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Till Is Batting Around .250 on Daniel
by Everette Hatcher III


1999 / March-April



Home-run hitters are always the strike-out kings too, and Farrell Till seems to have missed the mark around 75% of the time in his series of articles on Daniel. However, Till did connect some of the time. For instance, he made some good points in his article "Good History in the Book of Daniel" (September/October 1998, pp. 9-11, 16). I agree with the majority of what Till said, and it is obvious that he has studied long and hard concerning the historical events mentioned in Daniel chapter eleven.

I have also noticed that no one in the field of biblical errancy can hold a candle to Till. I was amused when I read some of the peculiar errors of interpretation made by Dennis McKinsey. For instance, concerning Daniel 9:24-25 McKinsey stated that "the weeks referred to are real weeks of seven days, not years" (Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 164), but even those who hold the critical view accept that the author of Daniel was speaking of years (Robert A. Anderson, Signs and Wonders, International Theological Commentary, Eerdmans, 1984, pp. 111-115; Isaac Asimov, "The Book of Daniel," Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Doubleday, 1969, p. 613; John J. Collins, Daniel, Fortress, 1994, pp. 352-356; Samuel Driver, The Book of Daniel: Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, University Press, 1900, p. 135; John Goldingay, Daniel: Word Biblical Commentaries, Word, 1989, p. 262; Louis F. Hartman and Alexander A. DiLella, The Book of Daniel, Anchor Bible, 1978, p. 250; Arthur Jeffery, "The Book of Daniel," Interpreter's Bible, 1956, p. 493; Andre Lacocque, The Book of Daniel, John Knox, 1979, p. 191; James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, International Critical Commentary, T. and T. Clark, 1927, reprint, 1979, p. 376; John Joseph Owens, "Daniel," Broadman Bible Commentary, 1971, p. 439; Norman Porteous, Daniel, Old Testament Library, 1965, p. 141; W. Sibley Towner, Daniel, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, 1984, p. 143; Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, "The Book of Daniel," The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 7, 1996, p. 128; Brodrick D. Shepherd, Beasts, Horns, and the Anti-Christ, 1994, p. 78; Frank Zindler, "Daniel in the Debunker's Den," American Atheist, October 1986, p. 59).

For instance, the critic Jeffery states:

Its substance is that the seventy weeks are to be understood as seventy hebdomads or weeks of years; i.e., they represent 490 years, the conclusion of which will see the coming of the end.
Seventy weeks of years: Lit., seventy weeks, which the sequel shows means weeks of years. The Greeks and Romans had a similar idea of a week-year (Aristotle, Politics, VII.16; Attic Nights, III.10). It is commonly thought that the writer derived this from Lev. 25:2; 26:18-35 (Jeffery, p. 493).

When I examine Till's view concerning inerrancy, I must give him this compliment: I admire his logic. Till found himself "on an irreversible trajectory toward agnosticism" (Edward T. Babinski, Leaving the Fold, Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 294) when he no longer believed in the doctrine of inerrancy. Now I believe that Till is incorrect in his conclusion concerning inerrancy, but I cannot fault his logic. It amazes me that so many professing Christians accept this idea that the Book of Daniel is a fraud, but they still worship the God of the Bible. Many Christian scholars (e.g., DiLella, pp. 53-54; Smith-Christopher, p. 22; Owens, p. 377; Towner, pp. 44-46; Collins, p. 56) claim that a forgery may be used to teach great moral lessons. If I ever became convinced that the Bible contained fraud and false prophecies, I would leave my Christianity behind just as Till did.

I do find it strange that Till has avoided criticizing these liberal Christian scholars for not carrying their views on Daniel to their logical conclusions. Maybe it is because Till has been pre-occupied in criticizing those in the religious right for their inconsistencies. I have noticed that Till has constantly been pointing out misrepresentations and misquotes used by many inerrantists that he has debated. I agree that many in the religious right have been guilty in this area, and I have attempted to confront dozens of these leaders myself concerning this ("Questionable Quotes," The Freedom Writer, May/June 1997, pp. 8-9; "Fake Quotes," letter to the editor, Skeptic Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1997, p. 39; "The Bible Code," letter to the editor, The Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 1998, p. 65). However, Till was incorrect when he accused me of misrepresenting and misquoting the scholars who hold to the 2nd-century B. C. view ("The Inerrantist Way of Misrepresenting `Critics,'" March/April 1998, pp. 4-7, 16). Till stated, "Available space will not allow me to discuss all of Hatcher's distorted and misrepresented sources in a single article, and so I will follow this one with at least two more..." (March/April 1998, p. 16).

