Daniel's Use of Three Greek Words
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 Alexander?

    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 cultural penetration.

    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 include:

    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.

    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,

    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


1W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity.  p. 337.
2Seymour Gitin, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh, "Ekron Identity Confirmed," Archaeology, 51 (January/February, 1998) 31.
3The 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.