Why the book of Daniel is important?

No book of the Old Testament present such a serious threat to the rationalist as Daniel. It contains more fulfilled prophecies than any other book in the Bible. The book contains not only short-range predictions, like the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity (chapter 4) and the imminent fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persian attackers (chapter 5), but also such long-range predictions as the four-kingdom sequence (chapter 2) and the elaboration of that sequence with its emphasis on the last days (chapter 7 and 8). It also contains the predictions of the date of Christ’s first coming and the framework of the “seventy weeks” (chapter 9). Finally it contains detailed accounts of the confrontation between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires and the career of the two Little Horns (chapter 11).

In order to avoid coming to the conclusion that Daniel contains true prophecies, critics have to find some later period when all such alleged predictions had already been fulfilled, such as the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (175 – 164 B.C.).

Why Christians believe in authenticity of Daniel’s prophecies
Because it can be proven that the book was written way before the prophecies were fulfilled
Discovery of Daniel manuscripts in Qumran cave

The complete manuscripts of Daniel were found at Qumran. Since all the Qumran fragments and scrolls are copies, the autograph of Daniel and the other works must of necessity be advanced well before the Maccabean period if the proper minimum time is allowed for the book to be circulated and accepted as scripture.


Look how quickly the concept of ‘Internet’ and ‘the Web’ was grasped by hundreds of millions of people in our times, within the span of a few years! Why couldn’t a single book captivate the minds of a few thousand clerics in a span of decades in 100 B.C?


Concepts could catch on much faster these days because of present technology that allows communication at much faster rates. We can’t expect communication to proceed at that speed during those times. For example, if you want to pass a message to a friend, how long would you take? Whether you call him or send him an email, it is almost instantaneous. How long would that take 2000 years ago? How many times are we faster now compared to them? Or if someone wants to broadcast a piece of information, again it is almost instantaneous through either newspapers or TV. In the past they would have to travel to each little village to paste notices on the board. Again there is no comparison.

Daniel was regarded as a prophet by the Qumran scribe

A Qumran document, The Florilegium (4Q174), quotes Dan 12:10 as ‘written in the book of Daniel, the Prophet’.

The people at Qumran called Daniel a ‘prophet’. They–eyewitnesses of these events–considered his words prophetic of the times/events. They did not consider Daniel’s words to have been merely a ‘description’ of the past; He was describing THEIR future. 

Linguistic style of the book

With the discovery of the manuscripts of the Dead Sea caves, it has become possible to perform a careful linguistic comparison of the Aramaic and Hebrew chapters of Daniel and these unquestionably third or second century B.C. documents. If Daniel had been composed in the second century B.C. these Qumran manuscripts should have exhibited just about the same general characteristics as Daniel in the matter of vocabulary, morphology and syntax. Yet the comparison shows that Daniel 2 – 7 is linguistically older than these manuscripts by several centuries.

Studies place the Aramaic within the tradition of chancellery usage at around the 6th century B.C.

The manuscript of Daniel was related paleographically to that of Isaiah

Fragments of Daniel proved to be related paleographically to the Isaiah manuscript. Since the book of Isaiah comes from a time several centuries prior to the Macabbean period, it follows that Daniel must also be written in that period.

The book was shown to Alexander the Great in 333 B.C.

Because it is recorded that the book was shown to Alexander the Great in 333 B.C., the book of Daniel could not have been written after that date.

What Critics say

Now Josephus claims the ‘Book of Daniel’ was read to Alexander the  Great in 333 B.C. But it doesn’t seem to have been the same book because the  prophecies that intrigued him were not these obvious ones, but some really  obscure ones.

What Christians say

Different people are intrigued by different things. I don’t think this fact alone is convincing proof that the book of Daniel read to Alexander the Great is a different one.

