Darius the Mede: A Reappraisal

Bibliographic information:

Anderson, Steven D. Darius the Mede: A Reappraisal. Grand Rapids: Steven D. Anderson, 2014.



The existence and identity of Darius the Mede is a well known historical problem in Old Testament studies, and one which is currently at an impasse. Evangelical scholars, who uphold the historicity of Darius the Mede, are generally dissatisfied with the currently proposed solutions. Conversely, scholars who regard Darius the Mede as a historically inaccurate character do not agree on an explanation as to why, how, and from which traditions he was created. Contemporary scholars in neither camp have dealt seriously with the idea that Xenophon’s Cyaxares II may be a historical figure, and most seem unaware of the other ancient sources which support Xenophon.

This book, which is a revision of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation by the same title (Dallas Theological Seminary, 2014), argues that Cyrus shared power with a Median king until about two years after the fall of Babylon. This king is called Cyaxares (II) by the Greek historian Xenophon, but is known by his throne name Darius in the book of Daniel. Cyrus did not make a hostile conquest of Media, did not dethrone the last Median king, and did not become the highest regent in the Medo-Persian Empire until after the fall of Babylon. Cyrus was Darius’s co-regent, the hereditary king of the realm of Persia, the crown prince of Media, and the commander of the Medo-Persian army, yet it was still Darius who was officially recognized as the highest power in the realm. Darius died naturally within two years after the fall of Babylon, and as he had no male heir and Cyrus had married his daughter, Cyrus inherited his position upon his death and united the Median and Persian kingdoms in a single throne.


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