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The First Apocalypse: The Book of Daniel

I have been arguing that to understand the radically new view of the afterlife that emerged in ancient Judea in the horrible years leading up to the Maccabean revolt, it is important to know something about a new genre or literature that began to be produced at the time, the apocalypse.  The first surviving writing of this kind is in the book of Daniel.  Here is what I say about Daniel as an apocalypse in my book The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction.

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Daniel as an Apocalypse

Daniel provides the earliest full-blown apocalypse that we have from Jewish antiquity.  There are other passages in the Hebrew Bible that scholars have suggested embody clear – or reasonably clear – apocalyptic perspectives.  In every case, these are passages that appear to have been added at a later time on to a writing that was already in existence.  This is the case, for example, with Isaiah 24-27, known as the “little apocalypse” of Isaiah, not written by Isaiah of Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE, but later interpolated into his work; so too Second Zechariah (chs. 9-14) contains apocalyptic elements.

But it is with Daniel 1-7 that we first see the genre come to full expression.   Scholars have long recognized that …

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Comments

  1. John Uzoigwe  August 1, 2017

    This is an interesting post that shows that theres no uniformity between jewish apocalyptic perspective and Christian apocalyptic perspective.

  2. Seeker1952  August 1, 2017

    It sounds like the apocalyptic part of Daniel was an interpolation into a much earlier book? If so, would the non-interpolated parts of Daniel have been written prior to the historical events predicted in the interpolated parts? In addition to the impossibility of making historical predictions of this sort, are there other major indicators that the apocalyptic part is a much later interpolation, eg, vocabulary, literary style, anachronisms, theology, major concerns of the author, etc?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      It’s not so much an interpolation as a different source of material. The stories of chs 1-6 came from one author and the apocalyptic narratives of 7-12 from another. A third person later combined the two.

      • Seeker1952  August 3, 2017

        But in addition to the impossibility of predicting the future are there other major indicators that Chapters 7-12 were written much later than Chapter 1-6 and after the predicted events had already occurred, eg, vocabulary, literary style, theological assumptions, anachronisms? Although I’m extremely skeptical of there being authentic prophetic predictions of this sort, from a theological standpoint isn’t it a circular argument to say that something must have been written after the events happened because it’s impossible to predict such events? It seems like there needs to be other important, supporting evidence to back up that conclusion–from a theological rather than a historical standpoint.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 4, 2017

          Yes, it’s not as simple as saying that it can’t be earlier because it anticipates what really happened. The issue is the specificity of the prediction. If someone in March 2001 said: the U.S. be subject to attack by foreign radicals, that would be one thing; if they said that a radical Islamicist group would fly planes into the Twin Towers and destroy them killing over 3000 people, that would be something else.

          • bradseggie  August 7, 2017

            So the only reason to date the “prediction” as having been made after the fact is that the prediction was specific and correct? Doesn’t this confirm evangelicals’ suspicions of secular scholarship?

            “It couldn’t have been an actual prediction because we know it was written after the events took place.”

            “How do you know it was written after the fact?”

            “Because the prediction came true.”

            Isn’t that assuming the thing you need to prove?

            BTW, the rapper Notorious B.I.G. had a song Juicy, with the lyrics “Time to get paid / blow up like the world trade.” The song was released in August 1994. Radio stations bleep out the offending lyrics post-911.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 9, 2017

            My point is that this is the view of highly religious Christian (and Jewish) scholars, so it’s not a “secular” point of view.

      • dankoh  August 5, 2017

        Whoever the author of Dan. 1-6 was, he lived closer to Maccabean times than to Persian, as he got his historical details all wrong – the “madness” of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius capturing Belshazzar (who was a regent, not king) and then being succeeded by Cyrus, etc.

        I am not so sure, though, that the two parts had totally different authors; it is possible that one person collected the stories of part 1 as a lead-in to part 2, to show how important a person Daniel was. John Collins is perhaps the leading Daniel scholar of the day, and I don’t think he has come to a final conclusion about the number of authors.

  3. godspell  August 1, 2017

    One should note–the Jewish people did not inherit the entire earth (what would they have done with it?), and the perfect ruler Daniel envisioned never emerged, but Antiochus was overthrown–the defeat of his army in Judea finished him, because he had enemies pressing him hard from other directions, and he couldn’t afford a major setback at that point–unlike Rome, an institutional power, that didn’t rely entirely on a single personality to hold it together.

