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Daniel In the Critics’ Den

Many Christians consider the prophecies in the book of Daniel as inspired. Their fulfillment gives them confidence in the Bible and its divine Author. Conservative biblical scholars date the writing of the book to the sixth century BC, when Daniel lived first as a Jewish captive and then as a high official in the Babylonian and Persian courts. On the other hand, critical scholars reject the possibility of genuine prophecy and therefore attribute Daniel’s book to an anonymous author, possibly from Jerusalem, writing in the Hellenistic period (c. 168–165 BC). The prophecies that were “fulfilled” between the sixth and second centuries bc, the critics say, are simply history parading as prophecy. (Prophecies that go beyond that time are simply discounted.) However, there are solid arguments to believe in the sixth century authorship, showing that Daniel’s prophecies are just that—prophecies. Let’s look at the evidence:

The Dead Sea

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  1. F. M. Cross, quoted in G. Hasel, “New Light on the Book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls”, Ministry, January 1992.

  2. K. Van Der Toorn, “Scholars at the Oriental Court,” in J. J. Collins & P. W. Flint (eds.), The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, (Leiden: Brill, 2001), pp. 40-41, 49-51.

  3. Ibid., p. 51.

  4. S. M. Paul, ”The Mesopotamian Background of Daniel 1-6,” in J. J. Collins & P. W. Flint (eds.), The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, (Leiden: Brill, 2001), pp. 55, 59-60, 63.

  5. Ibid., pp. 62-63.