2.3.1 - The Biblical Daniel wrote the Book of Daniel
The traditional view, standing on solid evidence, is that Daniel was a real historic figure and wrote the material in the book by his name.2 Unfortunately, it seems that tradition is often rejected in favor of novel ideas, even if poorly substantiated. This is seen in the plethora of theories concerning the authorship of Daniel—it seems that anything except the idea that Daniel wrote Daniel finds currency among many of today’s scholars.But any view that a different author wrote the book overlooks a significant amount of evidence to the contrary:
The Prophet Daniel, Sistine Chapel
Thus, we conclude the obvious: The Biblical Daniel wrote the book of Daniel!However, in view of our Policy of Inoculation, we interact below with some of the critical views attributing the book to some other author or authors. Those who are comfortable with the witness of Jesus concerning the authorship of the book need read no further.
- Witness of Daniel - Although the book begins by identifying Daniel in the third-person, (“he” - Dan. 1:8+; 2:15-16+, 24+), from chapter 7+ onward Daniel is referred to in the first person (“I” - Dan. 7:2+, 15+, 28+; 8:1+, 15+, 27+; 9:2+, 22+; 10:1+, 2+, 7+, 11+, 12+; 12:5+). Many scholars believe the shift from first to third person reflects the different emphasis of the portions of the book. Whereas the first portion is largely historical narrative wherein Daniel is but one of several interacting figures, the last portion of the book places greater emphasis on the visions given Daniel, their explanation, and his response.3 Daniel’s use of the third person should not overrule his use of the first person elsewhere. Other historical works evidence a similar tendency of the writer to utilize the third person and no one disputes their authorship.4 At the end of the book, we find the angel telling Daniel to “shut up the words, and seal the book” providing a clear indication that Daniel was recording information in a book which was under his control.
- Witness of Scripture - A tremendously strong witness for the authorship of Daniel—which should satisfy the needs of every believer—are the words of Jesus where he attributes the contents of the book to Daniel (Mat. 24:15; Mark 13:14).5 We also note that Jesus only quoted canonical writings.6 Besides this attribution by Jesus, Daniel is mentioned by Ezekiel (Eze. 14:14, 20; 28:3) and almost certainly alluded to by the author of the Book of Hebrews (Heb. 11:33-34).7
- Unity of the Book - From chapter seven onward the text itself indicates the author to be Daniel through the use of first person pronouns. Add to this the unity demonstrated between the different sections of the book (see Structure) and the natural conclusion is that the same author must have written the earlier sections where Daniel is referred to in the third-person.8 The unity is seen in the style, but especially in the content (e.g., see Sequence of Kingdoms, Thematic Outline).9 We may add to these evidences the fact that Aramaic spans both sections of the book.10 Pentecost observes: “The unity of Daniel’s book is further supported by noting the interdependence of its two portions. The revelation in chapter 2 parallels closely the revelation in chapter 7. Further, some of the terms and theological concepts in the first half are similar to those in the second half. ‘Dream(s) and visions’ are mentioned in Dan. 1:17+; 2:28+; 7:1+. Lying ‘on (in) . . . bed’ is referred to in Dan. 2:28+; 4:10+; 7:1+. That God’s ‘kingdom’ is eternal is spoken of four times in the first half (Dan. 2:44+; 4:3+, 34+; 6:26+) and three times in the second half (Dan. 7:14+, 18+, 27+). God’s eternal ‘dominion’ is extolled in Dan. 4:3+, 34+; 6:26+; 7:14+. And God is called ‘the Most High’ or ‘the Most High God’ nine times in the first half (Dan. 3:26+; 4:2+, 17+, 24-25+, 32+, 34+; 5:18+, 21+) and four times in the second half (Dan. 7:18+, 22+, 25+, 27+).”11 Once again, we are making use of the “Scripture safety net” to illustrate how Daniel is an integrated unit which cannot be sliced apart as the liberal critics often attempt.
- Early Interpretation - It goes without saying that if Daniel were a pseudonymous work,12 then it is difficult to explain how it came to be a part of the Hebrew canon when other pseudonymous works were uniformly rejected. Also, when we look at the earliest exposition of the book (e.g., Irenaeus, Hippolytus), we find it to be taken as real history with no notion of any fraudulent origin.13 This seems hardly possible if the book were written by anyone other than the Daniel known elsewhere in Scripture.
- Unqualified Name - While often overlooked, the fact that references to Daniel both within the book and elsewhere in Scripture use the simple attribution of “Daniel” is itself very strong evidence that the biblical Daniel wrote the book. For who else could be understood without further qualification by merely mentioning the first name “Daniel”? A similar situation presents itself in relation to the identity of the author of the book of Revelation. Some argue that the “John” who wrote Revelation was not the Apostle John. In both cases critics assume that some other “Daniel” or “John” wrote the work, neither of whom are recorded in Scripture or unambiguously known in the history of the Church.14 It is almost beyond conception that God would give the most significant prophetic revelation concerning an overview of Gentile history leading up to the last days through men who we know little or nothing of when the traditional biblical alternative is the most obvious meaning.
