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?