    It really didn’t require divine foresight to predict the fall of a ruler in these days, because they were falling like ninepins, all the time.

    Something in me hopes that ‘Daniel’ lived to see that part of his prophecy come to pass. May we all live to see tyrants fall.

  4. flshrP  August 1, 2017

    So the Book of Daniel was written in the 2nd century BCE by someone claiming to be “Daniel” living in the 6th century BCE. I assume that makes the Book of Daniel a forgery.
    The apocalypse section of this book is not a prophecy, i.e. a prediction, but rather is a postdiction, i.e. a prophecy after the fact. So this makes the Book of Daniel a piece of fiction at best and/or a deliberate attempt to deceive the reader.
    It required several centuries of modern biblical scholarship to reach these conclusions.
    Question: is there any evidence that early Christian and/or Jewish biblical scholarship in the first three centuries of the common era had uncovered these conclusions about the Book of Daniel? Did the early Church Fathers know about this?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      The pagan critic Porphyry did, and wrote about how the book can’t be from the 6th century because it’s villain was Antiochus Epiphanes!

      • dankoh  August 5, 2017

        I read Josephus as also being aware of the historical discrepancies. See Ant. 10.247-249, where he makes Cyrus into a contemporary of Darius and Darius into the king of Media alone – and says he had another name among the Greeks. But that does not overcome Dan. 6:9, which says Darius ruled the Medes and Persians together.

        • caesar  August 7, 2017

          Which chapter In Antiquities 10?

          • dankoh  August 7, 2017

            Ant. 10.247 is equivalent to 10.11.4.

    • dankoh  August 5, 2017

      Calling Daniel a forgery is a modern judgment. Many writers in that period were pseudopigraphal – they wrote in the name of someone from an earlier time. We don’t know if their contemporaries were aware of this, but I think it not unlikely – they could see it was written in what was for them the current style.

      But in this case I think the author was not using a known person who really lived in 6th century Babylon; he made up the whole thing.

      Also, the apocalypse section is not postdiction. It’s the other part, the one where the author “predicts” the coming of Alexander, the split into Seleucid and Prolemaic kingdoms, the good kings and then Antiochus IV, all of which had actually happened by then. Then he segues neatly into his real purpose: to predict that even though the Maccabeans wil have failed (11:34), Antiochus will die soon (11:45) and God will send the angel Michael to rescue the Jews (12:1).

      This is how we know when to date the book; when his prophecies stop being accurate.

      • Bart
        Bart  August 6, 2017

        If you want to see what ancient people thought of what we call forgeries (they themselves called them “lies” and “bastards”), see my book Forgery and Counterforgery.

  5. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  August 1, 2017

    I wonder how many Christians are uninformed of the fact that Daniel is not a prophecy for our future. And of those who *do* understand it to be a postdiction, how do they reconcile that with the Second Coming of Christ?

    It’s interesting how believers in the Second Coming will reinterpret the meaning of the Bible to fit their view. The mysterious Gatekeeper believes the Church Age is coming to a close. There’s a body of believers (you’d be surprised how many) who think that critical biblical scholarship is God’s way of preparing us for Jesus’ imminent return and the New Age to come. (Although, I don’t understand the whole Reptilian Race thing)

    I can see how current events spur on the belief in Jesus’ return: AI, microchipping, continual gains in knowledge, the political climate, etc… I haven’t believed that Jesus is coming back for many years; however, I do get uneasy when reading about employees receiving microchip implants. I’m gonna have to pass on that one.

    http://www.today.com/video/watch-employees-get-microchip-implants-live-on-today-1014527555766

    • Greg Matthews
      Greg Matthews  August 3, 2017

      Virtually every generation has believed that “theirs” is the one in which Jesus returns. It’s amazing how none of them manages to notice the irony..

  6. tompicard
    tompicard  August 1, 2017

    I appreciate your explanation of this chapter of this book.
    Even though the tale is scary, I don’t see it actually implying any supernatural events.
    Just evil rulers, who will soon be superseded by an (everlasting) line of righteous leaders.
    Do you see in this story the author’s clear implication that God will be violating/breaching natural laws ?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      It was later, at least, taken as a literal description of what would happen. And yes, I suppose a supernatural day of judgment would not fit into most categories of natural law!

