Lecture 1, Daniel: Faith, Hope, and Political Satire

Lecture 1 Daniel


Explanation of the title: the book is a satire of the kingdoms of this world

This class will look at three ideas that work together in the first 7 chapters of Daniel, faith, hope, and political satire.

  • Faith refers to the faithful presence which is incumbent upon the believer in this world.
    • Example, Dan 1:8; 2:17-18; 3:16-18; 4:27, 5:13-24, 6:16-22.
  • Hope refers to the coming (progressing) kingdom and Messiah, which God promised.
    • Dan 2:44-45; 5:26-27, 7:9-10, 13-14.
  • Political satire refers to the way Daniel characterized the Kings in the book to show the true sovereign God.
    •  Dan 2:31 cf. 3:1, 4:24-26 cf. 28-31, 5:5-6 cf 10-11 and verse 17 (untie knots), 6:12-15 (law of Medes and Persians, cf Duet 4:2).   

The point of this study is to see how it was that the exile Jews remained both present in society yet faithful to their God. This is a tension which we need desperately to resolve in the modern world. How does one remain faithful, yet present, in the modern Babylon? 

Contra Neo Anabaptist view: Peter told us to live as “foreigners and strangers in this world.” (1Pet 2:11). usually it is taken in the neo-Anabaptist interpretation to mean practical disengagement from the world. The biblical resolution of this tension, and a proper understanding of how Daniel implicitly calls the saints to a faithful presence in this current world will be sought in this class.


The class will be both inductive and deductive, see the below Schedule:

  • Intro to Daniel, and Syllabus topics
  • Daniel 2
  • Daniel 3
  • Daniel 4
  • Daniel 5
  • Daniel 6
  • Daniel 7
  • Daniel 8
  • Daniel 9
  • Daniel 10
  • Daniel 11-12
  • A Brief History of the end of the World (From Joachim De Fiore to Karl Marx)
  • A Critique of Modernist Eschatologies (realized and consistent

Intro to the Book: Daniel in the Critics’ Den

Date and Authorship: The events recorded between BCE 605 (Exile of Nobility) and BCE 612 (3rd year of Cyrus the Persian, see 10:1).  This is a big issue. Higher critics of the  19th and 20th century have held that Daniel was written later than the events predicted in chapter 2, 7 (i.e. the succeeding Medo-Persian Alliance, Greek, and Roman kingdoms), and 8 (Antiochus IV, Epiphanes c. 175-164).

Basic Dates BCE:

  • 605 (Battle of Carchemesh) Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nebopolassar,  Nebuchadnezzar still the General of the army
  • 605- Nebuchadnezzar sacks Jerusalem, Exile of nobility, Daniel 1:1
  • 586- General Nebuzaradan destroys Jerusalem, Exiles of many more
  • 535- Medo Persian Empire, c. Dan 5, 7, 9-12, Cyrus’ Decree and Zerrubabel Return, II Chron 36:22 ff
  • 515- Temple Rebuilt
  • 485, Ezra’s Return
  • 470 Esther and Xerxes
  • 445, Nehemiah and the Walls rebuilt
  • 333-332, Alexander the Great and the Greeks take over the world.
  • C. 170 Hasmoneans/Antiochus IV (Liberal date of Daniel’s authorship)

Popular Argument: The fallacy is a strong a priori. Crassly the argument would go like this: “we all know that prophecy is not a scholastic option, therefore the book must have been written after the fact.” This is just a argument of presuppositions pushing their way into conclusions.

Scholars’ Argument: The issue is that Daniel contains Greek terms which, according to the contemporary model of the ANE, would not have been available to Daniel during his lifetime.

S.R Driver famously wrote, “the Greek words demand, the Hebrew words support, and the Aramaic words permit a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great [233 bce].”[1]This is, again, a theological a priori: we all know that Daniel could not have known these Greek words at that time.

The Greek words in question are “κιθαρις (cithara), ψαλτηριον (psaltery) and συμφωνια (symphonia).”

The New Argument: The argument made by Kenneth Kitchen is the internal and external evidence confirms that it was very possibly prior to the events predicted.

He Said, “some earlier views require revision in the light of facts hitherto unknown or neglected”[2]

The facts to which Dr Kitchen referred were categorized in three groups

  • Vocabulary
  • Orthography
  • General Morphology and Syntax (style)

He Demonstrated that all three of these are now well attested in the archaeological record.

  • Vocabulary       

The Aramaic Vocabulary:  Kitchen demonstrated that the Aramaic in Daniel was indeed ancient, and thus does not necessarily support the Driver thesis. 9 out of ten of the words that use to be considered late have now been attested in Daniel’s contemporary Imperial Aramaic (9th-5th Century bce).

Of the 1/10th of unattested, he concludes that though these are not attested in earlier documents, it would be a fallacious argument to conclude then that these override the overwhelming antiquity of the rest of the language, or to conclude that Daniel was late because of these few words.    

Foreign “Loan Word” Vocabulary: Daniel has loan words from Greek, Persian, Akkadian, and Hebrew. Obviously Hebrew words do not need to be considered. Akkadian is also a clearly ancient language which persisted since the 12th century bce onward all over the ancient near east. Of the 21 Akkadian  words in Daniel, not one is unattested in the surrounding record. Of the 19 Persian  loan words, 13 are attested later, but all of them are found in older texts (much older, back to Darius I at least).   

