The current scholarly consensus on the date of writing of the book of Daniel is that it was written by a Jew in Jerusalem in 163BC and not by the prophet Daniel in Babylon between 605 and 536BC. One of the issues which drives scholars to these conclusions is that they cannot accept the concept of predictive prophecy – particularly Dan.11v5-35 which purports to foretell in great detail the 160yr conflict between Seleucid & Ptolemaic rulers after the death of Alexander the Great.
The book of Daniel is described as “an apocalyptic work”1, in the sense that it pretends to foretell the future but is actually history written after the event. The record of Belshazzar’s feast is rejected as non- historical2.
When Was The Book Of Daniel Written?
The book clearly reads as an account of the life of Daniel, who was taken to Babylon in the time of Jehoiakim king of Judah. In this context the fact that Dan.2v4 to the end of Ch.7 was written in Chaldean and the rest of the book is in Hebrew is perfectly logical. Jesus, in Mt.24v15 refers to “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” – quoting from Dan.9v27 and 11v31. Remarkably, Dan.11v31 is in the very section of the book which causes the greatest problem to the acceptance of the book of Daniel as Scripture by modern scholars!
Research on the Dead Sea Scrolls has produced evidence that the Biblical dating is correct3,4. Of course the evidence of scripture should always take precedence over man’s wisdom.
1 “According to modern ideas the method pursued by the apocalyptic writers was a curious one. They set their message within an artificial framework. We are asked to believe that some well known religious figure of an earlier period (…Daniel…) had made a record of disclosures about the future, which God had given him in the form of visions, and that the book in question had been lost or hidden away for many years. In fact the apocalyptic books do not contain any predictions: they are ‘emblematic‘ accounts of the past”. The New Atlas of the Bible, Collins, p.128-129.
2 “The story of Belshazzar’s feast is historical fiction and several details are not consistent with historical facts. Belshazzar is portrayed as the king of Babylon and “son” of Nebuchadnezzar, though he was actually the son of Nabonidus—one of Nebuchadnezzar’s successors—and he never became king in his own right, nor did he lead the religious festivals as the king was required to do. In the story, the conqueror who inherits Babylon is Darius the Mede, but no such individual is known to history, and the invaders were actually Persians. This is typical of the “tale of court contest” in which historical accuracy is not an essential element.” Wikipedia ‘Belshazzar”.
3 “Authorship and date. Most modern scholars reject the traditional view that it is a 6th C BC document written by Daniel despite Jesus’ attribution of it to him (Mt.24v15). It is generally claimed to be by an unknown author circa 165BC, because its prophecies reflect events and needs of that time. However, this view is itself dubious. For example, the book was accepted as canonical (authoritative) by Jews in the Maccabean period (152-37BC) who saw none of the historical errors in it which have been postulated by modern scholars. Daniel proves to be a more accurate historian of the Neo-Babylonian and early Persian period than any since the 6th cent BC; he knew that Nebuchadnezzar could make or alter laws at will (Dan.2v12f) while Darius the Mede could not (6v8f). The Aramaic of Daniel closely resembles that of Ezra and the 5th cent Elephantine papyrii, while the Hebrew style resembles that of Ezekiel, Haggai and Chronicles more than that of Ecclesiasticus which was written c. 180 BC.” The New Concise Bible Dictionary (1997), p.117
4 “It would thus appear that, whatever may be thought about the place of prediction in prophecy, the manuscript evidence from Qumran absolutely precludes a date of composition in the Maccabean period, but does indicate one in the Neo-Babylonian era (626-539BC). “Biblical Criticism: Historical, Literary and Textual; by Harrison, Waltke, Guthrie & Fee” p.39. Published by Zondervan 1978