Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

Daniel (WBC) – John Goldingay

with 8 comments

0849902290I recently finished reading this commentary for my PhD seminar on the prophetic literature. The commentary is technical in the sense that the reader should know biblical Hebrew (and maybe Aramaic) while reading it, but he/she can still engage the work without it as well. The Word Biblical Commentary series breaks up each section (or, chapter) into four parts: Form, Setting, Comments, Explanation. One strength of Goldingay’s commentary lies in the “explanation” section, even though it is somewhat redundant in following the “comments.” There, he thinks through the text theologically and expounds on the material in light of God’s unfolding revelation. The problem is that this is Goldingay’s only strength. Sure, one might gain insights from Goldingay on Daniel’s language, how other non-canonical writers were influenced by Daniel, or even Daniel’s use of the OT, but observations like these are few and far between. Goldingay, rather, thinks that chapters 1-6 are allegorical “historiography” (and thus not actual history), that Daniel was not an historical person, and that the book should be dated during the Maccabean era (c. 168 BC) instead of during the time of the Israelite exile (605-538 BC, as the book itself attests). This dating leads Goldingay to interpret Daniel through the lens of secondary Jewish literature rather than in the context of the Bible, which I believe to be a serious flaw. Furthermore, the meaning of the text is lost in oodles of material on the book’s form, some of which is helpful, to be sure, but liberal to say the least.

In the end, I wouldn’t recommend this commentary for pastors since it lacks that sort of quality. Perhaps students of the OT or of intertestamental literature may benefit, but the commentary is lacking theologically, and Goldingay particularly avoids interaction with conservative approaches. It’s also dated (1989). I haven’t read Steinmann or Lucas yet, but at this point I’m still partial to Baldwin, which is also dated and very short.

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Written by Josh Philpot

October 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Have you read anything from Michael Shepherd’s <a href="Daniel in the Context of the Hebrew Bible"?

    Jason

    October 5, 2009 at 3:36 am

  2. Jason,
    I’m actually scheduled to review Shepherd’s book this semester. I’ve heard that it’s excellent, and since I’m a fan of Childs and the canonical approach I’m really looking forward to it. Still trying to find it cheap…

    Josh Philpot

    October 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  3. Excellent–I look forward to your thoughts (assuming you will post them). A good friend of mine studied under Shepherd and was quite impressed with his knowledge. I am good friends with one of his colleagues and he told me that Shepherd is one of the brightest OT scholars he’s met in quite some time. Good luck finding it for less than $40! If you do, please let me know where you found it!

    Jason

    October 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm

  4. […] (Louisville, Kentucky), under the supervision of Duane Garrett. Josh believes it is a “serious flaw” to read Daniel as though it was written in the time of the Maccabees, rather than in 605-538 […]

  5. Josh,

    I was going to recommend Shepherd’s Daniel in the Context of the Hebrew Bible myself but I see someone has beat me to it! I had the privilege of studying under Dr. Shepherd and he is an outstanding OT scholar. His love for the the Pentateuch ignited a love for the OT and Hebrew for me.

    Jason

    July 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  6. I am curious about Goldingay’s interpretation of the apocalyptic chapters of Daniel. Does it necessarily follow that if one subscribes to Daniel ch. 1-6 as a fictitious genre that the apocalyptic chapters must be anchored to the present kingdoms of the Hellenistic/Babylonian/Persian era or is it still possible to interpret these chapters as a future grand event while subscribing to the ‘court tale’ theory?

    Bryan

    February 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

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