There are references to the book of Daniel prior to the second century

There are parallels from the book of Daniel in 1 Enoch, the first 36 chapters of which is dated by Nickelsburg to pre-175 bc:

“The chapters [1 Enoch 1-36] are a collection of traditions that have accreted over a period of time…Our earliest Aramaic manuscript evidence indicates that chaps. 1-11 were already a literary unit in the first half of the second century bce. Evidence in 1 Enoch 85-90 indicates that 1 Enoch 1-36 was known before the death of Judas Maccabeus in 160 bce. Hence we are justified in treating these chapters as a product of the period before 175 bce.” [JLBBM:48]

 This manifests some close language/image parallels with Daniel: 

I Enoch 1.5: the “Watchers” terminology (with Dan 4.13,17,23)

I Enoch 14.17-21: “As for its floor, it was of fire and above it was lightning and the path of the stars; and as for the ceiling, it was flaming fire. And I observed and saw inside it a lofty throne–its appearance was like crystal and its wheels like the shining sun; and (I heard?) the voice of the cherubim; and from beneath the throne were issuing streams of flaming fire. It was difficult to look at it. And the Great Glory was sitting upon it–as for his gown, which was shining more brightly than the sun, it was whiter than any snow…No one could come near unto him from among those that surrounded the tens of millions (that stood) before him”, with Dan 7.9-10: “”I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened.

Remember, that apart from Daniel, there are NO biblical precedents for this image whatsoever.


Baruch 1.15-3.8 is widely recognized as being very similar to Daniel 9.4-19 [ABD, s.v. “Baruch, book of”], and the relationship extends even to verbal identities in Baruch 2.2 [HI:IIW:35n1].

Mendels (ABD) gives some of the dating data: 

“Four positive determinations can be made concerning the date of Baruch. First, if the LXX of Jeremiah can be approximately dated, then at least Bar 1:1-3:8 can be fixed to some point before the end of the 2d century b.c. (116 b.c.). Second, throughout the book the Jews seem to have religious freedom, but not political independence. Moreover, the mood of the entire book excludes the possibility of dating it to the Hasmonean independent state (140-67 b.c.). Third, despite the prevalent mood of desolation and despair, hope is expressed for redemption and complete return of the people of Israel to their land. Fourth, the insistent plea to serve the Babylonian king and his “son” may refer-taken together with the other points mentioned-either to the period of ca. 200 b.c., when much hope was placed in Antiochus III (who had conquered Palestine from the Ptolemies), or to the period after a.d. 70, when it was hoped that many would return to the land of Israel from all parts of the Roman Empire (4:37):”See, your sons whom you sent away are coming! They are coming, gathered from east and west at the Holy One’s command, rejoicing in God’s glory.” At the present stage of research, the question of dating must remain open.”

 Now, it is interesting to note that in the above quote the author does not draw the obvious implication. IF it is EITHER 200 bce OR after 70 ad, AND AT THE SAME TIME is in the translation of the LXX before 116 BC, THEN it MUST be dated at the earlier alternative. [Kee dates it around 150 BC (but only on the basis of its dependence on the allegedly late date of Daniel) in CASA and Newsom gives the 200-60 BCE range in HCSB.]

Note also that the dilemma of “circa 200 bce” or “after 70 ad” is resolved conclusively by Qumran. Chapter 6 of Baruch, also known as the Letter of Jeremiah, was found in a Cave 7 mss 7Q2 (OBVIOUSLY pre-70 ad) [DSST:36].

Historical facts revealed in Daniel prove that it could not have been written in the Macabean period.

SOME of Daniel’s data CANNOT be reconciled with a post-Babylonian or post-Persian date. Archer points this out in EBC:

“A very interesting testimony along this line comes from R.H. Pfeiffer (Introduction to the Old Testament [New York: Harper, 1941], pp. 758-59), who advocates the late date of Daniel:  

Only two details of his [i.e., the author of Daniel] are genuinely historical and, being ignored by Hebrew and Greek historians, would seem to be an echo of Babylonian writings. We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30), as the excavations have proved (see R. Koldewey, Excavations at Babylon, 1915) and that Belshazzar, mentioned only in Babylonian records, in Daniel, and in Bar. 1:11, which is based on Daniel, was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 (ch. 5).  

“Pfeiffer could not explain such knowledge, on the basis of the Maccabean date hypothesis. Neither can anyone else–on that basis.

Because it can be proven that the prophecies were made by Daniel and he lived in the sixth century B.C.
The proof of Daniel’s authorship and the dating of the book of Daniel

As to the date of the composition of Daniel, Daniel was born between 620 B.C. and 615 B.C. Since he most probably lived to the age of 85 or 90, we can presume that the book of Daniel was not composed later than 530 B.C. The narrative of the prophet’s earliest experiences begins with his capture as a hostage by Nebuchadnezzar back in 605-604 B.C. and according to 1:21 continues certainly till the first year of Cyrus (c. 537 B.C.), in relation to his public service, and to the third year of Cyrus (535 B.C.), in relation to his prophetic ministry (Dan 10:1).

