Daniel 8:20,21 - what do secular authorities say?

by konceptual99 15 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • konceptual99


    I am looking for anything that suggests there is a rational explaination for Daniel apparently predicting the rise of Greece as a world power. There is some stuff online suggesting that scholars years ago thought it was modified over time but evidence points to it having been written in the 6th centuary BC and they have been forced to correct their view.

    Is there anything anywhere that presents the accepted secular view of this passage?


  • Pistoff

    Daniel shows much evidence of being written in the 160's BC, as a response to the Hellenizing influence on hebrew/jewish people and culture.

  • transhuman68

    Well of course there is always Wikipedia:


    Footnotes from the RSV Catholic Bible...

    The book is composed of two distinct parts. In the first, there are stories about Daniel in the time of the Babylonian Empire; in the second, there are a number of apocalyptic visions ascribed to Daniel and foretelling the future. The stories of the first part may be based on original material dating from the time of Daniel but must have been written down later, as they betray an unfamiliarity with the history of the period. Likewise, the visions of the second part are predominantly concerned with the later Greek Empire and it is unlikely that they were composed before that time. Their literary form, too, corresponds to the apocalyptic style of literature common in the second century b.c. The Greek version has some portions not in the Hebrew or Aramaic and these are accepted as canonical by the Catholic Church. They are: The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men (3.1-68); Susanna (chapter 13); Bel and the Dragon (chapter 14). In the rest of the book there are some parts written in Aramaic, thus suggesting a rather late date.
    In the first part of the book, the main purpose is to exalt the God of Israel over the gods of the pagans through the experiences of the prophet Daniel. In the second part, the aim is equally to exalt the God of Israel, but this time it is done through a series of visions in which many prophecies are made-the chief of which is the seventy weeks of years until the coming of the Messiah (9.24). The author aims at sustaining the faith of the people of God during difficult times culminating in the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes.

    From Reader's Digest Mysteries of the Bible:

    Modern scholarship, however, has shown that the Book of Daniel was not written during the period of Babylonian Captivity in the 6th century B.C., but rather some 400 years later, in about the middle of the 2nd century B.C., when the Seleucid Syrian Empire-the "fourth kingdom"and its King Antiochus IV made the Jerusalem Temple into a pagan shrine and restricted the practice of Judaism. This crisis was so intense that a small circle of visionaries thought that the only hope was divine intervention. The Book of Daniel's references to events in Persian and Greek history, then, are interpretations of the past intended to provide guidelines for predicting an imminent redemption. Even after the Maccabean revolt had driven the Seleucids out of the Promised Land, the Book of Daniel continued to exert a powerful influence.

  • sir82

    What the previous 2 posters stated.

    Daniel was 99.99% certainly written long after after the time of Alexander.

  • Knowsnothing


    My question about Daniel is that it predicted the Roman Empire? Would that be evidence of prophecy fulfilled?

  • Leolaia

    The literary and historical evidence clearly points to a date during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes when the book was finalized, sometime between the installation of the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple (on Chislev 25, 168 BC) and Antiochus' death in the spring of 164 BC (which did not occur according to the scenario foreseen by the author of the Hebrew apocalypse, ch. 8-12). One big question is whether the book was published prior to the removal of the Abomination of Desolation (exactly three lunar years after its installation, i.e. on Chislev 25, 165 BC), or in the months between its removal and Antiochus' death. The book correctly predicts the restoration of the Temple in approximately the correct length of time (3 1/2 years instead of 3), which was something that Josephus found impressive. Chapter 8 is specifically concerned with the duration of time when the Tamid offerings are interrupted and the sancutary is defiled, and it suggests that the duration is 1,150 days (reckoning the duration as the total number of Tamid offerings skipped, with one given in the morning and one in the evening), which is about 70 days longer than three schematic years. Since the myarch Apollonius' assault on Jerusalem occurred a few months before the heathen altar was installed in the Temple, it is possible that the Tamid offerings had stopped sometime prior to the installation of the heathen altar.

    Chapter 8 is a commentary on ch. 7 and interprets the "little horn" of the fourth kingdom (Greece), here clearly revealed to be Antiochus Epiphanes; the question about the duration ("how long?") in ch. 8 was then treated to a lengthier explication in ch. 9. I am persuaded by the reconstruction of the book's evolution by Albertz and other scholars, which regards the book as a composite (which explains its unusual linguistic and literary features). The original nucleus of the book was a collection of stories about the Babylonian exile revolving around Daniel and his friends. These stories originally circulated in oral form (as ch. 3 clearly shows evidence of orality) but were eventually committed to writing in the fourth and third centuries BC. The literary form of the stories varied considerably from place to place. An early collection of ch. 4-6 arose in the middle of the third century BC which survives in the OG LXX; these chapters in the LXX are clearly independent versions of the same stories in the Aramaic but do not derive directly from the Aramaic (and they have a Tendenz reflecting the situation of the Jews in Egypt). Sometime at the end of the third century BC during the reign of Antiochus III, a similar collection of stories appeared in Aramaic: this supplemented the core in ch. 4-6 (a succession narrative) with the two martyr stories in ch. 3 and 6. There were other stories about Daniel that did not make it into this collection (such as the story of Bel, or the story of Susanna, or the story of the dragon), but which were later incorporated into the Greek versions of the book. Then during the Fifth Syrian War (between 202 and 195 BC), the Aramaic apocalypse of Daniel was completed with the addition of the visionary narratives in ch. 2 and 7 (the outermost layer to the Aramaic book). At this time there was an apocalyptic movement in Judea (also mentioned in the Animal Apocalypse) that encouraged "those violent among the people to rebel in order to fulfill the vision" (Daniel 11:14), but the author of the Aramaic apocalypse objected to this claiming that God himself would intervene to put an end to the current war and the hegemony of Greece (which would be replaced with God's kingdom), it would occur "not by human hand". Then during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Hebrew apocalypse (ch. 8-12) was added to the Aramaic collection (this was written in the first person). First the vision in ch. 7 was interpolated to include the figure of the "little horn", which gave rise to the pesher in ch. 8 that described in further detail the fall of Greece and the actions of the "little horn", particularly with respect to his desolation of the Temple. Then ch. 9 gives a fuller explanation of why the Temple was desolated so long after the end of the Babylonian exile, and exactly when the current desolation would come to an end. Then ch. 10-12 gave a parallel explication of Hellenistic history from the time of Alexander the Great to the present (165-164 BC), foreseeing a third campaign by Antiochus against Egypt which never occurred, and his death on Judean soil which never occurred. (Nor did the resurrection of the dead follow this as well) The book was completed with the addition of ch. 1 to the Aramaic apocalypse, which gave a proper introduction in Hebrew to the book, and the awkward splice between Hebrew and Aramaic is still visible at 2:4b. There are certainly other ways to analyze the compositional history of the book, but this is the one that makes the most sense to me.

    It must be recalled that the book itself claims to have been published in the 160s BC. The book uses a common literary device to explain why no one had heretofore seen such a writing that supposedly had been written in the sixth century BC. The putative author, the prophet Daniel, seals up the scroll and the book goes into hiding until the "time of the end". Then when its message needs to be read by the people of a later time centuries later, the book is discovered and "unsealed", allowing its message to reach its intended audience. This same device of the hidden book occurs very commonly in apocalyptic and other literature. The Assumption of Moses claims that it is one of the books that Moses deposited in a secret place in earthenware jars, to be revealed when the "day of recompense" draws near (1:16-18). Similarly, the Damascus Document suggests that the Temple Scroll (11QTemple) is another sealed book of the Law that was kept inside the Ark of the Covenant and was unknown to David, and which would not be "revealed until the sons of Zadok [i.e. the Essenes] arose" (5:1). The book of Revelation actually explicitly rejects this trope by saying that it was NOT to be sealed up, for the message was intended for the first-century readers of the book (not readers centuries later), as the events prophesied in the book were about to "shortly take place" (22:10, 20). So Daniel is told in 8:26 "to keep the vision secret" and we read in 12:4, 9: "You, Daniel, must keep these words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end....These words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the end". Notice that this isn't talking about a sealing of the true understanding of the book (as the Society explains the verse), it is the book itself that is sealed up. Of course, the book of Daniel is now no longer hidden and the author elsewhere indicates in ch. 8-11 that he believed that the Maccabean crisis of the 160s BC was the "time of the end". This means that it was around 168-164 BC when the Hebrew apocalypse appeared seemingly out of nowhere and circulated publically among the people. The book itself explains that the reason why no one had earlier seen this work is that it had been "sealed up" and "kept secret" until that time.

