Saturday, April 4, 2009

Daniel, Part 1: Basic Issues

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged this book. We dropped the Daniel series in college group. People weren’t engaging with it and I haven’t had much opportunity to get back to this book. Many sane people would put the book on the shelf until later, but I think I have some kind of mental condition that requires me to finish books – whether I want to or not (and whether I like them or not). So it’s been a while and I’m probably only going to blog Daniel and Revelation, but I may jot some notes on the chapters in between. But I may not. Either way, let’s get to Daniel.

Issues in Daniel
Cook begins with his perspective on Daniel’s composition as well as some unique elements that Daniel brings to apocalyptic literature. He thinks the final form of Daniel was composed in 164 BC, based on the persecutions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. It is the latest book in the Hebrew Scriptures. While apocalyptic explodes in ch. 7, Dan. 1-6 also serves to “revision reality” where discipleship is possible even in a hostile world.

The visions show a dualistic worldview where good will ultimately rule over evil. Apocalyptic cannot be domesticated. Rather, the heavenly realities are at work among the political and social realities. Supernatural intervention is happening all the time. Heaven regularly invades earth.

He also discusses “mantic wisdom” and the interweaving of Near Eastern mythology with Scripture in Daniel. Both are the building blocks in Daniel. Some have been slow, it seems, to recognize the biblical foundations in Daniel. He states, “An apocalyptic imagination took shape as the Daniel group pored over the Scriptures, especially lapsed or unfulfilled prophecies” (p. 129).

The next few pages discuss how Daniel uses – and reinterprets – other OT texts. Most time is spent on how Daniel takes a literal understanding of Jer. 25.11-12; 29.10 (that would make sense for the rebuilding of the temple in Jeremiah’s context) and re-works it in a way that gives it a longer term application/understanding in the “seventy-sevens.” Daniel stretches out 70 years (that will result in a Sabbath rest) into 490 years based on Sabbatical cycles.

Apocalyptic isn’t my strong suit, but it was really interesting to see how dependent Daniel is upon other OT texts.

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