On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:
Arif Ahmed, Sir David Attenborough, Mark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael Bate, Patricia Churchland, Aaron Ciechanover, Noam Chomsky,Alan Dershowitz, Hubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan Feuchtwang, David Friend, Riccardo Giacconi, Ivar Giaever , Roy Glauber, Rebecca Goldstein, David J. Gross, Brian Greene, Susan Greenfield, Stephen F Gudeman, Alan Guth, Jonathan Haidt, Theodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison, Hermann Hauser, Roald Hoffmann, Bruce Hood, Herbert Huppert, Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve Jones, Shelly Kagan, Michio Kaku, Stuart Kauffman, Lawrence Krauss, Harry Kroto, George Lakoff, Elizabeth Loftus, Alan Macfarlane, Peter Millican, Marvin Minsky, Leonard Mlodinow, Yujin Nagasawa, Alva Noe, Douglas Osheroff, Jonathan Parry, Saul Perlmutter, Herman Philipse, Carolyn Porco, Robert M. Price, Lisa Randall, Lord Martin Rees, Oliver Sacks, John Searle, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Schaffer, J. L. Schellenberg, Lee Silver, Peter Singer, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ronald de Sousa, Victor Stenger, Barry Supple, Leonard Susskind, Raymond Tallis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John Walker, Frank Wilczek, Steven Weinberg, and Lewis Wolpert,
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Alan Dundes (September 8, 1934 – March 30, 2005) was a folklorist at the University of California, Berkeley. His work was said to have been central to establishing the study of folklore as an academic discipline.He wrote 12 books, both academic and popular, and edited or co-wrote two dozen more. One of his most notable articles was called “Seeing is Believing” in which he indicated that Americans value the sense of sight more than the other senses.
He introduced the concept “allomotif” (coined in an analogy with “allomorph“, to complement the concept of “motifeme” (cf. “morpheme“) introduced by Kenneth L. Pike) as concept to be used in the analysis of the structures of folktales in terms of motifs identified in them.
Dundes attended Yale University, where he studied English and met his wife Carolyn. Sure that he would be drafted upon completion of his studies, Dundes joined the ROTC and trained to become a naval communications officer. When it turned out that the ship he was to be posted to, stationed in the Bay of Naples, already had a communications officer, Dundes asked what else that ship might need, not wanting to give up such a choice assignment. He then spent two years maintaining artillery guns on a ship in the Mediterranean. Upon completion of his service, Dundes attended Indiana University to pursue a Ph.D in folklore. At Indiana, he studied under the father of American Folklore, Richard Dorson. He quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the field of folkloristics. He completed his degree very quickly and went on to a teaching position at the University of Kansas where he stayed for only a year before being offered a position in the University of California, Berkeley anthropology department teaching folklore. Dundes held this position for 42 years, until his death in 2005.
Alan Dundes was an engaging lecturer, his Introduction to Folklore course attracting many students. In this course, students were introduced to the many various forms of folklore, from myth, legend, and folktale to proverbs and riddles to jokes, games, and folkspeech (slang), to folk belief and foodways. The final project for this course required that each student collect, identify, and analyze 40 items of folklore. All of this material (about 500,000 items) is housed and cataloged in the Berkeley Folklore Archives. Dundes also taught undergraduate courses in American folklore, and psychoanalytic approaches to folklore (his favorite approach) in addition to graduate seminars on the history of folkloristics, from an international perspective, and the history and progression of folklore theory.
Dundes was also a great supporter of the New Student Orientation Program at UC Berkeley (CalSO). He frequently gave the opening address during summer orientation programs, whetting students’ appetites about the type of instruction they might receive at the University. These addresses were littered with jokes and stories which were a trademark of Dundes’ lectures in his popular anthropology class and were a favorite of both in-coming students and the orientation staff alike.
