Bart Ehrman: The Pseudonymous Authorship of Daniel

Bart D. Ehrman, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020), 120-121.

The pseudonymous authorship…is a literary ploy used by authors to convince their readers that they know what was soon to happen, and so to provide comfort for them in their time of trouble. That is certainly the case with the book of Daniel, who, by extensive recounting of detailed visions about the future of Judea, allegedly written centuries earlier, discusses at length the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes, without calling him by name, and his ultimate fate. The real author is clearly living during Antiochus’ reign, and he actually predicts Antiochus’ death in a final battle in the Promised Land (Daniel 11:40-45). This particular prediction did not come true, showing that the book was produced sometime before Antiochus died in Persia in 164 BCE.

4 thoughts on “Bart Ehrman: The Pseudonymous Authorship of Daniel

  1. In fairness, Daniel 11:45 isn’t clear that Antiochus meets his end at a battle in the promised land. It just implies that he will utlimately come to his end with no one to help him despite his present successes. It could mean in the course of the war being described, but not necessarily. It’s not an uncommon OT thing to talk about how various wars and allegiances will bring Israel a temporary prosperity that will ultimately give way to their destruction.

    And, honestly, that’s not a bad description of what actually happened whichever account of AE’s death you hold to. Again, I’m not contesting Ehrman’s reading, but just pointing out that Daniel’s latter chapters are super weird and I’d just want to hold to conclusions with tentativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ehrman tends to be too certain at some points and this may be one of those points (though I am sympathetic to his reading).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There seems to be a misquote there. “…clearly lying during Antiochus’ reign…” should be “clearly living during Antiochus’ reign.”

    Liked by 1 person

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