Daniel is one of those books that attracts a certain amount of distain from the intellectual class. Because it is uniquely accurate in its predictions of what was future at the time Daniel wrote it. Many just cannot accept that it was written at the time its internal information suggest it was written. They “late date” Daniel suggesting that it was written after the bulk of the prophecies it contains have already happened. The problem is that it is impossible to late date Daniel late enough to cover all that he predicted.
The internal evidence in the book of Daniel is that the book was written by Daniel over his entire lifetime. By Daniel’s own testimony, his writings covered the time between Nebuchadnezzar, around ca 590BC, to Cyrus the Great, around 530BC. [Daniel 1:1 & 1:21]
Daniel’s visions accurately predicted the four great empires of the western world, providing a general description of and the nature of those imperial powers from ca 590BC to the present. Daniel’s knowledge of successive empires, especially the Greek and Roman Empires, could only be from God or from a much later date than when Daniel was alive. Because they do not want to believe that God is true and able to foretell the future, so they “late date” Daniel.
These Liberal or Critical Scholars do not believe that the Bible is the authoritative word of God. They questioned the dates and authorship of all the books of the Bible. They hypothesize that the book of Daniel was written by someone else after the Maccabean revolt around 165BC.
One of the most obvious problems for liberal scholarship is presented by the existence of Septuagint, i.e. LXX, as it was the first translation of the Hebrew Bible into another language (Greek). Tradition hold that seventy men from the twelve tribes of Israel met in Alexandria, Egypt to translate the Bible at the behest of Ptolemy II 283BC-246BC. Unfortunately for these Critical Scholars the Septuagint contains the Book of Daniel 150 years before the Maccabean revolt, and to totally destroy their arguments, recently, a fragment of Daniel has been found in the cache of the Dead Sea Scrolls that dates roughly to within 50 years of Daniel’s internal date. See: New Light on the Book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
FYI: The Septuagint’s translation was a particular problem for the early church. The Jewish translators had more interpreted the book than translated it. Introducing their own fantasies about its possible meanings. So in time an update was needed. Modern Greek versions of The Book of Daniel are not from the original Septuagint version, but instead are a copy of Theodotion’s ca 200AD translation from the Hebrew, which more closely resembles the Hebrew Bible.
Jewish commentators have a great many misinterpretations of Daniel. The most glaring is that of Daniel 9:26 “seventy weeks” prophecy. Scripture states the Anointed One will be executed in the middle of the 70th week, which works out to ca 30AD. That would obviously make Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah. So, they essentially call the vision of the seventy weeks “spiritual,” not literal. They teach that national Israel was cut off, not Messiah. It is for this reason that in the Hebrew Bible, Daniel is grouped with the writings, instead of the prophets.
FYI: The Hebrew Bible is in three sections, The Law, The Prophets, and The Writings. English translations have four sections The Law, History, Poetry, and the Prophets.
The Roman Catholic Church is the author of the view that both Daniel nine and the prophecy of the little horn in chapter 7 are yet future. This was in response to the Reformers who had begun to teach that the line of popes were the little horn of Daniel seven. The Church of Rome was forced to come with this new theory and created a Counter-Reformation. It depends on a gap in time from the fall of Rome to a future one world government led by a political antichrist. The ten nations were also pushed into the future ignoring the entire post Roman Empire history.
Relative newcomers to the eschatological scene, the Futurists, unwittingly ascribe to this Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation version of a “gap” of 2000 thousand of years between the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay. They are also expecting a one-world government with a future Antichrist sitting on the throne in a restored temple in Jerusalem. They do this by inserting “antichrist” into the text of Daniel 9.
FYI: The word antichrist is not mentioned in Daniel, nor for that matter in The Revelation.
Poor interpretation compresses the last 2000 years of clearly fulfilled history to a future event of 3 ½ to 7 years. This Futurist view is a radical departure from the Protestant views of the last 500 years.
In the End
All these screwball ideas run into one great problem, and that is chapter 11. Chapter 11 gives a detailed list of the prominent monarchs of the Persian, Assyrian, and Egyptian empires from Darius the Mede to Julius Caesar. It minutely explains the ebb and flow of their power as they fought with each other for the control of the little nation of Judea. How dare he be so accurate.
The only problem with people seeing the truth, is the complete lack of teaching “The History of the Western World” that now plagues education.
Back when people knew and are taught history the Great Historian Edward Gibbon who was himself an unbeliever explained the problem that those who do not believe that Daniel was a prophet have.
1. The author of the book of Daniel is too well informed of the revolutions of the Persian and Macedonian empires, which are supposed to have happened long after his death. He is too ignorant of the transactions of his own times. In a word, he is too exact for a prophet, and, 2. too fabulous for a contemporary historian.
Gibbon’s Letter to Bishop Hurd Hurd’s Works, vol 5. page 455