Reading Daniel as a Text in Theological Hermeneutics

By Aaron B. Hebbard

An interdisciplinary analysis of the Book of Daniel, showing how the text can be constructively read as a narrative textbook in theological hermeneutics.

ISBN: 9780227173640


Employing such disciplines as historical criticism, literary criticism, narrative theology, and hermeneutics, Reading Daniel as a Text in Theological Hermeneutics seeks to maintain an interdisciplinary approach to the Book of Daniel. Through this approach, the author sets out to understand and interpret the Book of Daniel as a narrative exercise in theological hermeneutics.

Two inherently linked perspectives are utilised in this particular reading of the text: First is the perception that the character of Daniel is the paradigm of the good theological hermeneut; theology and hermeneutics are inseparable and converge in the character of Daniel. Second is the standpoint that the Book of Daniel on the whole should be read as a hermeneutics textbook. Readers are led through a series of theories and exercises meant to be instilled into their theological, intellectual, and practical lives.

Attention to the reader of the text is a constant theme throughout this thesis. The author’s concern is primarily with contemporary readers and their communities, and so greater emphasis is placed on what the Book of Daniel means for contemporary readers than on what it meant in its historical setting. However, sensible consideration is given to the historical readerly community with which contemporary readers find continuity. In the end, readers are left with difficult challenges, a sobering awareness of the volatility of the business of hermeneutics, and serious implications for readers to implement both theologically and hermeneutically.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Aaron B. Hebbard is Associate Professor of Theology and the Arts at Community Christian College in Southern California. He earned his PhD in literature, theology, and the arts at the University of Glasgow.



1. A Hermeneutic Reading of Daniel
     The Historical Continuum of the Danielic Community
     Purpose of Daniel
     Danielic Hermeneutics

2. Narration in Daniel
     The “Tell” of Three Narrators

3. The Introduction to Danielic Hermeneutics
     Setting the Sense of Reading
     Daniel 1: Introduction to the Narrative

4. The Undergraduate Courses – Danielic Hermeneutics in Theory
     Daniel 2: Disclosing Dream and Identity
     Daniel 3: The Exit Exam for the Unbending Boys
     Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar’s Conversion to Yahwism
     Daniel 5: Belshazzar, the Lightweight Interpreter
     Daniel 6: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Daniel

5. The Graduate Courses – Danielic Hermeneutics in Praxis
     Daniel 7: The Court of Heaven Casts Judgment
     Daniel 8: Vision, Interpretation, Understanding
     Daniel 9: Daniel’s Seventy and Gabriel’s Seventy-Sevens
     Daniel 10: Another Angelic Encounter
     Daniel 11: Revelation of Details
     Daniel 12: Danielism – Survival of the Wisest

6. The Reader as Hermeneut
     Reader as Character
     Reader as Text
     Reader as Hermeneut



Endorsements and Reviews

Aaron Hebbard’s new book is a genuinely interdisciplinary exercise that will be of immense help to scholars in literature, theology, and biblical studies. It offers a wholly new perspective on hermeneutics through a highly creative reading of the book of Daniel that introduces Daniel himself into the company of interpreters as relevant and immediate as Paul Ricoeur and Hans-Georg Gadamer. This is scholarship of the highest quality and sharpest imagination.
David Jasper, University of Glasgow

A noteworthy student of Daniel once wearily commented that it is hard to say anything new about Daniel. Aaron Hebbard claims to have done so, and he soon persuaded me that he has. Anyone interested in Daniel or in hermeneutics (whether or not they like that word prefaced by the word ‘theological’) will be intrigued by this book.
John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary

People who have wrestled with the temporal prophecies regarding the endtimes at the conclusion of the book of Daniel will be aided by the approach of Hebbard’s book … Education as hermeneut thus expands into transformation, conversion and fulfilling vocation as we are all invited to become ‘Daniels’ interpreting and speaking out to others.
Patrick Madigan, in Heythrop Journal, Vol 53:2

Sometimes, one encounters a book that feels just a bit ‘different’; this volume by Aaron B. Hebbard would seem to be one such example. … First, it avowedly reads the text/book of Daniel (what he terms ‘Daniel’) as a textbook in hermeneutics, outlining strategies for interpretation and exposing the (contemporary) reader to the challenges and issues of theological hermeneutics. Second, it avers that Daniel the character (i.e. ‘Daniel’) is a theological hermeneut par excellence, a skilled and trustworthy practitioner in the art of hermeneutics and interpretation, who is both mentor/teacher to other characters in the text (notably Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) and exemplar to the contemporary reader seeking to harness their skills in such areas. … [The book’s] primary interest is the contemporary reader, and thus takes seriously the narrative effect of Daniel and notably the surprising features, or oddities of the narratives; there is interesting discussion – one might say justification of Daniel’s absence from Chapter 3, and it finds fruitful grounds for placing Nebuchadnezzar’s doxology at the beginning of Dan 4 rather at the close of Dan 3. It is informed, without being technical (there is only one minimal reference to Hebrew/Aramaic), and would be of value to undergraduates, seminary students or theologically aware lay readers.
David M. Allen, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 19 (3)

This book attempts to read the Book of Daniel as ‘a narrative textbook in the field of theological hermeneutics.’ The character Daniel is taken as a paradigm of the good theological hermeneut, and the book is read as a guide to the art of interpretation.
John J. Collins, in The Expository Times, Vol 124 (3)

In conclusion, Hebbard’s work is an important step in the ongoing study of the book of Daniel. The book is well written and documented and its insistence on theological hermeneutics is especially commendable. Although I take a very different approach to the historicity of Daniel, I recommend Reading Daniel to anyone interested in the field of multidisciplinary approaches to the text of the Bible, especially in Daniel.
Zdravko Stefanovic, in Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol 50 (1)

In that blurb, I noted H.H. Rowley’s wistful comment (apropos of a scholar who thought he was propounding a new theory about Daniel, but which Rowley, who had read everything, knew was not new) that it is hard to say anything new about Daniel. Even if you think his book is a tour de force, Dr Hebbard has succeeded in saying something new.
John Goldingay, in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 63 (2)

This is a creative work which draws upon narratival and reader-response theories. It is a stimulating read for those conversant with these disciplines.
Scott Harrower, in Theological Book Review, Vol 24, No 2