Proof that Daniel was written 400 years after the events it describes and how much it gets wrong

by purrpurr 27 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • purrpurr

    I've been studying the Bible anew and have just realised that the writer of Daniel gets the kings of Babylon completely wrong and confused. he says that Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son Belshazzar . Then along comes good old Cyrus the great who liberates the Jews.

    Yet this is wrong! Belshazzar's father was Nabonidus who was a king unrelated to Nebuchadnezzar . Nabonidus did take off and leave his son Belshazzar as regent for many years too.

    So it would seem that the writer of Daniel was either confused, uneducated and or ignorant of the Babylonian history. It also appears that the account of Daniel was written some time in the Maccabean era and not contemporaneous to the supposed events described.

    The Nebuchadnezzar of the bible was succeeded by amel-marduk. Which is something you don't find in the bible . Neither do you find in the Borg's literature the indisputable fact that there are four kings inbetween Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Nebuchadnezzar the second of the bible begins reigning in 605 bc and Cyrus the great takes over (five kings later) in 539 bc. Unfortunately I am no good at maths and cannot tot up how many years there are inbetween those.

  • Phizzy

    The consensus among Bible Scholars is that Daniel is a work of the 2nd century B.C, being completed perhaps before the death of Antiochus 1V Epiphanes , a tract against whom it mainly seems to be.

    This form of apocalyptic writing, under a pseudonym, is not unusual, nor is it really an attempt to perpetrate a fraud. The genre would have been familiar to the first readers, pretending to write about earlier events, and to "prophecy" would have been met with a knowing wink at the time.

    There are a good number of historical mistakes in Daniel, and other oddities, like its switch from Hebrew to Aramaic, and its mention of TWO messiahs.

    As with all writings of ancient times, we need to read them with a knowledge of how to read them, and recognise them for what they are.

    They still do fascinate me, a non-believer.

  • David_Jay

    I'm Jewish, returned to that after leaving the JW religion. So here is some more that will probably shock you.

    The Book of Daniel is not located among the other prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible. It is found among the writings, like the books of Ruth, Samuel, and Kings.

    Daniel is not one of the Jewish prophets. We have an official list of men and women who were prophets to our people, and Daniel was not one of them.

    There are many legends about Daniel, and the book with his name just happens to be the most famous of them all. There was likely a historical Daniel, but he likely lived many years before the deportation to Babylon. Daniel is known for being a Jew who, due to circumstances unknown, ended up living among the Gentiles, proving faithful to the Law despite being separated from his people. But if there was such a real man, he died long before the stories in Daniel take place.

    Daniel is a legendary figure used by Jews to teach moral lessons. Unlike what JWs teach, the character of "Daniel" is merely a Jewish ideal, like Uncle Sam is for the USA. The Biblical book has two parts, the first where Daniel is used to teach Jews living during the Hasmonean period to "be more like Daniel" who resisted giving up his culture despite living within another. The second-half is an apocalypse, a story of hope written as if Jews have a prophecy from "Daniel" promising that the foreign powers that had invaded Israel at the time and dedicated the Temple to a heathen deity would be vanquished.

    Catholics and mainstream Protestants also agree. Yep, this ain't news to the rest of the world either. Since the 1950s, and even earlier in some quarters (a little later in others) Christianity in general adopted this view through critical analysis. Today it is the common view of almost all Christians as well as Jews.

    While Christians still find a few texts in Daniel being prophetic of Jesus, they are minor ones. Even the 70 weeks prophecy is no longer used in mainstream Christianity as a prophecy about Jesus.

    Two NRSV major study or annotated editions will give more information, as will the NABRE official US Catholic Bible or the NJB with study notes used mostly in the UK. The new CEB study edition has great information on it, as do all Jewish commentaries and study books.

