Dating The Book Of Daniel


Another short video from the awesome Digital Hammurabi channel on YouTube, outlining some of the reasons why most scholars think the book of Daniel was written and composed much later than the 6th century BCE. It's a great, high-level introduction to this topic, for anyone interested in learning why most of the so-called "prophecies" in the book of Daniel were not predictions at all, and the few that were (regarding the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes), failed.

And another thing

When you take in all of the details we know from scholars about the book of Daniel and how it maps onto history, including the inaccuracies in its accounts of earlier events and the later/longer history of composition, you start to see a rather different story emerging than the one we were taught in Sunday School and in Christadelphian public lectures. That is, the book is actually portraying a very different message than the one traditionally ascribed to it.

For example, if it was written after the 4th century BCE, and especially into the 2nd century BCE, why did the author(s) pretend to be writing on behalf of a prophet who lived in the 6th century BCE? The answer to that question completely changes the whole point of the book.

The book wasn't written to impress readers in the 21st century CE about an ancient prophet's apparent clairvoyant abilities. Rather it was to encourage contemporary readers in the 2nd century to remain faithful in the fight against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was clearly the central focus of the latter chapters of the book.

When placed in its actual historical context (4th - 2nd century BCE), the book actually comes alive with meaning and can tell us a lot about the views and experiences of those living at the time. It's a valuable human artifact - a collection of documents written, edited, read, and preserved by real people who lived in the late centuries BCE. Those who insist on applying a simplistic prophetic interpretation do it a great disservice, and in fact often miss the whole point of the book.

Any claims that an ancient book was written "for us" in the 21st century simply so that we could be bamboozled by some clever fortune-telling tricks, should be met with extreme skepticism. As many scholars agree, there is a far more compelling option, and it's a lot more interesting.

7 comments:

  1. This article is only partly true. The Jews deliberately manipulated their calendar Seder Olam and the time periods to approximate the 70 weeks prophecy. The date of the Maccabbee uprising occurs exactly 420 years (4 x70)after the destruction of the first temple and they deliberately chose the day mentioned in Haggai (celebrated as Hanukkah) to cleanse the temple. See the abstract: http://www.biblaridion.info/resources/Dan_temple.pdf. See the website for the full Daniel Commentary.
    I expect it will make little difference and people who have "converted" to atheism will not be bothered to investigate with an unbiased eye. I wonder what all of you converts make of the coming together of the "Yinon Plan" of the deliberate use of immigration as a destabilizing tool, of the coming climate carnage (not man made) and the economic catastrophe that has nearly arrived not to forget imminent war (in the M.E. again)and to top this all off the coming authoritarianism of global institutions. And the Jews are actually behind much of this. What can I say? None so blind as those who cannot see.

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    1. Biblaridion was already brought up and discussed here last year. I don't know how your latest link relates to the previous discussion, but I think one of my comments there still applies:

      "Scholarly approaches required more effort to understand and refute, but in my opinion they gave me no more reason to believe, because I did not find them supporting the fundamentals I had come to doubt (stuff like belief in God and the resurrection of Jesus)."

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    2. Well if you post another (similar) video about Daniel you should expect another (similar)response. This has nothing to do with belief but with historical and interpretive approaches and accuracy. Frankly I do not care whether you believe or not but I do care when people who know very little about biblical literature and interpretive techniques accept explanations without investigating them properly. If you reject scripture and do not believe why are you posting stuff on Daniel? Obviously to demonstrate how wrong and stupid believers are but you clearly have no grasp of the subject yourself and as you say you are not really interested either. So if they give you no reason to believe and they require "effort" to understand stop posting them. And, by the way I stand by what I said. Only someone who is willfully blind refuses to see the direction globalization is taking. You will see the fulfillment of bible prophecy...this I promise...financial collapse, climate change, implementation of the Yinon plan and increased authoritarianism. The vials have started and will accelerate. Sorry buddy and good luck.

