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Need Help On Two Topics-- Book Of Daniel And Ipuwer Papryus!


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Hello all, I need help on a couple of topics.

 

The first is with the book of Daniel. I have always been very comfortable with the late dating to around 167bc or so but recently became aware of a story in Josephus that mentions Alexander the Great being shown a portion of Daniel that apparently he felt applied to him?? Is this a fanciful story by Josephus? Did he tell other tall tales? Or is it possible that parts of Daniel had been written earlier than others and he may have seen some scripture, however the parts about the "little horn" came later?

 

Second-- can anyone weigh in on the Ipuwer Papyrus--- some Christians want to tie this egyptian poem on papyrus to the story in exodus? Seems like the Christian sites support this theory while many Egyptologists disagree?

 

Unfortunately I ran across these two things while researching something else. Every Christian site regarrding them touted the authenticity of scripture so that sucked. Please help me understand these curious stories better if you can!

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I don't know about the other one but if Alexander the Great was shown a painting that doesn't mean the Book of Daniel was written by the person in the painting.  

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With Daniel, I was checking out something totally unrelated, but ended up on a website that supported the older dating of Daniel. They cited a few different things such as writing styles and the ancient cylinder that mentions Belshasser-- in their explanation, they felt that since the Belshasser cylinder was dated somewhere around 300's BC and no one else mentions him, that this proved Daniel to be written before 160's BC. I thought was a stretch .

 

They also cited the Dead Sea scrolls and how the copies of some books of Daniel were dated to around 125bc and that they felt that the original books (these were copies?) had to be older for them to gain enough popularity to be at Qumran--- I found that to be a bit of a stretch as well because I think dating papyrus is pretty sketchy to begin with and there was a pretty big spread with the possible dates. Also, this type of literature was very popular around Jesus time-- I think Daniel was very prolific in the 1st and 2nd century BC and 1 AD.

 

The also mentioned the Sybilline oracles but those appear to have many alterations made to them-- so I don't think they support an older dating of Daniel.

 

The only one I don't have a good answer for is the story in Josephus--- unless I just believe he was telling a tall tale? The apologists stated that academics don't believe the accuracy of this story because it proves Daniel to be prophetic----ugh.

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The way I understand it, Daniel was sort of a folk hero. There was no copyright back in bible times, so any time someone invented a new folk tale, they named him Daniel. When they were compiling the bible and choosing which books to cannonize, they strongly considered leaving out Daniel entirely, since it was acknowledged folk tales. But people loved it. It was so popular, they had to include it... but the problem was, there was so much material, if they'd included every story, the book would have been longer than the rest of the bible combined. So they cut a lot, but kept in the most popular stories.

 

(I'm sorry I can't give references for this, because I saw a documentary on how the books of the OT were compiled with interviews with biblical experts, but I can't remember the name of it.)

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Hello all, I need help on a couple of topics.

 

The first is with the book of Daniel. I have always been very comfortable with the late dating to around 167bc or so but recently became aware of a story in Josephus that mentions Alexander the Great being shown a portion of Daniel that apparently he felt applied to him?? Is this a fanciful story by Josephus? Did he tell other tall tales? Or is it possible that parts of Daniel had been written earlier than others and he may have seen some scripture, however the parts about the "little horn" came later?

     I'm just heading to bed so I'm not going to spend any time on any of these things other than a quick reply (hopefully it's not riddled with errors).

 

     There's no evidence to back the Josephus story on Alexander the Great.  It's just a story to get a great person into a Podunk land, talk up their god, their country, grant them rights and so on.  The account mentions how the Jews got privileges but the Samaritans didn't thanks to Alexander (but this didn't seem to happen until long afterward).  How they could behave in the armies (ie. retain their Jewish customs).  And so on.  If it came from antiquity, by a great man such as Alexander, these things would get often grandfathered in when bargaining with new leadership.

 

     EDIT: I also wanted to add that it was also a way to make get the Hellenistic culture to be less than the Jewish one.  It's like when someone goes for surgery and a xian prays.  The surgeon and their skills are suddenly less important than the magic of prayer and god (if they do well that is).  That's sort of what's going on here.  Alexander "submits" to the god of the Jews and supposedly acknowledges his powers and that he was chosen (via prophecy) to do what he did as opposed to really having any abilities at all (and it shows that he personally and his culture are, at best, second to that of the Jews).

     It's also likely that Daniel was written in stages with the first part of the book being older than the latter part.  That doesn't mean the story is accurate or true but why the parts of the book don't quite all line up nice and neat.

 

Second-- can anyone weigh in on the Ipuwer Papyrus--- some Christians want to tie this egyptian poem on papyrus to the story in exodus? Seems like the Christian sites support this theory while many Egyptologists disagree?

     That's weird.  Egyptologists don't think that an ancient papyrus is just another biblical text in disguise?  What's wrong with them?  Haven't they been properly trained?  Everyone knows that all ancient texts are probably biblical in some way *if* properly interpreted.

 

     As far as I recall it makes a couple of references to things that sound like Exodus but the thing that kills it is that there is literally no exodus but rather an invasion in the text.  So it's the opposite of an exodus story.

