[CF Devotionals] 2006-06-18 - Daniel

Installment 4

  1. 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 (Dan 10:1).

    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

  2. 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
6 Ibid.

Comments or Questions?

[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com