The Book of Daniel is very much like the New Testament book, the Revelation to John, both in its style and in its type of literature. The primary aim of each of these two books is to strengthen faith and to encourage believers in all times, regardless of what trials and persecutions they may face. They are the writings of a kind of nonviolent resistance movement.
Whoever the author or authors, and regardless of when the book may have been written, there is one thing that seems to be widely acknowledged today: the stories and visions of the Book of Daniel are applied in the first place to a historical period that is thought to be that of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was the Seleucid king in the second quarter of the second century B.C. This is clearly suggested in certain texts (see, for example, 8.15 27), even if opinion is divided with regard to other texts.
Furthermore, it is undeniable that Christian tradition has seen in the various affirmations of the book a foreshadowing or announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah sent by God (see 7.13 14; 11.31; 12.11 in connection with Matt 24.15 and Mark 13.14). Finally, the affirmations of the book concerning the end of time (especially chapter 12) have furnished the occasion to certain well-meaning believers to discern in their time the “true” fulfillment of the predictions of Daniel and to determine in a very precise way the date of the end of the world. But in each case the cherished predictions have so far been contradicted by actual events.
Nevertheless, to admit that the story of Daniel may be applied to such a historical event, whether ancient or recent, does not have to mean that it concerns only that event. The “eleventh horn” of 7.8 is not only Antiochus Epiphanes; it is not only, as certain people think, the “Wicked One” about which the Apostle Paul speaks in 2 Thes 2.1 10; it is not only the Emperor Nero, or Napoleon, or Adolf Hitler, or any of the other persecutors of the Jews or of Christians down through the past twenty centuries. This “eleventh horn” was first of all Antiochus Epiphanes, but with good reason believers of every century have been able also to recognize other cruel tyrants oppressing those who remain faithful to the true God. These same believers have drawn from the Book of Daniel the strength and courage to confront the trials that they faced with calmness and confidence.
“Seventy weeks of years: literally ‘seventy sevens’ or ‘seventy weeks.’ Verse 2, quoting Jeremiah, speaks of ‘seventy years.’ When Gabriel speaks of seventy weeks, he is clearly not suggesting periods of seven days, but seven years per week, or 490 years.” (Page 252)
“Thy holy hill: this refers to Mount Zion, the hill on which the Temple was constructed in Jerusalem, and by extension it refers to the city itself.” (Page 245)
“This wide variety of possible translations simply shows that no one knows what this passage means.” (Page 256)
“The second possibility, reflected in tev, nab, nrsv, and njb, indicates some doubt on the part of the young men as to whether God will be willing or capable of saving them from the fire. Against this view, the idea that God may not be able to save those who are faithful to him would, according to some writers, be quite surprising in a book like Daniel.” (Page 85)
“Youths: according to the word used here, these young men were adolescents of at least fifteen years of age.” (Page 14)
What if you were responsible for translating God's Word into a language that never had a Bible before? Can you imagine the burden you would feel to do a good job?
God takes His Word pretty seriously, and you would certainly do everything in your power to make sure that you were not putting words into God's mouth, but that you were providing a text that clearly communicated God's Word as closely to the original as possible.
This challenge to understand the heart of the original Scriptures, in order to put the original text into a new language, was the impetus for the United Bible Societies to create handbooks for Bible translators working on this very thing. The United Bible Societies' Handbook Series is a comprehensive verse-by-verse guide to understanding exactly what is being communicated by the author in the original Scriptures.