Archive for May, 2007

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Article: The Book of Daniel (5/20)

May 22, 2007

Daniel: The History

The largest number of criticisms aimed at Daniel are allegations that the book contains numerous historical inaccuracies. It is worth noting that archaeological evidence over the last 130 years or so has disproved a number of these allegations, but they are frequently repeated by atheists and skeptics without reference to evidence which contradicts them.

In this section the historical issues in Daniel will be addressed chapter by chapter.

Historical Issues In Daniel One

  • The spelling of Nebuchadnezzar’s name (Daniel 1:1 and throughout)
  • The identification of Nebuchadnezzar as ‘king’ during the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (Daniel 1:1)
  • The seige of Jerusalem (Daniel 1:1-2)
  • The names of Daniel and his friends (Daniel 1:6-7)

Nebuchadnezzar’s Name

Critics have claimed that Nebuchadnezzar’s name is spelled incorrectly in Daniel:

‘It has been claimed (by Taylor (citing Dummelow in Taylor [2], Sierichs, and others) that the book of Daniel can’t even spell the name of Nebuchadnezzar correctly because it uses an n rather than an r. [Porteus, 26; Dummelow, 530; Farrar, 20]‘

David Conklin, ‘Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel’, 2000

There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate this objection to be spurious:

‘However, Millard points out that a study done in 1975 demonstrates “that the writing with n is not improper for Hebrew“. [Millard (1977): 73; the 1975 study was by P. R. Berger in the Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie, vol 64, pages 224-34; Goldingay, 4 note 1--the "Heb. spelling can be explained philologically."] See also the article on Nebuchadnezzar by LaSor in the ISBE.

He notes that the LXX supports the use of the n [Nabuchodonosor] and that Jeremiah uses both spellings in chapters 27-29. [LaSor, 506] Wiseman simply refers to the Biblical spelling as a “variant.” [Wiseman, 552]

BTW, the Greeks spelt it “both” ways: Nabochodonosor and Nabokodrosoros. [Baldwin (1978a): 78] In Aramaic it is Nebukadnessar–note the use of n in both the Aramaic and Greek.’

David Conklin, ‘Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel’, 2000

Article here.

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Article: The Book of Daniel (4/20)

May 20, 2007

The Greek

Driver argued:

‘…the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.).’

SR Driver, ‘An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament’, page 508, reprint 1956, originally printed 1891

Generalising statements such as Driver’s often lead people to believe that Daniel is littered with Greek words and phrases, betraying the Maccabbean culture in which it was written. This is not the case. There are only three Greek terms in Daniel, they are found in only one chapter of the entire book, and all three of them are musical instruments (Daniel 3: 5, 7, 10, 15).

Once this is acknowledged, two arguments are usually raised. The first is that the author of Daniel must have been living in the Greek era in order to even be aware of these terms. The second is that they are not found in Greek literature prior to the 2nd century BC, requiring the book of Daniel to have been written much earlier than it claims.

The three terms are transliterated as ‘qithros’ (Greek ‘kitharis’), ‘pesanterin’ (Greek ‘psalterion), and ‘sumponeyah’ (Greek ‘symphonia’). It should be noted that the words appear as transliteratons, not as words written in Greek. This is what we would expect from a text which was written prior to an era in which Greek became the common language, since it reveals that Greek is not the native language of the author.

Driver’s argument (in 1891), was that these words did not appear in the Middle East until the 2nd century BC, or were not even coined in Greece until this time, leading him to conclude that ‘the Greek demands’ a late date for the composition of Daniel. Other critics contemporary with Driver agreed and the same argument continued to be made right up to the present time, over 100 years later:

”On the last word Rowley claimed that this “word is first found in Greek literature in this sense in the second century B.C.”. [Rowley (1950): 157; Hammer, 5; Lacocque (1979): 57]‘

David Conklin, ‘Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel’, 2000

This argument, however, has long since been identified as inaccurate.

Article here.

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Article: The Book of Daniel (3/20)

May 18, 2007

Daniel: The Language

In an oft quoted challenge to the language in the book of Daniel, SR Driver alleges (emphasis in original):

‘The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian Empire had been well established; the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports, and the Aramaic permits, a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.)’

