Pray for the President?

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

 

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (the Apostle Paul’s personal letter written to Timothy, a fellow believer and disciple of Paul – circa 60-62 C.E./A.D.)

In the Book of Common Prayer (used by Anglicans/Episcoplians worldwide), the 1928 prayer states, “A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority.  O Lord, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Now, for those who claim that Jesus is Risen, that He is Lord, whether they be Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, Leftists, Social Democrats or what have you, are you following this entreaty of Paul?  For, as he stated, this is good and pleasing to God.

Now, in Paul’s day, when he wrote this, Nero Caesar was in power (54-68 C.E.).  If you know anything about Nero, he eventually became intolerable to the Senate and the people due to his bloodthirsty rages, his lust for boys, and his insane, narcissistic implementations of Roman law.  How would you like to have as President someone who cut off the heads of Christians and torched their bodies to be used as lamps in their patio?  And, yet, here we find Paul’s words.  It is a strong tradition in Christianity, possibly rooted in historical fact, that Paul suffered death under Nero.

Praying for the President does not mean an endorsement of the President.  Praying for the President does mean a total acceptance of him, his personal life, or his demeanor or candor.  Equally, it does not mean, either, an acceptance of his policies.  What it does mean, however, for Paul anyway, is that God places in authority whom He wills.  We may not like it.  We may, in fact, be completely against it.  But, it is, nonetheless, established.  We may seek to work against it in accordance with the laws and policies that have been established.  But, one thing, regardless, that we are not off the hook of is prayer.  If our current President is not to your liking, that is fine – let each person be persuaded by their own opinion- however, if such dislike causes you to not even pray for him – then your problem is not with the President, but with God.  If your heart has such contempt that even prayer cannot be said, then the issue is much deeper, for did not God love you and send his Son to die on your behalf, O’ miserable soul that you are?  “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”  If you are not able to pray for our President, then perhaps what this is saying is, is that you are not so wretched, but that he is.  That you are, maybe, a tad bit better on the totem pole of “good”.  That perhaps you are a little more deserving of the blessings of God on your life, but not on his.

Just a thought.

What is Gnosticism?

Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

“Gnosticism” is a terms that gets thrown around a lot.  In this vein, it usually is  a slur, a pejorative for an view that is so “spiritually minded that it is no earthly good.”  There have usually been two polar sides of perennial issues that involve the physical and the metaphysical; that each of these considerations can be lopsided.  To use Carl Sagan’s famous quote, “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”  This would be a materialist position, devoid of any sense of spirit, soul, mind, Good, Evil, which are all metaphysical concepts and ideas.  Usually, with these types, since the cosmos is all there is (Naturalism), then pleasure becomes the main normative impetus for carving out a life to be lived.  Taking care of yourself and the planet.  Nature itself is the only real thing to be marveled at and adored.

Then, too, you have the Gnostics.  Gnosis is simply a Greek word that means ‘knowledge’ (kno-gnoledge for the stem).  In the case of the Mystics, the Buddhists, and much of Hindi thought, Mysticism is an attempt to enter the blissful, the nirvanic, the escape from this world of matter, things, and appearances and achieve harmony with Spirit, Good, Ultimate Sense of Purpose, Goddess Power.  Razors and showers usually do not come with these type of folks.

Mircea Eliade’s masterful three volume work, A History of Religious Ideas, notes that a gnostic is, in general, believes that “the only object worth pursuing was the deliverance of that divine particle and its reascent to the celestial spheres” (p.374, volume 2).  There are several (and I mean several) forms of Gnosticism(s) floating around in the second century and their precursors before then.  The body is a prison house to be escaped (coming from Plato).  For most of the Gnostics, though, there are some shared ideas.  First, matter and spirit are forever to be separated.  Creation – that is, this cosmos – will burn out eventually.  “God is not interested in man as such but in the soul, which is of divine origin…” (394).  “The body is demonic by nature” (394).

