"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" The Preacher's Observations - I (3:1-4:16)


The Preacher's Observations - I (3:1-4:16)


1. In Ecclesiastes, we find the question raised:  "What profit has a
   man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?" - 1:3
   a. The key phrase is "under the sun"
   b. I.e., what profit is there in life when viewed from an earthly perspective?
   c. I.e., what value is there in our labor when we fail to consider
      God's will in life?
   -- We have seen the answer given by the Preacher:  "All is vanity"- 1:2,14

2. How did he reach this conclusion?
   a. Based upon personal experience - 1:1-2:26
   b. Also from personal observations - 3:1-6:12

3. Our previous lessons examined the experiences of the Preacher...
   a. Now we begin to note his observations
   b. In which he also shares his wisdom for living "under the sun"

[His conclusion that life "under the sun" was vanity was partly reached
by observing...]


      1. "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose 
           under heaven" - 3:1-8
      2. "He has made everything beautiful in its time." - 3:11a
      3. "...whatever God does, it shall be forever...' - 3:14-15

      1. God has put it in man to search out this purpose - 3:9-11a
      2. But "no one can find out the work that God has done" - 3:11b
      1. "God does it, that men should fear before Him" - 3:14c
      2. I.e., to reverence God, and therefore seek to please Him - cf. Ac 17:26-27
         a. God has made man an inquisitive creature
         b. He has also made life such that we are always seeking for
            something better, or for some purpose
         -- Hopefully, we will keep seeking until we find Him!

      1. There is nothing better than to:
         a. "Rejoice and do good" - 3:12
         b. "Eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor" - 3:13a
      2. Yet the ability to do so is "the gift of God" - 3:13b
         a. So one must be in favor with God
         b. Knowing that God will require an account of our actions 
            - 3:15b; cf. 11:9; 12:14

[Without revelation, we cannot discern God's purposes; without His 
blessing, we cannot enjoy the good of our labor.  Therefore any effort
to live without God can only be vanity as we will find His purposes inexplicable.

The Preacher's conclusion about the vanity of life was also reinforced 
by observing...]


      1. Wickedness in the place of justice - 3:16
      2. Power on the side of the oppressor, with no comfort for the
         oppressed - 4:1
      -- Prompting him to think the dead were better than the living,
         even better those who had never lived - 4:2-3

      1. God will judge the righteous and the wicked - 3:17a
      2. God will somehow use injustice and wickedness in carrying out
         His purpose - 3:17b (e.g., just as God used Assyria and 
         Babylon to discipline Israel)
      3. God allows injustice to test the sons of men - 3:18-21
         a. To help them see that they are like beasts, in that they
            will die and their bodies return to dust
         b. While they are also different from beasts, in that their
            spirit returns to God who gave it - cf. 12:7

      1. Once again, the value of rejoicing in one's own works - 3:22a
      2. For this is what God allots him, not what may happen on earth
         after he is gone - 3:22b

[In the remaining part of this section (3:1-4:16), we find the 
Preacher making various comments, which may be summarized as 


      1. He saw how that skillful work causes one to be envied by his neighbor - 4:4
      2. While it is foolish to fold one's hands and do nothing, 
         acquiring too much is not worth the effort for it really does
         not satisfy - 4:5-6
      3. What is best is to have little with quietness and contentment- cf. Pr 15:16-17

      1. The Preacher saw one with no companion, neither son nor brother - 4:7-8
         a. Who is never satisfied (indeed he can't be, cf. Ec 5:10)
         b. And doesn't think for whom he is laboring - cf. Ec 2:18-19
      2. It is much better to have friends - 4:9-12
         a. Who can help each other in their labor
         b. Who can help each other when they fall
         c. Who can help each other withstand forces of opposition

      1. It is better to a poor and wise youth, than an old foolish king - 4:13
      2. For despite rising from poverty and prison to become king, the
         people will eventually prefer another much younger than he- 4:14-16


1. The Preacher's observations about the vanity of life, along with
   wisdom for living "under the sun" will continue in succeeding chapters

2. But we have seen in this study...
   a. Why he reached his conclusions about the vanity of life
      1) The inexplicable purposes of God
      2) The injustice and oppression of men
      3) The vanity of skillful and selfish toil
   b. What wisdom he offers for living "under the sun"
      1) It is best to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the good of one's 
         labor, realizing that such is a gift of God to those who please Him
      2) To appreciate the value of friends who can help us in time of
         work and need

3. As Christians today, we may be perplexed at times concerning the
   workings of God...
   a. But we have the assurance that all things work for good for them
      who love God and are called according to His purpose - Ro 8:28
   b. We have the family of God to help us in our labor and in time of
      need - cf. 1Th 5:11

And of course, there is no greater friend, than the One who is the 
ultimate end of all God's purposes in this world:  Jesus Christ! (cf. 
Ep 1:9-10).  Through Him we can "obtain mercy and find grace to help
in time of need." (He 4:15-16).

Are you a friend of Jesus?  Remember then what He said:

   "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." - Jn 15:14

Let Jesus be your friend by obeying His will! - cf. Mt 28:19-20

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible by Justin Rogers, Ph.D.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible

by Justin Rogers, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: AP auxiliary writer Dr. Rogers is the Director of the Graduate School of Theology and Associate Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He holds an M.A. in New Testament from Freed-Hardeman University as well as an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Hebraic, Judaic, and Cognate Studies from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.]
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is widely regarded as the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. From 1947 to 1956 about 930 scrolls were found in 11 desert caves near Qumran, a site about 12½ miles southeast of Jerusalem. Other discoveries were made in about 11 other sites in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, but no place yielded the number of manuscripts as Qumran. The Qumran scrolls span four centuries, from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D., and are written in four languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, in addition to discovered coins having Latin inscriptions. The Dead Sea Scrolls are important for the Old Testament in at least two major ways: (1) they allow us access to Old Testament manuscripts over 1,000 years older than we previously knew; and (2) they provide information about the formation of the Old Testament canon of Scripture.