Strongly opinionated, Dundes was not at all averse to the controversy that his theories often generated. He dealt frequently with folklore as an expression of unconscious desires and anxieties and was of the opinion that if people reacted strongly to what he had to say, he had probably hit a nerve and was probably on to something. Some of his more controversial work involved examining the New Testament and the Qur’an as folklore. However, of all his articles, the one that earned him death threats was “Into the Endzone for a Touchdown”, an exploration of the homoerotic subtext inherent in the terminology and rituals surrounding American football. In 1980, Dundes was invited to give the presidential address at the American Folklore Society annual meeting. His presentation, later published as a monograph titled “Life is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder”, uses folkspeech, customs, material culture, and so forth seeking to demonstrate an anal-erotic fixation of German national character. Reaction to this paper was incredibly strong and because of it, Dundes declined to attend the AFS annual meeting for the next 20 years. When he finally did attend again, in 2004, he again gave a plenary address, this time taking his fellow folklorists to task for being weak on theory. In his opinion, the presentation of data, no matter how thorough, is useless without the development and application of theory to that data. It is not enough to simply collect, one must do something with what one has collected. In 2012, linguist Anatol Stefanowitsch credited Dundes with having given rise to a still prevalent “stereotype about Germany as a culture enamored with excretion”, but called his monograph “unstructured, poorly argued and flimsily sourced” and “methodologically flawed because he only looked for evidence supporting his theory, and not – as even a folklorist should – for evidence against his theory”.
Endowment of a professorship
Dundes fiercely defended the importance of the discipline of folkloristics throughout his career. Towards the end of his life, he received an envelope containing a check from a former student, which he asked his wife to open. She read the figure out as $1,000. In fact, the check was for $1,000,000. This money allowed Dundes to endow the university with a Distinguished Professorship in Folkloristics, thereby ensuring that upon his retirement folklore would not be abandoned in the department.
The former student and benefactor wished to remain anonymous. Apparently he or she called the university prior to the donation to find out if Dundes was still teaching, or as Dundes told it, “to see if I was still alive.” The student mentioned that he or she intended to send a check, but Dundes said he was not sure the student would follow through.
The check was made out to the university, Dundes said, but with instructions that he could use it in any manner he saw fit.
“I could just take all my students to Fiji and have one hell of a party,” he said.
The professor instead decided to invest it in the study of folklore. The money funds a Distinguished Professorship of Folkloristics and helps fund the university’s folklore archives and provides grants for folklore students.
Interview by Flemming
Shortly before his death, Dundes was interviewed by filmmaker Brian Flemming for his documentary, The God Who Wasn’t There. He prominently recounted Lord Raglan’s 22-point scale from his 1936 book The Hero, in which he ranks figures possessing similar divine attributions. An extended interview is on the DVD version of the documentary.
The God Who Wasn’t There
Video uploaded for educational purposes protected by S.107 of the U.S.C.
Former fundamentalist Christian Brian Flemming places the core concepts of his former religion under the microscope in a documentary that attempts to do for religion what Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me did for the fast-food industry. In his bold quest to seek answers to the difficult questions that few are willing to pose, Flemming is joined by Deconstructing Jesus author Robert M. Price, renowned historian Richard Carrier, and The End of Faith author Sam Harris.
From the ignorance of many contemporary Christians as to the origin of their religion to the striking similarities between Jesus Christ and the deities worshipped by ancient pagan cults and the Christian obsession with blood and violence, this faith-shaking documentary explores the many mysteries of the Christian faith as never before.
This documentary argues the “mythicist” case in the historical Jesus debate. This position says that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t a real person but a fiction based on Jewish scriptures and mystery religions of the Roman Empire. It doesn’t make sense to talk about a “real” Jesus — there
Dundes collapsed and died while giving a graduate seminar.
Before the term folkloristics can be fully understood, it is necessary to understand that the terms folk and lore are defined in many different ways. While some use the word folk to mean only peasants or remote cultures, the folklorist Alan Dundes (1934–2005) of the University of California at Berkeley calls this definition a “misguided and narrow concept of the folk as the illiterate in a literate society” (Devolutionary Premise, 13).
