Daniel in the Critic’s Den
September 17th, 1967 @ 8:15 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-17-67 8:15 a.m.
Now, I oh, so earnestly pray that the dear Lord will make these studies as meaningful to you as they are to me. I do not think, in all of my life put together, I have ever exulted in the Word of the Lord as I am during these present days. And I pray that our people who listen, some of you on radio, to these services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and the throng of people who fill these auditorium services, I pray that God will help me make these studies as meaningful to you as they are to me.
Now, we are preaching through a very long series on the Book of Daniel. And these messages of background and critical study of archaeology, of philology, of prophecy; these beginning studies will number about nine. Last Sunday, the message was entitled Why the Critics Assail the Book of Daniel. Next Sunday, the message will be entitled How the Critics Fare in the Fiery Furnace. The next Sunday it will be Will the Real Daniel Stand Up? And today, the title of the message is Daniel in the Critics Den.
Now the sermon today and the one next Sunday ought to be delivered together, and it grieves my heart that they are not together. But I cannot even begin to do it. It will be a surprise to me if I can even present in either message a summary of the things that I would like to say. And one of the reasons for my trepidation about speaking as I shall at this hour; I have never, I have never stood in the pulpit and delivered a message reflecting the destructive criticism of modern theological interpretation of the Word of God. I have never done it. But I cannot do otherwise if we have any appreciation at all of why it is that the modern theologian assails, destroys, repudiates the Book of Daniel.
There is not a liberal theologian in the world that accepts the authenticity and inspiration, the genuineness of the Book of Daniel—not one. So the message this morning is: Why the critic refuses the Book of Daniel. What does he say about it? What is there in the book that insults his so-called intelligence? That’s what we are going to look at, what he says. And the title of the sermon is Daniel in the Critics Den or as it shall appear when it is printed, Daniel is Eaten Up in the Critics Den.
The destructive higher critic, and that includes all of the liberal theologians in the world, all of them with regard to Daniel; they look upon this book, Daniel, as a forgery, “It is a spurious writing.” They refer to it as an example of the pseudepigrapha, pseudepigrapha, pseudepigraphic apocalyptic writing. Pseudes in Greek means false, epi, upon; grapho is to write, a writing. So a pseudepigrapha, a pseudepigraphic writing is a writing; and usually refers to a Jewish writing under a falsely assumed name which appeared in the first and second centuries BC. An example of it would be the Book of Enoch. They falsely assumed that Enoch wrote this, that book, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years before. The same things about the Pseudepigrapha, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; they were written, that book was written say at 100 BC; but they falsely assumed that the twelve patriarchs—Judah, Simeon, Levi, the twelve patriarchs of Judah wrote it hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, hundreds of years before. It’s a false, spurious forgery. Now, that’s what they call the Book of Daniel. To them it is an instance of that pseudepigrapha, that pseudepigraphic, apocalyptic writing. No, we haven’t time to go into that, we’ll speak of it as time goes on.
So, when they look at the book, to them it is pure fiction, it is a novel—there is not anything that is actually factual in it. Its great facts are fancies; its mighty miracles are feats of the imagination. And it’s supposed prophetic utterances are nothing other but history clothed in the garb of prophecy, as though it were written centuries and centuries ago when actually all of these things that were prophesied have already come to pass, and this spurious writer just makes as though he were prophesying it, when actually the things have already been a part of history. Now that is the attitude of the higher critic and of the liberal theologian. Without exception, they repudiate the authenticity, the inspiration, the genuineness of the Book of Daniel.
Now the attack that is made against the book is under four categories: first, historical. They say that it is filled with historical errors, inaccuracies, and gross, immense anachronisms. Second, philological: they say that it is filled with linguistic irreconcilables. Third, prophetic: they say the book is full of prophetic impossibilities. And fourth, doctrinal: they say that it is filled with doctrinal aberrations. Now the message this morning, I’m going to take what those higher critics say, what the destructive critics say about the Book of Daniel under those four categories in which they attack it.
First, their alleged historical errors, inaccuracies, and anachronisms: there’s not anything in the Book of Daniel but that they reject it. Everything Daniel says is supposed to be historically incorrect. Now, I want you to take your Book, I want you to open it to the Book of Daniel, and I want you to come along with me. We are just going to look and see what the critic says. Then next Sunday we are going to see how he fares in the crucible of the light of truth and fact.
