Discernment from Daniel
While the Book of Daniel, a second-century BCE biblical apocalypse (that is, a holy disclosure of information, typically revealed through a prophetic dream or vision) set during the sixth century BCE has long been a favorite of Bernie L. Calaway, he acknowledges that it has a fair few detractors, who contemptuously dismiss the book as “poor grammar and worse history.” However, Calaway contends that it offers “vital and eternal insights for our generation and later ones” and so, in Discernment from Daniel, he sets out to rehabilitate the reputation of Daniel and highlight its importance through analyzing the content and implications of the book.
Calaway begins by establishing the historical background to the Book of Daniel, which includes consideration of Daniel himself. Was he a real person? Or perhaps the amalgamation of several real people? Or maybe a character created to tell a story? Based on biblical material and other sources, Calaway makes a convincing case for Daniel the prophet having been an actual person, situating him in the known historical, religious, and geographical context of the sixth century. The discussion here is wide-ranging and packed with detail, offering information regarding both the biblical and historical chronology, and it presents interesting insights into the likely composition and early dissemination of the Book of Daniel. While his own view is clear, Calaway doesn’t shy away from the controversies and potential contradictions associated with the authorship of Daniel, which adds to the strength of the discussion.
Discernment from Daniel then moves on to consider what life would have been like for Daniel and his companions following their capture by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar. These chapters relate the biblical sufferings of Daniel to the real daily life and significant events of the time and place, thereby providing a whistle-stop tour of the kings and kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Maccabees. Calaway has clearly done an immense amount of research in order to produce the historical synopses. He also considers another kingdom, the so-called Kingdom of Antichrist, as prophesized by Daniel. There’s some interesting and strange information to be found here, and it’s sure to provoke a lively debate.
After establishing the historical context, Calaway turns to the two most famous sections of the Book of Daniel: the trial by fire and the incident in the lion’s den. These are among the most famous Bible stories, and Calaway goes a great job of relating their relevance to both the rest of Daniel and the contemporary world. He also examines in detail the famous prophecies related by Daniel following dreams and visions. The analysis includes both the prophecies already borne out by history as contained within the Bible and those that have seemingly yet to manifest. The infamous “prophecy of the seventy weeks” is particularly interesting, with its full meaning remaining tantalizingly unclear.
Discernment from Daniel is a highly impressive work of biblical scholarship. Calaway digs deep into the material, offering enlightening analysis and drawing out implications for the present day. Readers will be hard-pressed to find a more thorough study of the Book of Daniel.
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