Clear statement by the author of the book that he was Daniel

The clear testimony of the book itself is that Daniel was the author. Chapter 8 begins with an affirmation of Daniel’s authorship: “I Daniel” (cf. also 9:2, 20; 10:2).

It is believed that a close friend or colleague of the prophet might have composed the earlier chapters since they refer to Daniel in the third person except where he is directly quoted. But careful examination shows that the author usually writes about himself in the third person, as was the custom among ancient authors of historical memoirs. Even the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) in Exodus 20 shows an easy shift from the first to the third person when the speaker unmistakably refers to himself: “I am the LORD your God, who [first person] brought you out of Egypt” (v. 2). But in v. 7 Yahweh speaks of himself in the third person: “The LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” No one disputes Xenophon’s authorship of the Anabasis, even though he always referred to himself in the third person. The same is true of Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

Recognition of Daniel even by his contemporaries

We have two passages in Ezekiel’s writings that appear to be references to Daniel-chapter 14 and chapter 28:

The word of the LORD came to me: 13 “Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, 14 even if these three men-Noah, Daniel and Job-were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD. 15 “Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts, 16 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate. 17 “Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass throughout the land,’ and I kill its men and their animals, 18 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved. 19 “Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out my wrath upon it through bloodshed, killing its men and their animals, 20 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness. (14.14-20)

The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.” But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. 3 Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you? (Ezek 28.1ff)

Now, Ezekiel is a contemporary of Daniel, but as mentioned above, the spectacular success of Daniel at the court of Babylon would have generated instant popularity (as the first and only role model of the Jew in captivity). His wisdom and ability to discover ‘secrets’ were his chief reason for the dramatic rise to power (Daniel 1-2). His righteous-largely dealing with food regulations(!)-ended up being a major focus of Jewish Diaspora piety for the next millenium. Thus, Ezekiel’s mention of Daniel makes perfect sense, contextually and historically.  

How is one to get around this early mention? There are some that say Ezekiel is talking about some other Daniel. It is sometimes argued that Ezekiel was referring to a pagan hero Dan’el (linguistically a definite possibility). But to a Jewish crowd, this pagan hero would offer very little by way of “role model”. So Archer, EBC:

“It is significant that Ezekiel (14:14, 20) respectfully referred to his contemporary Daniel by quoting God as saying, “Even if these three men–Noah, Daniel and Job–were in it [i.e., a rebellious land], they could save only themselves.” Some writers argue that this “Daniel” could not refer to Ezekiel’s contemporary but to the old Canaanite hero Dan’el, whose story is in the Ugaritic legend of Aqhat, who must have been nearly contemporary with Job. But a careful reading of the Aqhat epic reveals that Dan’el, the father of Aqhat, was a dedicated idol-worshiper, occupied with blood sacrifices to El, Baal, and other pagan gods for weeks at a time. They depict him as getting so drunk at one of his banquets that he could not walk home. He uttered vengeful curses against the eagle or vulture that killed his son and finally split open the belly of the bird that ate Aqhat’s body, killed it, and put a curse on the entire City of Vultures. The next seven years he spent weeping and mourning for his dead son and finally induced his daughter to murder a warrior named Yatpan, implicated in the death of Aqhat seven years before.

“It is difficult to see in all this a moral and spiritual superiority that would impress Ezekiel (to say nothing of Yahweh, whom he quotes) as putting Dan’el on a level with Noah and Job.

“Some have made an issue of the variation in spelling as between Ezekiel’s D-N-‘-L and Daniel’s D-N-Y-‘-L, but this is a common type of variant and of very minor importance; in all probability the name was pronounced the same, whether or not the yod (y) was inserted as a vowel-letter before the aleph (‘ ) thus indicating the suffix pronoun “my” (“God is my Judge”). Significantly, even back in 2400 B.C. the Ebla records show an abundance of names with this same suffix, e.g., Tu-bi-Da-lu (“Dalu is my goodness”), Tu-bi-ZI-KIR (“ZI-KIR is my goodness”) (I.J. Gelb, “Thoughts About Ibla,” Syro-Mesopotamian Studies 1, no. 1 [May 1977]:20). So, also, Daniel means “God is my Judge.”

