And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them
into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions
had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces.
- Daniel 6:24
Daniel for Skeptics
Although the book of Daniel was supposedly written during the Babylonian
Exile by an official of King Nebuchadnezzar, modern scholars date its writing to
the second century BCE. The reasons for this include:
- It is listed in the Writings of the Jewish canon, rather than the
Prophets. This indicates that Daniel was written after the collection of
prophetic books had been closed (sometime after 300 BCE).
- Parts of the book (2:4-7:28) were written in Aramaic, which suggests a
later date when Aramaic had become the common language.
- The author of Daniel used Persian and Greek words that would not have been
known to residents of Babylon in the 6th century BCE.
- The book contains numerous historical inaccuracies when dealing with 6th
century BCE Babylonian history. Such mistakes would not have been made by an
important official of King Nebuchadnezzar.
- Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament in which angels are given
names (such as Gabriel in 8:16 and 9:21 and Michael in 10:13, 10:21, and 12:1
). Elsewhere in the Bible, names for angels only appear in the in the
Apocrypha and the New Testament.
- The absence of Daniel's name in the list of Israel's great men in
- Nebuchadrezzar is spelled Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, which is
the way the king's name was spelled, under Greek influence, at a later time.
- In 2:2 the king's wise men are
called "Chaldeans." But at the time of Nebuchadrezzar, "Chaldean"
would have referred to a nationality. It was only centuries later that this
word came to mean sorcerer or astrologer.
Modern historians and bible scholars generally agree on the proper
interpretation of the dreams in the book of Daniel. Fundamentalists, however,
adamantly disagree both with the scholars and with each other. Since I am
neither fundamentalist nor scholar, I will make no attempt to interpret Daniel's
Here are some highlights:
- Nebuchadnezzar decrees that anyone who says anything against the Hebrew god "shall be cut in pieces, and their
houses shall become a dunghill." 3:29
- Daniel's dream tree is tall enough to see to the end of the earth.
Only on a flat earth would this be possible. 4:10-11
- Nebuchadnezzar eats grass, grows hair like eagle feathers, and has nails like bird claws.
- A detached hand writes upon a wall. 5:5-6
- Nebuchadnezzar orders those who accused Daniel (including their wives and children) to be cast into the lions