SR Driver, ‘An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament’, page 508, reprint 1956, originally printed 1891

It is incredible to see this claim being repeated by contemporary critics of Daniel, especially since it was originally made in 1891, and has been comprehensively refuted for decades. Indeed, Pusey’s own massive research into the language of Daniel (1886), pre-empted many of Driver’s arguments, but does not appear to have been addressed by Driver.

The first issue to note is that the book of Daniel was undoubtedly written in the Persian era. The events of the Babylonian era are spoken of in the past tense, and the last king referred to as contemporary with Daniel is ‘Cyrus king of Persia’, the last vision which Daniel receives being in the third year of his reign (Daniel 10:1), around 539 BC. The book cannot have been written earlier than this date, which is in the early Persian era.

Our expectations of the language used in Daniel should therefore be governed by this fact. We would expect to find the following general features of language in Daniel:

* Chaldean (Babylonian), used accurately but not predominantly
* Persian words and phrases used frequently, even to describe events which took place in the Babylonian era
* Aramaic which is in greater agreement with the exilic than the post-exilic era
* An almost complete lack of Greek terms

This is, in fact, exactly what we find.

Article here.

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Article: The Book of Daniel (2/20)

May 18, 2007

Daniel: The Canon

Critics argue against the canonicity of Daniel on two main grounds. The first is the claim that the Jews themselves did not accept Daniel as a prophetic book until long after the Old Testament canon was closed.

This argument fails to take into account the fact that although the present position of the book of Daniel in the Masoretic compilation of the Henrew Scriptures is among the ‘Writings’ (not the ‘Prophets’), this was not the original position of the book of Daniel within the Hebrew canon. Critics who use this argument assume that since Daniel is placed among the ‘Writings’ of the Masoretic compilation, it has always been there.

In doing so they display ignorance of the fact that the earlier placement of Daniel was in fact placed within the other books of prophecy as early as the LXX. In addition, it was included in the prophetic canon of the early Qumran community (from at least 100 BC onwards), and Josephus makes explicit reference to the book of Daniel as one of the prophetic works, proving that it was already recognised as such well before the 1st century:

‘Josephus, writing in c. 95 A.D., includes Daniel as one of the Prophets in his accounting of the composition of the Hebrew canon.

This is in his Contra Apion (Against the Jews) I, 38-39 [8] and Antiquities, X, 11, 17. [Archer (1985): 7-8; Audet, 145; see also Barnes, 38-9] BTW, Josephus (Antiquities, b. xi. ch. viii. 3-8, 21, 22; xi. 3, 4) also describes an incident during the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.; i.e., about 175 years before the commonly accepted date of 164 B.C. for the composition of Daniel) in which priests from Jerusalem met him and showed him the prophecies of Daniel concerning a Greek conquering the Persian empire. [Barnes, 54-5; Metzger, 219] “In all the sources of the first century A.D.–Matthew, Josephus, [and the] Qumran–Daniel is reckoned among the prophets.” [Koch, 123]‘

David Conklin, ‘Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel’, 2000

Article here.

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Article: The Book of Daniel (1/20)

May 16, 2007

The book of Daniel is probably one of the most assaulted books in the entire canon of Scripture. Its prophetic witness is a significant problem to the non-Christian who wishes to assert that the Bible is merely the work of men, and it has been railed against by atheists, agnostics, and non-Christian religions alike for literally centuries – for almost 2,000 years, in fact.

In the following series of posts, some of the key arguments raised against the book will be addressed, including:

  • That Daniel was not considered canonical by the Jews
  • That the language in the book necessitates a date well into the Greek era
  • That the book contains historical inaccuracies and anachronisms
  • That the book contains evidence of redaction by several hands over the centuries

Preparation of this work has included a combination of the very latest scholarship in this field, supplemented by certain older commentaries which provide material and arguments which are still valuable and valid.

Of the modern works used, the most heavily relied on is David Conklin’s excellent paper ‘Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel‘ (2000), which is a thorough, well researched, and convincing work on the subject. It is freely available online, and runs to some 54 A4 pages, including the extensive bibliography.

The other modern works used extensively (both available online), are WD Jeffcoat’s ‘The Linguistic Argument For The Date Of Daniel‘ (2004), which deals specifically with the linguistic issues of the book, and Daniel B Wallace’s paper ‘Who is Ezekiel’s Daniel?‘ (1997), which is a well written and very readable introduction to key criticisms and answers.

