Historical Considerations Language Theological Implications

Date(s) of the Writing of Daniel

There has been, and probably always will be, a controversy on whether Daniel wrote the book and also when he wrote it. Most scholars who believe Daniel wrote the book believe the book was written between 538 and 528 B.C.; probably 536 B.C. It was most likely written during the exile of the Jews from Judah.

Porphyry, a philosopher of the third century A.D., was the first strong critic of the book of Daniel. He thought it was written by someone who lived about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.). He is one of the strong critics against prophecy. Since, therefore, the book could not have been written before the events, it had to have been written after the events with all facts then known. He felt there was neither malicious meant nor was the person vying for notoriety. It was probably written to revive the hope of the Jews. These were terrible times because of the tyrant, Epiphanes. There are others who believe the book was written by a Jew of Palestine about the times of the Maccabees, still second century B.C. All persons who hold to the "other" writer theory do not believe in prophecy.

Why would these persons be so adamant about predictions about the future? It turns out the primary reason they are against Daniel's prophecies is the absolute extreme accuracy of the predictions. There is probably no other prophet who has been so absolutely correct, even in his own time.

Those critics who argue against prophetic capabilities of Daniel usually fall into the following arguments:

  1. Historical Considerations

    1. The book is placed in the third section called the Hagiographa, of the Jewish Bible. This is the "writings" portion of the Jewish Bible (first section is the "Law" and the second section is the "Prophets"). This placement is an inference the Jews did not consider Daniel of the book strongly prophetic. Also, The Hagiographa is a later section. This is evidence Daniel was written later.
    2. It should be noted other old books are in the Hagiographa (Psalms, Job, Proverbs). Being put in the Hagiographa does not mean it was a later writing.

    3. One of the greatest inconsistencies pointed out is the "mix-up" of the date Nebuchadnezzar plundered Palestine. In fact, there is no inconsistency at all. The problem is the dating technique difference between the Babylonians and the Jews.
    4. In Daniel 1:1 it is stated king Nebuchadnezzar invaded Palestine on the third year of Jehoiakim.

      Dan 1:1 "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it."

      In Jeremiah 46:2 it says the first year of Nebuchadnezzar was the fourth year of Jehoiakim.

      Jer 46:2 "To Egypt, concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was by the Euphrates River at Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah."

      More recent studies have uncovered a couple of very interesting facts about ancient dating of the regnal (king) year. The Jews started the first king year from the first month (Jewish Tishri/Ethanim - our October) preceding the year of succession; the Babylonians started the first king year from the next new year's day (in April). There, it would appear the Jewish writings would show one year earlier than the Babylonians. In accordance with the Chaldeans, Nebuchadnezzar actually started his king year April, 604 B.C.; but he was crowned September, 605 B.C.

      The questions is why would a Jew, Daniel, write in the regnal timing as the Babylonians? The most likely explanation is Daniel lived most of his life in Babylon and knew these methods intimately. Remember, he was taught all he ways of the Chaldeans. It would be natural for him to write with a Babylonian slant as long as it did not go against God.

    5. One other question brought up is Daniel's inference Belshazzar as the last king of Babylonia who also was slain when the Medes took Babylon. Non-religious (profane) historians indicate Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon and he was killed in the capture. Archeologists know Belshazzar was Nabonidus's son and co-ruler. Why did Belshazzar offer Daniel third ruler of the kingdom as he did in Daniel 5:16? Simple. He would not offer the second position because He was second; Nabonidus (first) was still alive.

  2. Language

    1. The book is written in two languages: Aramaic and Hebrew. Why would Daniel write both. It appears there is a possibility two other writers may have written the book later in years than Daniel. The analysis of the book will show Daniel wrote to the Gentiles interests and to Jewish interests. When he wrote to the Gentiles, he wrote in Aramaic.
      Note that Aramaic, which was also spoken by Jesus, came from Aram. Aram was the ancient biblical name for Syria.
    2. Persian words were used in the book. It is very true Daniel wrote around the Persian dominion (Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylonia in 539 B.C.). There is no reason to believe he would not sip in a few political Persian words.
    3. Greek words were also used (actually, only three musical instruments). The Greek cultural and commercial influences were felt everywhere. Therefore, it would not be unusual to see a few Greek words.
    4. Portions of Daniel written in Aramaic have several words spelled with a d being used instead of a z that was used in Daniel's time. The d was used much later. However, texts have been found as old as 1500-1400 B.C. which had words spelled both ways.

  3. Theological Implications

    The primary theological argument for a later writing date revolves around the disbelief of miracles, prophecy, angels, or the resurrected Messiah. Just read the Old Testament. Many people before the time of Daniel wrote about miracles, prophecy, angels, last judgment, and the Messiah. So it has nothing to do with the time if the writing to discuss those beliefs.

    It should be noted the later writings (second century B.C.) so much thought to be the better writing times for Daniel don't mention the miracles, prophecy, angels, last judgment, and the Messiah.

Other Readings:
1 Kings 7:48-50
2 Kings 17:5; 20:17; 24:1,2,13; 25:13-15
2 Chron 4:7-22; 36:5-21
Jer 20:5; 25:1,9; 27:16-21; 28:3,4,6; 46:2
Isa 39:6
Ezr 1:7-11

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