Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel — Introduction

While there are several things that ultimately led to my deconversion, there was one thing in particular that kick-started it. In January or February of 2010, I was writing material for some upcoming classes at our church when I found some articles that claimed the Book of Daniel was a forgery, and therefore not inspired by God. I knew there were people who believed that, but this article claimed to lay out solid evidence supporting that claim. I was intrigued. I had always been led to believe that history and archaeology totally supported the Bible story, so I was very interested to hear what reasons people could possibly have for not believing the Bible was true. The articles made a huge impact on me.

The blogger Darwin’s Beagle has very graciously agreed to let me repost those articles here. The next series of posts will lay out an examination of the Book of Daniel in a chapter-by-chapter approach. Most of the information comes from the Anchor Bible Commentary on Daniel, but the basic facts presented in these articles can be found almost anywhere. In fact, when I first began researching the points made in these articles, I was shocked to find that there’s very little disagreement about most of this information, even among Christian scholars.

I hope that the next several posts will be helpful to you, as they were to me. The rest of this post comes from the introduction written by Darwin’s Beagle.

* * * * *

To me the important question is “does God exist?” How does one go about answering it? Gods by definition, if they do exist, exist in a supernatural realm that is inaccessible to mere mortals. Thus, their possible existence can never be ruled out. However, there are claims that are made about certain gods that are open to investigation. The putative god most affecting my life and the lives of people I love is Yahweh, the god of Christians and Jews as portrayed in the bible. There are many claims about this particular god interacting with the natural world and, thus, these claims are open to investigation.

Fortunately, the bible is a book commonly available (and in multiple translations) so there is a general consensus on the supernatural claims concerning Yahweh’s existence. Unfortunately, there is no general consensus on the reliability of these claims. There are opinions that range from one extreme –- the bible is the inerrant word of God and everything in it down to the punctuation marks is perfectly correct when understood in proper context –- to the opposite extreme –- nothing in the bible shows any signs of real supernatural influence.

I have had a hard time coming up with convenient labels for these positions without being pejorative while still making the label descriptive of the position. I have finally settled on bible-believer for a person who holds the position that a particular supernatural claim in the bible is true and bible-doubter for a person who holds the position that the claim is false.

Then at one extreme is the person who is a bible-believer concerning all biblical claims of the supernatural and the other extreme is the person who is a bible-doubter concerning these claims. Since most people in this country are theists, but not to the extreme suggested above, I suspect most fall somewhere in the middle. That is, they believe some supernatural claims in the bible may be false, but others are likely to be true. I, on the other hand, am an extreme bible-doubter. I do not believe any claims concerning the supernatural are true. That is not the same as believing nothing in the bible is true, it is just a belief concerning supernatural claims of the bible.

I came by this belief after testing the bible. I had developed an hypothesis concerning the bible and read the bible as a test of that hypothesis. The hypothesis was that if the bible was the inspired word of a creator capable of producing the universe and the life in it and thus having decidedly superior knowledge of the universe and the life in it than we do now, then it should have undeniable evidence of that. The alternative hypothesis was that if the bible were not the inspired word of God, then it is the work of a primitive people with decidedly inferior knowledge of the universe and the life in it than we have now and nothing in the bible should suggest otherwise. After reading the bible twice, I found that the alternative hypothesis (nothing in the bible suggests any superior knowledge of the universe or the life in it) was strongly supported and the hypothesis that the bible should contain undeniable evidence of superior knowledge was not.

I had felt that the strength of these observations alone were sufficiently strong to rule out Yahweh’s existence (and I still do). But, I had not checked out the supernatural claims inside the bible as to whether or not they contradicted the above finding. Perhaps, even without any signs of superior knowledge, the bible may contain irrefutable evidence of supernatural involvement in the activities of the universe to warrant a belief in God. Certainly, some of the extreme bible-believers believe this to be the case.

One oft touted piece of evidence is biblical prophecy fulfillment. Again, opinions on the accuracy of prophecy fulfillment differ. For instance, concerning Messianic prophecies (prophecies about the coming of a Messiah), popular Christian apologist and extreme bible-believer, Josh McDowell says the Old Testament “contains several hundred references to the Messiah. All of these were fulfilled in Christ and they establish a solid confirmation of his credentials as the Messiah.” But Thomas Paine, one of our founding fathers and a deist, said, “I have examined all the passages in the New Testament quoted from the Old, and so-called prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, and I find no such thing as a prophecy of any person, and I deny there are any.”

Obviously, at least one person above fooled himself. To lessen the likelihood of such an event, one must establish objective guidelines in assessing the accuracy of prophecy fulfillment. The minimum criteria I have come up with are:

  1. A real prophecy must be made.
  2. The prophecy needs to be made well in advance of the date of fulfillment.
  3. The prophecy must contain SPECIFIC information.
  4. The prophecy must be so unlikely to happen that the only reasonable explanation for its fulfillment is the intervention of a supernatural entity (as opposed to a lucky guess).
  5. The prophecy must be fulfilled in all its particulars.

A corollary is that since the fulfillment of prophecy must be an event that is very unlikely to occur, there can be only one putative event that qualifies as fulfillment.

One criticism that may be made is that the above criteria are stringent. I do not believe this to be the case. If one recognizes that the supernatural demands a suspension of the well-tested laws of physics we have been living by, then one must admit that any claims for the existence of the supernatural fall in the realm of extraordinary claims. Any such claim then will require an extraordinary support. The reasoning behind this is that the laws of physics are so well established that the level of likelihood that they are correct approaches certainty. Thus, if data contradicts them, then either the laws are wrong (we already know that is unlikely) or the data is wrong. The only way to overturn established principles is to make the stringency on the data such that its likelihood of being wrong is less than that of what it disproves. Besides, Yahweh is claimed to be omniscient. A prophecy inspired from an omniscient being SHOULD be able to meet those criteria easily.

To date, I have examined several putative cases of prophecy fulfillment; prophecies concerning the city of Tyre found in Amos and Ezekiel, Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 7:14), Jeremiah’s 70 year of servitude, etc. I have found that none of them come even close to meeting the criteria.

This series of posts deals with prophecies found in the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel is used by bible-believers as proof for the existence of God. They claim that it was written by a prophet who was a young man when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (605 BCE) and served in the court until at least the third year of the reign of the Persian king Cyrus (ca. 536 BCE). They claim that Daniel made miraculous prophecies, such as the coming of Christ, the Roman Empire, and God’s everlasting kingdom which is yet to come.

If their dating of Daniel is correct, then at least some of the prophecies he made were indeed miraculous (although others were clearly wrong). For instance, there are numerous and unmistakable prophecies concerning the conquests of Alexander the Great, events that did not happen until 332 BCE, over 200 years after the supposed time of Daniel.

Since there is no natural phenomenon that can explain this, if it is true then Daniel would be evidence for the existence of the supernatural. However, the only evidence to believe the dating of Daniel is from the book of Daniel. If we are going to question its reliability, we cannot assume before looking at it that it is indeed reliable. We must look for other evidence.

Most mainstream biblical scholars who have looked at Daniel dispassionately have concluded that the bible-believer’s dating of the book is indeed flawed. They cite overwhelming evidence that Daniel was not written until 167 BCE during the Maccabean Period, or about 400 years after the fundamentalist’s claim. Furthermore, once Daniel is put into its proper historical context, the prophecies that seem to predict the events mentioned above, really concern local events of the time. As such, it does not provide any evidence for the existence of the supernatural. Instead, it is shows Daniel to be a crude forgery and is evidence that the bible is a flawed document not likely to emanate from God.

In the upcoming series of posts I will summarize the evidence for the above assertion. I will look at the entire book of Daniel (12 chapters). Since the purpose of these posts is to examine the reliability of the book of Daniel, I will focus on mistakes and attempt an explanation as to how they occurred. From this critical analysis, one can deduce with reasonable certainty that the book of Daniel is a forgery.

Links to the other articles

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117 thoughts on “Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel — Introduction”

  1. […] Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel — Introduction Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 1 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 2 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 3 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 4 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 5 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 6 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 7 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 8 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapter 9 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel Chapters 10-12 Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel — Conclusion Skeptical Bible Study: Daniel — Aftermath Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  2. My friend, you do not have the Spirit of Yahweh dwelling within you, it is why it is impossible for you to believe. It is the working of the Spirit that draws man to Himself (John 16), but you should know this, for in your own words you said you were once a follower. Dwell on Hebrews 6:4-6, as it says:

    “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

    Does this not speak to you inside? For you once walked with God, but have since walked away from Him. He calls out, but you do not answer. Have you too crossed the line of no return? I don’t know, that is not for me to judge, but to openly mock the Holy Spirit, which you do by calling Him a liar, and His words not true, is playing with dangerous fire.

    Find peace my friend, not by mocking God, but instead by searching Him out. He reveals Himself to those who are actively searching. He is ready to comfort, for He is a God of compassion and long-suffering. Seek to know Him, for all of us will have their life required of them one day, but come home to Him as a friend walking close with Him in your heart, and He will be your reward:

    “Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

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  3. “He calls out, but you do not answer.” Actually, and with all due respect, it’s the other way around.

    I cant comment for the author of the blog, but I haven’t meant to question god or to mock is holy spirit, but to question the claims of the bible’s human authors. Claims which dont appear to stand up to scrutiny.

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  4. Hi dh07,

    I really appreciate the passion with which you wrote your comment. That said, I agree with William’s response to you. I am still someone who seeks after truth, but throughout my deconversion, I begged God to help me do what was right, believe what was right. I just wanted to find the truth. But the more I learned, the clearer it became to me that Christianity was a fallacy.

    I have never mocked God, nor called the Holy Spirit a liar. I have merely questioned the people that claim to speak for God, because I don’t think people with such amazing claims should be accepted without investigation. If there is a God, it’s not the one peddled by the authors of the Bible.

    Thanks for your comment, and feel free to offer your thoughts here any time. Good luck to you in your own search for truth.

    Nate

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  5. Here is another source:

    Blog author: “While there are several things that ultimately led to my deconversion, there was one thing in particular that kick-started it. In January or February of 2010, I was writing material for some upcoming classes at our church when I found some articles that claimed the Book of Daniel was a forgery, and therefore not inspired by God. I knew there were people who believed that, but this article claimed to lay out solid evidence supporting that claim. I was intrigued. I had always been led to believe that history and archaeology totally supported the Bible story, so I was very interested to hear what reasons people could possibly have for not believing the Bible was true. The articles made a huge impact on me.”

    (cont’d) https://findingtruth.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/skeptical-bible-study-daniel-intro/

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  6. “He calls out, but you do not answer.” Actually, and with all due respect, it’s the other way around.

    At the risk of being disrespectful, I got a kick out of this. 🙂

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  7. TL:DR

    I’ll just defer this to the experts.

    Find me a non-christian historian or OT scholar that agrees with you that Daniel is divine.

    Or actually did you mean that there are some parts of Daniel that is historically correct?

    If that is the case then I’ll agree with you. But saying anything such as “the prophecies in Daniel came true”, or “the book of Daniel is totally historically correct and attested” will be wrong to say the least.

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  8. Tom,

    I haven’t had a chance to read through your links yet, but will.

    After reading through the intro to them I am very curious to read on. While I haven’t read these yet, I’ve read things that have made similar claims and they all see to have come up short on the evidence end, so if the author of these links can follow through with their intros, you may be on to something.

    However, consider that Daniel names all the kingdoms he talks about but never mentions Rome specifically. Rome did eventually split, but then so did Greece – and Daniel names Greece specifically. Greece is the last empire that Daniel names specifically and Daniel goes into a lot of detail on Greece after it divided at Alexander’s death.

    I could go on, but the above articles do a great job and also, I haven’t read your links yet.

    later.

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  9. Hi Tom,

    I just now read your comments — sorry for the long delay. I’ve pulled up the article you referenced and see that it won’t be a quick read. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

    Thanks,

    Nate

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  10. Dear William,

    Thanks for the reply. I will look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    You also, Nate.

    Powellpowers, unless you are willing to accept a Jew, which I do not think you are, you are asking for something that is impossible. Obviously anyone who accepted that Daniel was true would end up believing the Bible. What you are asking for is like asking, “Find me a Jesus mythicist who believes that Christ rose bodily from the dead” or “Find me a Christian fundamentalist who believes atheism is true.”

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  11. Hi Tom,

    I haven’t read the entire article that you linked to, but I did go through most of it. Much of the article focuses on the prophecies in Daniel, and none of them are very convincing to me for the following reasons:

    1) The prophecies are heavy with imagery, which makes it difficult to nail down exactly what’s being talked about.

    2) The Bible contains clearer prophecies that I believe have failed, such as Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre. Because of that, I’m even more skeptical of books like Daniel.

    3) If God were going to give actual prophecies, I don’t see the need to be so vague about them.

    4) Other passages in Daniel give me the impression that the mainstream position on Daniel is accurate — that it was written around 165 BC by an observant Jew who was trying to encourage his countrymen to remain strong in the face of persecution from Antiochus Epiphanes.

    In this comment, I gave some detail about why I think Darius the Mede was not an actual figure from history, so I won’t belabor those points again. I also think that Daniel’s reference to Belshazzar as Nebuchadnezzar’s son is a very telling mistake, since we know from contemporary sources that Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, who was no relation to Nebuchadnezzar. I’m also convinced that Christians are wrong when they claim that Daniel 11:40 begins talking about some future event, when all the verses before that were obviously talking about Antiochus Epiphanes. I think it makes much more sense to see the rest of that chapter as well as chapter 12 as continuing to talk about Antiochus Epiphanes and a divine judgement against him. I agree with William that the writer of Daniel seems to focus primarily on Greece as the 4th kingdom. I read through the arguments that Dr Anderson makes for the 4th kingdom being Rome, but I’m just not convinced.

    Obviously, this is a very brief comment in comparison to the length of Anderson’s article, so I’m not trying to address each point. And I’m not a scholar myself, so I doubt I could address everyone of them even if I had the time and space. As I said at the beginning of this comment, my reasons for siding with the consensus of scholars on this has a lot to do with problems found elsewhere in the Bible — not just a consideration of Daniel on its own. At the same time, if there are a couple of Anderson’s points that you think merit additional consideration, please let me know.

    Thanks for your comments!

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  12. Dear Nate,

    Thanks for the reply. I have difficulty seeing the statements in Daniel as vague. Do you have any comments on the section giving evidence for an early date for the book? Some of it looks very difficult to explain away, but perhaps you have looked at the subject more than I have.

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  13. Hey Tom,

    By vague, I mean that the main prophecies use lots of imagery. For example, chapter 2 uses a statue made out of different materials to represent 4 kingdoms. The only kingdom he identifies for us is the first. The same is true of the later vision that uses strange beasts to represent the kingdoms. It’s hard to say definitively which kingdoms match up with the different aspects of the visions — arguments can be made either way. That’s what I meant.

    As to dating the book, I was going to try to step through my thoughts on it, but I realized that the Wikipedia entry on the composition of Daniel pretty much matches my exact thoughts on it:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Daniel#Composition

    Were there specific points he made that you’d like me to address?

    Thanks again!

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  14. There are a lot of difficulties that arise when seeking to justify Daniel as a historically true book written in the 6th century BC. Essentially every scholar acknowledges these difficulties. To some an explanation that Daniel was actually a second century composition explains these difficulties.

    Some people point to a 6th century composition based on language,however if the author was deliberately making the composition appear old then it would make sense to try to use words from a bygone era, like a person writing today in Elizabethan english as a deliberate ruse. In any case the dating of the language is somewhat speculative with no real academic consensus.

    Another argument for an early date is based on apparent quotes from the book of Daniel in 2nd century BC Jewish writings from Egypt. Some argue it would have taken a long time for Daniel to get to the people in Egypt. But this argument is hardly compelling as it is agreed that the Egyptian writings that quote Daniel post date the expected composition of 165 BC.

    There is a reference to a righteous man named Daniel in the book of Ezekiel. This puzzles scholars as the expected composition of Ezekiel would have probably predated the events of the book of Daniel even if they were historic. Most scholars think this reference is to another person from antiquity with the name of Daniel (or a very similar name). It seems there was a legendary righteous Job like figure of that name.

    When I studied the OT prophets as a person of faith I noted that scholars who supported the reliability of Daniel as 6th century BC composition had to come up with some ‘creative’ interpretations to explain away the difficulties. As I was a person of faith at the time I found these difficulties disturbing and the solutions proposed hardly convincing.

    If the Bible is inspired by a divine all powerful being I pose the simple question, ‘why would such a being allow such problems to exist in his testimony to the world?’

    In the end I found the four kingdoms sealed the matter for me. A plain reading and interpretation of the text fits exactly, Greece being the fourth kingdom. Those who argue for Greece being the third kingdom and Rome the fourth do so (in my opinion) based on an attempt to rescue the book for being failed prophecy, that is they are starting with their conclusion and interpreting the evidence based on the starting conclusion. If one starts with evidence not the conclusion then it screams at one that the fourth kingdom is Greece.

    Once again I pose the question, ‘why would such a being allow such problems to exist in his testimony to the world?’

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  15. Dear Nate,

    Neither Wikipedia (hardly a scholarly source in any case, obviously) nor anything above dealing with the following (pgs. 33ff.; the PDF file is much easier to read of the work above than the webpage):

    Ezekiel prophesied only about fifteen years after Daniel was taken to Babylon and after the initial historical events recorded in the book of Daniel had taken place. His writings testify to the man Daniel’s righteousness and God-given wisdom, providing exactly the sort of evidence one would expect as validation of Daniel’s historicity. In Ezekiel’s Old Testament book, composed between 592 and 570 B. C.,[58] the prophet plainly refers to his contemporary[59] Daniel as a famous person of history known to his countrymen, one whose righteousness and wisdom stood in stark contrast to the majority of his rebellious and ungodly nation:

    Ezek. 14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

    Ezek. 14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

    Ezek. 28:3 Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:

    Ezekiel refers to Daniel’s great wisdom (28:3), even as the Book of Daniel indicates that “God gave . . . Daniel . . .wisdom” (Daniel 1:17), and the book of Daniel clearly evidences Daniel’s righteousness (cf. 6:16, 20; 12:2-3, 13). The evidence is clear: Ezekiel, in the sixth century B. C., could hardly refer to Daniel as the real person described in the book of Daniel were he a fiction invented centuries later. The book of Ezekiel authenticates the legitimacy of Daniel and his Biblical book.[60]

    Early non-canonical works, as well as other books of the Old Testament itself,[61] provide further evidence that the Book of Daniel existed far before an anti-supernatural dating system allows.[62] The book of Tobit, probably the oldest composition in the Apocrypha, is dated by scholars to the third century B. C., and it necessarily predates the Maccabaean period,[63] in which anti-supernaturalists must date Daniel. However, Tobit contains clear verbal allusions to Daniel.[64] Likewise, the Book of Watchers, the first part of the pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch, is dated to the third century B. C. and necessarily predates the Maccabean era,[65] as the early dates for the copies of the book found at Qumran[66] verify. Furthermore, the “Hellenistic Jewish historian Demetrius . . . had already . . . drawn up . . . [a] chronology” of the seventy-weeks prophecy in Daniel 9 “in the late third century B. C. . . . [in] his own time, which was the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator.”[67] It would have been impossible to make chronological calculations based on Daniel 9 many years before the book was supposedly forged in the following century. The apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach was composed, at the very latest, between 200-175 B. C., and has even been dated to the fourth century B. C.; it can by no means be dated to the Maccabean period.[68] Nevertheless, Ecclesiasticus clearly refers to Daniel and contains a prayer that the prophecies of Daniel would be fulfilled soon.[69] Likewise, the book of Baruch predates the Maccabean era but contains clear allusions to Daniel.[70] Similarly, 1 Maccabees records Matthias on his deathbead counselling his sons to emulate the example of “Daniel[,] [who] for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions.” Matthias likewise challenges his sons to follow the example set by Daniel’s three Hebrew friends, who “because of their faith were saved from fire.”[71] However, the anti-supernaturalist dates Daniel after the death of Matthias. 1 Maccabees also contains verbal allusions to the LXX of Daniel, further requiring the existence of the book both in the original language and in translation.[72] Finally, 3 Maccabees records the following prayer: “When the three companions in Babylonia willingly gave their lives to the fire so as not to serve vain things, you sprinkled the scorching furnace and rescued them unharmed, even so far as a hair, and sent the flame upon all their enemies. When Daniel, through envious slander, was thrown to the lions below the earth as food for wild beasts, you brought him up to the light unscathed” (3 Maccabees 6:6-7). The authors of 1 and 3 Maccabees had no doubts about the genuineness of Daniel, and since 1 Maccabees is recognized by scholars as “a very accurate and excellent history,”[73] there is every reason to believe its accuracy when it records Matthias’s speaking about the book of Daniel prior to the date the anti-supernaturalist must assign it.