Nowhere did I indicate that the critic Norman Porteous was "a proponent of the inerrantist view of the 6th-century authorship" (p. 7). Yet Till repeatedly accuses me of misrepresenting several critics in just this fashion (March/April, p. 7; May/June, p. 2; July/August, p. 14), but I made it clear in the second paragraph that I was examining the views of critics "who hold to the "Maccabean thesis" ("The Critics' Admissions Concerning Daniel," March/April, p. 2). I have always tried to confront those who have been guilty of misquotations and misrepresentations. Therefore it was especially painful to endure the titles Till chose: "The Inerrantist Way of Misrepresenting `Critics,'" (March/April 1998, p. 4); "Deliberate Misrepresentation After All," (May/June 1998, p. 2). Neither did I misquote any of these critics. Till commented:

A familiar type of inerrantist distortion results from the omission of a qualifying but that follows a fragmented quotation. The first part of the quotation appears to favor the inerrantist view until the qualifying but statement is read. By eliminating the buts and howevers, inerrantists try to leave the impression that certain scientists and scholars agree with them. Hatcher did this in response to my claim that the writer of Daniel obviously "considered the Median and Persian kingdoms to be separate empires." He quoted Dr. Samuel Driver as having admitted, "In the book of Daniel the `Medes and Persians' are, it is true, sometimes represented as united" (March/ April 1998, p. 2). I had seen this inerrantist tactic enough to know that even without having read Driver's work, the parenthetical "it is true" indicated that a qualifying but statement followed the fragment that Hatcher had quoted. When I was finally able to check the context of the quotation, I found that I was right (May/June, p. 2).

Till implied that I left out essential information that distorts Driver's quote. However, the operative word sometimes is included in the quotation I used. The word sometimes does not mean always, and I in no way implied that I thought that Driver was admitting that the author of Daniel always represented the Medes and Persians as united. In fact, I listed the only five scriptures that Driver considered as picturing a combined empire (Daniel 5:28; 6:8,12,15; cf. 8:20), and then I pointed out that this admission contradicts the critical position that Driver still held. I did not imply that Driver expressed agreement with my view that "the second empire in Nebuchadnezzar's vision was a combined Medo-Persian empire" (May/June, p. 2), but I was merely observing that this admission was fatal to Driver's position.

I cannot see how giving the full text of Driver's quotation would adjust the meaning at all. My whole argument involved showing that the textual evidence in Daniel clearly points to a combined kingdom being pictured and even a critic like Driver had to admit that some verses indicated that.

Evidently Till realized the importance of this point because twice he quoted a passage from the critic H. H. Rowley that addressed this very issue:

For [sic] a sixth-century person, who not only lived through the events of the period, but took a leading part in them, could not have made so gross an error as our author made in introducing Darius the Mede between Belshazzar and Cyrus. Nor could he have supposed that a Median empire stood between the Babylonian and the Persian (University of Wales Press, 1935, p. 175, quoted in TSR, March/April 1998, p. 5) & September/October 1998, p. 9).

Till commented that "this critical opinion of Daniel has become the underpinning of the Maccabean view of its authorship" (September/October 1998, p. 9). I would agree that many critics have taken the position that the author of Daniel mistakenly had Babylon falling to a Median empire (Anderson, pp. 22-23; Asimov, p. 602; Collins, pp. 166-167; Philip R. Davies, Daniel, Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985, p.26; Driver, p. 52 of introduction; Raymond Hammer, The Book of Daniel, Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 8; Hartman and DiLella, p. 50; Jeffery, pp. 387-388; Pamela J. Milne, "The Book of Daniel," Harper Collins Study Bible, ed. Wayne A. Meeks, 1993, p. 1318; Robert H. Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old Testament, 1948, p. 757; Porteous, p. 47; H. H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and the Four world Empires in the Book of Daniel, 1935; p. 175; Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, p. 88; Towner, p. 70; Zindler, p. 58). These critics realize that if it can be demonstrated that the writer of Daniel envisioned a rule by the Medes, then these critics can point to all the final "prophetic" fulfillments in the Greek period since Greece would be the fourth kingdom. Moreover, they can also accuse Daniel of a gross historical error. However, traditionalists claim some of the prophecies refer to events that go past the Greek period, and there is only the problem of the missing person, "Darius the Mede" and not a missing empire.

