[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Daniel?



On Fri, 15 Nov 1996 16:14:09 AST4ADT, glenn.wooden@acadiau.ca writes:
>
>Gunnar,
>
>I am heavily into the topic of the origins of the Daniel stories. I 
>am trying to write a dissertation on the background of Daniel--its 
>mileu--and the origin and redaction of the tales figures into this.

   May I butt into your thinking from just across the Bay...

                           T. M. SIMMS
                            Suite 611
                         1720 Hickey Road
                         SAINT JOHN, N. B.
                             E2J 3S7
Phone: 1-506-696-2778                         Fax: 1-506-696-2778
                  e-mail: <tsimms@nbnet.nb.ca>
*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*++++*+++*

                            PROPHECY

     To get a coin in his bowl a market storyteller cannot be just
a retailer of the past.  A recitation of past events everyone in
hearing already knows will not sing for his supper.  He must add
something.
     The item added must agree with what the hearers already know. 
It must be believable.  For the storyteller ringed with listeners,
proof of his additions need not be at hand.  However, he must con-
vince his audience of the truth of his additions.
     The oldest literary device to do this is the prophecy.  The
yarn spinner can describe meeting on his travels someone who told
a prophecy which came true.  He draws in his listeners with
fabulosities of how the event unfolded.  Writing was in its beginn-
ings.  The storyteller could now solemnly claim that the document
he clutches in his hand is a copy he made of the tale he tells. 
The document may even be the creation of the storyteller himself. 
He'll never tell.  His credibility would vanish at once if he did.
     To most readers, someone wrote the Book of Daniel during the
Babylonian Captivity of the Hebrew people.  This began in 588 B.C. 
Today most scholars say the authors wrote the book in the Third
Century B.C.  Here is why.
     Jeshua Ben Sirach is Ecclesiasticus.  He wrote about 180 B.C. 
(He had nothing to do with Ecclesiastes.)  He mentioned neither
Daniel nor the Book of Daniel in his otherwise complete list of
leading Jewish figures.  
     The internal evidence of the book compels accepting the late
date of composition.  To start with, the beginning is wrong.  It
assigns the siege and capture of Jerusalem to the third year of the
reign of Jehoiakim.  This is not so.  The error is subtle but
there, nonetheless.  The writers took Jehoiakim either for Jeho-
iachin or Zedekiah.  There are more errors.  Read any good en-
cyclopedia.  Here are some:
     The date of the complete work appears in the latter half of
the book, the visions.  The Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes
desecrated the temple in December, 167 B.C., as we see in Daniel
viii. 1114.  Verse viii, 14 implies the writer has seen the rede-
dication of the sanctuary in December, 164 B.C.  The passage xi,
4045 shows that the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes was in the
future.  The Seleucid King died in April, 163 B.C.  We can thereby
date the visions almost to the month.  They are clearly an immedi-
ate apocalyptic forecast.
     For further confirmation, consider the following:
     At the beginning of the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a
conflict broke out between two members of the High Priest Levite
family.  The conflict resulted in High Priest Onias III going to
Egypt.  There he set up a new temple at Heliopolis northeast of
what is now Cairo.  This temple functioned until 70 A.D. when the
Romans destroyed it along with the one in Jerusalem.  
     Jason, the other High Priest, paid large tribute to the King. 
This way he stayed in charge until 172 B.C.  At that time, factions
of Jews objected to his closeness to the Greek king.  So they sent
him to exile in Sparta.  A lapsed Jew named Menelaus in 170 B.C.
bought the High Priestly office.  To outraged Orthodox Jews, the
Temple sacrifice became an abomination.  In 168 B.C., Jason
returned from Sparta and deposed Menelaus.  
     During this time, Antiochus was campaigning against Egypt. 
Jason soon fell under the suspicions of the King who thought the
returned High Priest was conspiring against him.  The king then
came back from his conflict with Egypt, entered Jerusalem, and
slaughtered his opponents.  As punishment for this supposed
conspiracy, in 167 B.C. he dedicated the Temple to the Olympian
Zeus.  This blunder, as noted above, aroused the Jews to murderous
fury.  The fury restored the Temple in 164 B.C.
     Few readers noted that two thousand, three hundred days had
passed since Menelaus unlawfully took the position of High Priest
in 170 B.C. to the restoration of the sanctuary in 164 B.C.  There-
fore the prophecy of days was exactly that, one of days and not
days of weeks or of years.  The cleansing of the Temple took place
in December, 164 B.C.!
     This same historical data explains the forecast of Weeks at
the end of the book of Daniel ix, 2427.  Today we do not commonly
understand much about those days before Jesus.  Then there was a
priestly or Aaronic Messiah (Anointed One) and a princely or
Davidic Messiah.  The High Priest Jason was legitimate in the eyes
of many Jews.  So the words "shall Messiah be cut off" relate
directly to the Greek King personally returning and dedicating the
Temple to Zeus.  He sacrificed swine on the altar!  The historical
intervals of these episodes compare directly to the Prophecy of
Weeks.  The Weeks were of days and of nothing else!
     In like manner we deal with the forecasts of days given at the
end of the Book of Daniel (xii, 1112).  The numbers are "a
thousand two hundred and ninety days" or "the thousand three
hundred and five and thirty days".  They relate to the time to the
restoration of the sanctuary from either the beginning or the end
of Jason's second time as High Priest.  The days of the forecast
are days, only days and nothing else!
     The composers of the book did not have full archives of
journals.  They did not have other records easy at hand.  They did
not have the easy comparisons to datings we enjoy.  If the figures
in this explanation do not precisely add up, they are well in the
ballpark.  A reading of the Apocryphal book I Maccabees will show
the frame of this argument is right.  Teasing exactness out of the
account is likely beyond us.  The minor discrepancies add to the
certainty scribes composed the book of Daniel well after the fact. 
Once again, the simplest explanation is the best!
     As we have just discussed, they wrote Daniel after the fact. 
Yet they presented it as a tale from the captivity.  They had two
immediate reasons to do so.  The first had to do within Jewry.  The
law of the Kings of Israel and Judah made writing scripture a
capital offense.  The officers of the temple would complain about
new scriptures even to a foreign ruler.  The second had to do with
simple practical politics.  Writing about the Greek ruler himself
could mean the loss of the writers' heads.
     So the writers cast their work as the composition of someone
from years before.  (Scholars call such writings pseudepigraphic.) 
Writing texts this way gained its prophesies much weight for its
readers and hearers.  When it became apocalyptic, predicting an im-
mediate end-time, it roused much enthusiasm among its Jewish audi-
ence.
     Rapidly the apocalyptic visions failed.  With the arrival of
Rome, the forecast took a new life.  People put Rome in place of
the Seleucid Dynasty in its hoped for end-time.  They quickly
forgot that up to that time they considered the four kingdoms of
the successors to Alexander the Great were the feet of iron and
clay of Daniel's vision before Nebuchadnezzar.
     In like fashion, they forgot the comparison of the four beasts
of Daniel's prophecy in the first year of Belshazzar's rule with
the predecessors to Alexander and to Alexander himself.  They
forgot he was often called "two horned" or "of ready horn" from his
image showing him with the horns of Ammon stamped on his succes-
sors' coins after his death.  His `ready horned' name is often
recalled in Arabic.
     As for the ten horns in the prophecy, these are the kingdoms
of the descendants of the Diadochi, Alexander's successors, in the
Second Century, B.C..  The prophecy did not see the coming of Rome. 
This lack confirms further the date of composition of the Book of
Daniel.


Tom Simms <tsimms@nbnet.nb.ca>