How to Read Daniel
Beyond the familiar lions' den and fiery furnace, much of the book of Daniel seems baffling to modern readers. The first half recounts stories full of ancient Near Eastern protocol and imperial court drama; the second half features apocalyptic visions of monstrous beasts and cosmic conflict. Many Christians misunderstand or simply avoid the book. But failing to read Daniel well means missing a critical part of God's message to us.
According to Tremper Longman III, when we read Daniel on its own terms and in its original context, we'll discover that all of the book is easier to understand than we might think. In this volume of the popular How to Read Series, Longman brings his expertise as an Old Testament scholar and teacher to orient readers to a proper engagement with Daniel. He examines the book's genre, structure, historical background, and major theological message before diving deeper into each of the stories and visions.
As we learn how to enter the world of Daniel, we find a message not only for his generation but also for ours: even in hostile circumstances, God is in control, and he will have the final victory. Longman draws out this theme of Daniel for the twenty-first century, finding help for faithful living in a toxic culture and hope in a troubled world. How to Read Daniel is the perfect starting point for anyone studying, teaching, or seeking a reliable guide to this ancient book.
"Daniel is a fascinating but complicated book—historically, theologically, and critically. Longman has the wonderful ability to distill information and summarize academic debates in a highly readable style. He has accomplished that service with other books in the series, and now he gifts us with this volume. A helpful and thoroughly practical introduction."
"Tremper Longman's How to Read Daniel is a fantastic read! He leads his reader thoughtfully through hungry lions, fiery furnaces, and monstrous beasts to show how Daniel reminds us that God is not only present but in control, even in the darkest places. This book provides a stirring reminder that God has the ultimate victory. He can care for us, even in toxic environments, and meets us in the midst of a troubled world as the ultimate victorious King."
"Tremper Longman III provides the ideal companion for reading the book of Daniel. He helps us understand the relationship between the cheering stories of the first half and the weird visions of the second half, by showing how both were intended to encourage God's people in the midst of suffering and persecution. He helps us avoid simplistic messages from the stories and fanciful messages from the visions. Balanced, informative, and readable, this is a great tool for any preacher or Bible study leader."
Introduction: Invitation to the Book of Daniel
Part 1: Reading Daniel in Its Original Setting
1. Stories and Visions in the Midst of Oppression: Genre, Language, and Structure
2. Babylonian Exile and Persian (and Greek) Domination: The Historical Setting of the Book of Daniel
3. Comfort in the Midst of Oppression: The Theme of the Book
Part 2: Reading Daniel as Six Stories and Four Visions
4. Forced to Train in a Hostile Environment, Part 1: Daniel 1
5. Forced to Train in a Hostile Environment, Part 2: Daniel 2
6. God Humbles Powerful Nebuchadnezzar: Daniel 4
7. Who Can Interpret the Writing on the Wall?: Daniel 5
8. The Three Friends and the Fiery Furnace: Daniel 3
9. Daniel in the Lion's Den: Daniel 6
10. "One Like the Son of Man": Daniel 7
11. A Ram and a Goat: Daniel 8
12. Seventy Weeks: The Exile Continues: Daniel 9
13. "Yet He Will Come to His End": Daniel 10:1–12:4
14. "Go Your Way to the End": Daniel 12:5-13
Part 3: Reading Daniel as a Twenty-First-Century Christian
15. How to Live in a Toxic Culture: Daniel 1–6
16. Finding Comfort in God's Ultimate Victory: Daniel 7–12
Appendix: Commentaries on the Book of Daniel