Introducing Daniel – Part One

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be looking at the Old Testament book of Daniel (chapters 1-6; we’ll come back and do 7-12 later in the year). The first half of Daniel contains a number of familiar stories: Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, the fiery furnace, the writing on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast, and Daniel’s visit to the lions’ den. All Sunday School favourites, despite the “mature themes” – mental illness, combustible henchmen, idolatrous orgies, and women and children being fed to lions. (Who needs Game of Thrones?) But what are they supposed to teach us? What are they doing in our bibles?

Today and tomorrow, we’re going to look at three stories that will help us answer this question over the coming weeks. One story is set in Babylon, in the sixth century BC. Another is set in Judea, in the second century BC. And the other – well, you’re living it at the moment. (Later on in the week, we’ll also briefly meet a fourth story that predates all of these.) Confused? Let’s get started!

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Introducing Daniel – Part Two

Please start with yesterday’s post. We’re looking at the background to the book of Daniel, and three stories that will help us work out what it’s doing in our Bible. The first story was that of Daniel and his friends, exiled in Babylon in the sixth century BC. Today, we look at the other two stories.

Antiochus IV and the Maccabean Revolution

There’s a second story that’s important for us in understanding the book of Daniel – not the story of Daniel and his compatriots, but the story of its first readers.

You see, although Daniel lived in the sixth century BC, the book of Daniel in the form we have it probably* dates to the early second century BC. And the stories of Daniel and his friends in exile would have been significant for Jews living in this period. Why? Let’s take a quick look at their history.

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