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The Book of Daniel (1/20)

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together with its date of authorship (late 19th century), both contribute to it being ignored as inconvenient or outdated by contemporary critics of Daniel.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.

Part two.

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