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ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW  Published in Volume 51, 2003

E. C. LUCAS, Daniel. Apollos OT Commentary. (Apollos, 2002). Pp.359.

In the Author’s Preface, Ernest Lucas states that his commentary “is written primarily for those who have the responsibility of teaching and preaching the Bible, particularly those who do it in a Christian context”. It has to be said, however, to Lucas’s credit, that Christian tradition does not influence his interpretation of the book of Daniel. It is only after noting linguistic matters, delineating the form and structure of the book and commenting upon it that he distils from it matters of perennial interest for humankind in general and for Christian communities in particular. As such, it contains much of value for the reader who is not a Christian as well as for the one who is.

Lucas deals with the twelve canonical chapters of Daniel as well as providing a translation of, and brief introduction to, the apocryphal or deutero-canonical chapters. He professes his indebtedness to the two recent major commentaries on Daniel (J. E. Goldingay, Word Biblical Commentary, 1989; J. J. Collins, Hermeneia, 1993). While he does not replicate their exhaustive examination of all secondary literature, he does mention all the main views on Daniel and considers literature that had not been published when Goldingay and Collins were writing.

Lucas’s Introduction to his work covers the texts and versions; the problems of translating from one language to another; the genre and patterns of Daniel 1–6 and Daniel 7–12 as well as giving a five page summary of the historical context of the book of Daniel. In addition, students should find useful the list of the dates of the reigns of the monarchs of the Babylonian, Median, Persian, Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms.

In the Commentary section, views about the unity/disunity of Daniel are stated, but not dealt with in depth. In most cases, Lucas sees theories concerning redaction of the text as erroneous. To be fair, Lucas states in his Preface that it is the final version of the text upon which he concentrates, partly because it should be studied in its own right and partly because it was included in the Canon in that form. The traditions behind the stories or behind the imagery of the apocalyptic chapters are considered in a comprehensive and scholarly fashion with new insight being given now and again. For example, Lucas debates the origin of the four metal schema that appears in the statue in Daniel 2. He argues that it is likely to derive from a tradition that appears in Hesiod (eight century BCE) and Ovid, rather than from Zoroastrianism. Others have suggested Hesiod as a source but tend to see Zoroastrianism as involved in some way because one of its texts, like Daniel, mentions “iron mixed with clay”. Lucas points out the lack of certainty about the date of the Zoroastrian text and suggests that the metaphor of iron and clay is original to Daniel and reflects a historical situation known to him.

Overall, Lucas’s commentary is eminently readable and should appeal to the student as well as the preacher. The academic teacher too should find aspects of interest where new views are advanced and older ones debated with clarity and skill.

Review by
Dr. Anne E. Gardner
La Trobe University
Bundoora, Victoria