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  16. Dear Peter,

    Your question about why God would allow there to be historical difficulties is not the greatest argument. It is saying that if God did not preserve enough uninspired history to verify everything in the Bible, the Bible is not true. This, of course, would falsify every other historical source as well from ancient times, as there is just about no ancient historical source that has everything in it verified from some third party.

    I cannot help but find the idea that the Daniel referenced in Ezekiel is someone else to be a desperate grasping at straws. Have you even read the Legend of Aqhat? I am too skeptical to believe in it, unless you can explain the following from the work referenced above on pgs. 34ff:

    [59] Pusey remarks:

    [I]t has been remarked long ago, that Ezekiel names as characteristics of Daniel, qualities which appear in him in early life. In the eleventh year, [Ezekiel 26:1] (i.e. as Ezekiel dates, of Jehoiachin’s captivity, [Ezekiel 1:2] B.C. 588) Ezekiel, in his prophecies to the prince of Tyre, says in irony [Ezekiel 28:2]; Behold thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee. Of the manifold varieties of human wisdom, Ezekiel selected that form, for which Daniel was celebrated [Daniel 1:17, 20] in the 2nd year of Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. the 5th of Jehoiakim, B.C. 606, eighteen years before this date. It is that for which the king praises the God of Daniel, that He is a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret [Daniel 2:47]. In asking him to explain his own later dream as to himself, the king says to him, no secret troubleth thee [4:9]. The Queen-mother spake of him to Belshazzar, shewing of hard sentences and dissolving of doubts were found in the same Daniel [5:12]. One who had his wisdom from God, but was placed by a heathen king as head over those far-famed wise-men, the Magi, might well stand as an eminent pattern of Divine wisdom in man. Tyre and its prince boasted themselves against the people of God in its overthrow, and plumed themselves on their human wisdom and sagacity. It is an anti-Theistic boast. Human wisdom would be wiser than Divine. The prince of Tyre claimed by his wisdom to have created all this wealth for himself [Ezekiel 28:4-5]. He despised Hebrew wisdom and the wisdom of God in it, because it was oppressed. The event, Ezekiel says, should shew. Plainly, unless Ezekiel had meant to speak of a contemporary, over against the contemporary prince of Tyre, the wisdom of Solomon had been the more obvious instance to select.

    In the other place in Ezekiel [14:13-21], God says, that, when the time of His judgment upon the land was come, whether it were famine, or noisome beasts, or the sword, or the pestilence, no righteousness of any individuals in it should avert His then irrevocable sentence; and, as pre-eminent instances of righteousness, He gives Noah, Daniel and Job. It is objected, “How came Ezekiel to mention Daniel his contemporary? And, if he did, how came he to place him between those two ancient patriarchs, Noah and Job?” . . .

    Daniel now, in the 6th year [Ezekiel so dates chapter 8:1 in the sixth year, in the sixth month. He dates chapter 20 in the seventh year, in the fifth month.] of the captivity of Jehoiachin, had, according to his book, passed through some twelve years of greatness, trying above others to men, for its novelty and his youth. There is then, at least, nothing inharmonious in the selection of Daniel, to be united with Noah and Job. Rather it has a special force, that God joined with those two great departed patriarchs, a living saint. The Jews, as they trusted afterwards because Abraham was their father [Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; John 8:33, 39], so now they hoped that, amid their own unholiness, they should be spared for the righteousness or intercession of others. To cut at the root of this hope, God singles out the great living example of righteous life, and pronounces him, in this early life, one of His chief saints, and says, that, though not he only, but two also of the greatest before him, were among them, their holiness should be unavailing except for themselves. The eyes of all the Jews must have been the more fixed upon Daniel, the more marvellous his rise, at that early age, from being a captive boy, though of royal blood, to be ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief over the governors of all the Magi of Babylon. The more depressed their lot, the more they must have looked to him, whom God, in His Providence, had so raised up to be a bright star in the night of their captivity, a protection to themselves, declaring the glory of their God.

    In this case, also, had not the selection of a contemporary had an especial force, we should have looked rather for one of the names of the righteous men of old, who interceded with God, as Abraham. But Noah, Daniel, and Job, do all agree in these things; 1) that all had had especial praise of God, over against the world. Noah was the unlistened-to preacher of righteousness during those 120 years in which the flood was delayed. God singles out Job, in answer to Satan who had been going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it [Job 2:2. See Zündel, Daniel, p. 264.], as his domain and his kingdom. “How greatly Daniel’s piety and prayer weighed in that scale, wherein Belshazzar was too light, the fact may attest, that he, like David and Abraham, and afterwards, the Virgin at Nazareth, was marked out as one greatly beloved, whereas the word of God comes to the contemporary prophet, son of man” [Ib. p. 266, 7; Lu 1:27, 8; Dan. 9:23, 10:11].

    2) All the three stood too, as representatives of a distinct relation of God to the world; Noah at the head “of the newly cleansed and as it were reborn world;” Job, as a worshipper of God in purity among the heathen world; Daniel, as the revealer, to the heathen world, of that kingdom, which was hereafter to supersede and absorb the kingdoms of the world [Zündel, p. 267].

    The order in which the three saints stand is explained by the application which Ezekiel makes of their history. All were holy, all interceded; but Job was heard, for the time, least of all. It is a climax of seeming failure [Hävern. on Ezek. 14:14. p. 207]. To Noah, his wife and his three sons and their wives were given; Daniel delivered his three friends by his prayer to God; Job was for the time bared of all. He sanctified [his sons and daughters] and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings, according to the number of them all, for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned; and he saved neither son nor daughter [Job 1:5]. In Job especially was that fulfilled, which Ezekiel gives as the result of the whole, “though these three men were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, they only shall be delivered” [14:16, 18].

    The mention of Daniel, then, by Ezekiel, in both cases, has the more force from the fact that he was a contemporary; both correspond with his actual character, as stated in his book. Granted the historical truth of Daniel, no one would doubt that Ezekiel did refer to Daniel, as described in his book. But then the objection is only the usual begging of the question. “Ezekiel is not likely to have referred to Daniel, a contemporary, unless he was distinguished by extraordinary gifts or graces.” “But his book not being genuine, there is no proof that he was so distinguished.” “Therefore,” &c.

    Scripture is in harmony with itself. Ezekiel is the first witness to the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel explains the allusions of Ezekiel. No other explanation can be given of Ezekiel’s words. Ezekiel manifestly refers to one, well known to those to whom he spoke; one, as well known as the great Patriarchs, Noah and Job. Such was Daniel, under whose shadow they of the captivity lived. But, apart from him, where is this man, renowned for his wisdom, holy as the holiest whose memory had survived from the foundation of the world; whom the Jews would recognize at once, as they would Noah and Job? “He does but name him,” says an opponent rightly [Bleek, p. 284], “because he could presuppose that he was already sufficiently known by all as a pattern of righteousness and wisdom.” (E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes [Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864], 102–107)

    [60] See “Modern Rationalism and the Book of Daniel,” Gleason Archer (Bibliotheca Sacra 136 [1979] 133-134) for conclusive evidence against the anti-supernaturalist argument based on the alternative formations d≈aœnˆî}eœl and d≈aœni}eœl. (Note that the LXX renders both forms as Danieœl.) The desperate anti-supernaturalist argument that the Daniel referenced by Ezekiel is not the righteous and wise servant of Jehovah who authored the book of Daniel and who is compared to Noah and Job as comparable righteous worshippers of Jehovah, all three of whom are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but is an ungodly worshipper of the god Baal called Dan’el who is referenced in a ancient legend, is surely an argument made out of desperation in order to avoid the obvious implications of Ezekiel’s validation of the Jewish prophet Daniel and his inspired Book. Archer comments:

    [The anti-supernaturalist theory that] the Daniel referred to in Ezekiel must have been the ancient hero named Dan’el, whose life story is narrated in the Ugaritic legend of AqhΩat (dating from about the fifteenth century B.C.) . . . [has extremely] serious difficulties[.] . . [T]he Lord’s declaration quoted in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and 28:3 amounts to this: Even though such godly leaders as Noah (at the dawn of history), and Job (in the time of Moses or a little before), and Daniel (from the contemporary scene in Ezekiel’s own generation) should all unite in interceding for apostate Judah, God could not hear their prayers on behalf of that rebellious nation. . . . The . . . difficulty with identifying the Daniel of Ezekiel 14 with the Dan’el of the Ugaritic epic is found in the character and spiritual condition of Dan’el himself. When the legend of AqhΩat is studied in its full context, which relates the story of Dan’el, the father of young AqhΩat, it is found that he is praised as being a faithful idol-worshiper, principally occupied with seven-day periods of sacrifices to the various gods of the Canaanite pantheon, such as Baal and El. His relationship to Baal was especially close, and he made bold to petition him for a son, so that when Dan’el became so drunk at a wild party that he could not walk by himself, his son might assist him back to his home and bed, to sleep off his drunken stupor. Later on, after the promised son (AqhΩat) is born, and is later killed at the behest of the spiteful goddess Anath, Dan’el lifts up his voice in a terrible curse against the vulture (Samal) which had taken his son’s life. He prevails on Baal to break the wings of all the vultures that fly overhead, so that he can slit open their stomachs and see whether any of them contains the remains of his dead son. At last he discovers the grisly evidence in the belly of Samal, queen of the vultures. He then kills her and puts a curse on Abelim, the city of the vultures. The next seven years he spends in weeping and wailing for his dead son, and finally contrives to have his own daughter (PaghΩat) assassinate the warrior Yatpan, who was also involved in AqhΩat’s murder seven years before.

    From this portrayal of Dan’el it is quite apparent that he could never have been associated with Noah and Job as a paragon of righteousness and purity of life. Nothing could be more unlikely than that a strict and zealous monotheist like Ezekiel would have regarded with appreciation a Baal-worshiper, a polytheistic pagan given to violent rage and unremitting vengefulness, a drunken carouser who needed assistance to find his way home to his own bed. Apart from a passing mention of Dan’el’s faithful fulfillment of his duties as a judge at the city gate—a requirement expected of all judges according to the Torah—there is no suggestion in the Ugaritic poem that he is any outstanding hero of the faith, eligible for inclusion with Noah and Job. It is therefore quite hopeless to maintain this identification of Ezekiel’s “Daniel” with the Dan’el of Ugaritic legend. (Ibid).

    Thus, the Legend of Aqhat frequently mentions Dan’el’s worship of Baal, frequently connects Dan’el and drunkenness, emphasizes Dan’el’s son Aquat disobeying the goddess Anath, who kills Aqhat for his impiety, and speaks of a plot with Dan’el and his daughter to deceive and commit murder. The Legend of Aqhat never even once uses the adjectives “righteous” or “wise” for Dan’el. A simple reading of Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3 and the pagan Legend makes any identification of the person spoken of by Ezekiel and the person specified in the Legend an instance of insanity. Only the extreme difficulty for anti-supernaturalism contained in Ezkeiel’s reference to the man Daniel, author of the inspired book of Daniel, explains anyone’s affirming what is so obviously false. The fact that such extreme measures must be pursued in order to attempt to eliminate Ezekiel’s testimony illustrates how powerful an evidence it is in favor of Daniel’s sixth century authorship of the book bearing his name, and thus of the reality of predictive prophecy.

    For translations of the Legend of Aqhat, see Mark S. Smith and Simon B. Parker, Ugaritic Narrative Poetry, Vol. 9, Writings from the Ancient World (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1997), 49-78, 196-205 or N. Wyatt, Religious Texts from Ugarit, 2nd ed., Biblical Seminar, 53 (London; New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 242–312.

    http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/

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  17. Tom in regard to Ezekiel’s reference to Job, Daniel Block in his commentary on Ezekiel comments:

    ‘Although Ezekiel’s Daniel has traditionally been identified with the Daniel of the biblical book, this interpretation raises several questions. How could a younger contemporary of Ezekiel earn the right to stand alongside traditional paragons of piety like Noah and Job within such a short period of time. What is Daniel the contemporary Hebrew doing in the company of two non Israelite heroes of long ago? Why goes Ezekiel spell the name dn’l, rather than dny’l?

    The book of Daniel is unusual in the Biblical canon being partly composed in Aramaic and Hebrew. This has posed the question of whether it was composed in parts at different dates. Daniel 1:1-2:4a and 8:1-12:13 are in Hebrew, while 2:4b-7:28 is in Aramaic. Longman and Dillard in their Introduction to the Old Testament note that this extensive use of two languages is unique in a single book and the arrangement raises questions that are not easily answered.

    So Tom it may be that there was more than one version of the Book of Daniel. Indeed we know there were two different versions of it. The version in the Greek Septuagint had three additional chapters to that in our Bible. So it seems there were at least two versions, perhaps there were more. Perhaps there was a version that predated 165 BC. The question would be then did that version include the specific predictions from Chapter 11 that seem to relate to Antiochus IV?

    Daniel is indeed a book that poses more questions than most others in the Bible.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Tom I had not realised that you had already addressed the Danile reference in Ezekiel.

    You have posted a lot of material there. If it has been a cut and paste I would value the pasted part being put in quotes so I can differentiate between what you are saying and what you are quoting from scholars.

    As I suggested in my last post it may be that were multiple versions of the Book of Daniel. If it was truly written in the 6th century BC then it is truly puzzling as the predictions in chapter 11 exactly match actual events up to 165 BC and then post that date none match.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Tom,

    I’ve always found the attempts to explain why Ezekiel would list the Daniel of the Bible in between Noah and Job very hard to accept. It sounds too much like retconning. The information you provided on the ancient character Dan’el is interesting, but I don’t agree that it definitively removes the possibility that this is who Ezekiel is referencing. After all, Noah had some well known character flaws as well. And while Job didn’t really do anything wrong, he did have the temerity to point out the hiddenness of God (Job 21, 23, 24). If other people living in Ezekiel’s time still looked upon Dan’el as a revered figure from history, then it could still fit. Just as we might refer to Mother Teresa or Ghandi, even if we don’t agree with the specifics of their religious beliefs.

    I checked out the footnotes in Anderson’s paper where he refers to textual references to Daniel in books like Tobit, 3 Maccabees, etc. I don’t see that as compelling evidence. For one, most scholars think 3 Maccabees was written in the late 1st century BCE — after the date ascribed to Daniel. The section of Tobit that he refers to is:

    it speaks of “the prophets of Israel” as predicting times and seasons, in the manner of Daniel, “until the
    time when the time of the seasons is fulfilled” (Tobit 14:4f.; cp. Dan. 2, 7–9, 11–12)

    To me, that’s not enough to draw a clear connection. And even if someone tried to, how do they know which text is the original and which is borrowing?

    When I was a Christian and first came upon attacks on Daniel, I assumed that the nature of the attacks would center around people not accepting that real prophecy was possible. But that’s not an assumption that I had — and I still don’t have that assumption. I agree that if God exists, and he’s omniscient, then actual prophecy may be possible. But Daniel has actual historical problems that are very hard to ignore. It’s not being attacked because of its accuracy, but because of its inaccuracy.

    Does it really not bother you that Daniel 5 indicates Belshazzar is Nebuchadnezzar’s son, when we know for a fact that he was not? And that while its allowable to refer to Belshazzar as ruler, there’s still no mention at all of his father Nabonidus? And are you not at least a little bothered that there’s no historical reference to Darius the Mede? And that the “prophecies” about Antiochus Epiphanes are very accurate until a certain point? And if we ignore Ezekiel’s “Daniel,” there seems to be no other reference to the character until around 140 BCE. Those are all issues that I find very problematic, and I think it’s extremely unlikely that God would allow the evidence to stack up against his revelation like this if the text were actually inspired.

    Do you have thoughts on those issues? Do you at least see why some people find them hard to overlook?

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  20. @Tom

    I do accept Jews. But I think you’ll be hard pressed to find Jewish scholars agreeing that Daniel points to Jesus.

    The correct answer should have been – if scholars truly understood how prophesies in Daniel really came through, they would have been christians.

    That is the standard response.

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  21. Dear Powellpowers,

    If you accept Jews, then the existence of orthodox Jewish commentaries that accept Daniel’s authorship of the book bearing his name means that you will now believe that as well, based on this:

    Find me a non-christian historian or OT scholar that agrees with you that Daniel is divine.

