Megan R. Remington


Throughout Daniel 8–10, Daniel is touched five times by human-like figures. By these touch interventions, he receives both physical and emotional strength which allow him to continue participating in the revelatory experience. This essay argues that embodied participation marked by the sense of touch not only legitimates an authentic revelation but allows Daniel to make meaning—or make sense—of his experiences. Through embodied affect, repeated interaction, and bodily likeness between the subjects involved, Daniel is an active participant in the revelatory process rather than merely a passive recipient, a feature that provides further nuance for the definition of a literary apocalypse.


Book of Daniel; Apocalypse; Embodiment; Affect Theory; Visions; Touch


The revelatory encounters attributed to Daniel are both vivid in sensorial description and enigmatic in meaning. Much scholarship has been committed to their geopolitical and linguistic significance, and focused on the texts as paradigmatic visual apocalypses within the diverse literary genre of Second Temple Judaism.[1] Less attention, however, has been paid to other descriptions of sensory experiences present in Daniel’s “beholdings,”[2] such as the phenomenon of touch.[3]Indicated by the Hebrew verb naga‘ in chapters 8–10 of the Masoretic text, Daniel is touched five times throughout these three visions by both named and unnamed human-like figures, and receives physical and emotional strength to endure the encounters. Daniel’s descriptions of touch are not expressed abstractly but as embodied sensations that affect his physical body and immediate environment, drawing attention to his participation in (rather than passive reception of) the revelatory experience. 

With this framework in mind, the following essay explores each incident of touch in Dan 8–10, and sheds light on the human body’s integrality in both Daniel’s experiences and those of the human-like figures who attend to him.[4] How the sense of touch is described in Daniel’s interactions relies, to a certain extent, on the biblical backdrops of Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 1, and passages throughout Ezekiel and Zechariah; it diverges at points, however, to explore alternate forms of tactile meaning-making. In this paper, I first provide the background of my data set and methodological influences, and then proceed to address each of the five examples of touch in Daniel 8–10. In the process, I highlight three modes of how touch makes meaning in Daniel 8–10—embodied affect, repeated interaction, and likeness in bodily form between subjects—and argue that each emphasises participation through the sense of touch. Finally, I demonstrate the innovation of the texts beyond their prophetic predecessors and underscore their influence on revelatory literature prevalent in the Second Temple period and throughout antiquity.[5] 

As a whole, the book of Daniel is rife with mixture—sensorial and otherwise. The first half of the Masoretic text (MT) of Daniel (chs. 1–6) is made up of “court tales,” whereas the second half (chs. 7–12) features Daniel’s revelations.[6] Furthermore, the MT preserves both Aramaic (chs. 2–7) and Hebrew (chs. 1, 8–12) sections, but its bilingualism does not correspond to its genre divisions. Although narratively set during the exile under the Babylonian and Persian empires, many of the events described correspond to the Antiochene persecutions of the mid-second century BCE and have a terminus ad quem of 164 BCE since the authors do not appear to know about the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. 

Generally speaking, Daniel’s encounters in chapters 7–12 revolve around the succession of foreign kingdoms and the re-sacralisation of the Jerusalem temple, and concern “an end time” (et qets).[7] And although ultimately the Seleucid king will be divinely deposed, Daniel is undone and sick for a number of days because of the devastating persecution and destruction that precede the king’s removal. To endure such distress, Daniel repeatedly requires endurance in order to carry the weight of such revelations, a strengthening effectuated only by way of tactile interaction. It is these five instances of touch—once in chapter 8, once in chapter 9, and three times in chapter 10—that guide my analysis. These tactile meaning-making encounters, I argue, shed light on how the genre boundaries of literary apocalypses might be adjusted by viewing them through the lenses of sensorial participation and embodied affect. 

Revelatory literature more broadly contains the subgenre known as literary apocalypses, which was developed most concretely by the Society of Biblical Literature Genres Project in 1979 and published by John J. Collins in Semeia.[8] The qualities of the literary genre have been widely accepted in biblical scholarship, and a number of ancient Jewish and early Christian texts have been categorised accordingly, which has elucidated the common themes and social contexts that they share.[9] Unfortunately, as is the case with any etic category, such definitions are limited in their scope and may, by an inadvertent focus on the minutiae of such definitions, obscure other dimensions of textual interpretation and meaning, especially those that pertain to embodied states and physical sensorium.[10] Most pertinent to this essay is one of Collins’s central elements of a literary apocalypse: an otherworldly mediator, usually an angel or other heavenly figure, who provides access to supernatural phenomena and explains the revelation to a human recipient.[11] 

With this in mind, I suggest two adjustments based on the evidence found in Daniel’s revelations. The first is to forego the generalisation of an “otherworldly being,” a term that results in the obfuscation of the human-like qualities prominent in textual descriptions.[12] I do not suggest, however, that this adjustment be applied to all revelatory literature. Zechariah’s visions, for example, repeatedly use the term malakh to describe the figures who interact with the seer, therefore making “heavenly messenger” a more appropriate designation. Daniel 8–10, on the other hand, does not use malakh at all. Instead, the chapters opt for distinctly human-like descriptions such as, “like the apparition of a man” (kemareh gaver) in Daniel 8:15; “one in human form,” (kidmut bene adam) as seen in 10:16; or even simply “the man” (haish), which is used for Gabriel in 9:21. Second, I propose that Daniel functions as a “participant” in his revelations rather than simply a “recipient.”[13] The latter term connotes passive acceptance or reception, whereas the former emphasises activity, mutual exchange, and agency.[14] Furthermore, as I demonstrate, Daniel’s participation is tactile, embodied, and entangled with the human-forms with whom he repeatedly interacts.

Without the sense of touch at the centre of each encounter in Daniel 8–10, Daniel is portrayed as incapacitated and unable to participate at all in the revelations he experiences. Therefore, this essay re-examines the mutual corporeality and shared sensorial field expressed in the relationship between the “touched” and the “touchers” in Daniel 8–10. My proposed adjustments described above problematise the assumption that the symbolic world of visions served only as a medium between “the mundane world of the seer and the otherworldly setting into which he is drawn,” as well as the flimsy dichotomies of earth and heaven, human and divine, and emotion and body that come with it.[15] Rather Daniel’s encounters serve as examples of boundary-blending experiences that complicate these binary categories by their description of the senses—especially tactile interactions—and the bodies that participate with them.

