A.E. Gardner, «Daniel 7,2-14: Another Look at its Mythic Pattern», Vol. 82 (2001) 244-252
This paper focuses upon a re-examination of the mythological background to the apocalyptic vision of Daniel 7. The popularly accepted Canaanite source is rejected as the points of correspondence are shown to be even slighter than recognised hitherto. Gunkel’s thesis of the Enuma Elish as similar to Dan 7 is revived and given further support. It is pointed out that whereas the question of access, for the author of Daniel, to the Baal mythology is problematic, the Enuma Elish was still being recited in the Hellenistic period.
adduced9. Further, he pointed out that each culture adapted earlier myths to fit their own understanding of their situation, a point with which the present writer concurs. Nevertheless in the present case, not only is the main theme of the Baal myth one of rivalry, provoked by jealousy between two gods, there are few details in the myth which find a reflection in Dan 7,2-14: there is no mention of the winds of heaven bringing about the ensuing situation10 nor of beasts of any kind emerging from, or being part of, the sea. Neither is there mention of such beasts being allowed to survive although their dominion is taken away, nor is Yam, Baal’s adversary killed by fire. The only points of similarity with Dan 7,2-14 are (1) the presence of a sea and (2) the similarity of the descriptions of Baal and ‘One like a Son of Man’: Baal is called, ‘Rider on the Clouds’11 whilst ‘One like a Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven’; Baal is urged: Take your everlasting kingdom, your dominion for ever and ever’12 and ‘One like a Son of Man’ ‘was given ... an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom will not be destroyed’. These obvious similarities between Baal and ‘One like a Son of Man’ in Daniel were pointed out by Emerton in 195813 as was (3) the third similarity between the Baal myth and Dan 7 with the former describing El as ‘Father of Years’ and the latter, God as ‘Ancient of Days’. However, as these are the only real points of contact between the two texts, they are not sufficient in themselves to support the contention that Dan 7,2-14 derived its mythic pattern from Canaan. Further consideration will be given below to the figure of One like a Son of Man and an Ancient of Days in an attempt to account for the apparent similarity of their descriptions with Canaanite deities14.
2. The Problem of Access to the Baal texts
Those scholars who assert that Canaanite mythology is the mythic background for Dan 7,2-14 have difficulty in explaining how such mythology was transmitted to our author. Bentzen15 posited that he accessed it through the royal cult. Such a position is dependent, in turn, upon the acceptance of Mowinckel’s theory that there was an Israelite New Year Festival, which celebrated YHWH’s victory over a chaos monster 16. This theory is grounded