The Greek words are by far the most contested, and upon which the whole Driver thesis stands. There are only three words, qytrs, psntrn, smpny’. Kitchen said, “Words must be weighed, not merely counted.”[3]

“Thus, these two words [he does not even concede the Greek origin of the third] psntrn and smpnyand only two words from an entire book!—are necessarily indecisive, when the only appeal is to ignorance.” 

Driver assumed that “‘the Greek words demand…a date after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (BC 322).” The problem is that this goes along a ignorant assumption that there was no penetration of Greek language into the ancient near east prior to Alexander’s conquest.  This is patently false.


  • Sargon II (702-722 before the Hezekiah event) attacked the Ionians, a Greek group
  • Greek Traders are recorded back to the 8th c. bce.
  • Greek traders had a place in Ancient Syria
  • Greek pottery was found in Ninevah and Syria dating back to the period[4]
  • Palestine is Replete with Greek pottery
  • Greek mercenaries were hired by the Egyptians back to 660 bce,
  • Greek shields were found at Carchemesh dating back to the Battle of Carchemesh (605), which is where Nebuchadnezzar served his father as a General! (this is when Daniel was taken into Captivity!)
  • After that Battle Nebuchadnezzar hired the Greeks and they served his kingdom until 586 (when Jerusalem was burned)
    • He also hired Greek artisans
    • Greek Pottery was found at the Jewish settlement of Elephantine in Egypt


>>>Beyond these evidences, the Aramaic is the “Gold standard” of study of the ancient world, Not Greek. It is improper to argue that Greek loan words make a Semitic document late because the Greeks are the ones with sparse literature that still exists, not the Semitic world.[5]

Therefore, Kithen argued, “In other words, the idea that Greek words and influence could not affect the Near East or appear in Aramaic before Alexander the Great must be given up”[6]

So What: The conclusion to draw is that Daniel was indeed familiar with these words being trained in the court (1:4), and that since Greek is not the only language drawn from, then the evidence of xenoglossy is clearer than a late date. This is a better way to account for the loan words.

  • Do the Hebrew words support?  Though the book of Daniel does have some spelling changes which updates the language to later times in the hebrew,  these are only in the vowels, which did not appear until the 10th century ce.
  • Do the Greek Words demand? Ken Kitchen has aptly demonstrated that they do not! The Elephantine Papyri (and many other sources) now prove that these words were extant in the Aramaic world at the Neo- Babylonian Empire.[7]  
  • This is the mainstream academic view now: Kenneth Anderson Kitchen (born 1932) is Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, England. He is one of the leading experts on Biblical History and the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, having written over 250 books and journal articles on these and other subjects since the mid-1950s. He has been described by The Times as “the very architect of Egyptian chronology”[8]

Essentially, the critics have now been silenced by their own devices.  Daniel has been preserved from the critics den

Structure of Daniel and Xenoglossy:

The structure of Daniel is not just chronology but language and chiams.


  • Dan 1:1 cf II Chron , 605 bce,
  • 605-580s, Nebuchadnezzar, Chapter 2-4,
  • C. 535 Belteshatsar looses kingdom, 5:30-31
  • 535, Cyrus/Darius, Chapter 6,
  • 1st year of Belteshastar, Chapter 7, in Aramaic
  •  3rd year of Belteshatsar, 8, in Hebrew
  • 535, 1st year of Darius the Mede, 9:1
  • 532, Third year of Cyrus the Persian, 10:1
  • 535, 1st year of Cyrus the Persian, 11:1

So the book does generally follow chronology, but it is certainly not linear!


Two Chiasms in Chapters 1-7, and 8-12,[9]

See Picture by Shea. We will look at these more in the coming weeks.

Language: the true structural device.

The xenoglossy is the most important demarcation of the meaning. It is as if there are two different books.

Daniel 1 sets up the use of Aramaic. Daniel’s learning is demonstrated in the satire, and his xenoglossy.  This is the best argument against the higher critics.

Dan 1:4  “youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.”

2:4 ,marks the change into Aramaic.

  • 1-2:4 Hebrew
  • 2:4-Ch. 7, Aramaic
  • 8-12, Hebrew

1-7 have unified themes, Faith, Hope, and Political Satire. Thus is for Aramaic readers to critique their culture in light of the Sovereign God, Yahweh.

8-12 unify around the eschatology of the Kingdom for Israel. Thus it was written for the People of God in Israel, and for their understanding of the future of the Kingdom of the Messiah.

Theme and Audience occasion change with these two sections.

[1] S.R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (Edinburough: T&T Clark, 1961) pg 508

[2] K.A. Kitchen, “The Aramaic of Daniel,” Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel. (Ed. D. J. Wiseman,; London: The Tyndale Press, 1965.) p 32” In dealing with the book of Daniel, theological presuppositions are apt to colour even the treatment and dating of its Aramaic.11 The only fair way to proceed is to leave open the whole period c. 540-160 BC until the end of any inquest on the Aramaic, as far as date is concerned.”

[3] Kitchen, 40, For detailed consideration of these three words (possible origins, history,

meanings), see the study by T. C. Mitchell and R. Joyce, pp. 39-7 above.

[4] Kitchen, 44

[5] Kitchen, 48

[6] Kithcen 47

[7] E.Y. Kutscher Current Trends in Linguistics 6 (1970) 399-403, K.A. Kitchen, “The Aramaic of Daniel,” Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel. (Ed. D. J. Wiseman,; London: The Tyndale Press, 1965.) pp. 31-79.

[8] Wikipedia, np, cited June 30, 2010

[9] Shea, William H. (1986). “The Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27”. in Holbrook, Frank. The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy. Daniel and Revelation Committee Series. 3. Review and Herald Publishing Association.