Touch, Affect, and Embodiment

Before proceeding to my textual analysis and the sense of touch as found in Dan 8–10, allow me to briefly explain what I mean by sensorial participation, embodied affect, and “human.” I use the term “participation” to highlight exchanges between subjects that are affected by and actively affect one another, are not limited to only two subjects, and can include a broader collaboration.[16] Unlike Jeremiah 1:9 wherein the prophet is indeed touched but mentions no physical or emotional response, Daniel’s sensory world is significantly expanded; he not only describes both physical and emotional repercussions from his experiences, but also participates in a type of mutuality between the human-like figures and himself.[17]

To express this physical-emotional experience from the perspective of affect theory, I use the term “embodied affect,” which may be described as “a body’s capacity to affect and to be affected.”[18] According to Maia Kotrosits, a method focussed on affect “appeals to personal experience” and is more interested in “constructive, imaginative (and gentle) modes of discourse.”[19] The first-person narration consistent throughout Daniel’s accounts highlights this emphasis on personal experience, as well as the detailed descriptions of emotional and physical responses which bookend almost every encounter.[20] Each revelatory experience, to varying degrees, begins and ends with Daniel’s feelings. 

In terms of what it means to be “human” or “human-like,” I acknowledge and embrace the theoretical turn toward the nonhuman in the last few decades, which has problematised previous conceptions of the human as a creature that is “consolidated, easily referenced, and transparent.”[21] A nonhuman perspective of the human—however contradictory that may sound—facilitates the distinctly polyvalent and ever-shifting descriptions of the bodies in Daniel 8–10 as unconventional, sensorially tactile, and affectively evocative.

The Significance of the Senses

In general, very little attention has been given to the sense of touch, let alone affective embodiment, in scholarship regarding Daniel’s beholdings which are usually situated in biblical studies.[22] But in disciplines of religion more broadly, the sense of touch is considered by some to be “the most important religious sense, the most integrative sense, incorporating the entire corporeal field of the body.”[23] For the five examples in Daniel 8–10,[24] touch functions not only as a cognitive faculty or mode of knowledge acquisition but is bound up in both physical and emotional “feeling,” and is experienced in participation with other subjects.[25] The Hebrew verb naga‘ is used over one hundred and fifty times throughout the Hebrew Bible and has a wide semantic range including to touch, afflict, draw near, arrive, or make contact.[26] Like smell and taste, tactility is a “proximity” sense and requires some type of corporeal existence in order to experience it.[27] It is also entangled with other senses including visual and aural faculties, thus affirming its multisensory quality as it seems to “occupy a larger expanse of modality space than the other major human senses.”[28] 

Other revelatory works that are multi-sensory can also help illuminate the way Daniel engages his senses. For example, Kotrosits describes John’s Apocalypse as “both emphatically visual and quite recalcitrant in its ability to be visualised. It exhibits strong investment in visualisation but repeatedly evokes descriptions that challenge the imagination.”[29] The resistance to concrete visualisation Kotrosits describes can also be applied to the Danielic corpora and is evident throughout the beholder’s encounters, an apparent paradox in his responses to the complexities of his experiences, of which he consistently “sees” but does “not understand.”[30] Where aural and visual faculties fail to illuminate Daniel in the midst of terrifying circumstances, tactile interaction stabilises him and, as seen in the texts below, brings him to his ”standing place.”[31]

Daniel 8: Embodied Affect

The first passage I examine with the sense of touch in mind is Daniel 8, which marks the second revelatory experience in the “apocalyptic” half, as well as the book’s transition back to Hebrew that continues until the end of the MT.[32] After a detailed visional description of a two-horned ram and a multi-horned he-goat (Dan 8:2–10), representative of the Persian-Mede empire and Alexander of Macedon’s conquests and successors, respectively, Daniel’s attention shifts exclusively to the aural sense. He records a question and answer dialogue between two “holy ones” regarding the length of time that the described disarray shall endure. Following the self-reflection of the narrator and desire to seek understanding (avaqshah vinah) regarding that which he saw and heard, Daniel 8:15–18 describe a sequence of layered senses for Daniel beginning with sight, then hearing, and finally touch:

Then I, Daniel, at my seeing of the vision (hehazon), sought understanding. Then behold, someone was standing before me like an apparition of a man. And I heard a human voice in the midst of the Ulai. It called out and said, “Gabriel, help this one understand the vision (hamareh).” So he came beside my standing place; and upon his arrival, I was terrified and fell on my face. He said to me, “Understand, O human, that the vision (hehazon) is for an end time.” As he was speaking to me, I was put in a trance, face to the ground; then he touched me (vayiga bi) and caused me to stand in my standing place. (Daniel 8:15–18)[33]

In this passage, each of Daniel’s sensorial experiences are rooted in tactility and heightened “feeling.” Daniel’s feelings, in this case, identify or describe an emotional state of fright and confusion. Such feelings are prevalent in apocalyptic literature and dream-visions in general, and are usually accompanied by a physical manifestation such as paralysis or becoming mute.[34] As seen above, it is within the matrix of this “feeling” that the beholder’s body is affected; Daniel is both undone by the proximity of the man-apparition and subsequently restored by his touch.[35] 

After the feeling of terror ensues, Daniel falls on his face when Gabriel (gavriel), the man-like one, approaches and addresses Daniel directly by the name ben adam, “human one.” The book of Daniel is the only canonical book in the Hebrew Bible to give angelic messengers proper names. As such, Gabriel’s name is likely a play on the Hebrew word gabor for both “strength” and “man” as seen in the attribution in Daniel 8:15, “an apparition of a man (gaver).” Modelled after Ezekiel’s visions in its language, Gabriel’s address to Daniel does not appear to be diminutive as in “mere mortal,” but rather a designation in line with other supra-human figures such as Gabriel, various messengers, and perhaps the “human-one” in Dan 7. When analysed closely and with attention to the narrative’s shifting senses, the interactions between Gabriel, Daniel, and the human voice from the midst of the river are dynamic, full of movement and exchange. Furthermore, the shared human-likeness between Daniel and Gabriel in combination with their progressive interaction and affective language, brings attention to the two figures’ mutual participation in sensation rather than only presuming their dissimilarity as human versus angelic. In this way, Gabriel is highlighted as more explicitly “human-like” or “man-like” rather than altogether “otherworldly,” as the definition of a literary apocalypse would require. 