Acceptance of Daniel as a prophet at an early date

Even those within 3 years of its alleged writing (e.g., 2 Maccabees) are using it as scripture;

It is being used by Palestinian (Qumran, 1 Maccabees) and Diaspora (e.g., Ezek the Trad, SibOr) Jewry;

It is being used in both Semitic (e.g. Qumran) and Greek (e.g., additions to Daniel) languages;

Daniel is called a ‘prophet’ by those living in the Maccabean period (i.e., Qumran), and treated like a prophet by others in the same period (i.e., 2 Macc).

Even the Jewish historian Josephus spoke of Daniel as a ‘prophet’ ( Ant 10.11.7 [266])

Josephus was a 1st-century Jewish politician, soldier, and historian, whose writings constitute important sources for our understanding of biblical history and of the political history of Roman Palestine in the 1st century c.e.

We find evidence of a high view of Daniel 7-12-everywhere, early, in all genres, in all languages, and in all groups. The only reasonable explanation for this is a much, much earlier origination of the material.

The scenario painted by the book of Daniel itself-that of origination in the 6-5 centuries BC-does a much better job of explaining this wide pattern of usage than ANY late-date hypothesis.

If, on the other hand, Daniel is already a hero figure-and for a long time-then it makes perfect sense why people would focus on his prophecies. And it makes sense as to why the ‘additions to Daniel’ would develop. (There is hardly any point to developing ‘additions’ to the story of an unknown or poorly known character!)

Testimony by Jesus that Daniel was a prophet who wrote about the abomination of desolation

There can be no question that Jesus believed in Daniel’s authorship of the book bearing his name, for in Matthew 24:15 Jesus referred to “‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel.”

Why critics reject the book
Prophecies are impossible

Chapter 11 of Daniel must be a forgery because it was ostensibly written  in the 6 Century B.C. but predicts events of the 2nd Century B.C. with  stunning accuracy. None of the other prophecies in the Bible are so vividly  clear.  

What Christians say

Daniel 11 must be a forgery IF there is no such thing as prophesies. If you rule out God and prophesy, you are left with no other explanation than forgery. But if you don’t rule out God, you also cannot rule out prophesy. Because it is perfectly within God’s means to tell the future. If prophesy and the existence of God is possible then forgery is only one possible explanation, not the only.

The prophecies are not prophecies if you interpret them in another way
The fourth kingdom was Greek and not Romans.

What Christians say

The fourth kingdom was not referring to the Roman empire but rather to the Greek empire and the true sequence was Chaldean, Median, Persian and Greek.

What Christians say

Daniel indicates that the empire sequence was as follows : first kingdom : Chaldean; second kingdom : Medo-Persian; third kingdom : Greek; fourth kingdom : Roman. Even if the book of Daniel were to be written in the second century and not sixth century B.C., this would still not rule out prophesy because the Roman empire did not take over the Holy Land until 63 B.C.

The second kingdom must have referred to the Medo-Persian empire and not to the Median empire alone because:

(1)  Medes did not overthrow the Chaldean empire in 539 alone but it was the Medo-Persian empire that did it.

(2)  Darius the Mede was not a ruler in his own right and sovereign over the entire Middle East and the Near East as well but was only a ruler appointed in the interim period by a higher lord. In Daniel 9:1, it is stated that Darius was “made king”. The passive stem (hophal) is used in the verb “homlak” rather than the usual “malak” (“became king”), which would have been used had he obtained the throne by conquest or by inheritance. In Daniel 5:31 we are told that Darius “received” (qabbel) the kingship, as if it had been entrusted to him by a higher authority.

(3)  The author could not have put Mede on the same level as the other kingdoms because Darius’ reign lasted less than two years. In contrast, the Babylonian Empire endured for 67 years, the Persian Empire lasted for over 200 years, and the Greek Empire, had been going on for over 160 years by the time of the Maccabees.

(4)  Another argument against the theory of an earlier, independent Median kingdom prior to and separate from the Persian is found in the wordplay associated with the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar’s banqueting hall. The third word of this announcement of doom was parsin (5:25), which was interpreted by Daniel himself in the singular form peres. Daniel 5:28 derives from peres (which may have appeared to mean “division into two” or “half shekel”) the verb perisat (“is divided”) and the noun paras (“Persians”). The only possible inference is that the author who wrote these words believed that imperial power was taken from the Babylonians under Belshazzar and given over directly and immediately to the Persians, who at the time of the capture of Babylon were already merged with the Medes in a single domaim “Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” The triliteral p- r- s is involved in the linkage of a triple wordplay and there can be no legitimate alternative to the proposition that the author–whoever he was and whenever he wrote–believed that the second empire was the Medo-Persian, not the Median alone.