The book begins, and there’s no syllable in this first sentence but that they reject. “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it” [Daniel 1:1]. They say every syllable of that sentence is false, inaccurate, and incorrect. “The third year of the reign of Jehoiakim,” they say that denies Jeremiah 46:2. They say that there was no visitation of Nebuchadnezzar to Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim, there was no besieging of the city, and there was no deportation. Daniel, this book says, was taken to Babylon a captive in the third year of Jehoiakim [Daniel 1:3-7]; and the critic denies every syllable of it.
Now I cannot help, in saying these things this morning, to make a comment or two in passing. It is the strangest thing to me, for the author says in Daniel 9:2 that he has Jeremiah before him and that he had studied long and earnestly the prophesies of Jeremiah—the Book of Jeremiah. Now it is strange to me that this author, whom they say is so very clever, that having the Book of Jeremiah before him, that in the first sentence of his so-called romance, he contradicts Jeremiah. But that’s what they say. He contradicts Jeremiah in this first sentence, “The third year of the reign of Jehoiakim” [Daniel 1:1]. Now, we will have to speak of that later on.
All right, another thing in that sentence: he speaks of “Nebuchadnezzar,” Nebuchadnezzar. And throughout the book, he will call the king of Babylon, “Nebuchadnezzar.” Well, the critic says, that is a spelling of the word that came into vogue centuries later; the actual name of this king is “Nebuchad-rezzar,” “r,” ‘rezzar, not “n” nezzar. Now, I can’t help but make a few comments along as I say. That’s the way the Book of Kings spells it. That’s the way the Book of Chronicles spells it. That’s the way Ezra spells it. That’s the way Jeremiah spells it half the time. The king’s name actually is Nebuchadrezzar. But, when you translate, transliterate Babylonian cuneiform into the Aramaic and Hebrew, sometimes you have a difficulty. But that is one of the signs, they say, that it was written centuries later.
All right—calls him “king of Babylon” [Daniel 1:1]; and they violently object to that; Nebuchadnezzar “king of Babylon.” He was not at that time, king. Nabopolassar, his father, was still living, therefore, he was not the king; Nabopolassar was. But I say, I cannot help but make a comment in passing, Jeremiah calls him “king” at this time [Jeremiah 46:2]. And, as we have learned from archaeological studies, Nebuchadnezzar was co-regent and co–sovereign with his father, Nabopolassar. So to call him “king” was highly in order. We aren’t going to get started!
Verse 3: “And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs” [Daniel 1:3]. They say, “That’s pure fiction. There never was any such person as an Ashpenaz and his name cannot be discovered in any Babylonian literature or on any Babylonian monument.” That is, until just a few years ago. There is preserved a conical brick out of the dust heaps of the city of Babylon; and, just recently, on one of those conical bricks, they found the name, “Ashpenaz.” We must continue.
“Now among these,” in verse 6 here, “Now among these captives of the children of Judah was Daniel” [Daniel 1:6]. And they scoff at the idea of a “Daniel” and his high elevation in the ministries of the government. For they avow so high a minister of government, surely his name would be found in the literature and among the monuments of the ancient Chaldeans, the Babylonians. Now, let me say a word in passing there: just where would you find the name of Moses on an ancient monument? Just where would you find Jesus referred to by a contemporary? Just where would you find the name of Paul by a contemporary, somebody who lived when Paul lived? Oh! These men! There is no such person as Daniel, they say, because his name is not found on the monuments or in the extant literature, which is always so small. Those kings in those ancient days glorified themselves; and great generals, artists, architects, engineers are hardly ever mentioned. And because you can’t find the name of Moses in a pyramid in Egypt, does not mean he never lived! Where did that law come from [John 1:17], and the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17], and the nation of Israel [Genesis 12:2], and a slavery in Egypt? [Exodus 13:3]. That’s Moses! Shall we say there never lived a Jesus because He is never referred to by a contemporary? Where did our Savior come from, and those marvelous Gospels? Same way with Paul—on and on and on—but that’s the higher critic. We must hasten.
