Daniel 1:1 - 2:4a-Hebrew language
Daniel 2:4b - 7:28-Aramaic language
Daniel 8:1 - 12:13-Hebrew language
This book bears the simple title, ”Daniel,“ not only because he is one of the chief characters portrayed in the book but more so because it follows a custom (though not a consistent one) of affixing the name of the author to the book he wrote. Little is known of Daniel’s family background. From the testimony of his contemporaries he was known for his righteousness (Ezek. 14:14, 20) and his wisdom (Ezek. 28:3). He is mentioned in these passages with Noah and Job, who were historical people, so Daniel was also a historical person, not a fictional character.
Daniel was born into the royal family and was of noble birth (Dan. 1:3, 6). He was physically attractive and mentally sharp (1:4). He lived at least until the third year of Cyrus, that is, till 536 b.c. (10:1). Therefore he must have been a young man when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 b.c. (In 1:4 Daniel was one of the ”young“ men of Israel.) If he were 16 when captured, he was 85 in Cyrus’ third year.
The prophecy of Daniel is the first great book of apocalyptic literature in the Bible. The Greek word apokalypsis, from which comes the English ”apocalypse,“ means an unveiling, a disclosing, or a revelation. Though all Scripture is revelation from God, certain portions are unique in the form by which their revelations were given and in the means by which they were transmitted.
Apocalyptic literature in the Bible has several characteristics: (1) In apocalyptic literature a person who received God’s truths in visions recorded what he saw. (2) Apocalyptic literature makes extensive use of symbols or signs. (3) Such literature normally gives revelation concerning God’s program for the future of His people Israel. (4) Prose was usually employed in apocalyptic literature, rather than the poetic style which was normal in most prophetic literature.
In addition to Daniel and Revelation, apocalyptic literature is found in Ezekiel 37-48 and Zechariah 1:7-7:8. In interpreting visions, symbols, and signs in apocalyptic literature, one is seldom left to his own ingenuity to discover the truth. In most instances an examination of the context or a comparison with a parallel biblical passage provides the Scriptures’ own interpretation of the visions or the symbols employed. Apocalyptic literature then demands a careful comparison of Scripture with Scripture to arrive at a correct understanding of the revelation being given.
If Daniel is the author as the book claims, then it written after the Babylonian captivity when Daniel and other young men were taken captive to Babylon in 605 when Nebuchadnezzar subdued Jerusalem. But for various reasons, this date has been disputed with many critics arguing that Daniel is a fraudulent book which was written in the time of the Maccabees in the second century B.C. rather than the sixth century B.C. Concerning the arguments against the authorship of Daniel in the sixth century Ryrie writes:
The first attack on the traditional sixth century B.C. date for the composition of the book came from Porphyry (A.D. 232- 303), a vigorous opponent of Christianity, who maintained that the book was written by an unknown Jew who lived at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.). This view was widely promoted by scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the following reasons: it is alleged that Daniel could not have made these predictions, since they were accurately fulfilled and could therefore have been written only after the events occurred; Persian and Greek words used in the book would have been unknown to a sixth-century Jewish author; the Aramaic used in 2:4-7:28 belongs to a time after that of Daniel; and there are certain alleged historical inaccuracies. In answer, we observe that predictive prophecy is not only possible but expected from a true prophet of God. Since Daniel lived into the Persian period, he would have known Persian words. The presence of Greek words is easily accounted for, since one hundred years before Daniel, Greek mercenaries served in the Assyrian army under Esarhaddon (683) and in the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar. Recent discoveries of fifth century B.C. Aramaic documents have shown that Daniel was written in a form of Imperial Aramaic, an official dialect known in all parts of the Near East at that time. Alleged historical inaccuracies are fast disappearing, especially with the information provided by the Nabonidus Chronicle as to the identity of Belshazzar (5:1) and with evidence that identifies Darius the Mede with a governor named Gubaru (5:31).
In addition, how can the use of relatively few Greek words be explained if the book was written around 170 B.C., when a Greek-speaking government had controlled Palestine for 160 years? One would expect the presence of many Greek terms. Also, the Qumran documents (Dead Sea Scrolls), dated only a few decades before the alleged second-century writing of Daniel, show grammatical differences that indicate they were written centuries, not decades, after Daniel. Further, the scrolls of Daniel found at Qumran are copies, indicating that the original was written before the Maccabean era.70
Date, Author arguments synopsis:
ARGUMENT 1: Daniel was not listed among the famous Israelites by Ecclesiasticus 44:1ff. Since this document was in existence by 180 B.C., Daniel must have lived at a time later than 180 B.C.
RESPONSE: Among the Qumran discoveries were manuscripts and fragments from the Book of Daniel. “Since the [Qumran] community was itself Maccabean in origin, it testifies to the way in which Daniel was revered and cited as Scripture in the second century B.C.” 7 Harrison points out that Ecclesiasticus not only omits any direct reference to Daniel, but also to Job and all the Judges except Samuel, as well as Kings Asa and Jehoshaphat. Mordecai and even Ezra himself are also omitted.8 Harrison further points to allusions to Daniel by this same author (Ben Sira) in some of his other writings. He alludes to Daniel in Maccabees (1 Macc. 2:59ff.), Baruch (1:15-3:3), and Sibylline Oracles (III, 397ff.).9
ARGUMENT 2: In the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not included in the second section (the prophets), but in the third (the writings).10 This shows that Daniel was not considered one of the earlier prophets. The book must therefore be a later work.
