painting representing the Old Testament Book of DanielThe Book of Daniel is a 2nd-century BCE biblical apocalypse with an ostensible 6th century setting, combining a prophecy of history with an eschatology (a portrayal of end times) both cosmic in scope and political in focus. It gives "an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a noble Jew exiled at Babylon", and its message is that just as the God of Israel saves Daniel from his enemies, so he would save all Israel in their present oppression.

The Hebrew Bible includes the Book of Daniel in the Ketuvim (writings), while Christian Bibles group the work with the Major Prophets. It divides into two parts, a set of six court tales in chapters 1-6, written mostly in Aramaic, and four apocalyptic visions in chapters 7-12, written mostly in Hebrew; the deuterocanon contains three additional sections, the Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.

The book's influence has resonated through later ages, from the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the authors of the gospels and of Revelation, to various movements from the 2nd century to the Protestant Reformation and modern millennialist movements - on which it continues to have a profound influence.

The Book of Daniel is divided between the court tales of chapters 1-6 and the apocalyptic visions of 7-12, and between the Hebrew of chapters 1 and 8-12 and the Aramaic of chapters 2-7. The division is reinforced by the chiastic arrangement of the Aramaic chapters, and by a chronological progression in chapters 1-6 from Babylonian to Median rule, and from Babylonian to Persian rule in chapters 7-12. Various suggestions have been made by scholars to explain the fact that the genre division does not coincide with the other two, but it appears that the language division and concentric structure of chapters 2-6 are artificial literary devices designed to bind the two halves of the book together. The following outline is provided by Collins in his commentary on Daniel:

PART I: Tales (chapters 1:1-6:29)

  • 1: Introduction (1:1-21 - set in the Babylonian era, written in Hebrew)
  • 2: Nebuchadnezzar's dream of four kingdoms (2:1-49 - Babylonian era; Aramaic)
  • 3: The fiery furnace (3:1-30/3:1-23, 91-97 - Babylonian era; Aramaic)
  • 4: Nebuchadnezzar's madness (3:31/98-4:34/4:1-37 - Babylonian era; Aramaic)
  • 5: Belshazzar's feast (5:1-6:1 - Babylonian era; Aramaic)
  • 6: Daniel in the lions' den (6:2-29 - Median era with mention of Persia; Aramaic)

PART II: Visions (chapters 7:1-12:13)

  • 7: The beasts from the sea (7:1-28 - Babylonian era: Aramaic)
  • 8: The ram and the he-goat (8:1-27 - Babylonian era; Hebrew)
  • 9: Interpretation of Jeremiah's prophecy of the seventy weeks (9:1-27 - Median era; Hebrew)
  • 10: The angel's revelation: kings of the north and south (10:1-12:13 - Persian era, mention of Greek era; Hebrew)

View the Chapters of Daniel:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12  






Today's Poll