Basically, the Scriptures present Creation as that which is pronounced good by God who made all things.  Gnostics have no end goal for creation other than it eventually burning out of existence, along with all material things.  Material creation has been so corrupted by flesh that it is “fallen” and “beyond reclaiming.”  It was never, in fact, meant to be the home of man, but a transitory, temporary place for enlightening man for his original Higher Goal: Spiritual Bliss.  Man is not to look at things seen, but is to transcend these things through “knowledge” of the Suprasensable World above – the true, heavenly world of the Divine.  That world is the real world, whereas this world will never come to “know” that world, and never be transformed by it – since that is reserved for the Soul only – the true essence of man.  The idea, as Eliade notes, that the human body would be raised from the dead and enter into the Transcendent World permanently was “madness” to the Greeks.  Yet, that was the very controversy the Early Church Fathers preached from the get go.  Jesus, the man born of a woman, the seed of David, the son of man, ascended into heaven bodily and remains for eternity.  This idea simply could not be fathomed.  It is not that it could not be understood, but that it could not be explained as to why God would redeem that which is so corrupted by Evil.  What would be the purpose of redeeming that which is utterly lost?  What concern would the God of the SupraWorld have for placing the stamp of eternality to matter?  The whole point of matter, fallen as it is, is to contrast that with the spiritual life that comes from above and releases us from this world to that world.  What, then, would be the reason for such redemption of this world?

It was this idea, the idea that Jesus, a man with a “rational soul and body” as the Orthodox defined him, could be redeemed with that same rational soul and body and permanently remain as a heavenly, exalted man, that confounded the world.  Christianity brought together the two things that could not ever meet: matter and soul in the Incarnation (in-carnis – flesh) of the Logos with the “man, Christ Jesus.”  In Jesus God affirmed his creation (matter and body), raised it, glorified it, and made it to ascend to his right hand.  Also, he affirmed the invisible qualities of creation and soul by offering renewal to it as well.  Both were affirmed in the resurrection, glorification and ascension of Jesus, son of man.  This was shocking then, as it is shocking now.  For the materialist, the idea of a long dead, long, wind blown scattered ashes of a few thousand year old corpse being “raised from the dead” is the height of absurdity of all foolish absurdities.  For the spiritualist, it is simply something that has no purpose in happening since the soul is already redeemed, and is the only true essence of who we are.  The idea of God reuniting a body to it – a fallen body – is simply and equally absurd.  Of course, some so called Christians have tried to “middle man” the issue by offering the idea that the soul gets a fresh, brand new, never tainted by sin or death body when they expire (or are freed from this mortal shell).  But, Paul’s words are emphatic: the body that is sown, that very body is the one that is raised.  And, his main proof for his assertion is Jesus and the empty tomb, and the fact that he is ‘in heaven at the right hand of the Father’ as the Church has confessed in unison for 2000 years.  Christianity is most alive when it still shocks the mindset of human thinking.  It when it stops shocking it that I begin to worry.  A Christianity “at home” in the world is not a Christianity that is needed; a Christianity that turns the world upside down is.  And the Incarnated Son of Man in heaven does just that, for in that message is contained the idea that God “will quicken your mortal bodies” in the same manner as Jesus.  Will the son of man find faith, or will he find scoffers?

The Kingdom of God in Luke

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

 

Luke’s usage of the word, “kingdom” and expression, “kingdom of God” provides an invaluable insight into the whole concept as it was used in the first century.  From my studies in Daniel, the kingdom of God is not something that is built, or set up.  For Daniel, God’s kingdom is His rule in the heavenlies above all the kingdoms of human beings.  The confession, or rather, the emphasis in that Prophet is that God’s kingdom is not something that “will be” or something that is “set up.”  God rules the affairs of all human beings and controls history “according to his will”.

That being said, Daniel also foresees a kingdom that is “set up” in the form of a small rock that grows to become the only mountain on the face of the whole earth.  This naturally suggests “growth”.  A rock is nowhere near the size of a mountain, but becomes a mountain over time.  As stated, in Daniel there is an obvious contrast between the kingdom of God, and the kingdom that will be “set up”.  One may say that it is the Kingdom of God that will set up a kingdom of his people on earth.

