This article proposes that the use of first-person narration in the unusual literary structure of Dan 4 creates the most meaningful message for the diaspora audience of the book because of who Nebuchadnezzar was and when the events were purported to occur. It discusses the larger literary context of the chapter and its narrative structure, analyses the text and identifies important elements highlighted by the use of different narrative voices, and considers how the structure shapes the message of the chapter. Nebuchadnezzar was the king who defeated Israel’s God (Dan 1:1–2) and changed life forever for God’s people, yet at the peak of Nebuchadnezzar’s power, that same God humbled him such that he came to acknowledge the superior sovereignty of Israel’s God. By framing the account of this transformation as a proclamation in Nebuchadnezzar’s own words to the entire world, the author of Daniel vindicates the God of Israel before the whole world and transforms the king who embodied opposition to God into the paradigm of what a gentile king ought to be.
Bar-Efrat, Shimon. Narrative Art in the Bible. New York: T&T Clark, 2004.
Collins, John J. Daniel. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1993.
Fewell, Danna Nolan. Circle of Sovereignty: Plotting Politics in the Book of Daniel. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991.
Goldingay, John E. Daniel. WBC 30. Dallas: Word, 1989.
Lucas, Ernest C. Daniel. AOTC 20. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Montgomery, James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel. ICC. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1927.
Newsom, Carol A., with Brennan W. Breed. Daniel: A Commentary. OTL. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.
Niditch, Susan, and Robert Doran, “The Success Story of the Wise Courtier: A Formal Approach,” JBL 96 (1977): 179–93.
Pace, Sharon. Daniel. SHBC 17. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2008.
Seow, C. L. Daniel. Westminster Bible Companion. Louisville, KY: Westerminster John Knox, 2003.
Towner, W. Sibley. Daniel. IBC. Atlanta: John Knox, 1984.
Wills, Lawrence M. Wills. The Jew in the Court of a Foreign King: Ancient Jewish Court Legends. HDR 26. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.