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2.8.4 - Presentation vs. Chronology

When reading through Daniel, it becomes evident that the material is presented out of chronological order. If the chapters were to be arranged in chronological order while noting the primary language of their composition (H = Hebrew, A = Aramaic) they would run as follows: 1H, 2A, 3A, 4A, 7A, 8H, 5A, 6A, 9H, 10H, 11H, 12H. In chronological order, chapters 7 (the first year of Belshazzar) and 8 (the third year of Belshazzar) would appear between chapters 4 (Nebuchadnezzar’s reign) and 5 (the last year of Belshazzar).

The question naturally arises as to why the presentation order differs from the chronological order?1 From the perspective of language, the Hebrew of chapter 8 would have divided the Aramaic section if it were not relocated. Since chapter 8 expands upon information provided within chapter 7, it may be that both chapters 7 and 8 were relocated beyond chapter 6 so as to maintain the Aramaic section undivided. Another factor may be the previously-mentioned distinction between historical narration vs. visions and their exposition. Chapters 7 and 8 both concern revelation primarily given to Daniel. By positioning this material following chapter 6, the emphasis of the first part of the book on historical narration and the second part of the book on visions is maintained without fragmentation. It is also evident that the Chiasm in Daniel benefits from the presentation being out of chronological order. Whatever the case may be, a chronological treatment of the material presents yet another alternative for viewing the structure of the book. This is the approach taken in the Thematic Outline of the book below.

Notes

1 The presentation of material out of chronological order is also an intentional device encountered in the gospels.


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