The "Sanctuary Doctrine"—Asset or liability
Part 1

By Raymond F. Cottrell, D.Div. (1912-2003)


Note: This was first delivered to the second JIF symposium in 02-04 November 2001 and again publicly on 09 February 2002 at the Assoc. of Adventist Forums meeting in San Diego, CA. This is part 1 or a two-part article.


The traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 with its sanctuary and investigative judgment, which gave birth to Seventh-day Adventism and accounts for its existence as a distinct entity within Christendom, has been the object of more criticism and debate, by both Adventists and non-Adventists, than all other facets of its belief system combined. The same is true with respect to church discipline on doctrinal grounds, defections from the church, and the diversion of time, attention, and resources from Adventism's perceived mission to the world.

It has been repeatedly and consistently demonstrated that an ordained minister may believe that Christ was a created being (and not God in the full sense of the word), or that a person can earn salvation by faithfully observing the Ten Commandments, or that Genesis 1 is not a literal account of creation a mere six thousand years ago – without being disciplined and forfeiting his ministerial credentials. But it has also been repeatedly and consistently demonstrated that an ordained minister may not conscientiously question the authenticity of the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, even in his thoughts, without his ministerial credentials being revoked. As noted below, in several instances as much as half a century of faithful service to the church has not been sufficient to mitigate this result.

Accordingly, it is appropriate to review the origin, history, and methodology of the sanctuary doctrine, to examine it on the basis of the sola Scriptura principle and recognized principles of exegesis, and to explore procedures by means of which to avoid repeating the traumatic experiences of the church with it in the past – to learn from experience. Insofar as possible this paper avoids technical hermeneutical terminology, including the transliteration of Hebrew words used by Bible scholars. The transliteration used is designed to enable persons not familiar with biblical Hebrew to approximate the Hebrew vocalization. Except as otherwise noted, Bible quotations cited are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).


1. Formation of the Sanctuary Doctrine

Pioneer Seventh-day Adventists inherited their identification of the year 1844 as the terminus of the 2300 "days" foretold in the KJV of Daniel 8:14 from William Miller. Formerly an avowed skeptic, he was converted in 1816 and eventually became a Baptist lay preacher. He devoted his first two years as a born-again Christian to a diligent study of the Bible, which eventually came to a focus on Daniel 8:14 and the conclusion that it foretold the second coming of Christ "about the year 1843."

According to the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia Miller "repeatedly declared that his prophetic views were not new," but insisted that he came to his conclusions exclusively through his own study of the Bible and reference to a concordance. In volume 4 of his Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers Le Roy Edwin Froom notes that Miller was by no means the "originator" of the idea that the 2300 "days" were prophetic years ending about 1843, and that it is "a simple historical fact that the origin of the view of the 2,300 years as ending at that time, and its wide circulation, was wholly prior to and independent of William Miller."1

By what process did Miller, this formidable array of Bible students, and pioneer Adventists arrive at 1843/44 as the terminus of the 2300 "days" of Daniel 8:14? Relying on the 1611 King James translation of the Bible (the only one then available), they (1) identified its "sanctuary" as the church on earth, (2) accepted the KJV interpretation of erev boquer (literally, "evening morning") as "days," (3) adopted the "day-for-a-year" principle in Bible prophecy and thus construed the 2300 "days" as prophetic years, (4) took the seventy "weeks" of Daniel 9:24-27 as the first segment of these 2300 years, (5) identified the cessation of sacrifice and offering for the last half of the seventieth of the seventy "weeks" (verse 27) as referring to Jesus' crucifixion,2 (6) figuring back from the crucifixion, they identified the decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus in his seventh year (Ezra 7) as that alluded to in Daniel 9:25, thus locating the commencement of the 2300 years in 457 B.C., (7) with 457 B.C. as their starting point, terminated them "about the year 1843," (8) adopted the KJV interpretation of nitsdaq (literally, "set right" or "restored") as "cleansed," and (9) concluded that the cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 meant the cleansing of the church on earth (and thus the earth itself) by fire at the second coming of Christ.

When the great disappointment of October 22, 1844 proved conclusively that Miller's identification of the "sanctuary" in Daniel 8:14 as the church on earth and the nature of its cleansing as by fire at the second coming of Christ,3 were in error, pioneer Adventists re-identified the "sanctuary" of verse 14 as that of the Book of Hebrews in heaven,4 and its cleansing as the heavenly counterpart of the cleansing of the ancient sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.5

Retaining, however, the presumed validity of October 22, 1844 as the fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 and the concept that it implied the soon return of their Lord, the disappointed Adventist pioneers assumed that human probation had indeed closed on that fateful day, and that only those who at that time awaited His return were eligible for eternal life. They referred to this concept as "the shut door" in the parable of the Ten Virgins.6 They soon mated the "shut door" theory to the idea that the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 was the sanctuary in heaven, of the book of Hebrews, that the "shut door" was the "door" between its holy and most holy apartments, that on October 22 Christ had closed His ministry in the holy place and entered upon His high priestly ministry in its most holy place, and referred to His ministry there as an "investigative judgment."

For several years the "little flock" of pioneer Seventh-day Adventists "scattered abroad" believed that the investigative judgment phase of Christ's ministry would be very brief (not more than five years or so at the most),7 following which He would immediately return to earth. The eventual accession of new, non-1844, members to the "little flock" proved to be convincing evidence that the door of mercy remained open, and by the early 1850's they abandoned the "shut door" aspect of the sanctuary-in-heaven interpretation of Daniel 8:14.

This completed the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the investigative judgment, which was thereafter commonly referred to as "the sanctuary doctrine" set forth in every statement of beliefs, most recently as article 23 of the 27 Fundamental Beliefs adopted at the 1980 session of the General Conference in New Orleans.

2. Ellen G. White and the Sanctuary Doctrine

The ultimate argument in defense of the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 every time questions have been raised concerning it, has been Ellen White's explicit affirmation of it. As a presumably infallible interpreter of Scripture her support always settled the matter. For instance, in 1888, forty-four years after the great disappointment of October 22, 1844 she wrote: "The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith, was the declaration, 'Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'"8 She devoted an entire chapter in The Great Controversy to a defense and explanation of the sanctuary doctrine.9 Eighteen years later, in 1906, she wrote again: "The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith."10

In order to understand these two statements in their historical context it is important to remember that she and many others then living had personally experienced the great disappointment of October 22, 1844. Her statements about it were absolutely historically accurate. The experience was still vivid in her own mind and in the minds of many others.

In both of these statements Ellen White is simply stating historical fact; she is not exegeting Scripture. In 1895 she wrote: "In regard to infallibility, I never claimed it; God alone is infallible."11 "The Bible is the only rule of faith and doctrine. ... The Bible alone ... [is] the foundation of our faith. ... The Bible alone is to be our guide. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of [God's] will. ... We are to receive God's word as supreme authority."12 Numerous similar statements could be cited.13 It is important to remember that she never considered herself an exegete of the Bible. Upon numerous occasions when asked for what her questioners proposed to accept as an authoritative, infallible interpretation of a disputed Bible passage she refused, and told them to go to the Bible themselves for an answer.

It is also vital to remember that in Ellen White's 47,00014 or so citations of Scripture she makes use of the Bible in two distinct ways: (1) to quote the Bible when narrating the Bible story in its own context, and (2) to apply Bible principles in her counsel to the church today---out of its biblical context.