      • tompicard
        tompicard  August 3, 2017

        I don’t see in this chapter of Daniel a reference to ‘day of judgement’ i.e. apocalyptic vindication, such as I am thinking you mean a division of sheep and goats (good and evil people).
        certainly a ‘historical dualism’ division of ages may be inferred from this chapter, but this seems to be an ordinary (at least in ancient Judea) replacement of earlier kingdoms with later (the earlier being represented by scary beasts the later by comely ‘son of man’ but all these kingdoms are ruled by real humans not angelic/immortal)
        In other words, I am still trying to understand when you think the natural-law-defying elements of apocalypticism arise.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 4, 2017

          I’m not completely sure what you’re asking. Ancient people didn’t have a sense of natural law, so there couldn’t be a view that said natural law was defied.

          • tompicard
            tompicard  August 4, 2017

            yeah, I am not sure of my point either

            Suppose
            1) a ruler of a nation (Hezekiah) is doing his best to follow God’s laws and is saved at the last very minute from being overrun by a powerful invading force (Assyria, Sennacharib) by a completely unexpected event.
            2) the same ruler is at the door of death yet miraculously survives for another 15 years
            3) later in the history the country is behaving wickedly and though many purported prophets are predicting survival, the country is overrun by another powerful nation (Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar).
            In these cases the sacred authors attributes the above events to the miraculous intervention of God. Most of us today (me included) would never call the above events anything supernatural, but I guess those people living at the time in Israel might. Still I can admire their belief and understanding that it is God’s hand that is ruling the world.

            On the other hand some of the newer apocalyptic views such as believing that God will allow a human to float on a cloud without falling to earth, or that angel is going lead an literal army (comprised of other angels/heavenly hosts??), or sit on a judicial seat where everyone lines up to receive their just desserts and then appoints a Galilean peasant to be the king, or that God allows some humans to never experience physical death, and all other deceased human to resurrect from their tombs, is, I think, qualitatively different the prior views.
            And I am wondering if people really believed these latter ideas.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 6, 2017

            I’m not sure ancient people would make the kinds of distinctions we would to day — not only between “really” weird supernatural events (a human floating down from heaven on a cloud) and more sensible ones (God determining which nation would destroy the other), but also between what we think of as natural events (gravity; sun rises) and what we think of supernatural ones. What most people today don’t realize is that ancient people didn’t have separate categories of natural and supernatural. God was just as much involved in the sun coming up as he was in raising a dead person from the dead. Neithe rwas more supernatural than another (they didn’t even have *words* for natural and supernatural)

          • godspell  August 7, 2017

            Or ‘Paranormal.’ I think it was sometime after the Enlightenment, certainly no later than the early 19th, that ordinary people (not just the highly educated) began to draw lines between the mundane and the magical.

            That’s when we began to have horror stories–stories about people who think they are safe in the rational known world, and then something inexplicable happens, that calls the certitudes of science into doubt.

            And we’re still doubting.

            Superstition is our attempt to put a name on the nameless, a form on the formless. We know there are things outside our ken, and we used to have explanations handy, that made us less afraid. Now we tell ourselves we don’t believe, when in fact we really still do. And that gives it a lot more power over us, in some ways.

            Good for the film industry, at any rate.

  7. hasankhan  August 1, 2017

    A proper interpretation would cover the entire dream, not bits and pieces. What about the statement, “before the books of judgment opened up”. It’s clear he is speaking about judgment day i.e end of time. He didn’t say his reference is to the persion rulers. It’s other people applying the angelic interpretation to their own times.

  8. Wilusa  August 1, 2017

    Ah! So were all the “apocalyptic visions” like that, with most of the traumas supposed to have been in the past (though the author wasn’t identifying it as such), the triumphant conclusion in readers’ own lifetimes?

  9. ask21771  August 1, 2017

    If the stories about jesus aren’t true, wouldn’t someone have pointed it out as they were being created

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      Two comments: 1) Maybe they were! and 2) There are millions of unverified rumors that get circulated everyday in our *own* world; the persons about whom they were told often don’t even hear them, let alone have a chance to correct them. You may want to read my book Jesus Before the Gospels where I deal with such things.

