I understand that the book of Daniel is comprised of two languages: Aramaic from chapter 2:4 to 7:25, the narrative part, and Hebrew in chapters 8 to 12, the prophetic and apocalyptic part. I understand also that the Aramaic is debated as to the age but is generally dated around the 4th century (though some say earlier) and the Hebrew is classed as post exilic Hebrew.

I’ve read that some scholars theorise that Daniel was written in two periods: first in Aramaic around 4th century or earlier and the Hebrew section, chapters 8 to 12, was added on around the Maccabean period in the second century. I am aware that there are, indeed, lots of different theories as to the development of the book.

I cannot find, however, anywhere that gives a satisfactory argument for the unification of the book of Daniel. I presume there must be one and so I ask here: what is the evidence, internal and/or external, that Daniel was comprised by a single author?

  • Whether the Book of Daniel was composed by a single of multi author, did it affect the credibility of the book? While it has honor to be a scholar, it is a blessing to be a believer. Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 3:37
  • 2
    The book of Daniel explicitly notes of the change in the language in verse 2:4
    – Kapandaria
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 10:02

3 Answers 3


Ellis Skolfield argued that the two languages were used because two audiences were in mind. Hebrew prophecies were to the Jews, while Aramaic / Syriac prophecies were to Gentile audiences.

In addition, he claimed that the book had a bifid structure, which pairs early chapters to later chapters along similar themes. Within the halves of the bifid are chiasms. The structural connections among the several parts of the book show that they were written by one author, not added later.

See https://www.slideshare.net/PulpArk/ellis-skolfields-teaching-outline-09-bifids-chiasms

  • 1
    Jews in the second temple could speak both Aramaic and Hebrew. In the Torah reading every Shabbat they read in hebrew and had a man to translate for the audience into Aramaic. The book of Ezra also compromized from these two languages and meant to be read by jews.
    – Kapandaria
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 9:57

Andrew Steinmann, in his Daniel Commentary gives this eloquent and compelling argument:

Evidence-An Argument for the Traditional Date of Daniel While critical theories concerning the unity and composition of Daniel

dominate modern scholarship on the book, conservative and evangelical scholars have continued to defend the traditional date of the book. Several lines of reasoning converge to suggest that the matter is not as settled as critical commentaries and essays on Daniel would lead one to believe. Some of these lines of reasoning undermine assertions made by critical scholars, while others bring unnoticed evidence to bear on the question.

Hebrew Language Characteristics in Daniel When Driver wrote his much-quoted dictum about the language characteristics of Daniel

(quoted above), he could not have possibly foreseen the effect of later research and discoveries on the study of ancient Hebrew. His assertion that "the Hebrew supports... a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great" has been called into question on several grounds. Driver supported his assertion with a list of expressions that he claimed never or very rarely occurred in earlier Hebrew literature. After examining these, Martin concludes:

To make out a plausible case for the lateness of Daniel on lexical grounds, one would have to show not only that the words or idioms did not occur earlier, but that there was prima facie evidence against the possibility of their appearing. There is no intrinsic probability that any of the terms listed could not have been used much earlier. In fact, one must proceed with the utmost caution in making pronouncements on the extent of a given vocabulary. It is well known that words that are not recorded in the literary language are to be found in the dialects. All that one is justified in saying is that a certain word occurs in the extant documents for the first time. There is nothing about the Hebrew of Daniel that could be considered extraordinary for a bilingual or perhaps in this case, a trilingual speaker of the language in the sixth century BC. 14 Moreover, Daniel's Hebrew can now be compared to the Hebrew of the sectarian scrolls discover ed at Qumran. These sectarian documents from the second century BC onward show a number of characteristics of the Hebrew language as it was written in the Hasmonean (165-37 BC) and Herodian (after 36 BC) periods. The differences between the Hebrew portions of Daniel and the Hebrew of these documents is striking. Already as early as 1974, before all of the Qumran scrolls (or Dead Sea Scrolls) were published, Archer came to the following conclusion when comparing Daniel to these sectarian writings:

It seems abundantly clear that a second-century date for the Hebrew chapters of Daniel is no longer tenable on linguistic grounds. In view of the markedly later development exhibited by these second-century documents in the areas of syntax, word order, morphology, vocabulary, spelling, and word-usage, there is absolutely no possibility of regarding Daniel as contemporary. ... Otherwise we must surrender linguistic evidence altogether and assert that it is completely devoid of value in the face of subjective theories derived from antisupernaturalistic bias. ... This verdict carries with it some far-reaching consequences. The possibility of explaining the predictive portions of this work as mere prophecy after the event is completely excluded. 15

Subsequent research into the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls has not added any information to challenge Archer's conclusion. 16 Thus with the discovery of the Qumran sectarian documents it is possible to contradict Driver's statement: the Hebrew of Daniel does not support a date of composition after 332 BC.