A clear illustration of this two-fold use of the Bible is her series of comments on Galatians 3:24: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." (1) In 1856 she identified that law as the ceremonial law system of ancient times, and specifically not the Ten Commandments.15 (2) In 1883 she again identified that "law" as "the obsolete ceremonies of Judaism."16 (3) In 1896 she wrote: "In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law."17 (4) In 1900 she wrote: "I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. ... I answer: both the ceremonial and moral code of Ten Commandments."18 (5) In 1911 she again identified the law in Galatians as exclusively "the obsolete ceremonies of Judaism."19

In these three reversals (ceremonial law exclusively, Ten Commandments exclusively, both the ceremonial law and the Ten Commandments, ceremonial law exclusively) was she contradicting herself or did she repeatedly change her mind? Neither! A careful reading of each statement in its own context makes evident that (1) when she identifies the law in Galatians as the ceremonial law system of ancient times she is commenting on Galatians in its own historical context, and (2) when she applies the principle involved to our time she does so out of its biblical context. The principle involved in Paul's day and in ours is identical: the Galatians could not be saved by a rigorous observance of the ceremonial laws; nor can we be saved by a rigorous observance of the Ten Commandments! The two contradictory definitions of the law in Galatians are both valid and accurate! A careful examination of Ellen White's thousands of quotations from, or allusion to, the Bible makes evident that her historical statements regarding Daniel 8:14 are historically accurate with respect to the 1844 experience and not a denial of what the passage meant in Daniel's time.

We may think of the heavenly sanctuary explanation of the great disappointment as a prosthetic device, a spiritual crutch that enabled the "little flock" of Adventist pioneers "scattered abroad"' to survive the great disappointment of October 22, 1844 and not lose faith in the imminent return of Jesus, as so many others did. That explanation was the best they could do, given the prooftext method on which, of necessity, they relied. With the historical method at our disposal today, we no longer need that crutch and would do well to lay it up on the shelf of history. It is counterproductive in our witness to the everlasting gospel today, to biblically literate Adventists and non-Adventists alike.

3. Six Church Leaders Who Questioned the Sanctuary Doctrine

For about forty years the sanctuary doctrine raised no known eyebrows or protests. But on an average of every fifteen or twenty years or so since 1887 an experienced, respected, and trusted church administrator or Bible teacher has called the attention of fellow church leaders to flaws in the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, forfeited his ministerial credentials, and either been disfellowshiped or voluntarily left the church. With one or two possible exceptions none of them had either spoken or taught their doubts regarding the biblical authenticity of the sanctuary doctrine, but were fired for thinking such thoughts and sharing them with fellow church leaders! Furthermore, none of them were novices, but experienced administrators or Bible teachers. Three of them had served the church faithfully for more than half a century each.

The first church leader of record to question the sanctuary doctrine was Dudley M. Canright, in 1887. Granted that he might have been more tactful and patient, but for more than twenty years he had served the church as a minister, able evangelist, administrator, and sometime member of the General Conference Committee, and had earned the right to a fair hearing of his views. But "the brethren" either did not listen or did not understand, apparently both. He voluntarily left the church and became as bitter and effective an opponent of Adventism as he had formerly advocated it.

Canright forthwith published a book, Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, to warn people about the errors of Adventism. It has been translated into scores of languages and is still used effectively to warn people against Adventism. An honest, knowledgeable Adventist reading the book today would have to admit that much of his tirade against the sanctuary doctrine was---and still is---justified.20

Like Canright, Albion F. Ballenger had served the church faithfully for many years, and in 1905 was an administrator in charge of the Irish Mission. He was an able speaker and writer, and a diligent student of Scripture. Like Canright, Ballenger had never mentioned his views on the sanctuary in public, but a committee of twenty-five the General Conference appointed to hear him reported that he entertained views regarding the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary contrary to that of the church. He acknowledged the possibility that he might be wrong, and pleaded for someone to point out from the Bible where he was wrong, but no one did, either then or later.

The church withdrew his ministerial credentials and disfellowshiped him because of what he believed, not for anything he had said or done. Twenty-five years later W. W. Prescott (a member of the GC ad hoc committees appointed to meet with the dissidents) commented in a letter to W. A. Spicer, then president of the General Conference: "I have waited all these years for someone to make an adequate answer to Ballenger, Fletcher and others on their positions re. the sanctuary but I have not seen or heard it." Ballenger subsequently explained his views in the book Cast Out for the Cross of Christ. "No one," he lamented, "who has not experienced it can realize the soul anguish that overwhelms one who, in the study of the Word finds truth which does not harmonize with that which he has believed and taught during a whole lifetime to be vital to the salvation of the soul."21

After some twenty years as an ordained minister, foreign missionary, and eventually Bible teacher at Avondale College in Australia, in 1930 William W. Fletcher voluntarily resigned from the ministry and severed his connection with the church, under administrative pressure, solely because of his views regarding errors in the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14. Two years later he published Reasons for My Faith, setting forth his views on the sanctuary and Christ's ministry as our great High Priest. An objective reading of both the Bible and Reasons will conclude that Fletcher's understanding of the former was superior to that of his critics.22

Louis R. Conradi served the church faithfully for fifty-two years, much of the time as vice-president of the General Conference for the Central European Division. He was an avid Bible scholar and student of history as well as an able administrator, and wrote extensively. He was highly respected by his fellow administrators. For more than thirty years questions grew in his mind regarding the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, which he first shared with a few church leaders in 1928 and which eventually led to a formal hearing before an ad hoc committee of thirty-three members appointed by the General Conference, forfeiture of his ministerial credentials, and his voluntary separation from the church in 1931.

Thereupon he united with the Seventh Day Baptists, who issued him ministerial credentials, gave him permission to preach Seventh-day Adventist teachings, and made him their official representative in Europe. To his death he expressed confidence in the fundamental integrity of Adventism despite errors in the sanctuary doctrine.23

William W. Prescott was a versatile person who, over a service lifetime for the church of more than half a century (1885-1937), distinguished himself as a writer, editor, publisher, educator, administrator, and Bible Scholar. Like Conradi, his study of the Bible led to a recognition of serious flaws in the sanctuary doctrine to which, however, he never gave public expression. He retained full confidence in the basic credibility of the Advent message. His one "mistake" was in 1934 when he shared his views with some of "the brethren" from headquarters, who turned against him. Unlike Conradi, however, he remained with the church, never forfeited his ministerial credentials, but returned to Washington, D.C. where he fellowshipped with his critics and participated actively in various General Conference activities.

After many years of service to the church Harold E. Snide was teaching Bible at Southern Junior College (now Southern Adventist University). A third-generation Adventist and a diligent student of Bible prophecy, he encountered problems with the traditional interpretation of Daniel, especially in connection with Christ's ministry as set forth in the book of Hebrews. He went to the leaders in Washington with the problems that troubled him, but found no help. The conflict between the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and Scripture proved to be a traumatic experience that eventually, about 1945, led him to withdraw from the church. Mrs. Snide remained a loyal Adventist, however, and went to live with her parents in Takoma Park where I became acquainted with her.

The experience of R. A. Greive was unique in that, as president of the Queensland Conference in Australia, he never questioned the sanctuary doctrine. His concern was to encourage the experience of justification and righteousness by faith as presented in the books of Romans and Hebrews, and its counterpart the sinless perfection of Jesus Christ. Church leaders in the division office, however, accused him of thereby being in conflict with the concept of an investigative judgment as the cleansing of the sanctuary referred to in Daniel 8:14 and explained in Hebrews 9.

If, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, there is "now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," how can a record of those sins be preserved and reviewed during the course of an investigative judgment? Greive asked. He also pointed out that, according to Hebrews 7:27 and 9:6-12, Christ completed His equivalent of the first apartment ministry on the cross and entered upon His equivalent of the second apartment ministry when He ascended to heaven, not eighteen centuries later. At his trial Greive agreed to go as far as his "enlightened conscience" would allow in order to have harmony with his brethren, but for them that was not far enough. In 1956 his credentials were withdrawn and he withdrew from the church.24

Think of the time, attention, and cost of disciplining these six administrators and Bible scholars, listed above, has diverted from the mission of the church to the world! Think also of the distress and heartache these six have experienced and often expressed. Think, as well, of the damage some of them have done to the church!

4. Continuing Casualties of the Sanctuary Doctrine

Like an airplane unexpectedly entering a region of clear air turbulence, in 1945 Dr. Desmond Ford began to encounter exegetical problems in the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the investigative judgment. He set out to put all of the disparate pieces together in a coherent pattern that would resolve the problems, that would be faithful to reliable principles of exegesis, and that left him a dedicated Seventh-day Adventist with complete confidence in the integrity of the church as an authentic witness to the everlasting gospel.

Over the next ten or fifteen years Ford discovered that some of his contemporaries and others before him had wrestled with the same problems. In his definitive 991-page Glacier View document, Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment, he names twelve Adventist Leaders with whom he had discussed the problems, in person or by correspondence. He devoted his master's and one of his doctoral dissertations to the subject. His published commentaries on the Books of Daniel and the Revelation total more than two thousand pages. He has probably devoted more scholarly study to the subject and written more extensively on it than any other person in history.

During his long tenure as head of the theology department at Avondale College in Australia he trained half or so of the ministers in Australia. In the classroom and by his personal example he inspired thousands of young people for Christ. He was always in demand as a speaker, and thousands testify to a clearer understanding and appreciation of the gospel as a result of his witness to it. His theme ever was---and still is---salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Ford never discussed the controversial aspects of the sanctuary doctrine in public---until October 27, 1979, as an exchange professor at Pacific Union College, when several members of the faculty invited him to discuss his views on the sanctuary question in an open meeting one Sabbath afternoon. Thirty-four years of silence on the subject surely reflect commendable pastoral and scholarly restraint. The PUC presentation "was positive on the providential role of Adventists and Ellen White." However, three retired ministers present detected what they perceived to be heresy and reported their version of his remarks to the chairman of the college board.

In view of the fact that Ford was still an employee of Avondale College in Australia and due to return to Avondale at the close of the 1979-1980 school year, the chairman logically referred the matter to the General Conference. In August 1980 115 leading administrators and Bible scholars from around the world (at an administrator's estimated cost of a quarter of a million dollars) were summoned to Glacier View25 in Colorado, to serve as the Sanctuary Review Committee. They were specifically instructed not to evaluate Ford's beliefs with respect to Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the investigative judgment by the Bible itself, but as set forth in the statement of Twenty-seven Fundamental Beliefs, which the church had already determined to be normative. Several weeks later the Australasian Division withdrew his ministerial credentials.

Procedures at Glacier View consisted of a reaffirmation of the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14. But Ford was given no opportunity to present the reasons for his "apotelesmatic" interpretation of it, which provided for the traditional Adventist interpretation being one of several fulfillments of the prophecy, but not the fulfillment. Again---as always---the church neglected to examine the reasons for dissent from the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and merely reaffirmed it in stentorian tones. As a matter of fact, the consensus report voted at the close of the week-long conference tacitly agreed with Ford on six major points of exegesis. Later, some forty Bible scholars signed a document known as the Atlanta Affirmation, remonstrating with Neal Wilson for the way the church had treated Ford at, and after, Glacier View.

In his involuntary "retirement" Ford has continued to proclaim the gospel, in a ministry he called "Good News Unlimited." Unlike Canright, Ballenger, and others before him who had embarked on vendettas against the church, Ford has remained a dedicated Seventh-day Adventist at heart and retained his church membership.26

Ford, now retired in his native Queensland, Australia, is the lone survivor of numerous traumatic encounters with the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14. We could wish that such encounters with the sanctuary doctrine were a thing of the past. But a new generation of victims is repeating their traumatic experiences all over again. If the past is any index to the future they will be repeated indefinitely unless and until the church faces up to the facts objectively and deals realistically and responsibly with them in harmony with the sola Scriptura principle.

It is said that more than 150 ordained ministers, mostly in Australia, forfeited their ministerial credentials in the aftermath of the Ford affair. Hundreds of lay persons, mostly in the United States, left the church and formed effervescent "fellowships" as a result.

Dale Ratzlaff was pastor of the Watsonville church in the Central California Conference and a Bible teacher at nearby Monterey Bay Academy when, in 1981, he was abruptly fired by the Conference for expressing a conviction shared by a majority of the forty or so Bible scholars at Glacier View, that administration had misjudged and mistreated Desmond Ford the year before. The elders of the Watsonville church invited Dr. Fred Veltman of Pacific Union College and me to meet with the church the following Sabbath, in which we endeavored to pour oil on the troubled waters.

Ratzlaff left the Adventist church and wandered about (both geographically and ideologically) for a few years following which he embarked on what he calls Life Assurance Ministries, first in Sedona and now in Glendale, Arizona, with the objective of warning Adventists and others against the church. First came a 350-page polemic against the Sabbath, and in 2001 the 384-page Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventists, which he describes as "an appeal to SDA leadership." His target in Cultic Doctrine is the traditional Adventist Interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary doctrine, and the investigative judgment. In 1999 he began publishing Proclamation, a bi-monthly journal dedicated to warning Adventists and others against Adventism. Here in the West, Dale's crusade is having at least a measure of success. He is also publisher of Dr. Jerry Gladson's 383-page A Theologian's Journey From Seventh-day Adventism to Mainstream Christianity (copyright 2001).27

Dr. Jerry Gladson had the very considerable misfortune to serve on the faculty of Southern Adventist College (now University). Had he been teaching at any of the other eight Adventist colleges or universities in North America he would probably still be an Adventist minister and teacher. Southern operates as an agency of Southern Bible belt obscurantism. Furthermore it was (and still is) to an appreciable extent, dependent on the largesse of committed ultra-fundamentalists, who insist that the college operate on ultra-fundamentalist principles. Again the target was the traditional sanctuary doctrine and the charge what Gladson thought about it, not anything he had taught in his classes.

Then dean of the Adventist Theological Seminary Dr. Gerhard F. Hasel, a former student and teacher at Southern and the ruthless personification of Adventist obscurantism, played an active role in the lynching of Dr. Gladson, a role in which Hasel had already distinguished himself at the Seminary. The head of the religion department at Southern, responsible for the ultimate coup de grace, was as closed-minded and ruthless as Torquemada, a role in which he had already distinguished himself as director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference. What chance did Dr. Gladson have for a fair evaluation and adjudication of the charges against him? Finally, the chairman of the college board distinguished himself as either a committed obscurantist or a willing instrument of the far Adventist right.

