Of all the books to read today, why should we choose the Book of Daniel? Why bother with a book that many Christians don’t care to understand and many scholars dismiss outright as an unreliable work of religious fiction? Could the life and words of a man who lived 2,600 years ago be so relevant as to explain our present and predict our future?
These questions alone make the Book of Daniel worthy of note. The vast majority of the ancient world has disappeared and decayed irretrievably into oblivion. Yet this book is still with us, not as an artifact on a museum shelf but as a resource readily available in a variety of languages and formats. Nor is it a coddled religious text of a few fanatics. We find Daniel everywhere from magazine racks, to university lectures, to even the name of the atheist next door. Bestsellers come and go in rapid succession, so why does this ancient book still draw so much interest, confidence, and controversy?
It is not because it’s an easy read! Both the writing style and the content of this book pose challenges to any reader. Why then do many still choose to struggle through the strange language, literary forms, and difficult concepts that compose this document? A quick reading reveals that this is no work of fairy tale fiction, aimed at children looking for entertainment.
In fact, it is hard to know how to categorize the Book of Daniel. Written in two world languages and under two world empires, it stands out as a book of intriguing dualities. Its pages contain iconic tales of faith and courage that still instruct young children as well as visions so complex that they are still the subject of intense scrutiny and argument in both the Church and the academy. It is a book that originates from a world that has ended yet describes with startling relevance the end of our world. Could all this be merely coincidental—an odd result of the whims of fate? In the coming posts we will explore ten reasons why the Book of Daniel is, in fact, more relevant today than ever before and what this fact demonstrates about Scripture.