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    3. You've missed the fact that this website has multiple admins. I did not make this post, and have only shared my personal opinion on your comment. The original poster (probably Thom Jonas?) may comment, and may have a completely different opinion from me. All I wanted to point out after approving the comment was that it wasn't a new argument, and that in my opinion there are far bigger problems with Christianity than a few prophecies here and there.

      I did intend to read your link tonight, which I have. I don't see much more than a number of unsubstantiated assertions - for example, it makes a big deal out of a period of 420 years, which I can't see mentioned in any way in the Daniel passage you are working from. And I'm exceedingly skeptical of interpretations which suggest an arbitrary time gap between the two halves of the final week of Daniel, though that's nothing new.

      At a deeper level, though, I categorically reject the claim that Jesus Christ was the Jewish Messiah, and I categorically reject the Christian appropriation of Judaism shown throughout the New Testament (see here and here for more). Since the argument depends on this appropriation, I can equally categorically reject it.

      You're quite welcome to disagree with my analysis of this, but you're not welcome to dismiss it as willful blindness. While I sometimes engage, I don't feel the need to get into too many abstruse details of prophecy because I went looking into the foundations of Christianity and concluded they are fundamentally broken.

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    4. Unknown, you are really on shaky ground asserting folks here "know very little about biblical literature".
      In my estimation, from accessing this site for many years, the biblical knowledge shown (by both atheists and agnostics) is incredibly deep, wide and all encompassing. And very often, much deeper than those who profess to be in "The Truth" (and others). For using the expression "The Truth", one must understand that this is a site for ex-Christadelphians, though a welcome to all to contribute in a useful and constructive manner is offered, and can be helpful.

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    5. I can see both sides of this. I've been gone from Christadelphia for 11 years now, and free of religion completely for 7 years, so as the commenter suggests, I would not be bothered to either read the scripture itself, or be interested (biased or not) in anybody else's take on it either. However, I am from a sufficiently academic background to understand that other people might wish to, and that that is up to them.
      Why am I like this? Because as Jon comments, I too went looking and found the the basis for Christian belief to be broken beyond repair for me, so no longer have any desire to look into its pre-history, and I guess that must be the case for many who were not brought up in a belief system.
      "unknown" has trotted out the usual stuff, and seems unaware that most of us here have been Christadelphians. We have heard these dire "warnings" and been told that we have "failed to understand" and not "done enough Bible study" a thousand times, usually by dimwits who didn't even make it to post sixteen education and can barely read the Bible in English never mind any of the original languages.

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  2. I find it amusing that I can post a video from an Assyriologist (who also studied Old Testament at academic level), detailing what is by far the consensus view among Biblical scholars, and Unknown responds with accusations of "people who know very little about biblical literature and interpretive techniques" etc.

    Well, ok then.

    If I may respond to a few other points...

    Unknown said:
    If you reject scripture and do not believe why are you posting stuff on Daniel? Obviously to demonstrate how wrong and stupid believers are

    I apologise if this is how this video and comments came across to you. It is certainly not my intent to show that believers are "stupid", else I would be guilty as a former believer myself. I don't think I was stupid then, and I don't think most believers are stupid now.

    What this video demonstrates is (a) what the majority of scholars accept regarding the dating of the book of Daniel, and (b) some reasons why this is the case.

    You don't have to agree of course, but there are many Christadelphians who are simply unaware of this information and I think they deserve to know about it.

    As for your further predictions of doom and gloom, I question what the benefit is. If you're right, what was the point? To laugh at those who didn't just take your word for it (despite the many contrary predictions made by others with equally little evidence)? I don't find your pronouncement of vague "predictions" very helpful - especially since you provided no end date and no criteria by which anyone could confirm or disprove them. If you would be willing to make more concrete predictions with a definitive time and date, I might be willing to take more notice.

    But again, I still question the purpose of such predictions. If one out of ten predictions came true, what should we conclude? What should we do with such information? If all of your prior predictions came true, does that mean your next prediction will also come true? We know from financial market predictions that such inductive reasoning is deeply flawed. But let's start with some definitive predictions, rather than vague statements that you could later apply to virtually any event, and we'll go from there.

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