If you’ve ever taken the time to study the book of Daniel, maybe you’ve had difficulty in interpreting issues of authorship and prophecy. Conversely, perhaps your assumptions are based on what others have told you about the text. John E. Goldingay included his thoughts on some misguided convictions about Daniel in the Word Biblical Commentary. Read the excerpt below!

Thoughts About Daniel

What assumptions should we bring to [Daniel] regarding the nature of the stories and the origin of the visions? Critical scholarship has sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly approached the visions with the a priori conviction that they cannot be prophecies of events to take place long after the seer’s day because prophecy of that kind is impossible.

Conversely, conservative scholarship has sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly approached the visions with the a priori conviction that they must be actual prophecies because quasi-predictions issued pseudonymously could not have been inspired by God.

Both these sets of convictions about Daniel seem mistaken.

This commentary assumes that the God of Israel is capable of knowing future events and thus of revealing them, capable of inspiring both actual prophecy and quasi-prediction, and capable of inspiring his servants to speak in their own name, or anonymously, or–in certain circumstances–pseudonymously.

It was excusable for Pusey to think that pseudonymity makes the author a liar and must be incompatible with being divinely inspired. It is less excusable now that we know that in the ancient world, and in the Hellenistic age in particular, pseudonymity was a common practice used for a variety of reasons–some unethical, some unobjectionable–for poetry, letters, testaments, philosophy, and prophecies.

That pseudonymity is a rarer literary device in modern Western culture, especially in religious contexts, should not allow us to infer that God could not use it in another culture. Whether he actually chose to do so is to be determined not a priori but from study of the text. The Form sections of the commentary will consider these questions.


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This series emphasizes a thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. The result? Judicious and balanced insight into the meanings of the text in the framework of biblical theology.

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