Time-Stamp for the Book of Daniel
Worst Case view of the Book of Daniel

Evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls

When was the book of Daniel written?

The date for when the book of Daniel was written is somewhat controversial. For conservative Christians, the earliest date is about 530 BCE. For liberal scholars (Naturalists), the latest data is about 165 BCE. This study uses the late date of 165 BCE as the time stamp for when the book of Daniel was written. By taking this position, bias based on this study is removed. It is the "worst case" position to be taken.

Physical evidence supporting the 165 BCE date comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Eight copies of Daniel were found at the Dead Sea Scrolls site. The oldest copy has been scientifically dated to 125 BCE using carbon dating techniques. Since it is a copy, the original was written long before 125 BCE. But how do we know that the Dead Sea Scrolls are credible?

Four trustworthy methods have been used to unerringly date when the Dead Sea Scrolls were written. These methods are:

  1. Carbon dating techniques using two independent systems that agree. These are the AMS Laboratory at the University of Arizona and the ETH laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland. [AMS means Accelerator Mass Spectrometry]
  2. The carbon dating techniques were verified to be accurate based on dating three scrolls with known dates {the known written dates are from the post Dead Sea Scrolls era of Bar Kokhba, dated April 16, 128 CE, Sept 11, 130 CE, and 135 CE}. (If you want to learn about the methods and supporting evidence, you will have to download the pdf file at the referenced site).
  3. The style of the text (think of various FONTs you can use on a computer) used by Scribes to copy the scrolls permits Paleographers to date when the scrolls were copied. Carbon dating techniques agreed with the paleographic dates.
  4. Silver coins found at the Dead Sea Scrolls Community were minted between 136 BCE to 9 BCE.

Carbon Dating Techniques from Two Systems Agree

The University of Arizona used advanced methods to carbon date various Dead Sea Scrolls. For example, researchers concluded at the 95% confidence level that the Habakkuk scroll was written between 150 BCE to 5 BCE. Other Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts analyzed by the University of Arizona agree with the dating done at a lab in Zurich, Switzerland.

Before doing any tests, the University of Arizona lab was given a scroll piece that had previously been dated by the Zurich lab. The University of Arizona lab arrived at the same date as the Zurich lab without knowing the date achieved at the Zurich lab. So independent verification corroborates the age of the scrolls.

In support of the carbon dating done by independent labs, the Israel Antiquities Authority stated in a news release that "Some of the papyrus samples bear exact written dates within the text itself. These dates match those determined by the carbon-14 measurements. The reliability of paleography as a dating method is thus confirmed.

Dates from Coins at the Dead Sea Scrolls

More than 550 silver coins were found at the Dead Sea Scrolls site. The coins were used to date when people lived at the site. The silver coins were minted between 136 BCE to 9 BCE.

Foretold Events after 165 BCE

By using 165 BCE as the date of authorship, any prophecy before that date would be considered to be like writing about past events. However, events foretold to happen that occur after 165 BCE are truly prophetic. Objective evidence to confirm each event is all that is required.

To compare Daniel to the Qur’an requires that the study be limited to words claimed to be from the Archangel Gabriel. The 9th chapter of Daniel claims to be from Gabriel, making it an ideal choice to compare to the Qur’an.

Daniel’s prophecy recorded in chapter 9 is called the prophecy of the 70-weeks. The Hebrew word for "weeks" means a period of 7-years [refer to Strong's Concordance Number 7620]. Therefore, the 70-weeks is based on multiplying 70 time 7-years, which equals 490 years. At various stages during this time, specific human events are expected to occur. The prophetic events are about the Jewish people, Jerusalem, and the coming Messiah. Christians logically accept this prophecy as being fulfilled by Jesus. We will soon understand why.

It is important to note that conservative Christian scholars do not accept the 165 BCE date for when Daniel was written. As we move into verifying the individual prophecies contained in the 70-weeks prophecy, we will begin to understand why conservative scholars hold to the position that Daniel was authored as early as 530 BCE. Although modern scholars (Naturalist) may not agree with the conservative dating, evidence exits to support the traditional Christian view. For now, we will use the 165 BCE date.

What does the 70-weeks prophecy foretell?

The prophecy is based on a prayer given by Daniel. Daniel prays for the Jewish people, their sin, and that God will permit them to return from Babylon to Jerusalem. Daniel’s reason for praying is that another Jewish prophet, Jeremiah (refer to Jeremiah 29:10-12) had already foretold that the Jewish people would return to Jerusalem (Daniel 9:2-3). Daniel is simply wondering when the Jewish people would be allowed to return to Jerusalem.

The Archangel Gabriel brings an answer to Daniel that foretells the future. Just as Daniel had prayed about the Jewish people and their return to Jerusalem, Gabriel gives Daniel a prophecy about the future of the Jewish people and Jerusalem. However, Gabriel links the Jewish people and their return to the coming of the Messiah.

Following is a quick overview of Gabriel’s prophecy, which centers on the coming Messiah.

Verse

Events to occur at Jerusalem

24

Reveals the purpose of the Messiah’s coming.

25

Foretells when the Messiah will appear.

26a

Foretells what happens to the Messiah at Jerusalem.

26b

Foretells what will happen to Jerusalem and the temple after the Messiah has departed.

Christians accept Daniel’s prophecy of the 70-weeks because the prophetic events fit Jesus’ life so well. In general, people understand the 70-weeks prophecy to be literally foretelling of the Messiah. There are three primary reasons why Christians take the view that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy literally.

  1. First and foremost, the prophecy reveals that the Messiah would be killed at Jerusalem.
  2. Second, the prophecy reveals that the Messiah had to appear at Jerusalem before its destruction. Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70 CE, which fits Jesus’ lifetime.
  3. Third, the purpose of the 70-weeks prophecy as described by verse 24 is mirrored by the basic teachings of the New Testament. Many Christians take the view that verse 24 is a summary of the gospel story, based on the Messiah’s death foretold in verse 26. There is purpose in the Messiah’s death based on what Gabriel foretold.

I will begin by choosing the simple prophecies along with the objective evidence that they actually occurred.


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