I've just discovered this forum, and I think Daniel 8:14 is, unfortunately, one of the most urgent things that the SDA leadership needs to address. A normal Christian organization, like that of the early Christians, wouldn't have to address conflicts regarding the interpretation of controversial passages not directly connected with Christian experience, but since the SDA has its very foundation rooted in a supposedly 'superior' understanding of Daniel 8:14 that is completely alien to all exegetical scholarship, the longer it takes to clearly address all the issues and accept full responsibility for its shortcomings in understanding, the worse it will be for the general progress of the denomination and the biblical literacy of its members.
What Dr. Ford and Dr. Cottrell discovered about Dan 8:14 and the sanctuary has been discovered by many others, most of whom were forced out of the church or chose to leave. It has happened since the days of Canright and I needn't be a prophet to predict that it will keep happening, since it's unavoidable. I discovered it on my own, without reading either Ford, Canright or any others. Once you read a little Hebrew, or at least take the time to compare different translations of Dan 9:25-27 and Dan 8:14 in its context, the conclusion that both point to the days of Antiochus IV is inescapable. Whether one wants to somehow make these passages applicable to later events, like the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, or some other indefinite event in the future, is a matter of personal choice, should such a thing make a person happier, but, quite certainly, that is not required on exegetical grounds.
Everything that church loyalists, like Dr. William Shea, have written against the historical-exegetical understanding of Daniel 8 and 9 is picking at straws. Not only are they trying to uphold the subjective and whimsical historicist interpretation, repeatedly shown to be false, but really doing very bad exegesis of almost everything.
For example, the insistence that the little horn of Daniel 8 was to appear 'at the end of their reign' is futile if one looks at the Hebrew. If you care to read the last chapter of Job, you'll see that the latter state of Job (some 140 years) was better than the first. That doesn't mean that he had several children in the last few years of his life, and, mind you, that doesn't mean they were conceived and born after his death! If the latter part of Job's life (roughly, the last half of his life), could be good, then it is patently false that the usage of the expression 'at the end of their reign' for the little horn demands that he appear after 30 BC. That is preposterous. Period. Besides, there's a lot of double talk in the not-so-scholarly Adventist circles about the beginning of the desecration of the sanctuary. When on earth is it supposed to have begun? In 457 BC, when the 2300 "evening-mornings" are deemed to have begun? In 30 BC, when the last Hellenistic kingdom disappeared? In AD 70, when the temple was destroyed by the Romans? Sometime in the Middle Ages when the papacy invented the "sacrifice" of Mass?
Another similar folly that is attempted trying to uphold a Roman origin for the little horn is perverting the obvious meaning of 'from one of them'. Shea would have us think that the little horn appeared out of the four winds of heaven and not out of the forehead of the he-goat, but not only is that contra natura, it is utterly ridiculous. He voluntarily ignores four things: 1) there are textual variants where "them" is feminine; 2) the very context of the passage shows, and good Hebrew grammars like Gesenius' confirm, that the Hebrew language is not always coherent as far as gender concordance is concerned; 3) all ancient translations are coherent with the understanding that the little horn came from the he-goat and inconsistent with the ludicrous explanation that it came from a point in the compass that was alien to Alexander's domains; 4) the obvious parallels between the little horn of Dan 8 with all the enemy powers portrayed elsewhere in the book, particularly in chapter 11 (the last king of the north). Any attempt of exegeting away Dan 8:14 without reference to Dan 11 is condemned to failure and utter rejection by the scholarly community.
And, what can be said about the assertion that Antiochus wasn't big enough to be the little horn? Well, perhaps he wasn't illustrious enough to deserve a place in prophecy, but, quite certainly, he was villainous enough to do so! Nowhere does the text imply that the little horn was to be bigger than Alexander. If we want to pick at straws, as Shea does, not even Rome's empire is bigger than Alexander's. Admittedly, Alexander's empire did not include Western Europe, but let us keep in mind that Europe is a small continent. Alexander's empire encompassed a large portion of Asia up to India! The point is that Dan 8 says in what sense and in which direction the little horn was to extend its influence: it was to grow toward the east, south and west (which is understandable, as he was the king of the north). Rome did not grow in the order specified by Dan 8. It began by controlling Italy. Then it extended its influence toward the West (Spain) and the East (Epirus, Macedonia, and later Syria), the North (Gaul, Britain) and then against the Southeast (Egypt). Not only does historicism require to twist the facts of history: it also demands that we relocate whole nations across the map to make its claims believable!
More could be said, and it might still be said if this thread shows some interest in my exposition. Let me finish, however, by summarizing my view on the choices the SDA leadership has regarding Dan 8:14. I'll list them in order of preference:
1) Recognize openly that our pioneers made a serious mistake in their interpretation of Dan 8:14 and apologize for all the wrongdoing caused by this absurd face-saving mistake. Particularly, they should apologize for calling Babylon those who were biblically-based enough to reject William Miller's folly. Naturally, all unbiblical teachings derived from the wrong interpretation of Dan 8:14, such as the "Investigative Judgement", should be dropped at once.
2) Accept the gallant offer made by scholars like the late Dr. Raymond Cottrell that would allow the church to save face by quietly disposing of abnormal doctrines (like the 2300 "days" and the sanctuary) by permitting members, teachers and ministers to accept the obvious without being disfellowshipped. Those who preferred to stick to traditional monstrosities might be allowed to do so.
3) Ignore the previous pieces of advice and maintain whatever it wants on the issue. No matter how much research they do, or how convoluted their arguments become, the outcome will be irrelevant. It won't be accepted by the scholarly community either outside or inside the church (I don't include among the latter those paid employees that have the know-how to write technical papers on theological, or historical issues; of these, only but a few, like Dr. Cottrell, have the honesty of standing for truth, no matter what the cost, even if they do so after their retirement!). In other words, if the church chooses to close its eyes to reality, not only will it be making its purportedly scholarly efforts on such issues fruitless and irrelevant, it will be faced by an increasing rejection of such tenets in the media. More and more people will be warned against the 19th-century hermeneutical approach of the church. In the long run, such stance will prove untenable, unless the church desires to have as its members only the uneducated and misinformed.