RESPONSE: In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) Daniel is listed with the prophets, indicating the translators, like Jesus, accepted Daniel as one of the prophets. Daniel was not a typical prophet like Isaiah or Jeremiah. His ministry was more like that of Joseph. Both were interpreters of dreams in a foreign land. Inclusion among the writings does not indicate anything about the date of the book. Job, for example, is included among the writings and is generally regarded to be a very old book.
ARGUMENT 3: The language of the Book of Daniel argues for a late date. Certain Persian and Greek words are used which originated later than the 6th century B.C. The Aramaic used in Daniel is “late” in form.
RESPONSE: Each individual language argument falls apart under scrutiny. The more we learn about the language of Daniel’s day, the more critical arguments collapse.11
ARGUMENT 4: Daniel was incorrect when he wrote (1:1) that Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem occurred in the “third year of Jehoiakim” because Jeremiah spoke of it as being in the “fourth year” (Jeremiah 25:1, 46:2). Daniel’s error can be explained by the fact that he did not live in those days but wrote at a later time.
RESPONSE: It should first be noted that Daniel did not say Nebuchadnezzar defeated Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, but only that he took certain people captive to Babylon. Secondly, the Palestinian method of reckoning the number of years of a king’s reign from the time of his accession differed from that of the Babylonian method. The Babylonian method did not count the year of a king’s accession; the Palestinian method did. Thus, Daniel (by the Babylonian method) spoke of the event as being in the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign, and Jeremiah (by the Palestinian method) as being in the fourth.12
I differ with the presuppositions and premises of the critical scholars not only because of the basis of their arguments, but because of the implications of their views. I differ not only with “where they are coming from” but also with “where they are going.” Consider some implications of the critical view of Daniel. If their arguments are true, then these implications must be faced:
(1) The critical view of Daniel makes Scripture merely human, denying its divine and supernatural character. By eliminating the supernatural element from prophecy, one removes the divine. The critical view believes God did not speak through Daniel, men did.
(2) The critical view of the Book of Daniel makes “Daniel” a fictional character, not a real person. This means that the piety of Daniel (and his three friends) was fictional and that there is no real link between the practical piety of Daniel and his prophecies.
(3) The critical view of Daniel legitimizes falsehood by employing a fabricated story to teach the truth. One of the purposes of divine prophecy is to reveal the truth while exposing falsehood. The critical view makes the prophecy of Daniel a falsehood. How then can it proclaim God’s truth?
(4) The critical view of Daniel, by inference, demeans all biblical prophecy. If the divine revelation of future events is rejected in Daniel, then we must reject it elsewhere in the Bible as well. The prophecies of the Bible pertaining to the future to which we presently look for hope and comfort, cannot be a supernatural revelation of the future and thus are worthless. To reject Daniel because it is prophecy is to reject all prophecy.
(5) To accept the critical view of Daniel is to demean the rest of the Scriptures, the authors of Scripture, and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Kraeling said it. We have a high view of Daniel because Jesus did. But if such a view of Daniel is wrong, then all those who have esteemed Daniel highly were wrong, including our Lord. If the Book of Daniel is less than our Lord thought it was, our Lord must be less than we have thought Him to be. Our view of Christ will either determine our estimation of Daniel, or our (critical) estimation of Daniel will diminish our view of Christ.
2 The New Testament in Greek and English, published by the American Bible Society in 1966, lists in its index of quotations (pp. 897-907), every chapter of Daniel as being quoted in the New Testament. It also shows that most of the books of the New Testament quote the Book of Daniel. While not every New Testament book cites Daniel, virtually every New Testament author does, including all the gospel writers, Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and the writer to the Hebrews. One-hundred-thirty-three New Testament references were listed here, citing 68 references in Daniel.
Kraeling, who holds this view, represents it in these words:
For the Christian reader Daniel is a prophetic book. This is because he is called a prophet in the New Testament (Matt. 24:15) and because of the profound influence, especially of the visions, on Jesus and early Christianity. In our English Bible the book of Daniel follows Ezekiel. Not so in the Hebrew Bible, where it stands not among the prophets but among “the Writings.” From the standpoint of the book’s own suppositions the author (at any rate of the visions) was a man living in the time of the Chaldean and Persian kings. But this, in the view of all critical scholars, is a masquerade. Since prophecy, as we have seen, was virtually outlawed in the second century B.C., the idea came up to publish predictions under the name of some wise man or prophet of long ago. The pattern was provided by ancient Egyptian tales of wise men or seers who prophesied to a ruler about what would happen in the future—how his dynasty would end in social chaos and be replaced by a new one bringing blessing to the country. Jewish authors took over the pattern but gave it a new importance by providing a finale consisting of judgment over a current empire that had trodden down their people and the coming of the kingdom of God or of the Messiah. Thus was born the apocalyptic literature of which Daniel is the oldest specimen.4
Daniel J. Boorstin has said: "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance--it is the illusion of knowledge."