  • Vidqun

    Purrpurr, I guess it depends on how one views the book of Daniel. Perhaps looking from a different perspective might help. The following article was a great help to me:

    In his article “The Writing of Daniel,” Jan-Wim Wesselius compares the structure of Daniel to that of Ezra. He refers to the book of Daniel as the Daniel Dossier, a collection of separate documents, dealing with the life, career, and visions of Daniel, which he attributes to the writing style of the author of the book of Daniel. This, he asserts, would account for the discontinuity of the book, being an ancient dossier, unmodified, while retaining some of the characteristics of its sources. At the same time, the assembled material, left relatively unpolished and deviating from chronological order, having all the hallmarks of a complicated history of composition, is structured in such a way that it forms a harmonious whole. I, with Wesselius, ascribe this phenomenon to the brilliance of the author. Wesselius concludes his article: “The book was to appear to its readers as a collection of separate documents, dealing with the life, career and visions of Daniel. At the same time, however, it retained the marks of literary unity, thus inviting the reader to achieve the unity of the book through making his own synthesis of its parts - one of the most successful literary enterprises in history.”

  • David_Jay


    There are also certain key features to Daniel besides how the Jews traditionally view the book that support the mainstream views, such as:

    The first verse is a narrative device commonly employed in Semitic literature to tell the reader the stories are not meant to be read as historical. The opening verse states that Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem "in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, King of Judah." (1.1) However the siege of Jerusalem occurred atfer the death of Jehoiakim, a death which occurred likely after his own individual capture by the Babylonians prior to their invasion. It is common in the Hebrew Scriptures for authors to take poetic liberties (much like movie makers today) when merely using history as a generic setting.

    The Book of Daniel pokes fun at Babylonian political and religious culture by satirically mocking the way the Chaldeans made formal listings of everything. The author employs this technique in the narrative section of the book when describing things the Babylonians were highly serious about and felt we all so important. The author does this in describing the astrologers, wise men, political figures and the musical calls to worship to the point that it gets ridiculous. Because Babylon is no more, the author can get away with it.--Daniel 3.2,3, 5, 7, 15, etc. as one set of examples.

    The Book of Daniel describes a historical event that actually involved Nabonidus, father of Belshazzar, as happening to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4. The all-important tree dream used by Jehovah's Witnesses is nothing more than a narrative device aimed at countering the pride of the Seleucid dynasty of the period of the book's composition. By claiming that God did this to Nebuchadnezzar, once considered Babylon's greatest ruler, the author was implying it would happen to the proud officials of his day even more easily. History knows for sure that these events happened to Nabonidus who went to live in Teima during his "madness." The historical notion was strengthened by the discovery of the Prayer of Nabonidus among the Qumran scrolls.

    The Book of Daniel contains no oracles to Israel or Judah. For a book to be considered a valid prophetic message inspired by God it must contain oracles or pronouncements from YHWH to his people. The phrase in most English Bibles in the Prophets is: "Thus sayeth the LORD." The phrase in Hebrew is actually, "Oracle of the LORD." The book of Daniel has no such phrase and none of its visions or "prophecies" are for Israel or Judah. They are all addressed to non-Jews and Gentile nations.

    The book, nevertheless, has great value as it is one of the few links the Jews have in their Scriptures to God's redemption during the days leading to the rise of the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) and the rededication of the Temple (Hanukkah). Christians see in the reference to the composite Jewish nation (called "son of man" in Daniel 7.13, 14) a foreshadow predicting the coming of Christ, so it is not totally disconnected to the future.

  • Phizzy

    A good summary David_Jay, many thanks.

    If you, dear PurrPurr, or anyone else, is interested in more Info. on the Son of Man figure, then a good book on the subject is:

    Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Parables ed. by Gabriele Boccaccini (Eerdmans, 2007).

    This gives the background to what was in the mind of the writer of Daniel when he used the expression.

    Of course in Christian literature the Son of Man becomes Jesus rather than Enoch.

  • kaik

    The Book of Daniel is not located among the other prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible. It is found among the writings, like the books of Ruth, Samuel, and Kings.

    Daniel is not one of the Jewish prophets. We have an official list of men and women who were prophets to our people, and Daniel was not one of them.

    Absolutely correct. I was surprised it when my Jewish spouse and MIL explained to me that Daniel is not a prophet. It was good eye opening from WT indoctrination.

  • tor1500

    @ David Jay,

    Love your break down of the Book of, you are Jewish ? So, can I ask you, since the WT, say it was 607BC, what do you say ? Since they took it from the book of Daniel.

    What say ye ?