    As for OT scholars, here are a few from pgs. 70ff. of http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/:

    Waltke, Bruce, “The Date of the Book of Daniel.” Bibliotheca Sacra 133 (1976) 319-326.
    This article is available for free online at http://faithsaves.net/Gods-Word/.
    Bruce Waltke earned a B. A. from Houghton College, a Th. M. and Th. D. from Dallas
    Theological Seminary, and a Ph. D. from Harvard University. His doctorate at Dallas was in Greek
    and New Testament, and his doctorate at Harvard was in ancient Near Eastern languages and
    literature. He has held professorships in Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, Regent
    College, Westminster Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Knox Theological
    Seminary. He has written many scholarly books and served as a director for a number of
    archaeological investigations.
    Archer, Gleason L. Jr., “Modern Rationalism and the Book of Daniel.” Bibliotheca Sacra 136:542
    [April 1979] 129-147.
    A fine survey and refutation of anti-supernaturalist views of Daniel.
    Archer, Gleason L. Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 3rd. ed. Chicago, IL: Moody Press,
    1994.
    This book is one of the best overall introductions to the Old Testament, with careful and
    scholarly defenses of the historicity of each book of the Hebrew Scriptures, including the book of
    Daniel.
    Harrison, Roland K., Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1969.
    This work is another worthwhile introduction to the Old Testament and defense of Biblical
    historicity.
    Roland K. Harrison earned a B. D., Th. M., and Ph. D. at the University of London. After
    teaching at Clifton College, Bristol, he became Professor of Old Testament at Huron College,
    71
    University of Western Ontario, and then Professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College, University of
    Toronto. The author of many books, he has been called one of the most competent Old Testament
    scholars of his day.
    Wilson, Robert Dick, Studies in the Book of Daniel: A Discussion of the Historical Questions, 2 Vol.
    New York, NY: G. P. Putnam, 1917.
    This work is available for free at http://faithsaves.net/Gods-Word/. It is extremely detailed and
    thorough, representing some of the best scholarship of its day. Because of its detail, it is an advanced
    resource, not an introductory work.
    Robert Dick Wilson completed his undergraduate work at Princeton at the age of twenty. After
    studying at Western Theological Seminary and the University of Berlin, he proceeded to earn his Ph.
    D. from Princeton University. He then engaged in post-doctoral studies at the University of Berlin.
    He also received a D. D. from Lafayette College and an LL. D. from Wooster College. He became
    Professor of Semitic Philology and Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary before moving to
    Princeton Theological Seminary, where he taught for nearly three decades. He spent his final years
    teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary. He mastered Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic,
    Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and many other languages—a total of 26 in all. At the age of
    25, he undertook the following program of study:
    I decided that I would give my life . . . [to] the Old Testament. . . . I felt I might reasonably live till I was 70, so I
    divided my life into periods of 15 years. I gave myself the first 15 years to study languages . . . I would learn all
    the Semitic languages, every language which threw light on the vocabulary or the syntax of the Old Testament.
    Of course, I did already know Syriac, and Aramaic, and Hebrew, but there was Ethiopic and Phoenician and
    Babylonian, and Assyrian, and a number of others—about twelve different Aramaic dialects. Secondly, I would
    learn all languages that threw light on the history of the Old Testament, taking in Egyptian, Coptic, and others.
    Then, thirdly, I would learn all languages that threw light on the text of the Old Testament, down to the year 600
    after Christ . . . that took me into Armenian and several other languages, Gothic, and Anglo-Saxon, etc. . . . The
    second part of my life I would devote to . . . studying the text of the Old Testament, the comparison of the Hebrew
    text with the Versions, Greek, Latin, Syriac, especially, and all the versions down to 600. . . . The last 15 years,
    after which I had acquianted myself with all the machinery, I would tackle the subject which is called the [antisupernaturalist]
    Higher Criticism of the Old Testament, including all that the critics have said, and so be able by
    that time to defend the history, the veracity of the Old Testament.173
    After many years of the highest level of scholarly research, what was Dr. Wilson’s conclusion? “The
    evidence in our possession has convinced me that . . . the OT in Hebrew [is] . . . immediately inspired
    by God . . . [and] by his singular care and providence [has] been kept pure in all ages . . . no one . . .
    [can] show that the Old Testament . . . is not true.”174 “I can tell you . . . with the fullest assurance
    that ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so.’”175
    Pusey, Edward B., Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the
    University of Oxford, with Copious Notes. Oxford: John Henry & James Parker; Rivingtons,
    1864.
    This advanced work also available for free online at http://faithsaves.net/Gods-Word/. Even
    the most virulent of anti-supernaturalist Bible critics such as S. R. Driver admitted that “E. B. Pusey[’s] .
    . . Daniel the Prophet . . . [is] extremely learned and thorough.”176
    173 “Life and Work of Robert Dick Wilson,” Brian Nicks. The Master’s Seminary Journal 19/1 (Spring 2008) 94.
    174 “Life and Work of Robert Dick Wilson,” Brian Nicks. The Master’s Seminary Journal 19/1 (Spring 2008)102.
    175 See David Otis Fuller, ed., Which Bible? (Grand Rapids, MI: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1997) 39-48.
    176 S. R. Driver, The Book of Daniel with Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
    (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1900), ciii–civ.
    72
    Dr. Pusey studied at Oxford, Göttingen, and Berlin. n A extremely capable linguist and
    scholar, he was Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford for 54 years.
    Hengstenberg, Ernst Wilhelm, Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel. Edinburgh: T & T Clark,
    1848.
    This advanced work is also available for free online at http://faithsaves.net/Gods-Word/.
    Ernst W. Hengstenberg, a master philologist and scholar, received his doctorate from the
    Univesrity of Berlin, where he taught for many years.
    Material specifically on Daniel’s Prophecy

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  22. Dear Peter,

    Thanks for the comment. Is there a shred of manuscript evidence that the Aramaic or Hebrew sections of Daniel were written by different people in different centuries, or is that blind faith on your part? Are there any Hebrew manuscripts that support your assertion?

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  23. Dear Nate,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t have more to say on the Dan’el thing. If you really think that Ezekiel would refer, in between Noah and Job as spectacular examples of fidelity to Jehovah, as an example of a paragon of virtue a Baal worshipper who is never called righteous or wise in any extant MS of the Legend of Aquat but is ungodly by the standards of any Jew of Ezekiel’s era, I don’t know what else there is to say about that. Is it Daniel, Ezekiel’s contemporary who actually was righteous and wise if the book is true, and who would have been a comfort to Ezekiel and his fellow Jews if he existed? No, of course not–it is a drunken Baal worshipper put between Noah and Job. You may find that convincing, but I can’t. It seems to me like extreme skepticism concerning Daniel and extreme credulity on anything that would seem to undermine the book.

    If Ezekiel had written in 165 BC or later, would you doubt that the book of Ezekiel contained a reference to Daniel?

    You don’t just have the Ezekiel quote to deal with–there is Zechariah, 1 Maccabees, etc. 1 Macc records Judas Maccabeus encouraging people with the prophecy of Daniel, but he died before 165 BC. How did he do that?

    Pgs. 43-56 of http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/ deal very clearly with the objections you brought up. I will not cut and paste all that information below because it is not necessary to do so. If you will deal with the material there, then I will be happy to see if the objections to historicity are good. However, at this point, the objections do not seem very good at all, and the evidence to the contrary seems strong. For example, the book of Daniel declares that Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were three friends of Daniel who possessed important positions in the Babylonian court (Daniel 1:11, 19) and who were miraculously delivered from death by the Son of God (Daniel 3). These three names are attested as high court officials on on a clay prism found in Babylon listing the names of Nebuchadnezzar’s government c. 593 B. C. Is it more reasonable to think that an anonymous writer living in Judea in 165 B. C. happened to correctly guess the names of the officials king Nebuchadnezzar appointed in the distant country of Babylon over 450 years earlier, or that Daniel was a real historical figure in Nebuchadnezzar’s court who knew the names of his three fellow Jews and fellow court officials? How did the book of Daniel know what the walls of the palace in Babylon were made out of? How did he know that the Babylonians had a sexagesimal numbering system? How did he know Daniel could only be the third ruler in the kingdom, not the second, because of the Babylonian co-regency? And so on.

    Thank you very much.

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  24. Tom, I don’t have any evidence that the Aramaic or Hebrew sections of Daniel were written by different people. The different languages genuinely perplex scholars. Part of the confusion is that the different languages don’t seem to line up with logical structuring of the text.

    It does not prove that the book has had different authors. But it is just part of the mystery that is the book of Daniel a book that gives rise to more perplexing issues than perhaps any other in the Bible.

    The questions arise more readily than the answers.

    Perhaps it like another great mystery of the Bible, who wrote the Book of Hebrews? That is another mystery where there are many theories but an answer might well remain elusive.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. If Ezekiel had written in 165 BC or later, would you doubt that the book of Ezekiel contained a reference to Daniel?

    I’d be open to either possibility. Again, putting Daniel (a contemporary) between two ancient figures is suspect. Besides, Ezekiel is addressing the king of Tyre, who probably would have been far more familiar with Dan’el than with a Jew serving under Nebuchadnezzar. And again, while Dan’el may have been a flawed character, he was still revered in Levantine culture. And being flawed has not stopped observant Jews from revering certain individuals: Noah, Moses, Jacob, David, Solomon, etc.

    Referring to 1 Maccabees’ use of “abomination of desolation” as a quote from Daniel is just an assumption. The Book of Daniel could just as easily have been borrowing it from 1 Maccabees.

    The clay prism in Istanbul that you’re referring to is not necessarily a reference to the characters found in Daniel. Biblehistory.net had this to say about it:

    Found on the list is the name Ardi-Nabu, Official of the royal prince. This name is the equivalent to the Aramaic name Abednego and may in fact be the first mention of one of Daniel’s friends outside of the bible.

    Another name found on the list is Hanunu, Commander of the king’s merchants. The name Hanunu may be the Babylonian equivalent for the Hebrew name Hananiah.

    Another name found on the list is Meshallim -Marduk, who was an official to Nebuchadnezzar. Marduk was the name of a Babylonian god. If Marduk is left out of the name we wind up with Meshallim which may refer to Mishael.

    Daniel 1:6-7 says this:

    Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

    Since the Babylonian names given to these individuals are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it seems suspect to me that two of the names on the tablet are considered possible matches, but they have more in common with the Hebrew names than the Babylonian ones. And even then, none of them actually match.

    For anyone interested in the full text of this tablet, it’s interesting to see the wide variety of names on it. I don’t think it would be too difficult to find names close enough to make a connection, whether the connection is real or imagined. At the following link, you can type in “333” in the page number textbox. The list begins at the bottom of that page.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/133239814/ANCIENT-NEAR-ESTERN-TEXTS-Related-to-the-Old-Testament-J-B-Pritchard#scribd

    Finally, I’ll check out pages 43-56 of Anderson’s paper and see if there’s anything else I’d like to add. As the conversation moves along though, it seems to me that we’ll probably reach a point where we have to “agree to disagree” pretty soon, as we just see these things in very different ways. Thanks, though.

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  26. @Tom

    I think you are missing my point.

    I have no issue with Daniel being the author or whatever, even though I may lean towards this book being a forgery. But that is not the thrust of my point.

    My issue is with the book being a book of prophesies, and furthermore prophesies that point to Jesus.

    My assumption is that this is your conclusion? I might have read you wrong but honestly that’s a lot of TL:DR so I think it would be fair if you are more forgiving towards me.

    Thank you

    Like

  27. Dear Nate,

    Thanks for the comment. I will hold off on saying anything further until I hear what you have to say on pgs. 43-56 of http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/. Thanks for also posting the book (at least if it is out of copyright; I own an e-version as part of a package of books I purchased). I will just ask two brief questions:

    1.) Can you give me any indication in Ezekiel or elsewhere were a drunken Baal worshipper is given as an example of piety and ability to successfully intercede with Jehovah? This isn’t like Jehovah-worshipping Noah, Solomon, etc. who also committed some sins–sorry.

    2.) If it is just chance that Nebuchadnezzar actually had officials with names like the three of Daniel’s friends, then there should be lots of other tablets that have the same sort of thing on them, since we have lots of lists of Babylonian officials. Could you please give me at least one example of a list of Babylonian officials anytime, anywhere, during any period that the Babyonian empire existed, that had three names like these that could by “chance” fit Daniel 1? Thanks.

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  28. Hi Tom,

    1) The Bible acknowledges that the Israelites had long periods where they served idols, often in addition to serving El or Yahweh. Archaeology has demonstrated that as well. While Ezekiel would have condemned such a thing, it may still be the case that many people living in his time still had reverence for local legends like Dan’el, regardless of which god he served. As others have pointed out, Noah and Job weren’t Jews anyway, so including another non-Jewish hero is not a big stretch.

    Furthermore, Ezekiel is addressing the king of Tyre, who certainly wouldn’t have looked down upon Dan’el. He would likely have had a higher regard and known more about Dan’el than Daniel anyway, which strengthens the point Ezekiel was making.

    At best, this is a point that could go either way. There’s nothing in the passage to definitively link Ezekiel’s reference to either Daniel or Dan’el. Each of us strongly believes it’s pointing to one or the other, and we have our reasons, but there’s not a way to settle it. So maybe we should move to other points?

    2) It wouldn’t shock me if there are some, but I just don’t have the time or inclination to undertake a search like that. There are dozens of names just on this one clay prism, and combined with the names listed in other records, I’m not surprised that people have been able to find similar enough names to create a connection. As I said in my earlier comment, the names they’ve found aren’t complete matches. And the only way they’ve gotten their matches is by looking for both the Hebrew and Babylonian names of these individuals. Why Nebuchadnezzar’s court would give these individuals names, but then not use them seems very strange to me. Furthermore, these names were bound to be similar to other Babylonian names of the time, anyway. After all, we see that Daniel is given the name Belteshazzar, which is incredibly close to Belshazzar. So this kind of thing is just not convincing to me. I would expect a message from God to have stronger evidence.


    After going through pgs 43-56 of Anderson’s paper, I still don’t really see anything new that stands out to me. I think the points in favor of giving Daniel an early date do not outweigh the problems that indicate a later one. I don’t find his explanation of Darius the Mede convincing. I didn’t see him address the father-son relationship between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, but I may have missed that. Either way, I’ve never found the typical explanations satisfying.

    Anderson makes good arguments about the writer’s knowledge of Belshazzar and the language used in the book, but to me, those don’t overturn the problems. I don’t know what kinds of sources the writer may have had, and I don’t discount the possibility that portions of the book may be older than the Maccabean period.

    Again, the overriding issue for me is that I don’t think God would have allowed so many questionable lines of evidence to come against his word. In the Bible, countless individuals are given all kinds of overwhelming evidence that God exists and that certain people speak on his behalf. I can’t believe the same God would give such ambiguous evidence to support his book.

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  29. Hi all,
    I have a similar story to Nate in that when I did a study of Daniel early in my deconversion process I came away surprised by what I found. So I was interested to see this thread pop back up. I thought I’d throw in a few additional thoughts that may or may not have been mentioned yet:
    1) The faithsaves article doesn’t seem to explain why chapters 8 and 11 are continuous narratives from the events leading up to Antiochus IV Epiphanes through to the “end of days”. Under the proposed interpretation the lack of a discontinuity there is a pretty big issue.
    2) It is quite plausible that the story of Daniel had been around for a while before it was adopted to incorporate the prophetic narratives. This would account for some of the proposed lines of evidence for an older date while remaining consistent with the lines of evidence for the later date. Double win!
    3) The faithsaves article accurately sees Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Dan 8 and 11 but when it claims that the fourth beast in Dan 7 is Rome it completely ignores the parallels between the 11th horn of Dan 7, the small horn of Dan 8 and the last king of the north in Dan 11. In particular:
    – The focus on his character as arrogant and deceitful, having ‘taken’ the throne.
    – His defeat of some of the holy army.
    – His halting of sacrifices for 3 1/2 years.
    4) There are a few other parallels between prophecies that don’t appear to be mentioned in the faithsaves piece. For example:
    – The Dan 8 beast has four wings and heads and 11:1 indicates that the rule of Darius the Mede is followed by four Persian kings before Greece.
    – Chapters 8 and 11 all unambiguously portray the last kingdom as a divided Greece that gives way to God’s eternal kingdom. Similarly, in Dan 2 and 7 the last kingdom is divided and ends at the hands of God’s eternal kingdom.
    – The halting of sacrifices occurs in Dan 7:25, 8:11, 9:27 and 11:31 but under the proposed interpretation Dan 7 and 9 refer to something different than Dan 8 and 11.
    – The abomination is mentioned in Dan 8:13, 9:27 and 11:31 but under the proposed interpretation Dan 9 refers to something different than Dan 8 and 11.

    I appreciate the work that went into the arguments put forth by the author of the faithsaves article and I even discovered a few things that I hadn’t previously encountered. I remember how much effort I put into my study of Daniel, and that effort probably pales in comparison to the work that went into this. There’s a labor of love here, but when I survey everything the arguments just don’t stack up compared to the Maccabean Thesis.

    If anybody’s interested, here are the posts I wrote on the kingdom prophecies, the authorship and the 70 weeks prophecy.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Thanks for the comment, Travis. It’s been years since I’ve looked deeply into the Daniel stuff, so thanks for bringing up so many things that I didn’t remember or hadn’t initially realized.

    And I appreciate your comment about the time and effort that went into the faithsaves article. You’re right — it illustrates a deep devotion and lots of hours of hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Travis and Nate you have both showed great patience and diligence in response to Tom’s queries on Daniel. I applaud you for it. The position that you both put forward is not an easy one for a person of faith to accept because it requires an acceptance that the Bible may not be all that one thinks it is.

    Ultimately if one’s faith is based on inerrancy of Scripture, the standard Evangelical position, then accepting your position would lead to a crisis of faith.

    I thought Travis summarised the points really well. The possibility that there was an older story of Daniel that was revisited and finalised around 165 BC would pretty much tick every box on the evidence list.

    I would encourage all people of faith who consider the reliability of Daniel to focus on what are the four kingdoms, look at how each is described in the Book of Daniel then look at the history books and decide what kingdoms they might be.

    Aside from the fourth kingdom exactly matching Greece, the second kingdom could not be a combined Media/Persia as it is said to be inferior to the first kingdom. No historian would argue that Persia was inferior to Babylon. The Persian empire was at its time the greatest the world had seen. Thus it only makes sense for the second kingdom to be Media not a combined Media and Persia.

    Likewise the four heads of the fourth kingdom are a perfect match for the kingdom of Alexander being divided into four parts after his death.

    So I suppose I am saying that for Tom to accept we are correct in our interpretation would probably require him to reexamine the whole basis of his faith. As former people of faith we all know what a hard road that is.

    But in the end truth can only be found if one is prepared to follow the evidence no matter where it may lead.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Yeah, you nailed it, Peter. And for what it’s worth, I’ve really appreciated your comments in this thread, too. Tom’s as well. It’s not easy for a Christian to come onto an atheist blog for a discussion, just as it’s not easy to do the reverse. And he’s been very polite and reasonable, too.

    Ultimately if one’s faith is based on inerrancy of Scripture, the standard Evangelical position, then accepting your position would lead to a crisis of faith.

    You, Travis, and I all know exactly what this feels like. And so do most of the other regular commenters here. It’s an incredibly difficult position to be in.

    It’s not easy to hold onto inerrancy. While our position can concede that the Bible gets some things right, the inerrantist can’t accept that a single error exists. It really is like walking a tightrope, in that one misstep can bring the whole thing down. Of course, this just makes it even harder for people who believe in inerrancy to ever consider the other side. And thinking there are eternal consequences hanging in the balance only makes it worse.

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  33. I would just add that I highly recommend the articles from Travis’ blog that he linked to in his comment.

    Nate you spell things out well in your last paragraph of your last comment. Fear of Hell and punishment can be paralysing. I know from personal experience that fear does not look at things logically. That is one of the reason I put so much effort into ensuring my conclusion that the Bible is a human, not a divine, book is based on solid evidence. The Book of Daniel is one of the clearer examples but is just one of many.

    The straw which broke the camel’s back in my case was my conclusion that the Exodus as described in the Bible could not have happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Yeah, the archaeological findings in Israel, especially in relation to the conquest, were big for me. And the prophecy of Tyre, of course. I mention it all the time, I know… but that was a huge one for me.

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  35. I can’t help but find it interesting that these biblical discussions can be had between knowledgeable people, who each dive deep into history and scholarly works, each attempting to explain why the evidence they have is better than or out weighs the other.

    It seems that if there were such a important message, that was intended for all of mankind, that its truth would be easier to render, but instead we have sincere people believing or not believing. We have sincere believers disagreeing over what to believe…

    But the most curious thing to me is that every thing about of this comes from claims of men. How could you believe God over man with regard to the bible, when the Bible was written, copied, translated and delivered all by men?

    Oh, man said that god told them to write it? and those same men told us that god wants us to listen to them because they’re telling the truth?

    Men said that God said something or did something. Why should we believe those men when there is so much conflicting evidence on both sides?

