The dating and authorship of Daniel has been a matter of great debate. The traditional view holds that the work was written by a prophet named Daniel who lived during the sixth century BC. Alternative modern views maintain that the book was written in the mid-second century BC and that most of the predictions of the book refer to events that had already occurred.
The narratives in the book of Daniel are set in the period of the Babylonian captivity, first at the court of Nebuchadnezzar and later at the court of his successors Belshazzar and a 'King Darius' of unclear identity. Daniel is praised in Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, as "the historian of the Captivity, the writer who alone furnishes any series of events for that dark and dismal period during which the harp of Israel hung on the trees that grew by the Euphrates. His narrative may be said in general to intervene between Kings and Chronicles on the one hand and Ezra on the other, or (more strictly) to fill out the sketch which the author of the Chronicles gives in a single verse in his last chapter: 'And them that had escaped from the sword carried he (i.e., Nebuchadnezzar) away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia' (2 Chr. 36:20)." Daniel appears as an interpreter of dreams and visions in these narratives, though not as a prophet.
The Book of Daniel begins by stating: "In the third year of the reign of Jehoi'akim king of Judah came Nebuchadnez'zar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoi'akim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. (King James Version)
This appears to be a description of the first siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC, which occurred in the twelfth year of Jehoiakim and into the reign of his son Jehoiachin. (see 2 Kings 24 and 2 Chronicles 36). The third year of Jehoiakim (606 BC), saw Nebuchadrezzar not yet King of Babylon, and the Egyptians still dominant in the region. Advocates of an early date of Daniel generally explain this by positing an additional, otherwise unmentioned, siege of Jerusalem in 605 BC, shortly after the Battle of Carchemish.
Traditional Christians have embraced the prophecies in the book of Daniel, as they believe they clearly illustrate that Jesus Christ of Nazareth must be the Messiah, and also because in Matthew 24 Jesus himself is quoted as describing Daniel's prophecies as applying to future events immediately preceding Judgement Day, and not to Epiphanes who had lived some 175 years earlier. They consider the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks in the book of Daniel to be particularly compelling due to what they interpret to be prophetic accuracy.