A Chiasm in Daniel?

I’m putting this out there because I find it intriguing. I welcome comments–does this chiastic structure for the book of Daniel work? I know that it is slightly unbalanced with chapter 2 being matched by chapters 7-9 and chapter 1 being balanced by chapters 10-12. Does that invalidate it? Is it likely that Daniel intended this?


Daniel 1–Daniel Exiled

Daniel 2–Nebuchadnezzar’s Vision (Statue representing four kingdoms)

Daniel 3–Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 4–Nebuchadnezzar Humbled (seven years of insanity)

Daniel 5–Belshazzar Humbled (handwriting on the wall)

Daniel 6–Deliverance from the Lion’s Den

Daniel 7-9–Daniel’s Visions (Four kingdoms represented in various ways)

Daniel 10-12–Daniel’s Vision of the End of the Exile


Anyone interested in my sermons on Daniel, through chapter 10, can find them by scrolling down on this page.

10 replies on “A Chiasm in Daniel?”

  1. FWIW, I’m familiar with this chiasm for chapters 2-7:

    A Vision of major empire: image (2)
    B God’s deliverance of obedient servants: from the fiery furnace (3)
    C God’s punishment of a proud monarch: Nebuchadnezzar (4)
    C’ God’s punishment of a proud monarch: Belshazzar (5)
    B’ God’s deliverance of an obedient servant: from the lions’ den (6)
    A’ Vision of major empires: four beasts (7)

  2. Andy,

    I should have noted that the one you mention is widely recognized. Dillard and Longman have it in their OT Introduction. . .

    So this proposal adds to it and attempts to account for the whole book. What do you think?


  3. It looks like it works, though it raises some questions:
    1. How balanced should chiasms be, i.e., should large chunks be mirroring much smaller ones?
    2. How helpful and reliable are chiasms like this?
    3. Do you think that the theme of Daniel is the humbling of rulers? (I’ll play my hand here: When I studied this in 2004, I summarized the theme this way: “God is sovereign over all nations and individuals.”)

  4. Daniel chapter 2’s Kingdoms –

    The four kingdoms of Daniel 2:37-40 are NOT the four beasts/kings/kingdoms which will be upon the world scene at the feet and toes of the Daniel 2:31-36 Statue.

    The four end-time beasts/kings will all ascend from the bottomless pit together AT THE SAME TIME at the Fifth Trumpet, the first Woe. They will play their end-time role upon the world scene FROM the Fifth Trumpet THROUGH TO the battle of Armageddon and A SEASON AND TIME beyond the battle.

    After the battle of Armageddon, the first three beasts/kings of the four beasts/kings (Dan.7:3, Dan.7:17) WILL HAVE THEIR LIVES PROLONGED for a season and time BEYOND the destruction of the fourth beast/king and the false prophet at the battle of Armageddon (Dan.7:11-12, Re.19:20).

    Beasts of the Earth – Jude 1:10-12, Titus 1:12, 2 Pe.2:11-13

    Patricia © Bible Prophecy on the Web
    Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

  5. In general I rarely find chiasms helpful. However, I like the one Dillard/Longman include in their intro. Besides, I OCD on symmetry, and that one is balanced. I guess the real question is the author’s intent. Does the text support the structure? Or, is it forced? If authorial intent is unimportant, or the reader is simply trying to get a handle on the content, then a chiasm might be helpful. Just hold onto it loosely and be prepared to tweak it as your understanding of the text/structure grows.

  6. Jim,

    Ethelbert Bullinger published The Companion Bible between 1909 and 1922. He developed very detailed outlines of each book of the Bible to demonstrate its divine design. Here is his outline of Daniel:

    A ch 1 The Captivity of Judah: Historical Events Connected with its Beginning.
    B ch 2 The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar: The Beginning and Duration of Gentile Dominion.
    C ch 3 Daniel’s Companions: The “Fiery Furnace”. Angelic Deliverance.
    D ch 4 The First King of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the “Great Tree”.
    D ch 5 The Last King of Babylon: Belshazzar’s Vision of the “Hand”.
    C ch 6 Daniel Himself: The “Den of Lions”. Angelic Deliverance.
    B ch 7&8 The Dream and Vision of Daniel: The End of Gentile Dominion.
    A ch 9-12 The Desolations of Jerusalem: Prophetic Announcements Connected with their End.

    Contrary to Dumas, I often find chiams quite helpful.

    And now for something completely different: Congratulations on your appointment at Southern Seminary. Helen and I drive to Louisville a couple times a year; I hope we’ll see you and Jill sometime.


  7. Dr. Hamilton,
    I am interested in listening to your sermons from the book of Daniel, but I am afraid that the page for the sermons can’t be found. Where else might I be able to listen to the messages?


  8. Have you heard of Revelation being written in a Chiasimic form to correspond with Daniel? I’ve been in an interesting conversation with someone over this and they are telling me that Revelation would be understood in a totally different manner if we interpreted the book that way.

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