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.



  1. Musical instruments travel from culture to culture. Men traveled and traded and musical instruments along with their foreign names would be brought to different cultures. Greek instruments brought into Hebrew culture, especially enslaved by the Babylonians, does not seem at all odd to me.
    Look at the recent history of musical instruments such as the mandollin, banjo and guitar. All brought from different cultures into America with their names attached.
    To conclude that the use of the name of a musical instrument in any given culture is de facto evidence of a dominant language or culture is absurd.

  2. I certainly agree.

  3. […] 1Article: The Book of Daniel (4/20) « Bible Apologetics SUBMIT […]

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