    To say, “well it’s clear for those who want to see,” is lame and dismissive, dodging the real issue. Anyone can make such a comment in order to hand wave away a differing view.

    God is all powerful; perfect, complete and eternal – and this is the best he could compose; a “dictated” conflicting and highly disputed and argued over message that has men’s finger prints all over it?

    I just can’t seem to swallow that anymore.

    Let’s make a test. I don’t know, set up alters and let the believers pray to their god, and whichever god will light their alter first from heaven will be our god… Sound fair?

    Liked by 2 people

  36. william, John Zande just posted this on his blog. It seems relevant to what you wrote:

    Of course, we’re also told the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, can actually physically write, in human words, words that can be read, so if there was a blunder anywhere shouldn’t we have expected this omni-potent being to have corrected the mistake like a teacher marking an exam? You’d especially think this considering the severity of the punishment (ie. killing children, killing all people of other faiths, killing adulterers, homosexuals, witches…)

    Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. — Daniel 5:5

    The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.”
    — Exodus 34:1

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Right, God could’ve written it or corrected it or made clarifications himself, but just didn’t – and who are we to question to almighty?

    But in part because Ezekiel referenced a name similar to Daniel’s, and since Daniel mentioned a kingdom that would break into pieces, it all must be true 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Dear Nate,

    Ezekiel 28 is addressing the king of Tyre, but Israel is clearly the actual audience. The rule of the city of Tyre was not standing in front of Ezekiel at that moment. If you want to believe that Ezekiel put right inbetween Noah and Job a third person as an intercessor to Jehovah who was never called righteous or wise but was a drunken Baal worshipper, rather than Daniel who actually was righteous, wise, and a faithful worshipper of Jehovah, you can do that if you want, but I think you ought to be ashamed of it.

    Let me summarize something from before. I had asked:

    1.) Can you give me any indication in Ezekiel or elsewhere were a drunken Baal worshipper is given as an example of piety and ability to successfully intercede with Jehovah?

    The answer appears to be: “No, I can’t.”

    I had also asked:

    2.) If it is just chance that Nebuchadnezzar actually had officials with names like the three of Daniel’s friends, then there should be lots of other tablets that have the same sort of thing on them, since we have lots of lists of Babylonian officials. Could you please give me at least one example of a list of Babylonian officials anytime, anywhere, during any period that the Babyonian empire existed, that had three names like these that could by “chance” fit Daniel 1? Thanks.

    The answer here also appears to be: “No, I can’t,” although you have a faith, not based on evidence, that it can be done. It is not something I have seen any liberal commentator on Daniel doing, though, whether the Anchor Bible, the International Critical, Hermeneia, etc.

    By the way, the work here:

    http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/

    was not written by Steven Anderson. Dr. Anderson did write the work here:

    http://faithsaves.net/darius-mede-anderson/

    but the work above was written by the skeptic turned Christian here:

    http://faithsaves.net/unbelief-truth/

    Thank you for admitting that there is evidence parts of Daniel, at least, are from before the Maccabees. Now if there is no actual MS evidence at all that the book was in parts, where does that leave us with the predictions in the book?

    I would like to politely suggest that the evidence in Daniel is only ambiguous if we want it to be so. What if this actually fits Dan 12;10: “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand”?

    Dear Travis R,

    There are many clear instances in Biblical prophecy recognize where time periods are skipped over and it is not a matter of people trying, allegedly, to desperately get rid of alleged contradictions. It is reasonable, or at least non-contradictory, for Daniel to skip from the type of the Antichrist, Antiochus, to the actual future person. Furthermore, there is a break between Dan 11:39 and Dan 11:40, as a variety of commentators on Daniel demonstrate. The study on Daniel we have been discussing is not a verse-by-verse exegesis of Daniel.

    I am sorry that I have not read your articles you linked to, at least at this point, but at least in the entire series on this blog (which I have read) the argument to make the last kingdom Greece seems very weak. For example, this series of posts admits that some chapters of Daniel clearly make the Medes and Persians one empire, but then to make the last kingdom Greece, they impose a contradiction on the book and say that the empires are different in other chapters.

    I hope, Travis, that you have seriously interacted with scholars such as Waltke, Hengestenberg, and Pusey and their works defending Daniel, e. g., http://faithsaves.net/gods-word/. Simply reading one liberal commentary such as the Anchor Bible Commentary on Daniel is not going to cut it for a serious investigation.

    Skimming your articles, I noticed some errors of fact. For example, the Letter of Aristeas never says only the Torah is being translated in the LXX. If you read the Letter yourself, the entire OT is being referred to. See pgs. 38-39 of the work on Daniel here: http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/ for a brief discussion, or, better, just study the Letter to Aristeas. (I’m referring to your article here: https://measureoffaith.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-authorship-of-daniel/). The same article does not deal with other OT works that refer to Daniel such as Zechariah, and the argument from Ben Sirach is greatly overstated.

    Finally, in the 70 weeks prophecy one has the choice between (at least one of the) Christian views, which create no contradictions in the prophecy and make sense, and which were also the way the passage was interpreted for centuries both before and after the 1st century A. D., or a view that adds in decades here and leaves them out there to try to get the text to fit Onias. Your statement that the word in Daniel 9:25 is not “the Messiah the Prince” is also clearly false for the reasons discussed on pgs 67-69 of http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/ .

    Dear Peter,

    In terms of the Exodus not being possible, I hope you have read works such as Israel in Egypt: Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition by James Hoffmeier (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Dr. Hoffmeier’s companion work Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition, or at least something like Ancient Orient and Old Testament by Kenneth Kitchen, online free at http://faithsaves.net/gods-word/ unlike the first two books.

    Dear Nate,

    I don’t want to get into Tyre right now because it is unrelated to this post, but can you prove that the ancient city is not underwater right now?

    Dear William,

    I’m sorry, but your arguments are not serious like the ones made by some of these other gentlemen. I hope you feel good, though, preaching to the choir.

    Dear Nan,

    I’m sorry that i don’t get the “God can’t write” argument as being very convincing, but perhaps you can explain to me how a Jew in Palestine c. 165 BC knew that the walls of the palace in Babylon were plastered in the 6th century, as confirmed by archaeology, versus being stone, etc.

    Everyone, I would encourage you to see the Dan Barker-Thomas Ross debate on the historicity of the OT once it goes live:

    http://faithsaves.net/barker-ross-debate/

    as I thought it was very interesting, being there in person.

    Thank you all for taking the time to interact on this subject.

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  39. My first thought is to ask if there’s another example of Ezekiel referencing a contemporary, making the reference by placing that contemporary in between/ out of sequence two much older and famous legends, while also using a different spelling for that contemporary’s name?

    Surely, “you should be ashamed” is a bit overly dramatic considering the reasons behind it. Maybe you should be ashamed for believing a Perfect God would have anything to with something as corrupt as the Bible – but maybe such accusations and comments aren’t helpful and only serve to distract from the actual discussion and points being made.

    What specifically and clearly points to Rome in Daniel?

    Why would Daniel name all nations specifically, except for Rome, if Rome were to be the one where God’s kingdom would be established? Why exclude the most important one?

    Why reference specific people that makes it look like it conflicts with actual history?

    Why assume any man actually speaks for God?

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  40. Tom, you said this,

    “that the resurrection is the best explanation for the evidence if one does not have an a priori against the miraculous.”

    This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s a wild claim, of a man coming back from the dead, which goes on to suggest that it makes the most sense and is most the most logical conclusion, as long as someone doesn’t have some preconceived notion that such miracles cannot happen – which is an attempt to imply that it’s silly or dimwitted to think there could be no miracles, and is also an effort to suggest that people don’t believe only because they don’t want to believe.

    This is too much like the children’s story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to be taken seriously. It’s implying that the virtuous will see it your way, while those that lack virtue will not…

    I could imagine and invent any wild explanation for anything and say, “(insert absurd claim) is the best explanation for the evidence if one does not have a priori against the miraculous.” It also seems to ignore the non-supernatural explanations, which there are plenty of.

    Like, “Islam is growing and spreading despite all efforts against it, so therefore, Muhamad flew on a winged horse.”

    I think miracles are possible however, so I dont think i have a priori against them. I do know, however, that many claimed miracles are faked and falsified. I know that people lie and that people can be deceived. people believe in lies and falsehoods all the time. That is known. So while I don’t automatically rule out “miracles,” I certainly will not automatically rule out “possible lie or fake.”

    That being the case, most “out of this world” claims take a lot more evidence for me to believe than if it were a claim of the ordinary or non-supernatural.

    “there;s a deer in the woods!”

    I can buy that without pictures, video or hair samples.

    “there’s a bigfoot in the woods!”

    Even with pictures, video and hair samples, i am skeptical, and would still require more information and evidence before I could accept that claim.

    Now, if someone believes there’s bigfoot in the woods, that’s fine with me. But, if that bigfoot believer insists I’m a fool if i don’t buy it based on the present evidence above, then I may agree there’s a fool – I just wouldn’t think it were me.

    Does that make sense?

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  41. Hi Tom,

    The Letter to Eristeas is broken up into verses (like here) — could you please point to where the entire OT is specified? Could you also cite Zechariah’s reference to Daniel?

    As for Tyre, I have a whole series of articles on that — you can find them on this site’s homepage, if you’re interested.

    Like William, I think your “you should be ashamed of yourself” comments are pretty strong, considering the quality of the evidence you’re using. You would have to lump the vast majority of actual scholars into that label as well. Either way, I don’t have anything further to add on Ezekiel’s reference to Dan’el and the Babylonian names that kinda-sorta might look a little like the names of Daniel’s 3 friends.

    Now if there is no actual MS evidence at all that the book was in parts

    What would you expect this evidence to look like? As it stands, the Book of Daniel was written in two different languages, it changes from third person to first person in places, and some versions of the book differ considerably from others. Do you simply mean that we haven’t found the various parts by themselves?

    To your comment about the Exodus, have you ever examined any books that lay out the case against it being an historical event? Not asking that sarcastically, btw — I’m genuinely curious.

    Finally, while William’s points haven’t gone directly into specific pieces of evidence, I think what he’s saying makes a lot of sense. He’s laying out the general case that we should be skeptical of anyone who claims to speak for God. None of us are inclined to believe that Muslims or Mormons are right when they talk about their own beliefs. I’m sure we’d all try to listen objectively, but their case is going to have to be incredibly strong for us to actually consider that they might be right. The same should go for Christianity. Now, maybe you really do think the Bible is completely inerrant — but the rest of us don’t. And it’s because we’ve studied it enough to feel that it has significant problems, not because we’re unfamiliar with it. Whether you agree with us or not, you’ve got to realize that we’re coming to the discussion from that position. You’ve come to an atheist blog, so trying to dismiss arguments like William’s probably won’t get you very far. They’re serious points to us.

    Just my two cents. Back to regular programming. 🙂

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  42. Hi Tom,

    there is a break between Dan 11:39 and Dan 11:40, as a variety of commentators on Daniel demonstrate.

    Please explain. v40 continues the narrative with the king of the south and the king of the north, which are always referring to the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires. You’re suggesting that the implied break is at least 2080 years (and counting) and that the king of the north and king of the south change to some different empire?

    Letter of Aristeas never says only the Torah is being translated in the LXX

    I will follow Nate in asking you to defend this. More than just the Torah may have been referenced, but it certainly doesn’t clearly identify everything that we would call the Old Testament. I will have to look closer at this to understand why the vast majority of sources refer only to the Pentateuch when they describe this – and no, it isn’t because they’re trying to hide the supernatural nature of Daniel.

    The same article does not deal with other OT works that refer to Daniel such as Zechariah

    I saw that in the article, along with the other claims of intra-biblical references to Daniel, but you fail to establish is that these are actually references borrowed from Daniel and not examples of similar textual constructs and words, in which case this would seem to be a linguistic argument for the later date because it shows that the language of Daniel is consistent with 2nd and 3rd century BCE Jewish literature.

    Your statement that the word in Daniel 9:25 is not “the Messiah the Prince” is also clearly false for the reasons discussed on pgs 67-69

    I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Please clarify.

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  43. Travis, I took the time to re-read what Gleason Archer (one of Tom’s recommended experts) had to say on Daniel. Archer is renowned as perhaps the staunchest defender of Biblical inerrancy.

    He just states in a matter of fact way, as though it is self evident and needs no further argument, that the once the prophecies appear to fail at 11:40 that is because the timeframe has changed from the 2nd century BC to the end times.

    Reading between the lines what he is implying is: ‘because Scripture cannot be broken and all prophecy must be true, therefore by definition any prophecy that has not been fulfilled must be subject to future fulfilment’.

    Travis, such folk will never admit to a failed prophecy even though it is staring them in the face. The problem is that their preconceived views do not allow this to be in the range of possible outcomes.

    In the end they have that fallback to cover all the insolvable problems, ‘Holy Mystery’.

    I struggled for years trying to tell myself the Bible was inerrant. Then one day I dared to ask myself the question, to entertain the possibility. ‘what if this is not true?’ The very instant I was prepared to entertain that as a possibility I came to see very clearly the Bible was the work of man not the work of ‘God’.

    So many of these Atheist/Christian interchanges get nowhere because neither side is prepared to accept the possibility of the other sides premise is even a possibility. I like to think that folk like Nate, yourself (and dare I say myself) because we spent many years as committed believers are at least prepared to say we have looked at both sides of the argument.

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  44. Tom, in regard to the Exodus. I studied the evidence in depth back in 2012 when I was studying a Christian seminary and my term paper required me to examine ‘What evidence is there for an exodus of Hebrews out of Egypt in the second millennium BC?

    I read James Hoffmeiers work, I read Gleason Archers work, I read Kenneth Kitchens work, I read every article that Biblical Archaeology magazine had issued on the Exodus and Hebrews in Egypt.

    I approached this as a person of faith, a true believer, I was in the process of studying to be ordained as a Christian Minister. I was looking for every shred of supporting evidence. I wanted it to be true.

    The following is the conclusion from my term paper:

    The principle evidence of the exodus remains the biblical text itself. Ancient historians of the time were not objective recorders of history, rather they were recording propaganda. The Torah of Israel is unique among literature of the time in that it records its people in defeat as well as victory . This lends it a greater objectivity than other texts. In addition there is internal evidence from the Biblical text that the exodus story was written as an eyewitness account by a person familiar with Egypt and its culture.

    Egyptian records on monuments and in tombs were intended to be records of the Pharaoh’s great accomplishments, so we should not expect a record of a humiliating defeat. The considerable body of Egyptian material from the time that provides close analogies to the Biblical account provides a degree of indirect proof .

    The archaeological evidence is inconclusive, there is some evidence that Semites had been in Egypt and had been slaves – however these may not be Hebrews. It is clear that the Hebrews were established in Canaan by the late 13th century BC, and also some evidence of battles before then. However it is not clear where the Hebrews had come from and whether they were the people involved in the earlier fighting. The archaeological record will inevitably be incomplete and also subject to interpretation, so the absence of clear evidence does not mean the exodus as described in the Bible did not happen. Ultimately we may need to take the matter on faith.

    I was graded A on the paper by the evangelical seminary where I was studying.

    Since I wrote this paper I have continued to look into the Exodus with particular interest and I am now pretty much certain that it never happened as the evidence against is simply overwhelming.

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  45. Dear Travis,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t have time to say more right at this point, but please note Pusey on Daniel, pgs. 271ff., for the references to Daniel in Zechariah, Nehemiah, etc., here:

    http://faithsaves.net/pusey-daniel/

    Dear Peter,

    Do you have a critique of Hoffmeier’s two books or of Kitchen? I would be definitely interested.

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  46. Also, pardon me, the transition in Dan 11 is between v. 35 and v. 36, not at v. 40–I was going from memory, and my clearly not infallible memory made a mistake. 🙂

    Also, Archer has great stuff on the early date of Daniel, but his OT Introduction isn’t a commentary on Daniel, so yo can’t expect him to do pages and pages of exegesis on Dan 11:36-45.

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  47. Dear Travis,

    What religion were you and what seminary did you go to?

    Also, did you think that you needed to ask Jesus into your heart or say a “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved? If so, even if you don’t believe the Bible right now, you might find the study here:

    http://faithsaves.net/sinners-prayer/

    of interest.

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  48. Tom,

    please note Pusey on Daniel, pgs. 271ff., for the references to Daniel in Zechariah, Nehemiah, etc.

    I looked at the Pusey document. Regarding Nehemiah, while I agree that there is common language between the prayers in Nehemiah and the prayers in Daniel, I do not see any clear evidence that Nehemiah borrowed from Daniel. For example, Pusey argued that Daniel 9:15 is following Jeremiah 32:20 as a matter of context but that the shared phrase the word for asah (to make) is the same in Daniel 9:15 and Nehemiah 9:10 (ותעשׁ) but against Jeremiah 32:20 (ותעשׁה). This is supposed to show that Nehemiah borrowed from Daniel’s change but it is also consistent with Daniel having borrowed from Nehemiah rather than from Jeremiah. The primary reason to think that Daniel borrowed this particular phrase from Jeremiah is that we are told that Daniel had just been reading from Jeremiah – but this is only applicable if the author of the text is Daniel himself and he is the one who changed the spelling. Alternatively, we could argue that this is evidence for the later date because if Daniel had followed Jeremiah on that spelling then we would consider Nehemiah to have introduced the change and would not expect Daniel, as the earlier author, to have agreement with Nehemiah even though the prayers share several other commonalities. What’s interesting is that the form of argument I just put forward is the same that Pusey uses in his prior paragraphs to argue that Nehemiah 1:5 and 9:32 were following Daniel 9:4. In other words, Pusey wants to argue both ways. I prefer to recognize this inconsistency and call it inconclusive.

    Regarding Zechariah, the connection is even less clear. The similarity here is conceptual rather than textual, in that there are four entities (horns, horses and chariots) presented in multiple visions. Yes, the ‘horn’ imagery is familiar but that does not show dependence on Daniel because there isn’t any indication of the direction of borrowing, if it even occurred. Pusey also seems to think that the visions with the horses and chariots are synonymous with the the four kingdoms in Daniel, but the plain reading of Zechariah is that they are sent out to bring peace on earth and are possibly agents of God rather than nations. This is a stark contrast with the destructive power with which the kingdoms are presented in Daniel.

    the transition in Dan 11 is between v. 35 and v. 36, not at v. 40

    I don’t see that this mitigates in any way against the concern I previously presented. Allow me to also add one more note on that. In v35 we are told that “Even some of the wise will stumble, resulting in their refinement, purification, and cleansing until the time of the end, for it is still for the appointed time.” This indicates that “the time of the end” is within the lifetime of “some of the wise”.

    Lastly, I took a closer look at the Letter of Aristeas. Though the majority of the letter references the “law of the Jews”, the memo from Demetrius to Ptolemy suggests adding translations of “The books of the law of the Jews (with some few others)”. This is the closest thing we get to a statement that the translation included more than the Torah. However, the letter from Ptolemy to Eleazer only requests the law and the subsequent response from Eleazer to Ptolemy says that “I selected six elders from each tribe, good men and true, and I have sent them to you with a copy of our law“. I think the claim that the Letter of Aristeas only identifies a translation of the Torah is accurate, even if there is a possibility that “some few” other texts were included.

    I was never affiliated with any denomination and did not attend seminary – it was Peter who mentioned that.

