen the position of the weak Czar Nicholas II and discredit the reforms of the liberals who sympathized with the Jews.  During the Dreyfus case of 1893-1895, agents of the Okhrana in Paris redacted the earlier works of Joly and Goedsche into a new edition which they called the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  The manuscript of the Protocols was brought to Russia in 1895 and was printed privately in 1897. The Protocols did not become public until 1905, when Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War was followed by the Revolution in the same year, leading to the promulgation of a constitution and institution of the Duma.  In the wake of these events, the reactionary “Union of the Russian Nation” or Black Hundreds organization sought to incite popular feeling against the Jews, who they blamed for the Revolution and the Constitution.  To this end they used the Protocols, which was first published in a public edition by the mystic priest Sergius Nilus in 1905.  The Protocols were part of a propaganda campaign that accompanied the pogroms of 1905 inspired by the Okhrana.  A variant text of the Protocols was published by George Butmi in 1906 and again in 1907.  The edition of 1906 was found among the Czar’s collection, even though he had already recognized the work as a forgery.  In his later editions, Nilus claimed that the Protocols had been read secretly at the First Zionist Congress at Basle in 1897, while Butmi, in his edition, wrote that they had no connection with the new Zionist movement, but, rather, were part of the Masonic conspiracy.

     In the civil war following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the reactionary White Armies made extensive use of the Protocols to incite widespread slaughters of Jews.  At the same time, Russian emigrants brought the Protocols to western Europe, where the Nilus edition served as the basis for many translations, starting in 1920.  Just after its appearance in London in 1920, Lucien Wolf exposed the Protocols as a plagiary of the earlier work of Joly and Goedsche, in a pamphlet of the Jewish Board of Deputies.  The following year, in 1921, the story of the forgery was published in a series of articles in the London Times by Philip Grave, the paper’s correspondent in Constantinople.  A whole book documenting the forgery was also published in the same year in America by Herman Bernstein (The Truth About the “Protocols of Zion”; reprinted with an introduction by Norman Cohn.  New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1971).  Nevertheless, the Protocols continued to circulate widely.  They were even sponsored by Henry Ford in the United States until 1927, and formed an important part of the Nazis’ justification of genocide of the Jews in World War II. [87]


     As Weber has documented, [88] the endorsement of the Protocols by James M. Gray, the president of Moody Bible Institute, and Arno C. Gaebelein, a key editor of the Scofield Reference Bible, was most problematic; the promulgation of the document by Gerald Winrod, documented by both Weber and Norman Cohn, [89] and William Bell Riley, was further linkage of recognizable first and second tier Dispensationalists and Fundamentalists with the dynamite represented by the Protocols, a situation that reached its peak with their publication by Henry Ford in the Dearborn Independent in the early 1920s.  From that time on, the Protocols became “exhibit A” in the propaganda campaign of the American anti-Semitic right. [90]   The magnitude of the historical irony cannot be lost–that those accused by their non-Dispensational brethren in Evangelical Protestantism of affording present day ethnic Israel a premier place in God’s redemptive-historical plan that was obviated by the events of 30-33 A. D. and 70 A. D., are simultaneously stained in the historical record of the 1920s and 1930s over the issue of anti-Semitism through the involvement of Gray, Gaebelein, Winrod, and Riley in the quagmire posed by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

     Gaebelein’s writings reveal this paradox.  In his commentary on Daniel [91] , he makes clear his complete endorsement of the classic Dispensational scheme on the “Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks” and its “parenthesis” and “postponement” theories designed to enable the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to ethnic Israel for the restoration of their earthly Kingdom.  One hint, however, of what would come in his controversial endorsement of the Protocols in the 1933 work, The Conflict of the Ages, [92] occurs in the Daniel commentary attached as an addendum to page 150, where a full page chart on the “Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks” is printed.  In the portion of the chart entitled, “The Great Unreckoned Period,” (between the 69th and 70th weeks), Gaebelein places the repristination of ethnic Israel in Palestine. The reference to this event is entitled, “Part of the Jewish nation returns to the land in unbelief [emphasis mine] (Zionism) [emphasis mine].” [93]

