Because the so-called “Higher Critics” or liberal “scholars” don’t believe in the God of the bible, they don’t believe the bible itself or even the supernatural; and because they don’t believe the bible they have to explain away its message. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the major targets of the liberal critics because they can’t allow it to be genuine, otherwise they would have to answer to a God they refuse to believe in. So they dismantle scripture by denying the authorship of its books and setting them in a later time period so that their authority and trustworthiness is negated or undermined. According to them, for example, the Pentateuch was not written by Moses at all but by a number of different people over a long period of time; and it’s hard to find a single verse in it that isn’t the product of more than one author or redactor. Or the books of predictive prophecy, such as Isaiah or Daniel, to name just two, are claimed to have been written by somebody else – multiple authors, in fact – from a later time period.
So, rather than the prophets, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, writing history in advance by way of prophecy, the liberal critics have them written after the event; thus, prophecy was written in hindsight when all the details were already known, by some dishonest scribe who ascribed the book to an earlier prophet (e.g. Daniel) to make it look as though the prophet was foretelling the future. So, after the critics have finished, we’re left with a bible which is not what it claims to be and is filled with personalities and events which are fiction. What, then, is the value of such a book? Why bother with it? If it’s not telling the truth, no matter how the critics and unbelieving scholars try to make it relevant, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on; and it’s certainly not an authority from which we can derive any kind of guide for living and hope for eternity.
God has given ample proof that the bible is true, but unbelievers think it unscholarly to regard the bible as a trustworthy and honest historical document because it is filled with a mix of history and myth. And it requires of them a way of living which they don’t want to do. They think it intellectual or academic suicide to regard the bible seriously. So this article prepares the groundwork for my article on this website, “Fulfilled Prophecy Proves the Bible is the Word of God”, and establishes that the Old Testament prophets from whom I quote prophesied when they said they did. I’ve chosen the two most hotly disputed prophets, Isaiah and Daniel, as my examples.
The Prophet Isaiah
Isaiah began his ministry about 740 BC, “In the year that king Uzziah died” (Isa 6:1), and continued through the reigns of “Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah” (Isa 1:1). He most likely died about 680 BC, as he records the death of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib (Isa 37: 37-38); thus his ministry continued for about sixty years.
The Unity of the Book of Isaiah
However, the liberal theologians insist that Isaiah didn’t write his own book but that it was written by two or three or more authors. So they divide the book of Isaiah into Isaiah (ch. 1-39), and then Deutero-Isaiah (ch. 40-66), claiming that this was written about 150 years after chs 1-39 during the latter part of Judah’s exile in Babylon. Others later divided Deutero-Isaiah into a further two sections, so now there is also Trito-Isaiah, the divisions being ch. 40-54 and 55-66, with 55-66 being written by multiple authors. What utter chaos! This is despite the fact that the unity of Isaiah was never contested by either Jews or Christians until these geniuses came on the scene (Rom 1:22), beginning with J. C. Doderlein in 1795, the first to propose a second- or Deutero-Isaiah.
The reason the liberals can’t allow Isaiah to have written chs 40-66 is the detailed and specific prophecies given therein which have been fulfilled. For example, in chs 44-45, God, speaking through Isaiah, saysof Cyrus, “’He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose;’ and who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him…..For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not known me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me’” (Isa 44:28-44:1, 4-5 NRSV).
The New Testament accepts the author of Isaiah to be the prophet Isaiah and that his book is a unity; it is accepted by John the Baptist (Matt 3:3; Lk 3:4; Jn 1:23.); by Matthew (Matt 8:17; 12:18-21); by Paul (Rom 9:27-33; 10:16-21); and by the apostle John (12:38-41) who mentions Isaiah personally, not just as a book; and he is referring to Isaiah’s words in Isa 53:1, a chapter in Deutero-Isaiah [Jn 12:38] and Isaiah 6:10 [Jn 12:39-40]. In just these two latter references, John shows the unity of Isaiah, and its authorship. The different writing styles in the various sections of Isaiah mean nothing, and certainly do not mean the book of Isaiah had to be written by different authors. Any author has different styles depending on his theme or subject (Information in this paragraph taken from “Believer’s Bible Commentary” p. 857-858).