Dundes is often credited with the promotion of folkloristics as a term denoting a specific field of academic study and applies instead what he calls a “modern” flexible social definition for folk: two or more persons who have any trait in common and express their shared identity through traditions. Dundes explains this point best in his essay, The Devolutionary Premise in Folklore Theory (1969):
- “A folk or peasant society is but one example of a ‘folk’ in the folkloristic sense. Any group of people sharing a common linking factor, e.g., an urban group such as a labor union, can and does have folklore. ‘Folk’ is a flexible concept which can refer to a nation as in American folklore or to a single family. The critical issue in defining ‘folk’ is: what groups in fact have traditions?” (emphasis in the original, see footnote 34, 13)
With this expanded social definition of folk, a wider view of the material considered to be folklore also emerged that includes, as William Wilson points out, “things people make with words (verbal lore), things they make with their hands (material lore), and things they make with their actions (customary lore)” (2006, 85).
Another implication of this broader defining of the term folk, according to Dundes, is that folkloristic work is interpretative and scientific rather than descriptive or devoted solely to folklore preservation. In the 1978 collection of his academic work, Essays in Folkloristics, Dundes declares in his preface, “Folkloristics is the scientific study of folklore just as linguistics is the scientific study of language. [. . .] It implies a rigorous intellectual discipline with some attempt to apply theory and method to the materials of folklore” (vii). In other words, Dundes advocates the use of folkloristics as the preferred term for the academic discipline devoted to the study of folklore.
According to Dundes, folkloristic work will probably continue to be important in the future. Dundes writes, “folklore is a universal: there has always been folklore and in all likelihood there will always be folklore. As long as humans interact and in the course of so doing employ traditional forms of communication, folklorists will continue to have golden opportunities to study folklore” (Devolutionary Premise, 19). According to folklorist William A. Wilson, “the study of folklore, therefore, is not just a pleasant pastime useful primarily for whiling away idle moments. Rather, it is centrally and crucially important in our attempts to understand our own behavior and that of our fellow human beings” (2006, 203).
- Pagter, Carl R. (Co-author). Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing.
- (1964).”The Morphology of North American Indian Folktales“.
- (Ed.) (1965). The Study of Folklore.
- (1968). “The Number Three in American Culture.” In Alan Dundes (ed.), Every Man His Way: Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
- (1969). “Thinking Ahead: A Folkloristic Reflection of the Future Orientation in American Worldview“.
- (1971). “A Study of Ethnic Slurs“.
- (1972). “Folk Ideas as Units of Worldview“.
- (1975). “Slurs International: Folk Comparisons of Ethnicity and National Character“.
- (1980). Interpreting Folklore. Indiana University Press.
- (1984). Life is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder: A Portrait of German Culture Through Folklore.
- (Ed.) (1984). Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth. University of California Press.
- Falassi, Alessandro (Co-author) (1984). La terra in Piazza: An interpretation of the Palio in Siena. University of California Press.
- (with C. Banc) (1986) “First Prize: Fifteen Years. An Annotated Collection of Political Jokes” ISBN 0-8386-3245-9
- (1987). Cracking Jokes: Studies of Sick Humor Cycles & Stereotypes. Ten Speed Press.
- Pagter, Carl R. (Co-author) (1987). When You’re Up to Your Ass in Alligators…: More Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire. Wayne State University Press.
- (Ed.) (1989). Little Red Riding Hood: A Casebook. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.
- (Ed.) (1990). In Quest of the Hero. Princeton University Press.
- (Ed.) (1991). Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore. University Press of Mississippi.
- (1991) The Blood Libel Legend: A Casebook in Anti-Semitic Folklore. University of Wisconsin Press
- (Ed.) (1992). The Evil Eye: A Casebook. University of Wisconsin Press.
- (1993). Folklore Matters. University of Tennessee Press.
- (Ed.) (1994). The Cockfight: A Casebook. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Edmunds, Lowell (Co-ed.) (1995). Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Pagter, Carl R. (Co-Author) (1996). Sometimes the Dragon Wins: Yet More Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire. Syracuse University Press.
- (Ed.) (1996). The Walled-Up Wife: A Casebook. University of Wisconsin Press.
