Daniel In The Critic’s Den, by Josh McDowell
Having been familiar in general with Josh McDowell’s apologetics work, strictly his two volumes on evidence and more evidence that demands a verdict, it was quite intriguing for me to find this particular book that dealt specifically with the Book of Daniel. For those of us who deal with questions of biblical interpretation, and who have various thoughts on textual criticism, the Book of Daniel is among the more obvious areas of interest. Perhaps second only to the Pentateuch, the Book of Daniel has provoked a great deal of hostility from higher critics who deny the possibility of predictive prophecy and who therefore view the Book of Daniel as a late forgery of Hasmonean origin. What this book, quite naturally, seeks to do is to present a counterargument that rebuts arguments against the early date of Daniel. Given the fact that this book is clearly a contentious and controversial take on a subject, albeit a very excellent one, and given its more narrow scope, it is little surprise that the work has been less familiar to later readers than the author’s first two volumes, but for all of its obscurity this is a most excellent book to enjoy for those who have a strong interest in textual criticism .
After a short preface that places this book within the context of the author’s larger writings, the author takes about 130 pages or so to tackle a very focused set of concern. First, the author comments on why the Book of Daniel is in the critic’s den to begin with, given the clear importance of predictive prophecy and given the importance of the Book of Daniel and its understanding to place the context of the preaching of Jesus Christ and the legitimacy of the Gospel message. The author then comments on the fact that Daniel can defend itself against its critics, giving a positive case for Daniel that does more than simply make fun of haters, as entertaining as that task would be. The author then gives chapters on the attacks on Daniel as a historian and as a writer and further attacks on the book and gives rebuttals to them based on word analysis, historical and textual evidence, and the like. The book as a whole presents itself as a powerful defense of the book of Daniel, and one that is worth reading for anyone who finds themselves needing to defend Daniel in hostile circumstances.
The purpose of this text was to provide a handy defense of the book of Daniel for those who may never have seen anyone at all defend the Book of Daniel at all, even if many people use Daniel in prophetic messages. The defenses of the Book of Daniel are pretty elegant, including a reference to the writings of Josephus, the fact that we have texts of Daniel going back into the second century BC, and the fact that there are references to the Book of Daniel that are before the time when the book was supposedly written. There are some people who may criticize this book for having too lengthy of quotations of various arguments for or against the book of Daniel, or even a bit of repetitiveness in the arguments, but on the whole this is a solid apologetics work that is worth reflecting upon and certainly worth appropriating and citing in one’s own defenses. If the defense of the book of Daniel is a bit too rare, at least this book does the job well enough that few other defenses are necessary. Sometimes quality can trump quantity when it comes to textual analysis and higher criticism, although this book has at least one unsettling comment made for many of its readers, and that is the assertion that all of those who engage in intellectual commentary on a book, whether for or against, are engaged in the task of higher criticism.
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