Traditionalists take the view that the author of the book of Daniel knew very well there was no intermediate rule by the Medes. The conservative Stephen Miller correctly noted:

To suggest that any semi-educated Jew of the Maccabean period could be ignorant of the fact that it was Cyrus the Persian who conquered the great Babylonian Empire and allowed the Jewish captives to return to their homeland is not reasonable. Moreover, the Book of Ezra (cf. 1:1 ff.), which undoubtedly was at the writer's disposal, specifically declares that Cyrus released the Jews from captivity in Babylon. It also understands Darius I to have ruled Persia long after Cyrus (Ezra 4-5) (Daniel: The New American Commentary, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994, p. 174).

The critics want us to believe that Daniel was written in the 2nd-century B. C., and that is the reason it has inaccuracies concerning 6th-century B. C. events. However, any educated Jew in the 2nd century would have known that Cyrus the Persian defeated Babylon.

Let me address three of the historical situations that Till spends a great deal of time discussing:

(1) Did the author of Daniel suppose that Darius Hystaspis preceded Cyrus? Till commented:

In 9:1, the writer of Daniel described the mysterious "Darius the Mede" as the "son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes," but Ahasuerus, (better known as Xerxes) was king of Persia from 485-465 B. C., so it isn't at all possible that "Darius the Mede," who allegedly reigned in Babylon in 539 B.C., was the son of someone who had not yet been born. Ahasuerus was the Persian king who allegedly made Esther his queen in the book named after this Jewish heroine. Since his father was Darius the Great, the writer of Daniel may have confused his Dariuses and anachronistically made a son of Darius the Great the king who had captured Babylon. At any rate, he made a historical mistake that would be understandable for an author writing four centuries later, but it is not a mistake that we could reasonably expect an important contemporary official of Babylon to make (July/August 1998, p. 8; Rowley, pp. 57-58; DiLella, p. 36).

The critic John Goldingay admits that "Ahasuerus" probably is a title and not a personal name (p. 239). Daniel 9:1 also discusses Darius the Mede, and many believe that "Darius the Mede" is not a personal name but a title. This will be touched on later.

I would agree that if the author of Daniel made the historical blunder concerning the intermediate reign by the Medes, in such a case, he could not be "an important contemporary official of Babylon" (July/August 1998, p. 8). However, I would go one step further and insist that he could not have been familiar with the other Old Testament books like Ezra. Remember that the Dead Sea Scrolls include portions of both Daniel and Ezra. This indicates that the critics who claim that the author of the book of Daniel had a Hasidic origin have a lot of explaining to do (Towner, p. 7; DiLella, p. 45). DiLella states, "It is generally admitted that the Essenes had their origin in the Hasidic movements that flourished in early 2nd-century B. C. Judaism" (p. 45). These Essenes copied the Dead Sea Scrolls, and that indicates that they had access to copies of the Old Testament scriptures for many generations. J.J. Collins comments, "Fragments of eight mss of Daniel have been identified. The oldest of these, 4QDan. is dated by Frank Cross to `the late 2nd-century' B. C. E., `no more than about a half century younger than the autograph'" (Collins, p. 2).

This presents two problems for the critics. How could the Qumran community accept Daniel as Scripture if it incorrectly pictured Darius Hystaspis preceding Cyrus? Copies of Ezra they possessed contradicted this. Also how could the Qumran community accept Daniel as Scripture only fifty years after its composition? It is for this very reason that many of the canonical psalms found there were redated.

The critic W. H. Brownlee asserted: "It would seem that we should abandon the idea of any of the canonical psalms being of Maccabean date, for each song had to win its way in the esteem of the people before it could be included in the sacred compilation of the Psalter. Immediate entree for any of them is highly improbable" (The Meaning of the Qumran Scrolls for the Bible, Oxford University Press, 1964, p. 30). Yet concerning Daniel, Brownlee accepts the Maccabean date (p.36). The obvious question is: How can one theory push the date of a psalm back 200 years, but this same theory, when applied to Daniel, allow only 50 years? The answer is that Brownlee was firmly committed to the critical assumption that Daniel could not have been written before 164 B. C. His naturalistic presuppositions were getting in the way of his ability to give the objective analysis.

