Apr 10 2009

A Book You Should Own

 No Bible commentary is the last word, but James Jordan’s seven-year effort gets the ball through the hoop on Daniel. Here’s an excerpt from David Field’s review:

The approach of the book is marked by

handwritingonwall-s1. Immersion in and informed reference to the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. The use of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah is astonishing and enriching at every turn. Use of or comment upon other books along the way are unfailingly stimulating and this applies to NT books as well, not least to Revelation which is greatly illumined by this work on Daniel.

2. Confident deployment of redemptive-historical paradigms which have themselves been recognized through close and repeated study of the whole Bible. In particular, theologico-spatial zones, old creation /new creation eras, and prophet /priest /king roles feature heavily and often have real power to unlock or clarify the subject in hand.

3. The closest of close structural analysis of the sort that comes from multiple readings. Chiasms and parallels and other patterning devices are attended to with great care and in such a way as positively informs the interpretation rather than being mere observations along the path.

4. Seriousness about chronology. This is one of the characteristics of Jordan’s work overall, since he sees emphasis on “ideas” at the expense of history as revealing and strengthening the gnosticism of much contemporary Christianity. The detailed chronological work lying behind his interpretation of Jeremiah and Ezekiel and his resolution of some of the Daniel “difficulties” is awesome.

5. Interpretative weight given to what still gets called “inter-testamental” history. Inter-testamental history is redemptive history and Jordan emphasizes that God speaks to and about that period in the patterns of Daniel 1-6 and in the prophecies of Daniel 1-7.

6. Attention to numerics: word-counts, significant numbers, and the meaning of numbers. There is work here to compare with Bauckham’s work on Revelation.

7. Typology. This is not a “typological” commentary as such because although half of Daniel is narrative, half of it is apocalyptic prophecy. But when you attend to redemptive-historical patterns and to literary structures and sequences and to the importance of history as Jordan does, then, in some sense, all your work will be typological. At the macro-historical this means that Daniel is one of God’s major interpretative words for the entire second phase of the first creation. The first creation has a former days and a latter days and then gives way to the new creation. Daniel tells us about the last centuries and decades of the latter days of the old world.

8. Cheerful (and sometimes curmudgeonly) unfashionableness. Early dating, traditional authorship, defense of biblical chronology, unashamed constant reference to Christ (how could it be otherwise?!), impatience with “unbelieving scholarship”, utter lack of interest in being respected and consistent resolve to be useful. This may be a difficult example for young scholars (like those in Daniel 1!) to follow but it is thoroughly refreshing.

9. Theological creativity at level “Genius”. I thought I knew Jordan’s work reasonably well but over and over and over again there are “aha!” moments. In my copy now there are almost more sentences and paragraphs marked than unmarked!”

“The Handwriting on the Wall” is available from www.americanvision.com
Also available as an e-book.

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