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How to Read Daniel

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Member Reviews

This was a great study on the book of Daniel. I found it enjoyable, deep, and very educational. It was a book I needed to take time with, to process, and study in depth. However, if you're interested in the Old Testament, and looking for a study tool that goes beyond the surface, I highly recommend it.
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This book falls between a commentary and a layman's overview of the book of Daniel.  It has chapter by chapter analysis of the scripture, but does not go into the detail the NIV Application Commentary on Daniel that Longman has also written.  The book should therefore be read as a layman's overview.  However, it reads like a commentary and is not light reading like NT Wright's "The Bible for Everyone."  While the book is worthwhile, I am not sure how to categorize it or how to rate it.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a short, easy-to-understand book about Daniel.  It isn't really a traditional commentary, but the book does go through each chapter of Daniel, inserting comments on passages.  I really liked the way that the author continually brings the readers back to the major themes of Daniel.  It is easy to get lost in the details of Daniel, and the author points out how Daniel has been abused through the years.  

The last part of the book is meant to be application for the modern reader.  This section felt a bit "patch-worked" together.  There was some helpful encouragement in this section, but it lack cohesiveness. Overall this book is a great resource.
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"How to Read Daniel" is a fantastic book. You'll find this book helpful if you're leading a small group reading through Daniel as it includes questions at the end of each chapter, if you're ready to advance your own bible study skills beyond a study bible or if you're discipling someone in their bible study. Additionally, students preparing to go to bible college would find this book helpful. In the introductory chapters, there is some content which readers may not think is necessary but that is essential for students to become familiar with, such as discussion about dating of the composition of the book and the critical nature of some scholarship towards the reality of prophecy. The inclusion of these may not be initially appreciated by all readers however, for students in particular, this introduction prior to academic study is indispensable. Students will additionally find the sparse and unobtrusive endnotes helpful for when they begin further study as they provide extra, more academically appropriate resources for use in assignments.

Longman's writing is masterful and utilises repetition when necessary, to ensure that readers recall the main theme of the book by connecting discussions of each section of Daniel with the overall theme that is present. Furthermore, as the book functions as an introduction to reading Daniel, Longman includes in the appendix his reviews on commentaries for Daniel so that readers are empowered, if they desire, for even further study utilizing these commentaries. This is helpful considering particularly this book functions as a stepping stone between using a study bible and using commentaries for bible study.

I was provided a digital copy of the book through NetGalley, but all thoughts included are my own.
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If you are interested in Daniel, this book is a must-have. It's approachable, understandable, and yet rigorously academic. If you are looking for a technical exegetical commentary on Daniel, this book is not for you. However, Longman has anticipated this potential need and he has provided an excellent annotated bibliography of more technically inclined commentaries on Daniel. This bibliography alone, compiled by such an excellent scholar and including his evaluation of each, is likely worth the price of this book if you are passionate about the book of Daniel. 

For more see my full review at Exegetical Tools (
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This is the sixth book of the "How to Read" commentary series. Bible books of the apocalyptic genre are generally more challenging for the layperson to read and to comprehend. There are visions, dreams, and multiple symbols that pose some level of difficulty when it comes to interpretation. What can we make of these ancient visions? What do they mean then and now? How can we understand the message of Daniel for today? These questions and more are covered in this volume. Part One deals with the literary structure of the book such as the genre, the structure, the language, history, background, and the main theological messages. In Part Two, readers could dive into the six stories and four visions; and the lessons Daniel had experienced from. In Part Three, we read Daniel to learn about applications for our modern context.

Some people avoid the apocalyptic books simply because they think it is too difficult to understand. They might have thought about studying it but shy away for lack of guidance and background information. Others study it but due to the lack of foundation about biblical theology, they might miss the forest for the trees. For both categories, this book can fill in the gaps. It is easy to read as far as the layperson is concerned. While not as technical as some other commentaries, this book can provide compelling guidance for scholars and seminarians. In other words, this book is not too difficult but do not let the simplicity of the language used deceive us. Some of the terminology and concepts used in the book are what biblical scholars would be most familiar with. "Apocalyptic" is one. "Chiasm" and the interpretation of numerology are others. These are however kept to a minimum.

The author leaves no chapter unturned. Through helpful citations and interesting observations throughout, readers will not find this book dull at all.

My Thoughts
First, I appreciate the clear and structured flow of the whole book. Beginning with the genre, language, and explanation of basic foundational structures, readers are quickly equipped and prepared for what is to come. Longman is pretty unassuming in this aspect and that should assure readers that they have a guide who pre-empts the questions of a layperson. The short discussion questions at the end of each chapter help not only to summarize the key themes of the chapter but allows readers to use the book for further discussion and interaction. Sometimes, when we read the Bible, we might need help in initiating a conversation. Longman provides that in every chapter.

Second, I can think of several ways different groups can use this book. For laypersons, they could read this book that gives fresh eyes to an ancient apocalyptic book. For Bible study leaders, they can take a challenging book like Daniel and apply the "How to Read" model in their Bible group study. While the questions are limited, leaders can easily supplement the book with other resources. For preachers, the whole book can be used as a preaching series as well! For pastors and teachers, this is a convenient primer to structure the discussion and the teaching curriculum. For seminarians, this book might even inspire them to come up with their own versions on how to read Daniel!

