J. Dyneley Prince (essay date 1899)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Prince, J. Dyneley. The Book of Daniel, Designed Especially for Students of the English Bible, pp. 1-56. London: Williams & Norgate, 1899.

[In the following excerpt, Prince reviews past scholarship on The Book of Daniel, arguing that it is a unified work and rejecting doubts about its authorship by the Hebrew prophet Daniel.]


Regarding the literary unity of Daniel, opinions vary. Some critics, owing to the great difference in style between the two divisions of the book, have believed in a separate origin for the first six chapters1. Moreover, the fact that from ii. 4 through...

(The entire section is 5304 words.)

Robert Dick Wilson (essay date 1917)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Wilson, Robert Dick. “The Argument from Silence” and “Was Daniel an Historical Character?” In Studies in the Book of Daniel: A Study of the Historical Questions, pp. 1-23, 24-42. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1917.

[In the following essays, Wilson considers the historicity of the events described in Daniel as well as the factual basis for identifying Daniel himself.]

I shall begin the consideration of the historicity of Daniel and of the Book of Daniel with a discussion of the argument from silence, not merely because of its intrinsic importance, but because of its bearing upon many of the objections made against the existence of...

(The entire section is 12718 words.)

Charles Boutflower (essay date 1923)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Boutflower, Charles. Introduction to In and around the Book of Daniel, pp. 1-12. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1923.

[In the following excerpt, Boutflower considers the problem of the composition date of The Book of Daniel, asserting that the book does offer prophetic descriptions and that it was not written after the events described took place.]

With the spread of learning and the issue from time to time of fresh commentaries on the Book of Daniel, it is now a matter of common knowledge that two very different views are held respecting that Book, which, for the sake of a name, may be styled respectively the orthodox and the...

(The entire section is 5032 words.)

H. H. Rowley (lecture date 1950)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Rowley, H. H. “The Unity of the Book of Daniel.” In The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament, pp. 249-80. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965.

[In the following essay (originally delivered as a lecture in 1950), a seminal work of scholarship on The Book of Daniel, Rowley restates the argument for the unity of the book, exploring the weaknesses of the opposing view and focusing his discussion on the canonical parts of the text.]

With imposing unanimity critical scholars seem to be moving away from the once common belief in the unity of the book of Daniel. There are still conservative scholars who maintain the unity of the...

(The entire section is 15925 words.)

E. W. Heaton (essay date 1956)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Heaton, E. W. Introduction to The Book of Daniel : Introduction and Commentary, pp. 17-112. London: SCM Press, 1956.

[In the following excerpt, Heaton discusses the author and hero of The Book of Daniel before commenting on its status as apocalyptic literature and on issues surrounding its composition.]


The immediate occasion which called forth the Book of Daniel was the persecution of the Jews by the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 to 163 b.c.

The writer, a pious scribe living in the middle of the persecution, is addressing his contemporaries through the medium...

(The entire section is 11843 words.)

Norman W. Porteous (essay date 1965)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Porteous, Norman W. Introduction to Daniel: A Commentary, pp. 13-21. London: SCM Press, 1965.

[In the following essay, Porteous offers an overview of the major scholarly questions about The Book of Daniel, including the issues of its authorship, its classification, and its status as a work of literature.]

The Book of Daniel contains twelve chapters, the first six containing stories about a Jewish captive, Daniel, and his three young compatriots at the court of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors Babylonian, Median and Persian, and the last six containing a series of visions which came to Daniel and were interpreted to him by angelic agency. The...

(The entire section is 4496 words.)

Richard J. Clifford (essay date December 1975)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Clifford, Richard J. “History and Myth in Daniel 10-12.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 220 (December 1975): 23-26.

[In the following essay, Clifford argues that the author of The Book of Daniel selected and structured historical details to present a new interpretation of history and mythical narrative.]

Chapters 10-12 of the book of Daniel, by consensus of modern commentators a single apocalypse parallel to the apocalypses of Daniel 7 and 8, is a unique combination of historical narrative1 and prediction of the future. To be sure, the whole of Dan 11:2b-12:1-3 is, in form, a revelation of...

(The entire section is 3245 words.)

André LaCocque (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: LaCocque, André. The Book of Daniel, translated by David Pellauer, pp. I-XX. Atlanta, Ga.: John Knox Press, 1979.

[In the following essay, LaCocque explores problematic issues relating to The Book of Daniel, discussing its authorship, status as apocalyptic literature, chronology, composition, canonical status, bilingualism, and structure.]