(2) Is there a possible answer to the identity of "Darius the Mede"? Till wrongly assumed that I hold the view that Darius was a governor appointed by Cyrus (May/June 1998, p. 2). While I don't dismiss that possibility, I do favor a different view. I do not claim dogmatically that this view is true, but it certainly is a realistic possibility. Many evangelicals have put forth the theory that Darius is a title for Cyrus (D. J. Wiseman, "Some Historical Problems in the Book of Daniel," Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel, Tyndale, 1970, pp. 9-16; J.M. Bulman, "The Identification of Darius the Mede," Westminster Theological Journal, Volume 35, 1973, pp. 247-267; J.G. Baldwin, Daniel, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, InterVarsity, 1978, pp. 26-28, 127). Dual titles were not uncommon. Daniel and his friends had dual names. Kings were known by two names at times. For instance, 1 Chronicles 5:26 reads, "So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul King of Assyria, even [Hebrew conjunction waw] the spirit of Tiglath-Pileser King of Assyria." We now know that Assyrian records indicate that Pul was Tiglath-Pileser's native name (James B. Pritchard [ed.], Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, 1950, p. 272). Likewise, Wiseman translates Daniel 6:28, "Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even [Aramaic conjunction waw] the reign of Cyrus the Persian" (Wiseman, p. 12). If Wiseman is correct on this translation, then it may be a good explanation for this missing person case. The critic Isaac Asimov did note that Cyrus was "indeed about 62 years old at this time" (p. 608), and Daniel 5:31 says that Darius was 62.

The conservative Stephen Miller stated:

Bulman reasonably suggests that the author preferred the title Darius the Mede because it had particular significance for the Jews (Bulman, p. 263). Both Isaiah (13:17) and Jeremiah (51:11, 28) had predicted the downfall of Babylon to the Medes, and Daniel employed the title to emphasize the fulfillment of these prophecies. Yet Daniel also used the title Cyrus the Persian in order to explain the king's relationship to the world of that day he was ruler over the whole Medo-Persian Empire. "The author may have assumed that 6:28 would make the identification clear enough for the circle addressed" (Bulman, p. 252; Miller, pp. 175-176).

In fact, the critic Brian E. Colless concluded, "Everything seems to point to the same conclusion: Darius the Mede is synonymous with Cyrus the Persian in the Book of Daniel" ("Cyrus the Persian as Darius the Mede in the Book of Daniel," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 56, 1992, pp. 113-126).

I must admit that the argument concerning "Darius the Mede" is the most difficult problem remaining for the inerrantist to resolve. However, this problem involves only the identity of "Darius the Mede," and it does not concern the incorrect view that the Medes reigned between the Babylonians and Persians. Also I must point out that Till himself admits that appealing "to historical silence is considered a weak type of argumentation" (July/August 1998, p. 8). Yet Till considers this type of evidence concerning Daniel "very compelling" partly because Ezekiel makes no "unequivocal" reference to Daniel. Till asserted:

Ezekiel did mention the name Daniel three times, but these were in contexts where this person was associated with ancient biblical heroes like Noah and Job (14:14, 20; 28:3). Since the name is spelled "Danel" in some texts, this Daniel is thought to be the "Danel" of Ugaritic legend found on clay tablets excavated at Ras Shamra, so it seems rather strange that Ezekiel would have written 48 chapters without once referring to a captive who had become a prominent Babylonian official (July/August 1998, pp. 8, 10).

Till dismissed the three times Ezekiel mentions Daniel because Ezekiel is speaking of a Daniel spelled "Danel" referred to in Ugaritic literature around the 14th century B. C. Other critics agree (e.g., Hammer, p. 3; Owens, p. 374). However, the context in Ezekiel seems to contradict this view. Ezekiel 14 is a message against the idolatrous elders. The conservative H. Dressler asks, "Is it conceivable that the same prophet would choose a Phoenician-Canaanite devotee of Baal as his outstanding example of righteousness? Within the context of Ezekiel this seems to be a preposterous suggestion" (H. H. P. Dressler, "The Identification of the Ugaritic Dnil with the Daniel of Ezekiel," Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 29, 1979, p. 159). Furthermore, even the critic John Day admits "there are no linguistic objections to the equation of the Daniel of Ezekiel XIV:14,20 and the hero of the book of Daniel. Ezekiel simply spells the name without the vowel letter yodh." Day made these comments in an article maintaining the critical conclusion that Ezekiel is referring to the Ugaritic Danel ("The Daniel of Ugarit and Ezekiel and the Hero of the Book of Daniel," Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 30, 1980, pp. 174-184).

Critics seem never to learn. Earlier there was "very compelling" evidence from silence that Belshazzar never existed. The conservative scholar Alan Millard stated:

Nebuchadnezzar had, of course, ruled over Babylon, but Belshazzar's name was nowhere to be found outside the Biblical text. The Greek chroniclers who had preserved lists of ancient kings identified Nabonidus, a successor to Nebuchadnezzar, as the last native ruler of Babylon; Belshazzar was not even mentioned. Belshazzar, declared one commentator named Ferdinand Hitzig in 1850, was "obviously a figment of the Jewish writer's imagination" (Ferdinand Hitzig, Das Buch Daniel, Leipzig: Weidman, 1850, p. 75, as quoted by Millard, "Daniel and Belshazzar in History," Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1985, pp. 74-75).

