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Sunday, August 27, 2006

1911 Encylopedia Article on the Book of Daniel

In the past this blog has mentioned some of the various debates over the authorship of the Book of Daniel as well as its date. I must admit to having never really questioned either of these issues before. Having grown up in the SDA church we generally simply hold to traditional views with very little emphasis given to other views. However it does appear that the question of who and when the Book of Daniel was written is not merely the subject of late critical scholarship.

The question of when the Book of Daniel was written becomes far more important for the Adventist denomination then for most other Christian denominations. For the particular reason that Adventists see their reason for existing as a church within the doctrine of 1844 and the Investigative Judgment. As our Lesson Study Guide concludes at the end of the quarterly:
In short, it's important for us to be grounded in the 1844 teaching because it affirms the biblical basis upon which we, as a church, with our distinctive message, exist.
The case for a later date for the book of Daniel is given quite well in an article from the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittannica.
It is now the general opinion of most modern scholars who study the Old Testament from a critical point of view that this work cannot possibly have originated, according to the traditional theory, at any time during the Babylonian monarchy, when the events recorded are supposed to have taken place.

The chief reasons for such a conclusion are as follows.' 1. The position of the book among the Hagiographa, instead of among the Prophetical works, seems to show that it was introduced after the closing of the Prophetical Canon. Some commentators have believed that Daniel was not an actual prophet in the proper sense, but only a seer, or else that he had no official standing as a prophet and that therefore the book was not entitled to a place among official prophetical books. But if the work had really been in existence at the time of the completion of the second part of the canon, the collectors of the prophetical writings, who in their care did not neglect even the parable of Jonah, would hardly have ignored the record of so great a prophet as Daniel is represented to have been.

2. Jesus ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), who wrote about 200180 B.C., in his otherwise complete list of Israel's leading spirits (xlix.), makes no mention of Daniel. Hengstenberg's plea that Ezra and Mordecai were also left unmentioned has little force, because Ezra appears in the book bearing his name as nothing more than a prominent priest and scholar, while Daniel is represented as a great prophet.

3. Had the Book of Daniel been extant and generally known) after the time of Cyrus (537-529 B.C.), it would be natural to look for some traces of its power among the writings of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, whose works, however, show no evidence that either the name or the history of Daniel was known to these authors. Furthermore, the manner in which the prophets are looked back upon in ix. 6-10 cannot fail to suggest an extremely late origin for the book. Besides this, a careful study of ix. 2 seems to indicate that the Prophetical Canon was definitely completed at the time when the author of Daniel wrote. It is also highly probable that much of the material in the second part of the book was suggested by the works of the later prophets, especially by Ezekiel and Zechariah.

4. Some of the beliefs set forth in the second part of the book also practically preclude the possibility of the author having lived at the courts of Nebuchadrezzar and his successors. Most noticeable among these doctrines is the complete system of angelology consistently followed out in the Book of Daniel, according to which the management of human affairs is entrusted to a regular hierarchy of commanding angels, two of whom, Gabriel and Michael, are even mentioned by name. Such an idea was distinctly foreign to the primitive Israelitish conception of the indivisibility of Yahweh's power, and must consequently have been a borrowed one. It could certainly not have come from the Babylonians, however, whose system of attendant spirits was far from being so complete as that which is set forth in the Book of Daniel, but rather from Persian sources where a more complicated angelology had been developed. As many commentators have brought out, there can be little doubt that the doctrine of angels in Daniel is an indication of prolonged Persian influence. Furthermore, it is now very generally admitted that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which is advanced for the first time in the Old Testament in Daniel, also originated among the Persians, 8 and could only have been engrafted on the Jewish mind after a long period of intercourse with the Zoroastrian religion, which came into contact with the Jewish thinkers considerably after the time of Nebuchadrezzar. 'Bevan, Dan. 27 ff.; Prince, Dan. 13. For this whole discussion, see Prince, Dan. 15 ff.

The investigations of Haug, Spiegel and Windischmann show that this was a real Zoroastrian doctrine.