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  49. From http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/ on Aristeas:

    [T]the letter of Aristeas indicates that the common Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint or LXX, was translated in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285–247 B. C.). It is generally recognized by scholars that the translation indeed originated in the third century B. C. However, the letter to Aristeas is clear that the entire Old Testament, not only a portion such as the Pentateuch, was translated into Greek. The letter states that “the president of the king’s library received vast sums of money for the purpose of collecting together, as far as he possibly could, all the books in the world. By means of purchase and transcription, he carried out, to the best of his ability, the purpose of the king.” On this account the Jewish holy books were said to be “worth transcribing” as worthy of “a place in [the] library.” What was acquired was a plural number of “books,” and not the “Law” in the strict sense of the Pentateuch alone, but also “others” of the holy Jewish books to be translated. An attempt to build a library with “all the books in the world” would not translate only a portion of the Hebrew Scriptures while leaving the rest untranslated. Furthermore, Aristeas teaches that “the whole law” with its plural “books” was translated, and that to this translation there was to be “no alteration . . . either by adding anything or changing in any way whatever any of the words that had been written or making any omission,” with a “curse” pronounced upon anyone who would dare to do so, in order that “the book might be preserved for all the future time unchanged.” Such an explanation only makes sense if the entire Old Testament was in view. The people were not putting a curse upon anyone who would translate the book of Joshua or Isaiah right after rejoicing that the Pentateuch had been translated. The letter to Aristeas teaches that the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek in the third century B. C. This conclusion was recognized by later writers commenting on the creation of the LXX. Josephus indicates that under Ptolemy, not the Pentateuch only, but “many books of laws among the Jews . . . [were] translated into the Greek tongue,” including all “the Jewish books,” that is, “the books of Jewish legislation with some others,” —a description which includes, at a minimum, the entire Old Testament. There is no extant evidence supporting the translation of the Book of Daniel late enough to support the anti-supernaturalist contention on the Book’s origin. On the contrary, all the extant external evidence supports the idea that Daniel was translated into Greek before the time that many of its predictions were fulfilled.

    Note that Aristeas 30 actually refers to the Hebrew Scriptures already existing in translation before the origination of the LXX—the LXX was to be an improvement upon even earlier translation work, not the first translation of the Old Testament into Greek.

    Furthermore, the translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 and Isaiah 30:4 in the LXX presupposes the existence of the book of Daniel (cf. E. W. Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1848], 234-235 & E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes [Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864], 362), so even an admission that the Pentateuch was translated into Greek in the third century B. C. supports the existence of the book of Daniel at that time.

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  50. The book of Tobit, probably the oldest composition in the Apocrypha, is dated by scholars to the third century B. C., and it necessarily predates the Maccabaean period, in which anti-supernaturalists must date Daniel. However, Tobit contains clear verbal allusions to Daniel. Likewise, the Book of Watchers, the first part of the pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch, is dated to the third century B. C. and necessarily predates the Maccabean era, as the early dates for the copies of the book found at Qumran verify. Furthermore, the “Hellenistic Jewish historian Demetrius . . . had already . . . drawn up . . . [a] chronology” of the seventy-weeks prophecy in Daniel 9 “in the late third century B. C. . . . [in] his own time, which was the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator.” It would have been impossible to make chronological calculations based on Daniel 9 many years before the book was supposedly forged in the following century. The apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach was composed, at the very latest, between 200-175 B. C., and has even been dated to the fourth century B. C.; it can by no means be dated to the Maccabean period. Nevertheless, Ecclesiasticus clearly refers to Daniel and contains a prayer that the prophecies of Daniel would be fulfilled soon. Likewise, the book of Baruch predates the Maccabean era but contains clear allusions to Daniel. Similarly, 1 Maccabees records Matthias on his deathbead counselling his sons to emulate the example of “Daniel[,] [who] for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions.” Matthias likewise challenges his sons to follow the example set by Daniel’s three Hebrew friends, who “because of their faith were saved from fire.” However, the anti-supernaturalist dates Daniel after the death of Matthias. 1 Maccabees also contains verbal allusions to the LXX of Daniel, further requiring the existence of the book both in the original language and in translation.

    SOURCES:

    On this topic, see Roger T. Beckwith, “Early Traces of the Book of Daniel,” Tyndale Bulletin 53:1 (2002) 75-82 & and Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (London: SPCK, 1985), 355-358.
    See W. O. E. Oesterley, An Introduction to the Books of the Apocrypha (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935), 169; Robert Henry Charles, ed., Apocrypha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), Tobit.
    Tobit 14:4-5; Daniel 2:21; 7:24; 8:14; 9:24; 12:7, 11-12. Beckwith notes:
    Tobit is a work of primitive character, giving signs of belonging to the Persian period . . . and in the earlier text of it (that found in Codex Sinaiticus) it speaks of “the prophets of Israel” as predicting times and seasons, in the manner of Daniel, “until the time when the time of the seasons is fulfilled” (Tobit 14:4f.; cp. Dan. 2, 7–9, 11–12). Similarly, it has become a commonplace in Tobit and in other intertestamental works to assume that pious Jews of the exilic period would have avoided eating the unclean food of the Gentiles (Tobit 1:10–13; Judith 10:5; 12:2; Rest of Esther 14:17, addition C); but these incidental references all seem likely to go back to the extended narrative of Dan. 1:5–16. (Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism [London: SPCK, 1985])
    Beckwith notes:
    There are close links between Daniel and the first book of 1 Enoch, the Book of Watchers (1 En. 1–36), showing dependence . . . on the side of the Book of Watchers. The links are the designation “watchers” for angels (Dan. 4:13, 17, 23; cp. 1 En. 10.9, 15; 12.2–4; 13.10 etc.), the names Michael and Gabriel for two of the angels (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; 10:13, 21; 12:1; cp. 1 En. 9.1; 10.9, 11 etc.) and the striking parallel between the vision of God in Dan. 7:9f. and that in 1 En. 14.18–22. But the age of the MSS of the Book of Watchers from Qumran indicates that its composition goes back to the latter half of the third century B. C., so the composition of Daniel must go back to a still earlier date. (Roger T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism [London: SPCK, 1985], 357)
    See Timothy H. Lim et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls in Their Historical Context (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 104.
    Roger T. Beckwith, “Daniel 9 and the Date of Messiah’s Coming in Essene, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Zealot and Early Christian Computation,” Revue de Qumran 40 [1981], 523, 528.
    See the discussion in Patrick W. Skehan and Alexander A. Di Lella O.F.M., The Wisdom of Ben Sira: A New Translation with Notes, Introduction and Commentary, Vol. 39, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 8-10; Robert Henry Charles, ed., Apocrypha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), Sirach, sec. 6; W. O. E. Oesterley, The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus in the Revised Version with Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), xx-xxiii. The early date for Ecclesiasticus is defended in E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes (Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864), Lecture 6, and in J. H. A. Hart, Ecclesiasticus: The Greek Text of Codex 248 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909) 249-266.
    Ecclesiasticus 36:10 is a prayer for the coming of the “end” and “appointed time” referred to in Daniel 8:19; 11:27, 29, 35; 12:4, 9. In the LXX a slightly different numbering system is employed, and Ecclesiasticus 36:10 is 36:7. Note the discussion in Roger T. Beckwith, “Early Traces of the Book of Daniel,” Tyndale Bulletin 53:1 (2002) 80-81. Beckwith concludes that Ben Sirach’s prayer “was made with full knowledge of the prophecies contained in Daniel 8 or 11-12, and asks explicitly that they may soon be fulfilled. . . . Ben Sira evidently knew the Book of Daniel” (pg. 81).
    See Daniel 9:4-19; Baruch 1:15-2:19 & E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes (Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864), 359–362.
    1 Maccabees 2:59-60; see Daniel 3, 6. 1 Maccabees 2:49 also alludes to Daniel 8:19.
    See 1 Maccabees 1:54, where “abomination of desolation” alludes to the same Greek words in Daniel 9:27 & 11:31.

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  51. The objections below have all been made above in this thread. See pgs. 51-53 http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/:

    The book of Daniel has been criticized for referring to Nebuchadnezzar as the “father” of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:11, 18), since Belshazzar was not the immediate descendent of Nebuchadnezzar. However, there is evidence that Belshazzar’s mother was Nitocris, daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, so Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. In Semitic usage there was not even a separate word for grandson; on the contrary, son was regularly used in the sense of “offspring” or for descendants other than immediate ones. For that matter, “in the ancient world, successive monarchs were often identified as sons of famous predecessors even when there was no dynastic or genealogical connections. So, for instance, on the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III, Jehu, king of Israel, is identified as ‘son of Omri,’ even though he had been responsible for wiping out the line of Omri and was no relation (a fact probably well known to the Assyrians)” (Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Da 5:2.). Thus, even if Belshazzar had not a drop of Nebuchadnezzar’s blood in him the language employed in Daniel would be entirely appropriate. This objection is simply quibbling. See R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), 1120; Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 276–277 & E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes (Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864), 404–407, for further discussion.

    The fact that Daniel was classified with the “Writings” in the Hebrew canon rather than the “Prophets” is appealed to in support of a late date. However, the third division of the Hebrew canon contains early books such as Job, the Davidic Psalms and the writings of Solomon, and Ruth, as well as later books such as Chronicles. The simple reason for assigning Daniel to the third division is that he was a statesman in a heathen court who had prophetic gifts, much like Joseph, rather than one who held the official office of prophet within the theocratic community, like Isaiah or Jeremiah. Indeed, the book of Daniel records a great deal of history that does not contain any specific prophecies, unlike all of the strictly prophetic books. Furthermore, all the extant early evidence clearly recognizes Daniel as a prophet. This argument has been classified as a weak and “almost desperate appeal” (R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969], 1123) to weaken the clear supernaturalism of Daniel.

    Anti-supernaturalists point out that Daniel is not mentioned in the list of famous Israelites in Ecclesiasticus 44:1ff, written c. 180 B. C. Since Daniel is not mentioned in this passage, it is argued, he was unknown at the time. However, Job also goes unmentioned, as do all the judges except Samuel, Ezra, Mordecai, Asa, and Jehoshaphat. This argument from silence proves nothing. What is more, Ezekiel is mentioned (Ecclesiasticus 49:8-9), and Ezekiel mentions Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3), so Ecclesiasticus supports the existence of Daniel. Furthermore, “The shallowness and erroneous nature of [this objection] . . . has been amply demonstrated by the Qumran discoveries, which make it impossible to deny the popularity of Daniel at that period, if the numbers of copies and fragments of the composition may be taken as furnishing any indication at all of the situation” (R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969], 1123). Unless one wishes to argue the fantastically unhistorical position that Ezra, Gideon, Ehud, Othniel, Asa, and so on were unknown in 180 B. C., the absence of Daniel’s name in Ecclesiasticus proves nothing. What is more, Daniel is not mentioned in a section of Ecclesiasticus that deals with the second half of the Jewish canon, the nevi’im, but Daniel is found in the third division, the kethuvim, so “not mentioning him there implies no more than that the Jews in his time had the same arrangement [of books] as they have now . . . clearly . . . [there is no] argument against the existence of the book of Daniel, in the time of the son of Sirach, [from the fact] that writer did not speak of its author in a place which he did not occupy in the Canon” (E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes [Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864], 349, 352). Indeed, Ben Sira does not mention any authors outside of Israel (such as Jonah at Nineveh, Daniel at Babylon, or Mordecai in Persia), probably because of his nationalistic ideas, so the mention of Daniel in Ecclesiasticus would be unexpected.
    What is more, there are textual evidences that, while Daniel’s name is not mentioned, nonetheless in Ecclesiasticus “the previous existence of the book of Daniel is presupposed, for the idea presented in Sirach 17:14, that God had given to that people an angel as hegemonos (sar), refers to Daniel 10:13, 20-11:1; 12:1 . . . Daniel is the author from whom this opinion was derived” (Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 9 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 505. Greek and Hebrew characters have been transliterated.).

    Anti-supernaturalists appeal to certain passages of Daniel (e. g., 11:40-45) that, they claim, are about Antiochus Ephiphanes and state that, since Antiochus did not do what the passages say, the book contains historical error. However, these passages, which anti-supernaturalists claim are in reference to Antiochus, actually concern the future Antichrist; Antiochus Ephiphanes did not fulfill these passages because they did not deal with him. In ancient times “the Jews th[ought] Antichrist is spoken of . . . [in] this passage” (see Jerome, Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel, trans. Gleason Archer [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1977], comment on Daniel 11:36); such is the natural interpretation of the passage, not an arbitrary expident to attempt to explain away an alleged false prophecy.

    Indeed, the evident distinction between the actions of Antiochus and the statements of these passages constitutes a serious objection to the second century anti-supernaturalist date for the book. The alleged second-century forger of Daniel could successfully record the history of past centuries and of his own time with amazing accuracy. How could he have recorded allegedly contemporary events about Antiochus so inaccurately, and, if he had done so, why would the Jews have accepted the forged and errant book into the canon of Scripture and unhesitatingly accepted its inerrancy almost immediately after the time of the alleged gross historical errors? “It is difficult to see how an intelligent second-century B. C. Jewish author could possibly have made such blunders as the critical scholars have ascribed to the compiler of Daniel[.] . . . Had the work contained as many frank errors as are usually credited to it, it is certain that the book would never have gained acceptance into the canon of Scripture, since it would have emerged very poorly by comparison with the writings of secular historians such as Herodotus, Ctesias, Menander, and others whose compositions are no longer extant” (R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969] 1122).

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  52. On the break between Daniel 11:35-36. This is clearly exegetically justifiable. 11:35-36 certainly is not proof–which is what is needed–of an error, because a reasonable non-erroneous view is possible:

    Scholars are in agreement that the vision up to this point has been concerned with events between the time of Cyrus (in which Daniel lived) and the death of Antiochus IV, but with v. 36 this agreement ends. Although there have been other identifications set forth for the “king” of vv. 36–45,82 there are two principal views today.
    Those who adhere to the Maccabean thesis maintain that vv. 36–45 continue to speak of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. However, there are serious problems with this position, not the least of which is the fact that much of the historical data set forth in these verses (even in vv. 36–39) is impossible to harmonize with Antiochus’s life.83 For example, Antiochus did not exalt himself above every god (vv. 36–37), reject “the gods of his fathers,” or worship “a god unknown to his fathers” (v. 38); on the contrary, he worshiped the Greek pantheon, even building an altar and offering sacrifices to Zeus in the Jerusalem temple precincts. Daniel also predicted that this king “will come to his end” in Palestine (v. 45), but it is a matter of historical record that Antiochus IV died at Tabae in Persia.
    Exegetical necessity requires that 11:36–45 be applied to someone other than Antiochus IV. The context indicates that the ruler now in view will live in the last days, immediately prior to the coming of the Lord. Verse 40 reveals that this king’s activities will take place “at the time of the end” (cf. 10:14), and the “time of distress” mentioned in 12:1 is best understood as the same “distress” (the tribulation) predicted by Jesus Christ in Matt 24:21 as occurring immediately before his second advent (Matt 24:29–31; cf. Rev 7:14). But the clearest indication that this “king” will live in the latter days is that the resurrection of the saints will take place immediately after God delivers his people from this evil individual’s power (cf. 12:2). Of course, the resurrection is an eschatological event. Finally, vv. 36–39 seem to introduce this king as if for the first time. . . . That Daniel now speaks of a future ruler should not be surprising, for as J. P. Tanner has pointed out: “A sudden leap forward in time from Dan 11:35 to 11:36 is consistent with other leaps in time throughout the chapter (e.g., 11:2–3)” (“Daniel’s ‘King of the North’: Do We Owe Russia an Apology?” JETS 35 [1992]: 317). . . . Daniel previously had described this person (chaps. 7 and 9) and expected the reader to recognize him without an introduction. He is none other than the “little horn” of Dan 7 and “the ruler who will come” of Dan 9:26. He is known in the New Testament as “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:3–12), the “antichrist” (1 John 2:18), and the “beast” (Rev 11–20). Interpreting this passage to foretell Antichrist has been a widely accepted view since ancient times (e.g., Chrysostom, Jerome, Theodoret), and Young rightly calls this “the traditional interpretation in the Christian Church.”85 Almost sixteen hundred years ago Jerome declared: “Those of our persuasion believe all these things are spoken prophetically of the Antichrist who is to arise in the end time.”86 Today the majority of both amillennial (e.g., Young) and premillennial (e.g., Archer) scholars interpret this king to be Antichrist.87 In reality a description of Antichrist should not be considered surprising in a context with Antiochus IV, for both of these oppressors of God’s people have previously been given a prominent place in Daniel’s prophecies (cf. chaps. 7–9). Thus Gabriel had now ceased to speak of Antiochus and had begun to describe the one he closely resembled (or typified), the eschatological Antichrist.

    Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 304–306.

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  53. Tom, I haven’t read all your recent comments yet, but I’m working through them. I have a request: when you say that certain books (Sirach, Tobit, etc) make references to Daniel, please cite the actual passages, not references to other scholars’ books. It may be that other scholars are claiming these things, but they have to get the information from some primary source. What is that primary source?

    And if you could provide that kind of information, then you probably wouldn’t have to paste in such long sections from these other articles. Let’s just get down to the pertinent info, you know?

    I’d ask the same for the claim that Belshazzar was probably the daughter of Nitocris, who was probably the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. I’ve seen that claim before, but I’ve never seen any concrete evidence for it. There seems to be much disagreement over who her son was (since no source I know of uses the names Nabonidus or Belshazzar), who her husband was, and who her father was. What’s a solid primary source that demonstrates the connection?

    Thanks

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  54. Btw, I still assume that many of these “strong links” between other books and Daniel are of the sort that we discussed earlier — similar word usage, etc. These aren’t necessarily connected to Daniel in any way as Travis or Peter pointed out earlier. And if there is a connection, there’s no guarantee which way it runs. So again, any actual quotes you can provide from those primary sources would be appreciated.

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  55. Tom, your last two comments are just rehashes of things we’ve already talked about. And this one is just a repackage of something we’ve already discussed:

    What is more, Ezekiel is mentioned (Ecclesiasticus 49:8-9), and Ezekiel mentions Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3), so Ecclesiasticus supports the existence of Daniel.

    This does not make Ecclesiasticus another source that refers to Daniel. It still just points to Ezekiel, and you already know that the rest of us don’t think Ezekiel was talking about Daniel.

    You also said (or maybe it was a quote from another source):

    However, these passages, which anti-supernaturalists claim are in reference to Antiochus, actually concern the future Antichrist; Antiochus Ephiphanes did not fulfill these passages because they did not deal with him.

    But how can you demonstrate this? The “king of the north” and “king of the south” language doesn’t change. It’s one thing to claim that it suddenly shifts to the “Antichrist,” but the text doesn’t make this claim. And within Christianity, there are many views on what this points to. The fact is, Christians only claim that the focus shifts because Antiochus Epiphanes didn’t do these things. As we’ve said before, this is evidence that we’ve finally reached the point where “Daniel” is actually prophesying.

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  56. As a point of interest, I’ve just spent some time going down a few rabbit holes concerning Nitocris of Babylon (not to be confused with Nitocris of Egypt). As mentioned earlier, Christians sometimes claim that she was Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter, and that she married Nabonidus, making Belshazzar her son. Does anyone know where this information comes from?

