I do not often discuss Mark Davidson’s “Four Signposts” theory, but since Iran is in the news at the moment, it seems appropriate to consider his exegesis of Daniel 8. Davidson’s website can be found here. He has written several books.

There are different views on how Daniel 8 should be interpreted:

  • historically;
  • futuristically;
  • historically and futuristically.

The historical school interprets Daniel 8 as a description of the Achaemenid Medo-Persian empire, Alexander the Great’s conquests, and the Hellenistic empires, culminating in the acts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

The hybrid school sees mosts of the passage in the same way as the historical school, but interprets the “little horn” as the Antichrist, with Antiochus Epiphanes as a type, foreshadow, or partial fulfilment of the prophecy.

The futuristic theory, advanced by Davidson, treats the whole passage as pertaining to the end times, with the historical events acting as types or partial fulfilments, confirming the truth of the ultimate fulfilment.

The advance by the ram is an invasion of the Middle East by Iran. The male goat with the prominent horn is interpreted as a coalition led by Turkey, which counterattacks after the Iranian invasion. The territory occupied by Turkey is subsequently broken into four smaller territories, and from these the Antichrist will arise.

Davidson, in Daniel Revisted, states that one thing that led him to this interpretation was verse 17, in which the angel interprets the vision to Daniel:

Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end. (ESV)

There are various ways to interpret this text. It could mean that some of the vision pertains to the end times or that all of it pertains to the end times. The some or all choice is an a priori position imposed by the reader on the text, not an inference drawn from it. We must be careful of treating Semitic languages and the culture of Daniel’s day as if they were our own.

I remain open to Davidson’s interpretation, but I am not committed to it. Further a posteriori information will confirm whether he is correct or not. I enjoyed reading Daniel Revisited some years back, but was not fully persuaded by all of the arguments advanced therein. I do believe that the Antichrist is presented in the “little horn”: Antiochus Epiphanes did not fulfil all of the items in that passage. How much of the rest of the passage is future remains to be seen.