The traditional and New Testament view
Derek Kidner (1994, p. 630) writes, “Until modern times the book of Isaiah was universally regarded as a unity, the product of the eighth-century prophet of the same name. A single scroll was used for the whole of it, as we learn not only from Qumran but from Lk. 4:17 (where the chosen reading was from one of the latest chapters). The same assumption of unity is already evident in Ecclus. 48:22-25, written some 200 years before the NT period. The NT fully concurs: see e.g. Jn. 12: 37-41; Rom 9:27-29; 10:20-21”.
Implications of multiple authorship of Isaiah
However, the Higher Critics have challenged the traditional view and presented an alternative, complicated, false idea, which has divided and fragmented Isaiah into multiple portions written by multiple authors, to the extent that nobody in their right mind would regard it as a trustworthy document, being nothing better than man-made “instant tradition”.
Kidner (p. 630) writes: “…the idea of a multiple authorship of Isaiah has arisen only in the last two centuries. Its simplest, most persuasive form is the ascription of chs. 1-39 to Isaiah and 40-66 to an anonymous prophet living among the sixth-century exiles in Babylonia…..But in fact no scholar holds the theory in this simple form, for by its own principles it demands to be carried much further”.
He then goes on to show how the book of Isaiah was, according to the Higher Critics, sub-divided into many oracles and supplementary material; and says, “Commentators differ over the number of historical situations and of parties (e.g. moralist, institutionalist, patriotic, universalist) discoverable here, and consequently in their analysis of Trito-Isaiah; but at least four sources are commonly isolated in its eleven chapters. It is important to realise that this suggested galaxy of authors and supplementers is not wholly arbitrary. Once the initial criteria for dividing the book are accepted, they cannot simply be discarded after the first cut; they must be used consistently…or not at all. So despite the attractive simplicity of a supposed two-volume work (by Isaiah and a successor), the only viable alternative to a single author is not two authors but something like a dozen” (Kidner, D. p 630).
In selections from his summary, we read: “…the theory of multiple authorship (since dual authorship breaks down into this) creates at least as many difficulties as it appears to settle…..It makes Isaiah the author of a torso; it admits a criterion of analysis which leaves few of the prophets the sole authors of their writings; it envisages centuries of creative activity by not only an ‘Isaiah-school’ but similar groups revering other prophets, whose freedom to expand or adjust their masters’ work compares strangely with the care, at a not much later date, to transmit it unaltered, and whose very existence is no more than an inference. It also has to account for the unbroken early traction of Isaiah’s unity, and to come to terms with the NT’s evident endorsement of that view” (Kidner, F. D. 1994, p. 630-632.
The Prophet Daniel
Daniel and his prophecies have also been the target of unbelieving scholars. But the first person to reject Daniel as the recipient of divine revelation and as the author of his own book was Porphyry, a Jewish philosopher and enemy of Christianity, in the 3rd century AD. This early date would be pleasing to the unbelieving liberal theologians because it would seem to give the authority of contemporary witness to their attacks. But Daniel could not have been written during the Maccabean period as the liberals would have us believe because a manuscript of Daniel was found in Qumran Cave 1. It is believed to have been copied before or during this period, which indicates that the book of Daniel was already in existence in order for it to have been copied.
The language of the book of Daniel is strong indication that it was written in the 6th century BC rather than the 2nd century AD because it contains Persian words from the era in which Daniel lived under Persian rule. These words indicate an author contemporary with the earlier period. A person from 2nd century Palestine would be unlikely to use such words because by that time Persia had disappeared as a dominant world power and had been superseded by the Macedonian Greek rulers. Which, incidentally, fits in with Daniel’s prophecy of the four empires: Chaldean (Babylonian), Persian, Macedonian Greek, and Roman.
Other linguistic evidence “demonstrates that the use of Aramaic in Daniel fits a fifth-to sixth-century B.C. date because it parallels the Aramaic of Ezra as well as the Elephantine Papyri and other secular works of that period” (“Holman KJV Study Bible, p 1407).
There are also Greek words used in Daniel which the liberals insist militate against the book being written in the 2nd century because the Greek empire was still in the future. But the Greek words in Daniel are only three, and each refers to a musical instrument. This can be explained by the fact that Greek culture was spreading around the world even at that earlier time.