  • Knowsnothing

    The book correctly predicts the restoration of the Temple in approximately the correct length of time (3 1/2 years instead of 3), which was something that Josephus found impressive. - Leolaia

    Interesting. In your opinion, does this grant it divine providence, or is there another explanation? Considering all the mishmash of ideas and re-interpretations that Daniel holds, it wouldn't seem likely, but still.... there is always that possibility for me.

  • GLTirebiter
    My question about Daniel is that it predicted the Roman Empire? Would that be evidence of prophecy fulfilled?

    Given book was completed during the Selucid period, it was not much of a prediction. Greece was in decline, and Rome (still a republic at the time) a rising power. The Maccabeans knew of Rome, and allied themselves with Rome and Sparta (related in 1 Maccabees 12).

  • Leolaia
    My question about Daniel is that it predicted the Roman Empire? Would that be evidence of prophecy fulfilled?

    The only reference to Romans in the whole book is the Kittim in Daniel 11:30 (from the Great Vision in the Hebrew apocalypse). These are the Roman allies of Egypt who prevented King Antiochus IV Epiphanes from carrying out his second Egyptian campaign in 168 BC. Specifically, it refers to Popilius Laenas, the Roman envoy, who handed Antiochus a senatus consultum as the Syrian king attempted to besiege Alexandria, and Laenas also humiliated Antiochus by marking a circle in the sand around the king and demanded to have an answer before Antiochus left the circle (cf. Polybius 29.27, Diodorus Siculus 31.2; Livy 45.12.3-6). After this defeat, the king sent his mysarch Apollonius to Jerusalem and devestated the city as related in 1 Maccabees 1:29-40, and this is what is discussed in the second half of Daniel 11:30.

    I think you are talking about the "fourth kingdom" in the Aramaic apocalypse (in ch. 2 and 7), interpreted generally in later Jewish and Christian tradition as the "Roman empire". This is a secondary reinterpretation of what originally pertained to the kingdom of Greece. That the author of the Hebrew apocalypse considered the final kingdom to be Greece can be seen in his pesher in ch. 8, which explicitly identifies this kingdom (and its final king, the "little horn") as Greece. The different visions in ch. 2, 7, 8, 9, and 11-12 all follow the same scenario and are parallel; claiming that this kingdom is "Greece" in one chapter and "Rome" in another ignores this parallelism. The Roman interpretation undoubtedly arose because the God did not intervene to end the supremacy of the Greek kingdoms of Syria and Egypt, and so the expectations were deferred to the empire that succeeded Greece in the region. This understanding became popular in the first century BC when Rome became the dominant power, as can be seen at Qumran. Older soures, such as the third Sibylline Oracle, still view Greece as the "fourth kingdom". But the older interpretation did not die out. So for instance the Syriac Peshitta has glosses in ch. 7 identifying the fourth kingdom as "Greece" and the little horn as "Antiochus". The two interpretations co-existed; the late first century AD apocalypse of 4 Ezra for instance recognized that the original interpretation given to Daniel was superseded by the later "Roman" interpretation of the fourth kingdom (12:10-13).

  • Leolaia
    Interesting. In your opinion, does this grant it divine providence, or is there another explanation? Considering all the mishmash of ideas and re-interpretations that Daniel holds, it wouldn't seem likely, but still.... there is always that possibility for me.

    That period of time was one in which there was a considerable guerilla resistence movement by Judah Maccabaeus to restore Judean sovereignty and the first goal was to get back the Temple and remove the blasphemous abomination inside. The author's optimism was certainly shared by many who sided against the Hellenizers during the civil war. The duration in ch. 7 and 9 was of a schematic length (3 1/2 being half of 7), possibly derivative of the "seven times" in ch. 4 that also marks an interruption to normal state of affairs. The duration in ch. 8 is less clearly schematic and, if written after the fact, might point to the actual duration when the Tamid offering was interrupted.

Share this