{cke_protected_3}(5)  {cke_protected_4}The symbolism of chapter 7 and chapter 8 points unmistakably to the identification of the second kingdom as Medo-Persian and the third as Greek. In chapter 7, v. 4 introduces the Babylonian power in the form of a lion; concerning this there is no dispute. The second power is a bear (v. 5), reclining with one side higher than the other (suggesting the predominance of the Persians over the Medes), and devouring meat from three ribs of his prey. The three ribs correspond to the three major conquests of the Medo-Persian federation: (1) Lydia, captured around 740 B.C.; (2) Babylon, captured in 539 B.C.; (3) Egypt, annexed by Cambyses around 525 B.C. No such three-stage conquest can be associated with the career of the Median Empire, from Cyaxeres to Astyages, and so this symbolism does not fit. The third beast is the four-winged leopard (v. 6) with four heads. This calls to mind the rapid conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great (334-330 B.C.) and the division of his domains into four subdivisions after his death: the Seleucid, the Ptolemaic, the Thrace-Asia Minor domain of Lysimachus, and the Macedonian-Greco merger maintained by Antipater and his son Cassander. The fourth beast (v. 7) was more fearsome than all the preceding, with ten horns and large iron teeth. As such it appropriately symbolized that widespread power of Rome, with the same number of horns as the toes of the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-image in chapter 2. The ten horns appear to refer to an end-time revival of the Roman Empire, out of which the final Antichrist, or Beast, will arise to assume tyrannical authority over the world. This eschatological world-dictator is symbolized by a little horn that grows into prominence after uprooting three of the original ten horns. Here, then, the little horn emerges from the fourth kingdom.

Proofs that Daniel was written at an early date not valid.
The book was translated into Septuagint only in the 1st Century and not 3rd century B.C.

Now some authorities cite the fact that the Septuagint was translated into Greek in the 3rd Century B.C. as ‘proof’ that the book of Daniel existed prior to 200 B.C. However, it was only the Pentateuch that was translated at this time. The Prophets and other Writings were not translated until these alleged prophecies took place.

A single set of original translations of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek was effected in several stages, and in locations not known for sure; that the earliest parts (most likely the Torah) of the translation took place in the 3d century b.c.e. (perhaps in Egypt) and the last parts were completed by the first part of the 1st century b.c.e. (Source : Anchor Dictionary)

What Christians say

This does not prove that the book of Daniel was written after the 1st century B.C. It simply means that we cannot use the Septuagint argument to prove that Daniel was written at 3rd century B.C. There are, however, other reasons, which can be appealed to to show why Daniel has to be written at an early date.

Proof that the book of Daniel was written after the second century B.C.
The historical inaccuracy of the book proves that it was not written in the sixth century B.C.

What critics say

Critics held that the author of Daniel lied about it being written by Daniel. Because it was not actually written in the sixth century B.C., it contained a number of historical errors because of its distance in time from the original events.

The use of Aramaic is of a late date

Critics used to argue from the Aramaic of Daniel as being late, until the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered and analyzed. Results now support a very old form of Aramaic in some of the Danielic materials there. Archer summarizes the data in EBC (s.v. “Daniel”):

“The Maccabean date hypothesis was propounded long before the discovery of the Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran Cave 1. Before the publication of this scroll, there was no Palestinian Aramaic document extant from the third or second century B.C.; and it was therefore theoretically possible to date the Aramaic of Daniel as coming from the 160s B.C. But with the publication and linguistic analysis of the Apocryphon (which is a sort of midrash for Genesis), it has become apparent that Daniel is composed in a type of centuries-earlier Aramaic… The Apocryphon was probably composed (according to its editors, N. Avigad and Y. Yadin) in the third century B.C., even though this copy dates from the first century B.C. Yet linguistic analysis indicates that in morphology, vocabulary, and syntax, the Apocryphon shows a considerably later stage of the Aramaic language than do the Aramaic chapters of Daniel.