  10. jhague  August 1, 2017

    Why did the authors of apocalypses fill their stories with bizarre images and symbols that are difficult to understand?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      In part to show their mysterious supernatural character.

  11. Greg Matthews
    Greg Matthews  August 1, 2017

    What do scholars think created the void that Jewish apocalypticism filled? I thought it was a post-exile phenomenon so I guess it wasn’t driven by living under foreign rule. So, what could have caused it to appear?

  12. cheito
    cheito  August 1, 2017

    DR Ehrman:

    Your Comment:

    As is true of the writings of the classical prophets, the writings of the apocalypticists (both Jewish and Christian) were not designed to predict what was going to happen hundreds or thousands of years after they lived. These authors too were writing for their own time, and their message was meant to provide hope for people in their own day.

    All of that Daniel “predicts.” But of course the author is simply recounting what he knows to have happened.

    My Comment:

    If the authors are recounting what they know has already happened, and the message they are prophesying is meant for the people of their own day, then the people to whom they are writing, would also know that these apocalyptic prophecies written by these authors have already happened. This reasoning doesn’t add up; It doesn’t make any sense! Why would these authors write about something that has already happened as though it hasn’t happened yet, and expect to fool the people who very well know that these events being written to them have already happened?

    It’s obvious to me, considering the way the visions are written, that they imply that the events being written about will happen in the future.

    Daniel 7:23-“Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast WILL BE a fourth kingdom on the earth, WHICH WILL BE different from all the other kingdoms, AND IT WILL DEVOUR the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.

    Daniel 10:14-“Now I have come to give you an understanding of WHAT WILL HAPPEN to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days YET FUTURE.

    ____________________________

    • Wilusa  August 3, 2017

      “If the authors are recounting what they know has already happened, and the message they are prophesying is meant for the people of their own day, then the people to whom they are writing, would also know that these apocalyptic prophecies written by these authors have already happened. This reasoning doesn’t add up; It doesn’t make any sense! Why would these authors write about something that has already happened as though it hasn’t happened yet, and expect to fool the people who very well know that these events being written to them have already happened?”

      The whole point is that readers were misled into believing *the works were written* centuries in the past, when the events described *would have* been in the future!

      • cheito
        cheito  August 4, 2017

        Your Comment:

        The whole point is that readers were misled into believing *the works were written* centuries in the past, when the events described *would have* been in the future!

        _______________________________

        My Comment:

        What readers are you referring to? According to DR Ehrman, most Jews were illiterate, so they couldn’t read. (I’m not agreeing DR Ehrman assertion is correct, I’m just pointing out that he teaches that most Jews were illiterate.)

        The pseudonymous authors circulating apocalyptic prophecies in the name of Daniel certainly could not deceive the professional scribes and those who were dedicated to preserving the integrity of the writings of Daniel. The professional scribes knew how to read!

        Certainly the illiterate would not know that the apocalypse of Daniel was altered and forged, but those whose profession was to expose these types of forgeries, would’ve known.

        Unless of course, it was these very professional scribes and/or guardians of the Holy scriptures who themselves altered and perverted the words of Daniel for their own religious reasons and/or political agenda.

        It’s a matter of opinion and of interpretation of the data we have available, and scholars are not perfect people. They could be, and many are, wrong, about how they interpret history. It’s one thing to know historical facts, and another thing to interpret these historical facts correctly.

        ________________________

    • Jay  August 3, 2017

      Hi cheito.
      In the case of Daniel’s 4 beasts, the story is detailing 3 key events (or let’s say stages), and Antiochus is the middle event/stage.
      1 – First 3 beast kingdoms leading up to Antiochus
      2 – 4th beast including the 10 horns and 1 blasphemous horn (Antiochus)
      3 – The one like a “son of man” coming on the clouds to judge, vindicate, and usher in the new age

      Ehrman’s suggestion is that this apocalyptic story was written at the time of Antiochus (stage 2) but crafted as if it had been written centuries earlier (during stage 1). As such it is symbolically “foretelling” the rise of this horrible 4th beast — and ALSO foretelling what is to come afterward — the son of man in stage 3.