An additional faculty introduced immediately before the touch incident of Dan 8 is that of a “trance” (radam), an involuntary state that clearly alters both Daniel’s physical and mental capabilities. In Daniel 8:18, nirdamti may be translated as “I was put in a trance” or “I was made unconscious,” whereas other usages of the root are often translated as being in “a deep sleep.”[36] Similar to the more elaborately described incident in Daniel 10:9–10 which I will discuss shortly, it is Gabriel’s dialogue with Daniel that first instigates his trance, causing him to fall on his face to the ground. Daniel narrates their interactions, explaining that “then he touched me and caused me to stand in my standing-place (vayiga bi vayaamideni al omdi).” In the course of Zechariah’s visions, the prophet also falls into a sleep-like trance or swoon wherein the messenger must stir or rouse him back into a wakeful state.[37] Although touch may be implied in this stirring, it is not explicit what type of contact is made between Zechariah and the angel. It occurs as an isolated incident and seemingly is unrelated to the other visual-aural experiences throughout the rest of the chapters. The touch Daniel describes, therefore, stands out among other prophetic literature and is framed as a remedy for his stricken state and as a source of strength, enabling him to interact more fully with the man, Gabriel. Moreover, there is no indication that this touch is metaphorical in any way but is quite literal and immanently sensed by Daniel’s body.[38] 

As seen in this encounter, the sense of touch also functions to make knowledge-sharing possible. Nicole L. Tilford discusses tactile interaction in biblical wisdom literature as a type of knowledge transference, wherein one may “grasp,” “seize,” or “take” the knowledge in their proximity and is “is by no means a distant, passive endeavour.”[39] Similarly, dream-visions like those in Daniel present the experience of knowledge acquisition as directly related to the act of touch, as seen in Daniel 8:18b–19a: “… then he touched me and made me stand in my standing place. He said, behold I make known to you (modiakha) that which will be.” Although Tilford does not use this term, I argue that the beholdings in Daniel 8–10 depend on tactile participation in order to properly and fully acquire the revelation presented, expanding the sensorial range of revelatory literature beyond only aural and visual modalities.[40] 

Daniel’s encounter in chapter 8 concludes with his self-reflection describing his physical state after Gabriel’s explanation of the ram and he-goat, reminding Daniel in verse 26 to “keep close” or “shut up” the vision (stom hekhazon). In addition to being “ruined and sick for days,” Daniel is thoroughly disconcerted and has no understanding of what he saw, heard, or felt in his experience.[41] Shock and fear are not unusual for prophets and revelators, especially in the traditions from which Daniel draws; but extensive descriptions of affective and emotional distress are less common. One such exception is Ezekiel, which provides a similar example to Daniel: Ezekiel “sat for seven days, desolated in the midst of them.”[42] Interestingly, Daniel’s inner or emotional desolation (eshtomem) is derived from the same root in as an expression in Daniel 8:13, a difficult and textually corrupt sentence, which describes “the transgression that causes desolation” (hapesha shomem tet). Thus, Daniel’s witness of the announcement of the desolation of the temple results in his own self-reflexive desolation. The beholder is left devoid of resolution and understanding, emphasising the embodied affects of revelatory experience and Daniel’s sensorial participation in it.

Daniel 9: Repeated Interaction

Compared to the other revelation and tactile encounters in the Danielic corpora, Daniel 9 is unique. Narratively set during the reign of Darius the Mede, chapter 9 is most unlike other encounters in the sense that its structure consists of an introduction and Daniel’s “understanding” (binoti) of the seventy years in Daniel 9:2, an extended confessional prayer in 9:4–19, and Gabriel’s visit and corrected interpretation concerning Jerusalem’s desolation. Before turning to the incident of touch in Daniel 9:21, it is worth noting that the setting of Daniel’s prayer and visitation are preceded by a first-person description consisting of “supplicative prayer and pleading, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Dan 9:3).[43] The narration is devoid of the emotional elements present in other chapters but nevertheless draws attention to the embodied and tactile methods of Daniel’s prayer; these features orient the reader to Daniel’s physical and sensorial state.

In the midst of Daniel’s prayer, indicated by a string of participles pertaining to his prayer, “the man, Gabriel” (haish gavriel) enters the scene in Daniel 9:21: “in swift flight, he made contact with me (nogea elay) during the time of the evening offering.” This point of interaction by way of touch is distinct from the other examples in Daniel since it is not preceded by an explicit need for revivification—excepting the broader context of his supplication and fasting—nor does it mention Daniel’s response to Gabriel’s touch.[44] The use of the preposition “el” also distinguishes this incident from those in Daniel 8 and later in chapter 10, hence the slight difference in translation. The encounter is similar, however, in that it affirms that this is indeed the same figure with whom Daniel interacted in the previous experience (asher raiti vehazon bathilah). By emphasising a sense of continuity by repeated interaction, the sense of touch serves as a literal point of contact or site for recurring revelations. The contact by touch, I suggest, serves to mark Daniel’s prayer being heard and to authenticate the reality of the interpretation that Gabriel provides, namely regarding the seventy weeks of years. Moreover, Gabriel’s repeated visitations and tactile connections with Daniel function as affirmations of the essentiality of Daniel’s bodily participation in the legitimation of his revelations.

Daniel 10: Likeness in Bodily Form

Daniel 10 introduces another revelation, one that bears similarity to chapter 8 but is expanded in its description of Daniel’s immediate setting and the details of the encounter itself.[45] Three of the five touch incidents are present in this account and each one builds upon the previous episode, a pattern that is congruous with the motif just demonstrated regarding repeated interaction and its impact on tactile meaning-making. After the third-person narrator’s superscript in Daniel 10:1 which gives the date and context of the vision, the first-person voice attributed to Daniel promptly returns:

In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. Fine bread I did not eat, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth; and I did not anoint myself with oil until the three weeks were complete. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, I was on the side of the great river, (that is, the Tigris); I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold! A certain man was dressed in linen, his loins were girded with Uphaz gold, and his body was like tarshish. His face was like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and legs like an eye of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a crowd. (Dan 10:2–6)

According to this passage, the state of Daniel’s body during his mourning period is relevant to the experience that follows. Once again, the word choices draw the reader’s attention to the heightened sensorial capacity that occurs with ascetic or deprivational practices, especially his tactile receptors. The above description has similarities to Daniel 9 related to Daniel’s “fasting, sackcloth, and ashes,” but is expanded and personalised. The text also spatially orients the reader to Daniel’s position by the river. Both of the visions in chapters 8 and 10 occur in close proximity to flowing water, the Ulai and the Tigris, although more detail of Daniel’s physical state is described in the latter experience.[46] Suddenly Daniel “lifts his eyes” and proceeds to describe “a certain man” (ish ehad) much like the ones in Ezekiel’s encounters.[47]

In his description of this man’s body, Daniel’s multisensorial range is exhibited throughout; one can almost follow Daniel’s eyes as he scans the subject of his vision beginning with the outermost layer of his clothing, moving toward the centre of the face and eyes, and then zooming back out to conclude with the man’s voice.[48] In terms of tactile metaphors, the two central descriptors—the face of lightning and eyes like flaming torches—may evoke a feeling of heat, which are qualities only ascertained by the sense of touch. In this way, the “visional” elements of Daniel’s encounter are grounded in tactile language. Furthermore, polished metals such as gold and bronze would also be associated with heat and a feeling of pulsing proximity, like that of being near to a metal worker. 

