Answering Nonsense About Daniel 2

There’s a lengthy comment from a reader on my Daniel 2 post. Here’s my point-by-point response to his allegations (his comment in red):

  • Unfortunately, Daniel is not quite as ancient as you are led to believe. It was one of the manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and only dates back to c. 167 BCE and the prophesies are beleived to have been written at an even later date.

This is triply wrong.

First, the 167 B.C. date is absurd. It’s something called “the Maccabean thesis,” and here’s how it was created: a lot of Biblical scholars don’t believe in the Bible. Through this lens, which they consider “modern” or “skeptical,” they interpret nearly all of the Old Testament prophesies as vaticinium ex eventu — so if a 6th Century B.C. prophesy foretells something in the first century B.C., these scholars will argue that it must have been written in the first century B.C., since otherwise, it would be prophetic. That logic, of course, is circular. In the case of “the Maccabean thesis,”the argument went that Daniel 2 prophesied the desecration of the Temple under Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C.; therefore, it must have been written during or immediately after Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s desecration of the Temple. Hopefully, you can see how circular that argument is (Daniel is false because it is written in 167 B.C.; it’s written in 167 B.C., because otherwise it’s prophetic). But beyond that, Daniel 2 wasn’t a prophesy of Antiochus IV Epiphanes — it was a prophesy of the Destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. So the circular logic doesn’t make any sense here.

You can tell this from the text itself. First, there’s the numbering of the Kingdoms — Reading the prophesy as referring to Antiochus IV Epiphanes requires counting off the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 as Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Greek. Yet the Medians never conquered Israel, so the only reason to count them is to try and make this a Greek prophesy somehow. Nor did the Medians overthrow the Babylonian Empire (the Persians did), so the Medians can’t be the second empire. Rather, the Medes are already part of the Persian Empire at this point. Daniel 5-6 is explicit on this point: the Babylonians are toppled by Cyrus and Darius, and it’s a single kingdom. So we know, from the Book of Daniel itself, who the first two Kingdoms are (Babylon; followed by the Persian Empire, also known as the Medo-Persian Empire or the Achaemenid Empire). Another reason is that the Fourth Kingdom, which dissolves instead of being conquered, is an obvious nod towards the Roman Empire, since the Greek Empire was conquered — by the Romans. So Daniel 2 is about the Romans in 70 A.D., not the Greeks is 167 B.C.

The second reason that you’re wrong is when you said that “the prophesies are beleived (sic) to have been written at an even later date.” That’s not true. 167 B.C. is when the prophesy was said to be written. The idea is that things had gotten really bad, so the Jews made up a bunch of Messianic prophesies, about how the Messiah’s arrival was immanent. Arguing that they made these prophesies after 167 B.C. doesn’t make sense, and isn’t what the skeptics are even saying. So no, the prophesies aren’t written later than the rest of Daniel. If you’ve ever read Daniel, you’ll see it’s almost all prophesies.

The third reason that you’re wrong is that even if the Maccabean thesis were correct, it would disprove everything else you wrote. Your entire argument is that “The interpretation that there would be 4 great empires with Rome being the last is undoubtedly of Roman origin.
But the 167 B.C. date relies upon the Maccabean thesis being true, and the Maccabean thesis relies on this prophesy being about the Greeks, not the Romans. And of course, if Daniel 2 was written in 167 B.C., it obviously wasn’t written by the Romans.

If you want more information on why the 167 B.C. dating is wrong, it’s been thoroughly discredited elsewhere. There’s just no evidence of the 167 B.C. date being true at all. In fact, the fact it was found in the Dead Sea scrolls is further evidence of its age. There’s a manuscript dating back to 125 B.C. which was found in the Dead Sea scrolls, quite a way from Greece, which is where Daniel was supposedly forged. So this 167 B.C. date requires that this forgery was immediately and universally accepted as Scripture by the Jews all over the Roman Empire, who then painstakingly preserved copies of the manuscript.

  • All Hebrew manuscripts were normally written at later dates, by the priests, about their ancient heroes.

Not only is this assertion untrue, not only is it just typed out without support, but it is logically self-refuting. If the Book of Daniel was made up in 167 B.C., then Daniel never existed. If Daniel never existed, he wasn’t an ancient hero of the Jews. Apply that logic to every other major Jewish figure. Don’t get wrong, the Jews did make up myths about the heroes of the Old Testament — we even have some of these ancient stories. But they made no pretense of being Scripture, and weren’t confused as such. And the myths relied upon the Scripture. For example, we mockumentary Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter only works if the audience is aware of the real-life Abraham Lincoln.

So even your own idea, about myths being created about the ancient hero of Daniel requires that a real-life Daniel existed, and that the Jews knew who he was. He did, and they did, and the reason was the real-life Book of Daniel.

  • One of these Daniel prophesies, the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem is even more revealing, the Romans and Josephus were all too aware of these prophesies by Daniel and made Jesus Christ repeat them in both Mark and Matthew.

Of course, this is loony. The Romans were pagans, and Josephus was a Jew, neither of them had anything to do with Matthew or Mark’s Gospel whatsoever, and neither of them embraced or believed the New Testament. To suggest that pagans and Jews “made Jesus Christ” say certain things in the Bible is just bizarre. It’s literally alleging that the Christians didn’t write the Christian New Testament — but it’s even stranger, since it’s saying that the enemies of the first century Christians wrote the Book. It’s like arguing that Janet Reno made up the Branch Dravidian religion, or that Hitler wrote the US Constitution, because he was, as we know, “aware of” it, and that’s all it takes, apparently.

