God is Judge

Chapter 21

A Commentary on the book of Daniel

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Dating Daniel


John J. Collins summarizes the position taken by critical scholarship as follows:


“The issue is not whether a divinely inspired prophet could have foretold the events which took place under Antiochus Epiphanes 400 years before. The question is whether this possibility carries any probability: is it the most satisfactory way to explain what we find in Daniel? Modern critical scholarship has held that it is not.”[1]


More than any other chapter, Daniel 11 seems to support the assessment made by critical scholarship regarding a date of composition during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The closing verses of ch.11 were not fulfilled by Antiochus and therefore this marks (according to critical scholarship) the transition from ex eventu too “real” prophecy, allowing them to date the book with reasonable precision to shortly after 168 BC (after the Roman intervention) and before Antiochus IV’s death in Mesopotamia circa 164/165 BC. T. Gaston sums up the problem as follows, “Why should a sixth century Jew concern himself with such political minutiae? And how can an inspired prophet make erroneous predictions? This chapter is the strongest argument in favour of late pseudonymous authorship.” [2]


[1] John J. Collins, Daniel, First Maccabees, Second Maccabee, with an Excursus on the Apocalyptic Genre (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1981), 11-12

[2] T. Gaston, Daniel 11 in The Christadelphian eJournal of Biblical Interpretation, (eds., A. Perry, P. Wyns: Willow Publications,2008,295-312),311

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The importance of Daniel 11 to the dating debate


Exclusion of Daniel 11:5-39 from the evidence makes the case for a Maccabean date increasingly improbable and would remove the foundation of the critical case for a late-date. Essentially this is the position adopted by the Rev. C. Wright who proposed that Daniel 11 in its present form is an interpolation, comparable with the later Targums. T. Gaston (2008:295-6) sums up Wright’s position as follows; “He theorizes that the original (Aramaic) was lost when holy books were destroyed during the Maccabean crisis and so the ending was replaced with the only extant copy, a (Hebrew) paraphrase.[3]  C. Boutflower embraced Wright’s thesis[4] and thus criticized those    Continued  ˃


[3] C. H. H. Wright, Daniel and His Prophecies (London: Williams and Norgate, 1906), 242ff Wright comments (p.278) on Daniel 11: 36-39 as follows: “The text … does not contain any clear or distinct description of Antiochus. It does not possess those marked features which might well have been expected from a prophetic history written later than the events described. There are phrases which lead us to regard the prophecy as ‘touched up’ by a later parapharist.” 

[4] Boutflower discusses the work of C. H. H. Wright who examined this phenomenon, he comments as follows: “The eleventh chapter of Daniel is, then, in the first place, a translation from the original; and, in the second place, it is a translation that has been added to by way of interpolation; and this is due the form which it has come down to us. What has happened to the Greek Septuagint translation has also happened to the Hebrew translation of chapter 11; it has been added to, and the nature of the additions resembles to some extent the expository comments which we meet in the Hebrew Targums. The writers of the Targums, or ancient Aramaic commentaries on the Scriptures of the Old Testament, loved to introduce into Scripture prophecies fulfillments, actual or supposed, in such a way that they appear as parts of the original prophecy. In such paraphrases, writes Dr. Wright, phrases of the original are retained, although often so modified and obscured by expository comments that if we possessed only the Targum it would be often impossible to restore the original text.” C. Boutflower, In and Around the Book of Daniel (repr. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1977; London: SPCK, 1923), 4-8.

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scholars who used Daniel 11 as the mould for the interpretation of Daniel’s other visions.[5] Montgomery, however, rejected Wright’s thesis as “pure assumption.” [6]  Since then Wright’s thesis has received little consideration”.


Qumran and intertestamental evidence


The Qumran scrolls indicate a date for the final composition/redaction of Daniel in the second century BC or possibly earlier[7] – this could place the final form of Daniel before the Maccabean revolt. The quotation/allusion/echoing of Daniel by intertestamental literature is another route that is sometimes employed to establish a date for Daniel.[8] This faces methodological challenges as it rests on the correct dating of the “dependent” literature, the establishment of direction of dependency (who is quoting who) and the exclusion of socio-linguistic factors where authors from a similar milieu may share the same language and themes without necessarily being aware of each other. Using this method Beckwith suggests a range of 250-180 BC (before the revolt) he concludes that: “The author of Tobit seems to know Daniel 2 and some if not all of the chapters 7, 8, 9 and 12. The author of the Book of Watchers seems to know Daniel 4, 7, 8 or 9, and 10 or 12, if not all of these. The author of Ecclesiasticus seems to know Daniel 8 or 11–12, and probably both”.[9]  The examples that Beckwith    Continued  ˃


[5] Boutflower proposes the Pseudepigrapha, rather than the Targums  as a better model for the interpolations in Daniel 11 (8) 

[6] J. A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1927), 60

[7]  For the dating of the DSS see; Appendix 1 Chapter 21: The DSS evidence

[8] For parallels between Danielic material and intertestamental literature see; Appendix 2 Chapter 21: Intertestamental evidence

[9] Roger Beckwith, “Early Traces of the Book of Daniel”, Tyndale Bulletin 53.1 (2002) 75-82(82)

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produces are not very convincing but even here we note the absence (with the exception perhaps of Ecclesiasticus?) of Daniel 11 in the intertestamental literature.


