An Interpretation of the English Bible DANIEL and THE INTER-BIBLICAL PERIOD
B. H. CARROLL
This first chapter on Daniel commences with a quadruple heading:
Daniel in the Lions’ Den. – BIBLE.
Daniel in the Heathens’ Den. – ANONYMOUS
Daniel in the Critics’ Den. – SIR ROBERT ANDERSON
Daniel in the Crickets’ Den. – SOMEBODY
This quadruple heading is both logical and chronological. It is a felicitous anticlimax and it suggests that Daniel’s enemies are petering out – “growing smaller by degrees and beautifully less.”
The lions were truly formidable wild beasts in their own skins. The “Heathen” are only spiritual wild beasts in figurative skins. The “Critics” are German rationalists in spliced heathen and Christian skins. The “Cricketa” are English asaimilators in German skins.
In the jungle, when the lion roars, all animate nature becomes silent. When the lion is gone hyenas howl and jackals bark. When hyenas and jackals pass on the crickets begin to chirp.
Since Daniel, on earth, trembled not at the roar,
Howl, bark, and chirp, he may well ignore.
I say that these four headings are both logical and chronological. The lions of Darius belong to 521 B.C. The first attack on the historical veracity of the book, on the reality of its miracles and prophecy, quite naturally came from a heathen, Porphyry, in the third century A.D. In a fifteen volume assault on Christianity in general, he devotes the twelfth volume to an attack on Daniel, originating the substance of all subsequent hostile criticism. Centuries later he was somewhat timidly followed by the apostate Dutch Jew, Spinoza, and still later by the English infidel, Hobbes, and the deist, Collins.
So far, all these attacks on the book came from without, and so coming were easily repulsed. But, in the nineteenth century the German radical critics arose. The retention of the union of church and state by Protestantism, notably in Germany and England, let the world into the church, bringing about, among many others, two monstrous and incalculable evils: First, spiritual regeneration was no longer essential to church membership. Second, church dignitaries were appointed by the political power. In this way the pulpits of churches and the professorships in so-called Christian schools were filled not only with unregenerate men, but with atheists and materialists.
Later, when the old time heathen philosophy of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Democritus was revived in the modern hypothesis of Evolution, and its principles applied to biblical criticism, the radicals became more extreme and destructive. This speculative philosophy had been smitten hip and thigh by Paul at Athens, the home of its origin. But now, under the two evils before cited, it comes not from without, in the open, and under an honest flag, but from within and in the name of Christianity. In heart and in belief they are at one with Epicurus, Lucretius, Democritus, Porphyry, Spinoza, Hobbes, Collins, Bolinbroke, Tom Paine, and Voltaire. Indeed, it is hardly fair to the deists to be ranked with atheistical materialists. Tom Paine was far and away above many who now occupy pulpits and professors’ chairs in so-called Christian schools. In the nineteenth century these German radical critics attacked the book of Daniel. Then the English assimilators, not imitators, of the Germans, came to the front.
In citing authors on Daniel, I need not mention Porphyry, the heathen, nor the apostate Dutch Jew, Spinoza, nor the infidel, Hobbes, nor the deist, Collins, since in the main these original fountains become the streams of the German rationalists of the nineteenth century. Then I need not cite the German rationalists for several reason: Each later critic of them knocks out or modifies the theory of his predecessors, however much he may fail in exploiting his own. Moreover, what one has facetiously said of the German language in general may be more soberly applied to the radical biblical criticism of that language, namely,
It has seven deadly sins:
- Too many books in the language.
- Too many volumes in a book.
- Too many chapters in a volume.
- Too many sentences in a chapter.
- Too many words in a sentence.
- Too many letters in a word.
- Too much stroke in a letter.
Taken in mass it is as the chaos of Genesis, “without form and void and darkness is on the face of the deep.” Or, like the chaos of Ovid described in his Metamorphoses. If the reader should count it worth while to explore fog banks, jungles and dismal swamps, let him go in and lose himself; there will be none to hinder. But to complete our survey in any thorough way we would need the longevity of Methuselah and the patience of Job.