It was in this atmosphere that Albert Barnes finished his commentary on December 26, 1851. He could have put his faith in the current evidence of the day or the unchangeable word of God. His choice was clear. He asserted:

The testimony of Daniel in the book before us should not be set aside by the statement of Berosus, or by the other confused accounts which have come down to us. For anything that appears to the contrary, the authority of Daniel is as good as that of Berosus, and he is as worthy of belief. Living in Babylon and through a great part of the reigns of this dynasty; present at the taking of Babylon, and intimate at court; honoured by some of these princes more than any other man in the realm, there is no reason why he should not have had access to the means of information on the subject, and no reason why it should not be supposed that he has given a fair record of what actually occurred" (Notes, Critical, Illustrative, and Practical on the Book of Daniel, Leavitt and Allen, 1858, p. 237).

Barnes considered God's unchangeable word more reliable than historians, and Alan Millard pointed out that historians soon after made some changes:

Then, in 1854, a British consul named J. G. Taylor explored some ruins in southern Iraq on behalf of the British Museum. He dug into a great mud-brick tower that was part of the temple of the moon god that dominated the city. Taylor found several small clay cylinders buried in the brickwork, each about four inches long, inscribed with 60 or 50 lines of cuneiform writing. When Taylor took the cylinders back to Baghdad, he showed them to his colleagues (see E. Sollberger, "Mr. Taylor in Chaldaea," Anatolian Studies, Vol. 22, 1972, pp. 129-139). Fortunately, his senior colleague was Sir Henry Rawlinson, who was one of those who had deciphered the Babylonian cuneiform script. Rawlinson was able to read the writing on the clay cylinders.
The inscriptions had been written at the command of Nabonidus, king of Babylon from 555 to 539 B.C. The king had repaired the temple tower, and the clay cylinders commemorated that fact. The inscriptions proved that the ruined tower was the temple of the city of Ur. The words were a prayer for the long life and good health of Nabonidus and for his eldest son. The name of that son, clearly written, was Belshazzar!
Here was clear proof that an important person named Belshazzar lived in Babylon during the last years of the city's independence. So Belshazzar was not an entirely imaginary figure (pp. 74-75).

Therefore, since the critics have been routed concerning the existence of Belshazzar, they have decided to turn to other arguments concerning Belshazzar. Till picked up on one of the weaker arguments when he commented:

If Daniel achieved such prominence in Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, he would have surely been familiar with the king's family, but in chapter five, the writer of the story referred to Nebuchadnezzar five times as the "father" of Belshazzar....
Hatcher no doubt will parrot the inerrantist line and contend that the words father and son were not being used literally in this story but only figuratively in the sense of "ancestor" and "descendant," as when Abraham was referred to as the "father" of all Jews (Isaiah 51:2), and as Jesus was called the "son of David" (Matt. 1:1). The examples are hardly parallel, however, because Abraham was separated by centuries from the Jews of Isaiah's time, as Jesus was separated in time from David sufficiently for readers of such texts as these to know beyond reasonable doubt that father and son were being used figuratively (July/August 1998, p. 7).

Till is unaware of two biblical facts: (1) There is no word for grandfather in Hebrew or Aramaic. The word father could refer to a grandfather as in the case of Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 28:13; 32:9) or even to a great, great grandfather as in the case of David and Asa (1 Kings 15:10-13). (2) The term son can also mean successor. It is used this way in the Bible (1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:12; Robert Dick Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel, Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint, 1979, Vol. 1, pp. 117-118). Also it is used this way in the "Black Obelisk" of Shalmaneser III (c. 830 B.C.) when Jehu is called the "son of Omri" even though they were not related (James B. Pritchard [ed.], Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. Princeton University Press, 1955, p. 281). Similar usage in Egypt has been found. In the Westcar Papyrus (dating from the Hyksos period), King Keb-ka of the Third Dynasty is referred to as the father of King Khufu of the Fourth Dy nasty, a full century later. Daniel also followed this ancient custom of the time which was to recognize the king of Babylon as the "son" (or successor) of Nebuchadnezzar. No wonder the critic Philip R. Davies concluded, "The literal meaning of `son' should not be pressed..." (Davies, Daniel, p. 31).

