Daniel's Use of Three Greek
by Daniel J. Dyke
In 1891 S.R. Driver asserted that the Greek loan words
in Daniel demanded a date for Daniel after Alexander the Great conquered
the "world" in 332 B.C. From the days of Driver to the present this
argument has been repeated by those who hold the book of Daniel to be a
pious forgery written in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes (ca. 168 B.C.).
How many Greek words are in the text? One would
think from the certainty of Driver's assertion that the text was filled
with them. The text speaks extensivily about the Greek empire (Chapters
7, 8, & 11), but it is of interest that not one of the Greek words
in Daniel is found in these contexts. Three words for musical instruments
are used together in four verses of the book (3:5,
7, 10, 15). Does this really demand a date after the conquest of
Without much thought I counted nine languages in
less than 30 seconds from which I knew at least three words. Of course
a person could argue that this is a modern culture in which we have massive
Arguments have been mounted by conservative and moderate
scholars pointing to this cultural penetration as being fairly extensive.1
Questions that need to be addressed by the negative critical scholar would
One of the major branches for this penetration may have
been the Philistines.
The Philistines were a part of a group known as the "Sea Peoples."
This phrase was used of a mixed group which included the Sherden (Sardinians?),
Ekwesh, Weshwesh, Peleset (Philistines) and others.
Was there cultural penetration in Palestine before the Babylonian
deportation of Judah in 605 B.C.?
What was the main channel for Greek culture to trickle into
Israel and Palestine?
What type of things would naturally flow through this channel?
Which ones would Israelites embrace?
It was suggested in a recent article by Seymour Gitin,
Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh that the name of one of the Philistine kings,
Ikausu, may have been Greek in origin. They said,
The kings Ysd, Ada, and Ya'ir, forfathers of Ikausu in
the inscription, are otherwise unknown. The name Ikausu is interesting
in that is the only non-Semitic name among those of the eigth- to seventh-century
Philistine kings mentioned in the Assyrian records. It
may be related to the word Achaean, meaning Greek. That Padi gave this
name to his son, or that his son adopted the name, may be further evidence
of the Philistine's Aegean origin.2
If this proves to be true then we have an example of
Greek culture penetrating Palestine before 605 B.C. What type of
word was it? It was the name of a person. It is interesting that
many of the foreign words that people know fall into these categories:
The three Greek words found in Daniel would fit into
category two. The name of Ekron's king would fit into category one.
The ancient near east was not compartmentalized, but an ocean filled with
the ebb and flow of commerce. Before Alexander's troops arrived to
conquer the eastern Mediteranean their consummer goods had already arrived
and were waiting for them. Daniel and his countrymen knew the names
of three of these goods and Daniel employed them in his book to describe
what he saw in Babylon.3
Names of Persons, Places, etc.
Words of Affirmation or Negation
F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity. p. 337.
Gitin, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh, "Ekron Identity Confirmed," Archaeology,
51 (January/February, 1998) 31.
principle applied here is Occam's razor--if there are two explanations
and all the arguments are equal then the simplest explanation of the phenomena
is the preferred explanation. If there had been hundreds of loan
words or Daniel had been written in Greek, like some of the literature
coming from the Greek period, then the simplest explanation would
have been Daniel was written during the Greek period.