Personal Thoughts About Commentaries (10): Daniel

As with the selections on the Book of Revelation, this list will display some bias towards Dispensational works, although I don’t want to fill it up with just those. One big reason for that is because Dispensationalists have not written many great commentaries on any book of the Bible. Often-as-not they have been content to furnish basic commentaries for the masses. The fact is that if a person wishes to go deep into an inspired author he will need to be conversant with many writers who he may not see eye to eye with. So here goes:

  1. Stephen Miller (NAC) – This is a mid-level Dispensational commentary that holds its own against the usual contenders (see below). Miller thinks through the text and asks the right questions. This is the most helpful interpretation of Daniel that I know.
  2. Leon Wood – Thorough and very competent. Good to have on hand when preaching through the book.
  3. John Goldingay (WBC) – He doesn’t believe the book was written in the 6th Century B.C. (he puts the author in the 2nd Century), and he comes up with some odd explanations (e.g. of the four kingdoms), so why have him so high on the list? Because he is an excellent exegete. Because he provides the depth one needs if the student is to know what mainline scholarship, plus much of evangelicalism, thinks about Daniel. And because it does contain a lot of insight.
  4. J. Paul Tanner (EEC) – I’m going out on a limb here, but by the looks of it Tanner’s forthcoming large commentary on Daniel is not to be missed. Tanner is a Hebrew specialist and careful scholar. I expect much from this work.
  5. Gleason Archer (old EBC) – Archer was a great OT scholar and linguist who wrote the still excellent A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. He makes very good use of his page limit and his work teems with insights.
  6. Andrew Steinmann (CC) – Steinmann is a Lutheran scholar you ought to know. He is very conservative and practical, but also analytical. I own several of his works and he seldom disappoints. This commentary is not brilliant on the prophetic portions, but is great on the early chapters and the authenticity of the Book. Focusses on the “Son of Man” theme.
  7. John Walvoord – A reliable, straightforward Dispensational commentary which does not interact much with other works. Walvoord was a top prophecy scholar.
  8. Peter Steveson – A very worthwhile effort from a conservative Dispensational scholar, with good word studies.
  9. Joyce Baldwin – Baldwin was well known for solid thinking and her pithy style. Again, the use of this work for the prophetic chapters is as a foil for the futurist view, but there is much helpful material in this little book.
  10. E. J. Young – Old, dogmatic, staunchly conservative amillennial work from a great OT scholar. This thorough commentary should not be overlooked.

The above list will not impress those readers who must have the latest cutting edge commentaries, but I stand by it. Of other works I like Zoeckler’s contribution to the Lange set. He is liberal but he is surprisingly useful. Keil’s work in the Keil and Delitzsch set is good. J. J. Collins is an expert on “apocalyptic” (for what it’s worth) and writes clearly, but he also writes as one who doesn’t believe the text he is writing about. E. C. Lucas can’t seem to make up his mind what the Book of Daniel is about, while Sinclair Ferguson is not as good as Young. J. A. Motyer is a great scholar and his small commentary on Daniel nearly squeezed out Baldwin’s.

Finally, Tony Garland is writing a massive commentary on Daniel, which, if he isn’t careful, will remain unfinished until we’re in the Kingdom. He’s just beginning chapter 5. A wise person would get to know this work and its numerous appended studies as soon as he can.

I forgot to add Robert D. Culver’s fine Daniel and the Latter Days. It is not a commentary, but a study of premillennial eschatology with emphasis on Daniel.

12 thoughts on “Personal Thoughts About Commentaries (10): Daniel”

  1. I have Walvoord, Steveson, Wood, Archer, Goldingay, and Young. My personal favorites are Steveson, Wood and Archer. Not many people seem to mention Leon Wood anymore. I really can’t find out much about the man. He appeared to die unusually early, and left some very valuable works behind.

    1. Right, Wood was well respected for his Survey of Israel’s History back in the day. The Metropolitan Tabernacle recommended it, together with his book Israel’s United Monarchy, which I have. London Theological Seminary placed his Survey on its list of required reads for incoming students. I recommend those works, plus his The Prophets of Israel, although his best book is The Distressing Days of the Judges in my opinion.

  2. Agree about Leon Wood. He always impresses me when I crack the covers of one of his publications. What about Allan A. MacRae, The Prophecies of Daniel (Singapore: Christian Life, 1991)? This volume is freely available in a Word document, a PDF file, and online. It is also available in a Kindle edition. See the Allan A. Macrae Memorial Library on the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute (IBRI) at https://ibri.org/macraelib.ibri.org/.

      1. Of course you’re quite right about Culver, Paul. More angled to defending premil than a commentary.

  3. Great list, as usual. What do you think of Longman, in nivac ? it is usually recommended by amilennists. Is it useful for the amillenial perspective or Baldwin is better ?
    Another recent commnetary is Newsom in OTL. Not sure about it, I understand it is fairly liberal.

  4. Baldwin is better than Longman in my opinion. I don’t like Longman much. He dances to a liberal tune too frequently. Newsom is certainly a scholar, but she is a feminist as well as a liberal, and that’s one strike too much.

  5. Paul, any thoughts on Paul Benware’s commentary: “Daniel: God’s Man With God’s Message – An Exegetical and Dispensational Commentary”?

    1. Jeffrey,

      In my opinion Benware’s book is reliable but basic. It’s a good accurate work to buy if one is starting to look into Daniel in more depth, but it is nowhere near the depth of Miller or Tanner or Garland.

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