Page images
PDF
EPUB

jections of a general character which have been made to the work. These have been concisely arranged and stated by De Wette (Lehrbuch der Historisch-kritischen Einleitung, etc. Berlin, 1845, pp. 382—389), and in the examination of the objections I shall consider them in the order in which he has stated them.

The view which De Wette entertains of the book is stated in the following manner: “that in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the spirit of prophecy among the Jews had been a long time extinct, a Jewish friend of his country endeavoured to encourage and strengthen his contemporary sufferers, and those who were contending for their liberty, through these apocalyptic prophecies respecting the former ascendency of the theocratic principle, which, in order to give the work greater reputation and authority, he ascribed to an ancient Seer of the name of Daniel, of whom probably something had been handed down by tradition. Designedly he suffered the promises to extend to a great length of time, in order to make them appear the more certain. After the manner of the ancient prophets, also, he inwove much that was historical, and especially such as would be fitted to excite and arouse the martyr spirit of his own people.” Lehrbuch, p. 390.

1. The first objection which is urged against the genuineness of the book is derived from what is denominated the fabulous contents-Mährchenhaften Inhalte-of its narrative parts. This objection, in the words of De Wette, is that “the book is full of improbabilities (ii. 3, ff. 46, f. iii. 1, 5, f. 20, 22, 28, f. iii. 31, ff. 31, f. v. 11, f. 18, ff. 29, vi. 8, ff. 26, ff.); of wonders, (ii. 28, iii. 23, ff. v. 5, vi. 23, 25); its historical inaccuracies are such as are found in no prophetic book of the Old Testament, and are founded on the same type (Comp. ii. 2—11, with iv. 4. v. 8. iii. 4 -12, 26–30, with vi. 8—18, 21—24). This seeking after wonders and strange things, and the religious fanaticism nourished through these persecutions, which it breathes, place the book in the same condition as the second Book of the Maccabees, as a production of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the similarity of the former of the two books betrays the fictitious character (Dichtung) of the book.” Lehrbuch, pp. 382, 383.

In reference to this objection, which turns on the marvellous character of the Book, and the improbable historical statements in it, tho following remarks may be made :

(a) These objections are noticed in detail in the Introductions to the respective chapters where the historical events here objected to are stated, and the question whether they are fabulous, or are in accordance with true history, is there fully considered. This will make it needless to notice them here particularly. In the Introduction to the respective chapters, I have noticed, and bave endeavoured to answer, all the objections which I have found of this character in the works of Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Bleek, and Lengerke. This will make it the less necessary to dwell on this point in this general Introduction.

(6) But as to the alleged contradiction between Daniel and the historical accounts which we have of the affairs to which he refers, it may be proper to observe in general—(1.) That, for anything that appears, Daniel may be as accurate a historian as any of the heathen writers of those times. There is, in the nature of the case, no reason why we should put implicit confidence in Berosus, Abydenus, Xenophon, and

Herodotus, and distrust Daniel; nor why, if a statement is omitted by them, we should conclude at once, that if mentioned by Daniel it is false. It is an unhappy circumstance, that there are many persons who suppose that the fact that a thing is mentioned by a profane historian is presumptive evidence of its truth; if mentioned by a sacred writer, it is presumptive evidence of its falsehood. Under the influence of the same feeling it is inferred, that if an event is mentioned by a sacred writer, which is omitted by a profane historian, it is regarded as demonstrative that the work in which it is found is fabulous. It is unnecessary to show that this feeling exists in many minds; and yet nothing can be more unjust-for the mere fact that an author writes on sacred subjects, or is the professed friend of a certain religion, should not be allowed to cast a suspicion on his testimony. That testimony must depend, in regard to its value, on his credibility as an historian, and not on the subject on which he writes. In the nature of things there is no more reason why a writer on sacred subjects should be unworthy of belief, than one who is recording the ordinary events of history. (2.) Daniel, according to the account which we have of him, had opportunities of ascertaining the truth of the facts which he narrates which no profane historian had. He spent the greater part of a long life in Babylon, in the very midst of the scenes which he describes; he was intimately acquainted with the affairs of the government; he enjoyed, in a remarkable degree, the confidence of those in authority; and he was himself deeply concerned in most of these transactions, and could have adopted the language of Æneas-et quorum magna pars fui. (3.) It is to be remembered, also, in regard to these events and times, that we have few fragments of history remaining. We have fragments of the writings of Berosus, a Chaldean, indeed, who wrote in Greece; and of Abydenus, a Greek, who wrote in Chaldea; we have some historical statements in Xenophon, and a few in Herodotus, but the Chaldean history, if ever written, is lost; the public documents are destroyed; the means of an accurate and full knowledge of the Chaldean or Babylonish power in the time when Daniel lived, have disappeared forever. Under these circumstances, it would not be strange if we should not be able to clear up all the difficulties of a historical nature that may be suggested respecting these fragmentary accounts, or be able to verify the statements which we find in the sacred books by the explicit testimony of contemporary writers.