Persian Era Daniel?


It has already been noted that the unique character of Dan.11:40-45 (in the form of a mythic pattern) differentiates these verses from the rest of the chapter, moreover, it is in these verses that the Hebraised form of the Persian era word[10] for palace (אַפֶּדֶן) is encountered (v.45). J. Burke[11] notes that, “…a number of the Persian words in Daniel were of sufficient antiquity to be unknown to the translators of the LXX, who mistranslated them completely.  E. Pusey noted that a number of these words were no longer used by the Maccabean era, and noted that “several of them were misunderstood or not understood by Aramaic translators”.[12] D. Conklin observes that of the Persian words used in Daniel, none are found in use by the Persians after 300 BC,[13] and two of these terms are found only in Aramaic of the 5th and 6th centuries    Continued  ˃


[10] The Old Persian form apadāna is attested in the inscriptions of Artaxerxes II. The Vulgate treats it as a proper noun – Apendo.  R.G. Kent, Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, (2nd ed.; American Oriental Series vol.33; New Haven: Am. Oriental Society,1953),155

[11] J. Burke, Linguistic Issues in Daniel in The Christadelphian eJournal of Biblical Interpretation, (eds., A. Perry, P. Wyns: Willow Publications,2008,122-127),123

[12] E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet (8th  edition; Oxford: J. Perker and Co, 1886),xlii, 38

[13] W. D. Jeffcoat, “The Linguistic Argument for the Date of Daniel”,  4; available online in PDF format Access here [cited July 2010]

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BC.”[14] Jan-Wim Wesselius has recently investigated similarities between Daniel and the Persian era book of Ezra, particularly the use of language for structuring both books.[15] This supports the view proposed here for an initial collection of the Danielic traditions in the Persian era, during the reign of Darius Hystaspis, motivated by a need to understand the delay (supposed failure) in the fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (the restoration under Cyrus was disappointing and the temple was not rebuilt).  This allows for authorship by a “real” exilic Daniel, who experienced the rise of Medo-Persian power and lived into the reign of Darius. 


Nevertheless, this still does not explain the excessive detail in Dan.11:5-39, which is in effect an expansion of earlier, less detailed prophecies concerning Antiochus.[16] A number of scholars believe that the main portion of Daniel 11 derives from another text, a historical document that was rewritten into a prophetic format and embedded within the Danielic material.[17] L. L. Grabbe writes: It is unthinkable that this [i.e. Daniel 11] is based on anything but a sophisticated historical document (or documents) of some sort. [18]


[14] D. Conklin, “Evidences Relating to the Date of the Book of Daniel”, Available online, Access here [Cited July 2010]

[15] Jan-Wim Wesselius, The writing of Daniel in The Book of Daniel, Composition and Reception, Vol.2, (eds., J.J. Collins and P.W. Flint, Boston: Leiden, Brill,2002),299

[16] Virtually every verse of Daniel chapter 11 contains echoes of Daniel chapter  8 (listed in Boutflower 224-5)

[17] R. G. Kratz,  affirms, “It is widely-held now that an older source was incorporated into chapter 11” R. G. Kratz, “The  Visions  of  Daniel”  in  The Book of  Daniel, (eds. J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint; 2 vols; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 1:91-113 (108).

[18] L. L. Grabbe, “A Dan(iel) For All Seasons: From Whom Was Daniel Important?”  in “The Visions of Daniel” in  The Book of Daniel,  (eds. J. J.Collins and P. W. Flint; 2 vols; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 1:229-246 (234). Compare J. J. Collins, Daniel: With an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984) 100.

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The canonization process


The problem is that Daniel was regarded in some sense as canonical in the Qumran documents.[19] If Daniel was composed during the revolt (as critical scholarship supposes) this would mitigate against it gaining canonical acceptance so quickly. The book of Daniel was placed among the Writings (Kethubhim, Hagiographa) in the Palestinian Jewish Canon – in the third division of the Old Testament books, and not among the Latter Prophets as in the Greek Canon.  The different status of Daniel in the Hebrew and Septuagint Bibles is sometimes regarded as evidence that Daniel was not accepted as authoritative prophecy, but this is a false premise as the later Masoretic arrangement (ca. 5th-8th century AD) does not necessarily reflect first century arrangements.[20] The    Continued  ˃


[19] Daniel is said specifically to be a Prophet (this title is only given to Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah, Daniel, the eschatological Prophet ‘like unto Moses’, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Samuel. And David is said to write the Psalms ‘by prophecy’ in 11QPs(a) 27:11).

[20] So Driver (1901: xivii-xiviii) and more recently by Hamner (1976:1); see also Louis Hartman and Alexander A. DiLella (1978:25), contra, Whitcomb (1985:15-16), who, states; “First, Daniel was listed among the prophets in the Septuagint translation (hence the position of our English Bibles through the medium of the Vulgate). Second, Josephus (first century A.D.) listed Daniel among the prophets. Third, Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D.70), did the same. Fourth, Origen (d. A.D. 254) listed Daniel before Ezekiel and the twelve prophets. R. Laird Harris thus argues not only for the full canonicity of the book of Daniel but also its inclusion among the prophetic books in the most ancient Hebrew collections”. John Whitcomb, John C, Daniel, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985). Archer (1974:388-9) suggests other reasons for the Masoretic arrangement. Gleason Archer, A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974). S.R. Driver, The Book of Daniel, (The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1901), Raymond Hamner, The Book of Daniel,(Cambridge Bible Commentary, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976) Louis Hartman and Alexander A. DiLella, (The Book of Daniel, New York: Doubleday, 1978).

