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The Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

In the Hebrew Bible, and in most recent Protestant versions, the Book of Daniel is limited to its proto-canonical portions. In the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and many other ancient and modern translations of the Bible, it comprises both its proto- and its deutero-canonical parts, both of which have an equal right to be considered as inspired, and to be included in a treatment of the Book of Daniel. As in the Vulgate nearly all the deutero-canonical portions of that prophetical writing form a kind of appendix to its proto-canonical contents in the Hebrew text. The Vulgate and the Greek translations of Daniel (Septuagint and Theodotion), together with other ancient and modern versions, contain three important portions, which are deuterocanonical. These are:

  1. The Prayer of Azarias and the Song of the Three Children, usually inserted in Chapter 3, between the twenty-third and the twenty-fourth verses;
  2. The history of Susanna, found as Chapter 13, at the end of the book;
  3. The history of the destruction of Bel and the dragon, terminating the book as Chapter 14.

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Narrative summary below.

The book of Daniel consists of 14 Chapters. The first six chapters make up its historical part. They tell how the glory of God proliferated among the Jews and the Gentiles during the captivity. Chapters 7-12 are prophetic and contain visions about the future of the Gentile nations that surrounded the Jews, and about the future Kingdom God, the Church.

The prophecy of Daniel, read in the Church at the vigil of Easter, is concerned with the faithfulness of the Jews to their God in the time of forced apostasy. Scholars consider this book among the latest written in the Old Testament, much after the time of the Babylonian captivity in which the story is placed. Central among the book's messages is the redemption of Israel in the victorious coming of the heavenly Son of Man, who, in the New Testament, is identified with Christ. It is the apocalyptic character of the book -- apocalyptic meaning that which refers to the final revelation of God and His ultimate judgment over all creation -- which accounts for the placement of Daniel at a date close to New Testament times. The Song of the Three Youths which goes together with Daniel and which is placed by the non-Orthodox among the apocryphal writings, forms a genuine part of the Bible in the Orthodox Church, as do the books of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, also part of Daniel. The Song of the Youths is part of the matinal office in the Orthodox Church.

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A detailed outline is provided below.

1:1-1:20 Four Young Israelites at the Babylonian Court

2:1-2:16 Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
2:17-2:23 God Reveals Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
2:24-2:45 Daniel Interprets the Dream
2:46-2:49 Daniel and His Friends Promoted

3:1-3:18 The Golden Image
3:19-3:23 The Fiery Furnace
3:24-3:45 The Prayer of Azariah in the Furnace
3:46-3:97 The Song of the Three Jews

4:1-4:18 Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream
4:18-4:27 Daniel Interprets the Second Dream
4:28-4:33 Nebuchadnezzar's Humiliation
4:34-4:37 Nebuchadnezzar Praises God

5:1-5:4 Belshazzar's Feast
5:5-5:12 The Writing on the Wall
5:13-5:31 The Writing on the Wall Interpreted

6:1-6:9 The Plot against Daniel
6:10-6:18 Daniel in the Lion's Den
6:19-6:28 Daniel Saved from the Lions

7:1-7:8 Visions of the Four Beasts
7:9-7:14 Judgment before the Ancient One
7:15-7:28 Daniel's Visions interpreted

8:1-8:14 Vision of a Ram and a Goat

8:15-8:27 Gabriel Interprets the Vision

9:1-9:19 Daniel's Prayer for the People
9:20-9:27 The Seventy Weeks

10:1-11:39 Conflict of Nations and Heavenly Powers

11:40-11:45 The Time of the End

12:1-12:13 The Resurrection of the Dead

13:1-13:14 Susanna's Beauty Attracts Two Elders
13:15-13:27 The Elders Attempt to Seduce Susanna
13:28-13:46 The Elders Testify against Susanna
13:47-13:64 Daniel Rescues Susanna

14:1-14:22 Daniel and the Priests of Bel
14:23-14:30 Daniel Kills the Dragon
14:31-14:42 Daniel in the Lion's Den.

We now turn to the first of the Minor Prophets, Osee (Hosea) in our next article.

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