1 Image courtesy of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). Image is in the public domain.
2 There are differences of opinion about whether a later editor, such as Ezra, collated the material and added comments related to Daniel’s time of service (Dan. 1:21+; 6:28+), although we see nothing in the text requiring this.
3 “The fact that Daniel is mentioned exclusively in the third person throughout the first six chapters is sufficiently explained by the historical and descriptive character of this first main division, which merely reports occasional expressions by Daniel, of greater or less extent . . . but generally represents other persons as speaking and acting.”—Otto Zöckler, “The Book of the Prophet Daniel,” in John Peter Lange, ed., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1880), 16.
4 “No one disputes Xenophon’s authorship of the Anabasis, even though he always referred to himself in the third person. The same is true of Caesar’s Gallic Wars. The only notable exception to this rule in the narrative literature of the OT seems to be Nehemiah, whose memoirs are in the form of a personal diary. But in general it was apparently considered bad taste for a writer to speak of himself in the first person—a practice that smacked of the boastfulness of the Assyrian and Persian rulers.”—Gleason Leonard Archer, “Daniel,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 - Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985), 4. “We have here . . . a classic example of the inconsistency of modern critical scholarship. Their argument for the denial of the authorship of the book of Jonah to the prophet himself (whose existence, like Daniel, as a historical figure the critics admit) is that Jonah is always referred to in the third person in the book bearing his name. . . . Had Jonah composed the book he would have written in the first person concerning himself. However, in the case of Daniel who does this very thing, rather than its being evidence of Danielic authorship, Daniel’s employment of the first person is set aside by the critical school as ‘a common literary device employed to give vividness to the narrative’!”—Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1968), 264-265.
5 Unfortunately, some brethren of liberal tendencies attempt to find a way around this witness of Jesus. They suggest that Jesus was “accommodating” the incorrect belief of his listeners that Daniel wrote the book of Daniel when He knew in fact this was not true. But once we open the door to Jesus endorsing a lie to further His teaching, we contravene the character of God and reduce the gospels to an unreliable witness to truth.
6 “The Lord Jesus Christ quoted and referred to the book of Daniel, and He quoted only canonical writings.”—John C. Whitcomb, Daniel (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985), 14.
7 “In the great Faith chapter of the New Testament, in the court of witnesses, his name is not mentioned, but his deeds are there. ‘Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions’ (Heb. 11:33).”—Arno Clemens Gaebelein, The Prophet Daniel: A Key to the Visions and Prophecies of the Book of Daniel, 2nd (New York, NY: Our Hope, 1911), 9.
8 “Though nothing in the first six chapters of the book indicates that the Daniel mentioned in it is the author, yet from chapter 7 onward the following instances occur where both the first person and the name Daniel are combined: Dan. 7:2+, 15+, 28+; 8:1+, 15+, 27+; 9:2+, 22+; 10:1+, 2+, 7+, 11+, 12+; 12:5+. This fact, coupled with the obvious unity of the book, indicates that Daniel wrote all of it. If in the first half of the book he is pleased to refer to himself objectively, that is a mode of procedure that was common in antiquity. If, after he has acquainted his reader with himself, he prefers to turn to the use of the first person, that in itself is no insuperable difficulty in the way of unity of authorship.”—H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1949, 1969), 8.
9 “The unity of the volume as a whole is evidenced by its style and content, and the allusion to ‘the book’ in Dan. 12:4+.”—J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1973, 1996), 370.
10 “The way in which the use of Aramaic spans both the biographical and the visionary sections is also a major argument for the literary unity of the book.”—Sinclair B. Ferguson, “Daniel,” in D. A. Carson, ed., New Bible Commentary (4th ed.) (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1994, 1970), s.v. “Structure.”
11 J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel,” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983), 1:1324.
12 Written using a fictitious name.
13 “Were the book so obviously fictional in character, we would expect to find the first hints of this in the tradition of interpretation, prior to and independent of Porphyry’s attack on Christianity, but these are absent. If the book is ‘obviously’ composed of legend, it is hard to understand the apparently unbroken tradition of interpreting it as theological and autobiographical history and vision.”—Ferguson, Daniel, s.v. “Author and Date.”
14 There are some theories about “John” but they are unconvincing. See www.SpiritAndTruth.org/id/revc.htm?Author.
Copyright © 2008-2014 by Tony Garland
(Content generated on Sat Mar 8 10:55:58 2014)