Book of Daniel written in 6th century B.C.? (Part 3)

The Bible and Archaeology (3/5)

I have been amazed at the prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled in history, and also many of the historical details in the Bible have been confirmed by archaeology too. ( I have put a list below of several posts I have made in the past about this.) One of the most amazing is the prediction that the Jews would be brought back and settle in Jerusalem again. Another prophecy in Psalms 22 describes messiah dying on a cross  almost 1000 years before the Romans came up with this type of punishment.  One of the top 10 posts on this concerns the city of Tyre.  John MacArthur went through every detail of the prophecy concerning Tyre and how history shows the Bible prophecy was correct.

Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Danielby David Conklin© (3/13/2004)

Table of ContentsIntroduction

Historical Issues

Antiochus IV Epiphanes



Babylonian Detail

Maccabean Context


Language Difficulties





Persian (Aryan)

General Comments


Acceptance into the Canon

Daniel: Is it in the Prophets or the Writings?

Is Daniel a Pseudonym?

Are Daniel’s Prophecies ex eventu?

Is the Book of Daniel a Unified Whole?

Theological Issues


Daniel’s Spelling of Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel And Jeremiah

Daniel and the book Wisdom of Sirach

Daniel and Darius the Mede

Daniel and the Prayer of Nabonidus

Daniel of Ugarit

Daniel’s Prophecies of the Kingdoms

Other Factors



INTRODUCTION      Since certain prophecies in the book of Daniel seem to have their fulfillment in Antiochus IV Epiphanes and since some people have a presuppositional bias against predictive prophecy [Eissfeldt, 520] they believe that the book of Daniel must have been written at the time of the Antiochus, roughly 164 B.C. to 169/7 B.C.. [DiLella, 134; for the last date see Meyers and Rogerson, 278–they say that the tribulations that caused the Book of Daniel to be written [was] Antiochus’ assault on the temple and Jerusalem. However, Collins (1984): 36 puts the date “between the profanation of the temple in 167 and the end of 164 BC.”] That, in short, is the Maccabean thesis; for more of a description see Ferch (1986): 6-11. Anthony Collins, in 1727, expressed the modern critical arguments for the 2nd century dating of Daniel when he revived Porphyry’s arguments. Anthony Collins noted the following features: “the historical problems, the Greek words, the prophecies relating to the second century …, the book’s location among the Writings, [and] the late Aramaic.” [Goldingay, xxxvi] We will examine each of these features in this study. To use a suggestion made by Goldingay we will determine the truth “from actual study of the text of Scripture”. We will also note where Goldingay and others have failed to do the same. We will not deal with the claims made by “some radical critics [who] have overreached themselves in finding ‘absurdities’ throughout the [book].” [Montgomery, 72 note 17]

We will find that there are a more than a few problems with the view of a Maccabean date for Daniel. Simply put, there is no evidence whatsoever that the book was written in 164/5 B. C.. It is only a theory and it needs to be called into question for the reasons I will show below. The usual claims in regards to the date of the book of Daniel are “examples of how much has been built on so little yet constantly reiterated by commentators till their weaknesses were exposed”. [Robinson, 342] Yet one should take note of how old some of the sources are (in some cases from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s; and in one case from 1771!) which refute the commonly made claims.

As you will see it seems apparent that what has happened is that most writers have typically superimposed an a priori pattern upon the book and have then attempted to force the pieces to fit that pattern–and they have done this mostly by ignoring the evidence. In a review of Baldwin’s commentary on Daniel the writer noted that she “gently chides advocates of the second-century date of the book [have] failed to change significantly their standard presentation since Driver [S. R. Driver, The Book of Daniel. (Cambridge, 1900)] — and this despite recent discoveries.” [Gammie (1980): 453]

Daniel J. Boorstin has said: “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance–it is the illusion of knowledge.”  It is hoped that this study will lead the reader to re-consider and re-evaluate what they have read and heard in the past. My personal experience is that I was not aware of the level of, kinds of, and the sheer amount of detail in regards to the date of Daniel until I undertook this study.  I really have to thank Farrel Till for publishing in his Skeptical Review an article by William Sierichs, Jr. about the book of Daniel (“Daniel in the Historians’ Den”).  This gave me the impetus to conduct this research; for I would not have had even the desire to study this topic without Sierichs comments against the book in general and specifically about the date.

