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2.4.1 - The Critical View

In this section, we examine the critical hypothesis that the book of Daniel was not written by the biblical Daniel, but instead was composed by some other author or authors near the time of the Maccabean revolt (c. 168-165 B.C.).1 Here, we focus on issues that are specifically date-related, although it is difficult to untangle them from other issues treated elsewhere such as authorship and the language of the book.

It is important to understand that the issue of when the book of Daniel was written is critical because the very nature of the Messiah is connected with it. For Jesus staked His character on the truthfulness of whether Daniel was a prophet and whether the book contains bona fide prophecy. If Jesus were wrong on these matters, or intentionally misrepresented the truth, then He was not sinless2 and could not be Who He claimed to be:3

One’s understanding of the nature of Jesus Christ depends on the answer to the date of the book. Jesus Christ regarded the Book of Daniel as a prophetic preview of future history and indeed of the divine program for a future that still lies ahead (Mat. 24:15–16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20). If He is wrong in His interpretation of the book, then He must be less than the omniscient, inerrant God incarnate.4

For those like the author who are believers in Christ, this is no small matter. The endorsement of Daniel and his book by Jesus is one of the key witnesses (indeed, the key witness) settling the matter for those who place their faith in Christ. Many of us will never take the critical hypothesis with seriousness, because we already know from fulfilled prophecy that Jesus is the Christ and His endorsement of Daniel will never be overthrown by the critic.5

Still, as stated in our Policy of Inoculation it can be helpful to be familiar with the arguments of the critics and to understand why their criticisms are lacking in substance.

Notes

1 “The book of Daniel, probably written in its final version in 164 B.C.E., is probably the latest composition of the Hebrew Bible. . . . The figure of Daniel, known from the Aqhat Epic found at Ugarit and mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14; 28:3 as a wise and righteous hero of the past, becomes here a new model of Jewish faithfulness to God.”—Marc Berlin and Brettler, eds., The Jewish Study Bible (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1985,2004), 1640.

2 Regarding the sinlessness of Jesus, see Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 14:30; 2Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 9:14; 1Pe. 1:19; 2:22; 1Jn. 3:5.

3 Regarding the divinity of Jesus, see Num. 21:6 (cf. 1Cor. 10:9); Isa. 45:23 (cf. Php. 1:10); Isa. 49:10 cf. (Rev. 7:17+); Luke 1:76; 22:69; John 1:1; 5:18, 23; 8:58; 10:30-33, 38; 12:45; 14:1, 9; 19:7; Rom. 9:5; Php. 1:19; 2:6; Col. 2:2; 1Ti. 3:16; Heb. 3:1-6.

4 Bruce K. Waltke, “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 133 no. 532 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, October-December 1976), 320.

5 Old Testament books whose date of composition is universally accepted as being prior to the birth of Christ contain numerous predictions fulfilled by the subsequent life and death of Jesus Christ. Passages such as Isa. 7:14; 9:6-7; and 53 within the Great Isaiah Scroll from the DSS are among such passages. See [Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1999)].


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