So far as the book of Daniel is concerned we do not need to study any one of these German radical critics, because we may find in two accessible English books the assimilated substance of the German rationalists: Farrar on Daniel in the “Expositor’s Bible,” and Driver on Daniel in the “Cambridge Bible.” The “silly blunders,” the “cocksuredness,” the “hysteria,” the “contradictions,” the “inveterate inaccuracies” and “the alternate kisses and kicks” of Farrar will satisfy the most morbid appetite. Driver is calmer, clearer and much more cautious in spirit, while equally void of the judicial mind and equally indefensible in his conclusions. In Farrar and Driver, I say we have the assimilated substance of all hostile criticism on the book of Daniel.
In Knickerbocker, Washington Trying explains how the Dutch burghers of old New York kept their rusty weather vanes pointing right once a day. Every morning the governor would send a little Negro to his roof to force his vane in line with the wind and the burghers would then set theirs with the governor’s. So about once a year some German resets the vane of radical criticism; the next year the dependent Englishman resets his by the German’s. The fact is humiliating and provokes compassion.
The presuppositions of this radical criticism vitiate all its conclusions, but they are amusing! I cite some of them:
- There is no real miracle or prophecy. If any prophecy be verified by fulfilment then it must be dated after fulfilment and counted history cast in the form of prophecy, or else accounted a shrewd guess based on a careful study of probabilities. Any explanation is preferable to the supernatural. What cannot be accounted for on natural grounds must be rejected.
- All statements by Bible authors must be corrected by seemingly contrary statements of heathen authors. Any judgment that finds not confirmation of the Bible in heathen testimony must be classed as unscholarly and unscientific.
- Any uninspired version must be allowed by its variations to discredit the original.
- Jewish punctuation of a messianic passage of the Hebrew text, though adopted centuries after Christ and apparently with a view to defeat the reference to Jesus of Nazareth, must be accepted though it make nonsense of the passage. (See punctuation of Daniel 9:25 followed by Canterbury Revisers but corrected by American Revisers. Of course Leeser’s Modern Jewish version accords with the Canterbury punctuation. The nonsense made of the passage by this false punctuation will be shown in the discussion on that chapter.)
- The interpretations of Old Testament messianic passages by Jews living subsequent to New Testament times must be preferred to B.C. Jewish interpretations, or the interpretations of Christ himself and his apostles. The semiradical critic explains away our Lord’s interpretation by either attributing ignorance to him because he had “emptied himself” or knowledge, or that he merely used terms of popular belief without endorsing them.
- The only criticism worth while is that of “the merest handful of scholars,” and these must be of the type of Cheyne, Driver, Farrar, and others. They safely damn all else by simply applying epithets: “unscholarly,” “unscientific,” which disposition of adversaries is neat and cheap.
I do not say that these presuppositions would be expressed in exactly these terms by the radical critics themselves, but I do affirm that they are fairly deducible from their writings; that their spirit is irreverent and self-centered; that the souls of their readers are not stirred to penitence, to faith and sanctification, or to revival. They may be intellectual, but they are not spiritual.
How mightily nearly all the old English commentaries stirred the spiritual man! These radical criticisms may be to natural sight as brilliant as the aurora borealis, but they melt no arctic ice in sinners’ hearts. Their light is the “foxfire” of decaying wood, without heat and little visible even in the dark. Yet at night, before the moon rises, a few lightning bugs sticking their tails together on a mullein leaf may imagine they are illuminating the world.
