My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Sunday, March 18, 2007

Daniel 2

A big statue

Summary:
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, but refused to tell his magicians it. He made them tell him what his dream was and what it meant. The magicians could not do this, so Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to be killed. Daniel was to be killed too, but when he heard the request, he thought he'd give it a go. Daniel and his friends prayed a lot, and God then revealed the dream to him, and Daniel praised God.

The king's dream was a massive statue with a gold head, a silver chest, bronze middle, and iron and clay legs. Each different part was a kingdom, starting with the golden Babylonian kingdom. Once it got to the fourth iron kingdom, however, God sent a rock to hit the legs, and the whole statue shattered. That rock grew to take over the world. It is God's kingdom.

The king was stoked and praised Daniel and his God, and gave his honour.

Key verses:
27-28. No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.

My thoughts:
It is an important distinction that is made in the Bible, between the ability of people to do amazing things and the ability of God to do amazing things through people. Here Daniel makes it clear that the king's task is impossible for people, but only God himself can do it. No person has any special ability.

These four kingdoms are commonly interpreted within Christianity to be Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, with Jesus being the rock that breaks the Roman Empire and grows to be God's undefeated kingdom. Works for me.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Deane said...

Pete wrote:
These four kingdoms are commonly interpreted within Christianity to be Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, with Jesus being the rock that breaks the Roman Empire and grows to be God's undefeated kingdom. Works for me.

Deane:
Of course, given that the visions in chapters 2, 7, 8, 9 & 10-12 so obviously end in the Greek Empire, under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, one might suspect that the common Christian "interpretation" is in fact a "reinterpretation".

Not that I've got anything against reinterpreting texts for later purposes ... but I do think it's a good idea to also acknowledge that.

2:04 pm

 
Blogger Pete W said...

I acknowledge that there are many interpretations

2:36 pm

 
Anonymous Deane said...

Pete:
I acknowledge that there are many interpretations

Deane:
That goes without saying. But it is not quite to the point.

In the final form of the Book of Daniel (the MT or even the Greek) the intended referent of the five visions is the Greek Empire. There is no other intended referent but the Greek Empire. All interpretations which do not identify the Greek Empire as the intended referent of the text interpret the text contrary to the intended meaning, or range of intended meanings, allowed by the compiler of the Book of Daniel. The only interpretation that agrees with the compiler's interpretation is that which identifies the final empire with the Greek Empire.

Sure, there are many interpretations. But not all interpretations arrive at the meaning(s) of the text.

5:25 pm

 
Blogger Pete W said...

Gosh! You speak with such certainty. It reminds me of the end of this piece of text.

7:00 pm

 
Anonymous Deane said...

"Certainty" is impossible in reading the Bible, as is any empirical knowledge.

However, in the case of Daniel, I think it's fair to say that we have the most "dateable" book in the Old Testament. Most of the reason for this is that it was completed in a period which we have so much more context than the previous books - other historical sources, related texts, etc. The dating of the final form(s) of Daniel to the second century BC is in the "very high probability" category. The date is at least the 160s BC, from Dan 11.1-40 alone (although there are many other factors), and it can't be later than the second century BC, given the existence of a manuscript of (part of) Daniel from the end of the second century. I don't think that there is a safer book to date amongst the whole Old Testament.

8:53 am

 
Blogger Pete W said...

I would suggest that such 'certainty' is based on the assumption that long-term prophetic prediction is impossible.

9:45 am

 
Anonymous Deane said...

Pete:
I would suggest that such 'certainty' is based on the assumption that long-term prophetic prediction is impossible.

Deane:
Yes!! You're right!!!

"Certainty" is a product of a priori reasoning, not a posteriori reasoning. But legitimate biblical study can only be done a posteriori. If one attempts to cheat, and solve the issues a priori (by "assumptions"), one has committed the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

2:01 pm

 
Blogger Pete W said...

Having read this article, I agree. I think.

9:17 am

 

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