I was reading the introduction of the Jerusalem?s Bible (Biblia de
Jerusalem), which is translated and commented by Catholics. I don?t know
if this translation exists in English. For me is the best translation for
Portuguese. The problem is about the authorship and the dates of some
The comments say that Daniel was written in the 2nd century B.C., because
the text use some words and expressions of the Greeks. And there?s also a
problem about the historicity of Darius (I don?t know how to write this
name in English) and whether Belshazzar is the son of Nabonidus, not of
Nabopolassar. Do you have some information about this?
The other questions are about the NT. About the Epistle of James (Tiago
in Portuguese) it is said in the notes that James was not accepted by the
entire Church until the end 4th century, which is not a problem at all,
but is strange, I think. But the real problem is about the authorship. If
the little epistle was written by James, who was a person of great
authority in the Early Church (Acts 15, Galatians), it is strange
that it was not accepted easily by the Church. Also, the Greek text has a
great style, which is not usual in a letter written by a Galilean of
Nazareth! The 2nd epistle of Peter also raises some questions. Origen,
Eusebius and Jeronimo rejected it. In 2Pt 3:2 the author puts himself
outside of the group of 12 apostles. Can you give some information about

Thanks for your questions. I deal with all these issues about
Daniel in great detail in my book, “Daniel, Prophet to the Nations.”
summarize very briefly, the only reason anyone would conclude that Daniel
was written in the 2nd century BC is because they are unable to accept
that it is the inspired word of God. The book has amazingly specific
prophecies of events throughout the fifth, fourth and third centuries BC,
culminating in even more specific prophecies of the time of the Greek
ruler Antiochus Epiphanes in the 160’s BC.

Skeptics of the Bible (such as Roman Catholic theologians, who
do not accept the Bible to be the inerrant word of God) must explain away
the prophecies in Daniel. If Daniel was written around 500 BC then it is
clearly inspired. Some do not like to accept that miracles happen. This is
why they create the date of 150 BC. The fact is that the only Greek words
in Daniel are for a few musical instruments. These are the exact words one
would find in Aramaic writing of the 5th century BC when Greek influence
in Persia was significant but not overwhelming. If Daniel were written in
150 BC, almost two hundred years after the Greeks conquered Persia (as the
commentators in the Jerusalem Bible would claim), there would be many
other Greek-originated words in Daniel. Musical instruments from another
culture naturally carry their names into a new language relatively easily
even when the influence is fairly small. For example, in China, they call
a piano a piano and a violin a violin, because they do not have original
Chinese words for these things.

Darius the Mede does present some problems, as we still do not
have a source external to the Old Testament confirming that he was the
governor of the province of Babylon within the Persian/Median empire.
However, what is described in Daniel, if one reads it carefully, shows
that the Darius of Daniel is not the leader of all of the Persian Empire,
but of the province of Babylon. The explanation of this is a bit more
complicated, and I refer you to my book on Daniel. (In fact, if you cannot
afford to buy the book, you can read the relevant chapter on line at the
web site above).

As far as Belshazzar, the figure in Daniel 5, he is the son of
Nabonidus. Skeptics claimed that Belshazzar was never ruler of Babylon
until recently, when an inscription found in the ziggurat in Ur proved
that Nabonidus’ son ruled as regent under Nabonidus when his father went
off into the desert to pursue philosophical/religious studies. Notice in
Daniel, Belshazzar offered Daniel the position of third in the kingdom,
not second. The reason is that Belshazzar was number two in the kingdom,
so the third highest position was all he could offer. Belshazzar’s
grandfather, on his mother’s side, was Nebuchadnezzar, son of
Nabopolassar. Behshazzar’s claim to be the “son” of Nabopolassar was
technically correct. In doing so, he was attempting to add legitimacy to
his right to rule Babylon. His father, Nabonidus had become emperor
through a palace coup. All of this, rather than making Daniel
historically unreliable, actually cements the claim that Daniel is
absolutely true to history. The more we learn, the more confident we
become that Daniel is accurate history.

The claim that James was not accepted until the end of the
fourth century is an exaggeration. The fact is that by about AD 250 the
“canon” of the New Testament was virtually fixed. By the middle of the
second century, there still remained some debate about 2 Peter, 2 and 3
John and Revelation and a couple of other books. The process by which the
entire early church came to have a single, unified list of inspired books
took roughly 100 years from the time most of them were written. This
should not surprise us, as the church had already spread fairly widely,
even by the time some of the books were written. So, it is true that in
the second and perhaps the very early third century there was still some
debate over the exact list of accepted writings. However, anyone who
claims that James was debated at the end of the fourth century is
exaggerating, perhaps because of some theological complaint that person
may have with James.

From our perspective in the 21st century, it is not possible
to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who wrote what book. At some point, we
are forced to simply accept, based on the evidence of the books
themselves, but also based on faith that God could take care of such a
thing by his own power, that the Bible we have received is inspired by
God. If you read some of the other books written during the early church
period, such as Didache or the letters of Clement or the Epistle of
Barnabus, books which some in the early church proposed might be inspired,
you will immediately see the difference in quality between the books which
“made the cut” and these other books. Any good collection of early church
father’s writings will have all these early letters. You will see that
they are definitely not in the same league with books such as Hebrews or
James. In the end, if you do you own thorough research, I believe you will
reach the conclusion that all the books of the New Testament are inspired
by God. I am not sure I can explain in detail why the Greek of James is so
good. Maybe he spent many years studying Greek. Joseph Conrad, one of the
greatest writers of English in the 20th century did not even learn to
speak English until he was in his mid twenties. Perhaps James had an
accomplished Greek writer help him edit his final version. Bottom line,
the book was accepted as being inspired by God by the early church and the
book has every mark of inspiration when one reads it. I believe it is
inspired by God.

I do not agree that Eusebius and Jerome (? hard to tell with
your spelling) rejected James. I would like to see the original source for
that claim. I believe that the claim in not accurate, but if you could
tell me your source, I would like to check that out. Jerome included James
in his translation of the Bible into Latin.

2 Peter 3:2 does not put Peter outside the apostles as the
commentator you read claims. The passage reads “that you sho
uld remember
the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of
the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.” (NAS translation). The
author is not stating that he is not one of them, is he? The commentator
may interpret the passage that way, but I believe that is a big stretch.
In the end, I am not sure I can prove that Peter wrote this book, to be
honest, but the passage you refer to does not prove that the author was
not Peter. The author certainly claims to be Peter, based on 2 Peter 1:1.
Personally, I would trust this more than the claim of a skeptical

John Oakes, PhD

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