Is there any direct textual evidence that indicates that the writer of Daniel knew Babylon fell to Persia? Till stated:

Hatcher cited (p. 2, TSR Vol. 9.2) Porteous's commentary on Daniel from The Old Testament Library (Westminster Press, 1965) in an attempt to make a dubious pun in Daniel 5:28 imply that the writer of Daniel knew that Persia conquered Babylon. In other words, Hatcher's case is so tenuous that he can't produce direct textual evidence that the writer of Daniel knew that Babylon fell to Persia; he has to resort to claiming that the writer of Daniel `punningly' implied it (TSR, Vol. 9.2, p. 7).

There is plenty of good textual evidence that the writer of Daniel knew that Babylon fell to a combined empire made of the Medes and Persians. However, the critics cannot afford to accept this evidence because they would have to admit there has been real prophecy. For instance, many critics will admit that peres in Daniel 5:28 is a possible pun for Persia. Arthur Jeffery states, "Moreover, since prs could also be pointed to mean `Persians,' it can refer to the giving of the kingdom to the Persians; indeed, Bauer's suggestion allows him to give Daniel's interpretation as `He has numbered! He has weighed! He has divided! The Persians!'" (Jeffery, p. 432).

The critic James A. Montgomery noted:

Here a balanced phrase is obtained by finding a double paranomasia [sic] in the mystic word, i. e., division and Persia. Were these ominous words first assembled and applied by our narrator; or did he take them from some source and adapt them to his interpretation (so Bev.)? It is to be noted that the play of words gives `Persia,' not `Media,' despite the fact that in immediate sequence it is Darius the Mede who destroys the kingdom; the enigma is based on the correct historical tradition of Cyrus' conquest" (p. 263).

Therefore, several critics will admit that Daniel 5:28 could be implying that the division of Babylon would be done by the Persian armies (Porteous, p. 81). Nevertheless, the critics usually give an alternative interpretation based on the work of Clermont-Ganneau in 1886 (Owens, p. 410; Collins, pp. 250-252; Montgomery, p. 263, Jeffery, p. 432; Porteous, p. 81; Hartman, pp. 189-190; Driver, p. 69). The critic Robert A. Anderson commented:

Clermont-Ganneau advanced the thesis that the terms are measurements of weight, namely, mina, tekel (the Aramaic equivalent of shekel), and peres. By this means the motif of successful kingdoms already encountered in chapter 2, and which features so prominently in the second half of the book, could be applied to the inscription, albeit in a modified form. The subjects could be the last kings of the neo-Babylonian empire. It must be admitted that all this is in the area of speculation. Fuller treatment is given in the commentaries of Hartman and Lacocque. When we turn to the explanation in vv. 26-28 we are at least on firm ground (p. 61).

Thus Anderson admits that the theory put forth by Clermont-Ganneau is "speculation." The critic W. H. Brownlee goes even further. He observes, "There is one fatal weakness to this method of interpreting the handwriting on the wall: It is not so interpreted in the Book of Daniel itself" (Brownlee, p. 41)! Most critics don't want to admit the possibility that the author of Daniel correctly thought that Babylon was conquered by a combined kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. Therefore, they have to avoid taking Daniel 5:28 to its logical conclusion. The conservative Gleason Archer stated:

The author of Daniel believed that Belshazzar was conquered by a coalition of Medes and Persians; in Daniel 5:28 the whole point of the word play is that the Persians were about to take over the kingdom directly from the Babylonians: "Peres: Your kingdom is divided [prisat, from the verb pras, `separate'] and given to the Medes and Persians [paras]" (5:28). It is quite apparent that only the Persians fit into this word play (P-R-S are the three consonants involved in all three: PeReS, PeRiSat, PaRaS). The reason the Medes are mentioned first in the phrase "the Medes and Persians" here is that historically the Persians had earlier been subject to the Medes, until Cyrus defeated his uncle King Astyages of the Median Empire back in 550 B.C. ("Daniel," Expositor's Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985, pp. 16-17).

The passage that destroys the critical view completely is Daniel 8:1-20. The critic Raymond Hammer admits that verse 3 "indicates a knowledge of the combined Medo-Persian Empire, although elsewhere we have seen a tendency to think of Median and Persian empires as separate entities" (Hammer, p. 84; Driver, p. 29). In Daniel 8:20 the ram with two horns is "the kings of Media Persia." The critics do not want to admit there are many parallels between the bear in chapter seven and the ram in chapter eight. Persia arose to be stronger than Media in the alliance, and that is symbolized by both the bear and the ram being unbalanced (7:51, 8:3). Media-Persia's three major victories were over Babylon (539 B. C.), Lydia (546 B. C.), and Egypt (525 B. C.). This is pictured by the three ribs in the bear's mouth (7:5b) while the ram ran off in three directions to do battle (8:4a). The critics simply have no idea what the three ribs symbolize (Jeffery, p. 454; Collins, p. 298; Driver, p. 82; Porteous, p. 105; R.A. Anderson, p. 79). L. F. Hartman comments that "the effort of commentators to explain why `three ribs should be in the mouth of a beast' have proved futile" (p. 205). Hartman and his fellow critics have come up empty because they insist on making the bear a symbol of the Median empire. There is no textual evidence to support this view. In a letter dated October 23, 1998, the conservative William Shea commented:

