Academic Paper: Research on the Prophet Daniel

Dallas Baptist University

College Of Christian Faith: Religion

Old Testament Survey

Research on the Prophet Daniel

Prof. Scott Salzman

In Partial Fulfillment of the

Requirements of the Course

Old Testament Survey

RELI 1301 05 SP

Meeting On: Tuesday (8:00 pm to 10:30pm)

 

By

Wilson Campbell

April 05, 2016


Authorship of the Book of Daniel

The book of Daniel’s authorship is a subject that has been under debate for quite some time. There are two views that currently prevail in the discussion about the authorship of the book of Daniel. The first holds to the traditional view of the book of Daniel being authored by the same Daniel spoken of in the book. The other is a more liberal view of the book as being authored by an unknown individual as a parable and interpretation of historical events using Daniel as a pseudonym (Wenham, Gordon J.).

What supports Daniel as the author of the text is combined with evidence regarding the dating of the text as noted in the next section. The traditional view of the Bible holds the text to its words literally within the context of its literary styling and purpose. This generates the initial acceptance of Daniel as the author, since the author identifies himself as the author within the text in Daniel 7:28, 8:2, 9:2, 10:2, and 12:5 (Jamieson, R. et.al.).

External sources have provided evidence supporting the claim to Daniel as the author as well. The most significant of which has been the writings of Josephus in his Antiquities, pointing out that the book of Daniel was considered canon during the days of Jesus. Even in the first book of the Maccabees, Daniel is referenced as an accredited book, and also refers to the Septuagint Alexandrian version of the book of Daniel (Jamieson, R. et.al.).

The liberal view of the Bible holds to an earlier date, in the second or third century BCE, as they do not view long term prophecy as feasible. They believe that the accuracy of the presumed prophecy of the book of Daniel is due to it being written after the events already occurred. This leads to their conclusion of an unknown writer creating the text during the times of the Maccabees. They also argue that Nebuchadnezzar is actually referring to Antiochus Epiphanes, which would put the timing of the book during the second century BCE, thus further supporting the claim to an unknown writer of Daniel.  (Wenham, Gordon J.)

Dating of the Writing

Dating of the book of Daniel is directly connected to the time period of the individuals of the Persian Empire mentioned within the book itself. There are currently two prevailing views regarding the date of the writing of the Book of Daniel. The first is the view that the book of Daniel was written by an unknown author during the second century BCE. The second view, which is the traditional view, is that the book was written during the sixth century BCE (Bradshaw, Robert I.).

There is evidence supporting the claim to an early sixth century date of writing for the book of Daniel found in the actual Aramaic language used in the writing. Due to the existence of many key Persian, Akkadian, and Old Aramaic terms in the book of Daniel, there is significant support for a sixth to fourth century BCE dating for its writing (Kitchen, K.A.). External writings of past historians also provide evidence to the writing dating to the sixth century BCE. One such ancient historian is Josephus in his Antiquities. Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah each refer to Daniel. These together provide additional support to this sixth century date of writing (Jamieson, R et.al., 1871).

There is additional evidence further supporting the claim of the book of Daniel having been written in the sixth century BCE. This includes the subject of Darius the Mede, who was also known as Cyaxeres II. There has been a variety of arguments regarding the mention of Darius that have resulted in much criticism of the book of Daniel as authoritative. However, in the Chaldean

Much of the assumed ‘evidence’ for the earlier, second century dating for the writing of the book of Daniel is based mostly on the fallacy of negative evidence (Kitchen, K.A.).  That is that there is a particular lack of evidence leading to the earlier dating NOT being true, thus making it the most likely case, is simply insufficient. What is also suggested as evidence for the earlier second or third century BCE consists of the emphasis on the Greek period in the prophesies of Daniel as well as a suggestion that the book of Daniel was meant to be an alternative view to the Maccabean rebels of that time period (Wenham, Gordon J.). This liberal view also suggests that Antiochus Epiphanes is the actual person described by Daniel’s account of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. Also, the style of prophecy that Daniel demonstrates in his writing is similar to that of other prophets of that second century and earlier time periods.

