Aspects of liminality in the book of Daniel


Book of Daniel
literary criticism


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).


Basson, Alec. "'A king in the grass': liminality and inversion in Daniel 4:28-37," Journal for Semitics 18/1 (2009):1-14.

Collins, John J. Daniel, with an introduction to apocalyptic literature (Forms of Old Testament Literature). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.

Collins, John J. Daniel (Hermeneia). Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

Collins, John J. A short introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Second edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014.

Curruthers, Jo. "The liminal becoming of the rebel Vashti," in Mapping Liminalities. Thresholds in cultural and literary texts. Edited by Lucy Kay, Zoë Kinsley, Terry Phillips and Alan Roughley; Bern: Peter Lang, 2007.

Cuddon, John A. A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

Davies, Philip R. Daniel (Old Testament Guides). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1985.

Firmat, Gustavo P. Literature and Liminality. Festive readings in the Hispanic tradition. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.

Goldingay, John. Daniel (WBC). Dallas: Word Books, 1989.

Hammer, Raymond. The book of Daniel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

Kay, Lucy, Kinsley, Zoë, Phillips, Terry and Roughley, Alan eds. Mapping Liminalities. Thresholds in cultural and literary texts. Bern: Peter Lang, 2007.

Koch, Klaus. "Is Daniel among the prophets," Interpretation 39/2 (1985):117-130.

Krouwer, David J. Moses and liminality. University of Denver, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2015. Web:

Lee, Sang Hyun. From a liminal place: An Asian-American Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010.

Le Roux, Jurie H. A story of two ways. Thirty years of Old Testament scholarship in South Africa. Verba Vitae, Pretoria, 1993.

Nicholas, Dean A. The Trickster Revisited: Deception as a Motif in the Pentateuch. Bern: Peter Lang, 2009.

Oropeza, B.J. Paul and apostasy: eschatology, perseverance and falling away in the Corinthian congregation. Tübingen: Mohr, 2000.

Portier-Young, Anathea E. Apocalypse against Empire: Theologies of resistance in early Judaism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011.

Spangenberg, Izak J.J. "Paradigmaveranderinge in die Bybelwetenskappe. ’n Bydrae tot die gesprek tussen die Bybelwetenskappe en Sistematiese Teologie," Religie & Teologie 1/2 (1994):144-184.

Spariosu, Mihai I. The wreath of wild olive. Play, liminality, and the study of literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

Stahl, Nanette. Law and liminality in the Bible. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Trible, Phyllis. God and the Rhetoric of sexuality. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1978.

Turner, Victor. The ritual process: structure and anti-structure. Chicago: Aldine Transaction, 1969.

Turner, Victor. "Process, System, and Symbol. A new anthropological synthesis," Daedalus 106/3 (1977):61-80.

Valeta, David M. Lions and ovens and visions. A satirical reading of Daniel 1-6. Sheffield: Phoenix, 2008.

Van Deventer H.J.M., "Another look at the redaction history of the book of Daniel, or, reading Daniel from left to right," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 38/2 (2013):39-60.

Van Gennep, Arnold. The rites of passage (translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle I. Caffee). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).