    I know that the only mention of Nitocris is from Herodotus’s Histories Book 1, sections 185-188. But Herodotus never mentions Nebuchadnezzar. He says that Nitocris was an important queen of Babylon, and that she was married to Labynetos (sec 188), and that they had a son also named Labynetos. Herodotus goes on to say that Cyrus was marching against her son, and this is what leads people to think that the older Labynetos must have been Nabonidus and the younger Labynetos must have been Belshazzar. Maybe that’s the case.

    The problem I’m having is that I haven’t found any source that ties Nebuchadnezzar to this Nitocris, and I’m not sure there is one. I ran across a book called Warrior Women: the Anonymous Tractatus De Mulieribus, by Deborah Levine Gera, and beginning with page 106 she talks about Nitocris of Babylon. In her introduction (p. 106), she says this:

    It is virtually impossible to identify the Halicarnassian’s Babylonian queen with any one historical person. While some commentators suggest that Nitocris is an imaginary figure, others put forward a whole series of candidates for the real-life personage whom the queen is meant to be.

    She goes on to compare Nitocris to several other queens from that time looking for possible matches. Anyway, it gives me the impression that Herodotus is the only source we have for this Nitocris, so I’m not sure where the connection to Nebuchadnezzar comes from.

    The one source I’ve seen referenced when people make this claim is Nabonidus and Belshazzar by Raymond Philip Dougherty, published in 1929. But I haven’t seen a direct quote, so I’m not sure what his book might say. Luckily, I’ve found that a local university library has a copy, so I’m going to run by there tomorrow to see if I can read the referenced pages for myself. I’ll follow up with any information I run across.

    And again, if anyone else knows anything on where this claim comes from, I’d love to hear about it.

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  57. I know the length of this thread is getting out of hand, but I also ran across this conversation about the Wikipedia page on Belshazzar that I found absolutely fascinating. The two main guys going back and forth obviously know quite a bit about the topic. Figured some of you might find it interesting as well:
    http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Talk:Belshazzar

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  58. Tom,
    I appreciate that you’ve already documented so much in your article, but it’s really hard to respond to the big blocks of text that you are pasting. It would really help if you just identify specific lines of evidence that you think need to be addressed. Ask questions, don’t just dump a bunch of text.

    Regarding the Letter to Aristeas:
    1) Please directly show me the error in my prior comment.
    2) Please explain why the use of the plural “books” implies more than the five books of the Pentateuch.
    3) Please explain how “the translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 and Isaiah 30:4 in the LXX presupposes the existence of the book of Daniel”.

    When you say that “Demetrius . . . had already . . . drawn up . . . [a] chronology” of the seventy-weeks prophecy in Daniel 9 “in the late third century B. C.”, are you referring to the following quote from Clement’s Stromata Book 1?

    Demetrius, in his book, On the Kings in Judaea, says that the tribes of Juda, Benjamin, and Levi were not taken captive by Sennacherim; but that there were from this captivity to the last, which Nabuchodonosor made out of Jerusalem, a hundred and twenty-eight years and six months; and from the time that the ten tribes were carried captive from Samaria till Ptolemy the Fourth, were five hundred and seventy-three years, nine months; and from the time that the captivity from Jerusalem took place, three hundred and thirty-eight years and three months.

    If this is your source, please explain how this relates to Daniel 9. If it is not, please provide the correct source.

    When you say that “Ecclesiasticus clearly refers to Daniel and contains a prayer that the prophecies of Daniel would be fulfilled soon”, you referring to Sirach 36:6-7 and 14-15:

    [6] Rouse thy anger and pour out thy wrath; destroy the adversary and wipe out the enemy. [7] Hasten the day, and remember the appointed time, and let people recount thy mighty deeds. … [14] Bear witness to those whom thou didst create in the beginning, and fulfil the prophecies spoken in thy name. [15] Reward those who wait for thee, and let thy prophets be found trustworthy.

    Please explain why this is a “clear reference” to Daniel.

    Regarding Tobit, it does not say that the prophets of Israel predicted times and seasons – that is the language used by Tobit himself in his prophecy. The reference to the prophets is only with regard to the rebuilding of the temple, for which there is substantial precedent outside of Daniel. Even so, there is a linguistic similarity. Please explain why the direction of borrowing is from Daniel to Tobit and not from Tobit to Daniel.

    As an aside, it’s interesting that you believe Tobit to have not been written during the time it claims, which would predate Daniel. I guess you accept that there is precedent for Jews producing pseudoepigraphical works that are designed to appear as if a known event had been prophecied?

    Regarding 1 Maccabees, we have already acknowledged that there is very likely to have been a pre-Maccabean tradition regarding Daniel which is the source for the historical narratives. As I understand, this is the majority position of “anti-supernaturalist” scholars. Let’s stick to the prophecies. No need to beat a dead horse.

    Finally, we’re probably just going to have to agree to disagree on the discontinuity at the end of Chapter 11. When you say “Exegetical necessity requires that 11:36–45 be applied to someone other than Antiochus IV”, what I hear is “the Bible is inerrant and the end times haven’t occurred yet, so there’s no possible way that 11:36-45 was meant to refer to the Antiochus IV or even the Seleucid empire”. There’s no way to argue past that brick wall, so I’m not going to try.

    That’s all I can muster for now. This is consuming way too much time and I apologize if I can’t respond to everything or in a timely manner.

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  59. The Daniel story highlights one of the problematic aspects of the Bible stories. In Daniel you find non Israelites like Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging YHWH as the ‘true God’. But if Nebuchadnezzar really did this why did they not decide to become Jews or at the very least change their religion?

    The idea that non Hebrews acknowledged the Hebrew god as the one true god comes up again and again in the bible but is hardly credible when one thinks about it.

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  60. Dear Nate, Peter, etc.,

    Thank you for taking the time to interact on the blog here. I appreciate your attempts to provide substantive comments, even if, at times, I must strongly dissent from them.

    A few general comments. I am sorry if I do not get to everything, which I simply am not going to do.

    1.) In relation to Ezekiel’s reference to Daniel, I had noted:

    Ezek. 14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

    Ezek. 14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

    Ezek. 28:3 Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:

    Ezekiel refers to Daniel’s great wisdom (28:3), even as the Book of Daniel indicates that “God gave . . . Daniel . . .wisdom” (Daniel 1:17), and the book of Daniel clearly evidences Daniel’s righteousness (cf. 6:16, 20; 12:2-3, 13). The evidence is clear: Ezekiel, in the sixth century B. C., could hardly refer to Daniel as the real person described in the book of Daniel were he a fiction invented centuries later. The book of Ezekiel authenticates the legitimacy of Daniel and his Biblical book.

    The question was asked why Ezekiel would refer to a contemporary, Daniel, while Noah and Job lived a long time in the past. Ezekiel wanted the rebellious Jews to recognize that they had no hope as long as they continued in their sin. Listing a contemporary, Daniel, was very important, because the Jews doubtless received consolation from Daniel’s position in the Babylonian court. They could see this as (it was in fact) God’s mercy to them, and conclude (as they should not) that they would therefore be spared in Canaan. They knew Daniel did indeed intercede for his nation (as can be seen in the book of Daniel) and knew that Daniel had received remarkable answers to prayer, such as the vision of Daniel 2. Therefore, Ezekiel’s telling them that the righteous and wise Daniel’s intercession would not deliver them fits perfectly in the context.

    In contrast, the atheist/non-supernaturalist view simply cannot allow Ezekiel to refer to Daniel as a contemporary, and, therefore, concludes that, right in between Noah and Job, Ezekiel put a worshipper of Baal. This worshipper of Baal is never referred to as either righteous or wise in any extant MS of the Legend of Aqhat–on the contrary, Aqhat wanted a son so that when he was too drunk to get home his son could lead him by the hand. This drunken Baal worshipper was put by the zealous monotheist Jehovah-worshipper, Ezekiel, right in between Noah and Job as an example of righteousness and wisdom.

    I can think of few things more absurd than this non-supernaturalist view.

    2.) In relation to the other quotations that Nate asked about, unfortunately I don’t have time to review everything again right at this moment. I appreciate that Nate/ Travis care enough about the question to ask and to check things out–that is good. Based on comments above about the length of the thread, I trust they can understand that I have other projects right now that I have to work on first. Furthermore, if one is willing to say that the Jehovah-worshipping monotheist Ezekiel did not refer to Daniel but to a drunken Baal worshipper as an example of piety that would lead to deliverance from Jehovah, the fact that other writers quote the language of Daniel is not going to be convincing. For instance, Zechariah’s vision of the four horns assumes Daniel’s four empire vision to make any sense. If he is referring to Daniel, his vision makes perfect sense–otherwise, it does not. However, someone who will take the atheist view of Ezekiel’s quote will juts say, “Sure, Zechariah never intended to make any sense. He just put nonsense together” or something like that. This series of posts on Daniel was, sadly, willing to overlook the fact that the book of Daniel plainly and over and over again associates the Medes and Persians as one empire to ignore that fact and split them into two where it was convenient to make Greece, not Rome, the last empire and insert contradictions into Daniel. Someone who is willing to do this will not be convinced by later quotes and allusions to Daniel. If even Ezekiel’s quote is supposedly not clear, there is probably nothing that would be convincing in terms of literary analysis.

    3.) One thing that I did find interesting, though, was the concession (if I understood the comments above correctly) that parts of Daniel could predate the Maccabees. I appreciate this concession to the many facts that show an intimate knowledge of 6th century Babylon in Daniel, from knowledge of what the palace walls were made of, to an accurate record that people with names like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were actually high officials at the time, to knowlege of borders extant in the 6th century but not in the 2nd, to knowledge that Daniel could only be made “third ruler” of the kingdom because of the Nabonidus-Belshazzar co-regency, etc. It is also very difficult to get out of Matthias referring to “Daniel[,] [who] for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions” and Matthias challenging his sons to follow the example set by Daniel’s three Hebrew friends, who “because of their faith were saved from fire” when Matthias died before 165 B. C. Admitting that at least parts of Daniel predate 165 is more honest than coming up with a tortured and contrived explanation for the evidence in this paragraph.

    However, this concession gives away more than an atheist can give away, at least if he wants to claim that his position is not based on blind faith. There is exactly zero manuscript evidence that Daniel was ever in parts, and consistent testimony from all MSS, including the very, very earliest, of an uncorrupted Daniel composed as a unity. The question was asked above what evidence of parts of Daniel tacked on would look like. I will compare it to the traditional ending of Mark 16:9-20 (a whole book study on this topic is here: http://faithsaves.net/bibliology/). A small number of MSS of Mark omit 16:9-20 (IMO, probably because the last page of a codex fell off). This omission exists in MS evidence, is discussed by patristic writers, etc. After the creation of this significant variant, the evidence for it did not disappear. The whole-sale combination of fragments about Daniel that predate 165 B. C. with post-165 B. C. material should, if it had ever happened, have evidence in the MS tradition or at least in some actual tangible source somewhere. INstead, there is not a whisper from anybody that this ever happened and not one jot or tittle of MS evidence for it. As noted at http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/:

    The text-type found in modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible is present in even these most ancient witnesses, and was considered authoritative even at that time.[35] The ancient Jewish Targums, Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures, are based upon a text that had “almost complete identity” with the modern printed editions of the Old Testament.[36] There is no justification whatever for the idea that the Hebrew text was edited at a later period so that the type of wholesale corruption required to create the prophecies of Daniel could have taken place;[37] on the contrary, the text has been preserved intact from the time of its original composition. The very earliest manuscript evidence confirms that the type of Hebrew text found in modern editions of the Bible has always been present in the majority of textual witnesses, and even the “earliest Qumran finds dating from the third pre-Christian century bear evidence . . . of a tradition of the exact copying of texts belonging to the Masoretic family,”[38] rather than, say, sloppy copying or deliberate scribal corruption of the text to make allegedly fake prophecies work out correctly. As a result, even secular, anti-supernaturalist scholars admit: “[I]t is not easy to provide convincing proof of . . . errors in M [the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Bible].”[39] . . . As the Bible as a whole has not been corrupted, similarly, the book of Daniel in particular has not been corrupted or changed. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the extremely early textual witnesses found at Qumran, the only Biblical books found in greater number than Daniel were most of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, and the book of Psalms.[43] The “Qumran manuscripts of Daniel follow the Massoretic text . . . [and] provide testimony to the faithfulness with which the biblical text was handed down over the centuries.”[44] “The Hebrew and Aramaic text of Daniel has been well preserved . . . [t]he Qumran fragments demonstrate the faithfulness with which the biblical text was preserved over the centuries.”[45] “The published fragments . . . of Daniel which date to pre-Christian times have substantially the same text as the traditional one preserved in the Hebrew (Masoretic) text from which all of our Bibles are translated. . . . We may have high confidence in the essential accuracy of the preserved text, both Hebrew and Aramaic, of the canonical book of Daniel.”[46] The text of Daniel has not been changed or corrupted—its plain prophecies were present in the book from the very time of its composition. The manuscript evidence supplies no outlet for anti-supernaturalist attempts to avoid the plain implications of Daniel’s prophecies.

    In fact, the Qumran evidence itself problematizes the 165 B. C. date:

    [A] date for Daniel in the 2nd cent. B. C. is absolutely precluded by the evidence from Qumrân[.] . . . the dating of Daniel can now be settled at least negatively as a result of MS [manuscript] discoveries from the Dead Sea caves from 1947 onwards. Fragments from 1Q, along with some complete scrolls of Daniel from other caves, have testified to the popularity of the work at Qumrân. A florilegium recovered from 4Q spoke, like Mt. 24:15, of “Daniel the prophet,” furnishing eloquent second-century B. C. testimony to the way in which the book was revered and cited as Scripture. Since all the Qumrân fragments and scrolls are copies, the autograph of Daniel and other OT canonical works must of necessity be advanced well before the Maccabean period if the proper minimum of time is allowed for the book to be circulated and accepted as Scripture . . . the autograph of Daniel also must be several centuries in advance of the Maccabean period. . . . It is now clear from the Qumrân MSS that no part of the OT canonical literature was composed later than the 4th cent. B. C. This means that Daniel must of necessity be assigned to some point in the Neo-Babylonian era (626–539 B. C.), or a somewhat later period. If, following Near Eastern annalistic practices, the events and visions were recorded shortly after their occurrence, the book may well have been written progressively over a lengthy period of time, being finally collated by Daniel in the closing phases of his life[.] . . . There can no longer be any possible reason for considering the book as a Maccabean product.[74]

    Even if one dissented from the argument in the paragraph above, at the very least the actual MSS evidence strongly undermines the idea of a partially pre-165 B. C. Daniel that was combined with later material.

    The position that the parts of Daniel that evidence superb knowledge of the 6th century were combined with later material is simply not tenable. An atheist who takes this view is not following evidence, but blind faith in dogmatic anti-supernaturalist presuppositions.

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  61. I also wanted to clarify something important concerning the concept of the burden of proof. Whoever is making a positive argument has the burden of proof. Thus, for example, when I argue that Ezekiel refers to Daniel, I have the burden of proof. A reasonable alternative explanation, if there is one, negates this as evidence for a 6th century Daniel. (An absurd alternative explanation does not, which the Aqhat argument is. I recognize you disagree.)

    In Daniel 11:36-45, the atheist has the burden of proof. A Christian does not need to prove anything in Daniel 11:36-45. He simply needs to show that there is a reasonable, non-contradictory explanation consistent with inerrancy. While I think the Christian can do more than this, he does not have to do anything more to defend his position. Those who wish to prove errancy must show that there is no possibility of any reasonable non-contradictory explanation. This cannot be done in this passage. Therefore, Dan 11:36-45 does not prove the errancy of Daniel.

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  62. Finally, if any reader/writer on this blog or a similar skeptical website has a radio broadcast, college campus work, etc., and you live in southeastern Wisconsin so I can meet or reach you and your fellow skeptics without travelling too far, I would definitely strongly consider discussing this in a debate or question-answer format as long as the format does not stack the deck against me. You could send me an e-mail here:

    http://faithsaves.net/contact-us/

    if that is something you would want to do.

    Thanks again for the discussion. I trust that it has been profitable.

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  63. By the way, this series of posts regularly refers to those who believe what the overwhelming majority of Christians have believed for the overwhelming majority of church history–namely, in inerrancy–as “extreme Bible believers.” They are never called “scholars”–that word is reserved for skeptics. Let me just include a few details about one of these “extreme Bible believers” who wrote on Daniel, Robert Dick Wilson. Dr. Wilson completed his undergraduate work at Princeton at the age of twenty. After studying at Western Theological Seminary and the University of Berlin, he proceeded to earn his Ph. D. from Princeton University. He then engaged in post-doctoral studies at the University of Berlin. He also received a D. D. from Lafayette College and an LL. D. from Wooster College. He became Professor of Semitic Philology and Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary before moving to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he taught for nearly three decades. He spent his final years teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary. He mastered Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and many other languages—a total of 26 in all. At the age of 25, he undertook the following program of study:

    I decided that I would give my life . . . [to] the Old Testament. . . . I felt I might reasonably live till I was 70, so I divided my life into periods of 15 years. I gave myself the first 15 years to study languages . . . I would learn all the Semitic languages, every language which threw light on the vocabulary or the syntax of the Old Testament. Of course, I did already know Syriac, and Aramaic, and Hebrew, but there was Ethiopic and Phoenician and Babylonian, and Assyrian, and a number of others—about twelve different Aramaic dialects. Secondly, I would learn all languages that threw light on the history of the Old Testament, taking in Egyptian, Coptic, and others. Then, thirdly, I would learn all languages that threw light on the text of the Old Testament, down to the year 600 after Christ . . . that took me into Armenian and several other languages, Gothic, and Anglo-Saxon, etc. . . . The second part of my life I would devote to . . . studying the text of the Old Testament, the comparison of the Hebrew text with the Versions, Greek, Latin, Syriac, especially, and all the versions down to 600. . . . The last 15 years, after which I had acquianted myself with all the machinery, I would tackle the subject which is called the [anti-supernaturalist] Higher Criticism of the Old Testament, including all that the critics have said, and so be able by that time to defend the history, the veracity of the Old Testament.[173]

    After many years of the highest level of scholarly research, what was Dr. Wilson’s conclusion?

    “The evidence in our possession has convinced me that . . . the OT in Hebrew [is] . . . immediately inspired by God . . . [and] by his singular care and providence [has] been kept pure in all ages . . . no one . . . [can] show that the Old Testament . . . is not true.”[174] “I can tell you . . . with the fullest assurance that ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so.’”[175]

    I trust that someone such as Dr. Wilson, whose two volume defense of Daniel is available for free at http://faithsaves.net/gods-word/, qualifies as a scholar and just perhaps deserves some credit for intellectual rigor, something that is never even once in this entire series ascribed to these terrible and ignorant “extreme Bible-believers.”

    Thanks again.

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  64. Regarding the burden of proof and such, the bible makes big claims it cannot prove, instead relying on those “said so’s” and threats of eternal punishments if you dont believe those claims of men. I don’t necessarily fault it for that alone, but again, when there’s a supernatural claim that can also be explained with a natural explanation, which one really seems more plausible?

    Everything in life so far that has been confirmed has been shown to be natural and not super-natural – even reversing some old notions to the contrary (lightning, typhoons, earthquakes, etc)

    And then Daniel, as well as much of the rest of the bible, and certainly the vast majority of its prophecies, are anything but precise, specific or clear, which leads to a number of varied events being potential “fulfillments.” if several different events can all claim “fulfillment” and be on equal footing, was it really a great prophecy?

