It was at the dawn of a period when the ancient codes which had been continuously reinterpreted or readjusted were to be re-examined under the influence of newer ideas and methods of study.3 The haggadic portions of the Talmud were collected: (a) from the Bab.
Yet it is noteworthy that the traditions are usually reshaped, readjusted or reinterpreted, and are not replaced by entirely new ones.
The meaning of this cult is, of course, reinterpreted in the Gnostic sense: by this unbridled prostitution the Gnostic sects desired to prevent the sexual propagation of mankind, the origin of all evil.
In both classes, accepted tradition (written or oral) was reinterpreted in order to justify or to deduce new teaching (in its widest sense), to connect the present with a hallowed past, and to be a guide for the future; and the prevalence of this process, the innumerable different examples of its working, and the particular application of the term Midrash to an important section of Rabbinical literature complicates both the study of the subject and any attempt to treat it concisely.'
But this was not the original significance of the fourth beast, for the author of Daniel referred thereby to the Greek empire; but, since the prophecy was not realized, it was subsequently reinterpreted, and applied, as we have observed, to Rome.