Daniel's Response to World Religions

Unpublished article

In this paper, I will explore some of the theological responses of the Jewish community to competing religions in the years following exile. In particular I propose to focus upon those ideas found in the book of Daniel that respond to other religions. Following two preliminary comments, the first part of the paper will survey the religious environment of the ancient Middle East during and following the Israelite exile to Babylon. Particular attention will be given to the dominant religious system of the Babylonians and the Persians. While many things might be noted as characteristics of these religions, two key features emerge: determinism and dualism. The second part of the paper will describe how the book of Daniel in particular resopnds to these religious perspectives. It will show that the book takes some decisive stances contrary to prevailing religious notions. In particular, Daniel confronts the worldviews espoused in these religions by arguing strongly for both free will of humans and the absolute sovereignty of Yahweh.