[b-hebrew] Dating Daniel

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Jul 7 07:51:07 EDT 2005

On 07/07/2005 06:52, tladatsi at charter.net wrote:

>2) The proposal that Daniel was composed mid-2nd century 
>mainly lies in the fact that apocalyptic literature was in 
>not produced much in the 6th century BCE but was produced 
>much more extensively in the centuries following the 3rd 
>century BCE.  This argument may be wrong, but it is not 

When stated carefully like this, the argument is not circular. In the 
forms in which it is often actually stated, that there is apoclayptic 
literature from the 6th century BCE, it is cicular for the premise 
presupposes that Daniel is not from the 6th century. Whether circular or 
not, this is a flawed argument because it presupposes that it is not 
possible for just one book of a particular genre to survive from a 
particular time, a presupposition which is manifestly false when we look 
at other unique books which have survived from antiquity. There is in 
fact a good chance (if we avoid the faith principles discussed below) 
that Daniel is either a unique composition or a unique survival from the 
6th century, which was rediscovered or became popular in the 2nd century 
and became widely copied.

>3) Just as there is not textual claim in the book of Job 
>that Job wrote the book of Job, nowhere in Daniel is it 
>claimed that Daniel wrote to book of Daniel, or even that 
>there was a single author. ...

Indeed, but there are claims within the book that certain parts of the 
book are the words of Daniel. In fact I think this applies to everything 
from 7:2 to the end of the book, and so includes the passages said to be 
prophetic of Antiochus Epiphanes - in fact these parts are presented as 
Daniel's reports of words spoken to him in the second person. So, while 
you might persuade someone like Karl that the book as a whole was 
composed or redacted later than Daniel's time, you will not be able to 
persuade them that these prophetic passages were originally written or 
spoken in the 2nd century or later.


>4) Dating Daniel to either the 6th century or 2nd century 
>does not in any way depend on the objective existence of 
>God, the subjective acknowledgement of the existence of 
>God, the acceptance of divine inspiration of the Biblical 
>authors, or even the belief in prophecy.  It is quite 
>possible to believe that Daniel was divinely inspired and 
>prophetic and that it was written in the 2nd century BCE, 
>the 6th century BCE, both, in some other century, or in 
>more than one century.  
>One?s personal principles of faith are not diagnostic as to 
>the dating Daniel.
Here you have given only one side of the argument, when in fact there 
are three distinct faith positions which different people can take.

Some people, group A, believe that there can be no genuine predictive 
prophecy, and so generally hold that the "prophecies" were written after 
the time (ex eventu) and so not before the 2nd century BCE. Others, 
group B, believe that there can be genuine predictive prophecy.

Some people, group 1, believe that the book of Daniel is inspired by God 
and so an accurate account, and so hold that the latter part of it 
consists of genuine prophecies of a person Daniel who lived in the 6th 
century. Others, group 2, believe that the book is not inspired by God.

I will call those who are in group A and in group 1 "group A1". In fact 
I don't think there can be a group A1 as there is an inconsistency here 
- not so much in the dating, as these people could hold that the 
similarities between Daniel's account and the career of Antiochus 
Epiphanes is accidental, but because there are claims in the book to 
predictive prophecy which someone in group A could not accept and so 
they could not accept that the book is inspired.

Those in group A2 date these prophecies, and so the entire book, to the 
2nd century or later.

Those in group B1 date these prophecies to the 6th century, although 
they may accept that the book in its present form is later.

Those in group B2 can in principle accept any dating for the prophecies 
and the book.

Jack, you seem to assume that everyone is in group B2 and therefore that 
faith principles are irrelevant. But you need to realise that there are 
a lot of people in group A2 and also a lot in group B1 (and probably 
relatively few in group B2). For both of these groups their faith 
principles determine their dating of these prophecies, presented as 
spoken to Daniel. And because these are deeply held faith principles on 
both sides, the differences are irreconcilable, certainly in discussions 
on a list like this one.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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