     However correct this statement may be theologically, it may have had unfortunate consequences for both Gaebelein personally and the Dispensational movement historically, when coupled with his writings in chapter six of The Conflict of the Ages, a chapter entitled, “The Russian Revolution–Marxism Triumphant–World Revolution.”  Here Gaebelein makes specific linkage of the global Jewish constituency to the International Communist Conspiracy, with his documentation of the allegedly disproportionate percentage of Jewry involved in the Bolshevist Revolution in Russia.  Then comes the climax–his endorsement of the Protocols:

And now we have to say something about that extremely mysterious document known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  This document first came to light about 16 years before the first Russian Revolution.  It was published by a Russian, Serge Nilus in 1901 and passed through a number of editions.  A copy was deposited in the British Museum in 1907.  The information as to Nilus is meager.  We have seen the title page of one of these original editions and that page gives a strong indication that the man was a believer in the Word of God, in prophecy, and must have been a true Christian [emphasis mine]. The title is “It is Near at the Door.”  Then we noticed the following Scripture passages printed on the title page: Matthew xxiv: 33; Mark xiii: 29;   Luke 21: 31; Revelation i: 3; xxii: 10; Daniel xii: 4.  On the rest of this page we find the following statements: “Concerning something people do not wish to believe and which is so near [emphasis original].”  Fourth edition of the book “Near is the Coming of Antichrist and the Kingdom of the Devil on Earth.”  Revised and considerably augmented by later Researches and investigation.  “Dedicated to the Small Herd of Christ. [emphasis original]” Finally two other passages are quoted in full: I Thessalonians v: 4 and Matthew xxiv: 13.  [notice all of the Scripture passages cited by the document are classic eschatological texts–Dankof] Furthermore in reading these “Protocols” as contained in the book of Nilus, one becomes deeply convinced that an humble man of the stamp of Nilus could not possibly have written such a deeply worded statement.  The reading of these Protocols impress one rather that they are the work of a set of very able men, students of history, of economics, and world politics [emphasis mine].  But the most important fact is that throughout the twenty-four Protocols we have a very pronounced re-statement of the principal theories of Illuminism and Marxism [emphasis original]. They have been branded a forgery by Jews and Gentiles.  The authorship of this serious document will, in the opinion of the writer, never be ascertained.  The words of the father of modern Zionism, Dr. Theodor Herzl, advocating a Jewish state, saying–“When we sink we become a revolutionary proletariat,” are insufficient to link Zionism with the Protocols, as it has been attempted.  But the advocated plan of World Domination and World Revolution is a most sinister one.  And here is the most astonishing fact, nearly all that these Protocols advocate, the destruction of Christian civilization [emphasis mine], has at least been partially been brought about by the Revolution and Sovietism.  The work of undermining is still followed.  A painstaking and deeper study of the Protocols, compared with present day world conditions, must lead, and does lead, to the conviction, that the plan of the Protocols, who ever concocted it, is not a crude forgery [crude forgery emphasis in original].  Behind it are hidden, unseen actors, powerful and cunning, who follow the plan still, bent on the overthrow of our civilization [emphasis mine].  (Quotes from the Protocols follow in the text).[94]


Music to study, think, write, and worship The Triune God.

     Gaebelein, and other well meaning Dispensationalists like Gray, had no idea at the time that their eschatology, designed to uphold and redeem ethnic Israel as the apple of the eye of God the Father, would be forever linked in many Jewish scholarly circles with both anti-Semitism generally and Nazism specifically.  This mental association is documented by Jewish scholar Norman Cohn in Warrant for Genocide in 1981, a work undertaken for the Brown University Judaic Studies Series in volume 23, a series with a Board of Editors comprised of leading Jewish historians and academics from George Washington University, Emory University, the University of California/Berkeley, Haifa University, the University of Texas, Ohio State University, et. al.  Cohn’s work explicitly takes Scriptural texts given a particular slant of interpretation by Dispensationalists and states the following:

