I have questions about the book of Daniel. The book is traditionally ascribed to the prophet Daniel who was taken to Mesopotamia early and lived there throughout the period of the Babylonian Exile and into the reign of Cyrus the Great.
Modern scholars have attacked this traditional view from many angles. Some, like the fact that the some of the prophesies clearly refer to events during the much later period of the Hellenistic kingdoms, are not problems for people who believe in authentic prophesy about the future.
What is more problematic is the alleged inaccuracies in the history that is recounted or prophesied. Some of the apparent irregularities can probably be explained, such as the simplified account of the kings of Persia who are to come before Alexander the Great. But on the matter of the Medes we seem to have a much more serious problem.
The book describes a man called Darius the Mede succeeding to the kingdom after the death of the last Chaldean king of Babylon, Belshazzar. In addition to this the book’s apocalyptic prophesies seem to envision a kingdom that comes after that of the Chadeans and before that of the Persians, presumably a Median kingdom ruled by this King Darius.
Technically it looks like Belshazzar was not a king, but he was the de facto ruler of the kingdom since his father the de jure king had made Belshazzar co-regent and withdrawn from public life, and this may be all that is meant by the Bible calling him a king. More troubling is the fact that Darius the Mede is apparently entirely unknown to secular history, and indeed it appears the Medes had already been conquered by the Persians by this time. The Persian king Cyrus then directly conquered Mesopotamia from Belshazzar and his father with no Median kingdom in between.
On the surface it looks like the Jews of later centuries conflated Cyrus’s victory over the Medes and his later conquest of Mesopotamia into one event, so that they imagined a Median kingdom in Mesopotamia in between the days the Chaldeans and the days of the Persians. The history may have been further confused by the fact that the Greeks had initially called the Persians “Medes” since the Medes had previously been more famous than the Persians and they were both Iranian cultures. Also there were a couple Persian kings after Cyrus who were named Darius.
Has anyone done any reading or given serious thought to this problem? How are the apparent historical errors in Daniel to be explained in light of our belief in Scriptural inerrancy?