      Messianic expectation in Jesus’ day was at a fever pitch. Based on Daniel, Enoch, and other sources, they believed they would enter stage 3 at any minute. The Son of Man was due to arrive literally any day — in fact, many would have felt that the SoM was well behind schedule. To them, Daniel had accurately predicted the rise of Antiochus centuries before it happened, so the rest of his prophecies were certain to be fulfilled any day.

      • cheito
        cheito  August 6, 2017

        Jay:

        Your Comment:

        Ehrman’s suggestion is that this apocalyptic story was written at the time of Antiochus (stage 2) but crafted as if it had been written centuries earlier (during stage 1). As such it is symbolically “foretelling” the rise of this horrible 4th beast — and ALSO foretelling what is to come afterward — the son of man in stage 3.

        _______________________

        My Comment:

        I’ve always suspected that the prophecies of the visions of the evenings and the mornings; the exact times given in Daniel 9:24-27 and other verses in chapters 7-12 of Daniel, were interpolations.

        Example Below:

        I believe verses 10-14 of Daniel Chapter 8: were added.

        I also believe, the first part of Daniel 8:26, (“And the vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true;), was also added at the beginning of the verse to corroborate Daniel 8:10-14.

        Furthermore, I believe the latter part of Daniel 8:26, (“but keep the vision secret for it pertains to many days in the future”), was, what was recorded in the scroll of Daniel, that the forgers interpolated and altered.

        This is what I mean:

        I only accept the following verses of Daniel Chapter 8.
        verses 1-9, (I skip verses 10-14), and I continue reading verses 15-26.

        I only accept the latter portion of Daniel 8:26

        Daniel 8:26 without the interpolation at the beginning of the verse would read as follows:

        V:26-“but keep the vision secret for it pertains to many days in the future”

        I’ll agree with DR Ehrman that the book of Daniel was altered, but I don’t agree that the entire apocalypse of Daniel was written at the time of Antiochus Epihanes.

        I think that during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes the book of Daniel was edited, and prophecies were added to it to deceive the people into believing that Antiochus Epiphanes was the “little horn”. prophesied by Daniel.

        I’ll have to differ with you and DR Ehrman:

        I don’t believe that the “little horn” described in Daniel 7, and in other chapters in Daniel, was Antiochus Epiphanes.

        What I see happening, is that some scribe, or whoever, altered the Book of Daniel by adding prophecies, in what they believed were strategic places of Daniel, to make it look like Antiochus Epiphanes was the “little horn” that Daniel prophesied about. It doesn’t work for me.

        The “little horn” described by Daniel becomes a very powerful king in the LATTER RULE of the ten kings that emerged from the fourth kingdom. The “little horn” will subdue three of these kings and will prosper and perform his will.

        There are many other predictions in Daniel about what this “little horn” will do.

        Antiochus Epiphanes falls short! He did not subdue Three out of the ten kings. He barely conquered Egypt, and later had to withdraw, because Rome threaten to wage war against him if he didn’t get out of Egypt.

        I can point out many other things that the “little horn” does, that Antiochus Epiphanes did not do.

        _____________

        ____________________

    • dankoh  August 5, 2017

      Not quite. The author recounts as a “prediction” things that have already happened UP TO Judah’s capturing of the Temple. He did not predict that; he didn’t think the Maccabeans would succeed (11:34). What he was doing was pretending that all these predictions had been made centuries ago, so that his readers, seeing that all the predictions up to the revolt had come true, would trust that his other predictions, the apocalyptic ones, would also come true.

  13. Jay  August 2, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman,
    As an apocalyptic Evangelical, I have studied Daniel (and all the so-called Bible prophecy experts) for 20 years. I have read countless interpretations of the Dan. 2 statue, the Dan. 7 beasts, the “70 Weeks Prophecy,” etc…

    And with 1,374 words, you’ve refuted *everything* I thought I ever knew about it! Your simple, elegant interpretation makes perfect sense and requires NONE of the insane mental gymnastics commonly applied to these passages today.
    – No reincarnated Holy Roman Empire
    – No 10 kings from the European Union and/or other global regions
    – No Russia, no China
    – No European Antichrist
    – No 7 year peace treaty
    – No “Rapture”
    – and on and on and on
    I feel so stupid(!) for following these ideas and wasting so much of my life on it — and for buying all those books and DVDs. In any case, I’m glad to finally understand the truth — and I thank you for that.