Chapter 2—chapter 2; this, they call an immense anachronism: chapter 2, verse 2, “Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams” [Daniel 2:2]. So, they say, that is a colossal anachronism, “the Chaldeans.” For “the Chaldeans” is a nation, it’s a people and, Nebuchadnezzar is the king of the Chaldeans. Now, to call the Chaldeans as here, magicians and astrologers, is a use of the word, they say, that was not in vogue until centuries, and centuries, and centuries later. The magi, who came to visit Jesus when He was born, were Chaldean “magians,” they were astrologers [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11]. They were these people here. And the word “Chaldeans” came to refer to magicians and astrologers in centuries and centuries later. So when this author uses the word “Chaldeans” to refer to astrologers, the critic says, it’s a dead giveaway, a dead giveaway that he’s writing centuries from the time that he says he is.
Well, I can’t help but make a comment here in passing. All of these comments ought to be made next Sunday, but if you will notice, in the chapter number 9 and the first verse, you will notice that the author refers to the kingdom of Chaldea [Daniel 9:1]. He uses the word both ways. He uses the word, Chaldea, to refer to the kingdom, the nation of the Chaldees, and he uses it also, to refer to a class of magians [Daniel 2:2]. Now, what we have discovered in our archaeological spade-turning is this: that in the days that he’s writing, there was a special, priestly caste who served the god, Bel, who were called Chaldeans. So the word was used both ways in Daniel’s time. It referred to the magians, a special class; and it also referred to the kingdom, the nation, the country of Chaldea. But we must finish.
These historical errors—oh, how they multiplied! Now turn in your Bible to Daniel chapter 5, verse 1, Daniel, chapter 5, verse 1, “Belshazzar the king” [Daniel 5:1]. They say there never was anybody by the name of Belshazzar; and he was certainly not a king. Then, look at verse 11; and it refers to Belshazzar’s father as being King Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 5:9, 11]. “There never was anybody named Belshazzar,” they say, “and he wasn’t any kin to Nebuchadnezzar; and he certainly wasn’t his son.” Then turn to the end of the chapter, “And in that night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was slain” [Daniel 5:30]. You see that word Chaldeans referring to the nation there? “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.” Well, they say such an incident as that never happened in history.
All right, the next verse, they say, is inaccurate: “And Darius the Mede took the kingdom’” [Daniel 5:31]. They say there never was anybody like Darius the Mede, that’s pure fiction. All right, chapter 6, verse 1, “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, satraps” [Daniel 6:1]. And they say there never was a time in the Medo-Persian nation when these one hundred twenty satraps were in historical evidence.
All right—turn over one other. Here, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel, verse 2, “In the first year of his reign Daniel understood by books the number of the years, of the word that came to Jeremiah the prophet” [Daniel 9:2]. They say that word “books” there, “books,” that refers to a completed canon. And the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures was not completed till centuries and centuries later. So, they say that is an anachronism and a dead giveaway that the author is writing centuries later. Now I can’t help but make another comment in passing. Isn’t it the most phenomenal, and miraculous, and amazing thing that they say this was written, Daniel was written, centuries and centuries later when the canon was already fixed and the proof of it, they say, is that that word “books” there refers to a fixed canon? How in the earth did Daniel get in it then? Can you imagine somebody writing a life of Christ today and it become a part of the Gospels in the New Testament? It would be just as inane and unthinkable that if this book, Daniel, was written centuries and centuries later, after the canon “was fixed” as they say this refers to, how did Daniel get in the canon? How did it get to be a part of the Holy Scriptures?
Oh, we must hasten. That was first. We have an instance now, and I’ve just hastily given it to you, of what they say comprised the historical inaccuracies, and errors, and anachronisms of the book.
All right, second, and I shall preach a sermon on this: the philological attack. The linguistic attack they make against the book. Now, hastily, now take your Bible. First of all, here in Daniel 2 and 4: from Daniel 2 and 4 to the last verse of the seventh chapter of the book, it is written in Aramaic [Daniel 2:4-7:28]—the rest of it is in Hebrew, but that is in Aramaic.
All right—look at the first chapter. In the third verse of the first chapter, you have “princes” there [Daniel 1:3]. And in the fifth verse of the first chapter, you have the king’s “meat” [Daniel 1:5]. The Hebrew there is “dainties,” and they say that those are Persian words, and there are fifteen Persian words, and they say that shows a later composition. Isn’t that a strange thing that Daniel should be a prince in the courts of Persia, and because he uses some Persian words, it represents a later authorship of the book?