Moreover, recent studies of the history of Hebrew during the OT period demonstrate that it is difficult, if not impossible, to date any Hebrew text solely on the basis of linguistic evidence.17 Young notes a number of unresolved questions in regard to attempts to date Hebrew texts linguistically:

Given the attestation of LBH [Late Biblical Hebrew] features in pre-exilic inscriptions, my article also raised another question, less important for the current debate: Why couldn't a work with a concentration of LBH elements be written before the exile?...

If SBH [Standard Biblical Hebrew] could be used after the exile, and LBH before the exile, is it at all possible, given the current state of our knowledge of ancient Hebrew, to date the language of any part of biblical literature?... Without chronological presuppositions, does LBH really exist as a distinct entity within BH [Biblical Hebrew]? The LBH books were grouped together first of all on the basis that they were the ones known to be post-exilic (as opposed to other clearly earlier books). However, purely on linguistic grounds, are the links between Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles and Daniel strong enough to single this group of books out from BH in general? Or does every book of the Hebrew Bible simply have its own linguistic profile?

If LBH really is a distinct entity, do the linguistic variations reflect social realities? If the differences between SBH and LBH are not to be explained chronologically, what sociolinguistic factors lead to the co-existence of these varieties of Hebrew? If LBH is not in fact "late" BH, is there a need to invent a new term to describe it?18

Given our fragmentary state of knowledge about the history of linguistic developments in Biblical Hebrew, use of linguistic evidence to argue for a late date of Daniel's Hebrew is unwarranted since the linguistic evidence is, at best, mixed. The most that can be said is that Daniel's Hebrew is much more like the Hebrew of other acknowledged exilic books of the OT than like the Hebrew of the Qumran documents, making Daniel unlikely to be a composition from the Hellenistic era as higher critics contend.

Aramaic Language Characteristics in Daniel

Driver was less certain about the Aramaic evidence and so stated only that he thought it permitted a date after 332 BC. Subsequent studies have confirmed that the Aramaic of Daniel is Imperial Aramaic, which was current from about the seventh century BC to about 300 BC. Already in 1965 Kitchen concluded:

The word-order of the Aramaic of Daniel (and Ezra) places it squarely in fullblooded Imperial Aramaic—and in striking contrast with real Palestinian post-Imperial Aramaic of the second and first centuries BC as illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls. ...
There is nothing to decide the date of composition of the Aramaic of Daniel on the grounds of Aramaic anywhere between the late sixth and the second century BC. Some points hint at an early (especially pre-300), not late, date. ... The date of the book of Daniel, in short, cannot be decided upon linguistic grounds alone. It is equally obscurantist to exclude dogmatically a sixth-fifth (or fourth) century date on the one hand, or to hold such a date as mechanically proved on the other, as far as the Aramaic is concerned. 19

Later studies have supported Kitchen's conclusion. Coxon, who accepts a second-century date for the final editing of Daniel, nevertheless concludes:
While it would be unwise to conclude that as far as syntax is concerned the Aramaic of Daniel has great antiquity it would be equally amiss to insist that it is a late regional dialect. The language shares a high proportion of features which bear the stamp of Official Aramaic but this may reflect nothing more than the literary facility of a later writer. The treatment of the accusative preposition and the verb ["be able to," e.g., 2:10, 27, 47] supports this view. On the other hand an intriguing feature is the apparent "eastern" word order which distinguished the Aramaic of Daniel from Official Aramaic and the later dialects. A fundamental change of this kind in sentence structure may be highly significant and would certainly point to a date [for Daniel] before the second century B.C.20 Coxon's further study of synonyms in Aramaic from both Official Aramaic and the Aramaic Qumran documents found only one connection between Daniel's Aramaic and the Qumran documents, and that one connection he considers to be indeterminate of date.21 Otherwise, he concludes:

Accepting the validity of the method [used by Coxon in his study] can only conclude that Biblical Aramaic is a brand of Official Aramaic and bears the marks of the antiquity of that language. 22 Studies by Archer and Vasholz have confirmed that the second-century Aramaic documents from Qumran demonstrate that Daniel's Aramaic is older. 23 Therefore, the Aramaic of Daniel may permit a date as late as 300 BC, but the evidence favors an earlier date and does not rule out the date indicated in the book itself-sometime shortly after 536 BC.

