Hermeneutical Issues In The Book Of Daniel -- By: Edwin M. Yamauchi

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 23:1 (Mar 1980)
Article: Hermeneutical Issues In The Book Of Daniel
Author: Edwin M. Yamauchi


Hermeneutical Issues In The Book Of Daniel

Edwin M. Yamauchi*

Recent articles by Bruce K. Waltke1 and Gleason L. Archer2 have emphasized important hermeneutical issues involved in interpreting the book of Daniel. Elsewhere I have examined some of the historical, archaeological and linguistic problems bearing on the authenticity and date of Daniel—in particular, the problem of the Greek words in the Aramaic of Daniel.3

These studies indicate that there are no insuperable barriers to accepting a sixth-century date for the book. Questions of interpretation remain, however, to divide conservative and liberal scholars over the character of the book. Is it a genuine prophecy or is it a vaticinium ex eventu?

I. The Conservative Position

The traditional position of conservative Christians has been that Daniel accurately portrays the experiences of the exiled Daniel at the Babylonian court (Daniel 1–6) and records the visions of the future revealed to him by God (7–12). This viewpoint has been expounded in many studies and commentaries.4

Conservative scholars are not unaware that there are some serious problems that face such a traditional view. An important attempt to confront some of these major issues has been contributed by distinguished British scholars—D. J. Wiseman, T. C. Mitchell, R. Joyce, W. J. Martin and K. A. Kitchen.5 An excellent evangelical work that interacts with the critical literature is Joyce G. Baldwin’s recent commentary.6

II. Apocalyptic Literature

It is clear that the book of Daniel differs from the prophetic books. Daniel, like Joseph, served as a statesman in a royal court. Later Jews placed the book of Daniel in the third section of their Scriptures (the “Writings”) rather than in the second section (the “Prophets”). On the other hand, both Jesus and Josephus

*Edwin Yamauchi is professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

esteemed Daniel as a prophet.

The Qumran community, which had at least eight copies of Daniel (including one MS dated to the late second century B.C.), valued the work highly and cited it often.7 Though there are also some fragments of so-called Pseudo-Daniel, no copies...

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