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difficulty in dating Daniel is a reflection of the lack of consensus on the canonization process.[21]


Any compositional or developmental theories on Daniel are by their very nature linked with the dating of Daniel. If one believes Daniel to be a late Maccabean production this will lead to theories that suppose a gradual growth, such as argued by Hölscher.[22]  He proposed three basic stages in the composition of the book: (1) chaps.1-6, third century; (2) an enlarged Aramaic book, chaps. 1-7, third century; and (3) the full chaps. 1-12 in the Maccabean era. Hölscher’s theory has been adopted with various modifications by several scholars.[23]


[21] There is no consensus on when the cannon was finalized -  Freedman (also Davies); early post-exilic (VTSupp 9; IDBS), Koole; during the Antiochene crisis (OTS 14[1965]), Vermes; (with the exception of Daniel) in ca.200 (CHB 1, p.199), Leiman; in ca.150 (Sid Z. Leiman, The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture: The Talmudic and Midrashic Evidence [Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1976],131), Lightstone; in the Christian era (Lightstone, “The Formation of the Biblical Canon in Late Antique Judaism” in Studies in Religion 8 [1979]) Moshe Greenberg critiques the perception that canonization equates with the fixing of the biblical text (Moshe Greenberg, “The Stabilization of the Text of the Hebrew Bible, Reviewed in the Light of the Biblical Materials from the Judean Desert,” JAOS 76 [1956]: 314) and Davies speaks of “canonical processes” in plural and considers that canonizing is open-ended (Philip R. Davies, Library of Ancient Israel. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998:58).

[22] Gustav Hölscher, “Die Entstehung des Buches Daniel,” ThStK 92 (1919) 113-138

[23] “Modern scholars have argued that the first half of the book, dealing with the experiences of Daniel at the Babylonian court, dates to the third century B.C.E., while the remainder, describing the Maccabean period and its aftermath in apocalyptic terms, dates to the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 167-163 B.C.E.” H. Schiffman, From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple & Rabbinic Judaism (New York: KTAV Publishing, 1991), 123. “The date of the origins of these tales [Daniel 1-6] is open to surmise. A third or fourth century date might be suggested, but there is nothing to preclude that some of the material might be earlier, even going back to the events they describe. The collection, however, would be much later.” David G. Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, (Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1986), 87-88.

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Evidence of interpolation in the Greek versions?


Ellis argues that the canonical status of the book of Daniel does not rule out further “elaboration” (i.e. ch.11:5-39), stating that the same sort of elaboration was committed by the writers at Qumran and the New Testament writers.[24] T. Gaston (2008:308) asserts; “Ellis’ examples of textual elaboration are problematic. Whilst earlier scholars viewed Old Greek versions of Daniel as elaborative, the growing consensus is that the errors of translation in Old Greek versions of Daniel are “mechanical” rather than apologetic or contrived.[25] The New Testament writers are not an analogous example because they paraphrase the OT to satisfy the requirements of their own writings, not (it must be assumed) with the intention of altering the received text. Again, the Qumran texts are not analogous since, while the Dead Sea Covenanters felt free to compose a plethora of para-Danielic material, they did not take liberties with the book itself; their own copies of the book are largely consistent with MT. Even Wright’s own analogy with the later Jewish Targums betrays his purpose, since the Targums were intentionally kept separate from the textual-transmission of the sacred texts. If the book of Daniel were regarded as canonical, it is difficult to imagine that any pious Jew would consent to the drastic    Continued  ˃


[24] E. E. Ellis, The Old Testament in Early Christianity: Canon and Interpretation in the Light of Modern Research (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991), 43-44

[25] A. A. Di Lella, “The Textual History of Septuagint-Daniel and Theodotion-Daniel” in The Book of Daniel (eds. J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint; 2 vols; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 2:591-2.

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interpolations hypothesized above. Even if the text were damaged it is improbable that it should have been restored using a suspect text; the few comparable examples we have suggest the lacuna would have been preserved”.[26]


Some of these points are debatable, for example “mechanical” variations include alterations that allow the “Seventy Prophecy” (Dan. 9:24-27) to total 139 in the OG version, indicating year 139 of the Seleucid calendar – the same “Seventy Prophecy” is pointed in such a way in the Hebrew MT to avoid any reference to Jesus Christ, which is why Christian translations follow the alternative offered in the Greek Theodotion.  These are examples of “apologetic” and “contrived” handling of the text where syntax and punctuation are employed creatively in the service of the theology of the translator(s) - however, in this case textual inventiveness is still within the parameters of a common pool of precursor texts.