Following Daniel’s multisensorial narration, Daniel 10:7–18 leads the reader to the three touches, which I have emphasised in italics:

I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. Fine bread I did not eat, nor I, Daniel, alone saw the apparition. The people who were with me did not see the apparition, but a great sense of anxiety did fall upon them, and they fled into hiding.So, I alone remained; and I beheld this great apparition. No strength remained in me, and my countenance changed to dismay; I retained no strength.Then I heard the sound of his words; and in hearing the sound of his words, I was put in a trance on my face, face to the ground.But behold, a hand touched me and roused me to my knees and the palms of my hands.He said to me, “Daniel, beloved man, understand the words that I am speaking to you. Stand in your standing place, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling.

He said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was opposing me twenty-one days. But behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the kings of Persia. So I have come to cause you to understand what will happen to your people in the last days. For there is still a vision for [those] days.” While he was speaking these words with me, I put my face groundward and was made mute.Then, behold, one in human form was touching my lips, and I opened my mouth and spoke, and said to the one standing across from me, “My lord, in the apparition, I was changed, convulsions came upon me, and I have retained no strength.How can my lord’s servant converse with my lord about this? Because as of now, no power to stand is in me and no breath remains in me.” So, the man-like apparition continued; he touched me and strengthened me.He said, “Do not fear, beloved man; peace be with you. Be strong, indeed, strong!” When he spoke to me, I strengthened myself and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (Dan 10:7–18)

After clarifying that Daniel was the only one to behold the vision of the metallically bejeweled man, the text’s attention returns to Daniel’s bodily and emotional response to the encounter. With no strength remaining and his dignity undone, he again “falls face first into a trance”[49] at the sound of the man’s words and utilises similar language to what we have seen just a few chapters before. The revivifications by touch in Daniel 10 bear similarity to chapter 8 but with a few points of departure.[50] The first difference between the two introductory accounts is that Daniel 10:10 begins with hineh in classic prophetic style,reorienting the reader to the immediacy of the encounter. Second, an indefinite hand is the mediator of touch (nagah) as well as the rousing (vatnieni) as indicated by both verbs being feminine singular. Finally, instead of made to stand in “his standing place” as in Daniel 8:18, chapter 10 depicts Daniel being brought to his hands and knees and instructed to then bring his self to a standing position in the following verse, which he manages to do albeit while trembling (Dan 10:11). Carol Newsom suggests that Daniel on his knees and hands indicates “the greater gravity of the encounter” compared to the similar incident of chapter 8, and focuses on Daniel’s “weakness and distraught emotional state” as the reason for the subsequent two touches.[51] The fact that the gravity of the encounter necessitates an equally corporeal response from the messenger, however, only makes sense when the embodied quality of Daniel’s affective response is considered and further emphasises the repetition of three touches occurring in chapter 10.

Once Daniel is able to compose himself and stand in his place, Gabriel enumerates his encounter with the chief ruler of Persia and explains his delay in attending to Daniel presumably over the last three weeks of his mourning and fasting, Daniel is once more struck with a seemingly involuntary response to Gabriel’s words. Daniel places his face on the ground and becomes mute, which provides reason for in the second touch of Daniel 10 and this time to his lips. Most reminiscent of Isaiah and Jeremiah, tactile attention is given to Daniel’s mouth.[52] His experience differs from theirs, however, in that the touch serves to strengthen him and restore his sensorial and communicative faculties so as to continue his conversation with Gabriel and the unnamed figure. The unnamed “toucher” appears to be the same one who first touched Daniel with his hand in 10:10, described in verse 16 as “one in the likeness of humans” (kidmut bene adam).[53] Daniel’s mouth is then opened and he addresses “the one standing before him,” which likely refers back to Gabriel, explaining that the apparition has caused pangs to come upon him. This address hearkens to verse 8 where Daniel narrates his distress for the reader using the same two verbs (hapakh and ‘atsar) and even the exact phrase “there was no strength left in me.” His expressions remain only in Daniel’s thoughts until verse 16 when he articulates them aloud directly to Gabriel. 

At Daniel’s verbal confession of physical weakness, a person in the apparition of a human touches him for the third and final time, and thus Daniel is revived. For the first time in Daniel’s vision, the speech of this second being actually gives strength to Daniel instead of taking it away or rendering him unconscious as though in a trance. Daniel notes the return of his strength and addresses “my lord,” which is likely Gabriel. At this point, all three of the agents present in the interaction have spoken aloud and participated in mutual exchange. Here another distinction arises between the definitional boundaries of a literary apocalypse and what is clear in Daniel’s encounters. Instead of a revelatory disclosure from one otherworldly being to one human, Daniel 10 features three very human-like beings interacting on the same sensorial plane and ultimately dependent upon the sense of touch to sustain their ability to relate.[54]

By looking beyond the one-to-one interactions we are trained to see, the hierarchical binaries of heaven-earth, spiritual-physical, angel-human, and mind-body are swiftly problematised by the complexity of multiple senses and multiple subjects that texts such as Daniel 8–10 feature. One might be tempted to consider the sense of touch, or even the body in general, as a type of medium or mediator between two subjects. But instead of reinforcing a Cartesian divide of mind and body, i.e. a mind who “possesses” a body, I emphasise that tactile perception is not separate from any subject or even the experience itself. Touch is, as expressed throughout the encounters of Daniel, experienced and made meaningful by its repeated, diverse, and affectively impactful invitation to participation.[55]


In drawing attention to other senses beyond sight, the body in the totality of its sensorium re-emerges in Daniel 8–10 as a locus for experience, knowing, revelation, and exchange. Without having to look too hard, Daniel’s encounters present to the reader a fully perceptible, and yet elusive, participatory interaction by the use of verb naga‘ and employ it as the sense through which all participants can know and be made known. Daniel’s revelations are perceptible in the fact that he is able to endure them through the sense of bodily touch, and elusive in the sense that they are experienced as “feelings,” which oscillate between physical and emotional expressions.