The story has been told often.1 A Bedouin shepherd threw a rock into a cave, heard a crash, and discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. This story is not entirely true. First of all, the broken jar and discovery of the cave took place two days before the first scrolls were found. There was not one Bedouin shepherd, but three. One threw the rock, and another entered the cave two days later without the prior knowledge of his partners. The shepherds took only a few scrolls, and they had no idea what they were and how much they were worth. The scrolls removed from what became known as Cave 1 were the “Great Isaiah Scroll” (1QIsaa), the Habakkuk commentary (1QpHab), and the Community Rule (1QS).2 These were slightly damaged in transportation before they could be sold to a dealer of antiquities, and to a Syrian Orthodox monastery.
When the number and value of the scrolls were determined, other caves continued to be looted and their contents sold by the Ta‘amireh tribe to which the shepherds belonged. Once the importance of the scrolls was determined, both scholars and governmental organizations (initially, of Jordan, and later, of Israel) became involved in discovering additional caves and conducting formal excavations. The site of Qumran was excavated in five consecutive seasons under the leadership of Roland De Vaux of the Jerusalem-based École Bibliques (1951-1956). Eventually, 10 more caves were discovered in the area of Qumran, Cave 4 alone yielding fragments of nearly 600 manuscripts.3
The laborious task of deciphering, editing, and publishing the Dead Sea Scrolls is a drama unto itself. The original scholars entrusted with the task of publishing the Scrolls were exclusively Christian, and thus the interests of early researchers tended toward Christian backgrounds and the relationship of the Scrolls to the New Testament. This fact irked many non-Christian scholars, especially the Israelis. With the additions of Israeli scholars Elisha Qimron and Emanuel Tov to the publication team in the 1980s, this problem was rectified, and now scholars from all backgrounds work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In addition to the racial issues, the early publishing team was small and very slow to do their work. Between 1950 and 1990 only seven of the eventual 40 volumes in Oxford University Press’s Discoveries in the Judean Desert series had been completed. In the 1990s alone, however, 20 additional volumes in this series appeared. There are two reasons for the proliferation in publication: First, Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem became the general editor of the series in late 1990. His appointment followed an anti-Semitism scandal that resulted in then-director John Strugnell of Harvard University being removed from the post. The scandal was provoked by Strugnell’s comments in the Israeli newspaper, Ha-aretz.4
Second, Ben Zion Wachholder of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the help of his student, Martin Abegg, produced a nearly complete text of the Scrolls from a previously published concordance.5 With the early use of computer databasing, Abegg was able to reverse-engineer the text of many Scrolls from the concordance. Although their publication was unauthorized both by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Oxford University, all agree their publication broke the hold on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and encouraged scholars to complete the work of official publication.6 Today all of the discovered, decipherable Scrolls have been published, and photographs of many of the Scrolls are available on the Internet.
This article provides two examples. Figure 1 is a photograph of two columns of the Great Isaiah Scroll, featuring Isaiah 53. This scroll is among the best preserved, and is not typical of the discovered manuscripts. Figure 2 is a more typical collection of fragments pieced together by specialists. Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are, indeed, not so much scrolls as scraps.
Figure 1: The Great Isaiah Scroll ( ISaiah 53)Figure 2: A Portion of the Temle Scoll


It surprises many people to hear the majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls are non-biblical. Of the approximately 930 scrolls discovered in the Judean desert, only 222 are biblical (i.e., less than 25%). The percentage of biblical scrolls is much higher at Judean desert sites other than Qumran. The biblical texts of Masada, for example, represent 47% of the total number of scrolls discovered.7 We may conclude Jews living in desert communities read many different books, and were not readers of the Bible alone. This does not necessarily mean, however, that secular books were read more than the Bible. In my personal library I have hundreds of books, but my Bibles take up only about a shelf and a half. Most of these books I do not read regularly, but my Bibles are in constant use. A similar situation might have existed for the Dead Sea communities. Still, the non-biblical Scrolls have relevance for how the Old Testament was understood and interpreted by some Jews prior to the time of the New Testament.
In order to better examine the non-biblical Scrolls, further classification is needed. So we shall first discuss works most certainly not written by members of the Qumran community, what Protestants might term “Apocrypha” as well as the so-called “Pseudepigrapha.” Then we shall turn to the “sectarian texts” that were either written by members of the Qumran sect or were formative for their development as a community.

Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

The term “apocrypha” is a Greek plural substantive meaning “things hidden.” The term is borrowed from the Church Fathers who used it frequently to refer to books outside of the canon of Scripture recognized by the church. The term “pseudepigrapha,” by contrast, properly refers to writings “falsely ascribed.” Based on this meaning, the term pseudepigrapha ought to be applied to books such as 1 Enoch (which was not written by the real Enoch), the Wisdom of Solomon (not written by Solomon), and so on. But the collection commonly called Pseudepigrapha now stands for almost any non-canonical book that does not belong to the Old Testament or to the Protestant “Apocrypha.”
Of the Catholic Church’s “deuterocanonicals” (in Protestant terms, “Apocrypha”), the Dead Sea Scrolls preserve five copies of Tobit, three of the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirah (Ecclesiasticus), and one of the so-called Epistle of Jeremiah (not actually written by Jeremiah). The position of the Pseudepigrapha is much better. The mysterious book of 1 Enoch is represented in 12 copies from Qumran, and the book of Jubilees in no less than 13 and possibly as many as 16 copies (depending on whether the fragments represent additional manuscripts). There are also at least five additional compositions related to Jubilees, further attesting its importance. By manuscript count alone, Jubilees is better represented than all but four of the canonical Old Testament books (Psalms, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Genesis). Some scholars have suggested that both 1 Enoch and Jubilees were accepted as canonical Scripture in Qumran. This is certainly possible, although perhaps it is best to leave the question open. Popularity does not require canonicity (see more below).

