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5 Stars Out Of 5
The best Daniel commentary by an evangelical
January 12, 2014
I have read over two dozen Daniel commentaries, including the critical and top notch commentaries by Collins, Montgomery, and LaCocque, and the shorter works by Porteous and Towner. I've also read or consulted most of the works by more theologically constrained evangelicals like Walvoord, Duguid, Boice, and Baldwin.
Thankfully, following Goldingay, other evangelicals have been willing to read Daniel for what it is, a 2nd temple apocalyptic work. And when you realize this, all the reservations disappear. Notably, Longman, in his NIVAC commentary was non-commital concerning the pseudepigraphal nature of the work, and the ex eventu prophecy leading up to the actual prophecy - staples for this genre. And Lucas in the Apollos Commentary follows Goldingay (and everyone else not dismissing the apocalyptic connection outright). Lucas' work is the other most excellent evangelical commentary on Daniel.
The simplest thing to note to come to grips with the focus of the apocalyptic half is that the four apocalyptic prophesies of Daniel 7-12 all pertain to the same thing. They use the same language and script with exactness events into the Antiochene crisis. To separate them, when they so intentionally tie themselves together, is to do damage to the text. (Imagine reading Matthew 13 and supposing these were parables of several different kingdoms and not the one "kingdom of heaven.")
Read Goldingay. Read Lucas. And read Collins, who has written the best commentary on Daniel to date. And read about apocalyptic literature to understand the genre (Collins in the intro to the shorter Daniel (FOTL) or The Apocalyptic Imagination; Bauckham on the Theology of Revelation; Sandy in Plowshares and Pruning Hooks; Murphy in Apocalypticism in the Bible and its World; etc.).
I have studied with many of the Word commentaries, and it is hit and miss. But this is by far the worst. Is this really what happens when you become a famous scholar. Nothing means anything and something means nothing.
What Daniel says about when he wrote don't matter to this author...what current scholars say, however, does. This is a classic example of scholars claiming that nothing in the text is true while every odd notion they come up with is true, and, we should all be happy to learn, is what the text actually means.
Take Dan. 9:24: Goldengay says the 490 years do not really mean 490 years. Periods of 7 are arbitrary and empty of meaning. He takes everything that couldn't possibly apply to Antiochus and insists that they must apply to him (afterall, if this were not the case than you would have to believe in prophecy, that God actually told of future events through Daniel). We are instructed that the a final dealing with sin happens with the downfall of Antiochus somehow and has nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Cross. (Even though if you take Daniel at his word this timeframe takes us right to the ministry of Christ and His death on the Cross). We are told that everlasting righteousness is ushered in not at the return of Christ but somehow with the fall of Antiochus. Gold
On and on it goes. You can tell the author has no alternative because after ruling out all the things that the text actually and literally state, he has nothing else to say. He doesn't tell us, for instance, what the dealing with sin has to do with Antiochus, or what the bringing in of eternal righteousness has to do with Antiochus. He just tells us that it can not mean what it obviously and clearly says.
He says that Daniel is no guide to the coming of Christ! One wonders if he has ever read the Gospel accounts. If you cannot take Daniel's prophecy literally, then why were Simeon and Anna living in the Temple area certain they would see the Messiah before they died. Remember, they were very elderly. And what about the Wise Men from Babylon (of course, this is where Daniel says he was so they would have first hand information on his prophecy). Why did they travel across the world looking for Israel's Messiah at this time if they couldn't figure it out from Daniel's prophecy? One wonders what Goldengay thinks the Wise Men told Herod about the time the child was to arrive.
Goldengay may be true with regard to his theological preconceptions but he is very dishonest to the Biblical text--the very Word of God.
There are many other fine commentaries that deal with Daniel. Don't bother with this one. One might be The Bible Knowledge Commentary--perhaps not so wordy but much more insightful and edifying.
Some time ago, I wrestled with this commentary for several hours. It is a technical, detailed, critical treatment of Daniel. Goldingay is very learned and as always, he writes well. Though he is an Evangelical scholar, this particular volume seems to have much more in common with the liberal wing of scholarship. He argues against the historicity of the stories in the first six chapters. He clearly considers them to be inspired, but suggests they are not grounded in actual events. In my opinion, he also expresses a fairly low view of the prophetic portions of Daniel (i.e. he does not seem to view them as actual prophecies). I did not find this volume to be helpful.
Word commentaries are presented as evangelical scholarship that is fully committed to the inspiration and authority of Scripture. However, this commentary undermines Scripture by presenting many of Daniel's prophecies as after-the-fact (which the author refers to as "quasi-prophecy"). As to those prophecies which he regards as authentically speaking of the future, he regards some of them as proving to be erroneous. He does not think this violates the value of Scripture based on his assumption that the purpose of the prophecy is not to give accurate prediction of future historical events but rather to convey theological principles. Conservative scholarship affirms that its purpose is both.<br /><br />The author also interprets the visions and supernatural phenomena in the events of Daniel as if they are mixtures of legend and folklore, ancient superstitions and actual events. This commentary reflects the folly of scholarship that attempts to demystify the universe and God himself. It leaves little foundation for faith to stand on and is devoid of the wonder of an all-powerful God who has and does, in fact, reach into the affairs of humanity and act supernaturally.
I would not recommend this to a fellow Christians. Goldingay may be a fine scholar, and there is some value to his historical research. But he views Daniel as the work of a forger who borrowed hero folklore from the nations around to write a fictional account. Thus he denies Jesus, who attributes the book to Daniel.