One of the major arguments against the second century dating of the book of Daniel are the recent studies that conclude the OT canon was closed during the times of the Maccabees (Leiman, S.Z.). It is unreasonable to assume that the book of Daniel was written during the same time as the canon was closed, suggesting it was immediately accepted into the canon without meeting the standards of that canonization process. In addition to this argument, the prophecy of the 70 weeks, as well as the understanding that Antiochus Epiphanes is unlike the Nebuchadnezzar and Darius described in the book of Daniel, all constitute the major arguments against the liberal view (Wenham, Gordon J.).

To Whom was the Book Written

Those of the liberal persuasion regarding the book of Daniel believe that the audience may have been the Jews of the times of the Maccabean revolt (167 BCE to 160 BCE) (Wenham, Gordon J.). It is difficult to determine any particular audience in the book of Daniel due to the manner with which it was written. The historical accounts laid out in the first seven chapters is written in an informative manner, and does not necessarily suggest any specific audience.

The sections from chapter eight through chapter twelve are written in a manner like a journal. It seems that Daniel did not necessarily intend any particular audience for his writings. Instead, he wrote them down to keep track of his dreams and visions due to their significance and importance. So again, in this section, there does not appear to be any particular audience or specific person to whom this book was written.

Occasion/Purpose for the Writing

As a book of a Prophet, the book of Daniel was written to describe the events that occurred during the time of Jewish captivity that led to the eventual beginning of the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem under the Persian king Cyrus. In addition to this, the book of Daniel is a recording of the visions and their respective interpretations of Daniel for their remembrance and preservation. When the book of Daniel was placed in the canon of the Old Testament, it was placed between Esther and Ezra and Nehemiah. Its placement as a separator between the time of the captivity and the historical books of the time after captivity. This has led to Daniel being viewed as the politician, chronologer, and historian among the prophets (Jamieson, Robert, et.al.).

The inclusion of the book of Daniel in the canon served as a historical writing accounting for events that occurred within the courts of the rulers of Judea during the time of the exile. It was also included due to its significantly accurate foretelling of events that were being experienced during the time of the canon’s final official formation, the intertestamental period. The purpose for its inclusion in the canon can then be understood as being founded on its inspirational validity for the time they were actually living out. This, in the minds of the people at the time, would provide an acceptance of its more directly historical sections, and place it as the divider of the historical texts and the prophets.

Setting for the Book

The book of Daniel is set during the times of the Babylonian dominion over the Jewish people. It encompasses the time between the first deportation (605 BCE) to the last deportation (586 BCE), and ends after the conquering of Babylon by the Persians and Medes, ending with the reign of Cyrus (Jamieson, Robert et.al.). The opening chapter of Daniel actually acts as a short summary of this period of time, ending with “And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.” (Daniel 1:21 NASB).

Major Themes of the Book

The book of Daniel contains two main sections. The first section of the book, comprised of chapters 1 through 7, are the historical section. The second section of the book, comprised of chapters 8 through 12, are a section of prophecy looking forward to the first advent of Christ. The common theme that is shared across these two sections is the sovereign dominion of the Most-High God over the kingdoms of men, and that the kingdom of our LORD and his Christ will reign forever and ever. (Jamieson, Robert, et.al.).

Much of what is explained throughout the text can be put into two particular perspectives. The first chapter is more introductory to Daniel and text itself. From the second chapter to the seventh chapters we can come to view the rise of the world powers at the time for a purely historical standpoint. The eighth through the twelfth chapters presenting their development more in relation to Israel, and their future development before the coming of Christ. An interesting aspect of the significance and clear outlining of these two sections is clearly understood due to the second through seventh chapters being written in Chaldee, while the first chapter as well as the eighth through twelfth chapters being written in Hebrew. So we can see the clear distinction between these two sections not only due to the content, but also through the particular language the author used to clearly delineate the two (Jamieson, Robert, et.al.).

Another theme that can be taken from the book is that God continued to watch over and care for his people during their exile so long as they kept their faith in him. There are two significant events that provide this theme that is carried throughout the other prophets of the exilic period. The first is the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to worship the giant golden statue built be Nebuchadnezzar for all his people to worship. In response to this and in his anger, Nebuchadnezzar has his men heat the furnace seven times hotter than normal and call for the three to be cast into it. However, instead of being burned by the fire, the three are saved in the furnace, and the king’s men are instead burned to death by it. This is where we see another mention of Christ’s presence, as the king notes that he saw a fourth person in the furnace with the other three. He likened the view of this fourth person to the Son of God (Daniel Chapter 3). Due to their faith in God and refusal to bow down before the idol in front of all the people of Babylonia, the Son of God is seen protecting these three men so that no part of them is harmed by the fire, not even their clothes.

