The Date And Authorship Of The Book Of Daniel -- By: Charles Ray

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 11:34 (Dec 2007)
Article: The Date And Authorship Of The Book Of Daniel
Author: Charles Ray

The Date And Authorship Of The Book Of Daniel

Charles Ray, Th.D.

Dean of Online Studies, Tyndale Theological Seminary

It is no accident that the three most attacked books of the Bible are also the most significant (Gen; Dan; Rev). It is commonly known that if the foundation is faulty, the building will soon fall. This article will seek to refute the view that the Book of Daniel was written in the second century BC (as many liberals claim) and thus could not have been written by Daniel (ca. 622–536). This being the case, the issue of the date of Daniel will be addressed first. Miller concisely states the importance of this study: “One’s view concerning authorship and date is significant because it ultimately determines the interpretation of every aspect of this prophecy.”1

The Date Of Daniel

Position In The Canon

One of the arguments put forth which seems to indicate a late date (second century BC) for Daniel is its place in the canon. English versions of the Bible are based on the canonical order given in the Septuagint. As such, Daniel is grouped with the three major (writing) prophets. In the Hebrew canon, however, the book is positioned with the Writings (Ruth; 1—2 Chron; Ezra, Neh; Esth; Job; Ps; Prov; Eccl; Song; Lam).

Critics believe that since the Writings were collected after the prophetic canon was closed, Daniel could not have been written in the sixth century. The critics’ assumption is wrong. A number of the Psalms and Proverbs were composed between ca. 1020 and 950 BC. The events in the Book of Job likely happened in the days of Abraham (ca. 2000 BC). Therefore finding Daniel among the Writings does not require a late date. The Masoretes (ca. AD 750–950) may have moved Daniel from the Prophets to the Writings since much of the book is history and because Daniel was not a commissioned prophet to a certain people.2

Ben Sira’s Testimony

A second point espoused by liberals is the fact that Ben Sira3 does not mention Daniel. A passage in this apocryphal work (written about 195 BC) lists some notable OT figures but Daniel is not one of them. However, arguments from silence are generally considered weak. Too, the passage in question (44:1f) does not list Ezra or Mordecai either (among others). Some critics conclude that the author didn’t know about Daniel (which is nearly impossible to believe), thus forcing a late date.

Other evidence indicates Daniel was actually well-known by the second century.

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