I am reading your book on Daniel after listening to the sermon you gave out in Riverside back in 2005 about the book of Daniel.  This was prompted by a read through the Bible were I am currently in Daniel.
I notice in most versions the "ab" is translated father in Dan 5:18.  However, the Holeman Christian Standard.  Translates this word into predecessor.  Is this a likely translation for this word "ab."  Is it possible that the HCS is making this adjustment due to the historical evidence that Nebuchadnezzar is
Belshazzar’s Grandfather, not Father?  Or is "predecessor" equally acceptable translation of this word in Dan 5:18?  I had noticed the liberal theologians THRASH on this book of the Bible. It would seem that this is likely due to Daniel being one of the strongest books of prophecy as far as proving the Bible is inspired by God.  How do you guys keep such a solid faith amid the barrage of intellectual questions and challenges?  It seems that I have always had a tough time with this.  After being a Christian for 2 or 3 years, I just simply quit questioning things, as I found it a great emotional upheaval to continue
to question and therefore doubt my faith.  In this I was able to not struggle with doubt and questions.  Now, 15 years later, I was finding my Bible study a bit dull and un-exciting.  After re-examining some of my basic foundations of faith (as I had discussed with you guys in regards to creation/evolution things and the biblical flood), I have re awakened my excitement in the Bible.  However, in this re-awakening I find that I have also reawakened this old nagging skeptic in my mind.  I am not going through the emotions of totally questioning my faith, but I don’t want to be what the book of James calls double-minded and unstable.  I want to keep that childlike faith, I don’t want to lose site of the basic teachings of Christianity like so many scholars do.  I do believe it is possible to know the scriptures on a very deep intellectual level and not become puffed up by knowledge and start stumbling all over my own  arogance.  How do you do it?
In my reading of commentaries on Daniel by what I consider to be liberal non-believers, this question has come up.  The claim is that the writer of the pseudepigraph Daniel was confused about who were the descendents of Nebuchadnezzar–that they made up the person Belshazzar or were completely confused about the genaeology of the kings of Babylon.  The answer to this is that you are correct in assuming that the Aramean word ab can be translated as father, predecessor or ancestor.  I get this from my Hebrew dictionary.  Given that the word has more than one common translation, the rule of biblical translation is to use the most common translation unless the context dictated otherwise.  The context in Daniel 5:18 does not demand the use of ancestor or predecessor, which is perhaps why the NIV says father.  Of course, when a modern reader sees "father" in the Old Testament, those with experience know that the English word can mean ancestor and that when a Hebrew translation has "father" it may be an ancestor.  Then there is the question if whether the Holman translators allowed their translation to be influenced by historical knowledge, rather than just the context.  Perhaps this is so, as Daniel does not mention Evil Merodach or Nabonidus.  Even if this is so, I do not believe they have violated any rules of translation if the word perdecessor is a proper sense of the word.
I fully agree with your analysis of why liberals thrash on Daniel.  If they accept it as what it claims to be and as it obviously is, in my opinion, then the worst possible thing (for them) would result.  They would have to admit that at least part of the Bible is inspired by a higher power.  In essence to accept Daniel as what it claims to be is to accept that God exists and that the book of Daniel is a miraculous prophecy.  Some are not willing ot accept this and are willing to bend or ignore evidence to save their precious non-belief.  This is pretty strong language, but I get emotional when it comes to the Book of Daniel.
How to keep my head on straight despite reading so much anti-God stuff from all the skeptics?  That is a very good question.  What I do is I try to remember those few things which I am absolutely and fully convinced are true–to the point that no supposed new insight can even put a dent.  I know for a fact that the Bible is inspired by God, that the universe and live are miraculous creations and that Jesus was raised from the dead.  Even if I discover a possible "mistake" or a problem with some particular text of a philosophical challenge to one of my seemingly core beliefs, these biggies are not shaken.  They are not even touched.  I need to return to them on a regular basis as I read so much material by good scholars who deny that the Bible is from God.
Do not be afraid to re-awaken that old skeptic.  It will do you some good as you analyze your own understanding of the nature of God and of particular Christian teachings.  Our family of churches needs a few more humble skeptics.  Our understanding of the Bible needs shaking up once in a while.  Just remember as you do this that there are a few things which are rock solid.  Do not forget to separate essential teachings from important ones from unimportant ones.
Maintaining humility is perhaps the biggest challenge for me.  I am tempted to believe my own "press" as I travel around.  This is something the "smart" and the "intellectual" among us must fight with all their energy, because pride goes before destruction.  It is the endemic sin of the teacher.  Being aware of Satan’s schemes and actively fighting them is required.  It is worth the effort.  Do not assume that I do a perfect job of avoiding this sin.  Please feel free to look over my shoulder and challenge me in this area any time you like.
John Oakes

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