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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
NEW TESTAMENT (i.e. GOSPEL) APPLICATION and LATER RECEPTION
QUESTIONS of COMPOSITION
* 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 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. Daniel (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 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 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 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 our programs for his plan for future history?
How do we balance looking for the end of the age with living for God within the age?
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 (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?
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?
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!
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).
Visions directed to foreign kings, while Daniel interprets
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?
Visions directed to Daniel, while angels interpret