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

  • joe134cd

    It also appears that the account of Daniel was written some time in the Maccabean era and not contemporaneous to the supposed events described.

    There are 2 arguments against the above:

    (1) Josephus testimony: When Alexander the great was shown the prophecy and acknowledged it was him when he came to attack jerusalem. This would of been roughly some 200 years before the Maccabean period. Please google for more info

    (2)the dead sea scrolls that contained scrolls and fragments of the book of Daniel. The oldest dates to the 2nd century B.C.E. So at that time the book was well known and respected by the Jews.

    Daniel also acknowledges that Belshezzar didn't have total rulership in babylon. Thats why in Dan 5;7 Belshezzar could only make the offer of 3rd place in the kingdom. Why not 1st or 2nd. Because these were all ready taken by Belshezzar and his father Nabonidus.

    I'm probably going to get shot for saying this. But the book pay attention to Daniels prophecy written by WTBTS chapter 2 covers all the arguments you have made. Although I would like nothing more to see Wt go down I must confess this is a well written article.

  • Vidqun

    David, I think you misunderstood. I take exception to the fact that scholars use those scriptures "to prove" Ezekiel's Daniel was not the same as the writer of the book. Those scriptures, especially the one at Ezek. 28:2, 3, actually proves the opposite, that Daniel was indeed a contemporary of Ezekiel. Would he have compared the Prince of Tyre to a well-known person living at the time, or would he have compared the Prince of Tyre with an obscure historical figure? Would a Jewish hero from the past even be known to the Prince of Tyre? And if he didn't know who Ezekiel was referring to, he wouldn't get the point, would he?

    I'm with you, Joe134cd. I think this might be what you are referring to:

    Belshazzar vs. Nabonidus: The relationship of Belshazzar in Daniel 5:11 is stated to be that of a “son” to Nebuchadnezzar, whereas it is known that Belshazzar was actually the son of Nabonidus. Dougherty, professor of Assyriology at Yale University, dealt with this question in a thorough and satisfying manner in 1929. The Yale scholar shows that Nabonidus was in all probability married to Nitocris, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, at least as early as 585 BCE.[1] It hardly needs to be added that a grandfather in Hebrew usage is often referred to as a “father,” as, for example, in Genesis 28:13 and 32:10. Indeed, there is no other term for “grandfather” besides this in the Old Testament.[2] [3]

    Belshazzar is referred to as “king” in Daniel 5:1–30. Cuneiform temple receipts from Sippar attest that Belshazzar presented sheep and oxen there as “an offering of the king.”[4] While it is true that no cuneiform record refers to Belshazzar by the explicit term sharru (“king”), it is clear that during the latter years of Nabonidus’s reign, while the latter made his headquarters at Teima in Arabia, Belshazzar ruled as his viceroy, with all the authority of the king. That this fact was well known to the author of Daniel is clearly implied by the fact that in Daniel 5:7, 16 the viceroy could promise to the successful interpreter of the handwriting on the wall only the honor of third ruler in the kingdom. Obviously Belshazzar himself was only the second ruler.[5]

    [1] R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), pp. 60-68.

    [2] (1979). Bibliotheca Sacra, 136(542), p. 135.

    [3] (1979). Bibliotheca Sacra, 136(542), p. 134.

    [4] R. P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), p. 88.

    [5] (1979). Bibliotheca Sacra, 136(542), pp. 134, 135.

  • David_Jay


    The problem with the point you present and that the WT endorses, none of them are supported by Jewish secular history.

    The story about Alexander being shown the book of Daniel is considered Jewish legend.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls play no part in Judaism, nor do they represent anything contradictory to what Judaism claims about the Book of Daniel. It would be counterproductive to claim that a book we cherish and consider to be the Word of God as not a prophecy if we believed it was a prophecy. Apocalyptic works were designed to be read and distributed widely during the period of political intrigue they dealt with. The book could not have reached prophetic status without some record in Judaism that this happened. The Qumran collection is not representative of mainstream Second Temple Judaism.

    But this is your choice to view things this way, and it doesn't affect me as a Jew anyway. It involves your view of how we Jews understand our own Scriptures, and you stand to disagree with it and claim you have authority to say I am wrong.

    And my apologies to Vidqun. I must admit that I cannot understand any of your writings, though I have tried and re-read them over the past two days. Your points completely escape me, demonstrating where I definitely am lacking. So until I can comprehend them better, I cannot claim that any of what I have written applies.

  • Vidqun

    Sorry, David, I have had it before. I find it difficult to express myself. I am working on it.