All right, just one other and we’ll hasten with this. In the third chapter of the Book of Daniel, in the fifth verse, you have musical instruments there [Daniel 3:5]. And they say the harp, and the psaltery, and the dulcimer are Greek words. They refer to musical instruments; they are Greek words, and that that refers to a later, much later, composition of the book.
Now we are going to hasten on to the third one: the prophetical attack they make against the Book of Daniel. Now open your book to the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, the second chapter. In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, he sees this great image: gold, silver, brass, and iron [Daniel 2:31-45]. Now in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, it is a lion, and a bear, and a leopard, and a nondescript with iron teeth [Daniel 7:3-7]. What the critic says is this, that this book, having been written in 165 BC—centuries and centuries before, centuries and centuries after it is supposed to be written—that the author only knew four kingdoms: the kingdom of Babylon, the kingdom of Media, the kingdom of Persia, and the kingdom of Greece, and that he did not know the Roman Empire. “You see, he’s no prophet,” they say, therefore, he couldn’t see ahead, and that these four kingdoms are Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece, and that he never saw and he never prophesied the Roman Empire. Isn’t that an amazing attack? You see, when the critic says that the book is written in 165 BC, he has to make everything that he reads in the book fit his theory. And when he says Daniel is no prophet, and God did not reveal these things, and he’s just writing history, well, he has to say these things to make his theory fit.
Well, may I say a word in passing? There never has been a prophecy into which the mold of history has run as the great prophecy of Daniel regarding the course of World Empire. The head of gold, that’s the Babylonian [Daniel 2:32, 38]; and the breast and arms of silver, the Media-Persian Empire [Daniel 2:32, 39]; the brass thighs representing Greece [Daniel 2:32, 39]; and the great legs representing Rome [Daniel 2:33, 40]. Eastern empire, Western empire, and thereafter never another world empire, but breaking up into different kingdoms represented by the toes [Daniel 2:34-35, 41-45]. And all of that, the critic says, is false. For they say Daniel never saw the Roman Empire. It was an emerging nation at the time, but it was not a great empire.
Now, another thing about that: that directly and diametrically contradicts what Daniel plainly says. Now you look, turn to the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel: Daniel chapter 8. In verse 3, you see the vision of a ram with two horns and one was higher than the other. And then the higher one was the later one, a ram with two horns [Daniel 8:3]. Now look at verse 5, “And he saw a he goat, a rough goat” [Daniel 8:5]. Now what does that mean? All right, turn to verse 20 and verse 21, “The ram” singular, “the ram which thou sawest having the two horns are” . . . and the kings represent the kingdom. That ram represents the kingdom of Media-Persia [Daniel 8:20]. And next verse, “And the rough goat is the kingdom of Greece” [Daniel 2:33]. Yet the critic takes that great image and instead of those silver arms and brass representing one kingdom, the Median-Persian kingdom [Daniel 2:32, 39], he makes it represent two kingdoms. The silver represents Media, the brass represents Persia [Daniel 2:32], and the iron represents Greece [Daniel 8:20-21]—which is diametrically opposite to what Daniel is prophesying. I point that out to you just to show that when a higher critic sets himself to destroy the Word of God, he does anything, and he does everything, and he violates the very language of the book in order to accomplish his purpose. That’s why I call it “destructive criticism.”
Now I haven’t time to speak of the third thing that they say about the prophetic element in it: that it is not in the Torah, that it is not in the Nevi’im, but it is in the Ketuvim, it is in the Hagiographa, it’s in the writings. Now I haven’t time to speak of that. We’ll pick it up later on.
All right, the fourth. They make attack against it historically, saying it is full of historical errors. They make attack against it philologically, saying it is full of linguistic irreconcilables. They make attack against it prophetically, saying that it is full of prophetic impossibilities. Now, the last: and they make attack against it doctrinally; and this, to me, is an unbelievable attack. To me, this is the evidence of a distorted and a warped mind—to me. All right, they object violently, turn to Daniel 12:2 and 3, Daniel 12:2 and 3:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
They violently assail that because you have here in the prophesies of Daniel, you have here the resurrection of the dead. And to them, God is incapable of revealing to the ancients the resurrection of the dead. The same men violently attack Job, chapter 19, verse 25 and 26:
For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that at the latter day He shall stand upon the earth:
And though through my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Whom mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.