Jerry Gladson was not fired nor were his ministerial credentials withdrawn. He remained an ordained minister until they expired and were not renewed. Instead, a witch-hunting climate was created in which departure proved to be the lesser of two evils. There was no formal hearing. No one tried to understand his reasons for thinking as he did, or cared. The Pharisees were in control, and that was that. An anomalous situation indeed!27

Janet Brown became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1985. As a lay person she was an avid Bible student, and as such "began to notice more and more problems and inconsistencies between SDA teachings and the Bible." For a time she ignored these "cracks in the armor of Adventism," but as "the evidence really began to pile up" she felt that she could no longer "remain honest" with herself and continue as a Seventh-day Adventist. To her, the investigative judgment resembles Roman Catholic purgatory inasmuch as it keeps people in suspense as to their standing before God and "makes no sense biblically." In 1995 she left the Adventist church and operates a website devoted to opposing it.28

Don W. Silver of Ashland Kentucky is another lay person who left Adventism recently, primarily because of the sanctuary doctrine, which he vehemently opposes. Evidently well-educated, he speaks with fervor and pin-point logic. His wife, like him well-educated, teaches at nearby Marshall University and remains a faithful Adventist and a leader in the local Adventist church. Their two grown daughters have followed their father into agnosticism.29

Other contemporary illustrations of opposition to the sanctuary doctrine and resulting apostasy might, of course, be cited. I know personally of other employees of the church who have been fired for the same reason, of lay people who have left the church, and of families that have been broken up as a result. The sanctuary problem is still with us, late and soon, and is touching the lives of sincere Seventh-day Adventists.

5. Non-Adventist Reaction to the Sanctuary Doctrine

It was the sanctuary doctrine based on Daniel 8:14 that made us Seventh-day Adventists and that remains, today, the keystone of our distinctive belief system and our mission to the world. Of it, Ellen White wrote: "The Scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central pillar of our faith was the declaration, 'Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed'"30 and "The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith." "Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith."31

When, in the mid-1950's, Walter Martin and Donald Grey Barnhouse explored Adventist teachings in depth with persons appointed by the General Conference, they concluded that, with two exceptions, we are in harmony with the gospel: (1) our sanctuary doctrine, and (2) the role we popularly ascribe to Ellen White as an infallible interpreter of Scripture, in contradiction of her own explicit statements to the contrary. The former, they concluded, violates the Reformation principle sola Scriptura.32 Of it, Barnhouse wrote: The [sanctuary] doctrine is, to me, the most colossal, psychological, face-saving phenomenon in religious history. ... We personally do not believe that there is even a suspicion of a verse in Scripture to sustain such a peculiar position, and we further believe that any effort to establish it is stale, flat, and unprofitable. ... [It is] unimportant and almost naïve.33

Such is the usual reaction of non-Adventist Bible scholars and other biblically literate non-Adventists to our sanctuary doctrine.34

6. My Personal Encounter With the Sanctuary Doctrine

I first encountered problems with the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, professionally, in the spring of 1955 during the process of editing comment on the Book of Daniel for volume 4 of the SDA Bible Commentary. As a work intended to meet the most exacting scholarly standards, we intended our comment to reflect the meaning obviously intended by the Bible writers. As an Adventist commentary it must also reflect, as accurately as possible, what Adventists believe and teach. But in Daniel 8 and 9 we found it hopelessly impossible to comply with both of these requirements.35

In 1958 the Review and Herald Publishing Association needed new printing plates for the classic book Bible Readings, and it was decided to revise it where necessary to agree with the Commentary. Coming again to the Book of Daniel I determined to try once more to find a way to be absolutely faithful to both Daniel and the traditional Adventist interpretation of 8:14, but again found it impossible. I then formulated six questions regarding the Hebrew text of the passage and its context, which I submitted to every college teacher versed in Hebrew and every head of the religion department in all of our North American colleges---all personal friends of mine. Without exception they replied that there is no linguistic or contextual basis for the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14.36

When the results of this questionnaire were called to the attention of the General Conference president, he and the Officers appointed the super-secret Committee on Problems in the Book of Daniel, of which I was a member. Meeting intermittently for five years (1961-1966), we considered 48 papers relative to Daniel 8 and 9, and in the spring of 1966 adjourned sine die, unable to reach a consensus.37

The Commentary experience with Daniel already mentioned led me into an unhurried, in-depth, spare-time, comprehensive study of Daniel 7 to 12 that continued without interruption for seventeen years (1955-1972), in quest of a conclusive solution to the sanctuary problem. My objective was to be fully prepared with definitive, objective, biblical information the next time the question should arise during the course of my ministry for the church.

Among other things I memorized, in Hebrew, all relevant portions of Daniel 8 to 12 for instant recall and comparison (60 verses), conducted exhaustive word studies38 of more than 150 relevant Hebrew words Daniel uses, throughout the Old Testament, studied the Hebrew grammar and syntax in detail, made a minute analysis of contextual data,39 compared ancient Greek and Latin translations of Daniel,40 investigated relevant apocryphal and New Testament passages,41 traced Jewish and Christian interpretation of Daniel from ancient to modern times,42 and made an exhaustive study of the formation, development, and subsequent Adventist experience with the traditional sanctuary doctrine.43 Eventually I incorporated the results of this investigation into an 1100 page manuscript which I later reduced to 725 pages but decided not release for publication until an appropriate time.

The above considerations conclusively demonstrate that our traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14, the sanctuary, and the investigative judgment as set forth in Article 23 of Fundamental Beliefs does not accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture with respect to the ministry of Christ on our behalf since His return to heaven.44 Accordingly, it is appropriate (1) to note wherein Article 23 is thus defective,45 (2) to revise the article so as to reflect Bible teaching on this aspect of His ministry accurately, and (3) to suggest a process designed to protect the church from this and similar traumatic experiences in the future.46

Some of the concepts associated with the investigative judgment are, indeed, biblical, but the Bible itself nowhere associates them with an investigative judgment, for which there is no sola Scriptura basis whatever.47

Upon ascending to heaven Jesus assured His disciples "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 18:20). The Book of Hebrews is our primary source of information about His ministry in heaven on their (and our) behalf since that time, I suggest that the following composite summary of His ministry as presented in Hebrews provides an appropriate basis for a revised article 23 of Fundamental Beliefs, should such a statement eventually be desired. The author of Hebrews presents Christ's ministry in heaven, on our behalf, by analogy with the role of the high priest in the ancient sanctuary ritual:

On the cross Jesus offered Himself as a single sacrifice for all time that atoned for the sins of those who draw near to God through Him.48 That one sacrifice qualified Him to serve as our great High Priest in heaven, perpetually.49 Having made that sacrifice, Christ entered the Most Holy Place--"heaven itself"--to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.50 He invites us to come boldly to Him, by faith, to find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.51 He will soon appear, a second time, "to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."52

7. "Rightly Explaining the Word of Truth"53

The almost infinitely diverse and often contradictory ideas attributed to the Bible, and thus its relevance for our time, suggest the importance of identifying principles on the basis of which we can have confidence in the validity of our conclusions with respect to the perspectives of life and reality its divine Author and the inspired writers intended their words to convey.

We read and study the Bible with the objective of learning who we are, how and why we came to be here, how we should relate to life and make the most of its opportunities, where we are going, and how best to get there. This constitutes what we may call our "world view," our concept of what life on planet Earth is all about.

Our quest for this information is something like a literal journey from where we may be now to where we would like to be, but have never been over the road before. In planning such a journey we must first know where we are, where we want to be at journey's end, and the best way to get there. Our planning must take into consideration the facts of geography and travel as they really are, not as we might like or imagine them to be. In other words we must be objective with respect to reality, to the facts of geography and travel as they really are. To be subjective in our planning---to think of them as we might imagine or like them to be---could eventually prove to be disastrous. It is the same with reading and studying the Bible: Objectivity is essential. Being subjective in our study and thinking inevitably imposes our personal, unenlightened, opinions upon the Bible and leaves us blind and deaf to what God is trying to say to us through it. As a result, we assume that our personal opinions constitute the voice of God!