By considering sensorial embodiment as described in Daniel 8–10 through the lens of touch, I have demonstrated that the human body participates in revelatory experience in an integral way. Touch is prominent in the descriptions of both Daniel’s own felt experience, as well as the bodies of the human-like ones who interact with him. By highlighting alternate modes of tactile meaning-making—affective embodiment, repeated interaction, and likeness in form between subjects—the definitive boundaries of literary apocalypses are broadened and certainly more blurred. And while scholarship’s gaze has been largely focused on the sense of sight and what is seen within dream-visions, apocalypses, and revelatory accounts, Daniel 8–10 feature a multifaceted sensorium that challenge this sense-monopoly. The beholder’s embodied participation functions as an indispensable piece of their revelatory experiences, and demonstrates how touch becomes not only a mode of knowledge-acquisition but remains the primary meaning-maker of the content of the revelation itself. 


Amanda M. Davis Bledsoe. “The Relationship of the Different Editions of Daniel: A History of Scholarship.” Currents in Biblical Research 13 (2015): 175–90.

Callard, Felicity and Constantina Papoulias. “Affect and Embodiment.” Pages 246–62 in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Edited by Susannah Radstone and Bill Schwarz. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010.

Chidester, David. Religion: Material Dynamics. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018.

Classen, Constance, ed. The Book of Touch. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2005.

Classen, Constance, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination. London: Routledge, 1998.    

Collins, John J. The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016 

Collins, John J. “The Genre Apocalypse Reconsidered.” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum/Journal of Ancient Christianity 20 (2016): 21–40. doi:10.1515/zac-2016-0001.

Collins, John J. Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

Collins, John J. “Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre.” Semeia 14 (1979): 1–51.

Grabbe, Lester L. “Prophetic and Apocalyptic: Time for New Definitions and New Thinking.” Pages 107–33 in Knowing the End from the Beginning: The Prophetic, the Apocalyptic, and Their Relationships. Edited by L. L. Grabbe and Robert D. Haak, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series46. London: T&T Clark, 2003.

Farnell, Brenda. Dynamic Embodiment for Social Theory: “I Move Therefore I Am.” London: Routledge, 2012. 

Flannery-Dailey, Frances. “The Body and Ritual Reconsidered.” In Experientia, Volume 1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2008.

Flannery-Dailey, Frances. “Lessons on Early Jewish Apocalypticism and Mysticism from Dream Literature.” In Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism. Edited by April D. DeConick. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2006.

Flannery, Frances, Colleen Shantz, and Rodney Alan Werline, eds. Experientia, Volume 1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008.Fulkerson, Matthew, “Touch,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 
(Summer 2020 Edition), Edited by Edward N. Zalta.

Frisch, Alexandria. “The Apocalyptic Moses of Second Temple Judaism.” Hebrew Union College Annual 90 (2019): 185–207. doi:10.15650/hebruniocollannu.90.2019.0185.

Frisch, Alexandria. The Danielic Discourse on Empire in Second Temple Literature. Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Harkins, Angela Kim. Experiencing Presence in the Second Temple Period: Revised and Updated Essays. Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology 111. Leuven: Peeters, 2022. 

Harkins, Angela Kim. “The Function of Prayers of Ritual Mourning in the Second Temple Period.” Pages 80–101 in Functions of Psalms and Prayers in the Late Second Temple Period. Edited by Mika S. Pajunen and Jeremy Penner. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007. doi:10.1515/9783110449266-006.

Heller-Roazen, Daniel. The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation. New York: Zone Books, 2007. 

Horsley, Richard A. Scribes, Visionaries and the Politics of Second Temple Judea. Louisville:, KY Westminster John Knox, 2007. 

Humphrey, Edith L. The Ladies and the Cities: Transformation and Apocalyptic Identity in Joseph and Aseneth, 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse and the Shepherd of Hermas. Sheffield: Sheffield AcademicPress, 1995.

Jassen, Alex P. Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism. Leiden: Brill,2007.

Kosmin, Paul J. Time and Its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018.

Kotrosits, Maia. “Seeing is Feeling: Revelation’s Enthroned Lamb and Ancient Visual Affects.” Biblical Interpretation 22 (2014): 473–502. doi:10.1163/15685152-02245P06.

Lacocque, André. The Book of Daniel. Translated by David Pellauer. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1979. 

McLay, Timothy. “The Old Greek Translation of Daniel IV–VI and the Formation of the Book of Daniel.” Vetus Testamentum 55 (2005): 304–323. doi:10.1163/1568533054359823

Mermelstein, Ari. “Constructing Fear and Pride in the Book of Daniel: The Profile of a Second Temple Emotional Community.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 46 (2015), 449–83.

Merrill Willis, Amy C. “Heavenly Bodies: God and the Body in the Visions of Daniel.” Pages 13–37 in Bodies, Embodiment, and Theology of the Hebrew Bible. Edited by S. Tamar Kamionkowski and Wonil Kim. New York: T & T Clark, 2010. 

Moore, Stephen D. Gospel Jesuses and Other Nonhumans: Biblical Criticism Post-poststructuralism. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press. 2017.

Newsom, Carol A., with Brennan Breed. Daniel: A Commentary. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014. 

Niditch, Susan. The Symbolic Vision in Biblical Tradition. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980. 

Perrin, Andrew B. The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.

Saachi, Paolo. Jewish Apocalyptic and Its History. Translated by William J. Short. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.

Sanders, E.P. “The Genre of Palestinian Jewish Apocalypses.” Pages 447–59 in Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism, Uppsala, August 12-17, 1979. Edited by D. Hellholm. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1983. 

Seigworth, Gregory J. and Melissa Gregg. “An Inventory of Shimmers.” Pages 1–26 in The Affect Theory Reader. Edited by Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. 

Segal, “Monotheism and Angelology in Daniel.” Pages 405–20 in One God, One Cult, One Nation: Archaeology and Biblical Perspectives. Edited by Reinhard G. Kratz and Hermann Spieckmann, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 405. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010. doi:10.1515/9783110223583.405.

Shantz, Colleen and Rodney A. Werline, eds. Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012.

Shantz, Colleen. “Opening the Black Box: New Prospects for Analyzing Religious Experience.” In Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience. Edited by Colleen Shantz and Rodney A. Werline. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2012.

Tilford, Nicole L. Sensing World, Sensing Wisdom: The Cognitive Foundations of Biblical Metaphors. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2017.

[1] For example, see Paul J. Kosmin, Time and Its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018), esp. 160–63 on the importance of historical periodisation in Daniel and its place among empires. For a thorough consideration of Daniel’s encounters in both their geopolitical settings and linguistic environs among the other Aramaic documents discovered at Qumran, see Andrew B. Perrin, The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015).

