Early Traces Of The Book Of Daniel -- By: Roger T. Beckwith

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 53:1 (NA 2002)
Article: Early Traces Of The Book Of Daniel
Author: Roger T. Beckwith

Early Traces Of The Book Of Daniel

Roger Beckwith


In three intertestamental works, dating from before the time when the Book of Daniel is commonly supposed to have been written, a knowledge of the book seems to be reflected. We were formerly dependent on translations of these works, which made such an inference less certain, but we now have access to sufficient parts of the original to confirm that the translations are reliable. We also have a clearer idea now when one of the works (the Book of Watchers) was written.

There have always been those who are unpersuaded by the Maccabean dating which, since the latter part of the nineteenth century, has commonly been assigned to the Book of Daniel. Some have criticised the philosophical assumptions underlying such a dating, and some the alleged acceptability of pseudonymity as a respectable literary device in Jewish prophetic literature, while others have addressed the historical and linguistic problems which have been supposed to prove the lateness of the book.1 Since the Qumran discoveries took place, a lot of new historical and linguistic evidence bearing (directly or indirectly) on the date of Daniel has been emerging,2 and some of it has the effect of confirming apparent allusions to the book found in writings predating its supposed time of composition. Three such allusions are the subject of this article.

I. The Book Of Tobit

The earliest of these writings, perhaps, is the Book of Tobit, very likely the oldest of the books of the Apocrypha. The direct Persian influence on this book and its familiar acquaintance with the ancient Book of Ahiqar are unique features, and the arguments used by D.C. Simpson in Charles’s collection3 and by W.O.E. Oesterley in his Introduction to the Books of the Apocrypha4 for the integrity of the book and its early date, are still sound. They date it in the late third or early second century bc, and discoveries made since have not inclined scholars to date it any later. The most recent attack on the integrity of the book, made by Frank Zimmermann in his Dropsie edition of Tobit,5 and claiming that chapters 13 and 14 must have been added after ad 70, came less than ten years before the announcement by J.T. Milik that fragments of four Aramaic manuscripts and one Hebrew manuscript of the book ha...

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