2006-06-18 - Daniel
Place & Date of Writing
"As to the date of the composition of Daniel, the narrative of the prophet's
earliest experiences begins with his capture as a hostage by Nebuchadnezzar
back in 605-604 B.C., and according to 1:21 continues certainly till the
first year of Cyrus (c. 537 B.C.), in relation to his public service, and
to the third year of Cyrus (535 B.C.), in relation to his prophetic ministry
Daniel seems to have revised and completed his memoirs during his retirement,
sometime about 532 or 530 B.C. when he would have been close to ninety years
old (assuming his birth c. 620 B.C.). The appearance of Persian-derived
governmental terms, even in the earlier chapters composed in Aramaic, strongly
suggests that these chapters were given their final form after Persian had
become the official language of government." 5
Literary Form & Language
There are two major aspects to the Book of Daniel. The first is narrative.
This is the accounts of the events of the Babylonian exile and its impact
on Daniel and his friends. Intermingled with these events are prophetic messages.
As with many prophecies some had immediate fulfillment, used to validate
Daniel as God's spokesman, and some have yet to be fulfilled. As to its language
"Like Ezra, which has four chapters in Aramaic, the text of Daniel is in
two languages: Hebrew (chs. 1, 8-12) and Aramaic (chs. 2-7). As we shall
see later on, the linguistic evidence from the Qumran documents decisively
favors a pre-second-century date for both languages Daniel used. It strongly
suggests an interval of centuries before the 160s B.C. in order to account
for the much older morphology, grammar, and syntax of Daniel's text, by
comparison with the Genesis Apocryphon and the sectarian documents composed
in the second century B.C.
"But why was the book written in two languages? And what criterion did the
author follow in putting half his material into Aramaic and the other half
into Hebrew? A careful study of the subject matter yields fairly obvious
answers: The Aramaic chapters deal with matters pertaining to the entire
citizenry of the Babylonian and the Persian empires, whereas the other six
chapters relate to peculiarly Jewish concerns and God's special plans for
the future of his covenant people. It would seem to follow that the Aramaic
chapters (2-7) were in some sense made available to the Gentile public, since
Aramaic was the lingua franca of the period of the Babylonian and Persian
empires during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C." 6
5 Archer, Jr., Gleason L., The Expositor's Bible Commentary, "Daniel,"
Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 19906
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