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The Book of Daniel: Living in the Lions' Den

For OT Prophets & Writings 6a, MST, sem. 2, 2014

Andrew Brown

on 26 August 2015

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Transcript of The Book of Daniel: Living in the Lions' Den

The Book of Daniel: Living in the Lions' Den
* Page references are from Hill & Walton, Survey of the Old Testament, 3rd ed (2009).
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 take 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. Daniel (Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, 1989), 239.

The kings mentioned:
Nebuchadnezzar (1:1, 18; 2:1, 28 and often until 5:18)
‘Darius the Mede’ (5:30; 6:1, 12, 28; 9:1)
Cyrus the Persian (6:28; 10:1).

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 a virtual contemporary, or more likely 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.

Based on the date notices given in the book, Daniel’s career would lasts 605-538 B.C. (or beyond 522 if ‘Darius the Mede’ = Darius I).
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 is God's relationship to the natural world?
What does Daniel tell us about God's ways with human beings?
The best way of describing God's relationship with his world?
What is God like?
How is God known?
What does right living look like as a minority in a pagan world?
Is it possible to work with the authorities of such a world?
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; [38] 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
Conservative Position
Critical Position
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 perhaps 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 debated
Issue of 2nd half of book resembles that of Isaiah 40-66, since both anticipate a future well beyond the prophet's lifetime.
But the issue is more difficult in Daniel 7-12 on account of the first-person speech form attributed to Daniel, whereas the latter half of Isaiah is, on the face of things, anonymous.
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 years?
70 weeks of years!
Wisdom (human and divine). In almost every chapter there is reference either to the superior wisdom (insight, understanding) God gave to Daniel who is presented as the model wise man, to the importance of wisdom for God’s saints or to the failed human wisdom of the Babylonian wise men (enchanters, diviners).
The Theme of Wisdom
Is Daniel
also among
the prophets?
How is it similar?
How is it different?
Core Goals
To understand the message of the book of Daniel:
Against the twofold setting of the exile of Judah and the later, Maccabean crisis, and
In terms of its unique, prophetic/apocalyptic literary genre

To understand the context of Daniel's contribution to Christian biblical eschatology.
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?
The Takeaway
Daniel helps us to step back and, using the framework of the exile of Judah's people, help us to 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!
2015 Discussion starter: news of 24/8/15 that ISIS has demolished the temple of Baal Shamayim in Palmyra with explosives (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-24/palmyra-baal-shamin-temple-blown-up-by-islamic-state/6719230). Do you support this action or not? (can check location in GMaps)
What do chapters 3 & 6 have in common?
What other biblical character does this chapter bring to mind?
How are the two alike?
Full transcript