5. All the above evidences are merely internal, but we are now able to draw upon the Babylonian historical sources to prove that Daniel could not have originated at the time of Nebuchadrezzar. There can be no doubt that the author of Daniel thought that Belshazzar (q.v.), who has now been identified beyond all question with Belg ar-uzur, the son of Nabonidus, the last Semitic king of Babylon, was the son of Nebuchadrezzar, and that Belshazzar attained the rank of king.' This prince did not even come from the family of Nebuchadrezzar. Nabonidus, the father of Belshazzar, was the son of a nobleman Nabu-baladsu-igbi, who was in all probability not related to any of the preceding kings of Babylon. Had Nabonidus been descended from Nebuchadrezzar he could hardly have failed in his records, which we possess, to have boasted of such a connexion with the greatest Babylonian monarch; yet in none of his inscriptions does he trace his descent beyond his father. Certain expositors have tried to obviate the difficulty, first by supposing that the expression "son of Nebuchadrezzar" in Daniel means "descendant" or "son," a view which is rendered untenable by the facts just cited. This school has also endeavoured to prove that the author of Daniel did not mean to imply Belshazzar's kingship of Babylon at all by his use of the word "king," but they suggest that the writer of Daniel believed Belshazzar to have been co-regent. If Belshazzar had ever held such a position, which is extremely unlikely in the absence of any evidence from the cuneiform documents, he would hardly have been given the unqualified title "king of Babylon" as occurs in Daniel. 2 For example, Cambyses, son of Cyrus, was undoubtedly co-regent and bore the title "king of Babylon" during his father's lifetime, but, in a contract which dates from the first year of Cambyses, it is expressly stated that Cyrus was still "king of the lands." This should be contrasted with Dan. viii. 1, where reference is made to the "third year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon" without any allusion to another over-ruler. Such attempts are at best subterfuges to support an impossible theory regarding the origin of the Book of Daniel, whose author clearly believed in the kingship of Belshazzar and in that prince's descent from Nebuchadrezzar.

Furthermore, the writer of Daniel asserts (v. 1) that a monarch "Darius the Mede" received the kingdom of Babylon after the fall of the native Babylonian house, although it is evident, from i. 21, x. 1, that the biblical author was perfectly aware of the existence of Cyrus.' The fact that in no other scriptural passage is mention made of any Median ruler between the last Semitic king of Babylon and Cyrus, and the absolute silence of the authoritative ancient authors regarding such a king, make it apparent that the late author of Daniel is again in error in this particular. It is known that Cyrus became master of Media by conquering Astyages, and that the troops of the king of Persia capturing Babylon took Nabonidus prisoner with but little difficulty. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to identify this mythical Darius with the Cyaxares, son of Astyages, of Xenophon's Cyropaedia, and also with the Darius of Eusebius, who was in all probability Darius Hystaspis. There is not only no room in history for this Median king of the Book of Daniel, but it is also highly likely that the interpolation of "Darius the Mede" was caused by a confusion of history, due both to the destruction of the Assyrian capital Nineveh by the Medes, sixty-eight years before the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, and also to the fame of the later king, Darius Hystaspis, a view which was advanced as early in the history of biblical criticism as the days of the Benedictine monk, Marianus Scotus. It is important to note in this connexion that Darius the Mede is represented as the son of Xerxes (Ahasuerus) and it is stated that he established 120 satrapies. Darius Hystapis was the father of Xerxes, and according to Herodotus (iii. 89) established twenty satrapies. Darius the Mede entered into possession of Babylon after the death of Belshazzar; Darius Hystaspis conquered Babylon 1 Prince, Dan. 35-42.

2 Certain tablets published by Strassmaier, bearing date continuously from Nabonidus to Cyrus, show that neither Belshazzar nor "Darius the Mede" could have had the title "king of Babylon." See Driver, Introduction, 3 xxii. Prince, Dan. 44-56.
from the hands of certain rebels (Her. iii. 153-160). In fine, the interpolation of a Median Darius must be regarded as the most glaring historical inaccuracy of the author of Daniel. In fact, this error of the author alone is proof positive that he must have lived at a very late period, when the record of most of the earlier historical events had become hopelessly confused and perverted.

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