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Who wrote the book of Daniel? Who was the author of Daniel?

author of Daniel

The book of Daniel stands out among Old Testament works, blending narrative with prophetic materials and apocalyptic visions akin to Revelation. In the Tanakh it is classified under the Ketuvim (Writings), focusing on Daniel’s historical narrative rather than its prophetic visions. Indeed, Daniel’s distinct literary form, inclusion of narrative, eschatological focus, and apocalyptic visions set it apart from other prophetic literature. Our modern Bibles categorize the book of Daniel as one of the Major Prophets.

The book of Daniel captures the essence of godly living during the Babylonian exile, offering a model for Christians living as foreigners in this world (see 1 Peter 2:11–12). The faithfulness of Daniel and his friends remains relevant today, and his visions emphasize God’s sovereignty. The book is divided into two parts: court tales from chapters 1—6 and apocalyptic visions from chapters 7—12.

The book derives its name from Daniel, its author, who lived during the exile and serves as the central character throughout much of the narrative. The author’s knowledge of Persian and Babylonian history also fits with what we know of Daniel. Daniel’s authorship gains further credibility from Jesus, who referenced the “abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel” (Matthew 24:15, ESV; cf. Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11).

Several passages in the book of Daniel also feature Daniel speaking in the first person. An example is Daniel 8:15–17: “While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man” (see also Daniel 7:2; 9:2; 10:2). Such passages further support the view that Daniel wrote the book. Some segments of Daniel 4, including a royal decree, were likely written by King Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel included them as supporting material.

Some contemporary scholars hold that Daniel was a legendary figure, proposing an anonymous author writing in 167 BC rather than 530 BC when Daniel lived. However, this position of a legendary Daniel is unsubstantiated as Jesus spoke of him as an actual figure. The prophet Ezekiel also mentioned Daniel as a real person, not a legend (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3). To assert that Daniel is legendary, the Christian would have to accept that Jesus and Ezekiel were either frauds or gravely mistaken. Even more, given the first-person perspective in the book of Daniel, we’d also have to acknowledge forgery.

Based on the testimonies of Jesus and Ezekiel and internal evidence in the text, we conclude that Daniel was a historical prophet who wrote the book that bears his name.

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Who wrote the book of Daniel? Who was the author of Daniel?
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This page last updated: April 30, 2024