AUSTRALIAN BIBLICAL REVIEW
BOOK REVIEW Published in Volume 58, 2010
ANDREW E. STEINMANN, Daniel (Concordia Commentary; St Louis: Concordia, 2008). Pp. llviii + 628. Hardback. $US42.99.
Commentaries on Biblical books usually belong to a series and the present one is no exception. The orientation of the series is explicitly stated in the Editor’s preface at the beginning of the volume. This runs to three and a half pages but one sentence on page xiv encapsulates the approach: “The authors and editors stand in the exegetical tradition of Martin Luther and the other Lutheran reformers, who in turn (as their writings took pains to demonstrate) stood in continuity with faithful exegesis by theologians of the early and medieval church, rooted in the hermeneutics of the Scriptures themselves (evident, for example, by how the New Testament interprets the Old).” Andrew Steinmann says in his own preface that Daniel “is a book about Christ, who preserved his people throughout the Babylonian captivity and pointed them forward to the coming of his kingdom at his first as well as his second advent.” Further, he notes on p. 12 n. 56, “This commentary considers Daniel to be inspired and so inerrant, as are the rest of the Scriptures. But even if one considers Daniel simply to be an ancient document and argues on the basis of human reason alone, there are compelling reasons to regard it as historically accurate.”
Such an approach to Daniel (and to other Biblical books) is limiting as it does not permit full scholarly engagement with the text as a product of its own time and place, nor with many of the insights of modern scholars. This is unfortunate, for Steinmann has clearly read widely as indicated by his bibliography of 25 pages, although there are some omissions such as P. R. Davies, Daniel (Sheffield: JSOT, 1985). Further, there is little true engagement with text-critical matters. The differences in the OG, Theodotian texts and the MT can be interpreted to militate, of course, against the inerrancy of Scripture. Consequently, although noted (64), these differences are downplayed and comments by other secondary scholars that appear to support the insignificance of the differences between these texts are quoted without concern for the context in which they were made originally (65).
Of concern, too, is the polemical stance taken not only against scholars of a critical bent (cf. the heading “The Critical View Nullifies the Gospel” on 379) but also against those who have a variant theological presupposition (cf. the heading “The Gospel Nullified by the Dispensational View” on 382). The interpretative framework then of the commentary is likely to be acceptable and instructive only to those scholars and lay people who approach Daniel with similar presuppositions to Steinmann.
There are, however, aspects of the commentary that will be of interest to scholars of any persuasion. The close attention paid to the language used in the MT, which appears under the heading of “Textual Notes” following each section of translation, is one such. Indeed, the explanation provided for aspects of language usage will be of benefit to students whose knowledge of Hebrew and/or Aramaic is still being expanded. For instance, Steinmann notes on p. 79 in relation to Dan 1:1 that the Hebrew preposition used with the meaning “against her” has the feminine suffix because the reference is to Jerusalem which was a city and cities are feminine in Hebrew. Another aspect of the commentary that may be attractive to non-Lutheran readers is that in an exegesis of the text, the various ways scholars have understood a particular passage are recounted, then assessed in terms of whether their explanations accord with what is known from elsewhere within the Hebrew Bible. For instance, Steinmann’s reasoning on pp. 366–70 about the identity of the “"Holy Ones of the Most High” considers the words that appear in the expression and how they are understood elsewhere in the HB, in the DSS and in Inter-Testamental literature and concludes that they have to be God’s people, rather than angels.
All in all then, Steinmann’s Daniel has some valuable aspects although it needs to be used with care unless one subscribes to the theological assumptions that guide the commentary.