Daniel - Introduction, Part 6

© 2008-2017 Tony Garland - contact@SpiritAndTruth.org


Recognizing Structure

Structural Attributes

  1. Narrative vs. Vision
    Chapters 1-6 mainly concern historical narrative, whereas chapters 7-12 seem to focus on visions and their interpretation.
  2. First vs. Third Person
    In the first six chapters, Daniel is generally spoken of in the third person. The point of view is less intimate, like that of an outside observer watching Daniel and the other characters on the stage of history. The first person pronoun 'I' is used generally of the kings (Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius the Mede) and is not explicitly associated with the narrator of the events. Beginning in chapter 7 and for the remainder of the book, the first person is generally used of Daniel. Here, the focus shifts to the visions and revelation given to Daniel and his personal observations and reactions.
  3. Hebrew vs. Aramaic
    Daniel consists of three sections written in two different languages: (1) Daniel 1:1 - 2:4a in Hebrew; (2) Daniel 2:4b - 7:28 in Aramaic; and (3) Daniel 8:1 - 12:13 which reverts back to Hebrew. This distinction is frequently used as evidence that chapters 1 and 8-12 contain topics of interest to the Jews (written in Hebrew) whereas chapters 2-7 contain topics of interest to Gentiles (written in the lingua franca of Daniel's day, Aramaic).
  4. Presentation vs. Chronology
    When reading through the book of 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 read 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). Why does the presentation order differ from the chronological order? 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 in chapter 7, it may be that both chapters 7 and 8 were relocated beyond chapter 6 to keep 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 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.

Different Perspectives but Unified


Thematic Outline


Chiasm in Daniel