RE: Daniel

From: bivalve (
Date: Tue Jul 09 2002 - 17:02:37 EDT

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    Various comments on Daniel have gone back and forth. This
    principally addresses the claims of the web site that Shuan cited,
    but also some claims in the replies.

    The arguments on the website cited by Shuan have several problems.
    That does not disprove a Maccabean date, but it does raise questions
    as to whether the approach of the website authors has fewer problems
    than a conservative one.

    >"the first year of Darius," (9:1), that is 522 BCE<

    As this is specifically equated in Daniel with the timing of the
    Persian takeover of Babylon, it seems inadvisable to equate 9:1 with
    the ascension of Darius Hystapes. However, 522 BC is quite
    problematic for the suggestion that Darius the Mede later ascended to
    the throne as Darius Hystapes. Darius the Mede was about sixty when
    he took over Babylon according to Daniel and would be unlikely to
    have become king and had a long reign after Cyrus's successor.

    >no evidence exists for the assassination of Belshazzar<

    Nor any against it; however, Daniel provides evidence (not
    corroborated elsewhere) of his execution.

    >Furthermore he makes no mention of the fact that it was the Edict of
    >Cyrus of 538 BCE. which finally allowed the Hebrews to return to
    >Israel. This is a crucial event in the history of the religion of
    >Israel and would surely warrant a mention from any author of that
    >period. <

    This is an argument from silence, which also depends on
    presuppositions about what the author of Daniel would have thought
    relevant to his task. Although the edict was important, the response
    by the Jews came over time and often slackened.

    Here, a perceived lack of information about events towards the end of
    the captivity is given as evidence of a date much later. Elsewhere,
    a perceived lack of information about events after part of the reign
    of Antiochus IV Epimanes (as many called him if they could get away
    with it) is given as evidence that it was written during his reign.

    >Third it does not seem to be consistent with the facts that the
    >Babylonians are presented as actively persecuting the Jews and
    >attempting to destroy their religion. In fact the Jews lived quite
    >peacefully and had plenty of opportunity to practice their faith in
    >exile in Babylon. The synagogue and the canonization of the Torah
    >have their origins in Babylonian Judaism, as, of course, does the
    >Babylonian Talmud. <

    This is not particularly accurate. At one point in Daniel,
    Nebuchadnezzar seeks to impose his own worship. To the polytheistic
    pagan world, this would not seem to be much of an imposition. Apart
    from that, there is thoughtlessness regarding possible religious
    scruples (dietary laws and care for the sacred vessels), but no
    general persecution is claimed in Daniel. However, both the
    separation from the promised land and the temple and the temptations
    of pagan life were challenges to the faith of the exiles.
    Canonization is probably not the best word. Many regulations of the
    Pentateuch were already familiar and considered authoritative well
    before the exile, but final codification and organization may have
    occurred during the exile.

    >Finally, and of considerable significance, is the fact that the Book
    >of Daniel was never grouped with the Hebrew Nevi'im (the Prophets)
    >but has always belonged to the Ketuvim (the writings). If the author
    >had been accepted to be a sixth century Jew of the Exile his work
    >would have pre-dated Ezra and Nehemiah and would certainly have been
    >considered authoritative enough to group it with the other prophets.

    This is not of significance. The Sadducees and Samaritans both
    considered the Prophets and the Writings as not authoritative,
    whereas others considered both of them authoritative. The Writings
    include early material (many psalms, Ruth) as well as later material.
    Grouping with the Writings reflected use, not authority.

    >Second, the name Nebuchadnezzar contains a disguised reference to
    >Antiochus to those acquainted with Hebrew numbering. The Babylonian
    >king of 605 - 562 BCE was in fact called nabu-kuddurri-usur which
    >should be transliterated into Hebrew script as NeuchadRezzar (as it
    >is in eg. Jeremiah 46:2, 39:11). The change of that one letter
    >gives this name the same numerical value in Hebrew (which had no
    >separate numbers and so used letters to represent numbers) as the
    >name Antiochus Epiphanes. This is too coincidental to be accidental
    >and too contrived to be miraculous. <
    The claims that this coincidence is not accidental and too contrived
    are unsupported subjective judgements. The accidental nature of the
    coincidence seems highly plausible, especially in light of the lack
    of official transliteration systems and the number of possible
    variations of the two names that could be used to generate a desired
    number (e.g., if a coded version of Antiochus's name were used, it
    might be the derogatory Epimanes rather than the (to the Jew)
    blasphemous Epiphanes).

    >Thirdly, the whole genre of Apocalyptic literature which Daniel
    >represents only developed during the period of crisis and
    >persecution under Antiochus. The few examples of Apocalyptic in the
    >Old Testament are all late, and the popularity of Apocalyptic in the
    >New Testament is indication that it was a relatively new and popular
    >literary form around the time of Jesus. <

    No, apocalyptic elements occur at least as early as Ezekiel, Joel,
    and Zechariah. If the popularity of apocalyptic indicates that it is
    a relatively new genre, how can Left Behind have such a surfeit of

    >The book of Daniel clearly claims to have been written by Daniel
    >himself from beginning to end. <

    Not necessarily. It claims to draw heavily on his experience, with
    only the furnace incident focusing on Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah
    instead. However, a later author could have compiled material
    originating with Daniel. Apart from most epistles, few Biblical
    books have an explicit identification of the author.

         Dr. David Campbell
         Old Seashells
         University of Alabama
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