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.
The sparse nature of the linguistic correspondences, but the strong thematic similarities, suggest that the author of Daniel was aware of the Enuma Elish and was drawing upon his memory rather than upon a written text when he wrote his vision.
4. Transmuted elements and aspects of discontinuity between the Enuma Elish and Daniel
What becomes clear in this comparison between Dan 7,2-14 and the Enuma Elish is that the polytheistic aspects of the latter have been transmuted. Tiamat has become the great sea; the monsters of chaos are no longer gods but human powers; the gods who determine the destinies are, in Daniel, the thousand thousands who served him and the ten thousand times ten thousand who stood before him; the Ancient of Days embodies aspects of Anshar, Anu and Marduk in that Anshar and Anu, whose names are virtually interchangeable in the epic, represent the great high god whose position is then given to Marduk because of his ability to overcome the monsters of chaos. It is said of the Ancient of Days that he sat when thrones were placed; Marduk does likewise in Ee VI 93-94. Further as ‘a stream of fire issued and came forth from before him [the Ancient of Days]’(Dan 7,9) so Marduk covered his body with fire (Ee IV 40). There is another reference in the Epic to Marduk’s fiery aspect: ‘When he moved his lips a fire broke out’ (Ee I 96). Nevertheless some of Marduk’s aspects are similar to those belonging to ‘One like a Son of Man’ in Daniel as a comparison of Dan 7,14 and Ee IV 7,14 shows. In Dan 7,10 we learn that ‘the books were opened’ whereas in Ee IV 33 the gods ‘ordained the Lord’s (i.e. Marduk’s) destiny’.
The main lack of correspondence between the cited passages of the Enuma Elish and Daniel is that Marduk is summoned to the divine court and enthroned prior to judgement being passed upon Qingu and his fellow monsters whereas ‘One like a Son of Man’ enters the tale only after the punishment of the four beasts. It may be, though, that his prior appearence is implied in Dan 7,9 which says, ‘thrones [in the plural] were placed’. Aware of the theological problems raised by such a translation, some scholars have posited that wymr be read as ‘were cast down’35. If such a translation is correct then it would indicate that the thrones of the beasts ‘were cast down’. In terms of logic this does not accord with the chronological unfolding of the text of Dan 7 for ‘the judgement was set and the books were opened’ at the end of verse 10 after the Divine court had been convened, not before it. Further, after the killing and burning of the fourth beast in verse 11 it is stated in verse 12, concerning the rest of the beasts, that ‘they had their dominion taken away’. This would have been an unnecessary statement to make if it had already been said in verse 9.
5. Dan 7,2-14 and Canaanite Mythology Revisited
It was pointed out earlier that a close similarity has been claimed for the Danielic One like a Son of Man and Baal in the Ugaritic myth because both