Sectarian Texts

The Dead Sea Scrolls discovery unveiled many works that were previously unknown. Since they are associated exclusively with the Qumran sect, they are normally called “sectarian.” Indeed, some of these works relate specifically to life in the sectarian community. The most important are the Damascus Document (CD) and the Rule of the Community (1QS), which best inform us about life in the community. Other texts are legal in nature, such as the Temple Scroll (11QT) and miksat ma‘asei ha-Torah (4QMMT), roughly translated “some matters of the Law.” This latter text lists grievances the Qumran community had with the Temple and its officials in Jerusalem.
It will surprise many readers to know that some of the Qumran scrolls were written in “cryptic scripts.” Scholars believe these scripts are, in fact, based on the Hebrew language, but have never deciphered them.8 The original editor of these texts distinguished three different cryptic scripts: “Cryptic A,” “Cryptic B,” and “Cryptic C,” respectively. As far as we know, these cryptic scripts are used nowhere else. But they were in prominent use at Qumran. The leader of the Qumran community (the maskil, or “understanding one”) most likely communicated in Cryptic A himself, which represents no less than 55 manuscripts. Cryptic B is found in two manuscripts, and the text of origin remains undeciphered. Cryptic C is found in only one manuscript. It utilizes the paleo-Hebrew alphabet and five additional letters that cannot be identified. The individual who manages to decipher these cryptic scripts will earn lasting fame in the pantheon of scholarship!
More relevant for the text of the Old Testament and how we got the Bible are two categories of writings: the so-called works of rewritten Bible and the commentaries (pesharim, or “interpretations”). Geza Vermes coined the term “rewritten Bible” to refer to Jewish works written in either Hebrew or Aramaic that paraphrase the Scriptures, and insert their own expansions and interpretations.9 He primarily had in mind the book of Jubilees, the so-called Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen), and Pseudo-Philo’s “Book of Biblical Antiquities.” The former two works were found among the Qumran scrolls.
These works of “rewritten Bible” are interpretive expansions of biblical literature. We learn many details, such as the name of Noah’s wife (“Emzara,” according to Jubilees 4:33), the reason why God chose Abram (he refused to participate in the building of the Tower of Babel, Pseudo-Philo chapter 6), and how Abram convinced Sarai to mislead about being his wife (he dreamt prophetically that she would save him, 1QapGen column 19). There is no indication that any of these expansions are to be accepted as legitimate, but they do teach us the ancient Hebrews were careful and inquisitive readers of the Bible. More importantly for us, the close following of the biblical text confirms that their Scriptures followed the exact story­line as ours. There is no evidence that the Bible has undergone massive changes over time, as some wish to allege. We read essentially the same Bible as they did.


The most celebrated of the Scrolls have been the Old Testament manuscripts. Although some scholars have asserted that fragments of certain New Testament verses can be located, most scholars agree that no New Testament copies, quotations, or fragments exist among the Dead Sea Scrolls.While the Qumran community did in fact exist at the time of Jesus and the Apostles, there is no evidence that any of the Dead Sea Jewish communities were aware of the early Christian movement. This means our discussion of biblical evidence must focus on the Old Testament. We shall begin by discussing the numbers of manuscripts we possess before moving to consider issues relating to the canonicity of the Old Testament.

Biblical Manuscripts by the Numbers

All Judean desert sites show a special respect for the Law of Moses. The Pentateuch represents 87 of the some 200 biblical Qumran scrolls, and 15 of the additional 25 texts discovered outside Qumran are of the Pentateuch.10 In other words, 45% of the total number of texts from the Judean desert are Pentateuchal. The Major Prophets represent 46 additional manuscripts, and the Minor Prophets 10 more. So Prophetic books account for nearly one-quarter of the whole. This leaves 25-30% for the rest of the Old Testament.
The Historical Books did not fare as well, with only 18 copies. To illustrate, just one small fragment about the size of a human hand represents all of 1 and 2 Chronicles, and no copies were identified of the Nehemiah section of Ezra-Nehemiah (which is a single book in Hebrew) or of the book of Esther. The Poetic Books, excluding Psalms, represent 14 manuscripts. But 39 manuscripts of Psalms alone were discovered, 36 of which are from Qumran. Broadly speaking, the popularity and dispersion of biblical scrolls in the Judean Desert matches very closely what we observe among the books quoted in the New Testament.
Among stand-alone books at Qumran, Psalms takes the crown (39 manuscripts), followed by Deuteronomy (33), Genesis (24), Isaiah (22), and Exodus (18). Interestingly, four of these five books were in the “top five list” of books quoted by Jesus: Psalms (11), Deuteronomy (10), Isaiah (8), and Exodus (7). In fact, Table 1 compares the number of Qumran manuscripts with the frequency of explicit quotation in the New Testament. Although books can be used without necessarily being quoted, Table 1 provides an interesting point of comparison.
Biblical BookJudean Desert
New Testament
Minor Prophets1025
1–2 Samuel43
Song of Songs40
1-2 Kings33
1-2 Chronicles10
Table 1: Number of Dead Sea Scrolls by biblical book compared with New Testament
quotatinos by biblical book11


So far we have discussed mostly facts. But what do these facts mean? It is prudent to remember that absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. In other words, if certain books are missing (such as Esther or Nehemiah) or are poorly represented (such as Chronicles or Ezra) among the Dead Sea Scrolls, we cannot on that basis alone conclude that the Qumran community rejected them from their biblical canon. And the opposite is true: if certain books are well represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls (such as Jubilees or 1 Enoch), we cannot on that basis alone conclude that the Qumran community accepted them into their biblical canon. What books people like to read and what books people consider inspired may, in fact, be different. We know from modern experience that certain books of the Bible are underappreciated and undertaught among Christians. Do we wish to exclude these books from the canon? Of course not. Again, popularity is not the same thing as canonicity.
The truth is that the Dead Sea Scrolls are of limited value in answering Old Testament questions of canonicity. They apparently did not think in those terms, and never addressed the question of which books were in and which ones were out. The better question is to ask what the Qumran sectarians considered authoritative. And in order to answer this question, we must move beyond simply counting manuscripts. We must attempt to understand how the biblical literature was used.
We shall start with the name of “Moses,” which occurs over 150 times in the sectarian manuscripts. All sections of the Pentateuch are quoted and interpreted as inspired literature. This should not surprise us, for the Pentateuch was the most popular portion of the Bible among all Jewish groups at the time of Jesus. But we can go further. The text of the Prophets is equally authoritative. The Pesher Habakkuk is a commentary that takes the book of Habakkuk as an inspired prophecy of the experiences of the Qumran community, and is interpreted clearly in this fashion. Other prophets, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, are also quoted as authorities. While we cannot regard all of the prophets as equally authoritative based on the way they are quoted (Obadiah, for instance, is never quoted in this way), most of them can be regarded as both inspired and authoritative.
“David,” too, appears frequently as a sacred figure. The Qumran sectarians know the details of his life from Samuel and Chronicles. For example, “David’s actions ascended as the smoke of a sacrifice [before God] except for the blood of Uriah, but God forgave him” (CD 5.5–6). Such high estimation of David’s character explains how the Psalms he wrote would be considered authoritative. And the Psalms are frequently quoted as inspired in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In fact, the Old Testament as a whole can be characterized as “the Law, the Prophets, and David” (4QMMT fr. 14). Since the Hebrew Bible is generally divided into three parts—the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings—this threefold division is extremely important. Jesus’ own division of the Old Testament into “the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms” is very similar (Luke 24:44).
Interestingly, although many books and parts of the Old Testament are quoted as authoritative, to my knowledge Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and none of the other Apocryphal or Pseudepigraphical books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls are quoted in this way. The sectarians may have borrowed language and ideas from these books, and may have been heavily influenced by their teachings, but they did not consider them on par with the books of the Old Testament. If these secondary books were considered in any sense authoritative, they appear never to be quoted as such and thus used as the basis for doctrine. This is telling. We can compare the situation to the role of a preacher in a church. Generations of congregants may know the preacher’s retelling of the Bible better than they know the Bible itself! Yet when asked if they consider their preacher as a voice on par with the authority of Scripture, they would likely reply with an indignant, “Of course not!” Acknowledged authority may well be different from unrealized influence.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Reliability of the Biblical Text

