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2.4.1.4.4 - The Septuagint

As we’ve seen in our discussion of the Authorship of Daniel, the critics believe that most of the predictions in Daniel described events from the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Even then, they ascribe errors to the author based on some of the after the fact “predictions” not fulfilled in Antiochus. They also ascribe error to the prophecy of the Seventy Sevens because they believe it heralded the arrival of the Messiah shortly after the events related to Antiochus. Thus, in their eyes, the book is soundly discredited.

Yet neither the Qumran scribes (see above) nor the translators of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the OT, had this same view of Daniel. Again, living much closer to the events in view, the translators of the Septuagint understood Daniel to contain bona fide prediction and accepted the book as an authoritative portion of the Hebrew Scriptures they dutifully translated into Greek.

The Septuagint translators and Qumran scribes lived only decades after Daniel was supposedly written, and they considered Daniel canonical. Yet Antiochus had come and gone, and the messianic age had not arrived. The book’s pronouncements were proven to be fallacious. These Jewish scholars were certainly acquainted with Deu. 18:22: “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously.” If Daniel had predicted the arrival of the messianic age immediately after Antiochus’s death, the book would have been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of Jewish believers. It would never have found its way into the canon but would have suffered the same fate as the other pseudoprophetic books of that period.1

Within 30 years of the time that the critics allege Daniel was written, the grandson of Ben Sira, when writing the prologue to Ecclesiasticus made mention of the “law and the prophets and the rest of the Bible,” referring to the Septuagint. According to the critical view, Daniel would have had to be written, recognized as canonical, taken to Alexandria, Egypt and then translated into Greek all within this short period of time. Adding to the unlikelihood of this scenario is the fact that four of the Persian “loan words” found within Daniel were mistranslated by the translators of the Septuagint, implying that enough time had elapsed between the writing of Daniel and its translation for the Septuagint that the meanings of the words had been lost to the Hebrews.2

These are significant pieces of evidence that the book of Daniel could not have been written as late as the critics claim.

Notes

1 Stephen R. Miller, “Daniel,” in E. Ray Clendenen, Kenneth A. Mathews, and David S. Dockery, eds., The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 37.

2 “J. W. Wevers states that ‘by 132 B.C., when the grandson of Ben Sirach wrote the Prologue to the Ecclesiasticus, “the law and the prophets and the rest of the Bible” existed in Greek translation. This means that only thirty years after some scholars allege that Daniel was written, the book had been received into the canon and carried to Alexandria, Egypt, approximately three hundred miles away, and there translated into Greek. Such a proposal seems unlikely. That the book of Daniel was quite old by the time of the Septuagint is evidenced by the fact that the translators were completely unaware of the meaning of many terms in Daniel as evidenced by their mistranslations.’ Kitchen points out that the Septuagint rendering of four Persian loan words in Daniel ‘are hopelessly inexact—mere guesswork,’ which indicates that the terms were so ancient that ‘their meaning was already lost and forgotten (or, at the least, drastically changed) long before he [the translator] set to work.’ ”—Ibid., 39.


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