The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception I & II

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I haven’t done any works relevant to my dissertation since I got to Waverly. I have been worrying about it, but my friend Emile emailed and comforted me with kind words:

Don’t worry too much about working on your dissertation while you are in Iowa. You have too much to do teaching, and that is a very valuable experience for you to add to your vita. I would suggest instead of writing formal parts of the dissertation that you read books and articles on your bibliography, and try informal ‘journaling’ about what you read every night.

I decided to read and review The Book of Daniel: Compostion and Reception I & II (Edited by John J. Collins and Peter W. Flint; Boston; Leiden: Brill Academic: Publishers, Inc., 2002). This two volumes set offers me a borad view for all issues of the book of Daniel. It has eight parts:

Part 1: General Topics

Part 2: Daniel in Its Near Eastern Milieu

Part 3: Issues in Interpretation of Specific Passages

Part 4: Social Setting

Part 5: Literary Context, Including Qumran

Part 6: Reception in Judaism and Christianity

Part 7: Textual History

Part 8: The Theology of Daniel

John J. Collins as one of the editor of the book offers an outline of the eight chapters in his introductory article, “Current Issues on the Study of Daniel” (pp. 1-15). He introduces the eight chpaters with issues of Daniel such as (1) text, (2) Compostion and Genre, (3) Social Setting, (4) The History of Interpretation, and (5) Theology and Ethics.

Collins denies to read Daniel as fundamentalist read it as a prophecy of western political history. Then, he presupposes the scholarly research of the eight chapters as follows:

It is agreed that Daniel is pseudepographic: the stories in chapters 1-6 are legendary in character, and the visions in chapters 7-12 were composed by persons unknown in the Maccabean era. the stories are almost certainly older than the visions, but the book itself ws put together shortly after the Maccabean crisis. It must be read, then, as a witness to the religiosity of that time, not as a prophecy of western political history or of the eschatological future (Collins 2002, 2).

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Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library

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The editor of the software, Immanuel Tov, said, “the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library (DSSEL) provides the users with a comprehensive tool for the study of the non-biblical texts from the Judean Deseart offering transcriptions, translations, images, an inventory, and software for carrying out searches and viewing the images” (Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library, Revised Edition, 2006).

DSSEL contains all the non-biblical Qumran texts presented in printed form in the Dead Sea Scrolls Readers (6 volumes set). You can search for words of Hebrew/Aramaic within the texts. One of the best things of this software is images of the scrolls. I most cases, each text, column, or fragment is accompanied by a single black and white image.

Matthew 4:1-11

The biblical passage of the Gospel today is the Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). While Maureen Doherty, the pastor here at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at Waverly, preached, I deeply meddiated on the last one among three temptations:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he siadh to him. “Alll these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesis said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him'” (vv. 8-10). 

What does the author of Matthew make by this? What pops into my mind when I heard this last temptation is a similiarity of this idol worship to the ancient Near Eastern kingship, which is a political propaganda for the kinship. Muhammad Dandamayev attests this issue as follows:

In the first millennum B.C.E., with the exception of the pharaohs, kings in the Near East were not deified. They considered themselves only earthly representatives of the gods (Dandamayev 1996, 36).

As an example, the Cyrus Cylinder, a famous Persian loyal decree, repeats this political propaganda that “Marduk called out Cyrus” and “Marduk caused the magnanimous people Babylon to me and I [Cyrus] daily attended to his [Markduk] worship” (COS 2.124).

As we know very well, th last word of Jesus to this last temptation came from the Dueteronomistic theology: “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him” (v. 10). Thus, the historical baground of this temptation is surely either pre-exilic or post-exilic, which is a period of poilitcal and religious struggles of the people of YHWH with the other gods and thier politics.

Reference List

Dandamayev, Muhammad. 1996. State Gods and Private Religion in the Near East in the First Millennum B.C.E. in Religion and Politics in the Ancient Near East, ed. Adele Berlin, 35-45. University of Maryland.