It is interesting to note that all of these arguments on the Daniel of the 2nd century B. C. go back to the Neo-Platonist philosopher Porphyry in the 5th century A. D. Porphyry, however, saw clearly that there was no separate Median kingdom, so his sequence was Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece I and Greece II. He had to shorten the sequence to get it to end up with Greece and not Rome. The adaptation of dividing Media from Persia is a modern phenomenon, worked out in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There is plenty of direct textual evidence in the book of Daniel that indicates that Babylon fell to a combined Medo-Persian empire. Therefore, critics would be wise to stop insisting that Daniel envisions a separate rule by the Medes.

Another area of textual evidence that supports the Maccabean thesis according to the critics is the late date "objective" scholars attribute to the languages used in the Book of Daniel. Till stated:

In the very first paragraph of the introduction to his commentary, Porteous said, "The linguistic evidence and the fact that the visions reveal a vague knowledge of the Babylonian and Persian periods and an increasingly accurate knowledge of the Greek period up to and including the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, with the exception of the closing events of that reign, suggest a date for the book shortly before 164 B. C. (March/April 1998, pp. 7,16, emphasis added).

I wish Till would specifically indicate which linguistic evidence he would put forth as significant. Earlier he cited the Aramaic (TSR, Vol. 4.3, p.13), but I dealt with that in my previous article (March/April 1998, p. 3).

Gerhard F. Hasel noted that "several recent historical-critical commentaries have dropped the argument from the Hebrew language for the late dating of the book of Daniel" (D. S. Russell, A. Lacocque, J. J. Collins, W.S. Towner, and others; "Establishing a Date for the Book of Daniel," Symposium on Daniel, ed., Frank B. Holbrook, Washington, D. C.: Biblical Research Institute, 1986, p. 140).

William Shea has commented on Till's view concerning the date of authorship of the Book of Daniel:

Till is behind the times in his view of the Aramaic in Daniel as Maccabean. No reputable scholar that I know of at the present time holds that opinion. The reason for it is twofold. First, the discovery of more and more Aramaic texts from Qumran. These have pushed the date of Daniel backward, earlier, because Daniel writes a kind of Aramaic that is earlier than Qumran's earliest Aramaic text, the Job Targum.
Second, more and more Aramaic inscriptions have been found and published and these have been helpful in pulling Daniel's Aramaic earlier. So that now it is admitted that Daniel's Aramaic is Imperial, not Maccabean. But that still leaves a range from the 7th to the 4th century B. C. It does, however, rule out Till's late date (Letter dated October 23, 1998).

Therefore, many of the most respected Bible critics have moved to the position that only the last six chapters definitely originated during the time of the Maccabees, and they hold that the previous chapters initially were written during the Persian period.

The critic Philip R. Davies observed:

The progress of research on the book of Daniel in recent years has been marked by the appearance of several major commentaries as well as articles and, especially, one very important study. While these studies illustrate a variety of approaches to the book, they all accept what has become a universally recognized distinction, namely between the two parts of the book which contain respectively tales and visions. According to nearly every modern commentator, the tales of chapters 1-6 are originally products of a Jewish community in a Gentile environment, whose concerns were rather different from those of Jews who read these tales in Palestine in the Maccabean period (The most recent and detailed treatments are W. Lee Humphreys, "A Life Style for Diaspora: A Study of the Tales of Esther and Daniel," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, 1973, pp. 211-223; J. J. Collins, "The Court Tales in Daniel and the Development of Jewish Apocalyptic, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 94, 1975, pp. 218-234; H. P. Muller, "Marchen, Legende und Enderwartung," Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 26, 1976, pp. 338-350); the visions, which were written during this period are of a different genre, "apocalyptic...." We can be reasonably confident that the stories about Daniel and his friends in chapters 1-6 were in existence before the visions were composed. To begin with, the attitude to Gentiles and Gentile monarchs in particular hardly reflects a Maccabean context (Philip R. Davies, "Eschatology in the Book of Daniel," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 17, 1980, p. 33).