For example, the kingdom was “given” to Nebuchadnezzar.  This is not God’s kingdom itself, but rather the earthly powers to operate a kingdom on earth.  Darius “receives” the kingdom after the fall of Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar.  God “gives” a kingdom to “whomsoever he wills” according to Daniel.  Thus, when we understand Kingdom/kingdom as one over the other, we can see that this insight falls right in line with Luke’s usage of the term as he recorded it from the mouth of Jesus.

Luke’s primary emphasis is on the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom that is, that is eternal, that has no beginning and no end.  God’s Kingdom is God’s own rule itself and is closely associated with his own power and authority over all creation.  God does not wait for a time when he will rule, but rather rules because that is His attribute (sovereignty) over all things of His creation.  God’s Kingdom rules over both the “wicked and the righteous.”  If there were to be any aspect in which the rule of God over all things is not currently possessed it would be the contrast between what is “seen” and what is “not seen.”  Jesus likened the rule of the Spirit to the wind, which is always there (like wind), but it not seen.  So, too, is the Kingdom of God omnipresent even though it is not “seen”.  This is not at all a denial that its properties and design is a permanent fixture, or that it cannot be seen, for there were times when the Prophets did catch glimpses of the Kingdom behind the veil of “the seen” (the world of appearances).  The marvelous aspects of Daniel’s visions are that God gives him occasional peaks behind the scenes of the historically mundane (mundus).    Daniel is visited by angels, flashing glimpses of powers, and hears from a book (among many books opened before the Ancient of Days) that foretells the events of the mundane to come.  Daniel’s message is clear: God’s Kingdom rules the affairs of human beings.  Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson the hard way: “I blessed the Most High and to him who lives to the age I praised and I glorified him whose Dominion is a Dominion of age, whose Rule is generation to generation.  And all who inhabit the land are not taken into account.  And he wills it, doing among the force of the heavens and those who dwell on the land.  There is none to strike with his hand and say to him, ‘What have you done?’”

Now, seeing that we must pay heed to Nebuchadnezzar’s confession of truth, let us now look at Luke.  In one place, Luke writes, “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”  This demonstrates God’s power to heal at any time since he rules over all things.  The Kingdom of God comes “near” to those who are so touched by the healing power of God.  The verb “has come near” is in the Perfect tense in the Greek text, showing that when healing occurs – a direct touch of the Spirit – the Kingdom of God has come close; a person is brushing right up next to it!  The Kingdom of God is being displayed.  The unseen healing power of God over flesh is restoring corrupted, ill flesh.  If the gospel message of the disciples was not heard with faith, then Jesus instructed them to say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’  Again, through the message that was announced, the word of the Kingdom, provided that it was a word of the Spirit, the Kingdom has come near to those who heard it, but did not pay heed.  It is in their hearing of the word of the Kingdom, and that is about as close (near) as one can get.

In the prayer of Jesus, the Kingdom as asked to ‘come’.  The Father is in heaven and his name is hallowed.  His will is that his very own Kingdom “come” so that his will is done “on earth” as it “is” in heaven.  This powerfully demonstrates the contrast between the Rule of God in heaven over all the affairs of human beings, his will being done “in heaven” and that it comes to be that His Kingdom is manifested “on earth” in the same manner.  This is not a longing for simply having the Kingdom near or close in the unseen, but “coming” to be seen in the world with all of its power and manifestation.  It is a prayer for a new heavens and a new land.

