Daniel 8: Can Prophecy Happen?

Daniel is a controversial book because from a naturalistic worldview, prophecy is not possible. Daniel must have been written late because as we see in chapter 8, Daniel knew that the Greeks were going to invade the Persian Empire. He couldn’t have known that ahead of time, so therefore it must have been written late.

Dan 8:20  The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.

Dan 8:21  And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.

In verse one, it says that this chapter was written in the third year of King Belshazzar, which was his final year. We know that Cyrus invaded Babylon in 539 BC. Therefore, we have a reference point for Daniel’s vision. Alexander the Great, the Greek king we are referring to here, did not come to Persia until approximately 330 BC.

If these dates hold, then we are reading prophecy that was written approximately 200 years before the events. From a naturalistic worldview, this is impossible. Therefore, it becomes very important for the naturalist to put a late date on Daniel. After all, prophecy is not a human talent. If it exists, it is something supernatural.

I feel like most of the criticism of Daniel is simply begging the question. Miracles cannot happen, therefore we cannot accept that Daniel was written around 539 BC when it claims it was. It is allowing a prior philosophical commitment to color the nature of the evidence.

For example, there were fragments of Daniel found as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those fragments date to the second century BC. Let’s say 130 BC that for the sake of easy calculating. However, here is my question in regards to that. Obviously Daniel was not written and thrown into a cave immediately. Whoever put those scrolls in the cave obviously had a high opinion of the book of Daniel and had time to get a copy of it. It was something that was worth saving. It was something worth saving along with many other books of the Old Testament. That is at least a point of evidence that indicates that it is not just a modern audience that values Daniel and considered it to be authentic.

I think that much of the opposition to an early date of Daniel does come from the presupposition that prophecy cannot happen, so we need to find some way to move that date. However, there are pieces of evidence that also move the date back. Apparently, there are also textual reasons and stylistic reasons in the original language that indicate an earlier date as well, but I am not qualified to speak on those matters. I am qualified to ask a question though, and my main question for anyone proposing that Daniel was written much later than it claims is to ask for the reason why you subscribe to a late date. Is it simply a philosophical commitment, or is there evidence?

About Zak Schmoll

Zak Schmoll is the founder of Entering the Public Square, and Managing Editor of An Unexpected Journal. He earned his MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University and is currently a PhD student in Humanities at Faulkner University. His work has been featured on several websites including The Federalist, Public Discourse and the Fourth World Journal.

Posted on November 27, 2014, in Daniel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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