[2] Through this paper, I try to avoid the term “visions” to describe Daniel’s encounters in order to draw attention to the other sensorial faculties involved. “Beholding” is particularly useful in this case since its meaning already possesses a tactile sense, that is, a grasping or seizing of the subject-object being be-held.

[3] John J. Collins has delineated the spatial and temporal axes of literary apocalypses in his influential piece, “Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre,” Semeia 14 (1979), 1–51, and Frances Flannery-Dailey has expanded Collins’s definition to include an ontological axis; see “Lessons on Early Jewish Apocalypticism and Mysticism from Dream Literature,” in Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism, ed. April D. DeConick (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2006), 241–42. It would be helpful, as I demonstrate throughout this essay, to also turn our attention to the sensorial plane, a category that has not sufficiently been applied to apocalypses, revelatory, or dream-vision literature.

[4] Flannery emphasises the body as one of the primary sites of religious experience instead of “simply the mechanism for expressing a symbolic action.” See “The Body and Ritual Reconsidered,” in Experientia, Volume 1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2008), 15–16. Cognitive studies of religion, as highlighted by Colleen Shantz in her introduction to volume 2 of the above series, “are describing human universals in ways that give us access to a bodily givenness as well,” and that “even language is body-bound.” See “Opening the Black Box: New Prospects for Analyzing Religious Experience” in Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience, eds. Colleen Shantz and Rodney A. Werline(Atlanta: SBL Press, 2012), 13.

[5] Daniel’s revelations are often noted for their innovations in theological content, such as the resurrection of the dead and the four-kingdom schema, or in their method of communication, such as ex eventu prophecy or pseudepigraphy, rather than their emphasis on the sensorial faculties of the body. And although prophet-like, Alex P. Jassen notes that figures such as Daniel and Enoch are more akin to “inspired individuals who are recipients of modified means of divine revelation,” and that they “are good examples of the shifting concept of prophetic figures and revelation in the Second Temple period.” Alex P. Jassen, Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 2007),198.

[6] Further complicating the corpora’s textual history and reception, two Greek versions are extant—the Old Greek and Theodotion—which feature additions to, extensions, and variations of the Hebrew and Aramaic Daniel now preserved in the MT. For a summary of these versions, see Amanda M. Davis Bledsoe, “The Relationship of the Different Editions of Daniel: A History of Scholarship,” in Currents in Biblical Research 13 (2015): 175–90. Fragments of various chapters were also discovered among the Qumran scrolls. Since the present analysis focuses on the Hebrew verb naga‘, I do not examine the differences between the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek versions at this time. How the versions deal with angels, humans, and other figures depicted in the texts, however, is worthy of further investigation. For an additional summary of the relevant issues to the Greek versions, see Timothy McLay, “The Old Greek Translation of Daniel IV–VI and the Formation of the Book of Daniel,” Vetus Testamentum 55 (2005): 304–23.

[7] Despite their similarities and rough thematic timeline, I do not mean to suggest that Dan 7–12 are a cohesive literary unit that was composed by a single author. For an analysis of their textual relationship and a cautionary word against assuming “identical provenance,” see Michael Segal, “Monotheism and Angelology in Daniel,” in One God, One Cult, One Nation: Archaeology and Biblical Perspectives, eds. Reinhard G. Kratz and Hermann Spieckmann, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 405 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010), 405–20.

[8] John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016), 3–10, and “Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre,” Semeia 14 (1979), 1–51.

[9] For alternate views in the last fifty years that do not accept the influential definition proposed by Collins, see Lester L. Grabbe, “Prophetic and Apocalyptic: Time for New Definitions and New Thinking,” in Knowing the End from the Beginning: The Prophetic, the Apocalyptic, and Their Relationships, eds. L. L. Grabbe and Robert D. Haak, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series 46 (London: T&T Clark, 2003), 107–33; Richard A. Horsley, Scribes, Visionaries and the Politics of Second Temple Judea (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2007); Paolo Saachi, Jewish Apocalyptic and Its History, trans. William J. Short(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997); E.P. Sanders, “The Genre of Palestinian Jewish Apocalypses,” in Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism, Uppsala, August 12–17, 1979, ed. D. Hellholm (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1983), 447–59.See also the summary of recent scholarships in Alexandria Frisch, The Danielic Discourse on Empire in Second Temple Literature. (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 13–14, as well as the slightly dated, yet helpful, summary in Edith L. Humphrey, The Ladies and the Cities: Transformation and Apocalyptic Identity in Joseph and Aseneth, 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse and the Shepherd of Hermas (Sheffield: Sheffield AcademicPress, 1995), 13–18.

[10] Jassen also addresses the limits of genre when considering wisdom and revelation across Jewish literature from the Second Temple period (Jassen, Mediating, 275).

[11] Collins writes, “‘Apocalypse’ may be defined as a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world” (Collins, “Apocalypse,” 22). In an expansion of this definition, Collins later states that “the revelation of a supernatural world and the activity of supernatural beings are essential to all apocalypses”; Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 6. Collins has acknowledged additional critiques of his definition by Carol Newsom and others, in John J. Collins, “The Genre Apocalypse Reconsidered,” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum/Journal of Ancient Christianity 20 (2016): 21–40, but his responses largely concern the definition’s limitations of classification and genre.

[12] On the ontological axis that Frances Flannery-Dailey explores, a figure can slide between human and angelic. Her textual examples include those that concern humans becoming angelified as in 2 Enoch and the Testament of Levi, as well as the beings that appear more human-like, as in the cases of Dan 8–10. See Flannery-Dailey, “Lessons,” 238, 241–42.

[13] Jassen identifies Daniel “as an active participant in the process of revelatory exegesis” exemplified in Dan 9 but does not extend his participation beyond that. See Jassen, Mediating, 272 and 214–21 for Jassen’s full summary.

[14] Flannery-Dailey points out that “language about ‘human recipients’ may be misleading if interpreters assume that the recipients of revelation are fully ‘humans,’ just as interpreters must not only think of nonhuman angels as ‘otherworldly mediators’” (Flannery-Dailey, “Lessons,” 242). Moreover, the term “recipient” does not account for the preparatory actions taken by Daniel—such as prayer, fasting, supplicative entreaty, and ritual mourning—made explicit in Dan 9–10, and which, as Angela Kim Harkins observes, not only “cultivated a visionary experience of the angel Gabriel in such a state of heightened receptivity,” but of perceptivityand interaction. See Angela Kim Harkins, “The Function of Prayers of Ritual Mourning in the Second Temple Period,” in Functions of Psalms and Prayers in the Late Second Temple Period, eds. Mika S Pajunen and Jeremy Penner (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007), 83.