Third, there are more strengths than weaknesses in this book. The strengths lie in its readability, clarity, and ease of understanding. Longman does a great job in parts one and two. There, the author draws on his strength as a biblical scholar, to put into simple language the complex array of images and symbolism. It is thus not surprising that the bulk of the book is in the description of the background and historical contexts. If there is any weakness, I can only point out in terms of a relative weakness. Compared with Parts One and Two, which are the stronghold of Longman's area of expertise, the applications are limited and somewhat weak. Perhaps this is intentionally so, given Longman's reticence in being too "clear" about the insights of Daniel. For example, we cannot be too clear about when events will happen. Hope is precisely that. It is clear enough about the future but vague enough with regard to when it will happen. In the same way, Longman can be clear about the historical background, but is somewhat restraint about the exactness of applications. He critiques books like certain reputable scholars that tried to link specific events with specific end-times. Maybe that is the reason why he maintains a stance of vagueness in Part Three. I would caution readers about jumping straight to Part Three in the reading of this book because the real deal is in Parts One and Two.

Overall, I think it is a book that is clear enough for the layperson but sufficiently meaty enough for seminarians and teachers wanting to start a basic course on understanding the book of Daniel. I warmly recommend this book for all pastors, teachers, students, and especially laypersons who want to study Daniel but don't know how. This book will serve as helpful guide.

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Distinguished Scholar of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is also visiting professor of Old Testament at Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and adjunct of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He lectures regularly at Regent College in Vancouver and the Canadian Theological Seminary in Calgary.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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Tremper Longman III (2020). How to Read Daniel. InterVarsity Press.

In his introduction  Tremper Longman III writes: "Daniel not only spoke loud and clear to his generation but also to ours: in spite of present circumstances, God is in control, and he will have the final victory!"

He offers us a view of two horizons in reading Daniel. The first horizon is Daniel's generation and what it would have meant to them. The second is our present situation and its meaning for us. Throughout his book it is shown that "God is in control, and he will have the final victory!"

The book is divided into three parts:

1. Reading Daniel in Its Original Setting
2. Reading Daniel as Six Stories and Four Visions
3. Reading Daniel as a Twenty-First-Century Christian

Part I Reading Daniel in Its Original Setting: Dr. Tremper Longman III has done a wonderful job of giving us aides to reading Daniel. Part I sets the historical context in which Daniel lived. Daniel served two courts, the Babylonian and after their defeat the Persian. Dr. Longman notes that the stories of Daniel and his three friends can be seen as, 1) tales of court contest, and 2) tales of court conflict.

He presents for us detailed historical details of Babylonian and Persian rule during this time. We also find here his understanding of the issues of dating Daniel. While doing such he presents historical/cultural information that is very useful in reading Daniel.

Part II Reading Daniel as Six Stories and Four Visions: 

This part details for us the stories and visions of Daniel. Again helping our unerstanding of Daniel's context. Dr. Longman writes, ". . . though diverse in language and style, these six court tales and four apocalyptic visions have a single coherent theme: in spite of present difficulties, God is in control, and he will have the final victory."

Also, Dr. Longman shows us how the book of Daniel demonstrates that God is in control "over an evil and chaotic world through the use of symbolic numbers and references to periods of time in the context of the visions."

Part III Reading Daniel as a Twenty-First-Century Christian:

In this part Dr. Longman writes about Daniel and his friends living in a toxic culture and thriving without the loss of their commitment and understanding of God or their integrity. We are shown ways to navigate and thrive inour own toxic culture from the experiences and commitments of Daniel and his three friends. We finaly learn how Daniel and his friends found comfort in knowing the ultimate victory belongs to God.

We can learn from Daniel and his friends how to thive in a toxic culture and also rest in our knowledge the in the midst of chaotic and evil world we can take comfort in the knowledge that God is ultimately in control.

I found this to be a very helpful and informative book for reading and undestanding Daniel at the two horizons and I highly recommend it as an addition to your library.

(This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.)
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I have always loved the book of Daniel.  I study it throughout the year so I was excited to get a copy of this book but it feel short for me.  I think it’s because of all the studying I have done over the years.  If you haven’t read Daniel or you need help reading and studying Daniel then this book is for you.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and InvertVarity Press for my honest opinion.
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How to read Daniel is it great guide for helping a reader dig into the book of Daniel. 
The books description says:
Beyond the familiar lions' den and fiery furnace, much of the book of Daniel seems baffling to modern readers. The first half recounts stories full of ancient Near Eastern protocol and imperial court drama; the second half features apocalyptic visions of monstrous beasts and cosmic conflict. Many Christians misunderstand or simply avoid the book. But failing to read Daniel well means missing a critical part of God's message to us. According to Tremper Longman III, when we read Daniel on its own terms and in its original context, we'll discover that all of the book is easier to understand than we might think. In this volume of the popular How to Read Series, Longman brings his expertise as an Old Testament scholar and teacher to orient readers to a proper engagement with Daniel. He examines the book's genre, structure, historical background, and major theological message before diving deeper into each of the stories and visions. As we learn how to enter the world of Daniel, we find a message not only for his generation but also for ours: even in hostile circumstances, God is in control, and he will have the final victory. Longman draws out this theme of Daniel for the twenty-first century, finding help for faithful living in a toxic culture and hope in a troubled world. How to Read Daniel is the perfect starting point for anyone studying, teaching, or seeking a reliable guide to this ancient book.
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I have actually been using this resource to help me with my bible study class on Daniel.  I like anything biblical that Tremper tackles.  He is a man who clearly loves God's Word and how to make it accessible and practical in our lives so that we can live faithfully today in a chaotic society.  The time and research that it took him to put this together is both something that should be honored and shared with others.  I am thankful for this resource and again, his love for Scripture.
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This is basically a short commentary on Daniel. Not sure why the author doesnt just call it what it is. Also, I would have expected  some deeper cover of some of the passages, instead of a reiteration of the text. For example, no mention is made to the fact that the angel explains the son of man in the vision as being the "Holy Ones".
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