What evidence do we have that the book of Daniel was written in the 600s BC, and what evidence is used for a later date of composition, after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes?
What proofs are used to show the book of Daniel was written in the 600s and what evidence is used to prove a later composition, around the time of Antiochus Epi arephanes?
There is no evidence to support the idea that Daniel was written in the 600s, as Daniel died in about 535 BC. Let me change your question to "What evidence is there that Daniel was written in the 500s BC?" I discuss this question in great detail in my book on Daniel, "Daniel, Prophet to the Nations." This book came out in a new edition just last month. You can get a copy at www.ipibooks.com.
But, let me give you the short version! The strongest evidence that Daniel was written in the 6th century BC is the predictive prophecies themselves. The visions found in Daniel predict with unimaginable accuracy that the 11th emperor of Rome (Domitian) would persecute the church, change the calendar and the legal system of Rome. The writer of Daniel (presumably Daniel himself) predicted that the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes (167-164 BC) would last just over three years. He predicted that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem in about AD 30, as well as predicting the destruction of Jerusalem shortly afterward. He predicted that Rome would be a divided kingdom. I could continue for a very long time. The predictive prophecies in Daniel are unmistakeable evidence that the book is inspired by God. That being true, then it is quite obvious that the book’s claim that the visions were recorded by Daniel himself must be true. It is illogical to think that a God-inspired book is in fact a forgery.
The evidence just mentioned is absolutely convincing to me, but for the skeptic, more direct evidence is required. Outside of the predictive prophecies, which seem without question to point to inspiration and therefore authorship by Daniel, the other evidence for an early date of writing for Daniel do not absolutely push it back into the sixth century. The evidence of the language of the book leads to the conclusion that it was written in the fifth century BC plus or minus a century. That is a fairly broad range. In other words, the Aramaic and Hebrew in the book, according to the experts, is from somewhere between roughly 350 and 600 BC. Some would give an earlier date, some later. Only the liberals who have a preconceived notion give a later date, but when I look at their arguments their bias is so obvious it can be discounted. Other evidence puts the book pre-300 BC. This includes the inclusion of Daniel in the Greek Septuagint translation (made by about 180 BC, and probably earlier) as well as the discovery of fragements of Daniel in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This evidence puts Daniel in the Hebrew canon of scripture certainly by 200 BC, and very likely much earlier. Given the time for a book to be accepted as inspired, one can say with confidence that the book was written before 300 BC, and very likely much earlier.
The physical evidence for Daniel being written after 160 BC is completely missing in my opinion. The reason people believe it was written so late is principally because of the ridiculous accuracy of the book’s statements about the career of the Ptolemies, the Seleucids and of course of Antiochus Epiphanes. They simply HAVE to assume the book was written after these events or their pre-conceived notion that the Bible is NOT inspired by God falls apart. Nevertheless, let me give you some of the "evidence" such folks use. First of all, they say that the Greek words found contained in the Aramaic text in Daniel is evidence of a late date for the book. This argument is completely bogus, because the only Greek words in the book are those in Daniel 3 used for the names of musical instruments. The inclusion of words for a musical instrument and no other words from Greek is strong evidence that at the time Daniel was written there was only rather casual influence of the Greeks in Persia and Mesopotamia. This matches the situation in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, before Alexander the Great’s military conquest of the entire area. Other arguments used for an early date include the fact that only Daniel, in all the Old Testament, uses names for angels (Michael and Gabriel). The argument is that the Jews did not use names for angels, as far as we know, until the second century BC. Another "evidence" used for a later date is the fact that the Book of Daniel mentions the resurrection of the dead. The claim is that this doctrine entered Judaism as late as the second or third century BC. The problem with these arguments is that they are made, not on positive evidence, but on what they perceive to be a lack of evidence. As I like to say, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. In other words the fact that we do not have a lot of Jewish writings from the 5th century naming angels is not proof Daniel was written at a later date. In fact, we have virtually no extant Jewish writings from this time other than the Old Testament itself. This makes it difficult to judge this argument. This argument in its simplest form is that Daniel is the only OT book which mentions the resurrection and names angels, therefore it was written 300 years after the rest of the Old Testament. This is NOT a strong argument. It amounts to circular reasoning.
Again, I say a lot more on this question in my book, and you should pick up a copy. I hope this helps.
John Oakes, PhD