Skip to content

Reviewing the Review: A year of magical thinking edition

June 11, 2009 – Vol. 186, No. 16


This issue contains some inspiring and informative articles. Unfortunately, Adventist writers and scholars, not to mention evangelists, are hung up on the book of Daniel. I am aware that downplaying its significance, in this case the cover article MAKING SENSE OF DANIEL 11 by Zdravko Stefanovic, is like touching the “third rail” of Adventist theology, but I urge the reader to read the entire book again. Then check out the book of Daniel in the Jewish Encyclopedia and the words of other Christian scholars.* To put it succinctly, Daniel is an historical novel. (In this context, it should be noted that the founding fathers of Adventism were not biblical scholars and using the “prophetic” book of Daniel, preached the Shut Door message and the End of the World in 1843 and then 1844.)

EXCEEDING THE GOAL reported by Sandra Blackmer is the story of Adventist Review readers who made it possible for Indian women to earn a Bible and carrying case upon completion of a literacy course offered by the Southern Asia Division’s Women’s Ministries Department. (I hope they begin by reading the New Testament.)


Gerald A. Klingbeil’s editorial, PERSPECTIVES, is a thoughtful challenge to put our lives in the context of a heavenly perspective. And as usual WORLD NEWS & PERSPECTIVES is a reminder that Adventists are part of an amazingly diverse worldwide Christian fellowship.

OF CANCER, CHEMO, AND CREDO by Lynette M. Schenkel is a BOUQUET WINNING letter of hope trom a cancer survivor to a new cancer patient.

Clifford Goldstein’s YEAR OF HORIZONTAL THINKING is an editorial review of Joan Didion’s book, A Year of Magical Thinking. It is a beautifully written reminder that for the Christian, “death does not have the final say”.

DERAILED AND DELIVERED by Dean O’Shea is a suspenseful account of a policeman who was “saved” because he didn’t fire his weapon.

Roy Adams reviews Michael Novak’s book, No One Sees God. In TOUCHING ATHEISM WHERE IT HURTS, Adams argues that this is, “the kind of work more Adventist scholars need to do”. While he does not agree with Novak that “much of the Bible should be considered ‘allegorical, metaphorical, resonant with many meanings’, or that ‘from a Roman Catholic point of view. . . there is no difficulty in accepting all the findings of evolutionary biology”, Adams considers the book “a breath of fresh air”. (For what it’s worth, I consider entire book a breath of fresh air.)

Finally, SECERT SONGS OF THE SOUL by Valerie N. Phillips has earned a BOUQUET for her delightful essay in which she substitutes some keywords in well-known songs. For example, “Blessed assurance, I’ll be just fine”; or “What a friend we have in Face Book”. Valerie, I will never again sing the old familiar hymns without really listening to and appreciating their marvelous words.

* The data of composition [of Daniel] is decided by clear evidence in Chapter 11. The wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies and a portion of the reign of and Antiochus Epiphanes are described with a wealth of detail quite unnecessary for the author’s purpose. This account bears no resemblance to any of the Old Testament prophecies and, despite its prophetic style, refers to events already past. . . The book must therefore have been written during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes and before his death, even before the success of the Maccabaean Revolt; that is to say between 167 and 164.

There is nothing in the rest of the book to contradict this dating. The narratives of the first section are set in the Chaldaean period, but there are indications that the author is writing a long time after the events. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus and not, as the book says, of Nebuchadnezzar; nor was he ever king. Darius the Mede is unknown to historians, nor is there room for him between the last Chaldaean king and Cyrus the Persian who had already conquered the Medes. The neo-Babylonian background is described in words of Persian origin; the instruments in Nebuchadnezzar’s orchestra are given names transliterated from the Greek. The dates given in the book agree neither among themselves nor with history as we know it, for chronology. The author has made use of oral and written traditions still current in his own times.

The late composition of the book explains its position in the Hebrew Bible. It was admitted after the Canon of the Prophets had already been fixed, and the place to between Esther and Ezra among the very the group of ‘other writings’ forming the last section of the Hebrew Canon.

The new Jerusalem Bible, Leather Deluxe Edition, Introduction to the Prophets, Daniel, pages 1177 and 1178.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.