Bible Commentary: Daniel – Interview with Wendy Widder

Daniel Widder

Wendy Widder is an author, teacher, and scholar, who loves helping people understand the Bible better. Most of her study has been devoted to the Old Testament, and she is especially passionate about helping the church restore an appreciation and love for this oft neglected Bulk-of-the-Bible.

She has a PhD in Near Eastern Studies (University of the Free State), an MA in Hebrew and Semitic Studies (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and an MDiv with an emphasis in educational ministries (Grand Rapids Theological Seminary). She is the author of two books for single adults and a third book for Christian school teachers, which she co-authored with her father. Additionally, her master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation have been published, by Logos Bible Software and Walter de Gruyter, respectively.

Wendy currently works at Logos Bible Software, where she helped author half a dozen books for Lexham Press, the publishing arm of Logos.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Daniel?

I landed in Daniel studies less by choice than by necessity, but I’m thankful I did! My earliest life experiences with the book, aside from the familiar set of stories in chapters 1-6, were tied to end times charts and a fair bit of evangelical scare tactics. Understanding the book seemed far too complicated for an average Christian since even the experts kept changing the details about what would happen, who would be involved, and when events would transpire. As a result, I steered clear of Daniel for most of my adult life.

But when I was in my last year of dissertating, I needed cash and credentials on my CV, so I approached the dean at my alma mater seminary to see if he had any courses I could teach. He came back with “How about Daniel?”—and I mustered an enthusiastic “sure!” in response. After I taught that initial course (and loved it!), I ended up at the seminary teaching part-time for two years—and due to the school’s needs at the time, I ended up teaching the course multiple times. So, I guess the best answer to the question is that providence led me to this project!

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

My “Daniel” is in the Story of God series, a series designed for pastors and laypeople. My husband, an electrical engineer by trade, read the entire book on a six-day business trip—could hardly put it down—and thinks it should be required reading for all Christians, but he might be a little biased… I might be a little biased, too, but I think it’s really readable.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Daniel?

The series is committed to reading the biblical text in its ancient Near Eastern setting and also focusing on the continuing significance of the text for us. It is unique in that it also specifically addresses how the Old Testament texts reveal Christ, that is, how they fit within the full story of God as revealed in both Testaments. I hope that my Daniel commentary accomplishes this!

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar

I think the second half of the book, which is by far the more difficult half, was especially memorable. Maybe that’s just because I wrote it later, so I remember it better. 😉 Seriously, though, the first half of the book is such familiar terrain that it’s easy to forget the message because we’ve heard it so many times. But the crazy visions of chapters 7-12 were new terrain and as I approached them, I thought, “What on earth am I going to say about these that’s relevant for day-to-day life?” But as God is wont to do, He surprised me with the profound in-the-trenches relevance of the visions.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I wrote this commentary during a particularly difficult season of life that caught me by surprise—as many seasons of life do. 🙂 It was deeply and profoundly painful, and while my suffering did not register on the global scale, it was mine and it was what I needed to get through by the grace of God. Much of that grace came in the form of this writing project. As I spent a couple hours each day in the world of Daniel, where suffering made no sense but God was still in control, I was daily reminded that the One on the throne knew what was happening in my life and had it all in His hands. I took great comfort in this truth.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Daniel?

I appreciate Tremper Longman’s Daniel commentary in the NIVAC series, as well as Ernest Lucas’s in the IVP Apollos series. I’ve used both of them when teaching the book. James Hamilton’s With the Clouds of Heaven (IVP) is thought-provoking and useful as well, as are Sidney Greidanus’s Preaching Christ from Daniel (Eerdmans) and Bryan Chapell’s The Gospel According to Daniel (Baker).

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I’m presently working on a second Daniel commentary — this one for the ZECOT series (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament). You can follow me on my blog (wendywidder.com), though I have not been much of a blogger over the past two years. Life has gotten in the way!

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