The second telling of God’s protection over his people even in exile is Daniel being cast into the Lion’s Den as described in chapter 6 of the book of Daniel. This chapter gives a long telling of the process that led up to this event. The princes of Darius’s court were jealous of Daniel’s position as the “president of the princes of the kingdom.” (Gill, John). They convince the king to create a law forbidding prayer to any God for thirty days. After its passing, Daniel is caught in prayer to God and as punishment for breaking the law, he is thrown into the lion’s den. An angel of God is sent to protect Daniel, shutting the mouths of the lions. Darius, who was heartbroken at the fate of his friend, Daniel, upon finding Daniel unharmed by the lions, throws his accusers and their families into the den, where they are destroyed. The result of this event is that Darius publishes an edict that all in his dominion are to fear and revere the God of Daniel. This would result in the eventual closing of the exilic period, as the Jews are then given the freedom to return to Judea in the future.

Distinctive Features of the Book

The book of Daniel has a very unique style and purpose to it as a book of prophecy and as a book of historical context. The far reaching visions he speaks of in the book have led to Daniel being considered the Apocalypse of the Old Testament as opposed to the Revelations of John being the apocalypse of the New Testament (Jamieson, Robert, et.al.). The apocalyptic style of Daniel is described by its intense visual style, as the prophet that sees the vision, instead of speaking the Words of God to the people, and significant symbolism is utilized to convey the message and meaning of the vision (Harbin, Michael, A.).

As a prophet, Daniel was quite unique in that his prophecy arose from vision, much like John in Revelations. Most of the other prophets have their prophecies spoken through them to the people. However, for Daniel, he saw these prophecies of the future in visions held in his dreams. This makes Daniel all the more unusual among the prophets. Due to the very broad image that he sees, encompassing the whole kingdom of God on earth. We can see an additional contrast of Daniel among the other prophets. Most of the other prophets were focused in on the fate of Israel directly. However, Daniel’s prophecies encompassed all of the world in its foretelling of future events, and gave historical details regarding certain world powers leading to the advent of the kingdom of God (Jamieson, Robert, et.al.).

Daniel’s visions and dreams take up the majority of the significance of the book of Daniel. Most of these visions have to do with the coming of the Messiah. Many of his visions have an individual addressing Daniel to explain to him what he is seeing. The angel Gabriel is used frequently and it is Christ who tells the angel to explain the vision to him in the views of many commentators (Gill, John). In addition to the active Christ in his dreams, the visions and explanations of them become very specific in what it foretells will happen. In Daniel Chapter 11, for example, the angel foretells the number of the kings of Persia that will come after the flourishing rule of Cyrus. It also explains the Grecian monarchy under Alexander the Great and how that kingdom is divided. The angel continues on to cover the rise of the northern and southern kingdoms, thought of as the Seleucidae and Lagidae, as the king of Egypt and king of Syria. The angel continues on through various details, including the suffering of the Jews and even gives an explanation of the antitype or antichrist that is to come (Gill, John).

 

Bibliography

 

Bradshaw, Robert I. “The Book of Daniel.” Academia. 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/3754815/The_Book_of_Daniel

Gill, John (2012). John Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible. Biblestudytools.com. Retrieved from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/daniel/

Harbin, Michael, A. (2005). The Promise and the Blessing. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan: p. 316-323

Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David (1871). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/daniel/

Kitchen, K.A. “The Aramaic of Daniel.” D.J. Wiseman, ed., Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel. London: The Tyndale Press, 1965: 31-79. Retrieved from: http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/daniel_kitchen.pdf

New American Standard Bible (1995). “The Book of Daniel.” La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation.

Z. Leiman, “The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures.” Hamden: Archon Books, 1976.

Wenham, Gordon J. “Daniel: The Basic issues.” Themelios 2.2. January 1977: 49-52. Retrieved from: http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/themelios/daniel_wenham.pdf

 

 

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