The bible itself regards Daniel as the author of his book. Thus Jesus refers to it in Matthew 24:15 (KJV) (and Mark 13:14), calling Daniel a prophet. And, though it is not proof that Daniel was written in the 6th century BC, in Ezekiel, God mentions Daniel by name, pointing out his exceptional righteousness, along with Noah and Job (Ezek 14:14, 20); even so, it certainly places him much earlier than the 2nd century. Daniel is also mentioned by God as being an exceptionally wise man (Ezek 28:3); he must have been far above ordinary mortals, as it were, to warrant being singled out by God. This is contemporary evidence which confirms what the book of Daniel says about Daniel, that he was wise beyond all others (Dan 1:17, 20; 6:3), and righteous above all others (Dan 6:1-28; 10:11). Ezekiel was a prophet and a contemporary of Daniel, and both were captives in Babylon.
Belshazzar’s reign as king of Babylon shows him to be co-ruler with another (Dan 5:7, 29). His real father was Nabonidus, and while Nabonidus was away from the city, Belshazzar ruled Babylon as his vicegerent. The text of Daniel calls Nebuchadnezzar Belshazzar’s father (Dan 5:2, 11, 18, 22). “Nebuchadnezzar is called Belshazzar’s father. Most likely, Belshazzar’s father, Nabonidus, married Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter to establish his own claim to the throne of Babylon, making Nebuchadnezzar the grandfather of Belshazzar. The Aramaic word ‘father’ is flexible, capable of referring to a grandfather, ancestor, even a predecessor to a king without any lineal tie” (“Holman KJV Study Bible” comment on Daniel 5:2-4). So, not only does the apparent discrepancy not prove Daniel to be inaccurate, it demonstrates its accuracy because it shows Belshazzar to be co-ruler with his father, as the recently discovered historical evidence reveals.
Further historical and archaeological evidence is that “The Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon confirm that Babylon fell while a great feast was in progress (v 30). Excavations have uncovered a throne room that could accommodate a thousand nobles” (“Holman KJV Study Bible” comment on Daniel 5:1).
However, even if we allow that Daniel’s prophecy was written in the second century rather than the sixth (which I don’t), that only means it didn’t prophesy the first three empires, namely Babylon, Persia and Greece. If it was written in the second century, it still prophesied the Roman Empire; and therefore is still a book of predictive prophecy, writing history in advance.
….but the Evidence is Rejected
“In summary, the late-date view is driven by a presuppositional rejection of supernatural prophecy and not by objective evidence” (“Holman KJV Study Bible” p. 1407).
A Condemning Admission
“The real protest against Daniel, as a few liberal scholars, such as R. Pfeiffer (Old Testament Introduction, P. 755), are honest enough to admit, is prejudice against the supernatural. There are too many miracles, too much precise prediction in Daniel to suit rationalistic criticism” (“Believer’s Bible Commentary”, p. 988).
And what was Professor R. H. Pfeiffer demonstrating when he admitted he was prejudiced against the supernatural but to confirm what the bible says about him, namely: “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). Professor Pfeiffer did not have the Spirit of God; therefore he was a “natural” man, and was thus blind to the supernatural. And his blindness was not a benign blindness which comes from lack of information – Professor Pfeiffer had plenty of information at his disposal, having been a minister in a large Protestant denomination, a Professor in a prominent university, an influential author on the Old Testament, and a specialist in Assyriology. No, his blindness was wilful, as he admits and as the bible passage here points out; the things of the Spirit of God were foolishness to him and he admitted he couldn’t receive them. And, as is common to those whose faith has been shipwrecked by liberal theology, he then taught and promoted liberal theology in his own lectures and among his own students. And, not content with that, he published his views in his books so that his heresy could be spread even further. But Professor Pfeiffer is just one of many liberal scholars, both past and present, whose aim, under the guise of scholarship, is to undermine faith in the supernatural activity of a supernatural God by undermining confidence in a supernatural bible.
People like Professor Pfeiffer come and go; they are mere flesh and blood, no more permanent than the grass they walk upon. God’s verdict on them is, “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isa 40:6-8).
“Believer’s Bible Commentary 2nd edition” by William MacDonald ed. Art Farstad, Commentary on Isaiah, copyright 1995, publ. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee
“Believer’s Bible Commentary 2nd edition” by William MacDonald ed. Art Farstad, Commentary on Daniel, copyright 1995, publ. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee
“Holman KJV Study Bible Personal Size”, Introduction to Daniel, p 1407, copyright 2014 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee
Kidner, F. Derek, 1994, “New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition”, “Isaiah Introduction”, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England and Downers Grove, Illinois, USA
“The Scripture quotations contained herein are made from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”