Sir Robert Anderson substantially makes this telling point, citing the words of an eminent jurist: “An expert witness must be confined to the witness box and to the one line of facts upon which his testimony is competent. His place is never on the bench nor on the jury. He has not the judicial mind.” The very fact that he is an expert makes him too narrow to be able to fairly weigh the other facts. He will magnify out of all just proportion the relative value of his own testimony. Any man of good common sense would make a better juryman. One in a deep well sees only a spot of the sky. Ne sutor ultra crepidam. Do not understand me to decry the value of textual criticism. Its achievements have been great, though its work is well nigh done. Nor do I deny an honorable place to historical criticism. Every good expounder employs it and every good commentator gives much valuable space to it. It is easy, however, to overestimate the relative value of either. An exposition of any book of the Bible, however remarkable for scholarship and learning in textual and historical criticism, fails on the capital point of interpretation if it does not go to the heart of the spiritual matter with awakening, illumining, soul-stirring power that transforms life, molds character, and uplifts to higher destiny.
On this account Spurgeon’s or Moody’s method of Bible exposition will save more souls than all the books ever written pro or con on textual or historical criticism. On this account the commentaries of Barnes and Matthew Henry will produce better spiritual results than Meyer’s commentaries, evincing greater scholarship. The historical criticism that, in my judgment, is most poisonous is that which, in the name of Christianity, attempts to apply to biblical criticism the methods and conclusions of an unverified heathen hypothesis, or a merely speculative theory of philosophy. Though this hypothesis, or theory, of evolution is both atheistic and materialistic, and repugnant per se because unscientific, yet it is relatively harmless coming from avowed atheists and materialists. It genders poison when it comes in the name and guise of Christianity. In countries where church and state are united and religious officers are appointed by political power and supported by the state purse, we may not be surprised to find many church and theological dignitaries utterly unregenerate. But yet their scepticism goes forth in the name of Christianity.
In this country they appear mostly as professors in so-called Christian schools that are not responsible to any organized religious bodies. Outside the Christian camp they are not formidable. But when atheists, deists, materialists, and pantheists pose as the only reliable expounders of Christianity, then the dishonesty of the masquerade smells unto heaven. The poison is most shrewdly diffused in mixed topical dictionaries, encyclopedias, and commentaries. As the articles of a dictionary or encyclopedia or the comments on the several Bible books are assigned to different authors (as in the “Cambridge” and the “Expositors’ ” Bibles), there, side by side, appear rankest infidelity and soundest orthodoxy. The poor young preacher, unable to buy but one Bible dictionary, or religious encyclopedia, or set of commentaries, knows not what to do, and his safest friends know not how to advise him. If he buys the “Cambridge Bible” and the “Expositors’ Bible,” all the light he will have on Daniel must come from Driver and Farrar, and that light on vital points is darkness. When he turns to his Pentateuch he may find the Moses of his Genesis unlike the Moses of Deuteronomy, and the Moses of Leviticus no Moses at all. These observations are stressed here because the radicals claim their most assured results in treating the book of Daniel. And if we meet what they say against the book of Daniel we need not fear them on any other book.
The German conservative critics successfully grapple with the German radical critics. For example, in Germany, Hengstenberg’s series of books on the kingdom of God in the Old Testament, his series on the Christology of the Old Testament, his series on the Psalms, his series on John’s Gospel, his single volume on Ezekiel, his volume on Revelation are all mighty and valuable in exposing the fallacies of the radical criticisms of his brother Germans. Hengstenberg was the favorite of a great German Emperor. He taught in the University of Berlin. So much for him in general. His volume on Daniel, together with the pertinent parts of his Christology, constitute a mine of information and an arsenal of conservative criticism. So when I talk about books on Daniel, I sum it up this way, that one can find in the translation of Hengstenberg on Daniel a good reply to all the radical criticisms on Daniel by his fellow Germans, and he can find in Dr. Pusey’s lectures on Daniel (he occupied the chair of Hebrew in Oxford) an answer to all of the radical criticisms of the English scholars up to his time. Then in Sir Robert Anderson’s Daniel in the Critics’ Den we have the most masterful reply to Driver and Farrar to be found in any language. In the first place, Sir Robert Andersen’s book looks at the matter as a judicial inquiry, and then he takes the main points and states them so one can’t misunderstand them, and he pulverizes Farrar and Driver both. That book, at any rate, ought to be in every library.