Apart from this, Luke continues in the same fashion as above: “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”  Again, the casting out of demons was demonstration of the closeness of the Kingdom power over all things – even the demons.  “Has come upon you” (again, Perfect tense) is not the same verb in “Your Kingdom come”.  The former reflects the sense of having come upon those who are witnessing Jesus cast out demons, demonstrating his power over all things; the Kingdom of God.  When God’s Kingdom “comes upon” or “is near” it is in terms of His unseen power over all things; His power demonstrated in a rebellious world; a world not yet engulfed by the power of His Kingdom in terms of 100% eradication of all evil, which is expressed in the ultimate display of the prayer: Your Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven!  For now, until then, the Kingdom “comes upon” in demonstration of its power over all things, and “comes near” in the same manner.

Jesus says, “He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?”  He then proceeds to give a parable of a mustard seed.  A very tiny seed that “grows” and “becomes a tree.”  This is like the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in which he saw a mere stone “become” a mountain that displaced all the other mountains.  Now, as we have discussed, God’s Kingdom, his power and rule “in heaven” does not “grow”.  It is from generation to generation.  It rules from on High over the affairs of human beings.  However, as we know, God’s people is also called a “kingdom” and “nation of priests.”  They are not the same as we stated.  God’s Kingdom is over the kingdom of His people which does grow as it spreads out in its announcement to the world: the Kingdom of God is close and speaks through the word of its people to the rebellious world.  The kingdom of God (His people on earth) is the vehicle through which the Kingdom of God comes near to those who need to hear the message of the Love of the Father to the Son, and the Son’s Love to the Father.  For now, the only visibility of the Kingdom of God is the kingdom of God’s people on earth who have been filled with God the Spirit, who seeks only to bring glory to the Son and the Father.  Their King is not seen, who sits at the right hand of the Father.  But He is proclaimed by the Spirit who witnesses to the manifestation His Presence before the Father.  The message of the Spirit is plain: “Jesus is Lord!”  Yet, because of the still unseen presence of the Kingdom, faith is the transforming gift of the Spirit that enables one to see with their understanding.  For a time, God’s Kingdom has decreed that His people live in the tension between the seen and unseen.  The unseen will become the seen.  “Your Kingdom come!”  But, until then, God’s people, who are His loyal and obedient subjects (who are being made to be as obedient as the Son is obedient to only the will of the Father) proclaim an unseen Kingdom and an unseen King.

The expanding of the kingdom of God is further demonstrated in Jesus’ words; “And there shall come from the east and the west and the north and the south: and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.”  This is hardly the beginning of a mustard seed!  Rather, it is an inclusion of all nations coming from all four quarters of the earth; it is the people of God who have been gathered into one Kingdom.  A kingdom of The Kingdom of God.

There is an exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus in which they ask, “when does the Kingdom of God come?”  The same verb (“come”) is used in the Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.  This shows the contrast between the fact that the Kingdom was “close” to them, but had not “come” in the manner of toppling the world and ushering a new heavens and new earth.  Jesus’ answer is telling: “”The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed.”  Another translation has, “”The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed.”  The things “observed” (a somewhat rare word), or “seen” is reflected in another place in Luke: “And it came to pass, when Jesus went into the house of one of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, that they observed him.”  In other words, they were watching his actions, observing them.  Jesus states that the Kingdom of God, his rule and power, is not something that comes in terms of the mundane.  Jesus’ Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, is not of the world.  It is not something that is created and observed in the manner of created things.  It does not take its place among other kingdoms.  It comes and will engulf all the mountains, being the only mountain standing.  The Kingdom comes, Jesus replies, “from within” the people who are called.  The mundane, heaven and earth as they are now, will “pass away” for the Kingdom will come “out of” heaven and refashion all things; all things now observable will be remade.  Since, as we have seen, that the Kingdom of God is indeed “seen” through the glimpses of the Prophets; the angels, and heavenly courts and places, and the various activity, we are not to suppose that God’s Kingdom is a mere gaseous, nebulous, invisible, never seen, never to be witnessed empty space.  God’s Kingdom is real and actual.  But it will not come through the means of things observed; things seen (it is not a kingdom built by men).  Rather, it comes from within and works itself out in the lives of those who are called to it.  God’s Kingdom comes through his people who bring the Kingdom near to the world.  Jesus is not saying “the Kingdom is not ever observable” but that it does not come as, say, the Roman Empire came: with observation.  Or, say, the rise of Stalin in the Revolution of 1917.  God’s Kingdom is not of this world, but the world will be transformed by it.  As surely as the LORD said, “Let there be light, and there was” – so shall the coming Kingdom be: “Let the earth be renewed, and it was.”  Just like that.