    UnkleE mentioned Ezekiel’s Tyre prophecy being 3/4 fulfilled. Even if we ignore the fact that that means 1/4 is just wrong, the parts that were fulfilled weren’t extremely precise. So Nebuchadnezzar could have taken Tyre, Alexander could have taken Tyre or anyone in between or yet to come, and all would have equal ability to claim, “fulfillment.”

    No specific dates. No specific means. No specific characters.

    God could have done that as well as written everything in stone, or found some other way of preserving the original documents, so that there would be no argument over whether there were copiest errors, alteration, or publish date. He didnt, so we look now at these events.

    And with Daniel, what do 70 weeks mean? Daniel lists The Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks, yet Christians maintain that the unnamed “Rome” is the 4th kingdom because :it fits so well.” It doesnt. the only reason they say that is because Jesus was born during Roman Control, and none of the others.

    I am not even arguing over who’s right or wrong here, but just trying to point out that there are legitimate concerns with Daniel if we’re being honest. Maybe some can resolve them enough to go on with it, but they surely could see why others would have issue with it.

    I mean, you make a fair argument fore Ezekiel mentioning Daniel of the Book Daniel, but keep in mind Ezekiel uses a questionable spelling which so happens to match a character of another time which more closely aligns with the other blokes mentioned, and then also considering the questionable things in the Book Daniel too, and suddenly the skepticism doesn’t seem so off.

    And there are a lot of writings and a lot of claims about your god and all the others. I am certain you would agree that most everything, especially outside of the Bible, is not actually inspired by deity. So this would mean that it is not only possible, but also prominent, that mistakes, delusions, lies and misunderstandings about the divine are peddled and well rooted in circulation. So just considering that alone, one should at least understand why others are skeptical of the bible. And then when looking at the bible, and seeing claims written by men, which have no proof, and say stuff like, “miracles happened back then but not now,” it should be no surprise than many dont find it convincing.

    anyhow, just some thoughts.

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  65. Tom,

    just one more thought, and that’s all it is, but Robert Dick Wilson seemingly planed out his entire life to Validate the OT.

    The man was bright, driven, and ended up very educated. I am genuinely impressed.

    But the thought is, if he dove so in-depth to the OT to reach his final expert opinion, what’s he comparing it to? Did he delve that deeply into the other religions with the intention of also proving them right?

    It’s not exactly the same, but say an aspiring chef grew up thinking that omelets were the best food there was. So he studied all aspects of the egg, and cheese and all other additives, as well a temperature and so on. He might taste another food once in awhile, but primarily, he was convinced that omelets were superior and spent most of his time eating that and entirely all of his study time researching and perfecting the omelet. after 30 years of omelet devotion, he concluded in his expert opinion that the omelet was indeed the best food ever, just as he had set out to prove.

    At his press release, a journalist asked, “So, you think omelets are better than steak and fully loaded mashed potatoes?”

    The omelet chef replied, “since I have never tasted steak and mashed potatoes, and have an expert knowledge on omelets, I can say will all assurance, that indeed, omelets are better.”

    again, I realize it’s not a perfect comparison, but just another thought.

    I’ve opened the link you provided and will read it over,

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  66. Dear William,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Obviously Dr. Wilson had only one life to spend, and he spent it on the OT. I’m sure he knew a lot more about it than about, say, American Indian tribal religions.

    The point, though, is did he try to cover up and did he avoid dealing with objections to the OT, or did he examine them squarely and face them head on? The latter is the case. In his book, Is the Higher Criticism Scholarly? he wrote, “I have seen the day when I set out on some Bible research with fear and trembling – wondering what I should discover – but now all that fear has passed.” The objections failed to disprove the OT–at least to his very, very well-informed mind. (quote from: http://web.ccbce.com/recordings/correspondence-and-reused-classes/reused/intern-study/documents/the-incomparable-wilson)

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  67. Tom,

    very true. and I certainly don’t intend to criticize the man. I truly am impressed with him and have only now begun to read his book.

    But there is still a difference in proving that objections fail to prove, and in proving that the OT is actually inspired by God.

    But Dr Wilson certain knows more about it all than me, but even so, there are things I still cannot get around. This isn’t at all absurd or even uncommon, as there are other scholars with differing views and we also even doubt a doctor’s advise or diagnosis from time to time, even though they’re the ones who went through medical school.

    I guess my point basically went without saying as it was a pretty obvious point. So it wasnt a critique, just a thought.

    That said, was thought stupid or did it make any sense?

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  68. Dear William,

    Yes, you are, of course, correct that simply showing the OT is non-contradictory does not of itself prove it is true. The phone book can also be non-contradictory, but it is not the Word of God. Dr. Wilson and many others also thought that there was positive evidence for his faith (such as, to stick to the point of this thread, the prophecies in Daniel).

    In relation to your statement that Christians only believe that Rome is the 4th empire because it makes things work out, that simply is not the case. There is no evidence of any pre-A D. 70 interpretation of Daniel that did NOT make Rome the 4th empire, and while inadequate chronological information prevented precise dating of the start of the prophecy, people also were expecting the coming of the Messiah in the 1st century based on the prophecy of Daniel 9. This was what pre-Christian Jews thought because it is the natural interpretation of the text–making Greece the last empire requires serious distortion of Daniel, which clearly teaches that the Medes and Persians are one empire, not two. From pgs. 61ff. of http://faithsaves.net/daniel-proof-bible/:

    Furthermore, every system of interpretation of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy prior to A. D. 70—Hellenistic, Essene, Pharisaic, and all others—viewed the weeks as a literal period of 490 years.[161] What is more, those living in the first century expected the fulfillment of the prediction of Daniel nine in their time.[162] The Talmud continued the earlier Jewish view that the Messiah would come during the time of Daniel’s fourth empire, Rome: “The son of David will come . . . when the evil kingdom of Rome will overspread the entire world. . . . [and the] son of David will come . . . when the monarchy [of Rome] will spread over Israel.”[163] It recognizes that Daniel “contains the time of the Messiah”[164] in his prediction in chapter nine. Every ancient interpretation of Daniel 9’s prophecy, whether Zealot, “Essene, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, and early Christian . . . aim[ed] at precision . . . trying to achieve exactness,” with “many Jewish and Christian interpretations” believing that the prophecy would be fulfilled around the time that the Lord Jesus actually fulfilled it, even if “inadequate chronological information” prevented them from determining every detail perfectly. What is more, the Jews living in the Maccabean period “did not regard [Daniel 9] as a fulfilled prophecy” pertaining to their own time “but as one yet to be fulfilled . . . relate[d] to . . . the Davidic Messiah.”[165] Thus:

    There is strong evidence to show that the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Zealots all thought that they could date . . . the time when the Son of David would come, and that in each case their calculations were based upon Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks (Dan. 9:24-27), understood as 70 weeks of yaers. The later attempts of the Christian Fathers to show that this prophecy was fulfiled by the coming of Christ, and accord with the time at which He came, had therefore a considerable tradition behind them.[166]

    Many first century Jews likewise recognized the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans, the people of the fourth world empire of Daniel, was a fulfillment of Daniel 9:26: “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” As the Romans surrounded Jerusalem before its fall in A. D. 70, the bitter lament arose: “[W]ho is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them,—and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city[?] . . . It is God therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions.”[167] Jerusalem and its temple was only “destroyed”[168] twice in its history—at the time of the original exile in 586 B. C. and in A. D. 70. Nothing like this happened in the Maccabean era. Thus, one has two options when approaching the prophecy of Daniel 9. Out of an unshakeable and blind faith in absolute naturalism and the impossibility of miracles, one can allegorize the passage, conclude that the prophecy has no clear starting date, no clear ending date, no clear reference to any particular person, and, indeed, no significant meaning at all. Alternatively, one can take the passage literally, in which case its timeline begins at an actual decree issued in 444 B. C. and continues to the actual year and even the actual day that the Lord Jesus presented Himself as the Messiah in Jerusalem in A. D. 33, as well as the Messiah’s substitutionary death shortly afterwards, followed by the predicted destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A. D. 70. That the latter is the correct option is obvious. Daniel 9 constitutes a clear and astonishingly specific instance of genuine predictive prophecy that even the anti-supernaturalist Maccabean dating system for the book cannot explain away.

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  69. Also, Nate (I think)! please see:

    E. W. Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1848], 234-235 & E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford, with Copious Notes [Oxford: John Henry and James Parker, 1864], 362, both of which are here: http://faithsaves.net/gods-word/ for why Deut 32:8, LXX, requires the existence of Daniel.

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  70. Well Tom,

    that surprises me in one way and doesn’t in another.

    Daniel is a fun book, but it’s not clear. And there are problems with any interpretation.

    I mean, Antiochus Epiphanes certainly set up abominations and gave the jews his best go. and I have a hard time seeing how anything lines well with Daniel 2 or 7 perfectly.

    and seven sevens and sixty-two sevens? it could mean lots of things and none seem to line up perfectly with Jesus, do they? You have to cut here, trim there and look at it just right before it’s close enough.

    Rome isn’t mentioned while Daniel spends a good bit of time talking about Alexander and the kings that split from him, while still not mentioning Rome.

    So, I guess right now we just disagree?

    and I’m still in the introduction of the book you linked.

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  71. Hi Tom,

    I haven’t made it through everything yet, so I’m just going to focus this comment on one thing: Ezekiel’s reference to Daniel.

    I ran across an article that I think you should check out, because it covers the argument you’re making in much greater detail than I could do justice to here. The article’s called ”
    The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel and the Hero of the Book of Daniel,” by John Day. It ran in the magazine Vetus Testamentum back in 1980. Here’s a link (you’ll need a JSTOR login to read it all — should be free):
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/1517522?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    In a nutshell, one of his points that stood out the most to me concerns the claim that the Ugaritic Danel worshipped Ba’al. He pointed out that the Ugaritic text makes a distinction between Ba’al and El — and while the text certainly talks about Ba’al, it actually says Danel worshipped El. That’s extremely significant, since, as you probably know, El is the same god that was worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc (p. 176-178). This illustrates how easily someone in Ezekiel’s time could have viewed Danel as just another patriarch.

    Day also stresses that the text represents Danel as a just judge, which fits in with the OT notions of wisdom (p. 176).

    Day also refers to Ezekiel 14:13-20, where God supposedly tells Ezekiel that when he delivers judgment upon a land, even men as righteous as Noah, Danel, and Job wouldn’t be righteous enough to deliver their families out of the judgment — only themselves. Day says that if we think back to the stories of Noah and Job, we can see an obvious parallel to what Ezekiel is saying. Both stories have each man’s children playing an important part. Noah’s family is saved through the ark because of Noah’s righteousness. Job’s children aren’t saved, despite his righteousness, though he’s later “rewarded” with replacements. The biblical Daniel has no parallel in that he apparently never had children. Ugaritic Danel did, however. El blessed him with a son because of his righteousness. And while that son later dies, the implication is that the story would go on to bring him back in some way (we don’t have the ending). But even if it didn’t bring him back, the parallel remains.

    Incidentally, Day thinks that by the time Ezekiel wrote all this, he probably wasn’t familiar with this specific Ugaritic text anyway. They’re separated from each other by 800 years, and he thinks it very likely that Ezekiel knew of Danel through tradition. What exact elements of the story he may or may not have known and how much of it may have changed over time is impossible to say.

    I think what this brings us down to is this:

    — You aren’t going to be convinced that Ezekiel’s reference refers to the Ugaritic Danel.

    — We aren’t going to be convinced that it refers to the biblical Daniel.

    The fact is, there are other reasons that lead each of us to our conclusions about when and by whom Daniel was written. Do you agree that this particular argument is one we can put behind us?

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  72. Dear Nate,

    Thanks for the links. I have ILLed:

    Dresller, “The Identification of the Ugaritic Dnil with the Daniel of Ezekiel,” Vetus Testamentum 29 (1979) 159ff.

    J. Day, “The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel,” VT 1980 174-184

    Reading and Interpreting the Aqht Text: A Rejoinder to Drs. J. Day and B. Margalit,” Vetus Testamentum 34 (1984) 22ff.

    and intend to read them when they arrive, Lord willing. Dressler is anti and Day is pro.

    I would suggest that the main reason I believe Ezekiel refers to Daniel is that it is the obvious reference. Certainly if we have “other reasons” such as presuppositions that do not allow for such an identification we must come up with something else.

    In Pusey’s Daniel the Prophet (http://faithsaves.net/pusey-daniel/), written before the discovery of the Legend of Aqhat, he deals with the skeptics of his day who said that the Daniel between Noah and Job was not Daniel, although there was no evidence for this view at all in his day. Evidence or no, Ezekiel must not be allowed to refer to Daniel.

    Thanks for the article.

    You are incorrect that Abraham, etc. worshipped the Canaanite god El. One of the words for the God of the Bible in Hebrew is the Hebrew word El, as is Eloheim, El Shaddai, etc. It is simply (one of the) words for “God.” The Canaanites had a deity that they called “god/El” at times, just like the Greeks sometimes called Zeus “god/Theos (Gk.).” That does not prove at all that the New Testament is referring to Zeus when it employs the word Theos/God for the Biblical God.

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  73. Here is the New American Commentary on the question. I’m fine after this with not continuing on this line of argument, though.

    DANIEL AND THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL. Ezekiel, the sixth-century prophet, alluded to Daniel three times in his book (14:14, 20; 28:3), and these references would appear to be conclusive evidence for the traditional view. Since the discoveries at Ras Shamra, however, scholars who accept the late date have attempted to explain these passages by declaring that Ezekiel was referring to a mythological figure named Danel who appears in the Ugaritic epic “The Tale of Aqhat.”101
    A devastating argument against the theory that Ezekiel’s Daniel is the Ugaritic hero Danel is the context of the Ezekiel prophecy (and indeed the whole Book of Ezekiel). Idolatry was rampant in Judah in Ezekiel’s day, and this sin was bringing Yahweh’s judgment upon the nation. Ezekiel condemned this evil throughout his book and issued a particularly stinging rebuke against idolatry in 14:1–13. In this passage he contrasted the faithfulness of Noah, Daniel, and Job with the unfaithfulness of his audience. What is astounding is that the Danel of Ugaritic mythology was an idolater! Danel’s god was not Yahweh but the gods Baal, El, and the murderous Anath. To suggest that Ezekiel would select an idolater as an example to Jewish idolaters to forsake idolatry seems incomprehensible. H. Dressler asks: “Is it conceivable that the same prophet would choose a Phoenician-Canaanite devotee of Baal as his outstanding example of righteousness? Within the context of Ezekiel this seems to be a preposterous suggestion.”102 In a subsequent article Dressler adds: “We must choose between an idolatrous Baal-devotee and a wise and righteous contemporary as candidates for Ezekiel’s man of exemplary righteousness.… I still find the hero of the book of Daniel not only more attractive but also decidedly more convincing.”103 If the sixth-century prophet Ezekiel was alluding to the hero of the Book of Daniel, the historicity at least of the events of the Book of Daniel would seem to be established. Such seems to be the case.
    Some scholars argue that the Daniels of the two books (Ezekiel and Daniel) are different individuals because of a slight variation in the spelling of the names.104 In Ezekiel the name is spelled Dāniʾēl and in Daniel Dānîyēʾl. Yet variations in spelling are rampant in the Old Testament. J. Barr relates that variable spellings occur throughout “the entire Hebrew Bible” and declares that “there are many thousands of cases in the biblical text.”105 J. Day holds that the references in Ezekiel are to the Ugaritic Danel but acknowledges that “there are no linguistic objections to the equation of the Daniel of Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and the hero of the book of Daniel. Ezekiel simply spells the name without the vowel yodh.”106
    Attempts have also been made to equate Ezekiel’s Daniel with the Ugaritic Danel on the basis of the spelling of the name in the Book of Ezekiel and the Aqhat tale.107 Yet J. Day (citing E. Lipinski’s data108) acknowledges “that the masoretic pointing and the Greek transcription Δανιηλ [Daniēl] show that the West Semitic name was vocalized Daniel, not Danel, and that the name Da-ni-el is already attested at Mari in the 18th century B.C. (Contrast Babylonian Da-ni-li).”109 This means that the name in Ezekiel was pronounced “Daniel,” not “Danel,” and therefore agrees with the pronunciation in the Book of Daniel.
    Pfeiffer contends that it would be remarkable for Ezekiel to have mentioned a young contemporary along with the ancient worthies Noah and Job.110 Yet Ezekiel’s ministry did not begin until about 593 B.C. (cf. Ezek 1:2), over twelve years after Daniel’s deportation. According to the Book of Daniel, the prophet became an official in the Babylonian court and interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream with the subsequent promotion to the office of chief counselor to the king very early in his career (cf. Dan 1–2). Daniel had ample time to build his reputation, especially considering the spectacular things he did. It also would seem natural for Ezekiel to cite an outstanding contemporary like Daniel (in addition to the ancient heroes Noah and Job) as an inspiration to faithfulness for his fellow Jews.
    Ezekiel’s references to Daniel must be considered one of the strongest arguments for a sixth-century date. No satisfactory explanation exists for the use of the name Daniel by the prophet Ezekiel other than that he and Daniel were contemporaries and that Daniel had already gained notoriety throughout the Babylonian Empire by the time of Ezekiel’s ministry.

    101 Cf. B. Margalit, “Interpreting the Story of Aqht: A Reply to H. H. P. Dressler,” VT 30 (1980): 361. For an English translation see H. L. Ginsberg, “The Tale of Aqhat,” ANET, 149–55.
    102 H. H. P. Dressler, “The Identification of the Ugaritic Dnil with the Daniel of Ezekiel,” VT 29 (1979): 159. A Contrary view is taken in J. Day, “The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel and the Hero of the Book of Daniel,” VT 30 (1980): 174–84.
    103 Dressler, “Reading and Interpreting the Aqht Text: A Rejoinder to Drs. J. Day and B. Margalit,” VT 34 (1984): 82.
    104 E.g., J. J. Owens, “Daniel,” BBC (Nashville: Broadman, 1971), 374.
    105 Barr, Variable Spellings, 2; cf. also 19, 20, 23–25, 161, 167.
    106 Day, “The Daniel,” 181, n. 18.
    107 Cf. Owens, “Daniel,” 374.
    108 Lipinski, VT 28 (1978): 233. Lipinski’s data, presented in a review of A. Lacocque’s French edition of his commentary on Daniel, led Lacocque to change his view in the later English edition of his commentary (cf. Lacocque, Daniel, 3, n. 7).
    109 Day, “The Daniel,” 181–82, n. 18. See also Dressler’s discussion, “Identification of the Ugaritic Dnil,” 155–56.
    110 Pfeiffer, Introduction, 754.
    Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 41–43.

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  74. very true, but the use of El does prove that he wasnt known as a Ba’al worshiper…

    which then could discredit the objection about Ezekiel referring to Danel since Danel was Ba’al worshiper, right?

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  75. I have to go back and review the Legend and will read the sources Nate mentioned above. I have seen highly credible sources saying that he was a Baal worshipper, and nothing to the contrary stood out when I read the Legend before, but I will double check.

    I hope, Nate, that you have actually read the Legend, not just works about it. It isn’t that long if you haven’t.