- (1997). From Game to War and Other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore. University of Kentucky Press.
- (1997). Two Tales of Crow and Sparrow: A Freudian Folkloristic Essay on Caste and Untouchability. Rowman & Littlefield.
- (Ed.) (1998). The Vampire: A Casebook. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.
- Pagter, Carl R. (Co-author) (2000). Why Don’t Sheep Shrink When It Rains?: A Further Collection of Photocopier Folklore. Syracuse University Press.
- (1999). Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
- (2002). Bloody Mary in the Mirror: Essays in Psychoanalytic Folkloristics. University Press of Mississippi.
- (2003). The Shabbat Elevator and Other Sabbath Subterfuges. Rowman & Littlefield.
- (2003). Fables of the Ancients?: Folklore in the Qur’an. Rowman & Littlefield.
- (2003). Parsing Through Customs: Essays by a Freudian Folklorist. The University of Wisconsin Press.
- (2004). “As the Crow Flies: A Straightforward Study of Lineal Worldview in American Folk Speech“.
- (Ed.) (2005). Recollecting Freud. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.
In the second video below in the 56th clip in this series are his words and my response is below them.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
Alan Dundes comment in the You Tube film series Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2):
“I found the best evidence for my own research was going to Christian bookstores. There were all these books about apparent contradictions in the Bible, seeming inconsistencies, books and books of these things…and that gave me all the evidence I needed….They were my research assistants, these people who were trying to reconcile…”
by Everette Hatcher III
1998 / March-April
Farrell Till has asserted that reputable Bible scholars believe that the book of Daniel was not written by an individual named Daniel during the sixth century B.C. (TSR, Vol 4.3, p. 12). These scholars hold that the writer lived in the time of the Maccabees, and his “purpose was to give his countrymen reason to believe that centuries earlier a prophet of Yahweh had foreseen the rise of the Seleucid Empire and had predicted the triumph of the Maccabean struggle for independence against Antiochus Epiphanes” (TSR, Vol. 7.3, p. 3). William Sierichs, Jr. also takes this position in his article, “Daniel in the Historians’ Den” (TSR, Vol. 7.4, p.8). Sierichs comments, “Daniel can’t get Babylonian history straight, but he does pretty well by the Hellenistic era. Obviously, whoever wrote the book was a very solid citizen of the 2nd century B.C.E., whose `prophecies’ were wholly retroactive.”
Both Till and Sierichs have been influenced by biblical scholars who have embraced the higher critical views of the 1800’s. However, most people have overlooked the fact that these same scholars have made several admissions which are damaging to their Maccabean thesis.
The first admission concerns the conservative’s view that Rome is the fourth kingdom identified in Daniel’s prophecy. Till states the critic’s logic: “A flaw in this interpretation is the obvious fact that the writer of Daniel considered the median and Persian kingdoms to be separate empires, because he had the Neo-Babylonian empire falling to `Darius the Mede’ (5:30-31). This is historically inaccurate (just one of many historical inaccuracies in the book of Daniel), because reliable records of the time indicate that Cyrus the Great captured Babylon and ended the Neo-Babylonian kingdom. Nevertheless, the writer of Daniel told of a reign under “Darius the Mede: that preceded the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great (6:28; 10:1). So if the writer believed that the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes and then the Medes fell to the Persians, then the fourth kingdom in Daniel’s interpretation would have been Alexander’s Hellenistic empire” (TSR, Vol. 4.3, p. 12).
Notice that Till bases his conclusion on the “obvious fact that the writer of Daniel considered the Median and Persian kingdoms to be separate empires….” However, the famous Bible critic, Dr. Samuel Driver, admitted, “In the book of Daniel the `Medes and Persians’ are, it is true, sometimes represented as united (Daniel 5:28; 6:8, 12, 15, cf. 8:20)” (The Book of Daniel: Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Cambridge: University Press, 1900, p. 29). Conservative scholar Stephen Miller comments: “Such an admission seems fatal to Driver’s position, for if the author was aware at one point that the two nations were united into one empire, he certainly would not have construed them as separate both physically and chronologically elsewhere in the same book” (Daniel: The New American Commentary, Nashville, TN, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994, p. 95).