There is no doubt that the Bible has been transmitted faithfully to us through the centuries, and that the Dead Sea Scrolls further help to substantiate that truth. Some biblical apologists, however, have often exaggerated the “confirmation” the Dead Sea Scrolls offer the text of the Old Testament. Such comments are often made on the basis of the Great Isaiah Scroll alone, and are sometimes unwisely connected to a percentage evaluation. For example, I have heard several times, “the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the text of the Old Testament in 99% of the cases.” Not only is such a figure untrue, this whole line of assertion paints an unrealistic picture of the evidence. First, most of the biblical Scrolls, as we have seen, are extremely fragmentary, and therefore cannot offer us a clear basis of comparison for the Bible as a whole. In fact, the only biblical book to be preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls intact is the Great Isaiah Scroll. Even in the Pentateuch and the Psalms, where the evidence is good, whole sections of the biblical text are completely missing or extremely lacunose. In these cases, the Scrolls cannot confirm anything. And we are speaking here of the best-preserved books. The situation is worse for the other biblical books.
Second, many apologists exaggerate the similarities and ignore the differences between the texts that can be compared. For example, the traditional Hebrew Bible preserved in the two major Medieval manuscripts, the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices, respectively (the so-called Masoretic Text), fixes the height of Goliath as “six cubits and a span” (1 Samuel 17:4). But 4QSama, a Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript dating to the first century B.C., reads in this passage “four cubits and a span.” This means Goliath is about six feet, four inches tall instead of the Masoretic text’s gigantic nine feet, four inches tall. Further, the reading of 4QSama agrees with the translation of the Greek Old Testament, which read “four cubits and a span” well before the time of the Medieval manuscripts. Should we revise the height of Goliath in our Bibles? Most modern translations have chosen either to ignore our oldest Hebrew copy of this portion of Samuel, or to relegate the information to a footnote. Why?
Another example from Samuel can be located in a mysterious passage. The traditional Masoretic text has it as follows: “Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, ‘Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.’ And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, ‘On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel’” (1 Samuel 11:1-2, NKJV). Nowhere else in the Bible or in ancient Near Eastern literature do we read eye-gouging as a covenantal condition. This passage is exceedingly strange and impossible to explain. But if we look at the oldest Hebrew copy of Samuel, we gain a bit more clarity.
The NRSV is one of the few modern versions to use the text of 4QSamin their translation of this passage. As a prelude to 1 Samuel 11:1, the NRSV includes the words,
Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.
This note, found in the oldest Hebrew manuscript of Samuel, explains two important details. First, it explains the demand for the right eyes of the Reubenites and Gadites. Second, it explains why the men fled to Jabesh-Gilead and why Nahash besieged it. Not only is this reading in the oldest Hebrew copy of Samuel, it actually aids our understanding of the Bible. Yet most modern English translations reject it.
One more example shall suffice. Hebrew poetry is intricately designed in ways that English readers simply cannot appreciate. One of the most complex of their poetic forms is the acrostic poem. The author will compose a coherent poem beginning each line, verse, or stanza with subsequent letters of the Hebrew alphabet from ’aleph totav. Psalm 119 is one of the most famous and indeed one of the most beautiful pieces of literature in world history. Psalm 145 is an acrostic as well. But there is one problem: a verse is missing. Psalm 145 walks through every letter of the Hebrew alphabet with the exception of the letter nun. The Greek Old Testament always had this missing line, but the later Masoretic manuscripts had lost it somewhere along the way. Alas, due to the discovery of 11QPsa, the verse can now be restored: “God is faithful in his words and gracious in all his works.”
Let us pause here to make an important observation: these cases we have been discussing are unusual. In fact, there are relatively few examples of passages that are totally different in the Dead Sea Scrolls than they appear in the Medieval Hebrew manuscripts. And the majority of the passages that are different match some other known version of the Old Testament (usually the Greek translation). This means that the Old Testament has been copied and transmitted with remarkable accuracy. It is not a stretch to say the Hebrew Bible known to Jesus is essentially the same as the one known to us. All of this leads to the conclusion that the Dead Sea Scrolls sometimes complicate, but generally confirm, our knowledge of the Old Testament text.


The Dead Sea Scrolls are important for a number of reasons. First, they shed light on an otherwise known Jewish group. Actually, the people who wrote the Scrolls never refer to themselves as Jews. They are intriguingly vague about their identity. Second, the Scrolls indicate that certain books of the Bible were more popular than others, a conclusion we could draw similarly from the New Testament quotations of the Old Testament.
Third, the use of the Old Testament as an authoritative source for biblical interpretation and personal and community life matches material from the New Testament as well. Finally, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls allows us to access Old Testament manuscripts more than 1,000 years older than we previously possessed. Before the discovery of the Scrolls, the oldest complete manuscript of any Old Testament book dated to the 10th century A.D. To be clear, if Moses wrote the Pentateuch in circa 1400 B.C., then our earliest copy of his complete work in Hebrew dated 2,400 years after it was written! It is with justification that the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by many the most important biblical archaeological discovery of all time.


1 The scholar who was involved in and who investigated most carefully the discovery of the early scrolls is John C. Trever. His investigation is recorded in his 1965 book, The Untold Story of Qumran (Westwood, N.J.: Revell).
2 A digital interactive copy of these scrolls can be viewed at the following address: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il.
3 A twelfth cave was discovered in 2016, but this cave yielded no manuscripts. The geology of the region has changed greatly over the past 2,000 years, and it is probable that future caves will be discovered.
4 An English language version of the Israeli reporter’s interview of Strugnell was printed in the January/February, 1991 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, (17[1]).
5 The work of Wachholder and Abegg was published in two volumes by the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review in Hershel Shanks, ed. (1992), A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society).
6 A detailed account of the role of Hebrew Union College may be found in Jason Kalman (2013), Hebrew Union College and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cincinnati: HUC Press).
7 See Emanuel Tov (2002), “The Biblical Texts from the Judean Desert,” in The Hebrew Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judean Desert Discoveries, ed. Edward Herbert and Emanuel Tov (London: The British Library), p. 141.
8 The most recent editor of these texts presents much of his work in Stephen Pfann (2000), Discovery in the Judean Desert (Oxford: Clarendon), 36:515-574.
9 Geza Vermes (1973), Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (Leiden: Brill, second edition).
10 See Emanuel Tov, “The Biblical Texts from the Judean Desert,” p. 141.
11 For the Dead Sea Scrolls, I use the table published in Flint and VanderKam (2002), The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (San Francisco: Harper), p. 150, on whom I depend for much information in this section. For the New Testament quotations, I use the list compiled by Crossway (https://www.crossway.org/blog/2006/03/nt-citations-of-ot/).

