An extract from an earlier handout given to students of the book of Daniel at Emmanuel Training and Resources.
The following is a (roughly-categorised) list of questions that arose during the recent course on the book of Daniel:
Hermeneutics, imagery and biblical intertextuality
- 1. What are we supposed to make of the apparent parallels between Daniel’s trial in Dan 6 and the trial of Jesus? For example: A cowardly and foolish ruler reluctantly executed an unjust sentence on an innocent man (who had previously prayed where others could see him?); The innocent man was subsequently vindicated by the LORD; The LORD acted in judgment against those who conspired against the innocent man; etc.
- What are the parallels between Daniel and Joseph? Why are these significant?
- How was the book composed, by whom, and when? Note for example the transitions between 1st and 3rd person in Dan 7 connected with Daniel’s record of his dream and its interpretation.
- Where is Daniel in Dan 3? Where are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Dan 6? Why?
- What is the relationship between Dan 11 and Dan 12?
- Why is King Nebuchadnezzar disciplined in Dan 4 when he begins the chapter by praising God?
- How should we approach the imagery of Dan 7-12?
- When Darius spoke of “the God of Daniel” (Dan 6:26) was he acknowledging the LORD or distancing himself from him?
- Why is Dan 2-7 written in Aramaic?
- Is Nebuchadnezzar the father of Belshazzar (Dan 5:2)? Or his grandfather? How much of this family tree do we need to understand?
- Daniel 5:30 says, “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.” Why the apparent emphasis on “Chaldean”?
- Who are “the watchers” in Dan 4?
Paganism, witchcraft and magic
- What attitude should we adopt towards the magicians and astrologers of Babylon? Is the efficacy of their magical practices assumed or tacitly denied? How does this relate to the similar questions that arise elsewhere in Scripture (e.g. the witch at Endor, 1 Sam 28; the magicians of Egypt, Ex 7-8; Simon the magician, Acts 8; etc.)?
Politics and public theology
- In Dan 3, King Nebuchadnezzar makes a foolish decree requiring the worship of a golden image on pain of death. After Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are delivered from the fiery furnace, he then makes another decree, this time requiring the worship of the God of Israel on pain of death. Is the second decree really any less foolish than the first? If so, on what grounds? What are the proper limits of state authority, especially in relation to religious conviction and religious observance?
- More broadly (and related to the previous question), what is the place of civil government in God’s purposes for the world? What should civil rulers do, and why?
- Should unjust rulers be regarded as God’s agents? In what sense(s) might this be true? What purposes might God have in using them? Are they different in this respect from godly rulers?
- Should a Christian ruler ever seek to impose Christian morality on a nation?
- What attitude should we adopt towards the literature and language of the Babylonians (Dan 1), and indeed to unbelieving culture more generally? To what extent can the cultural products of unbelieving cultures be considered “good”, and on what biblical and theological grounds can we form such a judgment?