Aspects of liminality in the book of Daniel

  • Hans Van Deventer North-West University
Keywords: Book of Daniel, liminality, literary criticism, Bible


Taken at face value the book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible seems to occupy a position outside the narrow confines often set in academic (and other) contexts to structure our knowledge, experience and ultimately the world we live in. Therefore, Old Testament scholars are debating how this book came to be reckoned among “the prophets”, while in the Hebrew Bible it appears in what is traditionally referred to as “the writings”. Furthermore, the notion of producing a unified text in more than one language (i.e. Hebrew and Aramaic) falls outside the formal, yet unwritten, expectations for literature, both modern and ancient. When one considers the content of the book, inter alia the exilic setting chosen for the book, the position(s) occupied by the main character(s) in the narratives, as well as the symbolic worlds created in the visions, an impression of a text outside, or at least at the border of, expected literary confines is gained. In this article, the concept of liminality will be applied to “explore ... the interpretive power, the hermeneutical reach of the concept” in the book of Daniel (see Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Literature and Liminality, 1986).

Author Biography

Hans Van Deventer, North-West University

Research Focus Area Ancient Texts: Text, Context, and Reception,

Faculty of Theology (Vaal Triangle Campus),

PO Box 1174,





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