Daniel Authorship of Daniel

 Featuring Robert Dick Wilson's Studies in The Book of Daniel  02/26/05



The Authorship of the Book of Daniel

  I thought it would be interesting to quote the brash and bold conclusions of some influential commentators regarding the authorship of the Book of Daniel. The goal here is to document what they think, not necessarily to elaborate why. These brief excerpts provide a kind of survey of the terrain for further study. Many of these books are further described in my Book Gallery pages.

Traditional Date Quotations

bulletGleason L. Archer, Jr.
bullet “Daniel.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7. Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985).

  “The clear testimony of the book itself is that Daniel was the author. Chapter 8 begins with an affirmation of Daniel’s authorship: ‘I Daniel’ (cf. also 9:2, 20; 10:2). It is conceivable that a close friend or colleague of the prophet might have composed the earlier chapters since they refer to Daniel in the third person except where he is directly quoted. But careful examination shows that the author usually writes about himself in the third person, as was the custom among ancient authors of historical memoirs.” [p. 4]

bulletJoyce G. Baldwin
bullet Daniel: An Introduction And Commentary (Madison, WI: Inter–Varsity Press, 1978).

  “In concluding this section on the historical assumptions of the writer of the book of Daniel I strongly assert that there is no reason to question his historical knowledge. The indications are that he had access to information which has not yet become available to the present–day historian, and that where conclusive proof is still lacking he should be given the credit for reliability.” [p. 29]

  “When all the relevant factors are taken into account, including the arguments for the unity of the book, a late sixth– or early fifth–century date of writing for the whole best suits the evidence.” [p. 46]

  “The historical interpretation is surely correct in seeing a primary fulfillment in Daniel’s prophecy in the second century BC, but to confine its meaning to that period is to close one’s eyes to the witness of Jesus and the New Testament writers in general that it also had a future significance.” [p. 173]

  “With regard to prophecy as foretelling, the church has lost its nerve.” [p. 185]


bullet “Is There Pseudonymity in the Old Testament?” Themelios, Vol. 4:1 (Sept 1978) pp. 6–12.

  “In conclusion we contend that there is no clear proof of pseudonymity in the Old Testament and much evidence against it. When a writer made use of a literary convention, as in the case of Qoheleth, he made it abundantly plain that that was was what he was doing. So far as the book of Daniel is concerned there is no hint of such a thing, nor did the Old or New Testament church which included the book in the Canon suspect it. If the historical setting provided by the text is accepted there is no reason for postulating pseudonymity, and the task of proving that the book is in any part pseudonymous must rest with those who confidently make the claim.” [p. 12]


bulletEzekiel, Prophet
bulletBook of Ezekiel

14:12–14 The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men-Noah, Daniel and Job-were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD.

28:2–3 Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
'In the pride of your heart you say, "I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?'

bulletPeter W. Flint
bullet “The Daniel Tradition at Qumran,” in Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls editors, Craig A. Evans and Peter W. Flint (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1997), pp. 41–60.

  “We may conclude that Daniel was regarded as a scriptural book at Qumran for two reasons. First, the large number of preserved copies is a clear indication of Daniel’s importance among the Qumran covenanters. Second, the way in which Daniel was used at Qumran is indicative of its authoritative status; for instance, the Florilegium (4Q174) quotes Daniel 12:10 as ‘as written in the book of Daniel the Prophet’ (frgs. 1–3 ii 3–4a)” [p. 44]

bulletR. K. Harrison
bullet Introduction To The Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1969)

  “It can only be concluded that the critical case against the historicity of Daniel has survived to the present because its adherents have failed to take a second and more critical look at the arguments that have been propounded so unimaginatively and with such tedious repetition in recent times.” [p. 1122]

bulletMatthew, Tax Collector, Reformed
bulletThe Gospel According to

24:15 So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

bulletGordon Wenham
bullet“Daniel: The Basic Issues” Themelios, Vol. 2:2 (Jan 1977) pp. 49–52.

  “Goldingay makes a case for supposing that pseudonymity is not incompatible with inspiration.…What worries me is not so much the alleged pseudonymity but the claim that Daniel’s God, unlike the gods of Babylon, knows and reveals the future (2:27ff.). The idea that God declares his future purposes to his servants is at the heart of the book’s theology. If, however, Daniel is a second–century work, one of its central themes is discredited, and it could be argued that Daniel ought to be relegated to the Apocrypha and not retain full canonical status as part of OT Scripture.” [p.51]

bulletEdward J. Young
bulletThe Prophecy of Daniel (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1949)

  “The book of Daniel was written by Daniel himself…” [p. 19]

  “The Lord explicitly speaks of Daniel the prophet as having foretold the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15). In other passages also our Lord refers to the prophecies of Daniel and thus, at least indirectly, approves of their genuineness.” [p.20]

Late Date Quotations

bulletJohn J. Collins
bullet Daniel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993) p. 38.

  “The Hebrew–Aramaic text of Daniel evolved through several stages:

  1. The individual tales of Chaps. 2–6 were originally separate…

  2. There was probably an initial collection of 3:31–6:29, which allowed the development of two textual traditions in these chapters.

  3. The Aramaic tales were collected, with the introductory chap.1, in the Hellenistic period.

  4. Daniel 7 was composed in Aramaic early in the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, before the desecration of the temple. Chapters 1–7 may have circulated briefly as an Aramaic book.

  5. Between 167 and 164 B.C.E. the Hebrew chapters 8–12 were added, and chap.1 was translated to provide a Hebrew frame for the Aramaic chapters. The glosses in 12:11–12 were added before the rededication of the temple.”


bulletJohn Goldingay
bullet“The Book of Daniel: Three Issues” Themelios, Vol. 2:2 (Jan 1977) pp. 45–49.

  “I see the book as originally God’s message to Jews in Maccabean times, and, indeed, as written in that period.”[p.45]

  “Dating Daniel in the sixth century, indeed, brings not more glory to God but less. It makes a less impressive and helpful document. It makes it seem more alien to me in my life of faith, for God does not treat me this way. But if in the book of Daniel God is revealing himself to his people in the second century, and calling them in that situation, by means of this strange literary form, to faith in him as the one who is Lord despite the evidence to the contrary, then this God I recognize in both Scripture and experience.” [p. 49]

bulletD. S. Russell
bulletProphecy and The Apocalyptic Dream (Peabody, Massachusetts: Henderickson Publishers) p. 102.

  “The interpretation of the book of Daniel is a particular bone of contention in this regard. If, as is commonly believed, it assumed its present form in the second century B.C. in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the book can readily be read as a commentary on the dramatic and catastrophic events that took place in Israel and in the world at large during and preceding that monarch’s reign.”

  “The text illumines the events and the events elucidate the text, giving meaning to what might otherwise remain enigmatic and incomprehensible. Such an approach takes history seriously, as does scripture itself, and roots its interpretation in God’s activity within the historical event in a way unlike that of purely predictive prophecy whose interpretation is often regarded as independent of the actual circumstances that brought it into being. The integrity of the text has to be recognized and upheld, and this cannot be adequately be done if the historical circumstances are neglected and its original message dismissed as of no account.”


Home | Authorship of Daniel | New Testament Use

This site was last updated 02/26/05