Jesus, in Luke, presses home this fact: “As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was about to appear immediately.”  They preached already that the Kingdom was near those who heard their gospel.  And, like Jesus being ‘near’ Jerusalem (same word, “close to Jerusalem”) they thought God’s Kingdom would come immediately at that time, engulf the world from within to without and transform all things.  In other words, they knew that the Kingdom of God would come without observation, but that it would nonetheless come in a fashion that would transform the world in one flash.  Jesus corrects their timing by giving a parable that reflects even our current situation.  “He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And calling his ten servants, he gave them ten pounds and said to them: Trade till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent an ambassage after him, saying, We will not that this man reign over us.”  Notice this.  The nobleman went far off to receive a kingdom, and return.  He returns after he has received the kingdom.  Thus, he was  made a king over the citizens.  However, because he was afar off, the citizens had a choice to accept his kingdom, his rule, or reject it.  His rule was a fact.  He was a king.  But, because he was not seen, the situation gave some of the citizens the courage to reject his rule.  Had been seen, had he come, there would have been no opportunity to reject his kingship. In the same maner, the Kingdom of God is near, but it is not seen, and so may be rejected.  “When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.”  The king in this parable could no longer be denied.  Instead, the citizens had to given an account to him for upon his return his kingship could no longer be rejected.

Likewise, when Jesus, in Luke, dealt with the coming catastrophe of Jerusalem at the hand of the Roman alliances, he said, “But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand.”  In like manner, “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”  We have already seen that for Luke, the “Kingdom of God” being “near” means that is close at hand and doing what it does in terms of demonstrating the power of God.  In the very same manner that the Kingdom was “at hand” or “close” when Jesus casted out devils or healed the sick, or when the disciples preached the gospel of the Kingdom, it was at hand, close, directly demonstrating its power over all things.  Jesus announcement, then, of the war of Rome with Judah (70-73 AD; 135 AD) was an announcement of God’s Kingdom coming near and displaying his power.  It was God’s will that Jerusalem be demolished.  His will was being done on earth.  But, this is not at all the “coming of the Kingdom of God” in an of itself.  The King rules and has been installed and sits at the right hand of the Father.  However, His rule can be rejected and his Kingship can be denied as even existing by the citizens of the world…for a time.  When the King does return, when the Kingdom does “come” on earth as it is in heaven, these same citizens will have no choice but to acknowledge the obvious.  May this King have mercy.

Coming to a close, Jesus says, “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me.”  This, perhaps, most clearly demonstrates the Kingdom/kingdom motif in Luke.  Jesus is not giving the subjects of the Kingdom of God His very power and rule.  Rather, he is making them a “kingdom and priests” in the Kingdom of God.  All power belongs to the King, who is the King of the kings, his subjects.  “That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  For Luke this very observable Kingdom in the heavenlies will be enjoined by those who have been gathered together from the east, south, north and west.  Jesus said, “For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”  That’s when “Your Kingdom comes!” and the King returns with the full manifestation of his Presence in heaven, transforming all things, renewing all things so that there will only be One Mountain from one tiny rock.

At his death, the thief said to him, “Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus came into his Kingdom and received all power and authority.  His answer to the thief tells us this: “Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”  The thief was remembered.  Jesus received his Kingdom in heaven, but, for a time, may still be rejected by human beings.  And with his rejection as King, so too is the Assembly of God that is his kingdom on earth.  They too are rejected as priests in his Kingdom.  They are scorned and ridiculed and mocked.  As they seek to do His bidding on earth, they too suffer the shame and humility he suffered.  The suffering is His Servants is due to the Suffering of God’s Servant on the cross, in that we share in His once and for all suffering.  We share in His once and for all death.  And we shall also share in His once and for all resurrection when all things will be made new.  Thy Kingdom come!

