Daniel

By Stallard, Mike | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2017 | Go to article overview

Daniel


Stallard, Mike, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Daniel.. By Wendy L. Widder. The Story of God Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016, 288 pp., $29.99.

Wendy Widder's commentary on Daniel in The Story of God Bible Commentary series enjoys the benefits of the design of all the books in the series, which focus on simplicity through telling the story of the text and application for the twenty-first century reader. Using the NIV translation, the story of Daniel can be heard, explained, and lived out in the present. In fact, the commentary follows a threefold outline for each section of the book (but with an emphasis on what the reader is to do): listen to the story, explain the story, and live the story. Widder contributes greatly to the aim of the series through clarity of style even when complicated texts are involved. The flow of Daniel's historical and prophetical sections can easily be grasped by scholars, pastors, and serious laypeople. In addition, usually the reader can find the applications to be appropriate to the interpreted passages.

In terms of content, Widder's work makes several positive contributions. First, while acknowledging the late-second-century-BC date of Daniel commonly held by most non-evangelicals and a minority of evangelicals, she favors the earlier and more traditional sixth-century-BC timeframe for the events and composition of the book, which is more likely based on the evidence (p. 5). Second, one specific delight is the commentary's use of the chiastic structure of Daniel 2-7 to highlight the major theme of the humbling of men (especially "arrogant human kings") in the face of God's sovereign work in the world (pp. 12-13), a timeless theme that is picked up throughout but sometimes overlooked in other commentaries or limited to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Another contribution is the attribution of ancient background sources (although not overemphasized) and the provision and discussion of cross references to fill in the full, larger, and theological context of the Bible (e.g. the correlation of Daniel's four world empires to Hos 13:7-8, p. 154).

The best characteristic, however, flows from the series intent of application. At times, Widder does a masterful job of voicing and illustrating present imperatives in light of the historical presentation of God's ways in Daniel. My favorite example is the use of recent interviews of Morgan Freeman in which he boldly declares himself to be God (pp. 119-20). All men should avoid such blasphemy as was common to Belshazzar in Daniel 5. In this way, the book of Daniel is presented in a fresh and significant way for today's world.

On the other hand, several concerns emerge as one reads Widder's commentary on Daniel. One is tempted to want more detail although it is not the purpose of the commentary to provide it. …

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