  14. anthonygale  August 2, 2017

    Do you find it at all odd that, given the “imminence” of apocalyptic thinking, that there would be so many apocalyptic writings and additions to scripture? Some apologists claim the reason there are no writings during Jesus’ life or shortly after his death is because of this imminent thinking. They say the apostles thought Jesus would be back soon, had no reason or time to be writing books (if they could have written), but realized they ought to when they later came to understand “soon” wasn’t quite what they thought. Whether you believe that or not, it does raise the question: Why would someone (e.g. an apocalypticist) who thinks the world could end tomorrow worry about writing a book, let alone alter previously written books? You could say they still wanted to write for people in their own time, but most people were illiterate. The fact that we have Daniel, Revelation, the letters of Paul, and other writing shows that apocalypticists indeed cared about writing their ideas. But does this undermine the idea that they really believed the end was so imminent? And if so, what do you make of that? Evolution in thinking over time? The writers didn’t literally believe in imminence, but wrote to comfort people in the present?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      A theory of cognitive dissonance would suggest that the more such predictions are disconfirmed, the more fervently they come to be made! If you haven’t read Leon Festinger’s book When Prophecy Fails, you should think about doing so. Fantastically interesting!

  15. RonaldTaska  August 2, 2017

    How was the hike?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      Really terrific. Six days in the Picos de Europa in the Asturias region of northern Spain.

  16. Adam0685  August 2, 2017

    Beliefs about the end time and the afterlife seem closely linked. Beliefs about the end times (the transition to life *after* this life) has shaped the West significantly!

    • Adam0685  August 2, 2017

      It is interesting that the word “afterlife” is used by Christians, for example, because even after death life goes on either now in another location or in the future in God’s kingdom after the resurrection, there is no end to life technically for the majority of Christians.

  17. Lev
    Lev  August 3, 2017

    Thanks for this Bart – very interesting.

    Do scholars rely upon internal evidence alone for concluding ch 7 onwards was a later addition? Is there any external evidence that supports this view?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 6, 2017

      I’m not sure what you mean by external evidence — do you mean manuscript support? No, it is found entire in codex Leningradensis and portions of both the beginning and end were found in Cave 4 of Qumran, from the same manuscript, 4QDana. It would have been *published* and circulated as an entirety (as were other composite documents).

  18. rich-ilm  August 3, 2017

    Just to play Devil’s advocate…I’ve read others saying, and would have said myself years ago something like, ‘Your anti-supernatual bias is showing. Just because the events occurred exactly as predicted doesn’t mean they were written afterwards. These are prophecies and god worked them out.” Are there any textual/grammatical/historical evidences that Daniel was written late? thx,

    • Bart
      Bart  August 4, 2017

      Yes, it’s not as simple as saying that it can’t be earlier because it anticipates what really happened. The issue is the specificity of the prediction. If someone in March 2001 said: the U.S. be subject to attack by foreign radicals, that would be one thing; if they said that a radical Islamicist group would fly planes into the Twin Towers and destroy them killing over 3000 people, that would be something else. Daniel has very specific “predictions” of that sort, and not just about Antiochus Epiphanes. Read Daniel 11, e.g. (I should say, this is the view of all critical scholars — that is, all those excluding fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals — including every critical scholar teaching in every Christian seminary and divinity school in the country. It was the view I held as a Christian). But in terms of linguistic evidence, yes, it’s very clear, because a large chunk of Daniel was actually written in Aramaic, which would not be possible before the Persian period.

      • dankoh  August 5, 2017

        Since Daniel admits to living into the Persian period (under Cyrus, of course; there was no Darius), I don’t think you can use the Aramaic argument as evidence. The rest of it, sure.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 6, 2017

          He of course would not have been fluent in literary Aramaic as a Hebrew fellow raised in Jerusalem in the years before Nebuchadnezzar.

          • dankoh  August 6, 2017

            2 Kings 18:26 shows that at least some of the leaders knew Aramaic in pre-exilic times, although the common people did not. “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; do not speak to us in Judean in the hearing of the people on the wall.” The MT text of that verse is in Hebrew (Judean), of course.