Presence of Greek loan words prove that it was written in the 4th century B.C.

Critical scholars often maintained that the strongest linguistic argument was the presence of Greek loan-words in Daniel 3.5, allegedly implying that Daniel MUST have been written after the Conquest of Alexander (late 4th century bc).

 It is now pretty well agreed that there are but three words in the Aramaic of Daniel that have undoubtedly been borrowed from Greek. All of them are names of musical instruments: qayteros, derived from kitharis (“lyre,” “zither”); pesanterin, from psalterion (“trigon”); and sumponeyah, from symphonia (“harmony,” “bagpipe”). These all occur in a list of instruments played by the royal symphony orchestra in Daniel 3:5, 10, 15.

How could such words have been part of the vocabulary of sixth-century B.C. Aramaic in Babylon? Very easily, for the inscriptions of Sargon II (722-705) back in the Assyrian period refer to Greek captives from Cyprus and Ionia sold into slavery. Some of them may well have been musicians who played these instruments. The celebrated poet Alcaeus of Lesbos (c. 600 B.C.) refers to his brother Antimenidas as serving in the Babylonian army. E.F. Weidner (“Jojachin Konig von Juda,” Melanges Syriens 2 [1939]: 923-35) published some Neo-Babylonian ration tablets listing supplies for Ionian carpenters, shipbuilders, and others, along with musicians from Ashkelon. It is therefore evident that Greek mercenaries and slaves served in the Babylonian and Assyrian periods, some of whom were undoubtedly versed in Greek music and musical instruments.

Composite authorship

There may be several versions of the “Book of Daniel”, perhaps an early one written by Daniel himself and a later “expanded” version with Chap11      prophecies etc. (Perhaps that would explain why it is partly written in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic?)

But why was the book written in two languages? And what criterion did the author follow in putting half his material into Aramaic and the other half into Hebrew? A careful study of the subject matter yields fairly obvious answers: The Aramaic chapters deal with matters pertaining to the entire citizenry of the Babylonian and the Persian empires, whereas the other six chapters relate to peculiarly Jewish concerns and God’s special plans for the future of his covenant people. It would seem to follow that the Aramaic chapters (2-7) were in some sense made available to the Gentile public, since Aramaic was the lingua franca of the period of the Babylonian and Persian empires during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.

…the linguistic evidence from the Qumran documents decisively favors a pre-second-century date for both languages Daniel used. It strongly suggests an interval of centuries before the 160s B.C. in order to account for the much older morphology, grammar, and syntax of Daniel’s text, by comparison with the Genesis Apocryphon and the sectarian documents composed in the second century B.C.

(Source : EBC)

Historical errors prove that it could not have been written in the 6th century B.C.

Critics assert that Daniel gives the wrong date for Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion. But…more recent studies in royal chronologies have pointed out the differing start-count years for rulers. There is a difference, for example, between accession years and calendar years. As it turns out, Daniel’s use of the Babylonian date actually supports his Babylonian-dating position.

Critics assert that Daniel uses the term “Chaldeans” for soothsayers, which would be historically unthinkable in the days of the Chaldean (Babylonian) empire. Hence, he must have written much later. But…Daniel simply does NOT use the phrase in this professional way. Indeed, he specifically uses it in the ethnic sense–in accordance with early usage as opposed to later usage (Dan 3.8; 5.20). Again, this usage can actually support an early date for this material in Daniel.

The legendary account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness is sometimes said by critics to be a later, “confused” version of the older “Prayer of Nabonidus” found in Qumran Cave 4. This manuscript bears some resemblances to Daniel 4, for it concerns a grievously sick Chaldean king who was finally cured through some Jewish exorcist. The differences are significant, however, and it is just as likely that this Qumran fragment is dependent on the purer and less ornate Daniel 4 ‘original’.

The problem with “King” Belshazzar and his relationship to Nabonidus is cited as a major problem, specifically with regard to the alleged improper/inaccurate use of the ‘son’ to describe their relationship. But…’son’ has been shown to vary in meaning everywhere from son, grandson, descendent, adopted son, to disciple and throne-successor. And this fits well with the throne-claims of Nabonidus.

