Adult Education Series: The Book of Daniel
Our Adult Education will be turning to the book of Daniel for the next few weeks. Daniel has some well-known stories in it with the lions’ den and the writing on the wall. But many of us may not know very much about the contents and meaning of the book beyond these childhood stories especially as it is read on Sunday morning only once every three years. We will be trying to remedy this gap in our knowledge by reading through the Book of Daniel to explore its emphasis on personal piety, revelatory visions, and political intrigue. Daniel shows us a number of case studies of people living in exile who must defy and negotiate with the culture around them. Hopefully, our look at Daniel will help us think about what it means to be faithful to God in strange times and in strange places.
For our first week on this topic (July 11th), Fr. Will will introduce Daniel to us. We will learn about its origin, composition, and main themes. We will then turn to discuss the first chapter of the book together.
For the second week (July 18th), covering chapter 2, we will get our first instance of Daniel’s ability to interpret strange signs and symbols through God’s help. Helpfully Daniel is able to do this reading of the signs in time to keep the king’s executioner at bay. While the king’s dream may seem a bit odd, we can find similar ideas and images in two of the hymns in our own hymnbook. In addition to reading Daniel chapter 2, please have a look at ‘The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended’ #24 and ‘Immortal, invisible, God only wise’ #423
For the third week (July 25th), we will cover chapter 3, which contains the famous fiery furnace as well as a long extended prayer of blessing and praise to God. We will discuss this chapter with some help from The Visual Commentary on Scripture available here: https://thevcs.org/fiery-furnace. You will see three images of the trial in the furnace as well as commentary on the images and the reading by clicking the commentary button.
For week four (Aug. 1st) we continue with chapter 4. We will see another dream from King Nebuchadnezzar and another interpretation from Daniel. The result of the dream will again be one that challenges Nebuchadnezzar and requires Daniel to tell the king some uncomfortable truth. You can read a brief reflection on Daniel’s disciplined commitment to truth and chapter 4 by looking at this PDF.
Aug. 8th, we make our way to another iconic scene in the book of Daniel, the writing on the wall. Daniel 5 again shows us Daniel’s ability to interpret mysterious signs for the king. The message does not come in the form of a dream but in a public display where a disembodied human hand writes on a wall. Please have a look at the images and the video commentary for this chapter from The Visual Commentary on Scripture: https://thevcs.org/writing-wall
Aug. 15th we read and discuss chapter 6, which contains the famous description of Daniel in the Lions’ Den. We will all be familiar with this story and have our own images of it in our heads. While we will have some time to discuss the lions, I want us to focus this week on the first part of the chapter with its description of Daniel’s prayer life. Questions we can bring to our reading and reflection are: How often do I pray? In what direction do I pray? Do I kneel when I pray? Do I speak aloud when I pray? We will hopefully be able to have some discussion about how we are or are not praying like Daniel.
Aug. 22nd, our journey through Daniel takes on a slightly different feel. We move into a series of chapters centered on apocalyptic visions given to Daniel about what is to come. We should expect lots of symbolism, prophecy, and even some confusion. We will make use of the images from The Visual Commentary on Scripture given here (https://thevcs.org/daniels-four-beasts) to get a sense of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts.
Aug. 29th, we find ourselves in the midst of another vision and interpretation this week in Daniel. Daniel 8 witnesses a battle between a rampaging ram and a goat who stands against him. The fight between the two animals is interpreted with cosmic importance to Daniel by the angel Gabriel. We will take this chapter as a way to think about the role of prophecy in our own faith. Do we think these prophecies apply to the present time? Have we ever heard someone speak a prophecy in our own time? Does God still speak to people in this way?
Sept. 5th, we are picking up our pace as we come to the end of Daniel. We will be reading chapters 9 and 10 ahead of our meeting on Sunday. These chapters continue the prophetic and apocalyptic section of Daniel with more predictions about the fate of Jerusalem and the surrounding kingdoms. Daniel gives us a long prayer in chapter 9 begging forgiveness for Israel and for the restoration of Jerusalem. This will hopefully give us an opportunity to discuss two aspects of our prayer life. Do we ask God for forgiveness for ourselves and for others? What is happening when we ask God for things in prayer?
Sunday mornings at 9:15, you can access our meeting by any of the following methods: