The Durable Daniel

danielIt’s not easy to ignore the book of Daniel if you know about it. Written almost 2,600 years ago, this ancient book stubbornly proves the Bible is God’s Eternal Word in a league of its own, despite a massive assault to discredit it. When people think God operates exclusively outside scientific facts (a strange idea, since God created the laws of science), they simply don’t know the proof God gave us. He carefully recorded and preserved proof that He not only exists, but He communicates clearly. Daniel is a great place to find hardcore evidence.

As I’m teaching Daniel now, I’m struck by the majesty of the prophetic picture. It’s especially cool if you love epoch war movies or beast-movies. It’s like ‘Apocalypse Now’ Meets Godzilla. Check this out…

Daniel 7:2-3 In my vision that night, I, Daniel, saw a great storm churning the surface of a great sea, with strong winds blowing from every direction. Then four huge beasts came up out of the water, each different from the others…

Daniel 7

The beasts, the sea, the storm in Daniel 7.

It’s more exciting than a Hollywood movie (unless only special effects matter). Daniel is real-world, not fiction, and it delivers prophecy with a punch, unlike the cheap rubbish on the History Channel.

The beasts crawling from the sea, God tells Daniel, are like the dramatic rise and fall of world empires—Medio-Persians (remember the movie 300?), the Greek and Roman empires (no shortage of movies for these), culminating in a revived Roman Empire, on steroids! All these empires were still future to Daniel, some by centuries, but the greatest monster-empire still lies in our future. From the advantage of our point in time, it is astonishing to look back and see the precision and details fulfilled by Daniel’s prophecies.

Daniel gives other prophecies more detailed, fulfilled even later with stunning accuracy. Chapter 9 predicts the Messiah-King coming in 33 AD, the “Triumphal Entry” Jesus made to the capital city. We call it Palm Sunday. It was the only time Jesus was openly-declared Messiah-King. Chapter 11 predicts the details of an invasion known as “A Day of Infamy!” by Jews, triggering the Maccabean Revolt (still celebrated as Hanukah today).

The accuracy of biblical prophecy force skeptics to say Daniel was a forgery written 400 years later than claimed. They dismiss the book’s prophecy as simple history—but it doesn’t work. A copy of Daniel was found among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, and hard science dates the scroll to 180 BC and earlier, leaving the “histories” about Rome and the Triumphal Entry still “future history”. (Skeptics chalk that up to good luck, or ignore it.)

Daniel’s theme is the reality of God, His communication and participation still today, as we see the future described by Daniel and other prophets unfold. Revelation is the book people usually get fascinated with, but written 700 years later, it presumes a working knowledge of Daniel. Revelation is a garbled bag of symbols without Daniel.

The Irritating Facts

Speaking of skeptics, studying Daniel means pushing through a rude crowd of theoreticians obsessed with discrediting it. Hundreds of brilliant academics reject Daniel’s professed 6th C authorship, so an encyclopedia accurately says, “Most scholars agree that the book was written anonymously in the mid-2nd century BC.” 1 The crowd of academics get so involved because the archeological evidence supports a 6th Century BC date for Daniel. It’s an embarrassment for hardened secularists and theological liberals.

The astonishing incongruity between “most scholars” and archeology is depicted beautifully in the Wikipedia entry (emphasis mine):

The book was probably composed about 165 BC, shortly before the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164. Opinions continue to differ, however, in light of apparently early forms of Aramaic language used in the Aramaic portions. (see Wikipedia, “Book of Daniel”)

Be amazed by the bias “most scholars” employ with Daniel: they fix the date it was “probably composed” with astonishing precision. Why not 163, or 167? The accurate details about Antiochus IV Epiphanes means Daniel 11 was written “shortly before the death of Antiochus…” So 164 BC must be the date.

Science repudiates their fixed date, however. Archeologists found a copy of Daniel among the DSS artifacts (circa  180-160 BC). It means:

  1. Daniel was already in wide circulation before 164 BC.
  2. Daniel was already revered by staunch religious conservatives before 164 BC. 2

The Daniel artifact predating 164 BC is not obscure science. To hand-copy and distribute the book all the way to isolated communities like the Essenes and to acknowledge its ancient origins would require a century or more for such a forgery. In fact, it’s so impossible, nothing in the real world corresponds to these silly theories “most scholars” hold for Daniel.

More amazing, the Daniel artifact was written with “early forms of Aramaic language” long-dead by 164 BC, archeology says. But its outdated-Aramaic was the official language of the Babylonians four centuries earlier.  The Neo-Babylonian Empire collapsed by 539 BC, so this Daniel forgery was written in 164 by a scholar of Babylonian antiquities, if any such beast existed in Israel. So “most scholars” say.

Science says 164 BC is academic bias which cannot and will not admit evidence for biblical prophecy. “It can’t be prophecy, because it can’t be!” It seems rather infantile.

The Obsession

Discrediting Daniel as a forgery has kept a large, vocal crowd of skeptics busy dodging the facts by swapping and modifying exotic theories, beginning in 233 AD with pagan Roman scholarship. To forestall the alarming growth of Christianity, Porphyry wrote 15 books titled “Against the Christians” in which he was forced to attack the Babylonian-era authorship of Daniel. For all the scholarship employed since then, modern scholars have never evolved past Porphyry’s primitive argument that Daniel’s accuracy proves it was a history.

It is puzzling—why bother discrediting a worthless forgery, if they feel that way about it? Does the book of Mormon get this critical attention? And why bother replacing discredited theories with more discredited theories? The big surprise comes is to discover the critics come with high academic standing, often professors, but their Daniel theories are consistently lax on academic discipline. Not only is hard evidence missing, their theories address this flaw with  indifference, usually with silence, but sometimes with magical hand-waving! They go even further and ignore the hard excavations of archeologists which keep supporting a 6th century date for Daniel.

It begs the question, why treat Indiana Jones with such disdain?

  1. Daniel, from Encarta® 98 Desk Encyclopedia © 1996-97 Microsoft Corporation. []
  2. The Daniel scroll was in the library of the Essenes, a conservative, religious protest-movement disenchanted with the liberalism they believed characterized contemporary Judaism. Their cause was similar to the modern phenomena of the isolated, conservative-Christian fundamentalists who form protectionist communities, with militia. []

4 thoughts on “The Durable Daniel

  1. Lisa

    Why do ppl refute the evidence? I’d say ppl want to believe what they want to believe. If evidence or truth contradicts what they believe, then they must attack the source or the author. I guess this is why the “true believers” of the day plotted against Christ. He exposed a truth that proved they were living in darkness. Those men had to destroy the source – little did they realize that Christ’s death was all part of the plan to redeem man. It’s so cool that Daniel includes this prophetic plan in his writings. God is a god of mysteries, but he offers answers to the seekers.

    1. Lisa

      Of course the other option is to change beliefs to align with the evidence, but then there’s no reason to refute the source.

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