2021 BIBLE READING PLAN
Book of Daniel
Our 2021 BIBLE READING PLAN continues with DANIEL, possibly the most unusual book in the Old Testament. For one thing, Daniel contains the only chapters (2:4 - 7:28) written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew. Daniel is classified with the prophets--however, it does not report the life and words of a prophet, but rather stories and visions of a character named Daniel. Daniel is set in the Babylonian exile (500’s B.C.), but was almost certainly written down several centuries later.
There are two very distinct sections of Daniel. Here are some things to keep in mind as you read the stories of chapters 1-6:
A temptation of Jewish people living under the authority of various empires (Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman) was “assimilation”—giving up their distinct and holy way of life in order to get along and escape persecution. Daniel and his companions are heroes for resisting the pressure to assimilate.
So . . . what might be the message of these stories for minorities in our own country, who may feel pressured to give up what makes them different or distinct?
And . . . what might be the message to people of the “dominant” American culture about how to treat people from other cultures?
The visions of chapters 7-12 are the main example in the Old Testament of “apocalyptic” writing. (The primary New Testament apocalypse is Revelation.) Apocalypse is a type of literature, and a theological viewpoint, that “interprets present earthly circumstances in the light of the supernatural world and of the future” (New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VII, 22). Apocalypse frequently uses otherworldly, symbolic and visionary language. It can be a way for oppressed people to keep faith and hope alive in the face of persecution and violence.
So . . . how might these visions in Daniel have nurtured the faith and hope of Jewish people living under foreign oppressors? Where do you find faith in hope in these visions?
May God add a blessing to the reading of the Word,