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The Book of Daniel: Living in the Lions' Den
Transcript of The Book of Daniel: Living in the Lions' Den
THEOLOGICAL and APPLICATION QUESTIONS
Key Themes of Daniel
NEW TESTAMENT (i.e. GOSPEL) APPLICATION and LATER RECEPTION
QUESTIONS of COMPOSITION
The succession of empires (or of kings, or ages) under the symbolism of successive metals is well attested in ancient literature. Amongst classical writers it is found in Hesiod,
Works and Days
; Polybius (via quotations); Berosus (via Eusebius). In some of these the Median and Persian regimes are distinguished, which helps to account for the alternate interpretation of Daniel 2, 7 which understands the four successive empires (if they are meant to be separate empires in ch. 2) as Babylon, Media, Persian and Greece or Macedonia.
This is the interpretation apparently found in the Sybilline Oracles (3:388-400), an extra-biblical, pre-Christian work, while Josephus in Antiquities 10.10.4 and 2 Esdras 12:11-12 evidently takes the fourth kingdom to be Rome.
Amongst secondary literature, see:
Lucas, E. C. "Daniel: Book of," in
Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets
(ed. Boda, Mark J. and J. Gordon McConville; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2012), 110-123, @115.
Momigliano, Arnaldo. "The Origins of Universal History," in
The Poet and the Historian: Essays in Literary and Historical Biblical Criticism
(ed. Friedman, R. E.; Chico, CA: Scholars, 1983), 133-148.
The Septuagint (LXX) of Tobit 14:15 transliterates the original names of Cyaxeres in a way that resembles ‘Xerxes’, meaning that “Darius son of Cyaxeres” would be a possible, though still somewhat difficult, alternative translation in Dan. 9:1. It would have the advantage of making some sense of calling this Darius a Median, while still leaving his identity obscure. See Goldingay, John E.
(Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, 1989), 239.
Ezekiel 14:14, 20 list a Daniel, with Noah and Job, as a particularly righteous person (and see also 28:3) – but note relative age and different spelling. It is a little strange to think of Ezekiel praising someone junior to himself in this way. There is in fact another ‘Dan-el’ who features in the Canaanite ‘Tale of Aqhat’ and whose name is spelled in way that is consistent with the spelling found in Ezekiel. See Arnold, Bill T., and Bryan E. Beyer (eds.).
Readings from the Ancient Near East
(Encountering Biblical Studies; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 82-88, 228.
A sceptical stance in evidence from ancient Porphyry onwards holds Daniel 11:2-35 to constitute ‘prophecy after the fact’, covering the Ptolemaic & Seleucid eras of Jewish history up to Maccabean revolt (168-165 B.C.). This would make Daniel, or part of it, a pseudonymous writing like 1 Enoch and other apocalyptic works. Conservative interpreters agree w. the historical period covered but interpret the text as genuine prophetic prediction.
Daniel is well attested at Qumran (“the book of Daniel the prophet,” 4QFlorilegium) and is present in Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of OT from well before Christ. The Greek text of Daniel exists in two very different versions, with the original old Greek version first included in the LXX soon replaced by the new translation (based in part on different texts) from Theodotion.
* See 2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chron. 36:6-7. We have evidence from the Babylonian Chronicle that following Nebuchadnezzar’s victory at the Battle of Carchemish (605 BC), he pushed down into Syro-Palestine and destroyed Ashkelon in 604 BC. This would make sense of references to Jerusalem’s (incl. Jehoiakim’s) submission to Nebuchadnezzar at that time in 2 Kings 24.
Daniel introduced as a deportee from Jerusalem to Babylon in 605 BC (Dan. 1:1-7)*
What does right living look like as a minority in a pagan world?
Should we work with or against the secular authorities in a pagan world?
Does God give us copies of his program for future history?
How do we balance looking for the end of the age with living for God within the age? (Read
How should we understand this present time?
Briton Rivière (1840-1920)
Daniel's Answer to the King
How are we meant to live?
Who really rules the world?
How long will it be, and where will it all end?
Concept of the 'malku(th)', 'dominion'
Golden leaf crown of ancient Macedonian origin shown in the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece. Source: Commons.wikimedia.org.
R. R. Wilson,
Genealogy and History in the Biblical World
(1977), 81: the Sumerian King List “presents the dogma that only one city can possess kingship at any given time [and] also suggests that kingship is now located in Isin.”
Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory;  in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. (Dan 2:37-38 NIV, and see 4:31; 5:31)
The Story of the Temple Articles
Rome = 4th kingdom in the statue vision (ch. 2) and the animal vision (ch. 7).
Careers of future empires forecast in advance
Daniel speaks in first person in reality
Daniel's 70 weeks culminate in Jesus' ministry (and possibly a future 'tribulation')
Detailed description of Hellenistic period and Maccabean crisis is genuine prophecy of distant future.
Seleucid Greek empire = 4th kingdom
Prophecy of empires is ultimately retrospective.
Court tales about Daniel are older than ch. 7-12, but influenced by hero figure 'Danel' and partly legendary.
