The Structure of the Book of Daniel

As we begin our study of Daniel, I thought it might be helpful to make you aware of the fact that Daniel has a certain structure to it.  The Bible sometimes uses a unique writing style known as a chiasm (ki’azem).  A chiasm uses a pattern of repetition for clarification and emphasis.  In short, a chiasm is a pattern within a passage in which the second half parallels the first half, but in reverse order.  For instance a verse, chapter, or book may be laid out in a pattern of A-B-C-B-A or A-B-B-A or A-B-C-D-C-B-A, etc.  Whatever lies at the center is the main point.  Let’s look at Matthew 23:12 as an example:Image

The entire book of Daniel follows a chiastic structure.  But in Daniel’s case, the book has two, interlocked chiasms.  The main ideas can be found in C-C, that Babylon will be judged, and in E, that God’s people will be restored.  That is the main point of Daniel, no matter how confusing some of the details get.

The Book of Daniel’s Chiastic Structure Style Language
Introduction 1: Current Exile (ch 1)
A    Nebuchadnezzar has a Dream of 4 Kingdoms & Kingdom of God (ch 2)
Narrative (Story) Hebrew
      B    Nebuchadnezzar sees God’s servants rescued (ch 3) Narrative Aramaic
            C    Nebuchadnezzar judged (ch 4) Narrative Aramaic
            C    Belshazzar judged (ch 5) Narrative Aramaic
      B    Darius sees God’s servants rescued (ch 6) Narrative Aramaic
Introduction 2: Future Return from Exile
A    Daniel has Visions of 4 Kingdoms & Kingdom of God (ch 7)
Vision Aramaic
      D    Details on post-Babylonian kingdoms (ch 8) Vision Hebrew
            E    God’s people restored (ch 9) Vision Hebrew
      D    More details on post-Babylonian kingdoms (ch 10-12) Vision Hebrew

*Chiasm adapted from Steinmann, Andrew E., Daniel. Concordia Publishing, 2008.