Portion of the Ishtar Gate built by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon Authenticity

Book of Daniel Authenticity ~ Daniel in The Critics' Den ~ Robert Dick Wilson's Studies in the Book of Daniel ~ 10/21/06

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The Authenticity of the Book of Daniel

  “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.” (Daniel 7:1; NASB)
 

Some Thoughts in Progress…

  Prima Facie, the authenticity of the Book of Daniel is a slam dunk for the evangelical believer. Daniel is authentic because Jesus quoted from the Book of Daniel and attributed it to the prophet Daniel:

  “So when you see ‘the abomination of desolation’—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),…” Matthew 24:15

  The hattrick is surely the Ezekiel triad, which speaks boldly of the Daniel we know. If Daniel is a fiction of the second century B.C., of whom does the prophet Ezekiel speak? No mythic, shadowy figure fits as well as the most obvious choice, our man in Babylon—Daniel:

  “…even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 14:14.

  “…even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, they could not save their own sons and daughters; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness.” Ezekiel 14:20.

  “You are wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you.” Ezekiel 28:3.

  The final score should count the brave Maccabeans who looked back upon the Book of Daniel as an heroic example of moral fortitude despite whelming odds. The Book of Maccabees captures this instance:

  “Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. Daniel, because of his innocence, was delivered from the mouth of the lions. And so observe, from generation to generation, that none of those who put their trust in him will lack strength.” I Maccabees 2:59–61. NRSV).

  Does the Book of Daniel’s authenticity demand Daniel himself as author of the book as a final product? Probably not, and in fact the book as a whole does not make this claim. I’m reluctant to claim more than the book itself asserts.

  And exactly what genre is the Book of Daniel? Much of the book reads like a tale; it is told with the flare of a masterful storyteller. Consider this wonderful overstatement:

“Then Nebuchadnezzar…answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.” (Dan. 3:19).

  Another exaggeration heightens the drama,

“The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.” (Dan. 7:24).

  Surely this is overkill, so to speak, on the part of the author of the Book of Daniel! This is not fiction at all, but storytelling based on solid fact, told boldly to rally readers to faith—if not outright cheers!

  Another reason some suppose another hand at work in the Book of Daniel is that portions seem editorial or detached: “Then this Daniel began to distinguish himself…” (Dan. 6:3). Still, the first-person narratives of Daniel (e.g., chapter six) are not to be dismissed. Chapter seven seems to directly assert an editor, “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.” (Dan. 7:1). What standard do we hold for chapter four? Must it be Nebuchadnezzar’s own report? Are these really the words of Nebuchadnezzar? Can it be so? I don’t take these issues lightly, the possibilities are indeed challenging.

  I would cautiously suggest that even Jesus’ statement requires only that the Book of Daniel contain authentic material from the life of Daniel accurately recorded. There must have been a historic person named Daniel. His deeds are partially recorded in the Book of Daniel. His life, his prayers, and his visions and trials must be historical to the standards of their time, tempered by the genre of literature of this strange book, and understood in its social–historical context. There must be a reality, there must be a solid,  historical core to this book. This is the battleground. Sadly, it’s not much of a battleground anymore as most scholars have retreated long ago.

  Daniel’s authenticity is typically contested in the marketplace of ideas and most don’t hold it to be a reliable account of an historical figure who lived in the sixth century B.C. The burden of historical difficulties simply seems insurmountable to most scholars. These interpret Daniel as a kind of literature other than historical narrative and see it as an encouraging tale to build the faith of Jews during the trials of the Intertestamental period. Still, Evangelicals bristle at this suggestion and find it to be immoral to fabricate history. Late date advocates suggest that it was common to create tales of this sort; and the book was not intended nor received as a fraud. Again, this is the great divide of Daniel scholarship. Against this background, amidst the battleground, it is refreshing to read Robert Dick Wilson’s Studies in The Book of Daniel, which relies so heavily on an examination of historical evidence. At this late date, still there is none other that deals so exactingly with the details and claims of the author of the Book of Daniel and his critics.

All views are welcome: come one, come all! The only way to learn, grow, and truly appreciate the Book of Daniel is to hear all viewpoints. I have organized the links below into three categories:

Traditional Date (Conservative scholars who defend the Book of Daniel as authentic history written in the early Persian period).

Late Date (Non–conservatives who hold the Book of Daniel as valuable but entirely or partially a product of the Hellenistic or Maccabean eras).

Skeptics (Late date advocates who think it’s all a bunch of hooey—most of these guys have an axe to grind against Christianity and pick up some Late Date arguments as ammunition. They rarely deal with the issues seriously) Read and evaluate with discernment.

