Daniel in the Critic's Den

By Sir Robert Anderson


     ALTHOUGH this volume appears under an old title, it is practically a new work. The title remains, lest any who possess my "Reply to Dean Farrar's Book of Daniel" should feel aggrieved on finding part of that treatise reproduced under a new designation. But the latter half of this book is new; and the whole has been recast, in view of its main purpose and aim as a reply to Professor Driver's Commentary in "The Cambridge Bible" series. The appearance of Professor Driver's Book of Daniel marks an epoch in the Daniel controversy. ( It appeared first as an article in Blackwood's Magazine, and afterwards separately in book form.) Hitherto there has been no work in existence which English exponents of the sceptical hypothesis would accept as a fair and adequate expression of their views. But now the oracle has spoken. The most trusted champion of the Higher Criticism in England has formulated the case against the Book of Daniel; and if that case can be refuted - if it can be shown that its apparent force depends on a skilful presentation of doubtful evidence upon the one side, to the exclusion of overwhelmingly cogent evidence upon the other - the result ought to be an "end of controversy" on the whole question.

     It rests with others to decide whether this result is established in the following pages. I am willing to stake it upon the issues specified in Chapter VII. And even if the reader should see fit to make that chapter the starting-point of his perusal of my book, I am still prepared to claim his verdict in favour of Daniel.

     And here I should premise, what will be found more than once repeated in the sequel, that the inquiry involved in the Daniel controversy is essentially judicial. An experienced Judge with an intelligent jury - any tribunal, indeed, accustomed to sift and weigh conflicting testimony - would be better fitted to deal with it than a Company of all the philologists of Christendom. The philologist's proper place is in the witness-chair. He can supply but a part, and that by no means the most important part, of the necessary evidence. And if a single well-ascertained fact be inconsistent with his theories, the fact must prevail. But this the specialist is proverbially slow to recognise. He is always apt to exaggerate the importance of his own testimony, and to betray impatience when evidence of another kind is allowed legitimate weight. And nowhere is this tendency more marked than among the critics.

     In the preface to his Continuity of Scripture, Lord Hatherley speaks of "the supposed evidence on which are based some very confident assertions of a self-styled 'higher criticism.'" And he adds, "Assuming the learning to be profound and accurate which has collected the material for much critical performance, the logic by which conclusions are deduced from those materials is frequently grievously at fault, and open to the judgment of all who may have been accustomed to sift and weigh evidence." My apology for this book is that I can claim a humble place in the category described in these concluding words. Long accustomed to deal with evidence in difficult and intricate inquiries, I have set myself to investigate the genuineness of the Book of Daniel, and the results of my inquiry are here recorded.

     Lord Hatherley was not the only Lord Chancellor of our time to whom earnest thought and study brought a settled conviction of the Divine authority and absolute integrity of Holy Scripture. The two very great men who in turn succeeded him in that high office, though versed in the literature of the critics, held unflinchingly to the same conclusion. And while some, perhaps, would dismiss the judgment of men like Lord Cairns and Lord Selborne as being that of "mere laymen," sensible people the whole world over would accept their decision upon an intricate judicial question of this kind against that of all the pundits of Christendom.

     As regards my attitude towards criticism, I deprecate being misunderstood. Every book I have written gives proof of fearlessness in applying critical methods to the study of the Bible. But the Higher Criticism is a mere travesty of all true criticism. Secular writers are presumed to be trustworthy unless reason is found to discredit their testimony. But the Higher Criticism starts with the assumption that everything in Scripture needs to be confirmed by external evidence. It reeks of its evil origin in German infidelity. My indictment of it, therefore, is not that it is criticism, but that it is criticism of a low and spurious type, akin to that for which the baser sort of "Old Bailey" practitioner is famed. True criticism seeks to elucidate the truth: the Higher Criticism aims at establishing pre-judged results. And in exposing such a system the present volume has an importance far beyond the special subject of which it treats. A single instance will suffice. The "Annalistic tablet" of Cyrus, which records his conquest of Babylon, is received by the critics as Gospel truth, albeit the deception which underlies it would be clear even to a clever schoolboy. But even as read by the critics it affords confirmation of Daniel which is startling in its definiteness in regard to Belshazzar and Darius the Mede. It tells us that the capture of the inner city was marked by the death of Belshazzar, or (as the inscription calls him throughout) "the son of the king." And further, we learn from it that Cyrus's triumph was shared by a Median of such note that his name was united with his own in the proclamation of an amnesty. And yet so fixed is the determination of the critics to discredit the Book of Daniel, that all this is ignored.

     The inadequacy of the reasons put forward for rejecting Daniel clearly indicate that there is some potent reason of another kind in the background. It was the miraculous element in the book that set the whole pack of foreign sceptics in full cry. In this age of a silent heaven such men will not tolerate the idea that God ever intervened directly in the affairs of men. But this is too large a subject for incidental treatment. I have dealt with it in The Silence of God, and I would refer specially to Chapter III. of that work.

     Other incidental questions involved in the controversy I have treated of here; but as they are incidental, I have relegated them to the Appendix. And if any one claims a fuller discussion of them, I must ask leave to refer to the work alluded to by Professor Driver in his Book of Daniel - namely, The Coming Prince, or The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.




    MOST of the "historical errors" in Daniel, which Professor Driver has copied from Bertholdt's work of a century ago, have been disposed of by the erudition and research of our own day. But the identity of Darius the Mede has been referred to in former editions of the present work as an unsolved historical difficulty in the Daniel controversy. That question, however, seems to be settled by a verse in Ezra, which has hitherto been used only by Voltaire and others to discredit the Prophet's narrative.

    Ezra records that in the reign of Darius Hystaspis the Jews presented a petition to the King, in which they recited Cyrus' decree authorising the rebuilding of their Temple. The wording of the petition clearly indicates that, to the knowledge of the Jewish leaders, the decree in question had been filed in the house of the archives in Babylon. But the search there made for it proved fruitless, and it was ultimately found at Ecbatana (or Achmetha: Ezra vi. 2). How, then, could a State paper of this kind have been transferred to the Median capital?

    The only reasonable explanation of this extraordinary fact completes the proof that the vassal king whom Daniel calls Darius was the Median general, Gobryas (or Gubaru), who led the army of Cyrus to Babylon. As noticed in these pages (163, 165, ftost), the testimony of the inscriptions points to that conclusion. After the taking of the city, his name was coupled with that of Cyrus in proclaiming an amnesty. And he it was who appointed the governors or prefects; which appointments Daniel states were made by Darius. The fact that he was a prince of the royal house of Media, and presumably well known to Cyrus, who had resided at the Median Court, would account for his being held in such high honour. He had governed Media as Viceroy when that country was reduced to the status of a province; and to any one accustomed to deal with evidence, the inference will seem natural that, for some reason or other, he was sent back to his provincial throne, and that, in returning to Ecbatana, he carried with him the archives of his brief reign in Babylon.

     I will only add that the confusion and error which the "Higher Critics" attribute to the sacred writers are mainly due to their own failure to distinguish between the several judgments of the era of the exile - the "Servitude," the "Captivity," and the "Desolations" (Jer. xxix. 10; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21.