This extraordinary fact is that even these weird extravagances found believers.  It is certain that many twentieth-century devotees of the Protocols really have imagined the secret Jewish government as composed of oriental sorcerers–one has only to look at the commentary on the Protocols published in Madrid in 1963 to find pages upon pages about ‘the kabbalah’.  Nor is this the only respect in which des Mousseaux provides the link between the Protocols and archaic, half-forgotten religious beliefs.  One of the most unexpected features of the Protocols is that Jewish world domination is to be exercised through a Jewish king, whom all nations will accept as their savior [emphasis mine].  This figure is taken straight from the end of the last chapter of Gougenot des Mousseaux.  As he nears his 500th page the industrious author allows himself a flight of prophetic frenzy in which he foretells how, in the midst of a great European war, the Jews will raise up ‘a man with a genius for political imposture, a sinister bewitcher, around whom fanatical multitudes will cluster.’  The Jews will hail this man as the Messiah, but he will be more than that. After destroying the authority of Christianity he will unite mankind in one great brotherhood and bestow on it a superabundance of material goods.  For these great services the Gentile nations too will accept him, exalt him, worship him as a god–but in reality, for all his apparent benevolence, he will be Satan’s instrument for the perdition of mankind [Cohn references Gougenot des Mousseaux, Le Juif, le Judaisme et la judaisation des peuples chretiens, Paris, 1869, pp.  485-98). Gougenot des Mousseaux states repeatedly that what inspired him to write this passage was the prophecy of Antichrist.  According to this prophecy in the second chapter of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the second coming of Christ and the Last Judgement will be immediately preceded by the appearance of Antichrist, ‘the man of sin, the son of perdition’.  He will demand to be worshiped by God; and by the miracles which he will perform with the Devil’s help he will deceive all who are willing to be deceived.  He will establish his rule over the whole world until the returning Christ destroys him with the breath of his mouth.  So far the New Testament–but in the second and third centuries after Christ, as the Church and the Synagogue came more and more sharply into competition and conflict with one another, Christian theologians began to give a new interpretation to this prophecy.  They foretold that Antichrist would be a Jew and would love the Jews above all peoples; while the Jews for their part would be the most faithful followers of Antichrist, accepting him as the Messiah.  As to what would happen next, the theologians were divided.  If some expected the Jews to be miraculously converted to Christianity, others expected that they would follow Antichrist to the end and on the return of Christ would be sent, along with Antichrist, to endure the torments of hell for all eternity. It has been argued elsewhere that the Nazi belief is a Jewish world-conspiracy represents a revival, in a secularized form, of certain apocalyptic beliefs which once formed part of the Christian world-view (see Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, revised editions, London and New York, 1961-2, pp. 62-3, 310).  In this instance one can trace the precise way in which an apocalyptic belief–in the coming of Antichrist–contributed to the making of the Protocols, which were to become part of the Nazi scriptures.  And indeed the connexion between the Protocols and the Antichrist prophecy does not stop there.  In later chapters we shall see how the first important edition of the Protocols appeared in a Russian book about the imminent coming of Antichrist; and how something of the same apocalyptic atmosphere appears even in the thinking and writing of Hitler and Rosenberg as soon as they touch on the Protocols and the Jewish world-conspiracy. [95]  


Encountering the Mystery of the Real Presence of Christ as a Child in Trinity Lutheran Church of Wahiawa, Hawaii.


     Thus, a novel interpretation of the book of Daniel and the “Prophecy of Seventy Weeks,” which originated in the early 19th century in the British Isles and later became prominent in post Civil War America through the ministry of Darby and his “exclusive Brethren” to key American Evangelicals, has had a turbulent history in the 20th century.  To its non-Dispensational Evangelical detractors, it has embodied a non-Biblical view of the Kingdom and the Church which ascribes to ethnic Israel a significance and importance in world history thought to have ceased in God’s redemptive-historical time line with the destruction of the Temple in A. D. 70 at the hands of the Romans; to a secular political world and news media, it has provided the only interpretive key to understanding the improbable alliance of many Protestant Evangelicals with Israel and many of its Jewish allies and supporters on the political port side of the spectrum; to others, its eschatological scheme suggests the historical opposite of what its adherents claim, namely an ideological foundation for world anti-Semitism and virulent anti-Semitic propaganda.  The “Prophecy of 70 Weeks” is to some what Churchill suggested of Russia, “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia.  It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” [96]

[Bonus:  Mark Dankof recommends “The Father of Modern Zionism?  William E. Blackstone” by Jonathan Moorhead in JETS 53/54 (December 2010), 787-800, written years after this research manuscript by the former at Westminster Theological Seminary.]



[1] .  Dennis Reiter, Historicism and Futurism in Historic Premillennialism: 1878-1975.  M. A. Thesis,  Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois: 25 and 74-97.

[2] .  C. Norman Kraus, Dispensationalism in America–Its Rise and Development.  Richmond: John Knox Press, 1958;

         Timothy P. Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism 1875-1982, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983;  “How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend.”  In Christianity Today, October 5, 1998: 39-49; “Happily at the Edge of the Abyss:  Popular Premillennialism in America,” in Ex Auditu, Volume 6, 1990: 87-101.

