Unbelievers date Daniel to the Maccabean era for two major reasons. One is their general belief that our world is a closed system. God, if there is a God, doesn’t reveal the future to man.
The other is their specific belief that Daniel 11:40-45 is historically inaccurate. They think the depiction of Antiochus is accurate in the verses leading up to v40, but loses accuracy thereafter. They chalk this up to their claim that the author is recounting history under the guise of prophecy prior to v40, but shifts to actual prediction in 40-45. He’s accurate when he’s writing about his own times. About the immediate past. But when he must speculate about the future, he gets it wrong. He didn’t know how Antiochus actually died. And they think Daniel is inaccurate at this juncture because his version of events is contradicted by extrabiblical sources.
I’ve discussed this allegation before. Now I’d like to approach it from a different angle. Let’s compare it to the following statements:
The theme de mortibus persecutorum (Lactantius), the deaths of persecutors and other bad characters, is a very common one…2 Macc. 9:5-12 (Antiochus Epiphanes…
C. K. Barrett, Acts I-XIV (T. & T. Clark, 1994), 591.
All the different forms of the story of Judas’s death are folkloric elaborations recounting his death in a stereotypical literary form, otherwise know as the horrible death of a notorious persecutor. It can be compared with the story of the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (2 Macc 9:7-12).
So Luke describes the demise of Herod Agrippa I, using a genre well known in Greek literature. Compare 2 Macc 9:5-28 (death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes)…
J. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles (Doubleday 1998), 220, 491.
Here the skepticism is directed at the historicity of Luke rather than Daniel. However, this is a case of competing skepticisms. For if the death of Antiochus in extrabiblical sources follows a stock fictitious genre regarding the demise of a notorious infidel or infamous enemy of the faith, then you can’t turn around and use that as a benchmark to measure the historicity of Dan 11:40-45. Rather, that would be like the cinematic convention of the Western genre, where the man in the black hat dies in a hail of bullets at the end of the film. A stereotypical ending that doesn’t pretend to match reality.