It has become a commonplace that by the Hellenistic period Judaism was a "religion of the book," with scriptural interpretation at its heart. As the result of a so-called Interpretive Revolution, reading of the Torah and Prophets had come to provide the warrant for both religious creativity and established practice. This article reexamines a key area of evidence for this assumption: the use of an explicit term for "interpretation" (pēšer) in the book of Daniel. None of the cases of explicit interpretation of revelation in Daniel fit the modes we find in Qumran or rabbinic literature. First, except for two words probably cited from Jeremiah in Dan 9, all the revealed material subject to explicit exegesis comes from Aramaic popular culture of the Babylonian and Persian periods or Second Temple historical speculation, not biblical texts. Second, exegesis here never involves reading a text, reflecting on it, then interpreting it. Instead, it is the result of two revelations, with the second providing a revision of and reflection on the first. If an interpretive revolution swept over the Jewish world during this period, it managed to bypass the book of Daniel. What Daniel tells us about Jewish interpretation during the watershed of the second century BCE is that it drew on scriptural language and ideas, but did so in order to interpret a wider world than the "native" Jewish patrimony of Scripture typically imagined in scholarship.


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