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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Daniel - Introduction

Daniel, the only example of an apocalyptic * book in the Hebrew Bible, appears among the Kethubim * (“Writings”) of the Tanakh, * the Jewish version of the Bible, and among the Prophetic Books of the Christian First or Old Testament. Apocalyptic books are generally pseudonymous * or anonymous compositions, such as 1 Enoch, * 2 Baruch, or Revelation, in which a heavenly mediator reveals the future to a human being by means of an other-worldly journey or a review of world history. Apocalyptic literature is generally narrative * in form and employs various other-worldly images or motifs, * such as cosmic war, astronomical calculation, angels, mythological beings, and representations of God or other divine figures. Through a series of visions and dreams that provide a sweeping overview of world history from the Babylonian exile to the Hellenistic * period, Daniel is shown the impending downfall of the Seleucid * Syrian tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes * (175–163 BCE) and the emergence of God's kingdom, an independent Jewish state centered around the Jerusalem Temple. *

Although Daniel is initially portrayed as a Jewish exile in the court of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, the book clearly was not written during the sixth century BCE. Daniel is not a historical figure in Judah from this period, but his image is drawn from that of the legendary * sage and ruler of Canaanite mythology, Dan-El, who saves his son Aqhat from death in the fourteenth-century BCE Ugaritic tablets. Apocalyptic literature frequently employs well-known figures from the past, such as Enoch, Moses, or Ezra. Dan-El was known in Judah as early as the sixth century BCE (Ezek 14.14; 28.3 ). The literary history of the book is complicated and not well understood. It is written in two languages, Hebrew ( 1.1–2.4a; 8.1–12.13 ) and Aramaic * ( 2.4b–7.28 ), although these two portions do not correspond to its present literary structure. The tales in chs. 1–6 appear to have been composed in wisdom circles during the fourth or third centuries BCE to address the difficulties that Jews faced when living in the Diaspora. * As indicated by the precise historical knowledge conveyed in Daniel's final vision (chs. 10–12 ), the full form of the book was composed between 167 BCE, when Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem, and 164 BCE, when Judah the Maccabee and his warriors rededicated the Temple, thereby inaugurating the festival of Hanukkah. The book supports the Maccabean revolt by positing a succession of four world empires, including Babylonia, Media, Persia, and Greece-Macedonia (see Nebuchadnezzar's dream, ch. 2 ; and the vision of the four beasts, ch. 7 ). The succession culminates in the emergence of the Seleucid Syrian empire and the rule of Antiochus IV, who is represented by the “little [horn]” with “human eyes … and a mouth speaking arrogantly” in 7.8 and “a contemptible person on whom royal majesty had not been conferred” in 11.21 . Following his demise in battle, the anticipated Maccabean victory is symbolized by the deliverance of Daniel's people and the bringing of the dead to life ( 11.40–12.4 ). In later periods, Daniel has been read as an apocalyptic vision of the end of time. The Greek versions of Daniel in the Septuagint * and Theodotion contain additional chapters within the body of the work or added at the beginning or end of the book. These additional chapters, which appear separately in the Apocrypha * of Protestant Bibles, include the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Jews; Susanna; and Bel and the Dragon.

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