  19. SidDhartha1953  August 5, 2017

    I know Christian Zionists like to include these visions in their account of how God predicted the modern nation of Israel and its yet-to-be-realized future. Do you know of any scholars who have written on how these visions may have influenced the founders of the modern Zionist movement in the early to mid 20th century? I’ve read that the 19th century Zionists were not really interested in Palestine as a homeland. It’s not hard to imagine that the events of 1933-1945 caused many Jews to look back to their apocalyptic literature.

  20. Wilusa  August 5, 2017

    Some thoughts about apocalypticists, and apocalypses…

    Going back to Jesus: What makes the most sense to me is that he hoped his inspiring more people to have a truly fervent belief in the coming Kingdom – and getting them to “live as if they were already in it” – would induce God to bring it about more quickly. It’s occurred to me that he may even have thought it wouldn’t come about at all unless multitudes of God’s “chosen people” showed their faith in Him by praying for Him to do it, and never doubting His power to do it.

    And I think the beliefs of the earlier apocalypticists – the authors of apocalypses, and the other literate rabbis(?) who understood that their works were “new” – may have been somewhat the same. They really believed the horrific events in their past had been the work of demonic powers, and they fervently hoped God would intervene and set things right – soon! But they too may have feared He wouldn’t do it, unless those multitudes of His “chosen people” showed their faith in Him.

    They didn’t come up with Jesus’s idea, of urging people to “live as if they were already in” a hoped-for future Kingdom. Instead, they chose to inspire their people via those apocalypses that were, presumably, read aloud to groups in synagogues (or their equivalent in that era). And they thought the deceit of pretending the works had been written centuries earlier was justified, because it was so important that their people believe.

    I suppose multiple apocalypses were written because new horrors had to be relegated to a supposedly-prophecied “past”? Or perhaps, in some cases, just because authors thought they were better storytellers than their predecessors!

  21. dankoh  August 5, 2017

    John Collins, in his discussion of Porphyry’s argument (1998, 87n9), thinks that Porphyry believed the resurrection section (Dan. 12) was a metaphor for the restoration of the Jews, not an actual resurrection of the dead. I can accept this for Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s resurrection scenes, as they are clearly writing in a time when Israel (a) did not have a concept of life after death and (b) saw itself as a corporate body in moral terms – that is, when some people sin, the whole people are punished (famine, war).

    In Second Temple times, responsibility for sin was shifting to the individual, so they MAY have started to think in terms of individual resurrection. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that.

    In the meantime, I will point out the sad irony that if Porphyry is correct (or if Collins’ reading of him is correct), then the entire eschatological movement has been based on a total misunderstanding!

  22. caesar  August 7, 2017

    My understanding had been that chapters 2-7 were probably written earlier than ch 1 and 8-12 (1 & 8-12 being written in the 160s)…because 2-7 are in Aramaic. But, ch 2-7 weren’t written in the 6th century, maybe more like the 3rd century. In Carol Newsom’s commentary, p xi of the intro she says that ch 7 was written earlier than the 2nd century–and the parts that describe Antiochus are ‘easily intrusive and excised’, so obviously those parts were added in during the 160s when the book was being finalized. If that’s not the case, it seems odd (to me anyway) that the writer(s) of 7-12 would write only chapter 7 in Aramaic, and ch 8-12 in Greek.

  23. caesar  August 7, 2017

    I’ve studied conservative scholars, and I can see why they combine Media and Persia as a single empire. Ch 8, especially v 20, seems to imply it pretty strongly…and the idea that Media replaced the Babylonian kingdom, and that Persia then replaced Media, seems incompatible with history. But, I guess Daniel could have his facts wrong.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 7, 2017

      Yes, Daniel pretty clearly differentiates between the two kingdoms. Living centuries later, he just got that jumbled up.

  24. John1003  August 7, 2017

    Im a little confused. Antiochus epiphanes was the eigth. If there are ten horns and the writer is living in the period of antiochus. Shouldn’t antiochus be the tenth. ? It would be strange if he was predicting 2 more rulers before the end.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 7, 2017

      Ten is often a round number in the Bible, but I haven’t added the rulers up recently.

  25. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  August 8, 2017

    With so many comments regarding prophecy, I’m wondering how it’s going to fit into your book for the afterlife. Are you considering laying out an argument for why books like Daniel are postdiction?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 9, 2017

      I haven’t really thought about what I’ll be covering in teh book yet. I’m just reading as much as I can at this point.

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