According to what is known as the Maccabean Hypothesis, the Hebrew half of the book of Daniel, chapters 7-12, was written during the Maccabean Revolt around 165 BCE as a propaganda technique to encourage the Jewish population to remain faithful to the Torah in spite of the persecution at the time. For more info on the Maccabean Hypothesis see The Book of Daniel and the "Maccabean Thesis".

The theory is that the first half of Daniel chapters 1-6, written mostly in Aramaic, already existed and was compiled a few hundred years earlier. Thus, the supposed author of the second half was basically adding onto an existing character: the Daniel of Babylon.

I’m curious to understand how such a piece of writing could have got accepted and later canonised by the mainstream Jewish community. Considering it was written to stir up encouragement for the Jews at the time and not the future, I’m presuming the author was expecting a relatively speedy acceptance as being authentic. I then thus presume such a person must have been a person of considerable authority within the Jewish community. How did this pseudepigrapha get accepted?

  • Just an observation. My personal opinion is that ch7 belongs in content as well as language to the first half. Then the second half could be offered as an interpretation of "the little horn" of ch7 v8 Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 22:10
  • 1
    I agree that if the "Maccabean Hypothesis" is correct, the second half of Daniel should not have been accepted. That is an argument against the Maccabean Hypothesis. I do not believe the Maccabean Hypothesis is valid. Indeed, if the Maccabean Hypothesis is correct, the second half of Daniel is a forgery and should not be believed by anyone.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 22:37
  • No that’s to do with Daniel being a traditionalist. This question relates to how Daniel 7-12 was accepted
    – user329957
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 18:16
  • Perhaps, but the answer remains the same.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 20:40
  • No an answer to this post would involve the process of canonisation.
    – user329957
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


First, a word about the Maccabean Hypothesis. The fact that the first part of the book may be by a different author than the apocalyptic sections does not mean that the first part was compiled "a few hundred years earlier." An introduction to Daniel published by the US Council of Catholic Bishops states:

This [entire] work was composed during the bitter persecution carried on by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167–164 B.C.) and was written to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people in their ordeal... The book contains traditional stories (chaps. 1–6), which tell of the trials and triumphs of the wise Daniel and his three companions. The moral is that people of faith can resist temptation and conquer adversity. The stories bristle with historical problems and have the character of historical novels rather than factual records. What is more important than the question of historicity, and closer to the intention of the author, is the fact that persecuted Jews of the second century B.C. would quickly see the application of these stories to their own plight.

As to the question of why the author believed his writing would be accepted, we need look no farther than other biblical books which modern scholars believe to have been published under a pseudonym. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, Moses is not the true author of the Pentateuch. Such scholars believe that Deuteronomy in particular was written in the time of King Josiah and successfully promoted by the high priest Hilkiah as having been the final revelation to Moses. The USCCB site cited above says of Deuteronomy:

The book was probably composed over the course of three centuries, from the eighth century to the exile and beyond. It bears some relation to “the Book of the Law” discovered in the Jerusalem Temple around 622 B.C. during the reign of King Josiah (2 Kgs 22:8–13)... Over the book looms the disaster of 722/721, the fall of the Northern Kingdom, Israel. The detailed description of siege (28:49–57) especially echoes the fate the North suffered at the hands of the Assyrian invader.

So we may speculate that just as the author/s of Deuteronomy believed they could publish that part of the Torah in Moses' name, so the author/s of the Book of Daniel did in Daniel's name. A similar principle was at work in the case of 1 Enoch, which was never accepted as canonical but which was paraphrased as a real prophecy of the historical Enoch in the Letter of Jude:

It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, 15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14-15)

The OP says "I thus presume such a person must have been a person of considerable authority within the Jewish community." This fact is not certain but in any case we can again point the the Book of Deuteronomy, which was "found" in the Temple, promoted by the high priest and confirmed by the prophetess Hulda. (2 Kings 22).

Assuming that pious forgeries, including the Book of Daniel, indeed made their way into the Holy Scriptures, we can only speculate as to the reasons that their authors believed they would be accepted. Here are two overlapping possibilities that present themselves regarding the author of the Book of Daniel:

  1. He may have believed that there were precedents for such writing, especially Book of Enoch, important parts of which were already in circulation at the time Daniel was written if the Maccabean Hypothesis is correct.

  2. He may have believed that God inspired his writing. A parallel is found in the Book of Revelation where the NT prophet John believed that Jesus had dictated messages to the 7 churches through him order to encourage Christians to resist Roman persecution.

  • “The OP says "I thus presume such a person must have been a person of considerable authority within the Jewish community." This fact is not certain…” If he was writing to encourage the Jews at the time and not for the future Jews, it must mean he believed his addition to Daniel would be accepted straight away? It was written during a war.
    – user329957
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:16
  • Probably so but who knows? Did it have the desired effect (presuming the thesis is true.) It makes me think of George Washington's Vision concerning the Civil War. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 15:19

It should be noted that the translators of the LXX included Daniel as a whole in the Greek rendition of it. The Dead Sea scrolls also contain passages from Daniel, which would not have been included if there was a doubt as to their validity (and antiquity).

Often, the use of some word as being too recent, were used to invalidate the ancient dating of Daniel. But modern archaeological discoveries and historical research has shown that there was sufficient international commerce for Daniel to be acquainted with those words.

Note also that some of the awesome prophetic utterance in Daniel refer to times past the Maccabean era. And they were fulfilled to a "t" with the imprimatur of no less than Jesus Christ Himself! (Matthew 24)

There is substantial evidence that the Maccabean Hypothesis is a fallacy. Its whole integrity is reliable.

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