(c) As a matter of fact, the investigations of history, as far as they can be made, go to confirm the authority of Daniel. Instances of this will occur in the examination of the particular chapters in this book, and all th can now be done is merely to refer to the particularly to the introductions to chs. i. iv. v. vi. In general, it may be said here, that none of the historical authorities contradict what is stated by Daniel, and that the few fragments which we have go to confirm what he has said, or at least to make it probable.

(d) As to the objections of De Wette and others, derived from the miraculous and marvellous character of the book, it may be observed further, that the same objection would lie against most of the books of the Bible, and that it is, therefore, not necessary to notice it particularly in considering the Book of Daniel. The Bible is a book full of miracles and marvels; and he who would have any proper understanding of it must regard and treat it as such. It is impossible to understand or explain it without admitting the possibility and the reality of miraculous events ; and in a book which claims to be founded on miracles, it does not prove that it is not authentic or genuine simply to say that it assumes that miracles are possible. To destroy the credibility of the book, it is necessary to show that all claims of a miraculous character are unfounded, and all miracles impossible and absurd; and this objection would not lie against the Book of Daniel peculiarly, but equally against the whole Bible. Two remarks here may be made, however, of a more particular character : (1.) one is, that the statements in Daniel are not more mar. vellous than those which occur in other parts of the Bible, and if they may be believed, those occurring in Daniel may be also; and (2.) the otheris, that it would rather be an argument against the genuineness and authenticity of the book if no miraculous and marvellous statements were found in it. It would be so unlike the other books of the Bible, where miracles abound, that we should feel that there was wanting in its favour the evidence of this nature, which would show that it had the same origin as the other portions of the volume. The particular objections in regard to the statements in Daniel of this nature, are considered in the Notes on the Book.

II. A second objection to the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, relates to the prophecies which are found in it. This objection is derived from the peculiar character of these prophecies; from the minuteness of the detail; the exact designation of the order of events; the fact that they seem to be a summary of history written after the events occurred; and that in these respects they are essentially unlike the other prophecies in the Bible. This objection, we have seen, is as old as Porphyry ; and this was, in fact, with him, the principal argument against the authenticity of the book. This objection is summed up and stated by De Wette in the following manner (& 255. b. pp. 384, 385):

“ The upgenuineness (Unachtheit) appears further from the prophetic contents of the same, which is to a remarkable extent different from that of all the remaining prophetic books, (a) through its apocalyptic character, or through this that the coming of the kingdom of the Messiah is mentioned and determined according to certain definite periods of time, or specified periods, and that the representation of it occurs so much in the form of visions ; (6) that the circumstances of the distant future, and the fortune of the kingdoms which were not yet in existence, even down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, are described with so much particularity and accuracy (viii. 14, ix. 25, ff. xii. 11, ff.) that the account must have been written after the event; (c) and that, if Daniel was a prophet, he must have lived in the times of Ezekiel and Zechariah, and we must suppose that his prophecies would have borne the general character of the prophecies of those times, but that in fact we find in them the spirit of a later age-the spirit that ultimately developed itself in the Sibylline Books, to which these prophecies bear a strong resemblance.”

In reply to this, it may be remarked :

11.) That all that is said in Daniel is possible :-that is, it is possible that prophetic intimations of the future should be given with as much particularity as are found in Daniel. No one can demonstrate, or even affirm, that God could not, if he chose, inspire a prophet to predict in detail the occurrences of the most remote times, and the fall of kingdoms not yet in being. All this knowledge must be with him; and for anything that appears, it would be as easy to inspire a prophet to predict these events as any other. The sole inquiry, therefore, is in regard to a fact; and this is to be settled by an examination of the evidence, that the prophet lived and prophesied before the events predicted occurred.

(2.) The prophecies in Daniel are not, in their structure and character, so unlike those whose genuineness is undisputed, as to make it certain or even probable, that the latter are genuine, and those of Daniel not. Dreams and visions were common methods of communicating the Divine will to the prophets, (See Introduction to Isaiah, 27. (2), (4), and who will undertake from any internal evidence to determine between those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel ?

