“And behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom” (Daniel 7:13-14).
James Hamilton perceives a hole in evangelical biblical theology that should be filled with a robust treatment of the book of Daniel. He takes this chance to delve into the book’s rich contribution to the Bible’s unfolding redemptive-historical storyline.
By setting Daniel in the broader context of biblical theology, he helps move us toward a clearer understanding of how we should live today in response to its message. First, he shows how the book’s literary structure contributes to its meaning. He then addresses key questions and issues. He concludes by examining typological patterns. He argues that the four kingdoms prophesied by Daniel are both historical and symbolic—that the “one like a son of man” seen by Daniel is identified with and distinguished from the Ancient of Days in such a way that would be mysterious until Jesus came as both the Son of David and God incarnate. He elaborates that the interpretations of Daniel in early Jewish literature attest to strategies similar to those employed by New Testament authors. He shows those authors provide a Spirit-inspired interpretation of Daniel that was learned from Jesus. He highlights how the book of Revelation uses Daniel’s language, imitates his structure, points to the fulfillment of his prophecies, and clarifies the meaning of his “seventieth week.”
“The fourth kingdom is not one kingdom in particular but the wicked world system that has united itself against God and his people.” (Page 132)
“Why is there such similarity between the little horn of the third kingdom and the little horn of the fourth? It would appear that a pattern is being repeated. In this pattern the kings of the earth exalt themselves against God and his people, persecuting the saints; then, through the defeat of the arch-enemy, God’s people are delivered. The repetition indicates that Daniel means to depict this ‘type’ of thing as happening through the course of history until the pattern culminates and is fulfilled in the final instance of the typological pattern.12 This way of looking at the matter matches both Paul’s description of the ‘lawless one’ in 2 Thessalonians 2:12 and John’s words about the antichrists and the Antichrist in 1 John 2:18.” (Pages 52–53)
“The book of Daniel inspires faithfulness to Yahweh because it teaches that God and his kingdom matter more than the preservation of one’s own life. Undergirding this is the fact that Yahweh can deliver people from death (Dan. 3, 6) and predict the future (Dan. 11), including the future resurrection and reward of the faithful (Dan. 12:2–3).” (Page 32)
“The recognition that chronology is not the book’s organizing principle invites us to consider what literary designs guided the arrangement of the book’s discrete units.” (Page 77)
This is an important book and a welcome addition to an excellent series (NSBT), and I commend it for all biblical disciplines. I benefited from reading Hamilton’s book, and I am grateful for his commitment to doing robust theology and exegesis for the benefit of the church.
—Joshua M. Philpot, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Dr. Jim Hamilton is Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Senior Pastor of Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. He has written numerous books, including God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology and What Is Biblical Theology? A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns. He is also the author of the EBTC commentary on Psalms along with a book on Typology. You can follow him on Twitter @DrJimHamilton