Readily available sources (i.e., through inter-library loan), that I have examined are given in the bibliography at the end; more sources (in most cases these are more specialized or in a foreign language) are given in the text itself. If you engage in the method of compare/contrast (for instance, in terms of sources: the quantity and quality of these sources) you will note the sheer number and wide diversity of sources that I am providing as compared to that given by the critics, especially those of critics of the more “popular” variety.

One of the interesting lessons I learned in conducting this study was to see which objections and rationales used to be used against the book but have subsequently ceased to be used. See Farrar, 47-54 for some examples.

The points made in this paper are numbered sequentially so we can see how many points of evidence there really are about the date of the book of Daniel. There are 84 factors to consider as of May 19, 2000.

CONCLUSION      The combined effect of the above evidence points us very strongly away from the Maccabean thesis–“the arguments for the Maccabean dating of Daniel can hardly be said to be convincing.” [Harrison (1969): 1126] From the above we have learned that Daniel records details about 6th century Babylon that were subsequently lost shortly after its fall. We have seen that the language of the book requires a very early date–with the best fit being during the times it describes in detail. As Baldwin put it: “When all the relevant factors are taken into account … a late sixth- or early fifth-century date of writing for the whole best suits the evidence.” [Baldwin (1978a): 46] This also means that there is no evidence for the claim that Daniel was a forgery as Sierichs and Till have claimed.

“It can only be concluded that the critical case against the historicity of Daniel has survived to the present because its adherents have failed to take a second and more critical look at the arguments that have been propounded so unimaginatively and with such tedious repetition in recent times.” [Harrison (1969): 1122] He further argued that: “Objections to the historicity of Daniel were copied uncritically from book to book, and by the second decade of the twentieth century no scholar of general liberal background who wished to preserve his academic reputation either dared or desired to challenge the [then] current critical trend.” [Harrison (1969): 1111; quoted by Waltke (1976): 320] “When new information becomes available, it is Daniel, not the critics, who proves to be correct.” [Richards, 210]

In the words of Rowley: the continued presence of the Maccabean hypothesis is an example of “ruthless propaganda for a theory, rather than a scientific study of the evidence.” [Rowley (1952): 267] Harrison noted that: “Traditional Jewish and early Christian views were opposed by the Neoplatonist Porphyry (third century A.D.), who denied the possibility of predictive elements in prophecy and [who] assigned the work to the Maccabean period, maintaining that its purpose had been to sustain persecuted Jews in their adversities. This general position was [then] adopted by European rationalists, and became “one of the assured results” of the literary-critical movement, even though it was consistently challenged by conservative scholars and was entirely lacking in objective proof.” [Harrison (1979): 246; see also Waltke (1976): 319-20.]

One must also note that the conservative position is typically given a very cursory notice (note that the critics typically cover very few of the above points) with no interaction with them if they are acknowledged at all. For a stunning contrast look at the treatment that men like Hasel, Shea, Ferch, Harrison, and McDowell give to the liberal/critical views. This bias against the conservative view can be seen especially in the absence of any conservative sources in the bibliographies given in the dictionaries and encyclopedia articles that the masses would typically be exposed to.

We can see by the quote above from Harrison that the reason for the continued claim for a late date for the book of Daniel is that by doing so its credibility can be destroyed and thus eliminates any idea of a genuine prophecy coming true. Which is why Pusey has pointed out: “The book of Daniel is especially fitted to be a battle-ground between faith and unbelief. It admits of no halfway measures. It is either Divine or an imposture.” Miller has pointed out that “although the miraculous handwriting and Daniel’s interpretation of it are matters of faith, the historical circumstances surrounding those events are established by objective data” as the above study has shown. [page 150] Bringing up the miraculous elements of the book is another favorite, and diversionary, tactic of the critics. This is especially true when they have been presented with concrete evidence that their “facts” about the book are wrong.

Given the sum of all the evidence presented here we can only conclude that the prophecies in the book of Daniel were written about 530 B.C. which is long before the actual events unfolded. Thus, there is no case of these prophecies being written after the event (vaticinia ex eventu).

