Book Feature: “Ideal Disciples” by Dr. Daniel Daley

Date Published

May 27, 2024

Home / Blog / Book Feature: “Ideal Disciples” by Dr. Daniel Daley

Published by Calvin Seminary

In May 2024, Dr. Daniel Daley released his second book, Ideal Disciples: A Commentary on Matthew’s Beatitudes with Baylor University Press. Keep reading to learn more about the story behind Ideal Disciples and for a link to our full podcast interview with Dr. Daley!

Dr. Daniel Daley comes to Calvin Theological Seminary from a diverse background of experience and education. He first spent eight years as a pastor in Reno, Nevada, then moved to Europe with his wife and three children for ten years. Over those ten years, the Daley family lived in Scotland, Ireland and Belgium, where Dr. Daley received two masters degrees from the University of Edinburgh, and his PhD from Trinity College Dublin. He began teaching as Assistant Professor of New Testament in the Fall 2023 semester.

During his time in Europe, he published his first book with Baylor University Press, entitled God’s Will and Testament: Inheritance in the Gospel of Matthew and Jewish Tradition. In a portion of God’s Will and Testament, he explored two Beatitudes that connected to the theme of inheritance. However, after overwhelming, positive feedback about the book and its conversation about the Beatitudes, the idea for Ideal Disciples was born. What if he wrote a commentary entirely focused on Matthew’s Beatitudes?

In Ideal Disciples, Dr. Daley not only provides an in-depth commentary on every single Beatitude, but extensive background information that helps readers across all knowledge levels piece together the Beatitudes from a historical, cultural, contextual, and linguistic perspective. Throughout the book, he explores aspects of the Beatitudes’ historical and cultural context, such as the conflicts between Jesus and the Jewish leaders, as well as their connection to Second Temple literature and 4Q Instruction. Paying close attention to the context of the Beatitudes, he examines how Matthew’s Beatitudes mirror Luke’s, as well as how they contribute to the overall structure and message of Matthew’s Gospel, and obedience to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). A knowledgeable linguist, he engages debates about the translation of the first word of each Beatitude (commonly translated “blessed” in most English translations of Scripture), explaining why “blessed” may not be the best word. Daley’s commentary offers a concise, holistic approach to the Beatitudes that carefully examine their purpose and structure from all angles and perspectives. 

In his exposition of every Beatitude, he returns to the key theme of the book: What character traits and dispositions does each Beatitude note is necessary for God’s people to cultivate in light of His kingdom and service to the church? These traits and dispositions, Daley argues, are not mere personality traits, but characteristics and behavioral indicators that predict future decisions and responses. As Jesus addressed a crowd who had been abandoned by their earthly ‘shepherds’ (the Pharisees and religious leaders), the disciples and others hearing the Beatitudes were encouraged to adopt dispositions that would aid them in shepherding the people of God well, a stark contrast to the religious leaders of their day. Ideal disciples, according to Daley, “flourish because they have followed Jesus, they have sought to replicate his own words and deeds of love and service, and they have sought to display God’s character in their own involvement in God’s kingdom-oriented mission toward the lost sheep of the house of Israel and to the nations.” (178)

Readers from all backgrounds–from laypeople to students to pastors to highly-trained teachers and academics–will be encouraged, edified, and compelled by Daley’s exposition of the Beatitudes. Daley’s prose is compelling and accessible to readers from diverse backgrounds, connecting readers to extensive resources for additional study. Regardless of a reader’s background or age, each will walk away from Ideal Disciples encouraged and challenged by Daley’s exposition, seeking, with God’s help, to “follow Jesus…replicate his own words and deeds of love and service…and display God’s character in their own involvement in God’s kingdom-oriented mission”. 

To listen to our full interview with Dr. Daley about Ideal Disciples, including the stories and process of writing his commentary, visit our podcast. To purchase Ideal Disciples, visit Baylor University Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.



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