Questions of the interpretation of particular passages may be looked for in the commentaries and special works. As to the general question of the kind of prophecy found in the Book of Daniel, it has already been discussed above under the caption of "Genuineness." As to the interpretation of the world monarchies which precede the monarchy of the Messiah Prince, it may be said, however, that the latest discoveries, ruling out as they do a separate Median empire that included Babylon, support the view that the four monarchies are the Babylonian, the Persian, the Greek, and the Roman. According to this view, Darius the Mede was only a sub-king under Cyrus the Persian. Other interpretations have been made by selecting the four empires from those of Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Persia, Medo-Persia, Alexander, the Seleucids, the Romans, and the Mohammedans. The first and the last of these have generally been excluded from serious consideration. The main dispute is as to whether the 4th empire was that of the Seleucids, or that of the Romans, the former view being held commonly by those who hold to the composition of in the 2nd century BC, and the latter by those who hold to the traditional view that it was written in the 6th century BC.
It is universally admitted that the teachings of Daniel with regard to angels and the resurrection are more explicit than those found elsewhere in the Old Testament. As to angels, Daniel attributes to them names, ranks, and functions not mentioned by others. It has become common in certain quarters to assert that these peculiarities of Daniel are due to Persian influences. The Babylonian monuments, however, have revealed the fact that the Babylonians believed in both good and evil spirits with names, ranks, and different functions. These spirits correspond in several respects to the Hebrew angels, and may well have afforded Daniel the background for his visions. Yet, in all such matters, it must be remembered that Daniel purports to give us a vision, or revelation; and a revelation cannot be bound by the ordinary laws of time and human influence.
As to the doctrine of the resurrection, it is generally admitted that Daniel adds some new and distinct features to that which is taught in the other canonical books of the Old Testament. But it will be noted that he does not dwell upon this doctrine, since he mentions it only in Daniel 12:2. The materials for his doctrine are to be found in Isaiah 26:14,21 and 66:24; Ezekiel 37:1-14, and in Job 14:12; 19:25; Hosea 6:2; 1 Kings 17:4; 2 Kings 8:1-5, as well as in the use of the words for sleep and awakening from sleep, or from the dust, for everlasting life or everlasting contempt in Isaiah 26:19; Psalms 76:6; 13:3; 127:2; Deuteronomy 31:16; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 1:21; Job 7:21, and Jeremiah 20:11; 23:40. The essential ideas and phraseology of Daniel's teachings are found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The first two parts of the books of Enoch and 2 Maccabees make much of the resurrection; but on the other hand, Ecclesiastes seems to believe not even in the immortality of the soul, and Wisdom and1 Maccabees do not mention a resurrection of the body. That the post-exilic prophets do not mention a resurrection does not prove that they knew nothing about Daniel any more than it proves that they knew nothing about Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
There are resemblances, it is true, between the teachings of Daniel with regard to the resurrection and those of the Avesta. But so are there between his doctrines and the ideas of the Egyptians, which had existed for millenniums before his time. Besides there is no proof of any derivation of doctrines from the Persians by the writers of the canonical books of the Jews; and, as we have seen above, both the ideas and verbiage of Daniel are to be found in the generally accepted early Hebrew literature. And finally, this attempt to find a natural origin for all Biblical ideas leaves out of sight the fact that the Scriptures contain revelations from God, which transcend the ordinary course of human development. To a Christian, therefore, there can be no reason for believing that the doctrines of Daniel may not have been promulgated in the 6th century BC.
Commentaries and Introductions:
The best commentaries on Daniel from a conservative point of view are those by Calvin, Moses Stuart, Keil, Zockler, Strong in Lange's Bibelwerk, Fuller in the Speaker's Commentary, Thomson in the Pulpit Commentary, and Wright, Daniel and His Critics. The best defenses of Daniel's authenticity and genuineness are Hengstenberg, Authenticity of the Book of Daniel, Tregelles, Defense of the Authenticity, Auberlen, The Prophecies of Daniel, Fuller, Essay on the Authenticity of Daniel, Pusey, Daniel the Prophet (still the best of all), C. H. H. Wright, Daniel and His Critics, Kennedy, The Book of Daniel from the Christian Standpoint, Joseph Wilson, Daniel, and Sir Robert Anderson, Daniel in the Critics' Den. One should consult also Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia, Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, and Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament. For English readers, the radical school is best represented by Driver in his Literature of the Old Testament and in his Daniel; by Bevan, The Book of Daniel; by Prince, Commentary on Daniel, and by Cornill in his Introduction to the Old Testament.
X. Apocryphal Additions.
In the Greek translations of Daniel three or four pieces are added which are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic text as it has come down to us. These are The Prayer of Azarias, The So of the Three Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon. These additions have all been rejected from the Canon by the Protestant churches because they are not contained in the Hebrew Canon. In the Church of England they are "read for example of life and instruction of manners." The So of Three Children was "ordered in the rubric of the first Prayer Book of Edward VI (AD 1549) to be used in Lent as a responsory to the Old Testament Lesson at the Morning Prayer." It contains the Prayer of Azarias from the midst of the fiery furnace, and the song of praise by the three children for their deliverance; the latter being couched largely in phrases borrowed from Psalms 148.
Susanna presents to us the story of a virtuous woman who resisted the seductive attempts of two judges of the elders of the people, whose machinations were exposed through the wisdom of Daniel who convicted them of false witness by the evidence of their own mouth, so that they were put to death according to the law of Moses; and from that day forth Daniel was held in great reputation in the sight of the people. Bel and the Dragon contains three stories. The first relates how Daniel destroyed the image of Bel which Nebuchadnezzar worshipped, by showing by means of ashes strewn on the floor of the temple that the offerings to Bel were devoured by the priests who came secretly into the temple by night. The second tells how Daniel killed the Dragon by throwing lumps of mingled pitch, fat and hair into his mouth, so causing the Dragon to burst asunder. The third gives a detailed account of the lions' den, stating that there were seven lions and that Daniel lived in the den six days, being sustained by broken bread and pottage which a prophet named Habakkuk brought to him through the air, an angel of the Lord having taken him by the arm and borne him by the hair of his head and through the vehemency of his spirit set him in Babylon over the den, into which he dropped the food for Daniel's use.
For commentaries on the additions to the Book of Daniel, see the works on Daniel cited above, and also The Apocrypha by Churton and others; the volume on the Apocrypha in Lange's Commentary by Bissell; "The Apocrypha" by Wace in the Speaker's Commentary, and Schurer, History of the Jewish People.
R. Dick Wilson