“But the question naturally arises, If the evidence for a sixth century date of composition is so certain, why do scholars reject it in favor of an
unsupportable Maccabean hypothesis? The reason is that most scholars embrace a liberal, naturalistic, and rationalistic philosophy. Naturalism
and rationalism are ultimately based on faith rather than upon evidence; therefore this faith will not allow them to accept the supernatural predictions.”

Archer states this point well: “The committed antisupernaturalist, who can only explain the successful predictions of Daniel as prophecies after the
fulfillment, … is not likely to be swayed by any amount of objective evidence whatever.” [Waltke (1976): 329; Archer quote is from: “Old Testament
History and Recent Archaeology from the Exile to Malachi,” Bibliotheca Sacra 127 (October-December 1970): 297; see also Hill and Walton, 350]

One can only hope that Waltke and Archer are unduly pessimistic. However, pessimistic one may be about skeptics changing their minds there are some grounds for hope. For instance, the “extremely skeptical” German OT scholar Martin Noth changed his mind over time as a result of the archaeological evidence. [Yamauchi (1974): 70] But, we shouldn’t get our hopes too high.

Mounce points out that “the excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural.” [Robert H. Mounce, “Is the New Testament Historically Accurate?” in Can I Trust the Bible? ed. Howard F. Vos, p. 176, emphasis mine; quote found in Both/And: A Balanced Apologetic. by Ronald B. Mayers (Moody, 1984); for another example see Allis, 248] This perception of the nature of the bias against the Bible is reinforced by noting that previous opinions in regards to secular history have been overturned when archaeology had proven them to be in error. [Yamauchi (1974): 54-70] And yet when it comes to the Bible the “old” views which can now be known to be wrong continue to be broadcast to an overly-trusting and unsuspecting audience.

BibliographyAbbreviations used:

ANE = Ancient Near East
ANET = Ancient Near Eastern Texts
AUSS = Andrews University Seminary Studies
BAR = Biblical Archaeological Review
BASOR = Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
CBQ = Catholic Biblical Quarterly
EBD = Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
HUCA = Hebrew Union College Annual
ICC = International Critical Commentary
IDB = Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible
ISBE = International Standard Bible Encyclopedia ITQ = Irish Theological Quarterly
JAOS = Journal of the American Oriental Society
JBL = Journal of Biblical Literature
JETS = Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
JSOT = Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
JTS = Journal of Theological Studies
JTS NS = Journal of Theological Studies (New Series)
NEB = New English Bible
NIV = New International Version
RSV = Revised Standard Version
VT = Vetus Testamentum
ZAW = Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentaliche Wissenschaft

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  144. Tucker, Gene M. “Esther, The Book of,” Oxford Companion to the Bible. (Oxford, 1993): 198-201.
  145. Trever, John C. “The Book of Daniel and the Origin of the Qumran Community,” Biblical Archaeologist 48 (1985): 89-102.
  146. _______ “I Q Dana: The Latest of the Qumran Manuscripts,” Revue de Qumran 7 (1969-70): 277-86.
  147. Vasholz, R. I. “Qumran and the Dating of Daniel,” JETS 21:4 (Dec 1978): 315-321.
  148. Wallace, Ronald S. The Lord is King: The Message of Daniel. (IVP, 1979)
  149. Waltke, Bruce K. “The Textual Criticism of the Old Testament,” Expositor’s. Vol. 1 (Zondervan, 1979): 211-228.
  150. _______ “The Date of the Book of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra 134 (1976): 319-29.
  151. Wegner, Walter “The Book of Daniel and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Quartalschrift-Theological Quarterly 455 (1958): 103-16.
  152. Wenham, Gordon J. “Daniel: The Basic Issues,” Themelios 2:2 (1977): 49-52.
  153. Whitcomb, John C. Darius the Mede: A Study in Historical Identification. (Eerdmans, 1959)
  154. Wilson, R. D. Studies in the Book of Daniel. (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1917)
  155. _______ “The Book of Daniel and the Canon,” Princeton Theological Review 13 (1915): 352-408.
  156. Winckler, Hugo The History of Babylonia and Assyria. Translated and Edited by James Alexander Craig (Scribner’s, 1907)
  157. Wiseman, Donald J. “Belshazzar,” Oxford Companion to the Bible. (Oxford, 1993): 77-8.
  158. _______ “Nebuchadnezzar,” Oxford Companion to the Bible. (Oxford, 1993): 552-3.
  159. Yamauchi, Edwin M. “The Archaeological Background of Daniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra 137 (1980): 3-16.
  160. _______ “Hermeneutical Issues in the Book of Daniel,” JETS 23:1 (March 1980): 13-21.
  161. _______ “The Archaeological Confirmation of Suspect Elements in the Classical and Biblical Traditions,” The Law and the Prophets. Edited by J. Skilton (1974): 54-70.
  162. Young, Edward J. “The Canon of the Old Testament,” Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought. Edited by Carl F. H. Henry (Baker, 1969)
  163. _______ An Introduction to the Old Testament. (Eerdmans, 1964)
  164. Related posts:

