[b-hebrew] Dating the book of Daniel (was Re: Aramaic in Babylonia)

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Jul 6 17:17:20 EDT 2005

Dear Chris,

The book of Daniel has been a part of our curriculum in Oslo for many years, 
and I have gone through it with my students backwards and forwards, so to 
speak.  I will not argue for a certain date of the book or of parts of it. 
But I find your words a little strange. If the book of Daniel was composed 
around 160 B.C.E., which apocalyptic literature can we date with certainty 
before this year? And how can such works tell us anything about the book of 
Daniel and the date of its composition? And further, if the apocalyptic 
literature is dated after 160 B.C.E., how can it have any bearing on Daniel?

It is extremely difficult to date the Hebrew texts of the Tanakh on 
linguistic grounds, and I am not aware of any traits of the Hebrew parts of 
Daniel that would exclude that they were written in the sixth century B.C.E. 
The Aramaic of Daniel is very similar to Imperical Aramaic, which was used 
in Assyria (and probably in Babel) in the sixth century B.C.E., and the 
Aramaic language of the DSS is very different from that of Daniel. So 
linguistically speaking the case for a sixth century writing is much 
stronger than the case for a second century writing.

As far as a know, there are two basic arguments for a second century writing 
of Daniel.  First, we have the old argument of Porphyry in the fifteenth 
volume of his  "Against the Christians" that Daniel gives a detailed account 
of Antiochus IV Epihanes, and this is so accurate that it cannot have been 
written beforehand. Second, we have the modern scientific version of 
Porphyry`s argument: Metaphysical concepts such as God and God`s 
intervention is foreign to science. Therefore the future cannot be 
predicted, and when the book of Daniel does this, it must be written after 
the events.

It seems to me that "textual analyses of Daniel 7-12 in light of the 
well-attested workings of apocalyptic literature" in a way are circular. 
They build on the premises mentioned above, and cannot stand on their own 
feet. This means that the real basis for the second century date of Daniel 
is the axiom that God is irrelevant for science.  This may be the view of 
many list-members, and this should of course be respected.  But at the same 
time we should be ready to admit that it is not the linguistic nature of the 
text of Daniel that causes most modern scholars to date the book to around 
160 B.C.E., but rather the a priori view that there is no God, or if s/he 
exists, s/he does not inspire the writing of books.

If my analysis is wrong you should be able to, not only to point to scholars 
who argue for a second century writing, but to give clear examples of how 
accurately dated apocalyptic literature clearly show that the book of Daniel 
was composed in the second century B.C.E.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli Ph.D
University of Oslo

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert Heard" <Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 8:29 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Dating the book of Daniel (was Re: Aramaic in Babylonia)

> Karl wrote:
>> To get the peripheral subject out of the way first: as for the dating
>> of Daniel, there are the internal claims and the external
>> “conclusions” of the scholars. Seeing as the
>> scholars’ conclusion is based solely on philosophical
>> presuppositions which I reject, there are no historical sources to
> back
>> them up, I prefer to go with the historical claims internal to the
> book.
> Karl, you seem to be stretching your point a bit here. The text of the
> book of Daniel makes no claims about the authorship of the book of
> Daniel. The angelic mediator featured in chapters 10-12 does tell
> Daniel to "keep the book sealed," but the only "book" that mediator has
> otherwise mentioned is the "book of truth," a heavenly book already
> written before Daniel learns anything about it. Unlike, say, Jeremiah
> (Jer 36) or John (Rev 1:11), Daniel is not instructed to write, tell,
> or make known the contents of any of his visions. I suppose one might
> wish to argue that the first-person narration in chapters 7-12
> constitutes an implicit claim to Danielic authorship. However, to be
> consistent, one would also have to hold that the third-person narration
> in chapters 1-6 constitutes an implicit claim against Danielic
> authorship, which also detaches the composition of those stories from
> the Babylonian-Persian time frame.
> As for the scholarly arguments dating the composition of the book of
> Daniel to the second century BCE, they are most certainly not "based
> solely on philosophical presuppositions." They are based, chiefly, on
> textual analyses of Daniel 7-12 in light of the well-attested workings
> of apocalyptic literature in general.
> Chris H.
> -------------------------------
> --
> R. Christopher Heard
> Assistant Professor of Religion
> Pepperdine University
> Malibu, CA 90263-4352
> http://www.heardworld.com
> http://www.iTanakh.org
> _______________________________________________

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list