Daniel (New American Commentary)

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RamistThomist

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Miller, Stephen. Daniel (NAC). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994.

One of the difficulties in writing and reviewing a commentary on a prophetic book is having to pick a side. Choosing one option logically, if not always in practice, entails a subsequent range of prophetic positions. There is no getting around this. Daniel Miller handles this problem nicely. While espousing a futurist and premillennial view, Miller is aware of the other options and provides the reader with footnotes for further study.

Date and Authorship

There are two options for the date and authorship of Daniel: either Daniel wrote it some time in the sixth century B.C., or it is a forgery from the Maccabean period. The historic view held that Daniel, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the book when he said he did. Liberals, by contrast, not understanding that God can know the future, claim these events happened during the reign of Antiochus IV. Miller makes short work of this position.

For one, someone who fabricates the truth, and is known to do such, simply is not reliable. Moreover, Daniel uses a number of Persian loanwords, which would not have been relevant (or even known) to a second century Jew (Miller 28). Similarly, Daniel’s knowledge of ancient Babylon is far too specific for a second century Jew. By contrast, Daniel 11, presumably speaking of Antiochus IV, is actually too vague to be helpful. Even worse for this position, Persia was not a problem for second century Jews

Babylonian Monarchs

Following the relevant scholarship, Miller argues, persuasively, I think, that Nebuchadnezzar’s son was Nabonidus, who himself sired Belteshazzar.

Prophecy

As Nebuchadnezzar related his four dreams, Daniel explained they are four kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Regardless of one’s prophetic position, this dream parallels the events in chapter seven (though not chapter eight). Miller, not surprisingly for a premillennialist, argues that Rome must be a future Rome. This entity succeeded a coalition of ten kings or nations; that simply did not happen during ancient Rome.

Continuing the same line of thought in chapter seven, Miller argues that the little horn could not have been Antiochus IV, and for largely the same reason as above: Antiochus did not see a federation of ten kings. Only by a stretch can one see Alexander’s generals as a federation of kings, and in any case Antiochus was Greek, not Roman.

Jesus’s coming in the clouds must refer to his second coming. It must refer to a descent because if he is in the clouds, he is already in heaven. While there are referents to his first coming, not all of them obtained. For example, all people are said to worship him, which did not happen in the first century (or now).

Regarding the most difficult passage in Daniel, the Seventy Sevens, Miller explains the various options. They could be a literal period, referring to the time of Antiochus, although the number of years never really coincides with any known decree. The passage could be symbolic, ending in the first century. One is then hard-pressed to explain why such a specific number, seven, must be symbolic, and why there are different lengths of sevens, yet all refer to the same amount of time. Another view is they are symbolic, ending in Christ’s second coming. Similar difficulties apply to this view, but another problem should be noted: it is inconsistent to say the city is literal but the time is spiritual.

That leaves the literal view, ending in Christ’s second coming. The first round of sevens begins with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The second round of years terminates in the advent of Messiah. The final seven years, not surprisingly, refer to the Great Tribulation. Of course, if one opts for this reading one is committed to some form of a “gap” in time (269). Miller explains that the covenant the prince makes cannot refer to Christ, since Christ’s “covenant” or work is not temporary. Moreover, Gabriel specifically referred to both temple and city, and the “Holy of Holies” in Scripture always refers to the specific place in the temple.

If one accepts Miller’s timeline, does that commit one to a premillennial view? I am not persuaded it does. It has yet to be shown why a future Tribulation necessitates a millennial reign on earth. That is some food for thought.

Strengths:

The commentary is very easy to read, even with the Hebrew words. Miller never belabors a point and is always focused. He has a very good handling of the prophetic passages. One need not accept his type of premillennialism to appreciate the manner in which he set forth the issues.

Weaknesses:

Miller focused more on application than he needed to. While that sounds like an odd criticism for a commentary, it makes sense the more one thinks about it. Younger preachers, those who need more help with application, need more than the regular “one sentence at the end of the paragraph.” Application that is only a sentence long is often of little help. There are commentaries that are quite good with application. The New International Version Application Commentary series is quite excellent in the regard. Either devote a substantial section to application or do not do it at all. Play to one’s strengths.
 
B&H is replacing the NAC series (which is based on the NIV) with one based on the CSB. Some of the volumes are being revised. Others are being replaced. I'd be shocked if this one isn't replaced with one that takes more of an idealist view, if not outright amillennial.

I believe Klein on Zech. in the NAC is similarly premil and futurist and also a good candidate to be replaced. I think the late Lamar Cooper who authored the Ezekiel commentary was also dispensational. Those views are almost as out of favor in SBC academic circles today as they were under the "moderates."
 
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B&H is replacing the NAC series (which is based on the NIV) with one based on the CSB. Some of the volumes are being revised. Others are being replaced. I'd be shocked if this one isn't replaced with one that takes more of an idealist view, if not outright amillennial.

I believe Klein on Zech. in the NAC is similarly premil and futurist and also a good candidate to be replaced. I think the late Lamar Cooper who authored the Ezekiel commentary was also dispensational. Those views are almost as out of favor in SBC academic circles today as they were under the "moderates."

I reviewed Klein here.

It's hard to imagine premillenialists being considered "moderates," though I no longer have my finger on the SBC's pulse. It does look like they started revising Matthews on Genesis.
 
I reviewed Klein here.

It's hard to imagine premillenialists being considered "moderates," though I no longer have my finger on the SBC's pulse. It does look like they started revising Matthews on Genesis.
What I mean is that almost all of the conservatives back then were dispensational premil, and a few of them were in the seminaries, although more often at non-official places like Criswell (such as Cooper, a LC alum for what it's worth) or MABTS. They were able to get book contracts from the denominational publisher, although maybe not on everything under the sun. "Progressive Covenantalism," sort of a further development of NCT in an academic environment, took over at SBTS over a decade ago and is widely influential. ((Wellum and Gentry, Schreiner more or less.) They are eager to put dispensationalism into the dustbin. That's not to say B&H won't publish anything at all by a dispensational author, but the trend long ago started moving away from that. Most Dispensational works now, especially heavier doctrinal works, are either self-published or are published by small publishers. I'd be surprised if B&H publishes more than one dispensational commentary in the new series and won't be surprised if they publish none at all. The Gospel Project that Lifeway put out several years ago is heavily influenced by Goldsworthy and similar authors.
 
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