The Book of Daniel is one of the Books of the Bible that has drawn sustained criticism precisely on its historicity. The claim has been that the Book could not have been originated at an earlier date than the Maccabean Period. But the book itself claims to have been written earlier than this era. Now, whenever someone makes a claim and a big claim for that matter, one thing I do is to check if they have backed up that claim with sound and reliable evidence. If I happen to notice factual and logical flaws, then I customarily ignore the claim and treat it as pseudoscholarship (specifically pseudophilosophy and pseudohistory).
Internal evidence point to Daniel as the author and at the same time point to a year around 530BC. Daniel himself tells us that he is the author of the Book (Daniel 7:1; 12:4). Jesus affirms this in Matthew. 24:15. If what Jesus said was false, then He was either a cheat or shallow.
Ezekiel, who was a contemporary of Daniel also corroborates this (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3).
Externally, the Jewish and Roman historian Josephus, and the authors of 1 Maccabees and 1 Enoch acknowledges Daniel.
The Book of Daniel is on point in differentiating between the city of Susa and Elam, correctly identifying Belshazzar (who was the son of Nabonidus and a grandson to Nebuchadnezzar II) and accurately depicting the knowledge of capital punishments of the prevailing culture of the day.
The textual evidence – fragments discovered in Cave 4 of Qumran – supports an early dating.
Richard Carrier, an acclaimed atheist, accepts that the Book of Daniel was written around 500BC.
The man Daniel and what we can learn from him
Daniel was not a called prophet per se. He was an administrator and a statesman. But he spoke prophetic words, and this qualified him as one.
God can still use us to perform outstanding assignments notwithstanding our vocational and professional backgrounds.
There is something that Daniel did immediately after he landed in Babylon – that is after the fall of Jerusalem – that sets him apart.
Daniel drew a line. He neither crossed this line himself nor allowed anyone to cross it. This line helped him to subdue his appetites or lusts. He refused to embrace the way of life and philosophy of Babylon. We find this in Daniel 1. He did these by subduing physical appetites. He refused to eat the food of Babylonians that most likely was dedicated to their gods.
Daniel controlled his material appetites. He did not allow material rewards to make him stray from his God.
‘Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.’ Daniel 5:17 (NIV)
Daniel resisted the urge to conform. He vehemently rejected the idea that prayers be directed to King Darius. This stubbornness made King Darius throw him into the den of lions. This is a valuable lesson for every Christian youth. Why? Because we live in a pluralistic culture that keeps beckoning at us and alluring us into a world of accepting the notion that ‘all roads lead to Rome.’ And you can witness this in the resurgence of occults and other esoteric worldviews.
In summary, we see that Daniel trained his appetites in the areas of his physical life, religious life and socio-cultural life. Eventually, he conquered the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
And that is how a modern Christian is supposed to live – by drawing a line and training our appetites.