Instead of just making assertions, at least outline how in the world this could ever make sense. You’re alleging first, that the Jewish priests forged the Book of Daniel, and somehow tricked the very people who had been faithfully reading and preserving the Scriptures for centuries; and second, that the Romans and Josephus then forged the New Testament Gospels, despite not being Christian. What evidence do you have of any of these theories? How did the disciples of the Apostles not know about this?

The problem with your whole theory is that it relies upon the dead letter. Yet we have strong historical evidence of the existence of Christian communities as far away as India within the first century. These communities, speaking various languages and located far from the Roman Empire, were immune to any imperial tomfoolery, so the presence of the Ethiopian Copts and the Indian Mar-Thomists shows your theory as total bunk. St. Jerome said in his Dialogue Against the Luciferians:

Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find it in the Acts of the Apostles. And even if it did not rest on the authority of Scripture the consensus of the whole world in this respect would have the force of a command. For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law, as for instance the practice of dipping the head three times in the layer, and then, after leaving the water, of tasting mingled milk and honey in representation of infancy; and, again, the practices of standing up in worship on the Lord’s day, and ceasing from fasting every Pentecost; and there are many other unwritten practices which have won their place through reason and custom. So you see we follow the practice of the Church, although it may be clear that a person was baptized before the Spirit was invoked.

In other words, there was a thriving global network of Christian churches from extremely early in Christian history. This creates a near fool-proof guard against error and forged holy books. Had the Romans attempted to write a new New Testament, the people using the real New Testament would have called foul. It’s not as if someone just found a dusty KJV on the ground and started Christianity thinking, “This must be Scripture!” So real people, with older copies of the manuscripts, would know if you tried to import a forgery. There were numerous copies of the NT, in whole or in part, in the early Church.

  • The Romans had their own interpretation; “There had spread over all the Orient an old an established belief that it was fated at that time for a man coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as it turned out, the Jews took to themselves, and they revolted accordingly.”–Suetonius, Vespasian 4.5

This is true, although you misquoted it. The Christians recognized that the Oriental pagans had been prophesying the coming of Christ as well — see Matthew 2:1-12. But Suetonius’ explanation is stupid: the Roman Emperor wasn’t from Judea, and it didn’t refer to him. So there was a real prophesy, recognized as valid by the Romans, Jews, Christians, and Asian pagans. The Romans thought it was fulfilled in the Emperor, but it obviously wasn’t (he wasn’t from Judea). The Jews thought it was fulfilled in Simon bar Kokhba, leader of the Jewish revolt, but it wasn’t (his revolution failed, and he was proven a false Messiah). The eastern Magi and later, the Christians, believed it was Christ, and they were right. How does this harm the Christian case?

  • While in Mark, Jesus is made to talk about fishers of men, Josephus tells of a battle on the Seas of Galolee between Titus’ army and the Jewish forces. The Jewish boats are capsized and the Roman soldiers spear them like fish. Hence they become fishers of men.

    In ‘Caesar’s Messiah,’ Dead Sea Scrolls archivist Joseph Atwill found 12 such parallels, in consecutive order, between the so-called ministry of Jesus and the military campaign of the Roman Emperor Titus.

This is warped. Matthew 4:18-20 says:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

And you read that as, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you throw spears through the Jews”? And how is throwing spears through someone, even in a naval battle, “fishing” in any sense? Peter and Andrew are explicitly using a net, not spearing the fish. Let me put it this way. If Christians had claimed that the naval battle against Titus was a “fulfillment” of Matthew 4:18-20, non-Christians would immediately balk, because that’s incredibly weak evidence. But you’re willing to swallow it whole, because it contradicts Christianity. What Christ said of you in Matthew 23:34 is true.

  • What you seem totally unaware of, is that there are no original Jewish scriptures. They were all destroyed by the Romans and the Christians. What you read today is a translation from the Greek Septuagint.

Again, your knowledge of history is disturbingly bad. The reason there aren’t original copies of the Hebrew manuscripts is that they were written on ancient papyrus, and it decays easily. So they were copied numerous times. There’s no evidence of the Christians destroying any of the originals… at all. That’s just nonsense, since the Christians affirm the Old Testament Scriptures as being true. And the Jews have plenty of extra-Biblical records, like the Talmud. Yet there’s no record of any of your claims (that someone started circulating a new book, Daniel; that the Christians destroyed every copy of the Old Testament, etc.).

Finally, you’re just wrong that modern versions are based on the Septuagint (the LXX). To my knowledge, no Bible is based on the LXX. Certainly, neither the Vulgate nor the Masoretic Text (the two most important translations) were based on the LXX’s translation. Easily-understood chart showing the translation families here. Modern Biblical translations are based on earlier translations than the Vulgate relied upon, because archaeology has gotten better.

  • You are not giving the Romans enough credit. They were not only great militarily, they were also devious snakes. To learn more about how the Romans subverted the teachings of Yeshu and the Nazoreans and proclaimed them the revelations of their godman Jesus Christ visit:

Right. Your website, which I perused briefly, is full of more absurd ahistorical nonsense. My favorite part:

Jesus remains in England until the late 20s when he returns to Israel to begin his ministry, or whatever, with some of his brothers serving as Apostles. Working in the Temple he becomes all too aware of the discrimination against members of the Nazorean sect. He takes Mary as his wife at Cana. He then agrees to a mock crucifixion…

It’s like you’re not even trying to put forward a historically valid argument. Here’s a quick thought: how likely is it that the Romans were so cunning that they duped everyone on Earth, but you and Joseph Atwill are so smart that you saw past the Global Cabal?

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