Doug and I are very good friends. We agree on a LOT of things. In fact, I would hazard to guess that we agree on nearly every point of Bible interpretation, but on this one particular question, we are in rather stark disagreement. I have looked at the arguments for a later date and found them to be completely lacking solid data. The arguments are based principally on an assumption that Daniel cannot be predicting the future, which he obviously is. In other words, the main reason that earlier dates are concluded is the presuppositional influence of non-believers. What I suggest is that you get a copy of my book on Daniel, Daniel, Prophet to the Nations
, available at www.ipibooks.com
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I strongly disagree with Doug that if the book is not prophetic, then that does not affect the theological message of the book. Not true. The theological message of the book is that we need to trust in God, as he rules the nations and he is in control when he chooses to be. Because he can predict events hundreds of years before they happen with insane precision, this proves beyond a doubt that 1. The Bible is inspired by God. 2. God rules the nations in that he can and will intervene in history when he so chooses.
What is the evidence of an earlier date? The Aramaic is of an Eastern variety from about the fifth century. The only Greek words in the text are those for musical instruments (Ch. 3), which argues writing before the Greek period. Daniel is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, clearly accepted as canonical materiel, meaning that in the second century BCE it was already in the canon of the Old Testament. Daniel was included in the Septuagint Greek translation, most likely by 200 BCE when the entire Septuagint was put together. The idea that a second century forgery with fake prophecy could get by the teachers of the Law and Pharisees into the Bible within a decade or two of its writing is not tenable. Daniel accurately prophesies events in the Persian period, in the Greek period before Antiochus Epiphanes, during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, right up to the time of Domitian. Logically, if Daniel 7 and 9 are accurate historical prophecy (and they are), then to decide that Daniel 8 and 11 are not accurate historical prophecy (ie that they are essentially fake prophecy) is illogical and inconsistent. It would mean that Daniel has both real prophecy and fake prophecy. Jesus believed that Daniel predicted the events of AD 70, and Jesus should know.
Is there any evidence for post-164 BCE? I have literally seen no strong evidence to support this later date. There are arguments of a theological nature, for example, that Daniel contains material about angels or about the final resurrection, ideas that, supposedly, did not enter Jewish literature until the third or second century BCE, but this is circular reasoning. In other words, how do we know that there was no material on this before the second century BCE? Because we know that there was not, therefore Daniel was not written until then.
The Greek content has been argued, but the Greek words, only musical instruments in chapter 3, strongly argues for before 330 BCE, not after. The type of Aramaic has been argued, but the best experts I have found strongly disagree, arguing for Western, Persian Aramaic of the fifth or at the latest the fourth century BCE. By the way, there is evidence of an editor after Daniel putting the book in its final form. On that I agree with Douglas, but the linguistic evidence is that this was at the latest the fourth century BCE, and more likely the fifth century BCE–almost certainly not in the second century. Could there have been some final editing in the second century BCE? Unlikely, but not impossible. I just see no evidence for this. In any case, certainly not the prophetic material. To alter prophetic material after the fact to create the false impression that it was inspired prophecy is something beneath the dignity of the inspired Word of God.
By the way, it is true that most liberal scholars put it in the second BC, but that is because they do not believe the Bible is inspired, not principally because of evidence. This is circular reasoning, and it ignores Daniel 7 and Daniel 9. I do not agree that most conservative scholars put it in the second century BC. That is not true. What conservative scholars are we talking about, and what is the definition of “conservative?”
I do not agree with Douglas that “It is the apocalyptic material we should focus in on.” What is his argument for this? There is apocalpytic content in Daniel, but there is even more that is clearly historical prophecy. In fact, there is quite a bit more of predictive prophecy than of the apocalyptic. I can list literally hundreds of verses which are prophetic.
Most in our fellowship do not do a kingdom study any more. That is true, but this does not affect kingdom prophecies in Daniel. It is principally because the kingdom study equated the kingdom of God narrowly being the church, and falsely implied that the kingdom of God began at Pentecost. However, Daniel clearly predicts the breaking in of God’s kingdom during the time of the Roman kings, both in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. This argument is as valid today as it was when this study was put together. There are problems with the kingdom study, but I have produced a new one which corrects the errors and is great to use. I am attaching it. Feel free to use it and to pass it around. Here it is. The Coming of the Kingdom of God