In the wide variety of literature which makes up Scripture, the Book of Daniel occupies a unique place.1 Its twelve chapters—in its present form—are divided into two major parts: the first six are ‘midrashim’ and the last five are ‘apocalypses’, while chapter seven serves as a...

(The entire section is 7670 words.)

John G. Gammie (essay date April 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Gammie, John G. “A Journey through Danielic Spaces: The Book of Daniel in the Theology and Piety of the Christian Community.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 39, no. 2 (April 1985): 144-56.

[In the following excerpt, Gammie examines the ways in which interpretation of The Book of Daniel affected the theology and worldview of Christians from the second century up to the Protestant Reformation.]


Irenaeus (c130-c200), bishop of Lyons, utilized the Book of Daniel extensively in his treatise, “Against Heresies,” to expound his doctrine of Christ, the Bible, and the millenium. The stone not hewn...

(The entire section is 5553 words.)

P. R. Davies (essay date 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Davies, P. R. “Preview.” In Daniel, pp. 11-19. Sheffield, Eng.: JSOT Press, 1985.

[In the following excerpt, Davies examines the dual character of The Book of Daniel, explaining that each of the two halves contains two types of stories, some that appeal to laypeople and others to scholars; that they communicate different ideas in different forms relating to different periods of time; and that they use two different languages.]


Daniel is a very curious book in many respects. From almost every standpoint it presents a dual character: it contains two kinds of material, apparently intended originally for two different...

(The entire section is 3109 words.)

P. R. Davies (essay date 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Davies, P. R. “The Languages of the Book.” In Daniel, pp. 35-39. Sheffield, Eng.: JSOT Press, 1985.

[In the following excerpt, Davies surveys the various scholarly positions on the bilingualism of The Book of Daniel and attempts to date the work on the basis of the languages it uses.]


The presence, and the distribution, of the two languages in Daniel may be in the end inexplicable. But it has generally been thought to have a bearing on the literary history or structure of the book. The evaluation of this phenomenon depends on whether or not the literary unity of Daniel is taken for granted....

(The entire section is 1818 words.)

Shemaryahu Talmon (essay date 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Talmon, Shemaryahu. “Daniel.” In The Literary Guide to the Bible, edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode, pp. 343-55. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987.

[In the following essay, Talmon argues that, because of its historical inaccuracies, The Book of Daniel should be regarded as a fictional work, and proceeds to explore the book's style, imagery, phraseology, motifs, literary allusions, and plot.]

The linguistic and literary diversity of Daniel reveals a composite structure. The opening and concluding parts (1:1-2:4a and 8-12), in Hebrew, frame a portion in Aramaic which is itself a composite...

(The entire section is 6201 words.)

André LaCocque (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: LaCocque, André. “Daniel as a Work of Literature.” In Daniel in His Time, pp. 59-81. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988.

[In the following essay, LaCocque analyzes various interpretations of the structure, motifs, and allusions in The Book of Daniel, pointing out where he agrees and disagrees with other scholars of the work.]


The question of the origin of the materials used by the author is a complex one because these materials differ greatly in nature. Once again a preliminary distinction must be made between chapters 1-6 (Daniel A) and chapters 7-12 (Daniel B). The early chapters...

(The entire section is 11118 words.)

Paul L. Redditt (essay date July 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Redditt, Paul L. “Daniel 11 and the Sociohistorical Setting of the Book of Daniel.The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60, no. 3 (July 1998): 236-49.

[In the following essay, Redditt argues that The Book of Daniel was written by a group of Jewish courtier-scribes who were employed by the Seleucids.]

One of the issues in the study of the Book of Daniel is the book's origin. Where, and within what group, did it arise? The questions are not new, of course, though the pursuit of an answer has taken new twists in the last couple of decades. Scholars rightly warn that the book may have arisen in a group otherwise unknown to modern...

(The entire section is 5358 words.)

Paul L. Redditt (essay date April 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Redditt, Paul L. “Daniel 9: Its Structure and Meaning.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62, no. 2 (April 2000): 236-49.

[In the following essay, Redditt offers a close reading of the ninth chapter of The Book of Daniel, arguing that the early verses of the chapter reflect the historical situation of the writers; that the middle portion of the chapter explains why Israel had not yet turned to God, as had been prophesied in the Book of Jeremiah; and that the latter part of the chapter offers a timetable for the deliverance of Jerusalem.]

The eponymous hero in Daniel 9 ponders the devastation of Jerusalem, consults certain...

(The entire section is 6553 words.)