The book of Daniel is written in two distinct languages. Commencing with chapter I and going to 2:4, it is written in Hebrew; then from 2:5 to the end of chapter 7 it is written in Chaldee, or Aramaic. In chapters 8-12 it is again in Hebrew. So we may say that all of it is in Hebrew except the following part: Commencing at 2:5, on to the end of chapter 7, is Aramaic, and we find about three chapters in Ezra in Aramaic and one verse in Jeremiah. So as Dr. Sampey says in lecturing to his Old Testament class, “Whoever wants to read the Bible in the original must know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.”
Let us now consider the position of the book of Daniel in the Canon. In our version Daniel comes just after Ezekiel, but in all the present Jewish Bibles there is a division into three parts: the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, and Daniel is put in the third class. The radical critics have rashly made that an objection, saying, “It is not ranked with the prophets.” They utterly ignore the principle of that Jewish classification. The principle is to put among the prophets those books written by men in the prophetic office, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, for instance. Those are not prophecies, but their authors were prophets. David was a prophet, but his office was king, and hence the Psalms, containing many of the greatest prophecies of the Old Testament, is put over in the third division like Daniel. Daniel really prophesies nothing in the strict sense. He simply records prophecies communicated to him by the angel, and yet those communications are intensely prophetic. There is nothing in the position that Daniel occupies in the Jewish order of books to speak against its inspiration, its canonicity, or the prophetical character of it.
Who was the author of the book of Daniel? For a long time the radical higher critics tried to make it appear that there must be at least two authors, one to write the Chaldee, or Aramaic part, and the other the Hebrew part, but they have about given that up, and it is now settled that whoever wrote one part of Daniel wrote the other part. The unity of the book is practically unassailable and inasmuch as one part of the book is written in the first person, repeatedly saying, “I, Daniel,” whoever wrote that part also wrote the other part. So the author of the book of Daniel is Daniel himself.
Note the additions to the Hebrew text of Daniel in the Septuagint. In the account of the three friends of Daniel that were cast into the fiery furnace about the middle of the chapter, the Septuagint version inserts a song of these three Hebrews – quite a long song. That song is incorporated in the Romanist Bible. Then at the end of the book of Daniel, the Septuagint has two extra chapters, one giving a story entitled, “Bel and the Dragon,” and the other giving the story of Suzanna.
I have referred, particularly, to Farrar’s book on Daniel in the “Expositors’ Bible” series and to Driver’s book on Daniel in the “Cambridge Bible” series. I now give the summary of their indictment of the book of Daniel.
Farrar makes eight points:
- There was no Daniel. The book is a historical novel composed by some pious Jew after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
- There was no deportation in the third year of Jehoiakim as set forth in Daniel 1:1.
- There was no king Belshazzar.
- There was no Darius the Mede.
- It is not true that there were only two Babylonian kings – there were five.
- Nor were there only four Persian kings – there were twelve.
- Xerxes seems to be confounded with the last king of Persia.
- All correct accounts of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes seem to end about 164 B.C.
Driver divides his arraignment into three general grand divisions:
- HISTORICAL ERRORS:
- The position of the book in the canon is against its prophetical character.
- The omission of Daniel’s name from the list of worthies in Ecclesiasticus.
- That the book of Kings is silent as to the siege mentioned in Daniel 1:1.
- The use of the term “Chaldean.”
- Belshazzar is called “king” and he is called the son of Nebuchadnezzar.
- The mention of Darius the Mede as King of Babylon.
- The mention of the “books” in Daniel 9:2 as if the Old Testament Canon were already formed at that time which is unhistorical.
- The incorrect explanation of the name, “Belteshazzar,” in 4:8.
- The improbability that strict Jews would have accepted a position among heathen wise men. These are what he calls the chief historical errors.