 

Get Ready for Daniel!

As many of you know, I am finishing up the commentary on Daniel.  I am very happy with the results.  It is sure to cause a bit of controversy.  Well, a lot of controversy.

When we come to studying the book of Daniel, the first thing a new reader will do, or should do, is simply read the book itself.  Now, this immediately places the reader into the issue of translation.  What translation is he or she reading?  Secondly, they have to filter what they “already know” concerning “what they have heard”.  As is well known in popular culture, Daniel and Revelation appear to go hand and hand, and appear to speak about the same subject matter.  Therefore, as is commonly assumed, Daniel and Revelation speak about the same “end times.”

Let’s say, then, the reader has read the book and is quite perplexed (Daniel was).  The stories have a good message to them: obey God and not the world.  God is over all the kings of the earth.  God will set up a kingdom and it will dominate all the others.  The dead will be raised.  All true.

Now the reader goes to his local bookstore or library and gets a bunch of books on Daniel.  If, however, he or she is reading from a Study Bible, then the “notes” on the bottom will have already filled in a lot of information – and since these notes are in the Bible, then they must have some truth, right?  Well?

What if he or she were reading from the Catholic Study Bible?  The translation is called the New American.  Not a bad translation.  The very eminent John J. Collins (a super scholar) wrote the Introduction to the Daniel part – and it is very clear: Daniel is not the actual author (the work is pseudopigraphal); Antiochus Epiphanes is the main character of the end.  Daniel was written in the second century BCE.

The reader also purchased The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hinson.  Here, Daniel speaks about the end of the world, the Antichrist, and rebuilt Israel and the Temple in the “last days.”  The fourth beast in chapter 7 is the Revised Roman Empire.  Collins believes it is the Grecian Empire with the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes of the Seleucid Kingdom as the “little horn.”  The venerable John Calvin sees the horns as the Caesars themselves.  The prophecy goes no further.  I could go on.  We have not even touched the surface.  We have not even begun to look at the surface that await the reader when he or she plunges into Daniel and the myriad upon myriad of interpretations.  What are the odds that a numb-skull like me may have something to offer?

Well, there are a few other commentaries out there that are suggestive.  The well received Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Volume VI is good.  Arthur Jeffrey tackled Daniel in that series.  Then, there is the older commentary by Moses Stuart.  Still further are there others that take a bit of a different route off the main highway (Seow, Davis, Carol Ann Newsome, Sailhamer, Stephen Miller, and an unknown Frank Daniels).  I kind of stay on the main highway but take a few different routes – “back roads” we call them in Indiana.  I am drawing from several sources, traditional and liberal, skeptic and believer, critical and supportive.  I basically chucked out everything I thought I knew about Daniel and started fresh from my own translating ability with the text.  I wrote down all the nagging questions I had and have morphed from “view” to “view” over the decades until now, for the first time, I can say, “I am settled.”  What I mean is, I can read Daniel comfortably for the first time all the way through.  It now makes sense to me.  Whether it will make any sense to anyone else is another matter.

My commentary is purposely not “scholarly”.  It does not have one single footnote.  It does not quote from a single scholar, or make long winded arguments only to favor mine in the end.  It is meant to pick up and read like a book, starting at chapter 1 and reading until chapter 12 (just like Daniel).  The temptation for folks who think they know Daniel will be to go immediately to chapter 7 or 9.  You will be disappointed if you do that, because these chapters make no sense without chapter 8, and 1-6.  Let me say this, though: I finished this project not knowing that the way I came in would change from the way I came out.  In other words, this project changed my view!  This was especially due to the translation task.  Lots of misconceptions on my part were dismantled by the text itself.  What an adventure it was.

Book should be out before Summer (I know, I know, it was supposed to be out in March).  Anyone got 10,000 dollars to spare?