Moreover, in Daniel 5:28, the word peres has the same consonants (only the consonants were written in ancient Aramaic and Hebrew scripts) as the Aramaic term translated “Persians” and likely was a paronomasia (a word play) hinting that the division of the kingdom would be accomplished by the Persian armies. Bible critic Norman W. Porteous admits this hints at “the victory of Persia over Babylon” (Daniel, The Old Testament Library, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965, p. 81). Furthermore, the Bible critic John A. Montgomery agrees (“A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel,” International Critical Commentary, T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1979, p. 263).
Arthur Jeffrey claims the author assumed from his reading of Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 13:17; 21:2, and Jeremiah 51:11, 28) that the Medes conquered Babylon before the Persians (Arthur Jeffrey, “The Book of Daniel,” Interpreter’s Bible, Nashville: Abingdon, 1956, p. 434). However, Isaiah 21:2 blows this theory out of the water, because it speaks of Elam and Media as the joint-conquerors of Babylon. The critic H. H. Rowley admits: “This was doubtless written after Cyrus, king of Anshan, in southwest Elam, had brought the rest of Elam under his sway, when to the Hebrew observer it appeared likely that these two powers might unite in the destruction of Babylon. And since Elam is mentioned first, it is possible that the passage dates from a time after the absorption of Media by Cyrus” (H. H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel, 1935; reprint, Cardiff: University of Wales, 1964, p. 58).
Till correctly notes that the writer of Daniel had “Darius the Mede” conquering Babylon, but nowhere does the writer state that Darius was “the king of the Medes” or the “king of Media.” Dr. Robert H. Pfeiffer of Harvard University admitted the author of Daniel was “a very learned man” and “a sage” (Robert H. Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old Testament, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1948, p. 757), but Pfeiffer must have assumed that this “sage” had never read 2 Chronicles 36:20 where it is said that the Jews were servants to Nebuchadnezzar “and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia.” Clearly this indicates that the Persian reign came immediately after the Babylonian reign.
The second admission concerns the madness of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four. William Sierichs, Jr., states that “the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity may be a reference to a bout of insanity or lengthy depression in Nabonidus, who apparently was very unpopular in Babylon…” (TSR, Vol. 7.4, p. 8). This is the position held by many modern critical scholars today. Conservatives prefer a different explanation. Stephen Miller comments: “Some scholars have deemed this chapter primarily a fictional account, likely derived from the same source as the so-called `prayer of Nabonidus’ (4QPrBab), an Aramaic fragment discovered at Qumran in 1952 (D. N. Freedman, “The Prayer of Nabonidus,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Vol. 145, 1957, pp. 31-32). Though affinities exist between Daniel 4 and the “Prayer of Nabonidus,” they are far outweighed by the differences (e.g., name of the king, nature of the illness, and location). It seems reasonable to categorize the Nabonidus story as a distorted version or a later application of the biblical narrative” (p. 145).
Nevertheless, the critics insist there is no hint in the historical record that indicates it was Nebuchadnezzar with this strange case of madness that resulted in a seven-year absence. R. H. Pfeiffer called Daniel chapter four an “unhistorical tale,” and “a confused reminiscence of the years when Nabonidus spent at Tema in Arabia” (p. 758). Norman W. Porteous states, “indeed there is no record of Nebuchadnezzar’s having had leave of absence from his royal duties on account of insanity” (p. 70). However, later on the same page Porteous admits that fellow Bible critics Bevan, Montgomery, Bentzen, and Jeffrey have recorded such a story. Abydenus’s account is preserved by Eusebius (Praeparatio Evangelica, 9.41.1) and is reproduced by John A. Montgomery (p. 221).