Traditional Date ( § = Exceptional Resource)

bullet Was Daniel Written after the Events?
bulletIf you haven’t been to Christian ThinkTank, you are missing out on some of the best Christian material on the web. Check out his defense of the Book of Daniel.
bullet Daring To Believe Daniel
bulletBob Deffinbaugh defends the authenticity of the Book of Daniel in an article posted for Biblical Studies Foundation. This is article 2 of a series of 14. This particular article is focused on critical issues.
bulletGodandScience.org: The Book of Daniel Forum
bulletSeries of forum posts discussing and defending Daniel
bullet Historical Dating of Daniel
bulletJeramy Townsley discusses historical issues briefly and provides a helpful bibliography.
bullet Ezekiel’s Daniel
bulletDaniel Wallace discusses the passages in Ezekiel  which mention Daniel. This is an article posted for Biblical Studies Foundation, always a dependable source. Feeling scholarly? Here you can read about the Ugaritic Dan’l and the texts in question see - Ugaritic Dan'l Texts
bullet Jehoiakim’s Third Year
bulletAn article posted at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) discusses the chronological aspects of Daniel chapter one.
bullet[PDF] Download Daniel: Evidence of Inspiration
bulletPDF file by A Ralph Johnson provides a quick survey and response to critical issues in Daniel.
bullet Robert Bradshaw: Daniel
bulletExcellent technical introduction to Daniel.
bullet Revelation 13
bulletFred Miller in his commentary on Revelation 13 has some interesting remarks about the dating of the Book of Daniel
bullet Tekton Defends Daniel §
bulletOutstanding resource! Capable, thorough discussion.
bullet Daniel Doings by Kevin Closson and J. P. Holding
bullet Evidences Relating to the Book of Daniel by David Conklin
bullet Robert Dick Wilson’s Studies in The Book Of Daniel §
bullet E–text provided here exclusively. Mainly ’cause I transcribed it.
bullet Intertestamental Period
bulletPacked with helpful course information by Prof. Barry D. Smith, Atlantic Baptist University
bulletFirm Foundation: Daniel in the Critics’ Den
bulletShort survey article by Bill Lockwood
bulletChristopher Lensch: [PDF] Introduction to Daniel
bulletShort introduction with a helpful emphasis on authenticity. Western Reformed Seminary.

 

Late Date

bullet The Prophecies of Daniel
bulletBernard Muller’s somewhat rambling article on Daniel exams the issues surrounding the dating of Daniel. He has an interesting discussion of the seventy weeks.
bullet ReligiousTolerance.Org
bulletPresents a brief, though passionless, appraisal of both conservative and liberal viewpoints.
bullet Dating Daniel Late
bulletWestminster Prof Dr. Bryan Rennie presents a rather half-hearted case against Daniel.
bullet Daniel Among the Watchers and The Epistle of Nebuchadnezzar
bulletWorthwhile irreverent, and provocative articles by David Ross
bullet

Jewish Apocalypticism
bullet

A short but helpful discussion of apocalyptic literature. Thomas Long considers Daniel to be a mix of legend and visions and traditions.

bullet Samuel Rolles Driver’s Intro to the Old Testament: e-text Chapter 11 - Daniel [Requires sign-in, sign User "any"  & Password: "any" to access content.]
bulletPrimary proponent of the late date camp and a respected scholar.

Skeptics

bulletBible Origins:
bullet A general critique of the length of the Exile.
bullet Still Grasping For Straws
bulletAn ongoing debate at The Skeptical Review. Notice how infrequently the skeptical arguments actually involve primary data, original languages, or any attempt to seriously understand the literature in its context.
bullet

Larry Taylor: Anachronisms in Daniel

bulletYour Site Here?
bulletYES! We're looking for more sites to list in this category.
bullet Daniel in the Debunker’s Den
bulletAtheist site gives a half–hearted attack breezing over Driver’s old arguments from the turn of the century.
bullet Daniel Is False Prophecy
bulletKyle Williams has a thorough and logical style. <gone!>
bullet False Prophecy in Daniel
bulletA caustic attack.
bullet McDowell in the Critic's Den
bulletBernard Katz slams McDowell's book, Prophecy: Fact or Fiction which was later renamed Daniel in the Critics' Den. Katz makes some good points.
bullet Rejection of Pascal’s Wager
bulletYa gotta love a guy that takes a stand. Three problems briefly examined.
bullet Shtick!
bulletThe boys at “Bullets & Bibles” toss a few lame barbs at Daniel. I am envious of the clever, sarcastic writing style.
bullet Skeptic’s Annotated Bible: Daniel
bulletA sort of contra-study Bible that points out difficulties in the Book of Daniel, most of which are a weak parroting of issues answered decades ago.
bullet 2think.org: Revealing Daniel
bulletDetailed discussion of the historical issues under contention.

 

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Book of Daniel Authenticity • Robert Dick Wilson’s Studies in the Book of Daniel

This site was last updated 10/20/06