Of the older works, most commonly used is material from the superb work by Pusey (E Pusey, ‘Daniel The Prophet’, eighth edition, 1886), which contains a formidable array of counter-arguments in reply to the claims of ‘Higher Criticism’, as well as an analysis of the linguistic issues which is probably still unparalleled in its detail. Pusey’s work is frequently cited in the best contemporary defenses of Daniel.

It is probable that the unavailability of this book (which ran to at least eight editions, but which has been out of print for decades), together with its date of authorship (late 19th century), both contribute to it being ignored as inconvenient or outdated by contemporary critics of Daniel. From this point of view, it is highly ironic that SR Driver’s critical work written against Daniel (SR Driver, ‘An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament’, originally printed 1891), is frequently quoted in depth by contemporary critics as practically the first and last word on the subject,though it is almost as old as Pusey’s, and uses arguments which Pusey had already refuted, and which many secular scholars have already conceded as false or irrelevant.

In addition, occasional use has been made of the commentaries of Clarke (1712), Gill (1748), and Barnes (1851), as well as the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (revised edition of 1973). A wide range of sources defending Daniel has been quoted, to show the level of agreement among Cristian scholars and commentators, as well as to prove that earlier Christians were not ignorant of these criticisms, and have for centuries presented replies which remain valid even in the face of the latest secular research.

Christians have not had to wait for centuries for men such as Conklin to find sound answers to difficult questions regarding Daniel. The book of Daniel has always been criticised, and Christians have always had the correct answers for the critics.

Article here.

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Series: Christianity And The Witch Hunt Era

May 11, 2007

The series on Christianity and the witch hunt era is almost completed. Here are the introductory articles:

* Article 1: Introduction and major arguments against common myths regarding the witch hunt era

* Article 2: The witch hunts were not ended by the rationalist ‘Enlightenment’

The next articles demonstrate that the witch hunts were uncharacteristic of historical Christianity. These articles are separated into different historical eras, describing Christian skepticism of beliefs in witches and witchcraft, as well as Christian protests against witch hunts, unjust trials, torture, and the death penalty:

* Article 3: 634-1539

* Article 4: 1540-1610

* Article 5: 1611-1627

* Article 6: 1631-1676

* Article 7: 1691-1695

* Article 8: 1649-1711

* Article 9: 1711-1720

* Article 10: 1720-1788

* Article 11: 1794

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Article: Christianity And The Witch Hunt Era (11/12)

May 7, 2007

* 1794: William Ashdowne published ‘AN INQUIRY INTO THE Scripture Meaning of the Word SATAN, AND ITS SYNONIMOUS TERMS, The DEVIL, or the ADVERSARY, and the WICKED-ONE’, an enlarged edition of his previous pamphlet ‘An enquiry into the scripture meaning of the word Satan’ (1770).

Ashdowne addressed specifically the ‘angels which sinned’ in 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6, arguing that these were the ten unfaithful messengers sent to spy out the land of Cannaan, punished by death and reserved for judgment at Christ’s return. In his exposition he made the following important points:

* That the Greek and Hebrew word translated ‘angel’ simply means ‘messenger’ and can refer either to a heavenly being or a mortal man

* That the ‘chains of darkness’ in Jude are a reference to dead men being held in the grave (Ashdowne provides examples from Psalms and Proverbs of chains being used metaphorically in this way)

* That the only ‘evil angels’ in Scripture are the ‘destroying angels’ of Psalm 78:49 (obedient angels sent by God to punish Egypt)

Ashdowne demonstrated a familiarity with previous expositions of the subject, showing that there was a recognised continuity of authors and works opposing the previously unchallenged ‘orthodox’ beliefs:

‘The Notions concerning Dæmons, about our Saviour’s time, have been collected, from the best authorities, by Dr Lardner, in his Tracts; by Dr Newton, in his Dissertations on Prophecy; and lately by Mr Farmer, in his Dissertations on Miracles: It only remains, that we should search the Scriptures, and point out some Errors in the application of known Truths.’

William Ashdowne, ‘‘AN INQUIRY INTO THE Scripture Meaning of the Word SATAN, AND ITS SYNONIMOUS TERMS, The DEVIL, or the ADVERSARY, and the WICKED-ONE’, page 40, 1794

Article here.

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