Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dating Daniel

In the 53/1 edition of JETS, a reviewer highlights an inconsistency in the liberal dating of Daniel (see the bolded sentence at the bottom):

Daniel. By Sharon Pace. Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2008, xxiv + 383 pp., $55.00.

Reflecting the mainstream of contemporary scholarship on Daniel, Pace argues that the apocalyptic section (chaps. 7–12) was written just before the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 bc. Because of the format of the commentary, the introduction to Daniel is brief. Typical arguments for and against the late date cannot be seriously weighed. This is an unfortunate shortcoming of the Smyth and Helwys series. However, since this is the working assumption of the commentary, support for the later date is found in appropriate places throughout the commentary. For example, Pace argues that the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7 is Greece and the goat of Daniel 8 is Antiochus. Likewise, the “anointed prince” of Dan 9:25 is likely Onias III and the final “week” refers to the cessation of worship under Antiochus. Pace is clear that chapters 8 and 9 are non-historical, stereotyped depictions of the progress of history up to the time of the writer. The details of the final vision of the book, however, can be confirmed from descriptions of the Seleucid kingdom found in Josephus and Maccabees. Pace therefore reads Daniel 7–12 alongside texts from 1–2 Maccabees, Josephus, Polybius and other primary sources. These texts are placed in sidebars to illustrate many of the difficult allusions to history in Daniel 11. She interprets all of Dan 11:21–45 as ex eventu prophecy referring to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, although verses 40–45 “turn to general statements about what will happen in the future” (p. 333). This is problematic, however, since Antiochus did not die in the land of Israel in a final battle—a detail Pace acknowledges. In the introduction, she describes these verses as “genuine predictions” with no awareness of the successes of the Maccabean revolt. If the final editor of Daniel had no problem inserting political marriages into Daniel 2, one wonders why this prophecy was not also “updated” to more accurately reflect the way in which Antiochus died.  

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