Abydenus says that in the last days of Nebuchadnezzar, the king was “possessed by some god or other” while in his palace, and announced the coming of a Persian mule (i.e., Cyrus), who would bring the people into slavery. Then says Abydenus, “He, when he had uttered this prediction, immediately disappeared” (Praeparatio Evangelica, 9.41.1). Surely Porteous is wrong to admit the existence of this story by the historian Abydenus, and at the same time insist that “there is no record of Nebuchadnezzar’s having had leave of absence from his royal duties…”
The third and fourth admissions concern linguistic arguments. Farrell Till asserts: “Bible fundamentalists like to think that Daniel was written in the sixth century B. C., shortly after the events that the book closes with during the reign of Cyrus the Great, who had conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. Few reputable Bible scholars, however, would fix the date that early, because the book exhibits signs of a much later authorship. Scholars cite the writer’s obvious confusion about political events of the time that a contemporary would have surely been familiar with, the linguistic style (especially the section written in Aramaic), and other factors too numerous to discuss in detail as evidence that the book was written at the extreme end of the Old Testament period (no sooner than the second century)” (TSR, Vol. 4.3, p. 13).
Dr. Samuel Driver also made much of the Aramaic of the Book of Daniel. he stated, “The Aramaic of Daniel (which is all but identical with that of Ezra) is a Western Aramaic dialect, of the type spoken in and about Palestine” (p. 59 of the introduction of Driver’s commentary on Daniel), and he went on to suggest that archaeology had confirmed this. However, Jeffrey admits that the Aramaic in the Book of Daniel “cannot be pressed as evidence for a particular date, for it is that type of Aramaic which grew up for official use in the chancelleries and came to be widely used in the ancient Near East” (p. 349). Jeffrey cites more recent discoveries of fifth-century Aramaic texts that totally discredit Driver’s view (Franz Rosenthal, Die Aramaistische Forschung, [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1939] pp. 66-71).
Till has highly recommended Jeffrey’s work on Daniel (TSR, Vol. 7.3, p. 3, and Vol 7.4, p. 8). According to Till, Jeffrey’s material “gives a detailed analysis of the Book of Daniel to show, first of all, that it was not written by its namesake who allegedly lived in Babylon during the captivity, but by an unknown author during the time of the Seleucid Empire, which arose from the partitioning of Alexander’s kingdom after his death” (TSR, Vol. 7.3, p. 3). Does Jeffrey’s work accomplish this feat? Let’s look at a couple of popular arguments that he uses.
The fourth admission by the critics concerns the term “Chaldeans.” Jeffrey argues: “The use of the word kasdim (Chaldeans), not in the proper ethnic sense which it has, for example, in Jeremiah, but to mean a caste of wise men, points to a time when the word was commonly used for a class of priestly astrologers, diviners, or magicians, a sense the word has in the pages of Strabo or Diodorus Siculus, who wrote in the first century B.C. (p. 349).
Dr. Driver agrees that the argument concerning the use of the term “Chaldeans” is very convincing. So much that he places it first in the list of his three strongest arguments that show that the book of Daniel was composed in Palestine “during the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes” (pp. 47-56 of the Introduction).
How strong is this argument? On page 12 of Driver’s commentary, Driver himself takes exceptions to some of the assertions made by Jeffrey. Driver admits that in Daniel 5:30, and 9:1 the author of the book of Daniel did use the ethnic sense of the word “Chaldeans.” Then on the same page Driver admits this term “Chaldeans” is found “in Herodotus (Herodotus, Histories, 1.181-183, c. 440 B.C.), and is common afterwards in the classical writers” (p. 12). Furthermore, Driver also admits that evidence indicates that such a group of wise men as pictured in the book of Daniel did exist as a group as early as 2000 B.C. (p. 14).
Francis Schaeffer summarized Driver’s argument: “Remember this is his first strong argument. he is going to take the book of Daniel and throw away its historical date on the basis of these `so-called’ strong arguments. Now we have defined this question in regard to the term “Chaldeans.” The writer knew the ethnic sense. This group did exist from a long time before. About 90 years later everybody acknowledges that the word was used in this sense to the wise men. And so he is going to throw away the book of Daniel and its dating and all that it means on the basis that this specific group of wise men, who were well known from long before and afterwards, were not called this term in this 90-year span (530 B.C. to 440 B.C.). Now, once you word it this way, it doesn’t look so strong” (Francis Schaeffer’s five part series, Dr. Driver’s Criticism of the Book of Daniel, tape #2).