    Robert Dick Wilson’s talk “Is the Higher Criticism Scholarly?” (part 3 of transcript) (Wilson looks at the Book of Daniel)

    The Bible and Archaeology (4/5) For many more archaeological evidences in support of the Bible, see Archaeology and the Bible . (There are some great posts on this too at the bottom of this post.)   Robert Dick Wilson at the Grove City Bible Conference in 1909. IS THE HIGHER CRITICISM SCHOLARLY?Clearly attested facts showing that […]

    Hanukkah celebrates Maccabean Revolt: Was the Book of Daniel written then or when the Bible claims?

    Bible Prophecy vs. History (Daniel 11:1-19) _____________________________ Wikipedia notes: Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה‎, Tiberian: Ḥănukkāh, usually spelled חנוכה pronounced [χanuˈka] in Modern Hebrew, also romanized as Chanukah, Chanukkah, or Chanuka), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time […]

    Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B.C. Events? (part 2) (Plus Six Pieces of Archaeological Evidence that Support the 6th Century View and video of John MacArthur on Daniel 4)

    The Bible and Archaeology (3/5) For many more archaeological evidences in support of the Bible, see Archaeology and the Bible . (There are some great posts on this too at the bottom of this post.) I believe the evidence points to Daniel writing the Book of Daniel in the 6th century B.C. Below is a sermon […]

    Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B.C.Events? (part 1)

    The Bible and Archaeology (2/5) There is evidence pointing to the accuracy of the Bible. Here is some below. For many more archaeological evidences in support of the Bible, see Archaeology and the Bible . (There are some great posts on this too at the bottom of this post.) Was Daniel an Eyewitness of 6th-Century B. […]

    The Critics’ Admissions Concerning Daniel

    The Bible and Archaeology (1/5) I have been amazed at the prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled in history. John MacArthur went through every detail of the prophecy concerning Tyre and how history shows the Bible prophecy was correct.   I love the Book of Daniel and I am starting a series today […]

    Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject:

    The Babylonian Chronicle
    of Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem

    This clay tablet is a Babylonian chronicle recording events from 605-594BC. It was first translated in 1956 and is now in the British Museum. The cuneiform text on this clay tablet tells, among other things, 3 main events: 1. The Battle of Carchemish (famous battle for world supremacy where Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Pharoah Necho of Egypt, 605 BC.), 2. The accession to the throne of Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean, and 3. The capture of Jerusalem on the 16th of March, 598 BC.

    2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription.

    King Hezekiah of Judah ruled from 721 to 686 BC. Fearing a siege by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, Hezekiah preserved Jerusalem’s water supply by cutting a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls (2 Kings 20; 2 Chron. 32). At the Siloam end of the tunnel, an inscription, presently in the archaeological museum at Istanbul, Turkey, celebrates this remarkable accomplishment.

    3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)

    It contains the victories of Sennacherib himself, the Assyrian king who had besieged Jerusalem in 701 BC during the reign of king Hezekiah, it never mentions any defeats. On the prism Sennacherib boasts that he shut up “Hezekiah the Judahite” within Jerusalem his own royal city “like a caged bird.” This prism is among the three accounts discovered so far which have been left by the Assyrian king Sennacherib of his campaign against Israel and Judah.

    4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically.

