C. L. SEOW, Daniel. Westminster Bible Companion; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2003. pp. 198. $ 22.95 pb. ISBN 0-664-25675-9.
Reviewed by Carol J. DEMPSEY, University of Portland, PORTLAND, OR 97203

A new addition to the Westminster Bible Companion Series, this volume on the book of Daniel takes into account the historical, literary, and theological dimensions of the biblical text often situated in the Prophets or the Writings. Composed of twelve chapters, followed by a bibliography, this study opens with a comprehensive introduction that sets the stage for the rest of the discussion. Seow deals with Daniel's placement in the first canon of the Bible. He provides background information into Daniel as a legendary figure, and then offers data and insights into the origin of the book, how the final form of the book came about, the setting of the book, and the literary genres and theological perspectives embedded within the text. Seow concludes that the book of Daniel was completed during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. Major theological themes include the sovereignty of God, heaven's involvement with earth, and the realized desire of God to reveal God's self to human beings.

Seow divides the book of Daniel into twelve units: (1) Daniel 1:1-21: "Daniel and His Friends at the Babylonian Court (chap.1); (2) Daniel 2:1-49: "Nebuchadnezzar's Dream" (chap. 2); Daniel 3:1-30, "The Fiery Furnace" (chap. 3); Daniel 4:1-37: "The Humbling of Nebuchadnezzar" (chap. 4); Daniel 5:1-31: "Belshazzar and the Handwriting on the Wall" (chap. 5); Daniel 6:1-28: Daniel in the Lions' Pit" (chap. 6); Daniel 7:1-28: "Monsters, Divine Judgment, and the Coming of a Humanlike One" (chap. 7); Daniel 8:1-27: "The Ram, the Goat, and the Interpretation of Gabriel (chap. 8); Daniel 9:1-27: "Daniel's Prayer and the Predicted End of Desolation (chap. 9); Daniel 10:1-19: "The Final Revelation: Prologue" (chap. 10); "Daniel 10:20-12:4: "The Final Revelation: Back to the Future" (chap. 11); and Daniel 12:5-13: "The Final Revelation: Postscript" (chap. 12). The main unit is then subdivided into smaller units, each of which is carefully analyzed, with major themes and textual and exegetical problems being noted. Conscious of a general readership, each chapter opens with a translation of the text being studied in each section of the volume. A brief and select bibliography concludes the study.

Seow's volume demonstrates a clear understanding of the book of Daniel. Seow has the ability to communicate sophisticated material in a way that is both engaging and accessible to scholars, students, and general audiences alike. The commentary is straightforward, and its strength lies in its literary analysis of the text that helps readers to appreciate the book of Daniel as an imaginative work of art, and one whose central character offers hope to the community of believers today. This volume is a fine companion to the many other commentaries written on the same topic.


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