Encountering the Old Testament, 3rd Edition

A Christian Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


31. Daniel: The Kingdom of God—Now and Forever

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • Describe the distinctiveness of the book of Daniel compared to the rest of the Old Testament
  • Outline the book of Daniel
  • Summarize how Daniel and his three friends were faithful to God
  • Describe Daniel’s visions
  • Identify the three dominant themes of the book of Daniel
  • Tell how Daniel’s view of the nations differs from that of the other Old Testament prophets
  • Explain why there are problems of interpretation regarding Daniel
  • Summarize and evaluate the two positions taken on the date of the book of Daniel

Chapter Summary

  1. The book of Daniel is classified as apocalyptic literature and is unique in many ways.
  2. The characteristics of intertestamental apocalyptic literature areas follows: it contains a vision and requires interpretation by a heavenly mediator; the author’s name is a pseudonym; it has similar content in that it divides history into periods of time and history ends as a final judgment; it involves the temporal and the spatial; and it often takes a past event and writes it as a prediction for the future.
  3. Old Testament apocalyptic literature does not have all the features of the intertestamental apocalyptic literature.
  4. There are two basic parts to Daniel: the stories (1–6) and the visions (7–12).
  5. The dominant themes of the book of Daniel are the sovereignty of God, the self-destructive pride of humanity, and the ultimate victory of God’s kingdom.
  6. Daniel is the primary source for eschatology in the Old Testament.
  7. The book of Daniel’s most difficult passages to interpret include the visions of the four earthly kingdoms (Dan. 2 and 7) and the vision of the seventy weeks (Dan. 9:24–27).
  8. Scholars disagree on the identity of the four earthly kingdoms (Dan. 2 and 7).
  9. Recent archaeological discoveries and research have shed light on previously assumed errors in the book of Daniel (e.g., Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and the existence of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede).
  10. The two positions on the date of composition for the book of Daniel are the second century BC and the late sixth century BC.

Study Questions

  1. Define apocalyptic literature.
  2. How is Daniel unique among Old Testament books?
  3. What is the basic call the book of Daniel puts forth to its readers?
  4. How are the themes of faithfulness and loyalty to God and deliverance by God developed in Daniel?
  5. Explain the chiastic structure of the first seven chapters of Daniel. What is the central thought in this chiasm?
  6. What are some of the more well-known visions contained in chapters 7–12?
  7. Discuss some of the major theological themes in the book of Daniel.
  8. Discuss the problems in interpreting Daniel.