    In addition to Jericho, places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been excavated, quite apart from such larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon. Such geographical markers are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives;

    5. The Discovery of the Hittites

    Most doubting scholars back then said that the Hittites were just a “mythical people that are only mentioned in the Bible.” Some skeptics pointed to the fact that the Bible pictures the Hittites as a very big nation that was worthy of being coalition partners with Egypt (II Kings 7:6), and these bible critics would assert that surely we would have found records of this great nation of Hittites.  The ironic thing is that when the Hittite nation was discovered, a vast amount of Hittite documents were found. Among those documents was the treaty between Ramesses II and the Hittite King.

    6.Shishak Smiting His Captives

    The Bible mentions that Shishak marched his troops into the land of Judah and plundered a host of cities including Jerusalem,  this has been confirmed by archaeologists. Shishak’s own record of his campaign is inscribed on the south wall of the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak in Egypt. In his campaign he presents 156 cities of Judea to his god Amon.

    7. Moabite Stone

    The Moabite Stone also known as the Mesha Stele is an interesting story. The Bible says in 2 Kings 3:5 that Mesha the king of Moab stopped paying tribute to Israel and rebelled and fought against Israel and later he recorded this event. This record from Mesha has been discovered.

    8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

    The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, chalices of gold, cups of gold, vases of gold, lead, a sceptre for the king, and spear-shafts, I have received.”

    View from the dome of the Capitol!9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts.

    Sir William Ramsay, famed archaeologist, began a study of Asia Minor with little regard for the book of Acts. He later wrote:

    I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.

    9B Discovery of Ebla TabletsWhen I think of discoveries like the Ebla Tablets that verify  names like Adam, Eve, Ishmael, David and Saul were in common usage when the Bible said they were, it makes me think of what amazing confirmation that is of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

    10. Cyrus Cylinder

    There is a well preserved cylinder seal in the Yale University Library from Cyrus which contains his commands to resettle the captive nations.

    11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.

    This cube is inscribed with the name and titles of Yahali and a prayer: “In his year assigned to him by lot (puru) may the harvest of the land of Assyria prosper and thrive, in front of the gods Assur and Adad may his lot (puru) fall.”  It provides a prototype (the only one ever recovered) for the lots (purim) cast by Haman to fix a date for the destruction of the Jews of the Persian Empire, ostensibly in the fifth century B.C.E. (Esther 3:7; cf. 9:26).

    12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription

    The Bible mentions Uzziah or Azariah as the king of the southern kingdom of Judah in 2 Kings 15. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription is a stone tablet (35 cm high x 34 cm wide x 6 cm deep) with letters inscribed in ancient Hebrew text with an Aramaic style of writing, which dates to around 30-70 AD. The text reveals the burial site of Uzziah of Judah, who died in 747 BC.

    13. The Pilate Inscription

    The Pilate Inscription is the only known occurrence of the name Pontius Pilate in any ancient inscription. Visitors to the Caesarea theater today see a replica, the original is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. There have been a few bronze coins found that were struck form 29-32 AD by Pontius Pilate

    14. Caiaphas Ossuary

    This beautifully decorated ossuary found in the ruins of Jerusalem, contained the bones of Caiaphas, the first century AD. high priest during the time of Jesus.

    14 B Pontius Pilate Part 2      

    In June 1961 Italian archaeologists led by Dr. Frova were excavating an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) and uncovered this interesting limestone block. On the face is a monumental inscription which is part of a larger dedication to Tiberius Caesar which clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”

    14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

    Despite their liberal training, it was archaeological research that bolstered their confidence in the biblical text:Albright said of himself, “I must admit that I tried to be rational and empirical in my approach [but] we all have presuppositions of a philosophical order.” The same statement could be applied as easily to Gleuck and Wright, for all three were deeply imbued with the theological perceptions which infused their work.

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  • Harald Heinze  On February 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Dear Madam, Dear Sir,
    I saved on my PC for my private use the above whole book of David Conklin “Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel” 2004-
    As I see today it is Copyright. Do I owe Money for having saved that whole book on my PC.for personal use?
    I tried to contact Mr. Conklin but the email failed. Do you have a correct one of him?
    Thank you for a reply,

    Harald Heinze
    Bergstr. 13
    8117 Faellanden

  • Tom  On November 26, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    A great work defending Daniel’s 6th century composition is here:

    and it figured in a major way in the debate here:

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