They violently attack it because it is a revelation of the resurrection from the dead. And they say, “Such a thing is unthinkable; it is unthinkable that God should reveal the resurrection of the dead.”
Oh, spare me just one other minute. Doctrinal assailing the Book of Daniel: the resurrection of the dead. Another, angels, angels: here in the sixth chapter of the Book of Daniel, we read, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Daniel, we read verse 22, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths,” angels [Daniel 6:22]. And they violently attack the exhibit of angels in the Book of Daniel. My brother, you had might as well seek to dissolve the fabric of the whole Word of God. When Abraham lifted up his knife to slay Isaac, an angel of the Lord said “Abraham, Abraham, Abraham,” and Abraham stayed his hand [Genesis 22:10-13]. When Jacob lay down to sleep, he saw a vision of a ladder to heaven and angels ascending. I wish I had time to expatiate on that, not “descending and ascending”, “ascending and descending” on that ladder from earth to heaven and back to earth—the angels of God [Genesis 28:12]. When Moses, in the thirty-second chapter of the Book of Exodus, started leading the people through the wilderness, the Lord said, “My angel shall precede you” [Exodus 32:34]. In the birth of Samson to Manoah, and the angel did wondrously, went up to heaven in the flame of fire [Judges 13:19-20].
When Jesus was tempted, an angel ministered to Him [Matthew 4:11]. When He cried in Gethsemane, an angel strengthened Him [Luke 22:43]. When Simon Peter was in prison, an angel smote him on the side and led him out into the open [Acts 12:7-10]. When Paul was in that tragic storm in chapter 27 of the Book of Acts, he said, “An angel stood by me this night” [Acts 27:23-24]. In the first verse of the Revelation, it says “The Apocalypse, the unveiling of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, that He might show His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by an angel to His servant John” [Revelation 1:1]. You had might as well try to unravel the very fabric of the Word of God!
Turn in this Book of Daniel and you find in the eighth chapter, Gabriel; verse 16, Gabriel [Daniel 8:16]. Turn over, turn over, and you’ll find his name in the ninth chapter, verse 21: Gabriel [Daniel 9:21]. Oh, how they violently attack that! But was it not the angel Gabriel who stood on the right side of the golden altar and announced to Zacharias the birth of John the Baptist? [Luke 1:11-19]. And was it not the angel Gabriel that was sent six months later to Nazareth to announce to the virgin Jewess, Mary, that she should be the mother of that foretold and foreordained Child? [Luke 1:26-35]. Is not that right? To deny it is to unhinge and undo the very Word of God.
Turn in your Bible here to chapter 10, in verse 14—in verse 13, you have Michael, Michael [Daniel 10:13-16]. In the last verse of that tenth chapter, you have Michael [Daniel 10:21]. And oh, how they inveigle against Michael, but in Jude, when Michael the archangel disputed with the devil about the body of Jesus [Jude 9]; or in the twelve chapter of the Revelation, when Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels [Revelation 12:7].
Well, we’ll pick it up next Sunday morning, How the Critic Fares in the Fiery Furnace. What are the facts from archaeology? And what are the facts from history? And what are the facts in the course of world empire? There has never been one discovery yet, there has never been a spade turned by an archaeologist that denies a syllable in the Word of God, much less in the Book of Daniel. This is as Paul called it, theopneustos; this is “God breathed” [2 Timothy 3:16], the Lord speaks in His Book.
Now, Lee Roy, we sing one stanza, one stanza. And while we sing that one stanza somebody you, give himself to the faith, give himself to Jesus. A couple you, a family you, to put your life with us in the circle of this glorious church, come and stand by me. Out of this balcony round, the press on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Here I am, preacher, and here I come.” Decide now to do it and when you stand up, stand up coming. And God bless you in the way, while all of us stand and while we sing.
DANIEL IN THE CRITICS DEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Alleged historical errors
A. Third year of the reign of Jehoiakim
B. Nebuchadnezzar vs Nebuchad-rezzar
C. King of Babylon
H. Darius the Mede
I. Books, canon
II. Alleged linguistic
C. Three Greek words for musical instruments
III. Alleged prophetical impossibilities
A. Roman Empire
B. Daniel 11
IV. Alleged doctrinal aberrations