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Daniel in the Skeptics Den

Posted by: David Carroll

I should have known it but I was amazed at how much criticism there is of the book of Daniel regarding its authenticity. Skeptical critics gone to great effort to discredit Daniel. Why is this? The higher critics using textual analysis say that Daniel must have been written after the desecration of the temple in 167 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes entered the Temple in Jerusalem, erected a altar to Zeus and sacrificed a pig on it. This event was so accurately described in the book of Daniel that the critics say it must have been written by a eye witness to the event. Notice the assumption here, because the prophecy is accurate it must not have been written earlier. The implication is that the critic is working from the position of unbelief in the supernatural. The reason Daniel is so attacked is because of the miracles and prophecies it describes. A liberal critic does not believe in such things and must therefore explain it away.

It turns out that Daniel is the most authenticated book in the Bible. The book of Daniel was in trade three centuries before Christ in the Septuagint. Ezekiel a contemporary of Daniel wrote about him three different times. The Qumran scrolls contain this book proving it was around well before the defilement of temple occurred. Later in this series, I'll look into how this event has both a near fulfillment in 167 BC and also a far away fulfillment during the tribulation period. In the meantime however, clearly Daniel was a prophetic book explained only by a supernatural knowledge of the future.

But the most convincing evidence for me is that Jesus quoted from this book three times and attributed authorship to Daniel. So if you believe Jesus, you have no problem believing the book of Daniel. Of course if you don't believe in Jesus, well, the authorship of Daniel is not your biggest problem. Speaking of Daniel being quoted by Jesus, it turns out that every chapter of Daniel is referred to or quoted somewhere in the New Testament and every New Testament writer makes use of Daniel's prophecies. Daniel is truly an important book.


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Pete Righter wrote:
Here's some more information on Daniel:

Book of Daniel

Was the Book of Daniel originally in the Prophetic Section of the Tenakh?

“The Book of Daniel would not be out of place in the prophetic section, Joshua, Judges and Kinds are included in the Prophets, and the translators of the Septuagint version of the Jewish Scriptures placed Daniel there also.” Joseph D. Wilson, “Did Daniel Write Daniel,” page 84.

“…the present position of the Book (of Daniel) in the Hebrew Canon is not its original position. We have it on the authority of the Jewish historian Josephus that at the close of the first century A.D. the Canon of the Old Testament books was differently arranged from that which is presently accepted among the Jews; and it is also evident from the writings of the Early Fathers that a change must have been made in the arrangement of the Jewish Canon between the middle of the third and the end of the fourth century A.D.” - Charles Boutflower, “In and Around the Book of Daniel,” pages 276-277.

Josephus in Contra Apionem 1:8 writes, “We have but twenty-two (books) containing the history of all time, books that are justly believed in; and of these, five are the books of Moses, which comprise the laws and earliest traditions from the creation of mankind down to his death. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, successor of Xerxes, the prophets who succeeded Moses wrote the history of the events that occurred in their own time, in thirteen books. The remaining four documents comprise hymns to God and the practical precepts to men.”

Daniel was included in those 13 books.

Professor R.D. Wilson states: “All the direct evidence, then, that precedes the year 200 A.D., supports the view that Daniel was in the earliest times among the Prophets…..Thus Origen, at A.D. 250, and Jerome, at A.D. 400, both of whom were taught by Jewish Rabbis and claim to have gathered their information from Jewish sources, put Daniel among the Prophets and separate the strictly prophetical books from those which are more properly called historical.” R. D. Wilson, “Studies in the Book of Daniel,” page 49.

One other important distinction should be noted was that Daniel was not a Prophet in the classical sense associated with Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah – the classical sense meaning a prophet who’s sole function was operating as a spiritual mediator between God and a theocratic community (Israel). Daniel had a gift of prophecy, but it was not his appointed office per se. Those books of the Prophets contained prophets whose main calling was to be a Prophet / Mediator to the people. Daniel was chiefly an administrator over the affairs of the Babylonian government, although he did also have a prophetic gift. And whereas the Torah also was not contained in the Prophetic Books, no one seriously denies that Moses was also considered a Prophet. Likewise, Daniel.

When was Daniel Written?

Trebor and the theo-libs says the 2nd Century B.C.

Alexander the Great and Daniel

JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 11.8.5] mentions that Alexander the Great had designed to punish the Jews for their fidelity to Darius, but that Jaddua (332 B.C.), the high priest, met him at the head of a procession and averted his wrath by showing him Daniel's prophecy that a Grecian monarch should overthrow Persia. Certain it is, Alexander favored the Jews, and JOSEPHUS' statement gives an explanation of the fact; at least it shows that the Jews in JOSEPHUS' days believed that Daniel was extant in Alexander's days, long before the Maccabees.