Minor variations in the OG are indeed “mechanical” (errors of transmission) but other variations indicate that the translator was working from a different Semitic original (Vorlage) and some of the changes are glosses or harmonisations.[27] Montgomery points out the    Continued  ˃


[26] Comparison between MT and 4QSama indicate that a paragraph has been omitted from the MT between I Samuel 10:27 & 11:1 in which King Nahash is introduced. Rather than repair the lacuna, the Masoretes preserved the text as extant even though it results in the abrupt entry of Nahash into the text at 1 Sam 11:1. For a discussion of the DSS and the text of the OT see A. Perry, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Text of the Old Testament” in Which Translation (ed. S. Green; Norwich: The Testimony, 2000), 37-54.

[27] Goldingay summarises the situation as follows; “To the Jewish scholarship of the first millennium A.D, we owe the preservation and standardization of the Hebrew Bible, the consonantal text over the first five centuries, the pointing over the succeeding five. Generally this scribal work was concerned to preserve one standard text of the Bible, but a distinctive feature with regard to Daniel is the number of alternative readings retained. These appear in margins of extant manuscripts as the Masora (tradition) and are reproduced in the BHS: almost any verse, at least in the Aramaic chapters, provides examples. Some represent expansions or abbreviations of the text; most are matters of spelling, pronunciation or morphology, though even these reflect an instinct to keep the text up-to-date and readable. It is a priori likely that this instinct will also have affected matters of more substance in the text, for example, in the incorporation of explanatory glosses”. J. E. Goldingay, Daniel (London: Nelson, 1989), xxxii.

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difficulties: “…the presence of genuine glosses, both primary and secondary, which may occur lines away from their proper destination…and also of doublet translations”.[28] The base text of Theodotion is otherwise quite close to the MT, but the OG presents a significantly different text, especially in chapters 4–6, which is more like a paraphrase. Then there are the additions to the Greek versions; “The Prayer of Azariah” and “The Song of the Three Young Men” (Dan. 3:24-90 inserted between verses 23 and 24 which becomes v. 91), Susanna and the Elders (before Daniel 1:1), a prologue in early Greek manuscripts (chapter 13 in the Vulgate), Bel and the Dragon (after Daniel 12:13 in Greek, an epilogue; chapter 14 in the Vulgate) all of these are not found in the Hebrew MT. These additions are of a different quality and often regarded as apocryphal in nature.


While it is true that a “pious Jew” would not consent to drastic interpolations in sacred scripture the different versions of Daniel indicate that the canonization process was still fluid during the translation of the Greek versions. The charge of supplementing a text is only valid once the text has been accepted as canonical. If the Book of Daniel (in the final MT form) emerged from the pen of Daniel (for argument’s sake in the first year of Cyrus’ “liberation” of the exile ca. BC 538/9 about 375 years before the Maccabean revolt) and was immediately accepted as canonical in BC 538 then the existence of variations between the Hebrew and the Greek versions is inexplicable (unless the Jews tampered with a text that was accepted as canonical, which is very unlikely). The Qumran scrolls confirm that the medieval MT is a faithful copy of an extant text in the second century BC but that does not necessarily confirm that the MT is exactly the same as the original text that left the pen of Daniel centuries before. Such a    Continued  ˃


[28] Montgomery,Daniel,36

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conclusion assumes a linear, one-dimensional, view of the development of the text but this is contradicted by the existence of Greek versions translated from (presumably) different originals - this suggests a more complex textual tradition.


The Greek versions cannot be simply dismissed in favour of the Hebrew MT as traces of proto-Theodotion go back as far as the NT. In fact The NT cites readings that come from OG-Dan as well as Th-Dan.[29] H.A. Redpath conjectures that…“It is quite possible that there may have been two versions of Daniel and of some other books[30] - a literal translation, and one which had more of a paraphrastic commentary”.[31]


Interpolation of Dynastic prophecy?


Although Wright’s proposal of interpolated targumic material in 11:5-39 is no longer plausible it is possible that this section should be regarded as a historical “parenthesis” along the lines of a Babylonian Dynastic prophecy. W.W. Hallo noted striking parallels between Akkadian prophecies and Daniel[32] and A.K. Grayson identified five compositions[33] belonging to this genre and notes parallels with Daniel:    Continued  ˃


[29] Alexander A. Di Lella, “The Textual History of Septuagint-Daniel and Theodotion-Daniel” in The Book of Daniel, (eds. J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint; 2 vols; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 2:586-607 (592-3).

[30] Other books of the OT occur in two Greek versions existing side by side, e.g. in Judges and especially in the Books of Esdras

[31] H.A. Redpath, A Dictionary of the Bible: Volume IV: (Part II: Shimrath -- Zuzim), Volume 4 (ed. James Hastings, University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu: Hawaii, 1898 reprint 2004), 866

[32] W. W. Hallo,“Akkadian Apocalpses,” IEJ 16(1966)235

[33] The Dynastic prophecy, Text A, the Uruk prophecy, the Marduk prophetic speech, and the Shulgi prophetic speech. A.K. Grayson, Babylonian Historical-Literary Texts III (Toronto: University Press, 1975) 13ff