Persian and Greek Loanwords Daniel's Hebrew and Aramaic use a relatively high proportion of loanwords from two languages: Akkadian

and Old Persian. In addition, three Greek loanwords are used in Daniel 3. The Akkadian loanwords are of little significance in dating the composition of the book.24 However, the Old Persian and Greek loanwords have been used in arguments concerning the date of Daniel.

That Daniel contains loanwords from Old Persian is acknowledged by nearly all scholars, though some caution should be exercised in identifying them since little actual evidence of Old Persian survives, and a number of words are said to be derived from reconstructed theoretical Old Persian forms.25 Kitchen recognizes the significance of these Old Persian words in Daniel:

The Persian words in Daniel are specifically Old Persian words. The recognized divisions of Persian language-history within Iranian are: Old down to c. 300 BC, Middle observable during c. 300 BC to c. AD 900, and New from C. AD 900 to the present. Now, the fact that the Iranian element in Daniel is from Old Persian and not Middle indicates that the Aramaic of Daniel is in this respect pre-Hellenistic, drew on no Persian from after the fall of that empire--and not on any Middle Persian words and forms that might have penetrated Aramaic in Arsacid times (c. 250 BC, ff.).26 A contention of critical scholars is that Daniel could not have used any Persian loanwords in his Aramaic since it would have taken a considerable time for such words to be adopted into Aramaic. However, that contention is false. As Kitchen notes:

If a putative Daniel in Babylon under the Persians (and who had briefly served them) were to write a book some time after the third year of Cyrus (Dn. 10:1), then a series of Persian words is no surprise. Such a person in the position of close contact with Persian administration that is accorded to him in the book would have to acquire—and use in his Aramaic—many terms and words from his new Persian colleagues (just like the Elamite scribes of Persepolis), from the conquest by Cyrus onwards.27*

We could add that Daniel's initial audience may well have been fellow Judeans living in Babylon, and probably more than a few of them served the new Persian administration. They would have readily understood such Persian words, which had recently become current in their environment. Therefore, the presence of Persian words in Daniel does not present an argument for a date of composition later than about 560 BC.

The Greek words in Daniel are often considered the strongest indication that Daniel was written, or at least received its final editing, in the second century BC. Coxon observes:

Of all the linguistic arguments which have been used in the debate concerning the age of the Aramaic sections of Daniel and the date of the composition of the book, the Greek loans seem to provide the strongest evidence in favor of the second century B.C.28

Yet Coxon also presents evidence that this is not the case. For instance, he points out that the form of the word in, "lyre" (Dan 3:5, 7, 10, 15), indicates that it was borrowed from Ionic ⲕⲓⲑⲁⲣⲓⲥ rather than Attic ⲕⲓⲑⲁⲣⲁ, indicating that it was an early (pre-332 BC) loanword.2 29

In fact, there are only three Greek loanwords in Daniel, all of them musical instruments mentioned in Daniel 3.30 Yamauchi has amassed much evidence of contacts between the ancient Near East and the Aegean long before Alexander, even providing instances of early Semitic influence on the Greek language and Greek culture.31 This led him to conclude: "We may safely say that the presence of Greek words in an Old Testament book is not a proof of Hellenistic date, in view of the abundant opportunities for contacts between the Aegean and the Near East before Alexander.”32 Such evidence has even led critical scholars to admit that "the evidence for Greek influence on Daniel is too slight to prove anything.' 933 Therefore, neither the Persian nor the Greek loanwords offer any proof that Daniel is a late composition. Of themselves, they also do not provide any conclusive evidence that the book is an early Persian composition. The same is true of the other linguistic evidence, both Hebrew and Aramaic. The best that can be said about the linguistic evidence is that it suggests that Daniel was not written before about 560 BC and not later than 300 BC.

Historical Data in the Book Itself As discussed earlier, critical scholars label much of the historical data found in the text

of Daniel as inaccurate or erroneous. There are three primary reasons for such claims.

Lack of Extrabiblical Evidence: This is clearly the case for the person called "Darius the Mede" (e.g., 6:1 [ET 5:31]), for whom no confirming ancient Near Eastern evidence has yet been uncovered. This was also once true for Belshazzar, but confirming extrabiblical evidence has now been found for him.34 Several other cases in Daniel could be added here. However, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."35 When we simply do not have any extrabiblical evidence that confirms that an event or person in Daniel is historical, this does not mean that these events and persons are fictional. It only means that we have no surviving evidence from outside the Scriptures to confirm them.

