Daniel Introduction

Book of Daniel Introduction • Book of Daniel as Literature • Studying Daniel • 10/21/06

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Introducing the Book Of Daniel

History • Tales • Prophecy • Eschatology • Apocalypse

The Book of Daniel is one of the most colorful and interesting books found among the Old Testament writings. Its history covers the greater portion of Daniel’s life from the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim in 605 B.C., through the ups and downs of the Neo-Babylonian era, and into the rise of Persia during the reign of Cyrus II. Daniel is thrown into the darkest pit of God’s judgment against the chosen people as they become a vassal of the Babylonian Empire. Consider how Daniel must have suffered witnessing the withdrawal of God’s presence from the temple in Jerusalem when it was destroyed in 587 B.C. Did you ever contemplate the magnitude of this event? As Christians we think of God’s presence inside of each of us by His Holy Spirit. To the Jews of ancient Israel, God’s presence was in His holy temple—the temple in Jerusalem. The same temple that God allowed the Babylonians to destroy. Is it not almost incomprehensible—the apparent triumph of evil over the true God? Yet, in the face of this terrible evil, Daniel determines all the more to remain faithful.

As literature, the Book of Daniel includes intriguing features characteristic of Hebrew writing with its love of rhythmic themes and resonating chiasms. True artistry is exhibited in its assembly, no piece accidental, every block closely fitted—however its composition was knit—it was done well. Yet, exactly what kind of literature is Daniel? This vexing question has proved complex and not answered satisfactorily. Pore over the commentaries if you will, but their attempts to encapsulate Daniel, to categorize it, to pigeon-hole it are are but feeble shadows.

Perhaps Daniel is just a tale or collection of tales. Certainly a sense of high adventure and great storytelling propel these stories. Consider Daniel’s vibrant faith, inspiring courage, clarion prayers, and audacious proclamations relentlessly evincing Yahweh as the only true King of all nations and His kingdom alone as everlasting. He is a grand hero and model for all.

As moral paradigm, Daniel is a worthy hero. Daniel finds himself a hostage of the Neo–Babylonians who have stole him and some friends away from their Judean homeland to disrupt their rulers and perhaps as a pledge to control the noisy little fiefdom known as the Yehud. (Of course, Judah itself is of no great or particular importance, but has some value as a buffer between the Babylonians and their enemies, the Egyptians.) Daniel must serve in a secular occupation not of his own choosing and somehow balance the pressures of the ever engulfing culture and the yearning of his soul to serve the living and true God whose kingdom endures forever and ever.

As prophecy, while humble Daniel resolves to live under the sovereignty of his God, that same God reveals mysteries, makes known His will, topples earthly kings, and determines all must yield to heaven. God’s people are compelled to deal with the hostile people and cultures surrounding them, exercising control over them, whether in the form of the Chaldean empire or Persian bureaucracy or Greek expansionism. These foreign empires will jostle a temporal, fragile custodianship over the chosen people of the one true God. The Judean exiles will be forced to re-image their understanding of themselves and grow their knowledge of God and His promises. How can Daniel’s God, whose temple lay in ruins and whose people are disbursed, reign supreme over all the earth? Can God really pluck his own from their land, disburse them among their enemies, and then restore their children to the promised land? The Ancient of Days has plans stretching far beyond the feeble expectations of the displaced Judeans.

The Book of Daniel deals with the basic issue any follower of God does: How to live godly in an imperfect and ungodly world. Fidelity to God versus the daily pressures and burdens of everyday life. Daniel deals with this issue on the individual level and on the societal level. How do God's people maintain their corporate identity and faithful to God?

Do not our difficulties pale in comparison! What can Daniel teach us? What is God’s role in our lives…? Is our nation all powerful…really?

(For questions of Special Introduction and Critical Issues see our Authenticity page)

bulletQuick Info! - A brief look at the main characters appearing in Daniel.
bullet A short outline & quick look at themes
bulletBible Only: Basic Introduction and Survey of Daniel
bulletKen Bowles: Spiritual Insights Daniel
bulletBuster Dobbs: The Written Prophecy of Daniel
bulletChurch of God: Daniel
bullet“Daniel in a sentence: While he and his brethren are captives in Babylon, Daniel remains faithful to God under test, gains official position there, interprets the kings' dreams, and receives four visions of wide historical/political scope to encourage God's people under oppression.”
bulletODP: Old Testament People - Daniel
bulletCollection of biographical links about Daniel
bulletSimpleBibleStudies.com: Daniel–The Prophet Greatly Beloved
bulletA few quick paragraphs encapsulating this amazing book.
bulletToday’s Word: Introduction to Daniel by Grant Richison
bullet International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Daniel by Robert Dick Wilson
bulletSearchGodsWord.org: Nebuchadnezzar (Article by Robert Dick Wilson)

 

bulletA Detailed Introduction - Biblical Studies Foundations has a solid web site with lots of material. This link provides an index to all materials about Daniel.
bullet http://www.bible.org/passage.php?passage_id=27

 

bulletAnother Detailed Introduction - This is a fine, scholarly introduction, but Bandstra considers Daniel to be a legendary ‘hero’ figure.
bullet Bandstra’s Introduction to Daniel

 

bulletThe Chiastic Structure of the Book of Daniel - Here’s a chart which demonstrates the unity of the Book Of Daniel and proposes a chiastic structure. Careful study of Daniel reveals a most amazing book with an interlocking structure that defies simple literary dissection. The final product is a purposely designed, unified book.
bullet http://www.sdfa.org/bu_dan01.htm

 

bulletNeed a Quick Historical Primer? - Professor Felix Just S.J. covers the empires and rulers involved in this time period.
bullet http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Daniel.htm

 

bullet

Introductory Daniel User Friendly Guide By UCCF
bullet http://www.uccf.org.uk/resources/ucfgDaniel/

 

bullet

Christian Debater fields some common questions about Daniel and defines various terms and phrases.

 

bulletInductive Bible Study: Methodology. New to the idea of studying the Bible? Here are some general tips on how to get started.
bullet http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/induct.htm
bullet Sunergos: Inductive Methodology (downloadable guides)
bulletJonathan's Corner: The Commentary
bullet A short story about the hazards of Bible Commentary.

 

bullet Daniel’s Ten-Day Diet
bulletOkay, a bit of a stretch, but this article from the Saturday Evening Post is real.

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This site was last updated 10/20/06