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“…..the concept of the rise and fall of empires, which must have its roots in the dynastic tradition of Mesopotamian chronography, is mirrored by the similar concept in Daniel. Compare also the rubric regarding secrecy at the end of the Dynastic prophecy with the command to Daniel to keep the book sealed. But of prime significance is the possibility that the Dynastic prophecy concludes, as suggested both by internal evidence and on analogy with the prophecy in the Sibylline oracles, with a real attempt to predict the downfall of Hellenistic kings”.[34]


W. G.  Lambert proposed that Daniel 11 parallels in style the genre of Babylonian Dynastic prophecy[35] and this has been generally accepted by scholars.[36] Of course, this does not mean that Dan. 11:5-39 comes from the Neo-Babylonian era, but that it belongs to the same literary genre, and employs similar phraseology.[37] The texts that Lambert investigates date as early as the 6-7th century B.C.[38] but some are in all probability also from the Hellenistic period.[39]  They present annalistic    Continued  ˃


[34] Ibid,21

[35] W. G. Lambert, The Background of Jewish Apocalyptic (London: The Athlone Press, 1978). 

[36] e.g. Collins, 99; P. R. Davies 1985, 71-72; etc.

[37] For instance, the phrases ―“a prince will arise and will exercise kingship for 13 years”, ―“after him a king will arise and will not judge the judgment of the land”, ―“after him a king will arise from Uruk”, ―“a rebel prince will arise”, find parallels in Daniel (Dan. 11:2, 3, 7, 20, 21; cf.9:26) Lambert, Jewish Apocalyptic, 9-13.

[38] A. K. Grayson and W. G. Lambert, ― “Akkadian Prophecies” JCS 18 (1964): 7-30 (12-16); H. Hunger and S. A. Kaufman, ―“A New Akkadian Prophecy Text” JAOS 95 (1975): 371-375.

[39] A. K. Grayson, Babylonian Historical-Literary Texts, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975), 33.

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history in the future tense and in veiled language, effectively they are quasi-prophecies.[40] Lambert himself argues in favour of second-century date for the provenance of Daniel 11. On the suggestions that Daniel employs the genre of quasi-prophecy for conveying actual prophecy Collins rejoins; “…the burden of proof must fall on those who wish to argue that Daniel is different from the other examples in the genre”.[41]


Situational Midrash?


Goldingay (1989:285) considers Daniel 11 to be ‘situational midrash,’ elsewhere he distinguishes ‘expository midrash’ from ‘situational midrash’ …“which focuses on particular questions of behaviour or belief which have arisen in some later context and for which illumination or justification is sought from Scripture. This may simply amount to a writer’s instinctive use of biblical language (and thus at least his adoption of broadly biblical parameters) as a means to expressing his own concerns, beliefs or piety.”[42]  Goldingay supplies the example of Chronicles as an exposition of Samuel-Kings and Deuteronomy as an expansion of law that appears later in the Mishna. He states; “The study and re-application of OT prophecy within the OT is explicitly instanced in Dan. 9:24-27 and less explicitly elsewhere in Daniel and other books: Apocalyptic has been described as an exercise in inspired biblical interpretation.”[43]


[40] Goldingay (Word, 1989:282) comments; “These texts for the most part not actual prophecy but quasi-prophecy. They combine extensive quasi-prophecy of events before the writer’s day with more limited actual prophecy of events still to come. The formulae and the detail compare with Daniel; so does the anti-Hellenistic nature of instances from the later period”.

[41] Collins, Daniel [FOTL] 34

[42] John Goldingay, Approaches to Old Testament Interpretation, (Clements Publishing: Toronto: Canada, 1981, rev ed. 2002),148

[43] Goldingay, Approaches, 131-2; This allows God to continue to speak during the “post-history” of a document.

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Boyarin defines midrash as a hermeneutic act, an intertextual co-reading of biblical texts connected with redemption and revelation[44] and identifies six techniques used by midrash to generate new readings. Boyarin believes that midrash is not motivated by ideology or as a polemical response, but the gapped quality of the text, combined with co-citation, is enough to account for midrash.[45]


Midrash is essentially “re-contextualization” - in hermeneutics this is the act of applying an interpretation of a past text to a new situation; “The biblical writers (both Hebrew and New Testament) themselves also recontextualized earlier texts.”[46] It is generally recognised that the NT writers “re-contextualized” earlier texts and employed midrashic techniques but this was done under the guidance of the Spirit. Can the same be said of Daniel 11:5-39, if it was written (presumably) at a much later date than the original material?


In much of the extra-biblical material of this period the distinction between scripture and commentary becomes blurred. Steven Fraade notes; “In the course of comparing and contrasting the varied forms of early scriptural interpretation, one distinction has become increasingly important: between those writings which blur, if not efface, the boundary line between received scripture and its interpretive retelling, and those that maintain, even highlight, that line, so that interpretive relation of the one to the other can be displayed and even contested”.[47]


[44] D. Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash, (Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press: 1990), 110, 114, 128

[45] Ibid, 22, 39, 45

[46] W. Randolph Tate, Interpreting the Bible: a handbook of terms and methods,(Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, Peabody: Massachusetts, 2006),315

[47] Steven D. Fraade, “Rewritten Bible and Rabbinic Midrash as Commentary” in Current trends in the study of midrash, (ed. Carol Bakhos, Brill NV, Leiden: The Netherlands,2006),60

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Geza Vermes coined the term ‘rewritten Bible’ for these narrative texts[48] and Fraade concedes that it is not self evident how this para-biblical material was regarded.[49]


Is Daniel 11:5-39 a Resistance text?


