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The Narrative Frame of Daniel: a Literary Assessment

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One of the most popular types of Jewish literature during the Second Temple period was the Jewish novel.* The court-legends about Daniel and his three companions now collected in the narrative frame of the biblical book (Dan 1-6) are a formidable example of this highly popular genre.1 Biblical scholars have long been intrigued by the tales. A principal concern in the scholarly discourse has been the tales' socio-historical origin because, it is assumed, the origin of the texts will undoubtedly yield considerable information about their purpose. The search for origins is inextricably linked to the search for meaning. Yet the quest proves difficult. For one thing, the biblical text provides next to no historically reliable information about its origin and thus offers the investigators little help. Moreover, scholars from a growing number of departments in the Humanities have come to problematize the relationship between the text and the extra-textual reality. While in the past it may have been accepted to assume that there is an "unmediated" connection between the world of a text and that of its historical origin, such an assumption cannot go unchallenged any more. The question of reference is much more complex than traditional biblical scholarship has proposed.


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Affiliations: 1: Rice Unirversity


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