"Although Daniel was a Hebrew, Aramaic was the dominant language of the time and place where he lived. Therefore, it is not unusual that he should write in both languages (Hebrew and Aramaic)." Gleason Archer - A survey of Old Testament Introduction, pages 390-391

"Arguments for the diversity of authorship on the ground that the book contains two languages can no longer be sustained in the light of current information regarding the literary patternism of the ancient Near East. As has already been mentioned in connection with Job, the device of enclosing the main body of a composition within the linguistic form of a contrasting style so as to heighten the effect of the work was commonly employed in the construction of single, integrated writings in the corpus of Mesopotamian literature. On the basis of the evidence, Daniel ought to be understood to form a unified and consciously formulated literary integer, involving Aramaic and Hebrew components." R. K. Harrison - Introduction to the Old Testament, pages 1109-1110

What the critics have to believe if Daniel didn’t write the Book of Daniel

“The (critics of Daniel) cannot believe in miracles and predictive prophecy which involve nothing but a simple faith in a wise and mighty and merciful God intervening in behalf of his people for his own glory and their salvation; BUT THEY CAN BELIEVE that a lot of obstreperous and cantankerous Jews who through all their history from Jacob and Esau down to the present time have disagreed and quarreled about almost everything, or nothing, could have accepted, unanimously and without a murmur, in an age when they were enlightened by the brilliant light of Plato’s philosophy, and Aristotle’s logic, and the criticism of the schools of Alexandria, a forged and ficticious document, untrue to the well remembered facts of their own experience and to the easily ascertained facts concerning their own past history and the history of the Babylonians, Medes, Persians, and Greeks of whom the author (of the book of Daniel) writes." R.D. Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel, pages 268, 269

“The Sanhedrin of the second century B.C. was composed of men of the type of John Hyrcanus; men famed for their piety and learning; men who were heirs of all the proud traditions of the Jewish faith, and themselves the sons of successors of the heroes of the noble Maccabean revolt. And yet we are asked to believe (by the critics of Daniel) that these men, with their extremely strict views of inspiration and their intense reverence of for their sacred writings….used their authority to smuggle into the Jewish Canon a book which, ex hypothesi, was a forgery, a literary fraud, and a religious novel of recent date.” R. Anderson, Daniel in the Critics Den, pages 104-105

Was Daniel a Prophet?

The Jewish Rabbis on Daniel

Rabbi Judah, the main compiler of the Talmud said regarding the times referred to in Daniel’s (Messianic) prophecy, "These times were over long ago." (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin.)

In the 12th Century AD, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (Maimonides), one of the most respected rabbis in history, and a man who rejected the messianic claim of Yeshua, stated:

"Daniel has elucidated to us the knowledge of the end times. However, since they are secret, the wise [rabbis] have barred the calculation of the days of Messiah’s coming so that the untutored populace will not be led astray when they see that the End Times have already come but there is no sign of the Messiah."

Rabbi Moses Abraham Levi said, "I have examined and searched all the Holy Scriptures and have not found the time for the coming of Messiah clearly fixed, except in the words of Gabriel to the prophet Daniel, which are written in the 9th chapter of the prophecy of Daniel."

From Maimonede’s Sixth Principle of Faith:

"Third, when a prophet receives prophecy, even though it was only a vision and by means of an angel, he would nevertheless be weakened by it and his body would shudder. He would be stricken with a very great fear almost to the point that his spirit would leave his body, as Daniel said when [the angel] Gavriel (Gabriel) spoke to him, "No strength remained in me; my robustness changed to pallor, and I could retain no strength... and I was in a deep sleep upon my face, and my face was to the ground". And as he says later, "during the vision my joints shuddered and I could retain no strength". (Daniel 10:8-9, 16). But Moshe, may he rest in peace, was not so, rather, the word came to him and he did not experience trembling and shivering in any way, as it says, "And HaShem spoke to Moshe face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Shemos [Exodus] 33:11). In other words, just as a man does not experience trembling from the speech of his fellow, Moshe did not tremble from the word even though it was face to face. This was due to his total attachment to the intellect, as we said earlier."

The “Prophet Daniel” found in the Dead Sea Scrolls:

“Comment: It is interesting to note that every chapter of Daniel is represented in these manuscripts, except for Dan 12. However, this does not mean that the Book lacked the final chapter at Qumran, since Dan 12:10 is quoted in the Florilegium (4Q174) - (Dead Sea Scrolls), which explicitly tells us that ‘it is written in the Book of Daniel the Prophet.’

The Jewish Talmud refers to Daniel as a Prophet

Hatach. Hatach is another name for the prophet Daniel. He was called Hatach (related to the Hebrew word for "cut") because he was "cut down," demoted from his position of greatness, which he held at the courts of the previous kings (Megillah 15a).