[3] .  Dr. Wallace Emerson, Unlocking the Mysteries of Daniel, Orange: Promise Publishing Co., 1988:  vi-vii of Introduction.

[4] .  R.K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969: 1110-1111.

[5] .  E. J. Young, Introduction to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 8th printing 1977: 362-363.

[6] .  E. J. Young, “Daniel.”  In Daniel The New Bible Commentary Revised, edited by Donald Guthrie, Alec  Motyer, Alan M. Stibbs, and Donald J. Wiseman.  Inter-Varsity Press, 1970: 699-700.

[7] .  Louis F. Hartman, “.”  In the Jerome Biblical Commentary, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968: 457.

 [8] .  ibid., 457-458.

[9] .  ibid., 457.

[10] .  ibid., 457.

[11] .  ibid., 457.

[12] .  ibid., 457.

[13] .  Reiter, op. cit., 144.

[14] .  ibid., 74-97.

[15] .  O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945: 111.

[16] .  ibid., 111-112.

[17] .  ibid., 112.

[18] .  ibid., 112.

[18] .  ibid., 112.

[19] .  ibid., 112.

[20] .  ibid., 27.

[21] .  Allis, op. cit., 113.

[22] .  ibid., 113-114.

[23] .  ibid., 114.

[24] .  ibid., 114.

[25] .  ibid., 115.

[26] .  ibid., 115.

[27] .  ibid., 115.

[28] .  Young, “Daniel”, op. cit., 700.

[29] .  John Walvoord, The Rapture Question, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 19th printing 1979; The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976; The Nations, Israel and the Church in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988 [Reprint (1st work) of The Nations in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967.  Reprint (2nd work) of Israel in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962.  Reprint (3rd work) of The Church in Prophecy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964.

[30] .  Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973; The Prophets of Israel, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.

[31] .  Herman Hoyt, “Dispensational Premillennialism,” in The Meaning of the Millennium–4 Views, Robert G. Clouse, editor, Inter-Varsity Press, 1977: 63-92.

[32] .  Paul Feinberg, “The Case for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Position,” in The Rapture–Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulational?, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984: 45-86.

[33] .  Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.

[34] .  Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 11th reprint 1984.  An excellent  modern essay which corroborates Anderson’s view of 360 day “prophetic years” is found in the work of Harold W. Hoehner, “Chronological          Aspects of the Life of Christ–Part VI: Daniel’s Seventy Weeks and New Testament Chronology,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 132, Number 525, January-March 1975: 47-65.

[35] .  Arno C. Gaebelein, Daniel, New York: Our Hope Publications, 1911; The Conflict of the Ages, New York: Our Hope Publications, 1933.

[36] .  William E. Blackstone, Jesus is Coming, New York/Chicago/London/Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898, 1908, 1932.

[37] .  William B. Riley, The Evolution of the Kingdom, New York: The Book Stall, 1913.

[38] .  Allis, op. cit., 115.

[39] . J. Randall Price, “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, Dispensational Interpretation,” in Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1996: 76.

[40] .  ibid., 76-78.

[41] .  ibid., 77. Curiously, J. Barton Payne, a post-tribulationalist, also affirms these six goals from Daniel 9: 24, referring to them as “six infinitival phrases of purpose,” in “The Goal of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks”, Journal of the Evangelical Theological  Society 21/2, June 1978: 97-115.  The quotation is from page 97 and includes Payne’s citation of E. J.           Young’s idea that the six items presented in 9: 24 settle the terminus ad quem of the prophecy, while the termination of the 70 sevens coincides with the first advent of Christ.  See. E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, a Commentary, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949: 201.

[42] .  ibid., 77.

[43] .  ibid., 77-78.

[44] .  Kraus, op. cit., 45.

[45] .  ibid., 45, quoting George Ladd in Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1952: 49.

[46] .  ibid., 45-46, quoting Robert Cameron in “Prophetic Teachers,” The Watchword, Vol. XVIII, October, 1986: 258.

[47] .  Weber, Living in the Shadow, op. cit., page 247, footnote 9 to chapter 1.

[48] .  ibid., 16.

[49] .  ibid., 16.

[50] .  ibid., 16.

[51] .  ibid., 18.

