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.
upon various biblical passages which mention YHWH killing such a monster, including some psalms whose Sitz im Leben is likely to have been the Temple: Rahab in Ps 89,10 and Isa 51,9; Leviathan in Ps 74,14 and Isa 27,1; the sea monster(s) (tannîn) in Isa 51,9, Ps 74,13 and a probable allusion in Jer 51,3417. The hypothetical nature of the Enthronement Festival aside, how would the author of Dan 7,2-14, writing in the second century B.C., have had access to it? It was posited by Mowinckel that it was part of the royal cult but Kingship (to all intents and purposes), and thus the royal cult, ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 587-586 B.C. Possible remnants in the Psalms and Prophets of such a festival are too fragmentary to have furnished the mythic pattern of Daniel’s vision18. Collins has suggested that Daniel may have had access to some second century B.C. version of the myth19 but the weakness of this position has been highlighted by Mosca, both from the point of view of the unlikelihood of direct borrowing from Canaan and from a lack of direct evidence as to the second century format of a Baal myth20. Mosca has suggested that the Canaanite material was mediated to the author of Dan 7 via Ps 8921. That Ps 89 contains imagery which derives from Canaanite mythology is clear22, and although the present writer agrees with Mosca that Ps 89 has been undervalued as a source for Daniel’s vision23 nevertheless the similarities between the two texts are not sufficiently great for Ps 89 to have been the prototype for the mythic pattern of the entire Danielic vision: The four winds do not feature, only one beast appears and it is not killed by fire; there is no judgement scene (although ‘throne’ and ‘judgement’ are both mentioned). Mosca himself recognises aspects of dissimilarity between the two texts and attributes these to their varying purposes and timeframes 24.
3. Mesopotamian Texts
A search of Mesopotamia texts proved more fruitful in the search for a forerunner to the mythic pattern of Dan 7,2-1425. It is my contention that Gunkel’s thesis in 1895 of a correspondence between the Enuma Elish