Bible Overview: Daniel

The Book of Daniel is a 2nd-century BC biblical apocalypse combining a prophecy of history with an eschatology (a portrayal of end times) cosmic in scope and political in focus. In more mundane language, it is “an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a noble Jew exiled at Babylon,” its message being that just as the God of Israel saved Daniel and his friends from their enemies, so he would save all of Israel in their present oppression.

In the Hebrew Bible, it is found in the Ketuvim (writings), while in Christian Bibles it is grouped with the Major Prophets. The book divides into two parts, a set of six court tales in chapters 1–6 written mostly in Aramaic, followed by four apocalyptic visions in chapters 7–12, written mostly in Hebrew. The deuterocanon contains three additional stories: the Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.

The book’s influence has resonated through later ages, from the Dead Sea Scrolls community and the authors of the gospels and Revelation, to various movements from the 2nd century to the Protestant Reformation and modern millennialist movements—on which it continues to have a profound influence.

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