    According to J. J. Collins, Jewish tradition related the end of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks to the destruction of the temple, an interpretation that may already be implied in Josephus: “Daniel also wrote about the empire of the Romans and that Jerusalem would be taken by them and the temple laid waste.”[1]

    And according to Josephus: “Alexander came into Syria, and took Damascus, and when he had obtained Sidon, he besieged Tyre, when he sent an epistle to the Jewish high priest, to send him some auxiliaries, and to supply his army with provisions; and that what presents he formerly sent to Darius he would now send to him, and choose the friendship of the Macedonians, and that he should never repent of so doing; (318) but the high priest answered the messengers, that he had given his oath to Darius not to bear arms against him and he said that he would not transgress this while Darius was in the land of the living.” [2]

    Alexander and his army were on their way to Jerusalem to destroy the city, when the priests met him and showed him that he featured in prophecy. He was so impressed he that spared the city. Fact of the matter is (and for whatever reason), Alexander never attacked Jerusalem.

    Josephus referred to Daniel as “one of the greatest prophets,” because not only did he prophesy future things, but he also fixed the time during which these should come to pass. He was also of the opinion that the book of Daniel was in existence prior to the arrival of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE. He viewed the third kingdom of Dan. 2 as Greece, “from the west,” intimating that the fourth would be Rome. Elsewhere Josephus interprets the actions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes as being the fulfillment of prophecies made by Daniel in the 6th century BCE. He also tells of a tower that Daniel had built at the height of his fame, at Ecbatana or Susa (according to Jerome’s copy) that became the burial place of kings. This structure was still in existence in his day, so his detractors could go and see it.[3]

    I believe “where there is smoke, there is fire.” If none of this were true, he would have been ridiculed by his enemies and detractors. Would Josephus have mentioned the above, knowing that Daniel was only written 200 years before him? Would he not have mentioned that Daniel was a Maccabean production? Speaking of the Maccabees, in the first book of Maccabees (ca. 100 BCE), Daniel is viewed as one of “our ancestors.” They make many references to the book of Daniel (1 Macc. 2:51-60 JB). Would they have respected him if they knew he was a fraud and a liar? Just too many coincidences there, I’m afraid.

    And then, we haven't even touched on the language. The Hebrew of Daniel is written in the same style as Chronicles and Ezra. The Aramaic of Daniel can be classified as Imperial Aramaic (not Western Palestinian Aramaic as the Genesis Apocryphon found amongst the DSS).

    [1] John J. Collins, A Commentary on the Book of Daniel, Hermeneia-series, p. 356, footnote 82. See Josephus, Antiquities, Book X, Chapter XI, § 7 [10.276].

    [2] Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson [Antiquities 11.317, 318].

    [3] Josephus, Antiquities, Book X, Chapter XI, § 7 [10.267]; Book XI, Chapter VIII, § 5 [11.337]; Book X, Chapter X, § 4 [209, 210]; Book XI, Chapter VIII, § 5 [10.276]; Book X, Chapter XI, § 7 [10.264] (W. Whiston translation).

  • steve2

    So, can I conclude from the various views presented - and all far more ably than I ever could have done - that consensus centres around the book of Daniel not being the literal inspired word of God?

  • joe134cd

    Vidquin= Very well explained and yes that is exactly what I was trying to say. Like I said before I'm probably in the minority here. I am also vermenantly opposed to Wt and anything it stands for. Chapter 2 of the book pay attention to Daniels prophecy (WTBTS) is a very well written and informative article dealing with many of the arguments raised here. I think it's out of print but you should be able to get a PDF of it some where.

  • Vidqun

    Steve2, if one compares the different versions, especially that of the Masoretic Text (MT), Theodotion, and the Old Greek Daniel, one notices that a lot of editorial work had gone into the book. The Jewish Talmud would imply that the “Men of the Great Synagogue” had edited parts of Daniel.[1] Then there are the additions (included in the Catholic Bibles). Most scholars prefer the Daniel of the MT. So, we are reasonably sure that the compilation we have before us today is not necessarily the version of the original writer or compiler of the work. Even if the original work had been inspired by God, what is left of it? At this stage, nobody knows. Nevertheless, whatever one believes, there’s some interesting material contained in the book, worthy of study.

    [1] Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Baba Bathra folio 15a: “The men of the Great Assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel, and the Scroll of Esther.” Rashi supposes that the reason why Ezekiel did not write his own book was that he lived outside Eretz Yisrael. The same goes for Daniel and Esther.

  • steve2

    Thanks Vidqun - I like my eyes being open and can still be astonished at what I am seeing.

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