[15] Jassen, Mediating, 216.

[16] As seen in the exchange in Dan 8:15–16, the apparition of a man (kemareh gaver) and the human voice from the midst of the river (kol adam ben ulay) that instructs Gabriel to provide understanding for Daniel’s vision interact among themselves apart from, yet are observed by, Daniel. Dan 12 also provides an example of participation beyond two subjects, mentioning two additional figures who stand on either side of the river (shenaim aherim), a man clothed in linen that likely refers back to Gabriel (ish levush habadim), and the great prince, Michael (mikhael hasar hagadol), who is not present. 

[17] Jeremiah’s experience involves a single touch to his mouth from the divine hand, accompanied by the statement, “Now I have put my words in your mouth,” implying a direct transmission to which Jeremiah is a passive recipient. His sensorial engagements that follow in Dan 1:11–13 are strictly limited to aural and visual faculties. 

[18] Gregory J. Seigworth and Melissa Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” in The Affect Theory Reader, eds. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (New York: Duke University Press, 2010), 2.

[19] Maia Kotrosits, “Seeing is Feeling: Revelation’s Enthroned Lamb and Ancient Visual Affects,” Biblical Interpretation 22 (2014), 477.

[20] In comparison to other revelatory experiences found in the MT, Daniel’s accounts are distinct in their descriptions of the beholder’s emotional state, as well as the emphasis given to the relational aspect between the touched and the toucher. Susan Niditch comments on this development saying that, “The divinatory pattern which asserted itself in the visions of Zechariah is now filled out with a description of the seer’s emotional state and with a better indication of setting”; Susan Niditch, Symbolic Vision, (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980), 11.

[21] Rebekah Sheldon, an affect theorist, outlines her definition of the type of human we are “turning” away from, and that this shift “must also include an understanding of the human as itself nonhuman, caught up in molecular flows of matter and force—rhythmic milieu, repeated refrains, gestural affordances, hormonal fluxes, audiovisual surround”; quoted by Steven D. Moore in Gospel Jesuses and Other Nonhumans: Biblical Criticism Post-poststructuralism (Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2017), 7. For a summary of classical philosophy’s take on one aspect of this discussion—that of the human-animal relationship—see Daniel Heller-Roazen, The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation (New York: Zone Books, 2007),91–99. 

[22] The senses more broadly have also been neglected in studies of Jewish apocalypses, as well as the notion of what we can come to understand of ancient articulations of “religious experience.” As an exception, see the recent collection of essays by Angela Kim Harkins, Experiencing Presence in the Second Temple Period: Revised and Updated Essays, Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology 111 (Leuven: Peeters, 2022); see also the edited volumes by Frances Flannery, Colleen Shantz, and Rodney Alan Werline, eds. Experientia: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity, Volumes 1–2 (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008).

[23] See David Chidester’s Religion: Material Dynamics (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018), esp. 85–88 and 179–94.

[24] Apart from the five references I examine, the verb naga‘ appears three additional times in the “apocalyptic” half of MT Daniel. In Dan 8:5, Daniel observes the second animal in this particular vision, the he-goat (tsefir haizim), coming across the land “without touching the earth” (veen nogea baarets). In contrast to the qal participle used in this passage, Dan 8:7 and 12:12 feature the verb in the hiphil, the former referring to the he-goat “coming alongside” the ram (magia etsel) and the latter to the blessed person who “comes to” or “reaches” (veyagia) the 1335 days.

[25] The broader category of touch is “tactile,” whereas “haptic” touch refers to “touch that involves some movement,” and “will involve the engagement of kinesthesis (awareness of movement) and proprioception (awareness of bodily position),” Matthew Fulkerson, “Touch”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta, Although most, if not all, the examples of touch in Dan 8–10 are haptic since they involve some voluntary movement, I use the term tactile to include a wider array of experiences and as the broader descriptor of the sensorial range.

[26] Nicole L. Tilford considers the root to represent “the generic act of touching,” whereas other verbs may indicate more specificity as to what kind of touch and which part of the body is initiating the action. See her monograph Sensing World, Sensing Wisdom: The Cognitive Foundations of Biblical Metaphors (Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2017), 92–93 for a complete survey.

[27] Historically, senses have been markedly gendered, with sight as the epitome of the masculine senses and touch being associated with femininity. See Constance Classen’s discussion of gendered senses in Constance Classen, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination (London: Routledge, 1998), 63–66, 86.

[28] Fulkerson, “Touch”.

[29] Kotrosits, “Seeing is Feeling,” 480.

[30] In Dan 12:8, the final chapter and encounter with Gabriel, Daniel says, “I myself heard but I did not understand” (vaani shamati velo avin). Daniel’s responses are both external in the sense that they are outwardly expressed as well as internal in the sense that they are felt within the inner recesses of the “heart” or “mind.” This is evidenced in Daniel’s hiding or keeping the visions and the knowledge imparted by them in his mind or heart. Chapter 12 highlights his internalisation even more explicitly in verse 4 when Gabriel instructs him to “seal up” the visions and not to reveal them until the appointed time.

[31] Felicity Callard and Constantina Poupalias provide insight on the experience of fear: “we feel fear because of a physiological event: fear, the identifiable emotion, is a judgement on a primary bodily mode of engagement with the world”;Felicity Callard and Constantina Poupalias, “Affect and Embodiment,” in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debate, eds. Susannah Radstone and Bill Schwarz (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010),247. For Daniel, this bodily mode of engagement is more specific to certain senses such as hearing the speech of Gabriel which results in destabilisation, as well as touch that results in his re-stabilisation.

[32] As mentioned above, Dan 7 begins the “apocalyptic” genre section of the book and does not seem to have a significant compositional relationship with Dan 8, excepting the superscript in verse 1 wherein the Danielic narrator specifies that the present vision is occurring “after that which had appeared to me at first.”

[33] Unless otherwise noted, all translations of Daniel are mine. 

[34] In one of the earliest works on affect theory, Silvan S. Tomkins considers affects to be purely biological and not emotional, although they form the basis for what may be qualified later as emotions. “Feelings,” Tomkins asserts, “function as the in-betweens of bodily affect and identified emotions.” Quoted by Moore, Gospel Jesuses, 16 and explored further with his own summary, bibliography, and contrasting perspectives of the terms “feeling,” “emotion,” and “affect.” 

