Sunday, August 24, 2008

Daniel and Empire: Initial Thoughts

Who is the enigma of the Hebrew Bible (besides possibly יהוה)? Could it be that seer of luminous things, visionary, and prophetic riddler whose words are enshrined in the Hebrew Bible as "Daniel?" This document scrawled out in Hebrew and Aramaic has been the fancy of liberal and fundamentalist alike for some time. The latter abduct various visionary episodes subjecting them to the scrutiny of their so-called interpretations offering little more than a modernist, head-in-the-sand hermeneutic yielding fodder to construct vain charts for their laser pointers. Ah, I suppose that's enough poking at the blindness of fundamentalist theology.

Daniel is a fascination, not only for its fanciful and endearing tales, but also for its genre. It denotes a shift within the burgeoning and imaginative resistance to empire. Not just that, but the book itself, if taken as a whole is fundamentally conflicting; whereas in the first several chapters (1-6) the tales of Daniel relate to the apparent complicity with empire that these foreigners had, albeit with some minor resistance. By and large this section though is sprinkled with an orientation toward dominating powers that is rather positive. The paradigm shifts as the reader transitions to chs. 7-12, in which the destruction of the tyrannical empire is projected via the apocalyptic imagination into the immediate (or less likely remote) future. Further, this issue arises as to whether said prophetic oracles are ex eventu (a very likely, if not probable position), but for the sake of argument lets say they are not ex eventu (that is--for the fun of it).

More to come. I'm digesting a host of commentaries presently as I feverishly assimilate my thoughts and put them on paper for my thesis.


Anonymous said...

I love Daniel! We read through it last year in my Aramaic class, and I realized I had always neglected to read it because the fundy interpretations (at you know which university...) got on my nerves so bad I had developed an unnecessary disdain for it. I look forward to more of your thoughts.

-Jon R

Rob G. Reid said...


Thanks for your interest and comment! What do you think of the 'bar enash.'