  • Perry

    Here is a refutation of one of the reasons for doubting that Daniel was a Prophet:

    (Full Article Here with other Objections)

    First, a technical objection is sometimes made that Daniel was placed in the "Writings" and not the "Prophets." Hamner [Hamn.Dan, 1; see also DilHart.BDan, 25] writes:

    The Hebrew canon consists of three divisions, the 'Law', the 'Prophets', and the 'writings', and Daniel is included in the third and last division. This suggests that the book was not known by 200 B.C. , about the time when the collection of prophetic writings was assembled.

    And Driver [Driv.BD, xivii-xiviii] said earlier:

    ...there are strong reasons for thinking that the threefold division represents three stages in the collection and canonization of the sacred books of the O.T.,--the Pent. being canonized first, then the 'Prophets' (in the Jewish sense of the expression), and lastly the Kethubim. The collection of the 'Prophets' could hardly have been completed before the third century B.C.; and had the Book of Daniel existed at the time, and been believed to be the work of a prophet, it is difficult not to think that it would have ranked accordingly, and been included with the writings of the other prophets.

    In response to this objection, Archer [Arch.DEx, 7-8] writes:

    As for the placement of Daniel in the Masoretic arrangement of the canon, this is completely without evidential force. Writing in the east first century A.D. Josephus made the following statement concerning the Hebrew canon (Contra Apion I, 38-39 [8]): 'We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time.' He then broke these twenty-two books down into three categories: five books of Moses (ie., the Pentateuch), thirteen books of the Prophets, and the remaining four books that 'embrace hymns to God and counsels for men for the conduct of life.' The four books of poetry and wisdom were unquestionably Psalms, Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. These four constituted the entire third division of the canon---the Writings---in Josephus's day, rather than the thirteen assigned to it by the Masoretes of the late first millennium A.D.
    As for the thirteen books of the Prophets, as recognized in the first century A.D., they were apparently the Former Prophets, including Joshua, Judges-Ruth, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, the two books of Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah-Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel (which were classified by the second century B.C. LXXs Major Prophets), the Twelve Minor Prophets as one volume (since they could all be included in one large scroll), Song of Solomon, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Esther. There is no possibility that Josephus could have regarded Daniel as belonging to the Writings. Very clearly he included it among the Prophets, along with Solomon's prophetic parable of love (S of Songs) and the exilic and postexilic books of history, all of which were composed from a prophetic perspective. Therefore, we are forced to conclude that the Masoretic division of the canon, coming as it did six or seven centuries after Flavius Josephus, has no bearing whatever on the date of Daniel's composition or on its status as a truly prophetic work.

    And Whitcomb [Whit.BD, 15-6] adds:

    Most conservative Old Testament scholars believe that Daniel was not placed among the prophets in our present Hebrew Bible because he served in a foreign court, did not prophesy directly to the people of Israel, and included much historical material in the book. But, significant evidence is available that Daniel was originally counted among the prophets and was only shifted to another category of canonical books of Hebrew scribes in the fourth century A.D.
    First, Daniel was listed among the prophets in the Septuagint translation (hence the position of our English Bibles through the medium of the Vulgate). Second, Josephus (first century A.D.) listed Daniel among the prophets. Third, Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D.70), did the same. Fourth, Origen (d. A.D. 254) listed Daniel before Ezekiel and the twelve prophets. R. Laird Harris thus argues not only for the full canonicity of the book of Daniel but also its inclusion among the prophetic books in the most ancient Hebrew collections.

    And Archer says elsewhere [Arch.SOT, 388-9]:

    The Masoretes may have been influenced in this reassignment by the consideration that Daniel was not appointed or ordained as a prophet, but remained a civil servant under the prevailing government throughout his entire career. Second, a large percentage of his writings does not bear the character of prophecy, but rather history (Chap.1-6), such as does not appear in any of the books of the canonical prophets. Little of what Daniel wrote is couched in the form of a message from God relayed through the mouth of His spokesman.

    These findings are confirmed by Koch [Koch.DanP], who points out that Daniel was regarded as being among the prophets in the NT, in the LXX, and at Qumran. The shift to the Writings, he says, was not until the 5th-8th century AD.

  • slimboyfat

    This book by Furuli must be due soon:

    At present I am working on a book entitled: "When Was the Book of Daniel Written? A Linguistic, Philological and Historical Approach," where I question the view that the book of Daniel was written in the second century BCE in connection with the acts of Antiochus IV.

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