The Book of Daniel.

I have read that the book of Daniel was written in Hebrew and Aramaic.

Does anybody know which parts were written in Hebrew and which parts in Aramaic?

Why do Protestants have a problem with some parts of this book, due to language?


Hello Nelka.

1.1-2.4a and 8.1-12.13 are written in Aramaic; the rest is in Hebrew.

Protestant Bibles follow the Masoretic Text in Daniel, as almost all Bibles do elsewhere.

Hope that helps,


Daniel is written in Hebrew from 1:1 through 1:21, then from 8:1 through 12:13. The rest of the protocanonical book is (2:1 through 7:28) are in Aramaic.

Protestants do not have a problem because of the Aramaic; they accept those parts with no issues.

It’s the parts in Greek they have a problem with.

It’s pretty easy to know even in translation where the Aramaic part begins:

(2:4) Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, (Aramaic part begins) “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.”

From then on, the book is in Aramaic up until chapter 7:28.

Oops yes, sorry, I mistyped that. Swap the Aramaic and Hebrew around.

Some great answers but why was some written in Greek?

To be more exact, the Greek version of Daniel is longer than the Hebrew/Aramaic one. What Protestants don’t accept as scripture is the stuff only found in that longer Greek version. It’s not really unusual to have two different versions of the same text circulating at that time, especially because there was this tendency to expand certain popular literature by adding in more stories and more dialogue, or mishmashing together different works that arguably have the same theme or the same person/s appearing on it into one. (Esther, Daniel, and the book of Enoch are three examples of this phenomenon I could name off the top of my head.) Tinkering with literary works in this way was not seen as problematic or wrong at all; it exemplified living tradition. And after all, who doesn’t want a little more extra?

In fact, it seems that the book of Daniel itself is a mishmash. For the main core you have Daniel 1-6, which features stories about Daniel and his friends (probably this section was even combined together from different sources - oral stories, maybe?) Then, by the 2nd century BC a group of apocalyptic prophecies attributed to Daniel (chaps. 7-12) was added to this narrative, thereby forming the protocanonical book of Daniel. A bit later, when this book was being translated into Greek, it was expanded further to include a few more stuff such as the stories about Susanna and Bel and the Dragon.

One thing that I have gravitated towards since studying the Old Greek Version of Daniel is that Daniel wrote more than copy and expanded it and maybe even made a version in Greek. The old Greek version, which is the Septuagint version, not Theodotion’s that eventually became the received Greek version of Daniel, has plenty of uniqueness, and appears to not be a translation of the Masoretic type but rather a translation of another manuscript tradition or an independent version that Daniel may have written himself. Its well worth reading.

Well, if we suppose Daniel lived during the 7th-6th century BC, I think that would be a complication in the idea of him writing the Old Greek Daniel (it’s in Koine Greek, right?) To me it would just seem like - pardon the rough analogy - Geoffrey Chaucer writing a work in 21st-century modern English. I mean, Koine was only ‘invented’ by the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), right?

I tend to agree with your assessment. While I can believe there was indeed a Daniel and that there may be traditions that came from the Exile, I’m more of the school that holds that Daniel was actually codified during the Hellenistic period and was addressed to the persecuted Jews as a means of encouraging them.

I pretty much agree with this. There may have well been a Daniel who lived during the Exile and who was a very respected and venerable figure in the Jewish community (so much so that Ezekiel mentioned him alongside Job and Noah - yes, I think there’s no need to question that Daniel the prophet is intended there). Soon, different stories were told about Daniel and his friends, some of which were collected together and became Daniel 1-6. (A couple of others may be the genesis of the Greek ‘additions’ to the book.)

Soon, a set of apocalyptic prophecies attributed to Daniel turned up and became appended to this set of stories - thereby making the book of Daniel as we know it today. (Even if somehow Daniel did not personally write this thing, the fact that the writer used his name shows that he is a very important enough figure to have his named tacked onto a work - on the same par as Enoch.)

Good point, what was I thinking! Unless he wrote in Archaic Greek and the version evolved with the language. But highly unlikely and not worth thinking about. I eat my words! Haha!:thumbsup:

Just to explain this for the people who don’t know what the heck we’re talking about: :smiley:

Greek Daniel actually exists in two versions. The earliest is the so-called Old Greek Daniel, conventionally dated somewhere around the 2nd-1st century BC. The second is a version traditionally attributed to a 2nd-century Jewish convert named Theodotion, which is more closer to the (proto-Masoretic) Hebrew text than the Old Greek version is. The exact relation between the two is a very controversial point: the traditional view was that the Theodotion version is an attempt to revise the Old Greek (which was supposedly regarded as a ‘defective’ text) by bringing it closer to the Hebrew, but now scholars aren’t too sure. (Guess what? Out of all the manuscripts of Greek Daniel, AFAIK only two or three contain the Old Greek version. Most of the others are copies of the ‘Theodotiontic’ version.)

In fact, while Theodotion was supposed to have lived in the mid-2nd century, we now know that some renderings attributed to him have actually existed for a century or two before he lived. (For example, the reference to Daniel 6:22 in Hebrews 11:33 follows Theodotion’s rendering - “[God] shut the mouth of the lions” - rather than the Old Greek, which says “God saved me from the lions.”) Taking into account this as well as recent discoveries, scholars now think that a revision of books of the Greek Septuagint (bringing it into closer agreement with the Hebrew) that happens to be very similar to Theodotion’s had already existed during the 1st century BC; what Theodotion did was simply tweak this preexisting version a little bit.

the Theodontic text side-by-side.and And here’s Susanna and Bel and the Dragon.

A couple of differences between the two versions are:

  • Chapters 4-6. The Old Greek significantly has more content in chapters 4 and 6; Theodotion (and the Masoretic) text has more content in chapter 5. For the other chapters, the differences are AFAIK not as great.

  • Theodotion integrates Susanna and Bel and the Dragon more properly to the text; Susanna’s story is placed before 1:1, making it the introduction to the book, while Bel and the Dragon is placed at the end. In the Old Greek meanwhile, they are both found at the end of the book; it’s still pretty obvious that they were independent stories artificially grafted into the text, especially in the case of the story of Bel. (Modern versions, even if they translate from Theodotion’s text, follow the Old Greek order by putting the two stories at the end of the book).

And, just to add for the sake of balance, some people (e.g., me!) don’t hold to the idea that Daniel is a late (2nd century BC) composition. Interestingly, one reason for holding to an earlier date of composition is precisely the diversity of the textual traditions we’re now discussing. (The LXX OG is significantly different from the MT throughout the entire Book.) The different versions of Daniel seem to have been in existence (as far as I can tell) in the 2nd century BC, which makes their evolution from a common source which was only completed in the 2nd century date unlikely.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit