Newsflash: Old Testament Studies Revolutionised.
Exciting new evidence supporting a late dating for the Old Testament book of Daniel has arisen in a curiously unexpected way. It appears that an orthodox fragment of an ancient source underlying Daniel has been preserved by oral tradition to this day amongst a group of Western fundamentalists, who even now regularly chant the fragment in weekly meetings. The fundamentalists have been hitherto blissfully unaware of the significance of their so-called ‘Worship Services’, but scholars are now hailing it as one of the greatest documentary finds of the twenty-first century.
The chant, commonly known in fundamentalist liturgy as Ancient of Days, is clearly a less theologically developed (and therefore earlier) form of Daniel 7:13-14. The book of Daniel presents a startlingly ‘Christological’ account in which a human figure (‘One like a Son of Man’) is given universal and eternal dominion over the creation that, by rights, belongs only to God (The ‘Ancient of Days’). The fundamentalist chant Ancient of Days, while displaying obvious formal parallels to Daniel 7:13-14, is completely devoid of any of this developed Christology.
Examples abound. In Daniel 7:13-14, ‘One like a Son of Man’ approaches the Ancient of Days and is given ‘glory’. ‘All nations’ are to serve him, and he is given an ‘everlasting dominion’ which ‘shall not pass away’, a ‘kingdom’ that will ‘not be destroyed’. Yet in the chant Ancient of Days, ‘glory’, the worship of ‘all nations’ and the ‘kingdom [that] shall not pass away’ is all ascribed simply to the Ancient of Days. The modern chant is clearly preserving a saying which is more in keeping with the orthodox monotheism of the pre- and post-exilic prophets. Equally clearly, Pseudo-Daniel has radically transformed this traditional saying to suit a theology more in line with the later Christological developments evidenced in the New Testament (e.g. Philippians 2:10-11 ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’).
Scholars are eagerly awaiting further analyses of modern fundamentalist liturgy to see what other gems of sub-Christian residue may be hidden beneath the surface.