[52] .  ibid., 20.

[53] .  ibid., 21.

[54] .  Richard R. Reiter, “A History of the Development of the Rapture Positions,” in The Rapture–Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulational?  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984: 35-36.

[55] .  Weber, Living in the Shadow, op. cit., 22.

[56] .  ibid., 22.  Weber quotes Darby in his Collected Works, XI, 156.  On page 248 of Living in the Shadow, in footnote 23 for chapter 1, Weber observes that, “John Walvoord, a present-day dispensationalist, similarly states that one’s doctrine of the church is more important for the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture than is any particular scriptural passage. John Walvoord, The Rapture Question (Findlay, O.: Dunham Publishing, 1957), p. 16.”

[57] .  Kraus., op. cit., 28.

[58] .  ibid., 28 quoting James Bear in “Historic Premillennialism”, Union Theological Seminary Review, Vol. LV, May 1944, p. 215.

[59] .  ibid., 46.

[60] .  ibid., 43-44.

[61] .  ibid., 36.

[62] .  ibid., 41.

[63] .  ibid., 46.

[64] .  ibid., 48.

[65] .  ibid., 113.

[66] .  Weber, Living in the Shadow, op. cit., 21.

[67] .  ibid., 21.  Weber quotes Samuel Tregelles in The Hope of Christ’s Coming (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1864), p. 35.  In his own footnote 21 for chapter 1 (p. 248), Weber notes that Ernst Sandeen thinks the charge to be “pernicious and totally groundless.”  See Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism, p.64. [68] .  ibid., 22. In his footnote 22 for chapter 1 (p. 248), Weber cites David McPherson as a leading advocate of this theory in The Incredible Cover-Up: The True Story of the Pre-Trib Rapture (Plainfield, N. J.: Logos International, 1975). [69] .  Dave MacPherson, The Great Rapture Hoax (Fletcher, N. C.: New Puritan Library, 1983) and The Rapture Plot          (Simpsonville, N. C.: Millennium III Publishers, 1995).

[70] .  MacPherson, The Great Rapture Hoax, op. cit., 125.

[71] .  ibid., 125-128.

[72] .  ibid., 132.

[73] .  ibid., 178.

[74] .  ibid., 178-179.

[75] .  ibid., 187.

[76] .  ibid., 197-198.

[77] .  Walvoord, The Rapture Question, op. cit., 150-155.

[78] .  Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, op. cit., 42-48.

[79] .  Weber, Living in the Shadow, op. cit., 22.

[80] .  Walvoord, The Rapture Question, op. cit., 150-151.

 [81] .  Walvoord, The Blessed Hope, op. cit., 42.

[82] .  Weber, “How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend,” Christianity Today, October 5, 1998: 41.  Noteworthy supplemental reading to buttress Weber’s point here is found in Blackstone’s own Jesus is Coming (New York/Chicago/London/Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898, 1908,1932), pages 236-242 which  comprise a section entitled, “Zionism.”

[83] .  ibid., 42.

[84] .  ibid., 47.

[85] .  ibid., 41.

[86] .  ibid., 42-43.  See also Weber’s discussion of this tragedy in chapter 8 of his Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming, pp. 177-203.

[87]. The Jewish Student Online Research Center (JSOURCE).  Http://

[88] .  Weber, Living in the Shadow, op. cit., 154-157 and “Israel’s Best Friend” in Christianity Today, op. cit., 42-43.

[89] .  Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, Chico: Scholars Press, Brown University Judaic Studies  23, 1981., 236f.

[90] .  Weber, “Israel’s Best Friend,” op. cit., 43.

[91] .  Arno C. Gaebelein, Daniel, New York: Our Hope Publishers, 1911, 129-150.

[92] .  Arno C. Gaebelein, The Conflict of the Ages, New York: Our Hope Publishers, 1933.

[93] .  Gaebelein, Daniel, op. cit., addendum to page 150.

[94] .  Gaebelein, Conflict, op. cit., 99-100.

[95] .  Cohn, op. cit., 42-43.

[96] .  The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, edited by Angela Partington, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 4th edition 1992, page 202.  Quoting Churchill in his 1 October 1939 radio broadcast, later reprinted in Into Battle (1941), p. 131.

Selected Bibliography

Books, Commentaries,  and Dissertations

Allis, O. T.  Prophecy and the Church.  Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945.