In the Bible even a child or a semi-literate person can find the way of salvation and follow it all the way to the pearly gates, and find welcome there. But for in-depth study of some portions of it those not at home with ancient Hebrew and Greek should make use of relevant reference material prepared by reliable persons who are conversant with those languages. Certain factors are essential for everyone conducting in-depth study of the Bible. The following is a brief resume of factors essential to such a study.

Objectivity is the mental quality that aspires to evaluate ideas and draws conclusions in terms of their intrinsic reality, rather than in terms of a person's untested, subjective presuppositions. Objectivity is essential for ascertaining the intended import of the Bible.

Untested, subjective presuppositions regarding the nature and teachings of the Bible almost inevitably lead to wrong conclusions. Everyone, consciously or unconsciously, comes to the Bible with a set of presuppositions about it which control evaluation of the data considered and thus the conclusions drawn from it. Accordingly, the importance of presuppositions is crucial in determining the validity of one's conclusions. Presuppositions should ever remain open to revision as clearer, objective evidence may require. The objective is to eliminate every subjective factor from the reasoning process in order to bring it into harmony with objective reality.

Is it possible to test the presupposition that the Bible is, as it claims to be, the unique revelation of God's infinite will and purpose for the human race? Yes. The objective evidence for this consists of (1) the Bible's accurate evaluation of the natural human ethical-moral-spiritual state, (2) its perfect remedy for the imperfections of that natural state, (3) the demonstration that that remedy has transformed the psyche of countless millions of human beings for two thousand years, and (4) that if Bible principles were universally accepted and practiced they would automatically eliminate all war, all crime, and all selfish manipulation of other human beings---and thus transform this world into a little heaven on earth! Given the opportunity, the human experience confirms these conclusions beyond the possibility of either doubt or error. This authenticates Bible principles as being of more than human origin, and so validates the above presupposition as being objective and trustworthy.

The Old Testament was written between twenty-four and thirty-seven centuries ago, mostly in ancient Hebrew and in a world more than a little different and strange to us. The New Testament was written in Greek some nineteen centuries ago. The Old Testament records the history of the Hebrews as the covenant people and chosen instrument of the divine purpose for them and for the human race in ancient times, instruction designed to qualify them to be living representatives of, and witnesses for, the true God, and their individual and corporate response to this instruction.54 The Hebrew language had a limited vocabulary that reflected their primitive culture and world view, a form of writing that consisted of consonants only, and grammar and syntax different from ours today.

The Bible was thus historically conditioned,55 that is, adapted and specifically addressed to, the needs, comprehension, and covenant role of its recipients at the time it was written, and to their circumstances and perception of the divine purpose, yet Its fundamental principles and instruction are of universal value and applicability. It was written in their language and in thought forms with which they were familiar, and reflects the salvation history perspective of their time. That record, however, "was written for our instruction" also. Accordingly, we need to historically condition our minds to their time, circumstances, and perspective of salvation history in order to fully understand and appreciate its message for our time. In-depth study and appreciation of the Bible require that the historical circumstances in which a passage was written must be taken into consideration.

The salvation history perspective of the Old Testament envisioned ancient Israel as God's covenant people and chosen instrument of the divine purpose to restore humanity to harmony with the divine purpose for this world.56 God revealed all of this to them in order that they might cooperate intelligently with His infinite purpose for the human race. That revelation, imparted over the centuries of antiquity, provided ancient Israel with instruction that would qualify them individually and collectively as a nation to fully represent the supreme value and desirability of cooperating with His eternal purpose. It envisioned the climax of earth's history and the complete restoration of divine sovereignty over all the earth at the close of Old Testament times. The New Testament assumes the validity of this Old Testament perspective of salvation history as reaching a climax in the life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and promise of Jesus to return soon---at the close of New Testament times.57

This Bible perspective of salvation history was implicit in Scripture and in the minds of people of that time. It must also be in our minds as we read Scripture. Accordingly, the salvation history perspective of the time a passage was written must be taken into consideration in order to ascertain its intended, true meaning.

The original text of Scripture, in the languages in which it was written, is the ultimate, supreme authority for what it says.58 Good modern translations such as the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV59), the New International Version (NIV), and the Good News Bible (Today's English Version, TEV) are as accurate and reliable translations as any available today. The King James Version (KJV), with its superb, stately literary style has had a profound influence on the English language and endeared itself to readers for nearly four centuries, but sometimes it does not accurately reflect the original text.60

This was because the KJV was based on late manuscripts that had accumulated numerous scribal errors and editorial changes over several centuries since the original autographs. Since an ancient manuscript known as the Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844, thousands of ancient manuscripts centuries closer to the originals have been found that provide us, today, with much more accurate information as to how the original autographs actually read.61 Also, the biblical languages are better understood than they were in 1611, when the KJV became available, and the history and culture of antiquity are better understood. Word studies---the way in which Hebrew and Greek words occur in the Bible and their meaning as defined by context, in each instance---are thus essential to determine their meaning.

The literary context of a passage is essential to an accurate determination of its meaning. This includes its immediate context, in particular, but also its extended context in the entire document of which it forms a part. Ancient Hebrew, in which most of the Old Testament was written,62 had already become a dead language to the extent that when Ezra read from "the book of the law of Moses" (the Torah, or Pentateuch) in public about 450 B.C., it needed interpretation in order for Jews, even of his time, to understand it.63

Several characteristics of ancient Hebrew were responsible for this: (1) For one thing, it had a very limited vocabulary, one in which many words were used to express a wide variety of meanings. (For instance, the KJV translates ten common Hebrew words by an average of eighty-four English expressions each, and one of them by 164 English words and expressions!64). (2) Ancient Hebrew writing consisted of consonants only, and the reader had to supply whatever vowels he thought were intended, and in some instances might supply a set of vowels different from those the writer intended.65 The vowels that now appear in Hebrew Bibles were added to its consonants by the Masoretes, Jewish scholars, many centuries after ancient Hebrew had become a dead language, according to what they thought to be the intended meaning. For this reason it is futile to correlate two passages of scripture on the basis of the same English word located in a concordance---as William Miller did in developing the sanctuary doctrine!

The analogy of Scripture---the use of one Bible passage to clarify another---must be used with caution.66 The context of both passages must first be taken into account in order to determine whether or not they may be used together.

In summary, in-depth study of the Bible requires consideration of one's presuppositions, the historical circumstances to which a passage was addressed and to which it was intended to apply, its salvation history perspective, its sense as determined by the original language, its literary context, and cautious use of other Bible passages of Scripture to amplify it.

Seventh-day Adventists today affirm the sola Scriptura principle of the Reformation in principle, but sometimes unwittingly compromise it in practice, notably in affirming the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14.

Seventh-day Adventism emerged as a discrete entity within the Christian community on October 23, 184467 as the result of a particular understanding of Daniel 8:14 and the great disappointment that attended their disillusionment the preceding day. That understanding, which was subsequently modified in some details and became the traditional Adventist interpretation, has, since then, been considered the keystone of Adventism's self-identity, understanding of the Bible, theology, and sense of mission.68

In Jeremiah 18:7-10 the prophet summarizes the nature and purpose of predictive prophecy as follows: At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I intended to do to it.

Accordingly, predictive prophecy is always conditional on the response of the people to whom it is addressed. Its function is not to demonstrate divine foreknowledge nor does it necessarily predetermine the course of events, for if it did it would thereby deprive people of the power of choice. Its intended purpose is to enable them to make wise choices in the present by indicating the ultimate result of either a right or a wrong choice. For this reason Bible prophecy, even apocalyptic prophecy, is always conditional, and its time element is always flexible, in order to provide for the free exercise of human choice.69 It is a preview of what can be, not what necessarily will be.