The Date of Daniel: Does it Matter? by Justin Rogers, Ph.D.

The Date of Daniel: Does it Matter?

by Justin Rogers, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxiliary writer Dr. Rogers serves as an Associate Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He holds an M.A. in New Testament from Freed-Hardeman University as well as an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Hebraic, Judaic, and Cognate Studies from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.]
Predictive prophecy is one of the Bible’s grandest claims. Either the biblical prophets legitimately predicted the future, or they did not. And if they did not predict the future, then the prophets were either intentionally misrepresenting the future or were hopelessly delusional in thinking they could predict it. With so much at stake, then, it is no surprise that skeptics often target biblical prophecy. If they can prove just one part of one prediction false, then the inspiration of Scripture topples to the ground (cf. 2 Peter 1:21).
But the Bible itself applies an equally strict standard to prophets. The Mosaic Law advises:
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?” When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, emp. added).
The Mosaic Law’s litmus test for a legitimate prophet was his (or her) ability to predict the future. Now some predictions are generic enough so as to present little problem for the skeptic. In the context of the passage cited above, for example, Moses predicts a coming “prophet like me” (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). No specific description of this prophet occurs, and no chronological constraints are applied. Thus, we must rely on the New Testament to inform us that Jesus is indeed the prophet in question (Acts 3:22; 7:37). Skeptics would allege the New Testament authors simply re-appropriated these words, which were never intended as a prophecy of Jesus.
Specific predictive prophecies, however, present a far greater problem for the skeptic. This is why the date of Daniel is so hotly contested. The critic alleges that Daniel must fit within the early second century B.C. and not within the time period in which the book places itself: the late sixth century B.C. They argue that this is the case simply because the characters and events represented as belonging to the sixth century are vague and the details allegedly erroneous, while descriptions of the late third and early second century B.C. are specific and accurate. In other words, Daniel claims not merely to assert generic predictions which could find “fulfillment” in any creative rereading. Rather, with the highest degree of accuracy, Daniel wrote about imperial successions (Daniel 2,7) and complicated dynastic intermarriages (Daniel 10-11), growing increasingly specific the further he moved from his own day. And he was correct about details that confuse even modern historians. The skeptic alleges: “This just cannot be!”
For this reason, virtually all liberal scholars (and even a few “conservative” ones) place the book of Daniel in the second century B.C. and denigrate every apparent prediction. Ernest Lucas, for example, a conservative, maintains that either a late date (denying predictive prophecy) or an early date (affirming predictive prophecy) “are consonant with belief in the divine inspiration and authority of the book.”1 Lucas seems to draw inspiration from John Goldingay, an evangelical scholar who asserts a theological rationale for the second century date: “Dating Daniel in the sixth century, indeed, brings not more glory to God but less. It makes it a less impressive and helpful document. It makes it seem more alien to me in my life of faith, for God does not treat me this way.”2 Goldingay presupposes that predictive prophecy would be theologically deficient to Daniel’s original audience, because it would not help them “today.” By this logic, all New Testament references to heaven and hell would be theologically deficient to Christians in the first century A.D., or even today.
Although Lucas and Goldingay claim to affirm biblical inspiration, notice what they allow: the author represents himself as being someone other than who he was, as belonging to an age in which he did not live, as claiming revelations that he never received, and predicting events that had already occurred! It is with good reason that E.B. Pusey long ago opened one of his famed lectures by laying out the stakes:
The book of Daniel is especially fitted to be a battlefield between faith and unbelief. It admits no half-measures. It is either divine or an imposture. To write any book under the name of another, and to give it out to be his, is, in any case, a forgery, dishonest in itself, and destructive of all trustworthiness. But the case as to the book of Daniel, if it were not his, would go far beyond even this. The writer, were he not Daniel, must have lied on a most frightful scale, ascribing to God prophecies which were never uttered, and miracles which are assumed never to have been wrought. In a word, the whole book would be one lie in the Name of God.3
So the date of Daniel most certainly matters to people of faith. Did Daniel know the future, or did he merely author history in the guise of a prophet? In this article, we shall sketch the major objections to an early date of Daniel, and offer some possible alternatives, establishing that a position of faith tolerates only a date for Daniel in the sixth century B.C.


