Over the next few weeks we are going to share with you the opinions of 17 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Daniel. You should find these interviews fascinating and very informative. The interviews were conducted at a national Bible prophecy conference that was held in the Dallas, Texas area.
The first question is related to the fact that no book of the Bible has been attacked more viciously than the book of Daniel. Liberal critics hate the book with a passion because it contains precise prophecies, many of which have already been fulfilled in history. They argue therefore that it must have been written long after the time of Daniel.
So the question for our experts is this:
#1. Is the book of Daniel a valid book of prophecy?
Nathan Jones, Lamb & Lion Ministries
The critics are liberal theologians. They take the fact that Daniel was written during the exile in the Sixth Century BC and they bring its timing all the way up to about 100 years before Christ. They do this because they hate Bible prophecy. They hate the fact that Daniel was so perfectly precise about the history, especially between the Seleucids of Syria and the Ptolemies of Egypt and the wars between them over 200 years.
Since the critics hate Bible prophecy, they have to do two things. First, they have to scuttle the date of the book. Second, they also have to scuttle the authorship as genuinely being Daniel.
Let's look particularly at the authorship of the book of Daniel. Critics have about four particular arguments that they make against Daniel being the author.
First, they'll say that the Book of Daniel is filled with historical errors, like for instance Belshazzar being listed as the son of Nebuchadnezzar. But, that's as easy one to explain. "Son" was a common title in the lineage of the kings, so he just meant that Belshazzar was a descendent of Nebuchadnezzar.
Second, the critics say Daniel 12:1 speaks of his death, so how then could Daniel write about his own death? The passage reads, "And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus." He merely remained there; it doesn't mean he died then. So, again, that's rather a useless argument.
Third, the critics will say the unity of the book of Daniel disproves that he was the author. Chapters 1-6 are historic in Daniel's life, and 7-12 are prophetic visions. But, who says that Daniel sat down all at one time and wrote the whole book out in one shot. He had over a whole lifetime to write this down. We all come in and out of things that happen in our lives. And, don't forget, the book of Daniel still has unity of theme.
Fourth, another critical argument is over languages. Chapter 1 and the beginning of 2 and 8-12 were written in Hebrew, while the rest of the middle chapters are written in Aramaic. That's easy to explain, because the chapters that are written in Hebrew are for the Jews. The ones that are written in Aramaic are for the Gentiles. No problem there.
Let's stop and remember that Jesus is the one who said in Matthew 24:15, "So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation spoken of through the prophet Daniel, let the reader understand." By saying "spoken of by the prophet Daniel," Jesus confirmed the authorship of Daniel. By Jesus we know that Daniel was written by Daniel.
Randall Price, World of the Bible Ministries
Liberal theologians want to date Daniel in the Second Century BC because it has prophecies that are so accurate and so clear concerning Antiochus IV Epiphanies and the Maccabees, and so they'll say there is no way this could be known except through what they call "post eventu" prophecy. That means "after the fact" prophecy. They'll make a wild claim that someone must have lived during that period prophesied to be writing in an apocalyptic genre and in the pseudonym of someone else, such as a famous person like Daniel.
Then critics will place Daniel as past history though with a sense of future history. The problem is the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest copies of the Bible that we have. Among them we now know are 11 fragments of the book of Daniel. That's 11 different copies of Daniel. These are all reliably dated to at least the late Second Century or the early First Century BC. And, another problem is that they are already copies of copies. These fragments are not fresh off the press. These are ones that have been in circulation for awhile. Therefore, Daniel is obviously recognized as canonical, which is part of what's considered sacred Scripture. These copies all come from the same time period.
Critics also allege a pseudo-Daniel wrote the book. There are a couple of problems with that theory. It takes a long time for any type of writing to be considered and adopted as relevant literature, much less sacred Scripture. There's authority invested in it. Then, if you don't know who the author is, even more time, but that's not the case. Daniel is a book that's long already been considered sacred Scripture.
At the very time during the Second Century BC when critics say Daniel had to have been written, that's impossible. The date of Daniel gets pushed back further, and any time you push it back before the Second Century BC, you already have to deal with the fact that you've got predictive prophecy. So, your case is won and their case is lost, because the only reason they argue this way is because they are anti-supernatural. They don't want to see there's a God who can tell the future.
Tim LaHaye, Tim LaHaye Ministries
Early dating Daniel is an old hackneyed idea from the liberal era when they were trying to destroy Daniel. And yet, Daniel is included in the Septuagint, but they still won't admit that Daniel was written at least 600 to 500 years before Christ. The Septuagint came out in 275 BC, so Daniel had to have been in print before that time, because it took probably 100 years for the book to circulate out. So, it's at least 350 years out, so what's the different? Whether 500 years or 350 years, it's therefore prophesy and so it's a supernatural act of God. The Dead Sea Scrolls kind of erased early dating when they discovered some of the writings of the prophets and realized that our Bible is the most authenticated book in the history of the world.
Tom McCall, Tom McCall Ministries
The one argument that critics mostly deal in is the idea that Daniel could not have written about the events of the 300's and the 200's and the 100's BC. And yet, Daniel describes in considerable detail such events as Alexander the Great, depicted as the ram with one horn and that one horn being broken off and four horns taking its place. What a fantastic picture of what actually happened at the time of Alexander the Great! In 300 BC, Daniel couldn't have known that Alexander's army would be broken into four regions, they say.
The description of the war between the Israelites and Antiochus Epiphanies around 175 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanies desecration of the Temple and the Maccabean War started, is described in considerable detail in Daniel. So, the critics have decided the book had to have been written after 175 BC. Why? Because his prophecies are too accurate, and his history is too accurate for somebody to have written it back in the 500 BCs. Since these critics do not believe in predictive prophecy, Daniel cannot have been written in 500 BC. They rake Daniel over the coals. However, we believe that God does know the end from the beginning. God does give predictive prophecy and He gives predictive details.
Gary Frazier, Discovery Worldwide Ministries
First of all, let me just say that we'll always have those liberal theologians who are constantly attacking the accuracy and the authority of the Word of God. I personally don't spend much time with these people because I've found through the years that no matter how much we reason with them, you're simply not going to change their mind. They basically do not believe in the inerrancy and the authority of the Word of God. And so, you can talk to these supposed educated, articulate, and well informed individuals, but they already have their minds made up. They've bought into these various forms of German Rationalism, forms of Higher Criticism, and so forth. They try to take the Bible as though it's just simply a standard text. It's not. It is God-breathed.
The Jewish people have long accepted the book of Daniel as being written by the prophet Daniel. Jesus Himself in Matthew 24 referred to the book of Daniel when he said, "When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet." If you take that perspective, then you have to understand that book had to either have been written in the very short span of the life and ministry of Jesus, or Jesus got it wrong. I'm not buying that.
I don't waste a lot of my time with liberal theologians. God's called me to preach the Bible, not necessarily defend it.
David Reagan, Lamb & Lion Ministries
The historical evidence proves that the book of Daniel existed long before the events it prophesied. In my opinion, the most important argument in defense of Daniel is the fact that Jesus Himself endorsed the book when He quoted it in His Olivet Discourse. If it was good enough for Jesus, then it's certainly good enough for me.
In the fourth part of this series on understanding the book of Daniel, the members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will next answer the second question, "Is there a time gap in Daniel's prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years?"