First-person speech is a symptom of pseudonymity.
70 weeks end in Maccabean crisis?
Detailed description of Hellenistic period and Maccabean crisis is prophecy after the event until 11:40.
Which block formed original book core is debated
How are we meant to live?
How Should We Understand This Present Time?
Who Really Rules the World?
How Long Will It Be? Where Will It All End?
kingdom of God
kingdom of Israel/Judah
kingdoms of the world
70 weeks of years!
Wisdom: in chs. 1–6, Daniel is the model wise man (like Joseph!), thanks to God's special help, proving the famed human wisdom of Babylon futile by comparison.
To understand the message of the book of Daniel:
Against the twofold setting of the exile of Judah and the later, Maccabean crisis
Which question is foremost in which chapter?
What do the stories of trials by diet (1), fire (3) and lion (6) tell us about the kind of righteous life Daniel calls for?
What do chapters 3 & 6 have in common?
What other biblical character does this chapter bring to mind?
How are the two alike?
Battle of Carchemish
Babylonian exile 586-538
Nebuchadrezzar II (605-562)
Fall of Babylon/Cyrus' decree
'Darius the Mede'? (Dan. 5:31; 9:1)
Cyrus I (c. 620-590)
Cambyses I (c. 590-559)
Cyrus I (559-530)
Persian conquest of Media
Cambyses II (530-522)
Darius I (522-486)
Artaxerxes I (465-424)
Darius I (423-405)
History: Locating the Settings of Daniel in Time
Using the information offered in the openings of Daniel 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10, identify the time or period in which each chapter is set.
Second temple completed
The foreign kings mentioned in Daniel:
Nebuchadnezzar (1:1, 18; 2:1, 28 and often until 5:18)
‘Darius the Mede’ (5:30; 6:1, 12, 28; 9:1)
Xerxes or Ahasuerus (9:1) - seemingly not the C5th Ahasuerus of Esther (486-465)
Cyrus the Persian (6:28; 10:1).
The Olivet Discourse
Look at one of the Gospel accounts of this talk by Jesus (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). How does Jesus apply the ideas of Daniel for his disciples as they look across the valley at the Jerusalem temple?
The Book of Revelation
Can you think of ways that Revelation uses ideas from Daniel to comfort suffering Christians?
What does it teach the believer to do in the present in light of the future?
Daniel helps us to step back and, using the framework of the exile of Judah's people, understand how God's people can live faithfully as a minority in the wider world.
It also reminds us how the story ends: God's
people are vindicated, the Son of Man
is crowned, and God rules!
History and Society behind the Text
Formation and Transmission of the Text
Genre, Structure & Literary Features
Reception/ History of Interpretation
Personal and Pastoral Application
[Interpretive Methods and Assumptions]
The Interpretive Process
The Kingdom Theme in Daniel
Hill & Walton,
A Survey of the OT
(3rd ed., 2009)
“The kingdom of God is the climax of God’s agenda for Israel and the world…a kingdom that will never be destroyed.” (576*)
However, the book warns the exilic and post-exilic Jews that “their troubles would not be over when they returned from exile.” (577)
“Daniel’s visions informed them that four kingdoms were yet to come before the establishment of God’s kingdom,” beyond the return that would follow the seventy years of Jeremiah’s prophecy. (573)
“…his kingdom is [the only] one that will never be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14).
The sovereignty of God over the fortunes of nations & events of history
The Kingdom theme (next box)
The necessity of faithful life in a pagan world, with the expectation of suffering
God’s redemptive intentions for the wise and righteous, His persecuted minority
The limited sovereignty of human monarchs
Try to spot differences between Daniel's role in chapters 1–6 and his role in chapters 7–12.
In terms of its unique, prophetic/apocalyptic literary genre
For its contribution to Christian biblical eschatology.
For Post-Morning Tea Revision
Do you have a preference for the main crisis towards which the Daniel visions look forward (Greece, Rome, still future)?
What do you think of the Bible Project's explanation?
Some Fine Print on the History in Daniel
not for examination
Stager, L. E. “The Fury of Babylon: Ashkelon and the Archaeology of Destruction.”
Biblical Archaeology Review
22 (1996): 56–69, 76–77.
Genre: Should We Call Daniel 'Apocalyptic'?
Find the chapter that best matches (ch. 1, ch. 2, etc.)
These books share:
A setting that's at least partially Persian
A reflective prayer in ch. 9 that reviews Israel's story
An interest in the fate of the temple articles
An interest in written Scripture
An Aramaic section (Daniel & Ezra)
Visions given to Daniel
Visions interpreted by Daniel
Nebuchadnezzar and the tree
Belshazzar and the hand
Trial by lion
Trial by fire
Nebuchadnezzar's statue dream
Daniel's animal dream
Daniel's animal vision
Daniel's prayer and the seventy sevens
Daniel's induction to the destined future
Setting and trial by diet
Symbolic numbers and images
A heavenly plane that affects earthly events
A cosmic scope
A present, doomed age and an age to come
God’s climactic intervention
The inauguration of the Kingdom of God
Post-mortem resurrection and judgment