Accordingly, the seventy weeks-of-years of Daniel 9:24-27 provided the Hebrew exiles in Babylon with a preview of what the future held for them, subject to their cooperation.70

Three Methods of Bible Study

The traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 was formulated on the basis of what is commonly known as the prooftext method of biblical study and interpretation, which construes Bible passages in terms of what a modern reader thinks to be their import. This method (1) is highly subjective, (2) understands the Bible from the modern reader's cultural, historical, and salvation history perspectives, (3) accepts the Bible in translation as authoritative, (4) makes the reader's personal and group-think presuppositions normative for evaluating data and for (5) drawing conclusions. This method does not require special training or experience, and is followed by a majority of untutored Bible readers. Since the beginning most Adventists have followed this method, but no reputable Bible scholar follows it today.

When Daniel 8:14 is studied by the historical method, serious flaws in the traditional interpretation become apparent because the historical method (1) aspires to be as objective as possible, (2) endeavors to understand the Bible as the various writers intended what they wrote to be understood and as their original reading audience would have understood it from their cultural, historical, and salvation history perspective, (3) considers words, literary forms, and statements according to their meaning in the original language as normative, (4) endeavors to evaluate data objectively, and (5) bases its conclusions on the weight of evidence. This method requires either special training in biblical languages and the history and milieu of antiquity, or reliance on source material prepared by persons with such training. Since about 1940 most Adventist Bible scholars have followed this method.

Since about 1970 a hybrid of these two methods known as the historical-grammatical method71 has attained limited popularity among Seventh-day Adventist Bible scholars and lay people, and major support among church administrators. Why? It consists of historical method procedures under the control of prooftext presuppositions and principles, which enable it to provide apparent scholarly support for traditional conclusions. It is highly subjective, aspires to dominate and eventually control all official Adventist study of the Bible, and has more or less controlled General Conference doctrinal policy for the past thirty years

Let us emulate the sincerity and diligence of our spiritual forefathers in their study of God's Word. We have no valid reason to criticize them because of the flaws we find in their understanding of the Bible.72 Let us remember that they did the best they knew how as they studied the Bible by the prooftext method, the generally accepted method of that time.73 They did not have access to the more accurate ancient Bible manuscripts that we do today, nor to our knowledge of ancient Hebrew and Greek or the history of ancient times. In taking note of flaws in the traditional interpretation of Daniel 8:14 we can be grateful for their dedication, build on their labors, and be faithful in our time as they were in theirs, to the best it is our privilege to know.74

8. "Rightly Explaining" Daniel 8:14

The first imperative for comprehending the prophecies of Daniel in the sense Inspiration intended is an objective frame of mind divested of every personal, subjective, modern presupposition with respect to their import.

The second imperative is to identify the circumstances set forth in Daniel 1 to 6 and 9:1-23, which provide the historical background within which Inspiration set its five prophetic passages and from which it intended Daniel and his intended readers to understand them. Accordingly, in order to understand those passages as Inspiration intended them to be understood we must do so with that historical perspective in our minds, and from the same perspective of salvation history as Daniel and his intended readers did. Any interpretation that ignores or controverts that historical perspective and / or the salvation history perspective of their time is automatically suspect and imposes an alien, uninspired interpretation on those prophecies.

The first six chapters of the Book of Daniel recount the exile of Daniel and his compatriots to Babylon "in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim of Judah," which is dated to 606/5 B.C., and their experiences during the seventy years of exile foretold by Jeremiah in chapter 29:1-14. According to Daniel 9:1, in "the first year of Darius" (which is dated to 537/6 B.C. by Jewish inclusive reckoning), Daniel had been in exile for exactly seventy years. But as yet there was no visible evidence that release from exile was imminent. Accordingly, Daniel prayed the importunate prayer for release from exile and for restoration recorded in chapter 9:4-19.

While Daniel was still praying the angel Gabriel reappeared75 and said, "I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications a word went out [obviously in heaven], and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand the vision." Gabriel thereupon repeats that "word" verbatim (verse 24), as he had promised, and proceeds to explain it in verses 25 to 27.

It is of crucial importance to note that Gabriel explicitly identifies the "word" that "went out to restore and build Jerusalem" at the commencement of the seventy weeks of years as "the word" that "went out"---in heaven---while Daniel was praying.76 That "word"77 was obviously one that only God Himself (and not an earthly monarch) could possibly have issued! On the authority of no less a person than the angel Gabriel, the "seventy weeks" of years thus began in 537 B.C., not eighty years later in 457 B.C.!

Gabriel's explanation of that "word" in verses 25-27 very briefly sketched the future of God's covenant people during the seventy weeks of years, and its climax in the ruthless oppression of "the prince who is to come" during the seventieth of the seventy "weeks," which he had already foretold in chapter 8:9-13 and explained in verses 19 to 25.78

As already noted, Daniel 9:23-25 begins the seventy weeks of years at the time the "word" was issued in heaven, in 537 B.C. In the same way, contextual identification of the "he" of verse 27 identifies events of history that mark their close in the seventieth of the seventy "weeks." It is universally accepted that the immediate antecedent of a personal pronoun identifies the person to whom it refers unless the context unambiguously specifies otherwise. Accordingly, verse 26 identifies the immediate antecedent of the pronoun "he" in verse 27, who "make[s] a strong covenant with many" for the seventieth of the seventy "weeks" and "make[s] sacrifice and offering cease" during the last half of the "week," as the evil "prince who is to come"---not the "anointed prince" of verses 25-26!

Chapter 11:23 confirms the fact that his alias, the last king of the north, does, indeed make such a covenant with people in "alliance" with him. Also, his fate set forth in verse 27, "the decreed end is poured out on the desolator," is equivalent to the horn-king of chapter 8:25 being "broken, and not by human hands," and to the last king of the north in chapter 11 who "come[s] to his end, with no one to help him."79

Chapter 9:24-27 thus provides an exact but much more complete explanation of chapter 8:13-14's question and answer about events between Daniel's time and "the appointed time of the end" "many days from now" when "the vision of the evenings and the mornings" was to meet its fulfillment.80 Isn't that exactly what Gabriel said the audition of 9:24-27 was supposed to do?81

Such is Daniel's perspective of salvation history. In order to understand chapters 8 and 9 as heaven intended them to be understood, we must imagine ourselves in Daniel's historical circumstances and view them from his perspective of salvation history in order to form an accurate understanding of what was revealed to him.

Daniel's Perspective of Salvation History

Daniel's perspective of salvation history was a composite of the visions of chapters 2 and 7, each with its explanation, and chapter 8 with its three-fold explanation in chapters 8, 9, and 11-12. It consisted of a series of universal kingdoms82 followed by a period of disintegration and fragmentation,83 which Gabriel told Daniel would be a "troubled time" (9:25)84.