(3.) As to the allegation respecting the details in Daniel of future events-the particularity with which he describes them—all is to be admitted that is affirmed on the subject. It is a fact that there is such particularity and minuteness of detail as could be founded only on truth, and that the delineations of Alexander and his conquests, and the statements of the events that would succeed his reign down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (ch. xi.), are drawn with as much accuracy of detail as they would be by one writing after the events had occurred. No one can doubt this who attentively examines these remarkable prophecies. Porphyry was undoubtedly right in affirming, that in regard to their minuteness and accuracy, these prophecies appeared to be written after the events; and if it can be shown, therefore, that they were written before the events referred to, the testimony of Porphyry is a strong evidence of the fact that Daniel was inspired; for no one will maintain that man, by any natural sagacity, could describe events before they occur with the exactness of detail, and the minute accuracy which is found in this part of Daniel.

But is not what is here said of Daniel, as to the accuracy and minuteness of detail true also, in the main, of other prophecies in the Old Testament? Are there not many prophecies that are as accurate, and in some respects as minute, as they would have been if they were written after the events referred to ? Is not this true of the predictions respecting the destruction of Tyre and of Babylon, and the carrying away of the Jews into captivity? Is not Cyrus expressly mentioned by Isaiah, and is not the work which he would perform in the conquest of Babylon drawn out in exact detail ? See Isa. xlv. 1. seq. So in Jeremiah (1. li.), there is a prophetic account of the destruction of Babylon as minute in many respects as the predictions of Daniel, and as exact and minute as it would have been if written after the events had occurred, and the author had been making a historical record instead of uttering a prediction. But on this point I must content myself with referring to the argument of Hengstenberg, Authentie des Daniel, pp. 173—195. It may be added, however, that it is on this accuracy of detail in Daniel that we ground one of the strong arguments for his inspiration. It will be admitted on all handsmit cannot be denied—that no one could foresee those events and describe them with such accuracy of detail, by any natural sagacity; but no one who believes in the fact of inspiration at all, can doubt that it would be as easy for the Divine Spirit to present future events in this accuracy of detail as in a more general manner. At all events, this ac curacy and minuteness of detail removes the prophecies from the region of conjecture, and is an answer to the usual objections that they are obscure and ambiguous. Not one can pretend this of the writings of Daniel ; and if it can be shown that the book was written before the events occurred, the conclusion cannot be avoided that the author was inspired.

III. A third objection to the genuineness and authenticity of the Book of Daniel is thus stated by De Wette ($ 255, b. 3, p. 385): “ Grounds of objection lie further in the repeated mention of Daniel himself, in so honourable a manner, ch. i. 17, 19, f. v. 11, f. vi. 4, ix. 23, x. 11, et al.”

This objection cannot be regarded as having any great degree of force, or as contributing much to set aside the direct evidence of the authority of the book:-for (a) it is possible that all these honours were conferred on him. This is, in itself, no more incredible or remarkable than that Joseph should have reached the honours in Egypt, which are attributed to him in Genesis; and no one can show that if the account had been written by another, it would have been unworthy of belief. (6) If it were a fact that he was thus honoured, it was not improper to state it. If Daniel was the historian of those times, and kept the records of the events of his own life, and actually obtained those honours, there was no impropriety in his making a record of those things. He has done no more than what Cæsar did in the mention of himself, his plans, his conquests, his triumphs. In the record of Daniel there is no unseemly parading of his wisdom, or the honours conferred on him; there is no praise for the mere sake of praise ; there is no language of panegyric on account of his eminent piety. The account is a mere record of facts as they are said to have occurred that Daniel was successful in his early studies, and his preparation for the examination through which he and his companions were to pass (ch. i.); that on more than one occasion he succeeded in interpreting a dream or vision which no one of the Chaldeans could do; that in consequence of this he was raised to an exalted rank; that he was enabled to maintain his integrity in the midst of extraordinary temptations, and that he was favoured with the Divine protection when in extraordinary danger. I presume that no one who has read the Book of Daniel with an unprejudiced mind, ever received an impression that there was any want of modesty in Daniel in these records, or that there was any unseemly or unnecessary parading of his own virtues and honours before the world.

IV. A fourth objection which has been urged against the genuineness of Daniel, is derived from the language in which it is written. This objection, as stated by De Wette, (2 235, b. 4, p. 385,) is founded on “the corrupt Hebrew and Chaldeo, and the intermingling of Greek words in the composition.” The objection is urged more at length in Bertholdt, (p. 24, scq.) and by Bleek, Kirms, and others. The objection, as derived from the language of the book, is properly divided into three parts :(a) that it is written in Hebrew and Chaldee ; (b) that in each part of it there is a want of purity of style, indicating a later age than the time of the captivity; and (c) that there is an intermingling of Greek words, such as it cannot be presumed that one who wrote in the time of the exile, and in Babylon, would have employed, and such as were probably introduced into common use only by a later intercourse with the Greeks, and particularly by the Macedonian conquest.

(a) As to the first of these, little stress can be laid on it, and indeed it

« PreviousContinue »