Anderson, Sir Robert.  The Coming Prince.  Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1986 (10th reprint).

Archer, Gleason L., Feinberg, Paul D., Moo, Douglas J., Reiter, Richard R.  The Rapture–Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulational?  Academie Press.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.

Ariel, Yaakov.  On Behalf of Israel: American Fundamentalist Attitudes Toward Jews, Judaism, and Zionism, 1865-1945. Chicago Studies in the History of American Religion 1.Brooklyn:  Carlson Publications, 1991.

Bass, Clarence.  Backgrounds in Dispensationalism.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960.

Blackstone, W. E. B.  Jesus is Coming.  New York/Chicago/London/Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898, 1908, 1932.

Canfield, J. M.  The Incredible Scofield and His Book.  1984.

Clouse, Robert G., editor.  The Meaning of the Millennium–4 views.  Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977.

Cohn, Norman.  Warrant for Genocide–the myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy and the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Brown University Judaic Studies Number 23.  Scholars Press, 1983.

Couch, Mal, general editor.  Dictionary of Premillennial Theology.  Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996.

Ehlert, Arnold D.  A Bibliographic History of Dispensationalism.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965.

Emerson, Dr. Wallace.  Unlocking the Mysteries of Daniel.  Orange: Promise Publishing, 1988.

Enns, Dr. Paul.  The Moody Handbook of Theology.  Chicago: Moody Press, 1989.

Gaebelein, Arno C.  The Conflict of the Ages.  New York: Publication Office “Our Hope”, 1933.

________.  Daniel.  New York: Publication Office “Our Hope”, 1911.

Gerstner, John.  A Primer on Dispensationalism.  Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1982.

Harrison, Roland Kenneth.  Introduction to the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969.

Hartman, Louis F.  “Daniel.”  In The Jerome Biblical Commentary.  Editors Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy.  Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968.

Hoekema, Anthony.  The Bible and the Future.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.

Hudson, Winthrop S.  Religion in America.  New York: Scribners, 3rd edition, 1981.

Ironside, H. A.  A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement.  Grand Rapids, 1942.

Kalafian, Michael.  The Prophecy of 70 Weeks of the Book of Daniel.  Lanham: University Press of America, 1991.

Kraus, C. Norman.  Dispensationalism in America–Its Rise and Development.  Richmond: Knox, 1958.  (excellent  bibliography)

 Lindsey, Hal.  The Late Great Planet Earth.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970.

 MacPherson, Dave.  The Great Rapture Hoax.  Fletcher: New Puritan Library. 1983.

________.  The Incredible Cover-Up: The True Story of the Pre-Trib Rapture.  Plainfield: Logos International, 1975.

________.  The Rapture Plot.  Simpsonville: Millennium III Publishers, 1995.

Marsden, George M.  Fundamentalism and American Culture–The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism 1870-1925. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Marsden, Victor E., translator,  Protocols of the Meeting of the Learned Elders of Zion.  London:  Britons Publishing, 1922.

Matheny, James F. and Marjorie B.  The 70 Weeks of Daniel: An Exposition of Daniel 9: 24-27.  Brevard: Jay and Associates Publishers, 1990.

McClain, Alva.  Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1940.

Millard, A. R.  “Daniel.”  In The New Layman’s Bible Commentary.  Editors G. C. D. Howley, F. F. Bruce, H. L. Ellison: Regency Reference Library.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979, 901-926.

Pentecost, J. Dwight.  “Daniel.”  In The Bible Knowledge Commentary–An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty–Old Testament.  Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck.  Victor Books, 3rd Printing 1994: 1323-1377.

Reiter, Dennis L.  Historicism and Futurism in Historic Premillennialism: 1878-1975.

Riley, William B.  The Evolution of the Kingdom.  New York: The Book Stall, 1913.

Ryrie, Charles C.  Dispensationalism Today.  Chicago: Moody, 1965.

Sandeen, Ernest.  The Roots of Fundamentalism.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

Scofield, C. I.  The New Scofield Reference Bible.  Editorial Committee, E. Schuler English, et. al., New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Walvoord, John.  The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.

________.   The Nations, Israel, and the Church in Prophecy.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.

________.  The Rapture Question.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

Weber, Timothy P.  Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism,  1875-1982.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.  (excellent bibliography)

Wood, Leon J.  A Commentary on Daniel.  Regency Reference Library.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973.

