What is the opinion of scholars as to the story in Josephus of Alexander's
visit to Jerusalem, and the reading of Daniel's prophecies? The Dictionary of
the Bible argues in favour of its truth. This would have an important bearing
on the date of the Book of Daniel. - G. E. Ff.
Mr. A. A. Bevan (Short Commentary on the Book of Daniel, Cambridge,
1892, p. 14) writes: The whole account of Alexander's journey to Jerusalem
has long ago been recognised as a fiction. References to the literature
of the subject will be found in E. Schürer's History of the Jewish People (E. T., 1890, I. i.p. p. 187 n; cf. II. i. p. 301); his judgment is more
guarded than Mr. Bevan's (the story in its details perhaps is unhistorical),
and does not differ widely from the view which Dr. Westcott expressed in the Dictionary of the Bible nearly thirty years ago (B.D. i. p. 43).
But if the story of Alexander's visit to Jerusalem cannot safely be pronounced
to be pure fiction, the production of the Book of Daniel by the High Priest
is one of the details which have least claim to be regarded as historical. It
would spring naturally out of a conviction that the book was in the possession
of Jaddua at the time of the visit; and under the circumstances it cannot be
used as evidence for the early date of Daniel. On the other hand, the narrative
of Josephus at least shows the unquestioning belief in the prophetic worth
of the book which existed among the Jews in his time (B.D. i. p.
By the courtesy of the Editor of The Expository Times, I have been permitted
to see a communication from Mr. A. A. Bevan, in which Mr. Bevan points out that
the English translation of Prof. Schürer's Geschichte des jüdischen
Volkes does not correctly represent the Professor's view with regard to
Alexander's visit to Jerusalem. The words should have been: The narrative
is in matters of detail in any case (jedenfalls) unhistorical.
This correction, which I gladly accept, modifies the opinion attributed to Schürer
(The Expository Times, April 1892, p. 300). But when full allowance has been
made for it, he cannot be said to recognise the whole account as a fiction.
On the question whether Alexander visited Jerusalem, if I understand him rightly,
he suspends judgment. He condemns the details, but adds: "die Sache an
sich wäre nicht unmöglich." His attitude upon the subject, whether
right or wrong, is certainly more guarded than that of scholars
who reject the story as a whole.