Nevertheless, we do have the historical evidence provided by the book of Daniel itself, which is at least as reliable as other historical sources.36 Moreover, as the discussion of various historical notices in Daniel in the commentary below demonstrates, the events related in Daniel fit well into what is known about ancient Near Eastern chronology of this period. That they fit well does not prove that the events happened, but provides a compelling reason not to assume that they did not happen. For example, Nebuchadnezzar's convocation at the dedication of the gold statue (Daniel 3) is not recorded in the extant Babylonian annals. However, the information given by Daniel fits well with what we know about the chronology of Nebuchadnezzar's reign and can be convincingly given a probable date (see "Introduction to Daniel 3").

Apparent Contradictions: If there is an apparent contradiction between Daniel and some other data, critics automatically understand Daniel to be in error. This assumption of Daniel's lack of trustworthiness means that critics do not bother to consider possible solutions that may show that what at first blush appears to be a contradiction is not actually contradictory. In this category belongs the contention that Dan 1:1-2 is contradicted by Jer 25:1 (see the commentary on Dan 1:1–2). We could also add the contention that the portrayal of Belshazzar in Daniel 5 is inaccurate because he is called "king" while Nebuchadnezzar is called his "father" and he is called Nebuchadnezzar's "son." (See the discussion of the person and office of Belshazzar in "Introduction to Daniel 5.") These apparent contradictions are resolved if one pays attention to the ways that information was reported in ancient sources and understands them according to their own conventions, rather than imposing modern conventions upon them.

Antisupernaturalistic Bias: An often unstated bias held by critics is the bias against accepting reports of miraculous, divine intervention among human affairs, such as God revealing to Daniel the content of Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel 2), the survival of the men in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), or the rescue of Daniel from the lions' den (Daniel 6). Critics consider these events unhistorical on their face since they involve God's direct involvement in history. The assumption that the visions of Daniel are ex eventu (“after the event") prophecies involves the same antisupernaturalistic bias since critics reject out of hand the possibility of predictive prophecy. None of these reasons for the "unhistorical" nature of Daniel is sufficient to prove that Daniel contains historical errors, or even to demonstrate that may be in error. As the commentary demonstrates, a close examination of the historical references in Daniel reveals no reason to label the events as erroneous.

This is just a sampling of from his commentary. He goes on with even further detail making his case for the unity of Daniel. Only in a few instances would I make some small reservations with his commentary. It is a commentary worthy of buying and having on your shelf.

At any rate, this will give you a synopsis of the sorts of arguments you will find for the unity of Daniel (and his responses to some who argue against its unity).


A simple explanation for the different dates of Daniel is that it is a philosophical debate. Those who believe it to be divine, believe it is history written and predicted before the events. Those who believe it is man-made believe it is history written after the events. Most scholars believe it is man-made and written after the events. When you are reading a scholar you must take this into account. An example of this is the Gospels. They are dated after the destruction of the temple because humans cannot predict the future and cannot predict the destruction of the Temple, so obviously, it was written after the fact. It is circular logic at its finest. The scholars ignore the actual evidence or they reinterpret the evidence in light of their philosophical bias and preconception.

This bias is what is causing the problem in Daniel. According to liberal and skeptical scholars, Daniel could not have been written before the 2nd century because he could not predict the destruction of the temple. How could he know that since there is no God? Daniel cannot predict even the future so it had to be written in the 2nd century and cannot predict anything further than the 2nd century because no human can predict the future. Do you see the circular reasoning that occurs? It goes unnoticed and unacknowledged and unchallenged. It is time that we insist that this bias be acknowledged and that the Liberal scholars are not neutral as they claim. They are not the open-minded free-thinkers they claim to be. They are biased like everybody else.

  • Hello, Surfmonkey707. Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – agarza
    Commented Jan 28 at 4:54
  • @agarza, I am not sure what it is you want. You are going to have to be more specific. I have read over the section you asked and it is unclear what it is you want. This is basic foundational information. it is like 2+2=4 and you are asking for a source reference for it. How did you come to that conclusion, So I am going to need some clarification. Commented Jan 28 at 5:23
  • @agarza I believe the subsequent article provides more detail. The Last paragraph says exactly what I said "Antisupernaturalistic Bias:" Commented Jan 28 at 6:19

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