One of the most famous prophecies in Scripture is Daniel’s scheme of empires, interpreted from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2), and repeated in greater detail in the prophet’s own vision (Daniel 7). Since most liberal scholars presuppose the impossibility of accurate prediction, they are forced to squeeze Daniel’s four empires into a tighter window. The traditional view, attested from early Christian times, is that Daniel, living in the late sixth century B.C., prophesied the coming of the Roman Empire during whose time the Church was established (Daniel 2:44; cf. Luke 20:18). Even those who accept a late date, however, cannot allow the Roman Empire to be the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. [See the resulting scheme in the chart]4
Traditional View        Liberal View   
Babylonian EmpireBabylonian Empire
Medo-Persian EmpireMedian Empire
Greek EmpirePersian Empire
Roman EmpireGreek Empire
Now it is clear from the book of Daniel itself that the liberal scheme does not work. First, Daniel always combines the Medes and the Persians (5:28; 6:8,12,15). There is no recognition of separate empires within the book. Second, the context makes clear that the third empire (and not the fourth) is Greece: “And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power” (Daniel 8:21-22). The large horn would be none other than Alexander the Great, and the four kingdoms the subsequent divisions of his empire among his four generals (the “Diadochoi”).5
Beyond the scheme of empires, according to the skeptics a greater problem confronts the sixth-century interpretation: the closer the narrative gets to the material covering 167-164 B.C., it is alleged, the more reliable it becomes. If the author really lived in the sixth century B.C., he ought to have known the history of his own time better than events 350 years later. Three cases of sixth century Babylonian and Persian history are considered especially problematic. First, Daniel 1:1-2 presupposes a Babylonian siege and deportation the Bible nowhere else describes. Second, it is alleged that Daniel confuses the succession of Babylonian kings. Third, and considered most problematic, Daniel either confuses or invents Darius the Mede.
First, it is true that no other source confirms a Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, followed by a deportation, in the year 605 B.C. (this date corresponds to Jeremiah 25:1, although Daniel and Jeremiah use different dating schemes).6 But the Babylonian historian Berossus is quoted by Josephus as reporting that during his reign Nebuchadnezzar commanded prisoners of war be taken from “among the Jews, Phoenicians, Syrians and people of Egypt.”7 The book of Daniel makes clear that “some” of the young nobles were indeed carried away (Daniel 1:3). So some Babylonians had to be among the Jews at some point to carry away Jewish prisoners of war.
Nevertheless, we cannot corroborate from secular history a “siege” of Jerusalem in the year 605 B.C. But such an event is certainly possible. We know Nebuchadnezzar defeated an Egyptian-Assyrian alliance at Carchemish in the year 605 B.C. (Jeremiah 46:2). This most decisive battle took place in Northern Syria, and established Babylonian control over the entire Near East. Since we understand the Levant,8 including Judah, to be pro-Egyptian during this period (cf. Jeremiah 2:18; Ezekiel 17:15), it makes sense that Nebuchadnezzar would force these “western” territories to capitulate to his command. This would require laying siege to the major capital cities, including Jerusalem. Later in the year 605 B.C., possibly in the midst of his siege of Jerusalem, Nabopolassar, the reigning monarch and father of Nebuchadnezzar, died, forcing him to return to Babylon, leaving the western territories to claim the throne.9 There is certainly time for a brief Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 605 B.C., especially when we consider Nebuchadnezzar was in the vicinity.
Second, Daniel allegedly confuses the order of the Babylonian kings. Daniel in fact mentions only two Babylonian kings: Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, making the latter the son of the former (Daniel 5:2,11,18). The problem is that, first, Belshazzar was never actually a “king” of Babylon, and second, he was not even related to Nebuchadnezzar. Neither of these problems, however, creates difficulty for the Bible believer. When one reads the text carefully, he will notice that Belshazzar offers the honor of “third ruler” in his kingdom, indicating that he is himself second (Daniel 5:7,16, 29). Indeed, we know that Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, spent the last 10 years of his reign in the wilderness of Teima, placing his own son, Belshazzar, on the throne in his absence.10 Daniel simply reflects historical reality.
As for Belshazzar being the “son” of Nebuchadnezzar, the term “father” in the Bible can mean “predecessor,” and does not necessarily imply a genetic relationship (e.g., Genesis 4:20-21). Further, Archer suggests the possibility that Nabonidus married one of Nebuchadnezzar’s daughters, thereby making the genetic grandfather of his son Nebuchadnezzar (for this use of the term father, see Genesis 28:13; 32:10).11 We cannot be certain of such an arrangement. In any case, the skeptical position is not as strong as it might at first appear, and perfectly reasonable alternatives can be offered.
Third, Daniel has Darius the Mede as the first Persian king after the Babylonians (6:1), with Cyrus (the actual first Persian king) as his successor (6:28). Further, Darius is called the son of Xerxes (9:1) when in fact Xerxes was the son of Darius I.12 Liberal scholars have generally abandoned the quest for the historical Darius, and have reached the conclusion that he never existed. H.H. Rowley writes in his widely influential treatment, “The claim of the book of Daniel to be a work of history, written by a well-informed contemporary, is shattered beyond repair by this fiction of Darius the Mede.”13
While no clear solution to Daniel’s Darius has presented itself, there are some plausible alternatives to the liberal position. It is possible that Darius is an alternative name for a figure we already know. We know that rulers of diverse ethnic groups commonly took “throne names” to appeal to their citizens (e.g., 1 Chronicles 5:26). The title of “king” was not necessarily reserved for the supreme monarch in the ancient Near East, and a number of lesser rulers could have been allowed to hold the title.14 So the general who actually overtook Babylon, Gubaru (or Ugbaru), may well be Daniel’s Darius.15
A different opinion is bolstered by the fact that Cyrus, the first king of the Persian empire, was age 62 when he began to reign, exactly as Daniel’s Darius (Daniel 5:31). Thus some wish to argue Cyrus “the Great” and Darius were one and the same. If we read the Aramaic waw in Daniel 6:28 adverbially, then it is possible to equate the two figures: “And this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” If this suggestion is correct, then these two names could be gentilic tags—Darius “the Mede” indicating his presentation of himself to the Medes, and Cyrus “the Persian,” his presentation to the Persians. Since Cyrus is known to have been from the Median territories himself, Daniel generally presents him in the early days of his reign from the region of his origins.
As for the assertion that the father of Darius was Xerxes (Daniel 9:1), if Daniel’s Darius is a lesser ruler of the Persians, such as Gubaru, then Daniel preserves a name otherwise unknown. If, however, Darius and Cyrus are the same person, the Hebrew Ahasuerus (Daniel 9:1) may well represent the name of Cyrus’ grandfather, Astyages, from whom the former seized power (this reasoning may lie behind Josephus’ confused account in Antiquities 10.248). He just so happens to have been “a Mede by descent,” and the last king of the Median Empire. Whatever possible solution, the identity of Darius the Mede is most difficult. While we believe a plausible solution can be offered, it is essential to recognize humbly the lack of evidence supplied from comparative history.16


