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:
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)
|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)
|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.