- PHILOLOGICAL. The language of the book does not suit the time.
III. THEOLOGY OF THE BOOK:
- That “the culmination of the book is in Antiochus Epiphanes,” which shows how little he knows about the book of Daniel. The culmination of the book is in the first advent of the Messiah, his sacrifice, his enthronement, and his second advent to resurrection and judgment.
- “The book manifests little interest in the welfare of contemporary Jews.” As a sufficient answer to that, read Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9, which shows how much he is interested.
- “The minuteness of the predictions, embracing even special events in the distant future, are out of harmony with the analogy of prophecy.”
Note: These objections on the part of these two authors will be answered in the exposition of the book.
I now come to the attestations of the book of Daniel. The Old Testament references of course are few, as he is one of the later writers of the Old Testament, but the following are very clear: Ezekiel 14:14 and 20 expressly mention Daniel, and then 28:3 gives another special reference to the wisdom of Daniel. The second Old Testament book which I mention, Nehemiah, records the prayer of Nehemiah, in chapter 9 of that book, and is very much like Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 of his book. Nehemiah copies Daniel’s prayer and shows acquaintance with it. The third Old Testament reference is to the visions of Zechariah, who came after Daniel. Zechariah evidently had the visions of Daniel before him.
The interbiblical references (references between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament), are, first, the first book of Maccabees (2:59-60), which reference is very express. Second, the apocalyptic literature which arose after Daniel’s time is all imitative of Daniel’s and Zechariah’s visions. The next fact I cite is that Daniel is incorporated in the Septuagint version which was prepared in a period 250 B.C. down to 150 B.C. My fourth item is that Daniel’s place in the canon of the Old Testament was not assailed by Jews or Christians for 2,300 years. The fifth fact that I cite is, that in our Lord’s time the book of Daniel is in the hands of the people as a part of their sacred Scriptures. Josephus, who was apparently a contemporary of Christ, and certainly lived very close to his time, since he writes the history of the destruction of Jerusalem, is very express in his testimony of the position of Daniel in the Hebrew canon and is careful in one of his books against Apion to prove from contemporary heathen authors the confirmation of Old Testament books and their general veracity as history.
When we come to New Testament references to the book, one alone ought to satisfy every man who claims to be a Christian, and that is the reference of our Lord in his great discourse on Mount Olivet, to the book of Daniel, the prophet, and to a specific prophecy of Daniel that is yet to be fulfilled. We see, too, that our Lord adopts the title of the Messiah given alone in the book of Daniel, “The Son of man,” and Daniel’s reference about him coming with the clouds of heaven. We find also in the teachings of our Lord and of his apostles that Daniel’s prophecy about the time of the kingdom, and Daniel’s prophecy about the first advent of the Messiah, and the prophecy about the second advent of the Messiah, are all endorsed in the New Testament. We find also that Paul gets his idea of the Man of Sin from a preceding Man of Sin in Daniel. We find that Hebrews II, in citing the sufferings of the Old Testament saints, includes a special reference to “the stopping of the mouths of lions,” which took place in Daniel’s case alone in the Old Testament history. We find that the warp and woof of the book of Revelation is founded upon the prophecy of Daniel.
I now come to the analysis of the book and we observe two great divisions:
- THE HISTORY OF DANIEL
- Daniel at Jerusalem
(1) Probable early history there in the reign of Josiah under Assyrian supremacy. (See Crockett’s Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles on the reign of Josiah, and the broader harmony of Kings and Chronicles including pertinent passages from Zephaniah and Jeremiah in Wood’s Hebrew Monarchy, and Dean’s Life and Times of Daniel, pp. 1-6).
(2) The subjection of Jerusalem to Egypt on the death of Josiah. (See same authorities referred to above.)