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  76. “To suggest that Ezekiel would select an idolater as an example to Jewish idolaters to forsake idolatry seems incomprehensible.”

    maybe. and it’s a fair point.

    But to suggest that a God inspired Prophet was pen a misspelled name of a contemporary he places in between two well known and long dead Heroes also seems incomprehensible.

    and then Ezekiel didnt have google, so it’s hard to say what he had knowledge of or what he could verify. Did he have copies of the works on Danel, and did he think Danel worshiped El only or other gods too? Why would Ezekiel misspell Daniel and place him oddly in a list of legends?

    We just dont know for sure.

    What we do know and can prove has led to lots of disagreement, to the point where there are not only believers and non-believers, but where the believers do not even agree on what to believe regarding Daniel, his prophecies and the bible as whole.

    “70 week years, of course, so now we know Jesus.”

    it’s just not as clear as many would like to believe. It requires a lot of interpretation.

    I’ve almost given up on caring entirely. It seems sort of like arguing over the specifics of the Iliad and digging up scholarly works on Zues and Homer and Troy and Sparta etc – I just dont care enough or find it plausible enough to still dive into so deeply. Yet, my interest on the subject of the bible is there a bit higher still because of my clear recollections of being a devoted and undoubting believer for so long.

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  77. Dear William,

    Please read the comment from the New American Commentary above. It isn’t a misspelling, as is granted even by a variety of scholars of the skeptical variety.

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  78. I thought your copied text said that the names were pronounced the same while spelled differently.

    If I was mistaken, sorry. I’ll reread it.

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  79. yeah, I think I read it correctly.

    Above you had, “In Ezekiel the name is spelled Dāniʾēl and in Daniel Dānîyēʾl.” but then went on to say that variation sin spelling are common in the bible and that both spellings were pronounced the same.

    Was “Dani’el” the spelling used in the legend we’re talking about? If so, it’s still curious that Ezekiel used the spelling that the Book of Daniel didnt, while matching the spelling of another character was more contemporary with Noah and Job than Daniel of the Bible was.

    I mean, it at least is curious, no?

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  80. Dear William,

    I am not an expert in Ugaritic, but I believe both spellings would look exactly the same in a Ugaritic text.

    Since the article arguing for the Aqhat identification said that the the spelling argument is invalid (at least on my reading of the secondary source above–I haven’t gotten the ILLs yet as it takes a while for that to happen) it would seem like a good reason to think it is invalid.

    Also, I believe Aqhat worshipped multiple gods in the Legend, including Baal and El, but I still have to check it again.

    Thanks.

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  81. yeah, but it says it’s invalid because they’re pronounced the same.

    It appears as though the “what’s valid or not valid” remark is more opinion, as others share different ones. Scholars and non-scholars alike.

    The fact still remains is that Ezekiel and Daniel spell the name differently.

    Similar to Jon and John.

    Say you have a buddy named John and then make a comment about George Washington, Jon and Abraham Lincoln.

    would it be obvious to everyone that you mean your pal John, if there were a well known Jon that actually dates back closer to George and Abraham?

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  82. Tom, I noted that you disparaged a potential character for the ‘Daniel’ reference in Ezekiel by using the term drunken Baal worshipper’.

    I wonder have you read Genesis 9:20-28? Seems Noah was partial to drink and not in moderation.

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  83. I don’t really have anything else to say about the Daniel/Danel thing, so I’ll move on to another of your points, Tom. You state that there’s no evidence that the Book of Daniel might have had multiple authors, redactors, editors, etc. From what I’ve been able to tell, there’s debate about this in the scholarly community.

    As we’ve stated before, the Book of Daniel is written in two different languages, it doesn’t maintain a consistent voice throughout (first person, 3rd person, etc), and there’s content variance among the different versions. These reasons, along with some others, have led some scholars to think that whomever ultimately wrote what we think of today as The Book of Daniel had some prior stories (like Babylonian court tales) to work from. I’m going to try to track down few books that discuss this in more detail, but this Wikipedia page offers some interesting information, and it seems to be well-sourced:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Daniel#Composition

    But this is information you’re already familiar with. So what kind of evidence do you think should exist if this is how the book was put together? And do you have thoughts on why a single author would have written it in two different languages, why it would have gone from 3rd to 1st person, and why some versions of Daniel contain additional stories, etc?

    Thanks

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  84. Tom, etc…,
    Sorry I didn’t have a chance to join the party earlier today. Much of what I would say has already been covered but I may have a few worthwhile notes to add.

    Regarding Ezekiel’s Daniel, I was struck by Nate’s comment about Daniel being childless – this was a point I had never encountered before. So I decided to go back and re-read with the “sons and daughters” component in mind and discovered something new. Ezekiel 14:12-23 appears to be comparing the effect of God’s judgement on other nations with the effect of his judgment on Jerusalem. In that case v12 – 20 are effectively saying “If I send just one judgment onto another land, a person’s righteousness won’t save even their sons or daughters” and then v21 – 22 are effectively saying “but even when I send four judgments against Jerusalem, some sons and daughters are saved and they will repent”. So the point is to emphasize Israel’s chosen status (as in v11) and how God’s judgment on Jerusalem is a vehicle for purification and repentance rather than punishment. What’s interesting, then, is that Daniel would be included in the “other nations”. Noah and Job fit this as pre-Abrahamic characters. The thoroughly Jewish Daniel would be a very odd fit if this is in fact the intent of the passage.

    Zechariah’s vision of the four horns assumes Daniel’s four empire vision to make any sense

    Please explain why Zechariah knowing of Daniel is a better explanation than either (a) the four horns referring to all nations, just as the “four corners” or “four winds” refer to all lands in the other visions, or (b) the four horns referring to rulers and\or nations up to Zechariah’s time – such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia, or some combination of rulers therein. Please also explain how Zechariah’s visions are building on Daniel yet still culminate in the establishment of the new temple and God’s eternal kingdom through the work of Zerubbabel.

    There is no justification whatever for the idea that the Hebrew text was edited at a later period

    I concur with Nate’s response to this and will add a question – how do you explain that even after being around for 300+ years the Greek translation of Daniel deviated so much from the Masoretic? Are there any other 6th century “unified” texts that show the textual and translational variations that we see in Daniel?

    if the proper minimum of time is allowed for the book to be circulated and accepted as Scripture . . . the autograph of Daniel also must be several centuries in advance of the Maccabean period

    Oh, so then do you also think that the entire New Testament wasn’t circulated and accepted as scripture until the 3rd century? How long after the authorship of Luke do you think the author of 1 Timothy was writing when he referred to Luke as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you think Paul wrote 1 Timothy, which would then require no more than 10 years between the authorship of Luke and a reference to it as scripture in 1 Timothy.

    Those who wish to prove errancy must show that there is no possibility of any reasonable non-contradictory explanation.

    Correct me if I’m misreading, but I take this to mean that you think that inerrancy is the default position? So the fact that we agree that 99.9999% of written texts were produced by humans who make mistakes has no bearing on the prior probability for the errancy of biblical texts?

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  85. Earlier, someone stated that the burden of proof rested with the one who makes a positive statement. If that’s the case, wouldn’t the bible bear the burden of proof, since its authors claim to speak for God?

    Where’s the proof to substantiate their claims?

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  86. @william,
    That’s sort of the point of this whole exchange. I did my study of Daniel because I was looking for proof that any content in the Bible had a divine origin and this seemed like the best candidate. Tom and other apologists argue that the fulfillment of prophecy in Daniel is the proof to substantiate the claims that God has spoken through the author.

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  87. So, this new understanding of Ezekiel 14:12-23 is making a ton of sense to me. It seems clear to me now that the whole point of the passage is that even one instance of God’s judgment is thorough and devastating to a nation’s future, even if there are some who are righteous, but his judgment still preserves the sons and daughters of Jerusalem even through multiple instances because they are his chosen people and will come to repentance as a result. I can’t make sense of it any other way.

    With this in mind, it becomes clear that there is another problem with the identification of the biblical Daniel (aside from the fact that he is a Jew). v22 speaks of the sons and daughters who come from Jerusalem and escape the judgment – but Daniel is part of this group! Why would Daniel be named in the examples where the sons and daughters do not survive when he himself is one of the survivors of the judgment on Jerusalem?

    I was previously ambivalent on the identity of Daniel in Ezekiel, but I never really understand what that passage was trying to say. Everybody seemed to be focused on the fact that Noah, Daniel and Job were identified as righteous, but that completely misses the point. Now that the purpose of the text actually makes sense to me, it’s pretty clear that the biblical Daniel is a horrible fit.

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  88. Dear Nate,

    I’m still waiting on the library to get the JSTOR articles. My public library wouldn’t do it and now I’m waiting on my college library.

    In relation to various comments above, Dan’el in the Legend of Aqhat was not an El monotheist (a rare bird for sure), but a typical polytheist.

    I still haven’t heard from any of my friends here that they have actually read the Legend of Aqhat. Have any of you actually done that?

    Dear Peter,

    Yes, Noah got drunk, but it is plain in Genesis that the drunkenness was a bad thing and it was hardly the dominant characteristic of Noah’s life. In contrast, in the Legend of Aqhat drunkenness was fine, and the gods can give a son so that he can lead you home whenever you are blind drunk. Surely such a blind drunkard deserves to be placed alongside of Noah and Job as great intercessors before Jehovah, but a righteous and wise contemporary named Daniel, who actually did intercede for Israel, does not fit the description.

    Travis,

    I’m not going to have time to put in a detailed exposition of Zechariah here. You will have to look into it yourself. Zechariah never said that God’s eternal kingdom would come under Zerubbabel, though. That is crazy.

    Also, I must confess that saying that Daniel is a “horrible fit” in Ezekiel is fantastic. This looks like the topic is not merely intellectual here, but the will and emotions are involved in such a statement. Perhaps if Daniel is a horrible fit Noah isn’t the Biblical Noah either, but is the guy that started Noah’s bagels.

    To whoever made the comment earlier (I didn’t go back):

    Certainly some people want to argue that Daniel was a compilation of various sources. However, there is not a shred of external evidence for that claim. It must be taken on blind faith.

    Also, I hope that whoever asked why part of Daniel was in Aramaic and some in Hebrew actually had studied the subject well enough to know the rather obvious response that part of the book was written with a Gentile focus (the Aramaic chapters) and part with a Jewish focus (the Hebrew chapters). A sixth century Jew in a Gentile court, BTW, would know both languages very well.

    I still haven’t heard how Daniel knew the walls of the Babylonian palace were plastered, nor have I found the other Babylonian texts that supposedly also have names that look just like Daniel’s three friends, nor have I found out why the author of Daniel must be so incompetent that he must make the Medes and the Persians into one empire in some chapters but forget that he did it in others so that there is no predictive prophecy.

    Thanks for all the interaction. That’s all I have time for now.

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  89. Tom,
    If I am driven by an emotional desire to reject the clear and obvious true interpretation and instead adopt crazy interpretations of the texts, then why are you trusting me to look into it myself? Please, explain why Zechariah only makes sense if Daniel was already known.

    Regarding Ezekiel 14, please explain why Daniel is associated with nations whose descendants would not be spared by God’s wrath, which are then contrasted against the remnant from Jerusalem, the group to which the Daniel you seek belongs.

    Certainly some people want to argue that Daniel was a compilation of various sources. However, there is not a shred of external evidence for that claim. It must be taken on blind faith.

    This feels like you are ignoring Nate’s response. He gave you several lines of evidence. Twice. Can you identify any other 6th century texts that are preserved with the kinds of variation we see in Daniel? If that variation is not evidence of redaction, then what is it evidence of?

    I still haven’t heard how Daniel knew the walls of the Babylonian palace were plastered

    This comes from a portion of Daniel which is generally acknowledged to have roots in a pre-Maccabean tradition, so some historical knowledge may be present. And even if that detail wasn’t known, please explain why it is improbable for a writer to have identified plaster for the material of the palace walls. Was plaster rarely used? What other material might the author have identified that could have reasonably been etched?

    nor have I found the other Babylonian texts that supposedly also have names that look just like Daniel’s three friends

    I believe Nate has already shown that these are far from being clear references to the same people and, as above, if we accept that this portion comes from a pre-Maccabean tradition then Babylonian names may very well have derived from names that were known to the Jews who were exiled in Babylon.

    nor have I found out why the author of Daniel must be so incompetent that he must make the Medes and the Persians into one empire in some chapters but forget that he did it in others so that there is no predictive prophecy.

    Under our interpretation, chapter 8 combines Media and Persia into a single entity, whereas chapters 2 and 7 do not. This is a fair criticism, so let me offer some additional considerations:
    1) Chapter 8 is the only place where a Medo-Persian duality is made clear (longer second horn comes after the shorter first) – none of the other supposed references to the combined Medo-Persian empire make reference to this duality.
    2) The identification of Media as a separate kingdom prior to Persia in the other chapters does not preclude the knowledge that it was merged with the Persian empire.
    3) Under your interpretation, Rome is also excluded in chapter 8. Why is the exclusion of Rome not an equally troubling problem? Perhaps because chapter 8 is focused on Alexander’s defeat of the Medo-Persian empire and the subsequent rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, so it is not a surprise that it does not follow the pattern of chapters 2 and 7.
    4) The horns of the Medo-Persian ram are a parallel with the horns of the Alexandrian goat, such that they both represent distinct divisions of a larger kingdom. This parallelism would not be present if Media was excluded or identified as a separate animal.
    5) Chapter 8 is preserved in Hebrew, chapters 2 and 7 are in Aramaic. Perhaps this is a sign that the chapter 8 prophecy was written by a different hand than chapters 2 and 7.

    I don’t expect that you will find these to be convincing reasons for allowing chapter 8 to diverge from chapters 2 and 7, but I hope they can help you see why we may not think that the divergence is a compelling evidence for your interpretation.

    And finally, a wall of passages which support the claim that God’s eternal kingdom was expected to arise under Zerubbabel…


    Haggai 2:6-9 “Moreover, the Lord who rules over all says: ‘In just a little while I will once again shake the sky and the earth, the sea and the dry ground. I will also shake up all the nations, and they will offer their treasures; then I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord who rules over all. ‘The silver and gold will be mine,’ says the Lord who rules over all. ‘The future splendor of this temple will be greater than that of former times,’ the Lord who rules over all declares, ‘and in this place I will give peace.’”

    Haggai 2:21-23 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah: ‘I am ready to shake the sky and the earth. … On that day,’ says the Lord who rules over all, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord who rules over all.”

    Zechariah 3:8 “Listen now, Joshua the high priest, both you and your colleagues who are sitting before you, all of you are a symbol that I am about to introduce my servant, the Branch.”

    Zechariah 4:9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this temple, and his hands will complete it.”

    Zechariah 6:11-13 “Then take some silver and gold to make a crown and set it on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12 Then say to him, ‘The Lord who rules over all says, “Look – here is the man whose name is Branch, who will sprout up from his place and build the temple of the Lord. Indeed, he will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed in splendor, sitting as king on his throne. Moreover, there will be a priest with him on his throne and they will see eye to eye on everything.”

    Yeah, I know that Haggai isn’t the same as Zechariah but a lot of scholars think that they were part of the same text at one point. You’re welcome to interpret all this as referring to Jesus, but I think this demonstrates that it is quite sane to read this as an expectation that the completion of the temple under Zerubbabel would usher in God’s eternal kingdom.

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  90. Dear Travis,

    Thanks for the comment. One quick question: what are you talking about with the “kinds of variation we see in Daniel”? Are you talking about Hebrew/Aramaic texts of Daniel that show clear evidence of being put together later? I doubt it, since there isn’t anything like this, but the oldest MSS of Daniel are like the printed Masoretic text. Are you talking about the fact that the translator in the LXX didn’t do a good job (which is very different than saying that there is evidence of parts of the book being put together)? Why is not being a good translator evidence of the book being in two parts? I am not trying to ignore (twice) evidence Nate allegedly gave. I might have missed it (this is a long comment section, no?) but I have no idea what you are talking about.

    If there is real evidence Daniel was put together later from fragments, and this isn’t a blind faith position, then surely you can tell me which parts of the book are earlier and which are later, and give me real, substantial evidence for this “fact.” This would be important if we are acknowledging that parts of the book are clearly before the Maccabees if one wants to maintain the position that there are no predictive prophecies in the book. Please let me know what parts of Daniel are pre-165 B. C., and what your tangible evidence is for this claim.

    Thank you for admitting that combining the Medes and the Persians as a single empire–the view, as far as I can recall, of every ancient interpreter of the book, because it is the obvious and natural interpretation–is a “fair criticism” of the position that they are two empires where it is necessary to make them so to eliminate the predictive prophecies in the book. I appreciate that.

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  91. By the way, I don’t think I need to comment on the Zechariah texts. None of them say that God’s eternal kingdom would arise under Zerubbabel. I can only imagine what I would be getting if I used an argument like this in favor of Daniel or Christian orthodoxy.

    Thanks again.

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  92. Tom, it may be a problem of the Book of Daniel just not making perfect sense at all, no matter which way you view it. This is why it’s a struggle to line every theory up on either side.

    To some, the only way to make perfect sense of this Book, that doesn’t make perfect sense, is to say that it was written by a man, without a perfect deity’s involvement. People make mistakes and don’t always make perfect sense.

    But yes, there’s sill unanswered questions, but the Christian explanations are no better, still with plenty of unanswered questions.

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  93. Tom,

    One quick question: what are you talking about with the “kinds of variation we see in Daniel”?

    I agree with Nate’s summary comment here. I will also add the following:
    1) There appears to be a chiastic structure to the Masoretic version of the Aramaic chapters (see A. Lenglet), suggesting it was once a singular unit.
    2) The LXX text appears more likely to be a translation rather than a redaction (see Meadowcroft and Bludau). This implies that it is based on a semitic text with essentially the same variations – which betrays a redactional history prior to translation.
    3) The acceptance of the differences in the Greek translation is inconsistent with a text that already had a long standing acceptance in the community (as with the Pentateuch). If Daniel was a 6th century text then it must not have been very highly regarded.

    My guess is that chapters 3 – 6 form the core of the pre-Maccabean tradition (though probably not as a unified text). The dream and interpretation in chapter 4 and the hand-writing interpretation of chapter 5 then served as the inspiration for a Maccabean redaction to create the chiastic text of chapters 2 – 7, adding the chapter 2 and 7 prophecies, all in Aramaic. A second contemporary redactor then built upon this to add the introduction in chapter 1 and chapters 8 – 12 in Hebrew. As a young and volatile text, different versions, additions and arrangements of these redactions were available and are reflected in the Greek translations (LXX and Theodotion).

    I guess you’re requiring manuscript evidence of the separate sections of the non-unified text and you’re correct that we don’t have that, but that doesn’t negate the proposition that a redactional view is very good at explaining the variation. How does your view explain those things?

    Thank you for admitting that combining the Medes and the Persians as a single empire–the view, as far as I can recall, of every ancient interpreter of the book, because it is the obvious and natural interpretation–is a “fair criticism” of the position that they are two empires where it is necessary to make them so to eliminate the predictive prophecies in the book. I appreciate that.

    Did you also catch the part where I gave reasons why this isn’t compelling evidence for also reading Media and Persia as a single empire in chapters 2 and 7?

    By the way, I don’t think I need to comment on the Zechariah texts.

    That’s fine. This is tangential and only relevant to the argument that Zechariah elaborates upon the prophecies of Daniel.

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