Some Literary Affinities Of The Book Of Daniel -- By: J. G. Baldwin

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 30:1 (NA 1979)
Article: Some Literary Affinities Of The Book Of Daniel
Author: J. G. Baldwin

Some Literary Affinities Of The Book Of Daniel

Joyce G. Baldwin

The Tyndale Old Testament Lecture, 1978

The task of setting the literature of the Old Testament against its environment becomes more formidable with every decade, as scholars in the related fields of Near Eastern literature publish texts which, directly or indirectly shed light on the world of the third, second and first millennia B.C. Needless to say each text raises questions of interpretation, if not also of translation, but nevertheless it is a privilege to have access to documents of great antiquity, thanks to the devoted work of experts in these fields.

It has happened recently that, in the course of publishing their texts, a number of scholars have indicated parallels between certain so-called prophetic works and the book of Daniel. The purpose of this paper is to look in more detail at these suggested parallels in order to assess their relevance and possible bearing on our understanding of that, book. Half a century ago

J. A. Montgomery wrote of Daniel, ‘its essential value lies in its reflection of the conditions of that Oriental complex of life on which we are too ill - informed. This dominant interest of the book has been too much overlooked by both radical critic and apologist in their zeal for attack or defence, and the religious and literary merits of the book have accordingly, suffered. What is here said refers almost entirely to cc. 1–6’.1 The research of the last fifty years has done much to supply the knowledge of the ancient Near East which was then lacking. The Babylonian background of chapters 1–6 has been confirmed, and on some literary features of chapters 7–12 the Akkadian ‘prophecy texts’ shed their light.

When Montgomery was writing his commentary the closest parallel to these chapters known to him was the so- called Demotic Chronicle from third century Egypt. Its obscure prophecies are presented as though they were composed under king Tachos (360 B.C.), and describe in veiled terms Egypt’s history under the Persians and Greeks, after which Egyptian national religion would be restored. The implication is that, between 360 B.C. and approximately 250 when the writer was at work, history was being presented as if it were still future. ‘The parallelism particularly with Daniel 10–11 is evident’, wrote Montgomery. ‘Here the alleged writer of the 6th cent. presents the series of the ostensibly future Persian and Greek kings in a veiled way, but entirely ...

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