__________.  The Prophets of Israel.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.

Young, Edward J.  An Introduction to the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 8th printing 1977.


Butler, Jonathan M.  “A Review of Timothy P. Weber’s, ‘Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming–American Premillennialism 1875-1982′.”  Church History 58, Dec 1989: 546. Davis, Moshe.  “American Christian Devotees in the Holy Land.”  Christian Jewish Relations 20, Winter 1987: 3-20.

Doukhan, Jacques.  “The 70 Weeks of Daniel : An Exegetical Study”.  Andrews University Seminary Studies 17, Spring 1979: 1-22.

Ehlert, Arnold D.  “A Bibliography of Dispensationalism.”  Bibliotheca Sacra, Vols. 51, 52, 53 (in series), 1944-1946.

Francisco, Clyde T.  “70 Weeks of Daniel.”  Review and Expositor 57, Ap 1960: 126-137.

Greenberg, Gershon.  “Fundamentalists, Israel, and Theological Openness.”  Christian-Jewish Relations 19 No. 3, S 1986: 27-33. Gurney, Robert J. M.  “The 70 Weeks of Daniel 9: 24-27.”  Evangelical Quarterly 53, Ja-Mr 1981:  29-36.

Handy, Lowell K.  “A Review of Michael Kalafian’s ‘The Prophecy of 70 Weeks of the Book of Daniel.”  Encounter 53, Spring 1992: 197-199. Hannah, John D.  “A Review of ‘The Incredible Scofield and His Book’ by J. M. Canfield.” Bibliotheca Sacra 147, July-Sept            1990: 351-364. Hasel, Gerhard F.  “The Hebrew Masculine Plural for ‘Weeks’ in the Expression ‘70 weeks’ in Daniel 9: 24.”  Andrews University Seminary Studies 31, Summer 1993: 105-118.

Hoehner, Harold W.  “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ–Part 6: Daniel’s 70 Weeks and New Testament Chronology.”  Bibliotheca Sacra 132, Ja-Mr 1975: 47-65.

Kennedy, Earl W.  “A Review of Timothy P. Weber’s ‘Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming:  American Premillennialism 1875-1982′.”  Reformed Review 41, Autumn 1987: 76-77.

McComiskey, Thomas.  “The 70 ‘Weeks’ of Daniel Against the Background of Ancient Near Eastern Literature.”  Westminster Theological Journal 47 No. 1, Spring 1985: 18-45.

Newman, Robert C.  “Daniel’s 70 Weeks and the Old Testament Sabbath Year Cycle.”  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 16, Fall 1973: 229-234.

Payne, J. Barton.  “Goal of Daniel’s 70 Weeks.”  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 21:  Je 1978: 97-115.

Poythress, Vern Sheridan.  “Hermeneutical Factors in Determining the Beginning of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9: 25).”  Trinity Journal No. 2, Autumn 1985: 131-149.

Russell, C. Allyn.  “Adoniram Judson Gordon: 19th Century Fundamentalist.”  American Baptist Quarterly 4 No. 1, Mr 1985: 61-89.

Saucy, Robert L.  “Contemporary Dispensational Thought.”  Theological Students Fellowship Bulletin 7 No. 4, Mr-Ap 1984: 10-11.

Scaer, David P.  “Lutheran Viewpoints on the Challenge of Fundamentalism–Eschatology.” Concordia Journal 10, Ja ‘84: 4-11.

Smalley, W. F.  “Another View of the Palestine Situation.”  The King’s Business, XXI (June 1930):  290-292.

Weber, Timothy P.  “A Review of Yaakov Ariel’s ‘On Behalf of Israel: American Fundamentalist Attitudes Toward Jews, Judaism, and Zionism, 1865-1945′.”  Church History 62: Mr 1993: 138-141. ________.  “Happily at the Edge of the Abyss: Popular Premillennialism in America.”  Ex Auditu 6, 1990: 87-100. ________.  “How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend.”  Christianity Today, October 5, 1998: 39-49.

Whitcomb, John.  “Daniel’s Great 70 Weeks Prophecy: An Exegetical Insight.”  Grace Theological Journal No. 2, Fall 1981: 259-263.

Witmer, John A.  “A Review of James and Marjorie Matheny’s ‘The 70 Weeks of Daniel: An Exposition of Daniel 9: 24-27.” Bibliotheca Sacra 149, Oct-Dec 1992: 491.

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