Word Biblical Commentary: Daniel (Anglais) Relié – 18 juin 1989
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BestCommentaries.com ranks Goldingay's WBC as the top Daniel commentary at 8.1 while the second-best is Baldwin's TOTC at a distant 6.8. Miller's NAC is third at 6.6 while the distinguished John Joseph Collins' Hermeneia received a 6.5.
After the table of contents and abbreviations is the introduction, which consists of a 16-page history of the interpretation of Daniel. There is no discussion of standard introductory subjects such as authorship, date, and canonicity. However, he does cover topics such as the book's origin, authors, and theological significance in a conclusion to the commentary.
In the commentary proper, Goldingay provides his own translation for each chapter of Daniel followed by notes on the Hebrew text. Next, following WBC's standard format, is the Form/Structure/Setting section. But instead of writing about form, structure, and setting in one combined section, he has his material divided under the subheadings "Form," "Structure," and "Setting." This is the first time I've seen this in any WBC volume.
Next is the Comment section. Goldingay's comments are organized verse-by-verse as is the standard WBC format. Finally, again following WBC's standard format, is the Explanation section. Here he went beyond the usual WBC format that combines all the author's explanations together under this heading--Goldingay has his explanations organized verse-by-verse in the same manner as in the Comment section. Again, this is the first time I've seen this in any WBC volume.
As an example of his elegant writing, in the explanation section on Daniel chapter 2, where the Babylonian sages did not know the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream so he sent out an edict that these sages were to be killed, Goldingay says: "The sages of Babylon descend from a matter-of-fact confidence, via bluster and disbelief, to a bewildered helplessness that faces the guillotine. Out attention now moves from these cartoon portraits to a picture in total contrast, of Daniel who models wisdom and piety, shrewd and astute before Arioch, bold and confident before Nebuchadnezzar, open in fellowship with his friends, believing and urgent in prayer, lofty and profound in praise, decisive and assured when he returns with an explanation of the dream, straight and trenchant in declaring both its origins in God's revelation and its content regarding Babylon's future."
I am a big fan of the WBC series and have read several WBC volumes (Genesis by Wenham, Exodus by Dunham, 1 Chronicles by Braun, 2 Chronicles by Dillard, Jeremiah by Craigie et al., Lamentations by House, and Ezekiel by Allen). This volume by Goldingay is the best and most enjoyable WBC I've read. It is scholarly, profound, elegantly written, and replete with theological reflections and practical applications. He uses the WBC format exceedingly well and the commentary can be easily read cover-to-cover.
I'll end with a sentence by Goldingay that is typical of his practical applications: "People in exposed positions such as Daniel's prove God's wisdom before gentile masters; how much more can ordinary people in the context of their ordinary pressures."
This is a masterful commentary. Very highly recommended.
This is why I am willing to highly recommend John Goldingay's commentary on Daniel in the Word Biblical Commentary series. Like many (though not all) of the commentaries in the WBC, it is a work of excellent scholarship. And it has much to offer both the scholar and the layperson. As with the other commentaries in the series, some parts of Goldingay's work require a working knowledge of Hebrew. (This is particularly true of the notes on the translation provided by the author.) However, in the "comment" and "explanation" sections Goldingay writes in a way that is quite accessible to the layperson who may never have studied Hebrew.
When it comes to dealing with the most controversial parts of Daniel, particularly the interpretation of Chapter 12 as well as the Seventy Sevens of Chapter Nine, I find Goldingay's conclusions to be thought provoking. What he says hasn't fully convinced me of his position by any means. But I will give him credit for presenting a careful and balanced argument for his interpretation of these passages. All in all, one could do a whole lot worse than using this commentary in one's study of the book of Daniel.
Goldingay draws out that the book of Daniel develops along two major themes: the exploits of Daniel and his friends as members of the royal court, and the revelations of the future given to Daniel. Goldingay holds that the prophecies had immediate meaning for the Jews and yet can be applied to future events as well.
Bauer, in his commentary on commentaries says, "Overall, the most useful commentary on Daniel for both preaching and teaching." That is high praise indeed. Goldingay emphasizes the dynamic interplay between the "stories" in Chapters 1-6 and the "visions" in Chapter 7-12. Those insights lead to solid interpretation. An Annotated Guide to Biblical Resources for Ministry (Annotated Guides (Hendrickson Publishers))
Tremper Longman III, in his book Old Testament Commentary Survey, makes special note of Goldingay's knowledge....calling it the most comprehensive commentary on Daniel, he adds, "He demonstrates an amazing grasp of the secondary literature of the time." He warns that avoiding this beefy work "would be a major mistake for such an important commentary on Daniel."
I concur. Grab this book however you can get it. Only those who want to hear only a narrow view of Daniel (along the lines of Left Behind series) will be disappointed with this rich study. Outstanding.
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