 

          mwc

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 Is this a fanciful story by Josephus? Did he tell other tall tales?

 

Josephus incorporated any stories that would help paint the Jews as idealized Greco-Roman citizens. This included things like Moses composing songs in hexameter, Abraham teaching science to Egyptians, Moses setting up a senatorial style priestly aristocracy and anything else that could show how the Jews as a people had a great history full of important leaders all making contributions to civilization. He embellished biblical stories and spun and glossed anything he could get his hands on that would make the Jews sound awesome.

 

As MWC stated, in the ATG account, he sets up a contrast between the Jews and the Samaritans. In that section of Antiquities, the Samaritans approach Alexander with hat in hand begging for allegiance while in the case of the Jews, it's Alexander who is the one who bows down to the Jewish high priest and pays respects to their god. The point is clear, the great hero of the Hellenized world recognized that Jews take priority over Samaritans. Romans should do likewise.

 

Outside of Josephus and other Jewish legends in the Talmud, which would seem to contradict Josephus' account, there is no evidence that ATG ever even visited Jerusalem, much less worshiped there or had any visions of the Jewish god.

 

What cracks me up about how apologists go about using Josephus is that they treat him like he's this nearly unimpeachable historical source...except when he contradicts and clearly embellishes the Biblical account on numerous occasions. In those cases, and apparently in those cases alone, they regard him as in error.

 

On that note...

 

With Daniel, I was checking out something totally unrelated, but ended up on a website that supported the older dating of Daniel. They cited a few different things such as writing styles and the ancient cylinder that mentions Belshasser-- in their explanation, they felt that since the Belshasser cylinder was dated somewhere around 300's BC and no one else mentions him, that this proved Daniel to be written before 160's BC. I thought was a stretch .

 

That ancient cylinder also names Belshasser as the son of Nabonidus (not Nebuchadnezzar) and it provides evidence that the writer of at least part of Daniel didn't know his 6th century history worth shit and compressed and confused the accounts. So it's funny to me that they would appeal to this artifact as supporting the early dating of the book of Daniel when the artifact itself undercuts the book of Daniel's historicity while adding no evidence to confirm its dating. That's confirmation bias if I've ever seen it.

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Thanks for the replies so far-- mwc, I am really glad you chimed in as I know you know a lot about history. Did Josephus have a tendency to exaggerate stories? I read a lot about what a great historian he was an not much mention of him being an embellisher. One of the things that kind of bothered me was that when I was looking into this, I ran across this info in "Livius":

 

Most scholars agree that the following story, told by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Jewish antiquities 11.317-345, is not true. One argument is that Alexander is shown a book that was not yet written. Another argument is that the story is a bit too good to be true: the Samarians, the eternal rivals of the Jews, blacken the Jews and get permission to build a temple of their own, Alexander visits Jerusalem, understands that he owes everything to the God of the Jews, allows them the privilege to live according to their ancestral customs and behaves rather unkind towards the Samarians. If a Jew in the second century BCE were to invent a story, he would write something along these lines.

On closer inspection, however, we may notice some odd details. In the first place, the Samaritans are allowed to keep their temple: not exactly something a Jew would invent, and in fact a plausible punishment for the Jewish refusal to send soldiers. In the second place, in fact, Alexander gives the Jews no privileges at all: everything he grants the Jews, had already been granted to them by the Persian kings. This was Alexander's usual policy.

 

In the third place, the idea that Alexander had had a vision in which the God of the Jews played an important role is just too incredible to be invented: everyone knew that Alexander claimed to be the son of the Egyptian god Ammon. Nobody would invent a special link to the Jewish God. The easiest explanation is that Alexander did indeed sacrifice to the God of the Jews.

 

Another aspect that deserves to be mentioned is Alexander's demand for auxiliaries and the presents the Jews formerly had sent to the Persian government. This matches the demand made by Alexander to Darius that he would address him as the master of the

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Sorry my post got cut off for some reason!! It is supposed to end with the Persian Empire. Anyway, I usually like what Livius has to say, but this almost seems to agree that Alexander did spend time in Jerusalem?? Although, I don't think any other historian records it? And as you said, there are some historical anachronisms. I am just kind of confused over the whole thing.

 

With regard to the Iwuper Papyrus, is it possible that the Jews may have heard this poem and then incorporated into their history? The poem itself supposedly is from a much older time than the copy that we recently have? I tried to read the whole poem and it did seem like there was a lot more to it. There were a few simalarities, but when you are talking calamities, fire, crop damage, bad water etc. are pretty common. Who were the invaders?

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Hymenaeus-- thanks so much for your reply! We must have been posting at the same time. That is great information about Josephus and some of his exaggerations-- it seemed like everything I read about Josephus made him out to be this awesome historian. And thanks for clarifying the Nabonious cylinder. Like mwc said, I think that parts of Daniel were written during various times.

 

Does anyone know when it was incorporated into the Septuagint? Most likely much later than most books I would think??

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Josephus wrote(War 6.5.3) about a festival where a cow that was going to be sacrificed gave birth to a lamb in the Temple.

