The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 3


V. The Support of Reverent Scholarship

Attention is again drawn, in closing, to the fact that the scholastic attainments of the various expositors cited in the sketches scattered throughout these chapters, and the responsible preaching and teaching positions that they held, have been presented for this primary purpose: To indicate that the great majority of these interpreters of prophecy were graduates of various institutions of higher learning and held posts of recognized leadership in different denominational organizations; they therefore had highly trained minds and maintained well-balanced view points; they were neither ignorant nor gullible; they were not given to fancy or vagary, but were sound, sensible, and stable; they were men of accomplishment, the intellectual peers of any in their day. PFF3 749.2

They ministered, moreover, to sober and sensible congregations. And they customarily continued that ministry, including the public exposition of prophecy, without serious censure or challenge. They were regarded as reputable, respectable, and representative men. And they were not confined to any one sector denomination but were scattered through all, established churches as well as nonconformist. They were clergymen for the most part, but included many laymen of conspicuous talent and achievement. And they handed together in group study and joint proclamation of the prophetic message. PFF3 749.3

These men were accomplished in Biblical languages, Latin, and history, and were well acquainted with the principles of sound exegesis. They were not inclined to catch up some fanciful or irrational theory. On the contrary, they were rather matter of fact and exacting in their scholarship. They had come-to their conclusions on the basis of substantial evidence, after painstaking study consuming years and sometimes decades. Such was the caliber and character of the nineteenth-century Old World expositors of prophecy.” 9 PFF3 750.1

The expressed convictions of the champions of the Historical School of prophetic interpretation are therefore entitled to due weight, and respectful consideration. Moreover, the inter national character and geographical spread of its exponents is evidence that the principles propounded must have been reason ably sensible or they would not have had such general appeal and acceptance. (To this may be added the converse fact that their opponents had adopted the distinctly Catholic systems of Futurist and Preterist counterinterpretation specifically de signed to thwart the Historical School of genuine prophetic exposition. Or, they had accepted the popular postmillennial theory of world conversion. So the issue was sharply defined.) PFF3 750.2

Bringing this impressive background to bear upon the problem of the extraordinary interest in the 2300 years which appeared for the first time in the nineteenth-century study of prophecy, we are led to make this observation: The very fact that the year-day principle was applied by the Historicists to all prophetic time periods, and likewise that the 2300 days were recognized as years by many scores of the ablest scholars, entitles such a postulate to a respectful hearing. And, further, the recognition by some fifty of these representative, trained, and often individualistic minds of the seventy weeks of years as the key to the chronological placing of the 2300 years, cannot be brushed aside as trivial and unworthy exegesis. They held firmly to the proposition that the seventy weeks of years was the first segment of time cut off from the beginning of the longer period for the Jews, and that it led to the crucifixion of the promised Messiah at His first advent. PFF3 750.3

Therefore, we may well bend our efforts to ascertaining what this remarkable prophecy really called for, and to discovering whether its impressive demands were actually met in events that may not have been recognized in the Old World at the time. This, among other features, will be pursued in the fourth volume of The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers. PFF3 751.1