[35] The stories in Daniel more broadly, including the court tales (Dan 1–6), are full of these “feelings,” which range from fear, terror, “face changes,” anger, wrath, and confusion on the part of the kings, his magistrates, as well as Daniel. For a social-emotional-constructionist view on these texts, see Ari Mermelstein,“Constructing Fear and Pride in the Book of Daniel: The Profile of a Second Temple Emotional Community,” Journal for the Study of Judaism, 46 (2015), 449–83. Mermelstein’s approach views emotions as nonlocal to the body and considers Daniel’s “moods” as primarily mirroring social circumstances; Mermelstein, “Constructing Fear,” 476.

[36] See Gen 2:21; 15:12; Judg 4;21; 1 Sam 26:12; Job 4:13; 33:15; Ps 76:6; Prov 10:5; 19:15; Isa 29:10; and Jonah 1:5.

[37] Zech 4:1.

[38] Daniel’s sensorial participation as portrayed in the narrative is a viscerally embodied interaction and is by no means a passive observation of mental images or disembodied abstraction. From a literary perspective, a reader may be drawn into the beholder’s experience and perhaps similarly awestruck by Gabriel’s words. As Harkins explains regarding Daniel’s prayer and “reading” something associated with Jeremiah’s prophecy in Dan 9, “such an imaginative reading can generate an experience of ‘presence,’ that is, a perception of being in the space that has been constructed by the rhetorical elements in the text”; Harkins, “Function of Prayers,” 93.

[39] Tilford, Sensing World, 100–10.

[40] How and to what degree this proposition applies to early Jewish and Christian apocalypses and revelatory literature are topics that require further exploration and a broader survey of how and why sensorial faculties are utilised in ancient texts depicting revelation. 

[41] Words such as nihyeti are difficult in this passage. The Old Greek omits the word entirely, whereas Rashi and others later interpret the word as derived from “to ruin” or “make desolate.”

[42] Ezek 3:15.

[43] Angela Kim Harkins examines Daniel’s prayer and subsequent encounter in Dan 9 through the lens of embodied cognition, and how the text produces “vivid and striking imagery about the invisible deity’s rhetorically constructed body.” With Harkins’s observation, the number of interacting bodies goes beyond just Daniel and Gabriel to include the divine body—God’s mighty hand, shining face, inclining ear, open eyes, and acting body. Harkins, “Function of Prayers,” 82.

[44] See André Lacocque’s comments on the transmission of muaf biaf in translation and by ancient interpreters up through Ibn Ezra. Lacocque argues for the retention of the traditional translation instead of an alternative that understands the root as ya‘ap meaning “to be weary.” André Lacocque,The Book of Daniel, trans. David Pellauer (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1979), 190.

[45] Regarding apocalyptic historiography, Newsom considers chs. 10–12 to be “a revisiting and a deepening of the revelation in ch. 8, providing both a more finely grained historical account and the fully resolved ending that was absent from ch. 8”; Carol A. Newsom, with Brennan Breed, Daniel: A Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2014), 329.

[46] Ezekiel also receives his vision by the river Khebar and was perhaps also in mourning or engaged in some type of ascetic activity. See also Ezra 8:21–3 and 4 Ezra 6:35–7.

[47] The vocabulary in this encounter is more akin to Ezek 1:27; 8:2–3 and less so to the descriptions of the ancient of days and the human-like one in Dan 7. In the latter example, the focus is drawn to the functional qualities of both figures and their ruling capacities, which are highlighted by the descriptions of the thrones rather than extensive physical descriptions of their bodies and clothing. 

[48] Note that Gabriel is not mentioned by name in Dan 10–12, only Michael. We can deduce, however, by the self-attribution of the speaker in Dan 11:1 that this being was active during the first year of Darius the Mede—the year that Daniel prayed and was visited by Gabriel in Dan 9.

[49] Newsom and Breed’s translation of Dan 10:9 captures the suddenness of Daniel’s bodily response to the man’s words and the emphasis on his spatio-temporal context (Newsom, Daniel, 321).

[50] Alexandria Frisch compares Daniel’s fainting and revivification to a story of Moses and Pharaoh from the third-second century BCE preserved in Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica. In the tale of his escape from the Egyptian prison, Moses speaks the divine name and incapacitates Pharaoh only to revive him a few moments later when Moses touches him. Frisch’s goal here is to not to problematise the genre of apocalypse in any way but to demonstrate Moses’ characterisation as “both the angelic messenger and the human recipient in the apocalypse;” Alexandria Frisch, “The Apocalyptic Moses of Second Temple Judaism,” Hebrew Union College Annual 90 (2019), 189–90.

[51] Newsom, Daniel, 332.

[52] Compare to Ezekiel who is also struck mute (Ezek 3:26; 24:27; 33:22), as well other classical prophets whose lips are touched (Isa 6:5–7 and Jer 1:9). For Isaiah, the touch is mediated by tongs and a burning coal intended to purify his mouth, whereas Jeremiah’s functions as a type of transference of divine speech.

[53] Amy C. Merrill Willis calls these human-like descriptors “adamic” but concludes that the figures’ anthropomorphisms are intended to draw connection to “manifestations of God present with the community,” instead of to the shared humanity with Daniel or even the reader. See Amy C. Merrill Willis, “Heavenly Bodies: God and the Body in the Visions of Daniel” in Bodies, Embodiment, and Theology of the Hebrew Bible, eds. S. Tamar Kamionkowski and Wonil Kim (New York: T & T Clark, 2010), 34.

[54] Similar to Dan 10, Dan 7 also features a number of human-like agents. Compare especially to the ancient of days and the human-like one, although these do not interact directly in dialogue or physical interaction with Daniel. Daniel does interact, however, with one of the “attendants” and is able to approach (qarab) him to inquire about the meaning of the visions (Dan 7:16). The fact that Daniel seems to be experiencing the visions from a more distant location or in a less direct way may account for his ability to maintain bodily composure. Although he is emotionally distressed and made pale by the revelation, he is nevertheless able to remain standing and engaged in the experience. 

[55] Summarising James. J. Gibson, Tim Ingold explains that instead of “thinking of perception as the computational activity of a mind within a body we should think of it as the exploratory activity of the whole organism within its environmental setting in active participation through practical bodily engagement. As such it does not yield images or representations. It rather guides the organism along in the furtherance of its project. The perceptually astute organism is one whose movements are closely tuned and ever responsive to environmental perturbations.” See quote in Brenda Farnell, Dynamic Embodiment for Social Theory: “I Move Therefore I Am,” (London: Routledge, 2012) 120.