If we conjecture that at the beginning of the second century proto-Daniel consisted of a number of well known visions and court tales written in the Persian era by Daniel then the Maccabean revolt may have provided the impetus to arrange the material into a “resistance text”. Of course, we are in the realms of conjecture[50] but it is certainly possible that the persecution by Antiochus and his destruction of the Torah encouraged the preservation of Danielic material and also accelerated the canonization process delivering the final form that we know as the Book of Daniel. It is certain that such important documents would have been preserved in priestly circles and proto-Daniel (describing a loose collection of Danielic material) was probably kept in the Jerusalem temple.  The consequence of the murder of the high priest Onias III was the establishment of a rival Jewish temple (ca.    Continued  ˃


[48] Geza Vermes, Scripture and Tradition: Haggadic Studies, (2d rev.ed.; Leiden: Brill,1973),228-229

[49] Ibid, 61 “.....how such ‘rewritten’ scripture were understood by their ‘authors’ or ‘audiences’ to relate to what came to be the Hebrew Bible; for example, whether as interpretive complement or supplement, or as revelatory replacement or successor. Stated differently, did such ‘rewritten’ texts share in or borrow from the authority of their antecedent scriptures, or did they seek to supplant or upstage them?”

[50] On compositional theories we would do well to reflect on the essays of C. S. Lewis about the fallacies involved in these imaginary composition histories. C. S. Lewis’s essay, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism,” a paper Lewis originally read at Wescott House, Cambridge, on May 11, 1959, can be found in a collection of his essays entitled Christian Reflections, edited by Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1967; rpt. 1994).

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160-170 BC) in the territory of Heliopolis in the country of Leontopolis in Egypt.[51] This may account for the Egyptian bias of Dan. 11:5-19 - the intertestamental period also saw the creation of the Greek translation in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.[52]  Leo Seeligmann suggests that, “Heliopolis was in effect a rescue-home through which Palestinian traditions passed on their way to the Jewish centre at Alexandria……One, might, in this case, regard the temple at Heliopolis as an intermediary station through which the Palestinian tradition and Biblical interpretation found their way to the Jewish milieu in Alexandria, and, more particularly, to the Alexandrian translation of Isaiah…”  Accordingly, the temple at Heliopolis was established during Onias III flight from Antiochus Epiphanes. If this is correct then Isaiah 19:19 initially influenced the building of a Jewish temple in Heliopolis during the Antiochus persecutions which in turn influenced the “new” translation of Isaiah into Greek.   Whether or not we are in agreement with Seeligmann’s conclusions, it is apparent that Isaiah was employed in Daniel as polemic against the Jerusalem based Syrian party that supported Antiochus. The defeat of Assyria in the time of Hezekiah was seen as a prophetically providential foreshadowing of the demise of Antiochus and the Seleucid Empire.


[51] Josephus’ account is confused at this point – It was probably Onias’ son who built the temple. Richard Gottheil and Samuel Krauss write; “Ptolemy VI. Philometor was King of Egypt at that time. He probably had not yet given up his claims to Cœle-Syria and Judea, and gladly gave refuge to such a prominent personage of the neighbouring country. Onias now requested the king and his sister and wife, Cleopatra, to allow him to build a sanctuary in Egypt similar to the one at Jerusalem, where he would employ Levites and priests of his own race (ib. xiii. 3, § 1); and he referred to the prediction of the prophet Isaiah (Isa. xix. 19) that a Jewish temple would be erected in Egypt (“Ant.” l.c.)”. Richard Gottheil and Samuel Krauss, Leontopolis,  Jewish Encyclopedia,(12-vols. 1901-1906) [cited May 2008] online @ Access here

[52] See Montgomery, Daniel, 38 and R. H. Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times, With an Introduction to the Apocrypha, (London: A.&C. Black,1949),440

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Seeligmann examines the relationship of the Isaiah Septuagint translation to that of the other books and concludes that the translation of Isaiah into Greek is older than that of Daniel.[53] The collection at Qumran attests to a larger collection of quasi-Danielic and apocryphal material, some of which found its way into the Septuagint version of Daniel suggesting that the canonical process was still open at this stage.


The Wise


It is possible that the final shape of the book was the work of the ‘wise’ (Dan. 12:3, 10…“they that understand”; Dan. 11:33, 35) who were the natural heirs and guardians of earlier Danielic traditions.[54]  Similar to Daniel the “wise” (maskilim) did not believe in active resistance (unlike the Maccabees) but in passive resistance and endurance, if necessary, to the point of martyrdom– knowing that ultimate vindication would come from God.   Scholarship generally recognises a connection between the “wise” (maskilim) and the suffering servant of Isaiah 53:11 (cf. Dan. 12:3).[55] The fact that Daniel chs.7-12 is not partisan to the    Continued  ˃


[53] Isaac Leo Seeligm, The Septuagint Version of Isaiah & Cognate Studies, (ed., Robert Hanhart and Hermann Spieckermann: publisher J.C.B. Mohr, P. Siebeck, 2004),252,245,244

[54] Perhaps this has analogies with the Apostles being the natural heirs of ‘Jesus traditions’ which they employed freely under guidance of the Spirit to produce the four Gospels. The Gospels all draw on a common pool of traditions that are employed differently for theological/didactic/polemical purposes in order to address the concerns of specific communities.  The Gospels differ not only in the traditions they select but in the traditions that they deliberately omit – and also in their structuring of those traditions (i.e., chronologically, thematically… etc).