Therefore, it appears that Till is out of step with most of the modern critical scholarship concerning the date of authorship of the first six chapters of Daniel because Till believes all of Daniel was written during the Maccabean period. In "Convenient Coincidences in the Book of Daniel," (September/October 1998, p. 1), Till makes the case that Daniel chapter one belongs to the Maccabean period because "it's hard to believe that a book actually written in the 6th century B. C. would have very conveniently contained a story so clearly parallel to a religious dietary crisis that would happen four centuries later." According to Till, chapter three is late because it is a story "that 2nd-century B. C. Jews suffering such persecution would have easily related to" (p. 1), and chapter five is late because it involves the desecration of sacred vessels. Till stated:

Such convenient coincidences as these in the story of a 6th-century B. C. captive who, choosing to serve Yahweh faithfully, was rewarded with a position of prominence in the kingdom of his captors complements the mountain of other evidence that indicates the author of this book was actually a 2nd-century writer who wanted his contemporaries to believe that a prophet living long ago in another difficult period of Jewish history had foreseen their sufferings and predicted that they would triumph over oppression (p.1, 16).

I have clearly demonstrated that there is no mountain of legitimate "evidence that indicates the author of this book [Daniel] was actually a 2nd-century writer." In Till's provocative article "Primary Colors of the Bible" (July/August 1998, pp. 1, 5) he asserted, "In past issues of TSR, fundamentalist views about the authorship of the books of Jeremiah and Daniel have been challenged by documentation from the works of reputable scholars...." Till's article argues that linguistic evidence should not be underrated. Yet Till has not offered any specific linguistic evidence concerning Daniel in our current debate!! Instead, much of Till's focus is on attacking my methods of writing. For instance, Till observed:

When I received the article, my first inclination was not to publish it because it is little more than one appeal to authority after the other strung out over two and a half pages. In other words, Hatcher basically argued throughout his article that the 2nd-century B. C. dating of the book of Daniel is wrong and the 6th-century B. C. dating correct, because certain scholars say so. In so doing, he pieced together various quotations, obviously lifted unchecked from fundamentalist sources, and paraded them before us as if quoting a "scholar" necessarily proves anything. I have said many times in TSR and its Internet list that anyone committed to a religious position can always find books published by authors who share that belief, so if quoting "scholars" constituted proof of one's position, anyone could prove any belief to be true.... There is much more to biblical apologetics than just citing "scholars," but apparently Hatcher does not realize this (March/April 1998, pp. 4-5).

I am not an archaeologist or a linguist, but that doesn't stop me from discussing archaeology or linguistics. I must quote experts in these fields, and in this sense I must use authorities in my articles. Also many times other scholars articulate things in such a clear way that I would rather quote them directly than put it in my own words. The real issue Till is getting at concerns the strength of one's argument. Is there credible evidence to back up an argument or not? Here I agree that one should not appeal to authority without having a credible argument. However, my arguments are credible. Go back and closely examine the evidence I provided for these following arguments: (1) Daniel does not picture the intermediate Median empire that Till claims exists in the book of Daniel. (2) The Aramaic of Daniel does not point to a 2nd-century date of authorship. (3) Daniel did not necessarily err when he referred to Belshazzar as Nebuchadnezzar's son because in the Near East the word son could also mean successor.

I wish I had space to respond to Till's accusation concerning the apparent dating problems found in Daniel 1:1-5. Also I wish I could spend more time on the archaeological evidence that supports the 6th-century view. Today there is greater evidence than ever before that the author of Daniel was an eyewitness of the events of the 6th-century B. C. Nevertheless, two hundred years ago sufficient evidence existed that caused the critic Thomas Paine to note, "Are they [the books of Ezekiel and Daniel] genuine? I am more inclined to believe that they were than that they were not... in the manner which the books ascribed to Ezekiel and Daniel are written agrees with the condition these men were in at the time of writing them" (The Age of Reason, Secaucus, N. J.: Citadel Press, reprint, 1974, p. 150, emphasis added). Of course, Paine denied there was any clarity concerning the prophecies in Daniel, but this is why I enjoyed Till's last article so much ("Good History in the Book of Daniel," September/October 1998, pp. 9-11, 16). Till correctly observed that Daniel chapter eleven contains many references to actual events that took place during the Greek period.

Comments like that brought Till's batting average up to .250 on Daniel. However, .250 is nothing to brag about in the area of biblical interpretation.

(Everette Hatcher III, P. O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221)
 



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