At the "appointed time of the end ... many days from now"---after sixty-nine of the "seventy weeks of years"85---there would be an unprecedented "time of anguish" for God's people in which they would be "trampled," their power shattered,86 their land and city devastated,87 their loyalty and faithfulness to God tested,88 their covenant with Him and its prescribed system of worship abolished,89 and an idolatrous system of worship enforced.90 As a result of this attempt to obliterate the knowledge and worship of the true God, many Jews would apostatize and enter into a "covenant" with their oppressor.91

The duration of this time of anguish for God's people is given variously as (1) "a time, two times, and half a time" = three and a half years,92 as (2) the last half of the seventieth of the seventy "weeks" = also three and a half years,93 and as (3) the time during which 2300 evening and morning sacrifices would normally have been offered = 1150 literal days = three years, two months, and 10 days94 within the three and a half years of "anguish."95

At the close of this time of anguish the Ancient of days would sit in judgment and "the decreed end" would be "poured out upon the desolator," who would thus "come to his end with no one to help him" and be "broken" but "not by human hands."96 Simultaneously, the sanctuary would "be restored to its rightful state," the Ancient of Days would vindicate His faithful people and award them an "everlasting kingdom," Michael would arise to deliver them, the righteous dead would be raised to life eternal, the "wise," including Daniel, would enter upon their eternal reward and shine like the brightness of the firmament for ever and ever.97

The prophecies of Daniel locate this time of anguish (1) during the "time, two times, and half a time" of Daniel 7:25, (2) at or near "the end" of the "rule" of the four horn Greek era of chapter 8:8, 21-23, (3) during the last half of the seventieth of the seventy weeks of chapter 9:24-27, and (4) during the reign of the last king of the north of chapter 11:20-45.

Obviously Daniel's perspective of salvation history was vastly different from ours---by more than two thousand years! But by the sure word of his angel mentor that was the perspective from which he and the angel Gabriel then viewed the future. It is the identical format set forth in the Old Testament.35 To ignore or deny it is a major violation of the sola Scriptura principle, and to say that neither Daniel nor Gabriel knew what they were talking about! It is an important part of in-depth study of the Bible to read it from its own historical and salvation history perspectives, in order to understand and appreciate its message for us in our time!

Daniel's perspective of salvation history thus explicitly invalidates the historicist concept of predictive prophecy. Furthermore, his perspective was identical with that of the Old Testament as a whole.98

Four KJV Translation Errors That Led Pioneer Adventists Astray

Four major translation errors in the KJV of Daniel 8:14 and 9:25-26, of which William Miller and pioneer Adventists were obviously unaware, led them, unwittingly, astray.99

The KJV of Daniel 8:14 reads: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Here and in chapter 9 the KJV inaccurately reflects the Hebrew text of Daniel at four specific points. In the original Hebrew text and in the NRSV it reads: "For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state."

The Hebrew word for "days," yamim, is not in the Hebrew text of 8:14, which reads simply erev boquer, "evening morning." "Days" is interpretation, not translation. When Daniel meant "days" he consistently wrote "days," yamim.100 Wherever the words erev and boquer occur in a sanctuary context (as in 8:14), without exception they always refer to the evening and morning sacrificial worship services or to some other aspect of the sanctuary and its ritual services. These sacrifices were offered tamid, "regularly," late every afternoon before sunset and early every morning after sunrise. See, for example, Exodus 29:38-42 and Numbers 28:3-6. Erev sometimes precedes boquer in view of the fact that Hebrew custom began each day at sunset, with erev referring specifically to the waning light of day associated with sunset and boquer the rising light of day associated with sunrise, not to the dark and light portions of a 24-hour day.

The traditional interpretation considers erev boquer, "evening morning," a composite term meaning a 24-hour day. But according to verse 26 haerev we haboquer, "the evening and the morning," are discrete entities, as the repeated definite article requires. The question of verse 13, and thus the answer of verse 14 both focus on the sanctuary and the time during which its continual (tamid) burnt offering was banned. Accordingly, erev boquer in verse 14 is to be understood in a cultic sanctuary context specifically with reference to the tamid (continual) burnt offering.

Note also that the question of verse 13, to which verse 14 is the inspired answer, asks for how long the tamid, the "regular burnt offering" already mentioned in verse 11, would be "trampled." In place of tamid in verse 13, however, verse 14 substitutes the expression erev boquer, thereby calling attention to the fact that the two are synonymous terms for the same thing, the evening and morning sacrificial worship services. Indeed, both terms occur together in the passages noted above with respect to the two daily worship services. (In 8:11 and 14 the NRSV---correctly---adds "burnt offering" to the term "regular," tamid, in recognition of the fact that tamid refers to the daily, or regular, burnt offerings.)

The word tamid, "continual(ly)," "regular(ly)," occurs 104 times in the Old Testament, 51 times in connection with the sanctuary ritual, 53 times otherwise. More than half of the 51 sanctuary-related occurrences are in connection with the daily burnt offering (32 of the 51 times); and 19 times of the bread of the presence, the lamp, the cereal offering, and other aspects of the sanctuary and its ritual.

The Hebrew word nitsdaq never means "cleansed," as the KJV translates it. Nitsdaq is the passive form of the verb tsadaq, "to be right," and means "to be set right," or as the NRSV renders it, "to be restored to its rightful state." Had Daniel meant "cleansed" he would have used the word taher, which does mean "cleansed" and always refers to ritual cleansing in contrast to tsadaq, which always connotes moral rightness.101

Daniel 8:14 is concerned with the meaning of the sacrificial worship service, not with whether it was performed correctly. It affirmed Israel's continued loyalty to God and commitment to its covenant relationship with Him, at the beginning and again at the close of each day. The KJV based its rendering of nitsdaq as "cleansed" on the Latin Vulgate, which reads mundabitur, and the Greek Septuagint, which reads katharisthesetai, both of which denote ritual cleansing, probably reflecting the ritual cleansing of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C., as recorded in 1 Maccabees 4:36-54.102

The KJV's "the Messiah the Prince" in Daniel 9:25 and "Messiah" in verse 26, respectively, constitute interpretation of the Hebrew text, not translation of it. The Hebrew text reads "an anointed, a prince" or "an anointed prince" in 9:25 and "an anointed" in verse 26. In so doing, the KJV commits a double error by: (1) rendering the Hebrew indefinite as definite, and (2) arbitrarily identifying the anointed prince as Jesus Christ. This double error automatically led pioneer Adventists to another, even grosser, error in verse 27, considered below.

To be sure, the English word "messiah" accurately transliterates the Greek messias, which in turn transliterates the Hebrew mashshiach, and the English word "Christ" accurately translates the Greek messias. But the KJV translators had no legitimate reason for rendering the Hebrew indefinite as definite and identifying the anointed prince of Daniel 9:25 and 26 as Jesus Christ.

The KJV rendering "seven weeks, and three score and two weeks" in 9:25, implying a total of sixty-nine "weeks" between "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" and the coming of its "Messiah the Prince," grossly misrepresents the Hebrew syntax of verse 25.

Hebrew syntax requires that the seven-week period be the time between the "going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" and the "anointed prince" referred to, and that the "threescore and two weeks" refer to the duration of the "troublous times" during which the "street" and the "wall" remain built prior to the evil "prince that shall come" of the following verse. The NRSV renders the Hebrew syntax of verse 25 correctly: "... there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it [Jerusalem} shall be built again ..." Verse 26 confirms the fact that the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks are two discrete periods of time, not one composite time period. Hebrew usage throughout the Old Testament confirms this conclusion.

Those who formulated the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 were led astray by these four KJV errors. Had they been working directly from the Hebrew text of Daniel, or an accurate English translation, they would never have contrived the traditional Adventist interpretation.