Over 100 years ago, S.R. Driver wrote in his widely-circulated Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, “The verdict of the language of Daniel is thus clear. The Persian words presuppose a period after the Persian empire had been well established: the Greek words demand, the Hebrew supports and the Aramaic permits a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (B.C. 332).”17 Virtually no scholar would offer an unqualified endorsement of Driver’s “verdict” today. Still, the linguistic objections remain strongly asserted among the critics.
First, the book is written in two languages. It begins in Hebrew, and then switches in the middle of 2:4 to Aramaic, which continues uninterrupted through the end of chapter 7. Then with 8:1 the Hebrew resumes to the end of the book. Scholars once assumed that the book needed to be written partially in Aramaic because it belonged to a time when Hebrew was no longer understood among the common people. Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, such a position is no longer tenable.
While the book utilizes an admittedly strange literary feature, the Hebrew-Aramaic-Hebrew structure does not require a late date. More recent discoveries of so-called “Imperial” Aramaic texts prove that the Aramaic of Daniel actually fits more closely the Aramaic of the fifth century B.C. than the much later Aramaic texts preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls.18 The Dead Sea Scrolls have also assisted us in determining that the Hebrew sections of Daniel are far closer to the Hebrew of the biblical prophets than that of the later Hebrew compositions preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls.19 The Hebrew and Aramaic sections of Daniel are certainly at home in the late sixth century.
More critical attention has been given to the Persian and Greek loanwords used in the book. Driver believed the Persian words “presuppose” a later date, but in fact this is not true. Kenneth Kitchen found that “the Persian words in Daniel are specifically, Old Persian words.”20 Since the transition to the Middle Persian dialect occurs around 300 B.C., we would expect an author in the second century to use a much different form of the Persian language. In addition, about half of the 20 or so Persian terms Driver isolated in Daniel are administrative, exactly the kind of language we would expect from an officer of the Persian court! The Persian terms actually serve to support a sixth century date for Daniel.
The Greek words are more problematic, at least on the surface. If Daniel were written in the sixth century, it is alleged, then he should not have known any Greek words at all, since he would have had no occasion to learn Greek. An early second century author, by contrast, would be well-acquainted with Greek. But again, this argument is based on faulty reasoning. First, it has been conclusively demonstrated that the Levant had contact with the Greek peoples well before the late sixth century B.C.21
Second, there are only three Greek words in question, and all three refer to musical instruments (3:5,7,10,15: qathrōsקַתְרוֹס =kitharaκιθάραpesanthērînפְּסַנְתֵּרִיןpsaltērion,ψαλτήριονsūmpōnyāh,  סוּמְפּוֹנְיָה=sumphōniaσυμφωνία). As Archer points out, the names of musical instruments generally remain fixed in the source language for centuries (e.g., piano, viola).22 Even though these terms are not attested until Plato (429-347 B.C.), it is likely the instruments were in existence long before. Even Collins, who is a major proponent of a second century date, acknowledges that “the evidence for Greek influence on Daniel is too slight to prove anything,” and “The date of the tales in Daniel must be established on other grounds.”23
Other than foreign loanwords in Daniel, the use of the term “Chaldean” has received a great deal of attention. The term in the Old Testament is generally used as a rough equivalent to “Babylonian” (e.g., Isaiah 43:14; Habakkuk 1:6). But Daniel uses the term in reference to a class of “wise men” (Daniel 2:2,4,5,10; 4:7; 5:7,11). It is alleged that Daniel, writing long after Greek culture and language had taken hold in Palestine, has been influenced by the Greek use of the term “astrologer.”
First, let us note that Daniel is not ignorant of the gentilic use of the term in the Old Testament (Daniel 1:4; 5:30; 9:1). Second, as Robert Dick Wilson argued long ago, Daniel’s “Chaldean” combines the Aramaic terms Kasdi (the people of Chaldea) and Kaldi (astrologers), an understandable phonetic shift for a sixth century author living in Babylon, but a puzzling mistake for a second century author living in Palestine.24 In fact, Daniel’s usage may well be closer to the original Babylonian Galdu than the rest of the Hebrew Bible.25 This objection, when properly understood from its linguistic environment, actually helps to support a date in the late sixth century B.C.


The final objection to the reliability of Daniel is its placement in the Hebrew Bible. The English Old Testament, following the Latin Vulgate, places Daniel fourth in the order of Major Prophets. But in the Hebrew Bible, Daniel is not included in the Prophets, but rather in the Writings. The critics allege this to be proof of a late date. Daniel was composed, it is suggested, after the canon of Hebrew Prophets had been closed.26
It is true that from an early time, the Jews divided the Hebrew Bible into three parts: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Kethuvim), although not always using these exact terms.27 But we have no clear statement on exactly which books were included in the latter two divisions until late in the first century A.D. Josephus, our earliest author to comment on the individual books in the Hebrew canon, seems to include Daniel among the Prophets.
Josephus states that the Jews accept only 22 sacred books (which are equivalent to our 39 Old Testament books). He writes, “Five of these are the books of Moses,” and “the prophets after Moses wrote the history of what took place in their own times in thirteen books; the remaining four books contain hymns to God and instructions for people on life” (Against Apion, 1.38-40).28 John M.G. Barclay suggests in his notes on the passage cited above, “it is most likely that Josephus means: Joshua, Judges + Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah + Lamentations, Ezekiel, the 12 [Minor Prophets], Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah (= Esdras), Daniel, Job, and Esther.”29 It is virtually certain that Josephus includes Daniel among the 13 Prophets, and not among the four books of the “Writings.” The canonical order of the Christian Bible actually appears in the case of Daniel to preserve an older tradition than the (now) traditional Hebrew Bible.
In addition to the evidence Josephus provides as to the canonical placement of Daniel, there can be no question that both the Dead Sea sectarians and Josephus regard Daniel to be a legitimate prophet (e.g., 4Q174; Antiquities 10.188,249,268). Daniel is in fact Josephus’ primary source of history in book 10 of his Antiquities, and indeed many Jewish authors at the time believed Daniel to have predicted the rise of the Roman empire (e.g., 2 Baruch 39; 4 Ezra 11-12; and Josephus himself, Antiquities 10.276). Jesus’ own prediction of the fall of Jerusalem is explicitly described as the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophetic announcement from Daniel 9 (Matthew 24:15). Were all these ancient Jewish figures hopelessly deceived by Daniel’s phony claims of prophetic power? Could Jesus have been wrong about Daniel’s ability to predict the future?
The critic might object that we have yet to explain how Daniel was transferred from the Prophets to the Writings in the Jewish canon. The answer is really quite simple: Daniel was not a prophet in the traditional sense. First, he is not called a prophet in the book. In fact, the only time the word “prophet” is used in Daniel, it describes the biblical prophet Jeremiah (9:2,24). Second, Daniel issues no prophetic sermons, nor does he work among the Jewish people. He is an inspired seer who receives visions of the future, and assists foreign monarchs. He shares more in common with Joseph than with any of the Scriptural Prophets. Daniel’s unique qualities apparently led the ultra-conservative Jewish rabbis to exclude him from the Prophets since he did not, like the other Prophets, serve the people of God.