Critics still maintain that Daniel’s reference to “Darius the Mede” is legendary, and historically inaccurate. But…there are three main competing options for what is the best way of understanding this phrase. There are a couple of figures in the period that this could describe. John Whitcomb and G. Archer (EBC) argues for Gubaru/Gobryas (the provincial governor of Babylon). D.J. Wiseman argues for Darius as a throne name of Cyrus (like “Caesar” was for the Roman rulers). William Shea argues for Gubaru II. [These three are surveyed in OT:PAB:58-59]. We know throne names were common in Israel and the ANE [cf. Eliakim the son of Josiah receiving the throne name of “Jehoiakim” and always referred to by it thereafter (2 Kings 23:34), or Mattaniah son of Josiah being renamed “Zedekiah” when he was appointed to the throne of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:17), and even the later Darius son of Hystapses had a different personal name–that of Spantadata.] Besides this, it should be noted that by Maccabean times, ALL the Greek historians had already documented the Cyrus conquest; it is difficult, therefore, to believe that a Maccabean author could make such an obvious, unnecessary, and blatant error (none of his contemporaries, nor Josephus did!).

The book of Daniel in the early church canon

What critics say

The Book of Daniel was never listed with other books of the Canon until after the 2nd Century B.C. So I’m inclined to believe it was a forgery.

What Christians say

The book of Daniel was not accepted later than the other books. One of the earliest lists of what was accepted as Scripture was what is included in the Septuagint. And Daniel is one of the books of the Septuagint.

The discovery of several fragments of a second-century MS of Daniel in Qumran Cave 1 strongly suggests that it was counted by Jewish believers as one of the inspired, authoritative books of Holy Scripture. Among the Qumran sectarians, the Book of Daniel enjoyed a very high place. They quoted it often and relied on it as they eagerly looked for signs of the coming of the Messiah.

The book of Daniel, which contained detailed prophecies, could not be the work of Daniel, as he was not regarded as a prophet prior to the second century B.C.

Exponents of the Maccabean date hypothesis point out that in the MT Daniel was assigned to the category of the Writings rather than to the Prophets.

Masoretes is the name for the scholars whose work it was to maintain the tradition which governed the production of copies of the biblical text for liturgical or scholarly use. Even though Daniel is included among the Major Prophets by the LXX and the other early versions, some critics argue that the Masoretes could not have considered Daniel to have been a true, accredited prophet, or they would have included his book within the Latter Prophets in their canon.

Furthermore, say these critics, the book itself must have been composed after the prophetic canon was pretty well established by the Jewish authorities, i.e., about 200 B.C. So the book must have been written after 200 B.C.

What Christians say

The book was placed among the Writings and not the Prophets because only those books that are written by the “prophet” (nabi) is included among the Prophets. In the Old Testament days, Daniel is not regarded as a “prophet” but rather as a “seer” (chozeh) or “wise man” (hakam). Only works of the “prophets” are included among the Prophets. The Writings are reserved for the heterogeneous works of seers, wise men and priests.

The Old Testament makes a distinction between “prophets” and “seers” although some people can be both a prophet and a seer.

(2 Kings 17:13)  The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”

The word “prophet” is used of people who pass on messages from God. This usage is clear from verses such as the one below.

(Amos 3:8)  The lion has roared– who will not fear? The Sovereign LORD has spoken– who can but prophesy?

Daniel did not fit into the Old Testament usage of the word “prophet” for he did not convey the words of God. He was merely given the ability by God to interpret dreams and foretell the future through the interpretation of dreams.

Daniel was not even named in a list that contained the names of noteworthy Israelites.

The Wisdom of Ben-sira is one of the earliest and certainly the longest of the apocryphal books of the OT. The The book is also known as Sirach (the name found in the Greek mss) or Ecclesiasticus (the Latin title, which probably means “the ecclesiastical [or church] book,” since it was used extensively in the liturgy). It is clearly the work of a single author, Ben Sira, who wrote in Jerusalem during the early 2d century b.c.

The name of Daniel was omitted from a list of noteworthy Israelites in the book above (Ecclus 44:1). Since this book was dated in second century B.C., it has been argued that the omission implies that Ben Sira knew nothing of either Daniel or his book. Daniel would not have been ignored by Ben Sira since his prophecies would have attracted significant attention if they were indeed written in the six century B.C.

What Christians say

 When the list of notables as preserved by Ben Sira is examined, it will be observed that not merely was the name of Daniel omitted but also those of Job, all the Judges except Samuel, King Asa, Jehoshaphat, Mordecai, and even Ezra himself.