Their second error was adoption of the day-for-a-year interpretation of Bible prophecy. That pseudo principle, inherent in the historicist interpretation of Bible prophecy, was invented in the ninth century by the Jewish scholar Nahawendi, as a device by which to make Daniel's prophecies relevant to his day. Catholic scholars subsequently adopted and used it until certain other Catholic scholars, and later Protestants, based their identification of the papacy as the antichrist of Bible prophecy on it. Thereupon Roman Catholics abandoned the day-for-a-year principle, whereas Protestants retained it as proof that Rome was "Babylon." Suffice it to note, here, that there is no Bible basis whatever for this so-called principle.103


The Immediate Context of Daniel 8:14

The vision of chapter 8:1-12, the question of verse 13, and the explanation of verses 15 to 27 constitute the immediate context of verse 14. As a matter of fact chapter 8 itself identifies all four essential elements of verse 14: (1) its sanctuary, (2) why it needed cleansing or being "restored to its rightful state," (3) how long it had needed cleansing or restoration, and (4) when that cleansing or restoration would occur.

According to verses 9-12, their cryptic little horn invades the "beautiful land" and overthrows the sanctuary located there---obviously the sanctuary, or temple, in Jerusalem. Verse 14 itself specifies that the period of time during which the sanctuary would remain overthrown and its regular burnt offering suspended as the time during which 2300 "regular burnt offerings" would normally have been offered. With two such offerings each day, that would be1150 literal twenty-four-hour days, or three years, two months, and ten days. When would this occur? Verses 21 to 25 specify that all of this, including the cleansing or restoration of the sanctuary to its rightful state, would take place soon after the close of the four-horn (Hellenistic) Greek era of the prophecy.

Verse 13, the question to which verse 14 is the answer, identifies the "evenings and mornings" as an equivalent term for its "regular burnt offering."104 The nature of the sanctuary's cleansing or restoration is explained in the proximate context of the rest of the Book of Daniel, which also identifies other events that accompany or follow its cleansing or restoration.

Verses 11 and 12 of chapter 8 attribute the trampling of the sanctuary mentioned in verses 11-13 to the cryptic little horn of verse 8, which verses 21 to 23 identify as "a king of bold countenance" at "the end" of the four horn (Greek) era of the vision. Accordingly, context explicitly identifies the restoration of the sanctuary to its rightful state in verse 14 as removal of the damage caused by the little horn. The sanctuary's overthrown, trampled state included, particularly, the taking away of its "regular burnt offering" and substitution of the "transgression that makes desolate"105 in its place.

The answer of verse 14 substitutes the expression "evenings and mornings" for verse 13's question about "the regular burnt offering," thereby identifying them as equivalent terms for the same thing. With two such sacrifices each day, the time during which 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices would normally have been offered would be a period of 1,150 literal days, or nearly three and a half literal years. Verse 26 identifies the time in history when this would happen as the "appointed time of the end ... many days from now," "at the end" of the "rule" of the four Greek (Hellenistic) horns of the male goat.106

The immediate context of verse 14---chapter 8 itself---thus identifies all of the essential elements of the verse, but leaves the restoration of the sanctuary "to its rightful state" unexplained because Daniel fell ill.107 As will be seen, events associated with that restoration are revealed elsewhere in Daniel. The traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 thus removes it completely from the immediate context in which Gabriel and Daniel placed it, in obvious violation of the sola Scriptura principle. The proximate context---Daniel 7, 9, and 10-12---clarifies matters still further.


Daniel 9 as Proximate, Continuing Context for 8:14

The traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14 recognizes a relationship between chapters 8 and 9, but at three vital points misconstrues its contextual contribution to an accurate understanding of 8:14. This valid relationship is evident from (1) the fact that Gabriel had not been able to complete his commission to explain the vision of chapter 8,108 (2) that when he reappears in 9:21-25 he summons Daniel to "understand" that vision, and (3) that his message in 9:24-27 provides the very information needed to complement his aborted explanation of 8:19-27.

The traditional interpretation assumes that the 70 "weeks" of years of 9:24 constitute the first 490 of its 2300 erev boquer construed as that many literal years during which the sanctuary is said to be desolate. But according to 9:24-26 the sanctuary is restored and in full operation during the first 69 of the 70 "weeks"! How can the same sanctuary be restored and in full operation109 during the very time 8:13-14 has it "desolate"? This insoluble paradox, inherent in and indispensable to the traditional interpretation, constitutes it an oxymoron!

The second contextual anomaly implicit in and essential to the traditional interpretation is its identification of the davar, "word" (KJV "commandment"), that went out to restore and build Jerusalem,110 as the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 B.C. But that decree111 says nothing about rebuilding either Jerusalem or the temple, which had already been rebuilt and in operation for 59 years!112

Immediately prior to Gabriel's reappearance and message recorded in 9:20-27 Daniel had been pleading in prayer for God to restore His now desolate sanctuary in Jerusalem.113 At this point in Daniel's prayer Gabriel interrupts to announce that a davar, "word"114 (or "command," KJV) had already gone forth, obviously in heaven, in response to his prayer, and that he (Gabriel) had now come to "declare it" to Daniel. He forthwith repeats that "word"115 and explains it.116 Contextually, the "word" that "went out [motsa] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem"117 is the very "word" that "went out" (yatsa) in response to Daniel's prayer,118 and is quoted verbatim in verse 24! Gabriel assures Daniel that God Himself, not some earthly monarch, had already answered his fervent prayer! Obviously that "word"119 is one that only God Himself could possibly have issued, not some earthly monarch!

With considerable support even among presumably reputable Bible scholars, the traditional Adventist interpretation identifies the "he" of 9:27 who "make[s] a strong covenant with many" renegade Jews for the seventieth of the seventy weeks,120 and for half of the week" makes "sacrifice and offering cease," as the "Messiah the Prince" (KJV) of verses 25 and 26, meaning Christ. But the immediate antecedent of the pronoun "he" in verse 27 is the evil "prince that shall come" of verse 26, not the anointed prince of verse 25! Only reliance on the faulty KJV identification of the anointed prince of verse 25 as Christ, and identifying Him as the "he" of verse 27, is the traditional interpretation able to reckon backwards to identify the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 B.C. as marking the beginning of the seventy "weeks" of years (and thus also of its 2300 years). Furthermore, the Hebrew ein lo of verse 26 (KJV "but not for himself," NRSV "shall have nothing") actually means that the cut off prince would have no successor. Thus to have either him or a successor reappear as the "he" of verse 27 makes verse 27 contradict verse 26! Another oxymoron!

Identifying the "he" of verse 27 as the evil "prince who is to come" of verse 26, however, makes verse 27 an exact parallel to the career of the little horn in chapter 8, who likewise "makes sacrifice and offering cease" and in their place sets up "an abomination that desolates."121 Remember, as pointed out above, that the angel Gabriel specifically presented 9:25-27 as a continuing explanation of the prophecy of chapter 8. To complete the parallel, he now122 tells Daniel that "the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator," as he had formerly told him (in chapter 8) that "the king of bold countenance" would "be broken, and not by human hands."123

This contextual understanding of 9:27 automatically and conclusively locates the 2300 evenings and mornings" of 8:14, understood as the number of sacrifices that would normally be offered, two each day, during the course of 1150 days, within the 1260 days, or three and a half years of the last half of the seventieth "week" of years of chapter 9---the "appointed time of the end" in the "latter part" of the four-horn era124 when the little horn of verses 9-13, 23-27 appears on the prophetic stage in what was, in Daniel's time, "the distant future."125


Continued in Part 2

Robert K. Sanders, Founder and Editor of Truth or Fables, 1997–2012
Life Assurance Ministries assumed ownership of Truth or Fables in 2012
© 2016 Life Assurance Ministries. All rights reserved.