The Temple Theme In The Book Of Daniel -- By: Gregory Goswell

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:3 (Sep 2012)
Article: The Temple Theme In The Book Of Daniel
Author: Gregory Goswell


The Temple Theme In The Book Of Daniel

Greg Goswell

Greg Goswell is lecturer in biblical studies (OT and Hebrew) at the Presbyterian Theological College, 684 Elgar Road, Box Hill North Vic 3129, Australia.

The book of Daniel continues to spawn numerous studies, and the present article aims to contribute to scholarly efforts at a theological integration of its contents. Such efforts are needed because of the obvious bifurcation of the book into stories (chs. 1–6) and visions (chs. 7–12), a generic division that threatens to compromise the canonical integrity of the book.1 My thesis is that one of the major themes of the book is that of the temple and that this theme assists in the theological unification of the stories and visions, for it has a prominent place in both halves of the book and is handled in a similar way in both.2

The more obvious references to the temple in Daniel are as follows. The book of Daniel opens with the taking of the temple vessels by Nebuchadnezzar and their transportation to Babylon (1:2). Their later sacrilegious use by Belshazzar is described in chapter 5 (5:2). In chapter 8, the “little horn” stops the Jews worshipping their God and overthrows the sanctuary (8:11–12), but then God’s sanctuary is restored (8:13–14). The prayer recorded in Daniel 9 complains of the desolate state of the sanctuary and contains earnest prayer for its restoration, and the sanctuary is still the focus in the angelic revelation in 9:24–27. According to Collins, “there is no doubt … that the desecrated temple dominates both chaps. 8 and 9 and that its restoration was the primary focus of the author’s hopes in these chapters.”3 Finally, chapters 10–12 give prominence to the future profanation of the temple (11:31; 12:11). Carla Sulzbach goes as far as to say that the temple is the main theme that runs through the entire book.4 This brief survey is enough to

show that the temple deserves closer examination as a possible integrating theme for the canonical book as a whole.

In the following discussion, I view the temple as a leading “theme” in the book of Daniel rather than simply a “motif,” for motif has the more concrete sense of a recurrent image or object, whereas theme is broader than motif and various motifs may contribute to the one theme.5 The temple as a theme may be present even whe...

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