V. Purpose of the Book.
The book is not intended to give an account of the life of Daniel. It gives neither his lineage, nor his age, and recounts but a few of the events of his long career. Nor is it meant to give a record of the history of Israel during the exile, nor even of the captivity in Babylon. Its purpose is to show how by His providential guidance, His miraculous interventions, His foreknowledge and almighty power, the God of heaven controls and directs the forces of Nature and the history of nations, the lives of Hebrew captives and of the mightiest of the kings of the earth, for the accomplishment of His Divine and beneficent plans for His servants and people.
The unity of the book was first denied by Spinoza, who suggested that the first part was taken from the chronological works of the Chaldeans, basing his supposition upon the difference of language between the former and latter parts. Newton followed Spinoza in suggesting two parts, but began his second division with Daniel 7, where the narrative passes over from the 3rd to the 1st person. Kohler follows Newton, claiming, however, that the visions were written by the Daniel of the exile, but that the first 6 chapters were composed by a later writer who also redacted the whole work. Von Orelli holds that certain prophecies of Daniel were enlarged and interpolated by a Jew living in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, in order to show his contemporaries the bearing of the predictions of the book upon those times of oppression. Zockler and Lange hold to the unity of the book in general; but the former thought that Daniel 11:5-45 is an interpolation; and the latter, that 10:1-11:44 and 12:5-13 have been inserted in the original work. Meinhold holds that the Aramaic portions existed as early as the times of Alexander the Great--a view to which Strack also inclines. Eichhorn held that the book consisted of ten different original sections, which are bound together merely by the circumstance that they are all concerned with Daniel and his three friends. Finally, De Lagarde, believing that the fourth kingdom was the Roman, held that Daniel 7 was written about 69 AD. (For the best discussion of the controversies about the unity of Daniel, see Eichhorn, Einleitung, sections 612-19, and Buhl in See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche, IV, 449-51.)
With the exception of the neo-Platonist Porphyry, a Greek non-Christian philosopher of the 3rd century AD, the genuineness of the Book of was denied by no one until the rise of the deistic movement in the 17th century. The attacks upon the genuineness of the book have been based upon:
(1) the predictions,
(2) the miracles,
(3) the text,
(4) the language,
(5) the historical statements.
1. The Predictions:
The assailants of the genuineness of Daniel on the ground of the predictions found therein, may be divided into two classes--those who deny prediction in general, and those who claim that the apocalyptic character of the predictions of Daniel is a sufficient proof of their lack of genuineness. The first of these two classes includes properly those only who deny not merely Christianity, but theism; and the answering of them may safely be left to those who defend the doctrines of theism, and particularly of revelation. The second class of assailants is, however, of a different character, since it consists of those who are sincere believers in Christianity and predictive prophecy.
They claim, however, that certain characteristics of definiteness and detail, distinguishing the predictive portions of the Book of Daniel from other predictions of the Old Testament, bring the genuineness of Daniel into question. The kind of prediction found here, ordinarily called apocalyptic, is said to have arisen first in the 2nd century BC, when parts of the Book of Enoch and of the Sibylline Oracles were written; and a main characteristic of an apocalypse is said to be that it records past events as if they were still future, throwing the speaker back into some distant past time, for the purpose of producing on the reader the impression that the book contains real predictions, thus gaining credence for the statements of the writer and giving consolation to those who are thus led to believe in the providential foresight of God for those who trust in Him.
Since those who believe that God has spoken unto man by His Son and through the prophets will not be able to set limits to the extent and definiteness of the revelations which He may have seen fit to make through them, nor to prescribe the method, style, time and character of the revelations, this attack on the genuineness of Daniel may safely be left to the defenders of the possibility and the fact of a revelation. One who believes in these may logically believe in the genuineness of Daniel, as far as this objection goes. That there are spurious apocalypses no more proves that all are spurious than that there are spurious gospels or epistles proves that there are no genuine ones.
The spurious epistles of Philaris do not prove that Cicero's Letters are not genuine; nor do the false statements of 2 Macc, nor the many spurious Ac of the Apostles, prove that 1 Macc or Luke's Ac of the Apostles is not genuine. Nor does the fact that the oldest portions of the spurious apocalypses which have been preserved to our time are thought to have been written in the 2nd century BC, prove that no apocalypses, either genuine or spurious, were written before that time. There must have been a beginning, a first apocalypse, at some time, if ever. Besides, if we admit that the earliest parts of the Book of Enoch and of the Sibylline Oracles were written about the middle of the 2nd century BC, whereas the Book of Esdras was written about 300 AD, 450 years later, we can see no good literary reason wh Daniel may not have antedated Enoch by 350 years. The period between 500 BC and 150 BC is so almost entirely devoid of all known Hebrew literary productions as to render it exceedingly precarious for anyone to express an opinion as to what works may have characterized that long space of time.
2. The Miracles:
Secondly, as to the objections made against the Book of Daniel on the ground of the number or character of the miracles recorded, we shall only say that they affect the whole Christian system, which is full of the miraculous from beginning to end. If we begin to reject the books of the Bible because miraculous events are recorded in them, where indeed shall we stop?
3. The Text:
Thirdly, a more serious objection, as far as Daniel itself is concerned, is the claim of Eichhorn that the original text of the Aramaic portion has been so thoroughly tampered with and changed, that we can no longer get at the genuine original composition. We ourselves can see no objection to the belief that these Aramaic portions were written first of all in Hebrew, or even, if you will, in Babylonian; nor to the supposition that some Greek translators modified the meaning in their version either intentionally, or through a misunderstanding of the original. We claim, however, that the composite Aramaic of Daniel agrees in almost every particular of orthography, etymology and syntax, with the Aramaic of the North Semitic inscriptions of the 9th, 8th and 7th centuries BC and of the Egyptian papyri of the 5th century BC, and that the vocabulary of Daniel has an admixture of Hebrew, Babylonian and Persian words similar to that of the papyri of the 5th century BC; whereas, it differs in composition from the Aramaic of the Nabateans, which is devoid of Persian, Hebrew, and Babylonian words, and is full of Arabisms, and also from that of the Palmyrenes, which is full of Greek words, while having but one or two Persian words, and no Hebrew or Babylonian. As to different recensions, we meet with a similar difficulty in Jeremiah without anyone's impugning on that account the genuineness of the work as a whole. As to interpolations of verses or sections, they are found in the Samaritan recension of the Hebrew text and in the Samaritan and other Targums, as also in certain places in the text of the New Testament, Josephus and many other ancient literary works, without causing us to disbelieve in the genuineness of the rest of their works, or of the works as a whole.