Those who presuppose Daniel’s inability to predict the future assume a second century date without grasping the considerable objections to their view. First, even the most ardent critic must acknowledge the author’s tremendous command of sixth-century historical detail. Even though some questions, such as the identity of Darius the Mede, remain difficult, other matters of sixth century history could not have been easily understood by an author living 350 years later. The critic Robert Pfeiffer, for example, remarks:
We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:30), as the excavations have proved…and that Belshazzar, mentioned only in Babylonian records, in Daniel, and in Bar[uch] 1:11, which is based on Daniel, was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538 (chap. 5).30
The answer to Pfeiffer’s conundrum is simple: Daniel was there! He lived through the events he described, just as the book claims.
Second, although the critics make much of Daniel’s absence from the list of Jewish heroes in the Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirah 44-50, this objection does not hold up. Ben Sirah is no more attempting a comprehensive list of faithful Israelites than is Hebrews 11. Daniel is excluded to be sure, but so are Job, Ezra, and several other faithful Israelites. In any case, this is an argument from silence, which simply cannot be sustained without positive evidence to substantiate it.
The fact is that other Intertestamental Period authors do mention Daniel as an honorable hero. The book of 1 Maccabees features Mattathias encouraging his sons to emulate the example of Daniel (2:59-60). Daniel is a popular character also at Qumran, with fragments of two manuscripts of the book dating to the second century B.C.31 In total, eight manuscripts of Daniel have turned up among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In addition, some Pseudo-Daniel compositions have emerged from authors who wished to imitate Daniel,32 along with imaginary compositions partially based on Daniel.33 All of this evidence, combined with the New Testament references to Daniel, points to the conclusion that Daniel was accepted as a legitimate prophet of God among the Jewish people.


So violent are the critical attacks on the book of Daniel that Josh McDowell chose to devote the third volume of his Evidence that Demands a Verdict series exclusively to the defense of Daniel.34 Indeed, the level of specificity with which Daniel predicts the future is troubling for the critic. This is why the ardent opponent of Christianity, the Greek philosopher Porphyry, already alleged in the third century A.D. that the book of Daniel was a forgery of the Maccabean Age (reported in Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel).35 The skeptical position has advanced little past Porphyry’s original pronouncement.
The Bible believer can appreciate the skeptic’s predicament. If the skeptic allows just one predictive prophecy to stand, then the Bible must be divine. So unbelievers must work feverishly to demolish the Bible’s reliability. They scratch and claw away at the data, insisting that everything in the Bible requires proof outside the Bible. They build mountainous theories on historical silence and critical presupposition. And they force believers to feel inadequate if they cannot discredit every skeptical assertion.
Yet the evidence forces the critic to a frightening conclusion: Daniel knows too much about the sixth century B.C. to be writing 350 years after the event, but he knows too much about late third and early second century B.C. to be writing 350 years before the event. So either the author was one of the most industrious historians who has ever lived, researching Babylonian and Persian records written in languages he most likely could not have read, and located in places almost certainly inaccessible, or he was a prophet of God, borne along by the Holy Spirit as Scripture indicates. There can be no compromise. “Daniel” was either a brilliantly researched, pseudonymous liar, or he was the great prophet Jewish and Christian tradition for over two millennia have claimed him to be. Let the reader decide.


1 Ernest C. Lucas (2002), Daniel, ed. David Baker and Gordon Wenham (Leicester/Downers Grove, IL: Apollos/IVP), p. 312.
2 John E. Goldingay (1977), “The Book of Daniel: Three Issues,” Themelios, 2:49.
3 E.B. Pusey (1885), Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford (New York: Oxford), p. 75.
4 John H. Walton (1994), Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), revised edition, p. 105.
5 The word means “successors” and refers to the rival generals of Alexander the Great who fought for control over his empire after his death in 323 B.C.
6 See Robert Dick Wilson (1917), Studies in the Book of Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1972 reprint), 1:43-59.
7 Antiquities 10.219-224; Against Apion 1.133-139.
8 The term “Levant” conventionally refers to the region of Syria-Palestine.
9 See the so-called “Jerusalem Chronicle,” http://www.livius.org/sources/content/mesopotamian-chronicles-content/abc-5-jerusalem-chronicle/?.
10 Nabonidus Chronicle, 2.5ff., http://www.livius.org/cgcm/chronicles/abc7/abc7_nabonidus3.html.
11 Gleason L. Archer, Jr. (1994), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody), p. 426.
12 See the chronology of  Richard A. Parker and Waldo H. Dubberstein (1942), Babylonian Chronology, 626 B.C.-A.D. 45: Oriental Institute Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 24 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), p. 1956.
13 H.H. Rowley (1935), Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires in the Book of Daniel: A Historical Study of Contemporary Theories (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1964 reprint), p. 59.
14 See Archer, 1994, pp. 425-430.
15 John C. Whitcomb Jr. (1959), Darius the Mede (Grand Rapids: Baker); Klaus Koch (1995), Die Reiche der Welt und der kommende Menschensohn: Studien zum Danielbuch, ed. Martin Rösel (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag), pp. 125-139.
16 NOTE: A legitimate distinction exists between a contradiction on the one hand, and simply a lack of evidence to decide a question on the other. Cf. Kyle Butt (2010), “Responding to the Skeptic’s Attack Against Nazareth,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=3579&topic=82.
17 S.R. Driver (1897), An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), p. 508, italics in orig.
18 Edwin M. Yamauchi (1967), Greece and Babylon: Early Contacts Between the Aegean and the Near East (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker); Zdravko Stefanovic (1992), The Aramaic of Daniel in the Light of Old Aramaic (Sheffield: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement 129).
19 Cf. R.K. Harrison (1979), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), p. 1125; Gleason L. Archer Jr. (1985), Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), pp. 23-24.
20 Kenneth A. Kitchen (1970), “The Aramaic of Daniel,” in Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (London: Tyndale), p. 43, italics in orig.
21 Edwin M. Yamauchi (1981), “Daniel and Contacts Between the Aegean and the Near East Before Alexander,” Evangelical Quarterly, 53:37-47.
22 Archer, 1994, p. 431.
23 John J. Collins (1993), Daniel (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress), p. 20.
24 1:338-339.
25 Ibid., 1:326-366.
26 Driver, pp. 497-98.
27 E.g., 4Q397 [MMT] frgs 14-21; Prologue to the Greek translation of Ben Sirah; Luke 24:44.
28 John M.G. Barclay, trans. (2007), Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary. Volume 10: Against Apion (Leiden: Brill), pp. 29-30.
29 Ibid., p. 30.
30 Robert H. Pfeiffer (1952), Introduction to the Old Testament (London: Black), pp. 758-759.
31 4QDanc [4Q114] 4QDane [4Q116].
32 Ps-Dana–b [4Q243–44]; Ps-Danc [4Q245].
33 The “Prayer of Nabonidus” [4Q242]; “Four Kingdoms” [4Q552–53].
34 Josh McDowell (1979), Daniel in the Critics’ Den: Historical Evidence for the Authenticity of the Book of Daniel (San Bernandino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ).
35 Gleason Archer, Jr., trans. (1958), Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker), www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_daniel_02_text.htm.