(3) The invasion and subjection of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, co-regent of the new power, Babylon, with his father Nabopolassar. (See same authorities and note Daniel 1:1-2; 2 Chronicles 26:6; 2 Kings 24:1; Jeremiah 36:11; and the Chaldean historian, Berosus, preserved in Josephus, contra Apion, 1:19, and Appendix I of Sir Robert Anderson’s Daniel in the Critics’ Den and passages 12-17 of same book.)
(4) Daniel with other princes led into exile.
- Daniel at Babylon
(1) His royal descent, his beauty of person, his attainments in wisdom, and his fitness to appear in a king’s court, when carried to Babylon (1:3-4).
(2) The prescribed three years’ course and purpose of his further education in Babylon (1:4-7).
(3) His fidelity to the Mosaic law in meats and drinks, while taking this course (1:8-14).
(4) His great attainments in the course (1:17-20; 5:12).
(5) Explanation of the chronological difficulties suggested by Daniel (1:1, 5, 18; 2:1; Jeremiah 25:1; 46:2).
(6) Daniel expounds Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning the luminous composite image and, with his three friends, receives great promotion (2).
(7) The great trial of Daniel’s three friends and their greater promotion (3).
(8) Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning the Great Tree and Daniel’s interpretation thereof, its subsequent fulfilment, and Nebuchadnezzar’s resultant proclamation (4).
(9) Apparently Daniel is neglected after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, but has a vision on his bed in the first year of Belshazzar’s co-regency with his father Nabonidua (7:1), and another vision at Shushan in Belshazzar’s third year (8:1). Then he interprets the handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast (5). In this section we consider the historical problem of Belshazzar and the annalistic tablet of Cyrus. 10) Daniel in the days of Darius the Mede, and Cyrus (9; 1:21; 10:1).
Note: In this section we consider the historical problem of Darius the Mede
- THE PROPHETIC ELEMENTS OF THE BOOK OF DANIEL
These elements in the book of Daniel are chronological, connective, and developing. The first is the basis of all the others and each subsequent one develops all foregoing ones by some elaboration:
- Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream of the five world-empires in the second year of his reign (2:31-45).
- Daniel’s prophetic dream and vision of the four beasts rising from the sea and of the enthronement and kingdom of the Son of man (7), which parallels and elaborates Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, first year of Belshazzar.
- Daniel’s prophetic vision of the Ram and the He-goat, elaborating two points of the preceding two visions (8). This was at Shushan, third year of Belshazzar.
- The seventy weeks (9), elaborating a point in the Fifth Empire concerning the first coming and sacrifice of its founder. This was in the first year of Darius the Mede.
- The revelation to Daniel on the Tigris, the third year of Cyrus (10-11), which elaborates one point concerning the third world-empire and passes to the fifth, culminating in the second advent of its founder and the resurrection and judgment.
- What the quadruple heading of Daniel 1?
- Show how it is both logical and chronological.
- What attacks were made on the book from without and when?
- Give an account of the hostile German criticism of this book.
- What its seven deadly sins?
- In what two English books may we find the substance of this criticism and how is each characterized?
- How does the author illustrate the relation between the German and English criticism?
- What the presuppositions of the radical critics?
- What can you say of the spirit of the radial critics?
- How do the old commentaries compare with this modern radical criticism? Illustrate.
- What the telling point of Sir Robert Anderson on these critics, and how does the author illustrate?
- What says the author of textual and historical criticism, and what the main point in the interpretation of any book of the Bible?
- What discriminations does the author make on methods of interpretation?
- What historical criticism is the most poisonous? Illustrate.
- What three great works on Daniel commended, and what their special merit?
- What the two original languages of Daniel, and what parts of the book in each?
- What the position of the book of Daniel in the canon? Discuss.
- Who the author of the book of Daniel?
- What the additions to the book of Daniel in the Septuagint?
- What the sum of Farrar’s indictment?
- What the sum of Driver’s indictment?
- What the Old Testament references to the person or the book?
- What the inter-biblical references?
- What the New Testament references?
- What the author’s analysis of the book?