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There is this book Dating the Old Testament by NASA contractor Craig Davis, that goes through each book of the Old Testament to look at the the evidence of when each book was written. For Daniel he lays out linguistic evidence and concludes that Daniel was written in the mid 6th century BC as opposed to the Maccabean Hypothesis which places Daniel at around the time of the Maccabean Revolt hundreds of years later. I personally am convinced by this conclusion.

However, while I agree that the linguistic evidence points to the traditional date for Daniel I’ve always thought that there was the possibility that the author could have archaised the language to make it look older. Davis brings this up on page 506 of his book. He states that such a notion “requires a conspiracy, and in any case is falsified by archaeology.” I have tried to get in contact with Davis to find out how it is that the suggestion that the author of Daniel could deliberately archaise the language is “falsified by archaeology” but have not been able to.

Could anyone else here answer this question in his place? How has that notion been falsified by archaeology? Davis states that some OT writers would occasionally archaise for poetical reasons, but what evidence is there that falsifies the theory that the author of Daniel deliberately made the language look older to fool people?

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    The reason why I downvoted this question is that it has not done the proper homework. Merely saying that someone from NASA wrote a computer program is not enough to engender useful discussion about the dating of the text. You would need at a minimum to provide a link to the research and summarize the methodology and then ask whether this methodology is useful, then people can weigh in. Similar gaps apply to mention of archeology. And you should understand that it's possible that one portion of a book be written at a different time than another.
    – Robert
    Sep 9, 2021 at 18:27
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    This question is aimed at people who are already knowledgeable in how the books of the bible are dated and familiar with things such as the Maccabean Hypothesis. I wouldn’t want an answer from someone of whom I need to explain how the author comes to his conclusions - which really isn’t the point of the post. The author’s conclusions are not his own but are based on a summary of evidence commonly known in the field. Im looking for an answer to how might the author had reached one of his conclusions which, as I’ve explained in the post, I haven’t been able to get from the author himself
    – user329957
    Sep 9, 2021 at 22:21
  • user329957 excellent question! I myself find it hard to believe that archaeology could ever falsify such a theory. I wonder if the author himself is capable of backing up such a preposterous claim, especially since he doesn't even bother explaining (in his book) what he meant. However I do understand the author's other point that it requires conspiracy, and generally scholars are weary of such speculations unless there's overwhelming evidence pointing this way. A case in point may be the Shapira scroll, assuming it was not modern forgery but an authentic sectarian work from Qumran.
    – bach
    Sep 10, 2021 at 1:32
  • read here jstor.org/stable/…
    – bach
    Sep 10, 2021 at 1:32
  • Were that the case, then it would be the only text to do so.
    – Lucian
    Sep 10, 2021 at 5:54

2 Answers 2

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The Book of Daniel presents the most difficult level of language of virtually any book in the Old Testament, according to my Hebrew professors. As such, its study is reserved for the higher levels of Hebrew courses.

Daniel was a polyglot. He was a Jew who had been taken captive to Babylon and forced to learn the languages of the king's court. At least three languages are present in the Book of Daniel: Hebrew (the language of the Jews); Aramaic (KJV: Syriack); and Persian. Daniel was a highly educated scholar, and some of his vocabulary had come from loanwords of other languages. We see one example of this vocabulary in the names of the musical instruments that he provides in describing the setting on the plain of Dura (Daniel 3:5,7,10,15).

This part of Daniel is written in Aramaic, but the word "dulcimer" is thought to have originated with Greek. (See BlueLetterBible's information on this HERE.) This usage is enigmatic, as many are unsure if the word would have existed in Daniel's time.

But Daniel was a superb scholar. Remember that when King Nebuchadnezzar had examined him and his three friends after the education they had received in the king's court, the following observation was recorded.

And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. (Daniel 1:20, KJV)

And Daniel was a statesman. He would have brushed shoulders with diplomats, courtiers, kings, and governors from various parts of the world. With his mention of so many different musical instruments, music may have been of special interest to him, and people tend to collect and remember that which fascinates them.

For anyone else to have "archaised" the book would have required the same eminent degree of ability in the languages. It would be difficult to imagine who this might be, and, had the individual written anything else, as would have been very likely for someone so well qualified as a writer, those contemporary works would have served to identify their authorship.

Thus, it seems quite improbable that the Book of Daniel could have been successfully "archaised." The very fact that the Book of Daniel is so linguistically rich serves as evidence that he himself had indeed been its author.

Prophetic Evidence

The prophecies of Daniel 2 & 7-9 predict four superkingdoms to come: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome--in that order. Many Bible skeptics have suggested a date of 67 B.C. for the writing of Daniel in order to escape the significance of this prophecy, for Rome came into being about the year before this (68 B.C.).

However, if Daniel's prophecies had been written in 67 B.C., the skeptics have an even greater problem on their hands. Who, in his right mind, would have ever predicted that Rome was to be the last superkingdom after having just witnessed the rise and fall of four different kingdoms in a matter of a few centuries' time? To think that the prophecy would hold true for millennia, not just centuries, would have been a fantastical thought defying all logic and reason to someone who was writing in 67 B.C. Yet the Book of Daniel also predicts a future span of 2,300 years' time, so its writer would have, in essence, been declaring that he had just seen four kingdoms come and go and that there would never be another one after the last of these!

This is a problem that those who wish to claim that the Book of Daniel had been "archaised" may not have comprehended. Their ultimate goal of defeating the prophecies of Daniel ends up making their fulfillment even more miraculous.

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  • Thanks. I’ve personally come to the conclusion that the “archeology” that dismisses the archaising theory is in the bible itself. Davis in his book states that the actual linguistics in scripture are not obvious and that indicators of when each book was written are only available in “snippets”. This alone makes it improbable that one could archaise Daniel. Firstly if they were to they would’ve made the old language more obvious rather than provide only “snippets” of evidence. Secondly the archaiser would even have to know how humans would date the books of the Old Testament in the future
    – user329957
    Sep 11, 2021 at 11:13
  • "Symphonia" is Greek for "sounding-together," and therefore denotes an instrument in which multiple notes are made at the same time. (sym-phonia). There is absolutely no reason why an instrument that has Greek name couldn't have been known or used in the Babylonian Empire... Apr 1, 2022 at 22:02
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In the context (of Appendix B - Development of the Hebrew Language during the Old Testament Period), I think Craig Davis is referring not just to the book of Daniel but to the whole of the Old Testament. As such, it is impossible to know exactly what he is referring to.

However, if we restrict our archaeological evidence favouring an early date for Daniel then the author has itemised ten things a writer in Judaea in the second century BC could hardly have known. These are itemised on pages 409 to 411, the tenth being about Darius the Mede and how he "was made king" (Dan 9:1), meaning he did not become king by his own might, but was appointed king by an overlord, in this case Cyrus the Great.

See also this answer about Belshazzar: https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/61780/historical-figures-mentioned-in-the-bible-that-sceptics-doubted-existed-but-were/75495#75495

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