[55] H. L. Ginsberg, “The Oldest Interpretation of the Suffering Servant”, VT 3 (1953) 400-404 Martin Hengel comments; “......Ginsberg therefore wants to see Daniel 11:33-12:10 as “the oldest interpretation of the suffering servant,” a view Lacocque follows in his Commentary (p.92)........ The resurrection from the “dust of the earth” in Daniel 12:2 would correspond to the overcoming of the grave in Isaiah 53:9” (p.98). Martin Hengel, Traces of Isaiah 53 in the book of Daniel in The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian Sources, (ed., Bernd Janowski and Peter Stuhlmacher, translation Daniel P. Bailey Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004, 90-98), 92, 98

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Hasmonean cause speaks of the independence of the revelation. The term maskilm is also employed in the para-biblical Daniel material. Koch argues persuasively that the way in which the term Maskil is used in Daniel 11-12 gives the impression that the term was “an established term for the authors of Daniel [...] not their invention.”[56]  Charlotte Hempel notes…“Both groups, though they emerged some time in the second century BCE, lay claim to having  ideological or historical (or conceivably both) roots in the exile…”[57] 


The term Maskil occurs in liturgical texts, especially in the super-scription of a number of Psalms[58] as well as its use in Chronicles with reference to the cultic duties of the Levites. The interrogative - “How    Continued  ˃


[56] K. Koch, “Stages in the Canonization of the Book of Daniel”, in The Book of Daniel, (eds. J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint; 2 vols; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001), 2:421-426(429)

[57] On these “groups” (the writers of Daniel and the Qumran covenanters) Hempel concludes (2006:156); “Whereas Matthias Henze has stated rather eloquently that “The covenanters have made Daniel’s language their own”, [Henze, Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar, p. 242] I have tried to suggest that, to some extent, it was their own. In other words the overlap can just as well be accounted for by the shared roots of these movements than by the influence of Daniel upon Qumran.  Charlotte Hempel, Maskil(im) and Rabbim: from Daniel to Qumran. In: Biblical traditions in transmission,(Brill, Leiden ; Boston, 133-156, 2006),133 online: Access here [cited July 2010] See there for further references on the social setting of the Book of Daniel

[58] Six are by David (32, 52, 53, 54, 55, and 142); three are by the sons of Korah (42, 44, and 45); two are by Asaph (74 and 78), one is by Heman the Ezrahite (88); one is by Ethan the Ezrahite (89).

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long” (cf. Dan. 12:6) is repeated in Psalm 74:9, 10 and 89:46. The first of these contemplates the pollution (חלל Ps. 74:7 cf. Dan. 11:26,31) of the sanctuary/holy (קדֹש Ps. 74:3 cf. Dan. 11:28, 30,45) with stress on the verb exalt (בוא Ps. 74:5 cf. Dan. 11:6ff, 13, 15ff, 21, 24, 29f, 40f, 45) in the “midst of your meeting place” (מועד Ps.74:4 cf. Dan. 11,27,29,35; 12:7) a word that denotes an appointed cultic place/feast/season. The latter Psalm contemplates the failure of the Davidic covenant and the finality of death (Ps. 89:46-48 cf. Dan. 12:1-3) a theme that is repeated in Psalm 88:10. Israel’s inability to keep covenant (ברית Ps. 78:37 cf. Dan. 11:22, 28, 30, (x2) 32) is the subject of this historical Psalm. The Davidic Psalms highlight, confession and forgiveness (Ps.32:5 cf. Dan. 9:3, 4), pride (Ps.52:1 cf. Dan. 11:36), godlessness (Ps.53:1 cf. Dan. 11:36), vindication (Ps.54:1 cf. Dan. 7:26, 27), betrayal (Ps.55:5 cf. Dan. 11:32, 34), and appeal for deliverance (Ps.142:6 cf. Dan. 12:1). The Korah Psalms highlight the taunts of the enemy (Ps.42:3; 44:15, 17 cf. Dan. 7:25). The only Psalm that does not fall within the same scope as the other Maskil Psalms is 45 – “A Song of Loves”. These Psalms are earlier than Daniel and all of them are pre-exilic. One cannot exclude the possibility that the authors of the Maskil Psalms are in some way related to the maskilm of Daniel.




The dating of Daniel should not be subjected to dogmatism as it is prone to revision at the emergence of new evidence (such as the recently acquired DSS) and new understandings. Developmental theories are difficult to substantiate. The evidence that we have considered points to an early, Persian era date for the court tales and the visions, but the possibility of later redaction (updating of orthography, structural finalization and addition of commentary) during the Maccabean revolt cannot be ruled out. It is possible that Daniel 11 incorporates historic material in the literary style of a Dynastic prophecy. This may (or may not) be a parenthesis or interpolation known as ‘situational midrash’.  Even at the late stage of the revolt we cannot rule out inspired biblical interpretation at the hand of the maskilim who were (possibly) the guardians of Danielic traditions.

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The question of the importance of Daniel 11 to the dating of the whole book becomes a moot point if 11:40-45 finds at least a partial fulfilment in the rise of Roman power in Coele-Syria (BC 63 - BC 31), as the Qumran scrolls indicate that the Book of Daniel was already in circulation before Roman intervention. This would mean, at the very least, that the concluding verses (vv. 40-45) are “real” prophecy, even in the unlikely event that vv.40-45 was written between 168-164/5 BC. 


Finally, there is no doubt that the 490 year prophecy of Dan. 9:24-27 was in circulation long before the Antiochene crisis. Whatever date is chosen for the commencement of the 490 year prophecy the termination lies beyond the Hasmonean era, somewhere in the first century. To this we may add the crude attempt of OG-Dan to force a fulfilment of the 490 year prophecy in the Seleucid era.   Therefore Dan. 11:5-39 would represent an expansion or “filling in” of the details of the prophecies in chs. 7-12 given centuries earlier, admittedly the line between prophecy and commentary is blurred in 11:5-39 but this need not be a problem if the commentary is considered inspired – in the same way that re-interpretation of Scripture by the Apostles is inspired.


The literary unity of Daniel is not in question and was accepted by both conservative scholars (a six century date) and by critics (who favoured a late Maccabean date) for much of the nineteenth century.[59]  The position adopted by this commentary is that Daniel represents a literary unity -   it represents the exilic period, with the first stage    Continued  ˃


[59] Collins notes; “From the critical viewpoint, the influential demonstration was that of F. Bleek in 1822. The unity of the book came under attack again toward the end of the nineteenth century but was reaffirmed by von Gall in 1895 and accepted in the commentaries of Marti (with a few redactional additions), Bevan, and Driver, granted that the author drew on traditional material. More recently, the unity of Daniel has been maintained in the commentaries of Charles (1929), Porteous (1965) and Ploeger (1965). The last full scale defence of this position was that of Rowley”. J. J. Collins, Daniel,  Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible,(Augsburg Fortress Press, Minneapolis,1993),27

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composed in the Persian era (early date) and the final form probably emerging during the Antiochene crisis. The canonical position of Daniel is among the prophets - it is the inspired word of God with an application to the destruction of the temple in the time of Daniel, the desecration of the temple by Antiochus, the revelation of Christ, who is the new temple, and the destruction of the Second Temple by Rome. All these instances are “apocalyptic moments”, which act as a transparency through which the end is viewed - the final revelation of the true temple. 


Appendix 1 Chapter 21: The DSS evidence


Since 1947 finds of exceptional importance have been discovered in caves near the ruined site of Qumran, just south of Jericho and near the western shore of the Dead Sea. Texts were written on papyrus and on animal skins – we now have the evidence of 175 manuscript copies of books known in our Old Testament which range in date from ca. 225 BC to AD 50: only four of them are more or less complete. They are not the only texts found at Qumran, but they include fragments of all our biblical books except Esther.  The Danielic fragments have been tabulated by Flint as follows:[60]


Daniel fragments


Note that (5) 4QDan(c), and (7) 4QDan (e) represent partial texts from the last half of the Book of Daniel, which were copied between 150 and 100 BC.


This places the writing of Daniel minimally pre-150, and, in light of the dual textual tradition, “canonical prophetic status”, and pre-sectarian origins, would support a date of origination much earlier than 165 BC. Diffusion of the text – the copying and distribution of texts, the evolution of variants and lastly the acceptance of the text as canonical is a lengthy process. Internet apologist Glenn Miller[61] believes that the literary criticism of Daniel should be reassessed against the manuscript discoveries at Qumran, where several copies of the work were found.


[60] P.W. Flint, The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years, Vol. 2, (eds. Peter W. Flint and James C. Vanderkam, Brill: 1999),53

[61] Glenn Miller, Christian Think Tank, “Was Daniel written after the events he foretold?”(2000) online @ Access here [cited July 2010] Miller argues that scholars are inconsistent in their approach as the Qumran discoveries initiated the re-dating of biblical literature (with the exception of Daniel) previously thought to be Maccabean. Miller also analyses allusions and references to Daniel in other pre –Maccabean texts and argues from the canonical status that Daniel enjoyed at Qumran (ca.150 BC) that it could not possibly have been written between BC 168-163.

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In addition, two fragments located in Cave 1 have proved on examination to be related palaeographically to the large Isaiah scroll (1QIsaa), dated by Millar Burrows about 100 B.C. All these documents, of course, are copies from the Maccabean age or later, making it necessary to remark, as Burrows has observed that, “the originals came from a period several centuries in advance of the earliest date  to which these manuscripts and fragments can be assigned on any basis of reckoning”.[62]


Appendix 2 Chapter 21: Intertestamental evidence


The following two tables note parallels between Danielic material and intertestamental literature:[63]

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[62] M. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), 118

[63] The tables are reproduced from the work by Glenn Miller, Christian Think Tank, “Was Daniel written after the events he foretold?”(2000) see there for further discussion - online @ Access here [cited July 2010].