There are other tall tales in this section as well.

Josephus was probably passing on stories but I'm not sure how one separates fact from fiction when reading his material.

From what I understand, Daniel's work is not included in the catagory of Prophets in the Jewish Bible, but is classified in the Writings section.

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Yes, Centauri, I do remember the stories about warning signs that Israel dismissed-- in fact, I had posted on these a while back and Overcame Faith was really helpful in walking me through them.  I do think that Josephus put a lot of "extras" in his stories and he is often compared to Tacitus, who I also think added a bit of dash to some of his stories as well.  In fact, I think he has Vespasian (or some other powerful Roman-- too lazy to look it up!) curing people.  I am pretty sure that this never actually happened, but it makes someone look powerful.  And likely, these histories are meant to build up the people-- Josephus was walking a fine line between pleasing the Romans as well as trying to be kind to the Jews (his people) as well.  Since he is the only person recording this extrordinary event regarding Alexander which happened hundreds of years before he was even born, who knows if it was just a rumour circulating.  Like I said, I only got hung up because the apoligists kept sayign that people like us are willing to ignore "history" when it supports them.  I think they may be ignoring history, because at the end of Daniel-- Antiochus Ephraimes (I know I butchered that, but again--being lazy!) was supposed to die in one way, but ended up dying completely differently than the bible expressed-- so failed prophecy there, which I guess the apologists will ignore.

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Did Josephus have a tendency to exaggerate stories? I read a lot about what a great historian he was an not much mention of him being an embellisher.

     Depends on what you mean by all this but I will say that everyone writes for a reason and Josephus wrote for a reason as well (maybe many reasons).  And all those reasons (biases) are in his writings.  As an example he also fancied himself a bit of a prophet so he clearly believed in prophecy.  It appears that he adjusted some of his numbers so they worked out correctly so Vespasian could accomplish his goals by the time Josephus supposedly foretold.  So when it comes to prophecy I would say his bias is towards the desire to making it come to pass (or appear that it had).

 

One of the things that kind of bothered me was that when I was looking into this, I ran across this info in "Livius":

 

 

Most scholars agree that the following story, told by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Jewish antiquities 11.317-345, is not true. One argument is that Alexander is shown a book that was not yet written. Another argument is that the story is a bit too good to be true: the Samarians, the eternal rivals of the Jews, blacken the Jews and get permission to build a temple of their own, Alexander visits Jerusalem, understands that he owes everything to the God of the Jews, allows them the privilege to live according to their ancestral customs and behaves rather unkind towards the Samarians. If a Jew in the second century BCE were to invent a story, he would write something along these lines.

On closer inspection, however, we may notice some odd details. In the first place, the Samaritans are allowed to keep their temple: not exactly something a Jew would invent, and in fact a plausible punishment for the Jewish refusal to send soldiers. In the second place, in fact, Alexander gives the Jews no privileges at all: everything he grants the Jews, had already been granted to them by the Persian kings. This was Alexander's usual policy.

 

In the third place, the idea that Alexander had had a vision in which the God of the Jews played an important role is just too incredible to be invented: everyone knew that Alexander claimed to be the son of the Egyptian god Ammon. Nobody would invent a special link to the Jewish God. The easiest explanation is that Alexander did indeed sacrifice to the God of the Jews.

 

Another aspect that deserves to be mentioned is Alexander's demand for auxiliaries and the presents the Jews formerly had sent to the Persian government. This matches the demand made by Alexander to Darius that he would address him as the master of the

Sorry my post got cut off for some reason!! It is supposed to end with the Persian Empire. Anyway, I usually like what Livius has to say, but this almost seems to agree that Alexander did spend time in Jerusalem?? Although, I don't think any other historian records it? And as you said, there are some historical anachronisms. I am just kind of confused over the whole thing.

     I see no source for what they're saying there so I'm not sure what is being said.

 

     I suppose you could accept that Alexander came to Jerusalem and settled their petty crap personally since it really does for anyone once you strip away the prophecy and magic.  I mean he passed through many places.  It's the same as all the places that have little sign "George Washington slept here" if you have him just show up and really do nothing.  But, beyond this one story, there's no evidence that something as mundane as all this happened.  It appears that the story is invented (maybe not by Josephus but he's the only one telling it that we know about) to have Alexander show up as a chosen one and acknowledge the Jewish god and so on.  And Josephus does tend to enjoy this sort of thing.

 

 

With regard to the Iwuper Papyrus, is it possible that the Jews may have heard this poem and then incorporated into their history? The poem itself supposedly is from a much older time than the copy that we recently have? I tried to read the whole poem and it did seem like there was a lot more to it. There were a few simalarities, but when you are talking calamities, fire, crop damage, bad water etc. are pretty common. Who were the invaders?

     It's impossible to know what "the Jews" (ie. the author(s) of the Exodus) might have heard and decided was interesting enough to include/integrate into their own stories.  What you or I might find compelling (looking back with the Exodus in mind) someone else, especially in another time/place/culture (looking forward without the Exodus being yet written) might find totally different things interesting and worth including.

 

          mwc

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