The books of Ezekiel and Daniel provide some of the most memorable stories and images of the Old Testament.
Ezekiel, the wild prophet of the Babylonian exile, gave us images of the blazing wheeled throne of God leaving Jerusalem and the valley of dry bones that only God could restore to life. Struggling to prove his authenticity as a prophet, Ezekiel gives hard messages to the people of Israel that predict the fall of Jerusalem and punishment of all the nations. At the heart of the fiery speech and actions, however, is someone trying to explain how Jerusalem could fall and Israel could lose the Promised Land. In the end, there can be no mistake about his message of God’s power and the cost of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
The prophet Daniel’s message balances that of Ezekiel’s, offering stories of God’s faithfulness to those who keep the law. The dramatic stories of the three men in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion’s den, as well as the account of Susanna and the elders, show God’s saving power to those who are faithful. Daniel’s message is one of hope for a people living under severe oppression during and after exile. Combining storytelling, prophecy, and apocalyptic, this book puts history in the context of God’s larger plan for humanity.
Corrine L. Carvalho received her doctorate from Yale University and is professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Paul V. Niskanen is associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.