Is it any wonder that the bible critic J.J. Collins admits that the author’s use of the term “Chaldeans” cannot be used to date his material (Daniel, Hermeneia, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994, pp. 137-138). In fact, Jeffrey makes a similar error in his commentary on Daniel 10:1. He states: “Cyrus is here called `king of Persia.’ This may be merely a statement of fact, for he was king of Persia, but if it is meant as an official title, it is an anachronism in the mouth of Daniel. The title ‘king of Persia’, was Hellenistic usage and not the usage of the Achaemenid kings at this time” (p. 500).
Jeffrey overlooked the fact that Robert Dick Wilson contradicted this view expressly with what he found in the tablets of the Persian period (Robert Dick Wilson, “The Title `King of Persia’ in the Scriptures,” The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 15, 1917, pp. 90-145). Wilson commented: “It is evident therefore, that there are thirty-eight distinct extra-biblical instances of the use of this title from 545 to about 400 B.C.; and that these instances are found in twenty different works by nineteen different persons (p. 100).”
This argument of Jeffrey’s is completely put to flight concerning Daniel 10:1. It shows how much many of these scholars continue to repeat the same old arguments. No doubt, Jeffrey had read this argument in Driver’s commentary (p. 152), but he had failed to read the refutation provided by Wilson seventeen years later. I must admit that I have just repeated the arguments of others on occasion without taking a closer look at both sides of the argument…. there are two other issues in chapter 5 that I will press, and they both concern Belshazzar. In the article “Daniel in the Historians’ Den,” William Sierichs, Jr., states that Belshazzar was not the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar, and “Belshazzar was not the ruler as the Book of Daniel claims, and he was never king” (TSR, Vol. 7.4, p. 8).
These are two of the most common arguments used against the book of Daniel, but even the radical critic, Dr. Philip R. Davies has admitted that both are “weak arguments” (Philip R. Davies, Daniel, Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985, p. 31). He stated: “Critical commentaries, especially around the turn of the century, made much of the fact that Belshazzar was neither a son of Nebuchadnezzar, nor king of Babylon. This is still sometimes repeated as a charge against the historicity of Daniel, and resisted by conservative scholars. But it has been clear since 1924 (J.A. Montgomery, Daniel, International Critical Commentary, Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1927, pp. 66-67) that although Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, Belshazzar was effectively ruling Babylon. In this respect, then, Daniel is correct. The literal meaning of son should not be pressed” (pp. 30-31).
I call Davies a radical critic because he refuses to accept the archaeological evidence that indicates that king David existed (Philip R. Davies, “`House of David’ built on Sand,” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1994, pp. 54-55), and more recently he suggested that Hezekiah’s tunnel was not dug by Hezekiah’s men when the Bible claims, but was constructed centuries later. However, several eminent archaeologists put this reinterpretation to rest (“Defusing Pseudo-Scholarship,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1997, pp. 41-50). For Davies to concede anything, it must really be self-evident. Therefore, I put forth his admissions as especially meaningful. Furthermore, Davies does not accept the same view that Till and Sierichs do concerning the date of the authorship of the first six chapters of Daniel.
In the 19th century the consensus among Bible critics was that all of the chapters of Daniel were written in Palestine during the 2nd century B.C. However, in the 20th century most of the critics admit the first six chapters could have been written as early as the 6th century B.C. in Babylon. Philip R. Davies comments, “According to nearly every modern commentator, the tales of chapter 1-6 are originally products of a Jewish community in a Gentile environment” (Philip R. Davies, “Eschatology in the Book of Daniel,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 17, 1980, p. 33).
Could it be that the archaeological, linguistic, and historical evidence concerning Daniel will lead next century’s critics to consider the traditional theological view? This reminds me of an amazing quote from the astronomer Dr. Robert Jastrow: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, New York: Warner Books, 1978, p. 111).
(Everette Hatcher III, P. O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221)