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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Daniel Apocryphal Addenda to

In the version of the Seventy, and that of Theodotion are found some considerable additions to the book of Daniel which are wanting in the Hebrew canon. These are,

The Prayer of Azarias, etc. ().

The Song of the Three Children (Daniel 3:52-90).

The History of Susanna (Daniel 13).

The Narrative of Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14).

St. Jerome, who translated these together with the canonical parts of the book of Daniel from the Greek version of Theodotion, observes: 'Daniel, as received among the Hebrews, contains neither the History of Susanna, nor the Hymn of the Three Children, nor the Fables of Bel and the Dragon, all of which, as they are dispersed throughout the world, we have added, lest to the ignorant we should seem to have cut off a considerable part of the book, transfixing them at the same time with a dagger.'

Jerome further observes that the history of Susanna is considered by nearly all the Hebrews as a fable; and that it is not read in the synagogues: for who, say they, could believe that captives had the power of starving their princes and judges?

The subject of the Prayer of Azarias, and of the Song of the three youths, Azarias, Ananias, and Misael (the Hebrew names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), consists in a petition for deliverance from the furnace, and a hymn of thanksgiving, on the part of the young men, for their preservation in the midst of the flames. De Wette conceives that the Prayer and the Hymn betray marks of two different authors, and that the latter has the appearance of being written with a liturgical object. Certain it is that, from a very early period, it formed part of the church service, and it is one of the canticles still sung on all festivals in the Roman, and retained in the daily service of the Anglican Church.

The History of Susanna is probably a moral parable, founded perhaps on some fact, and affording a beautiful lesson of chastity.

The object of the Jewish author of the history of the destruction of Bel and the Dragon was, according to Jahn, 'to warn against the sin of idolatry some of his brethren, who had embraced Egyptian superstitions. The book was, therefore, well adapted to the time, and shows that philosophy was not sufficient to keep men from apostatizing into the most absurd and degrading superstitions.' The time of the writing Jahn ascribes to the age of the Ptolemies, when serpents were still worshipped at Thebes.

Bel and the Dragon is read in the Roman office on Ash-Wednesday, and in the Church of England on the 23rd of November. Susanna is read in the Anglican Church on the 22nd of November, and in the Roman on the vigil of the fourth Sunday in Lent.

We shall conclude with the following observation of Erasmus. 'It is astonishing that what Jerome stabbed with his dagger is now everywhere read and sung in the churches; nay, we read, without any mark of distinction, what Jerome did not fear to call a fable, the history of Bel and the Dragon, and which he would not have added, had he not been apprehensive of seeming to have cut off a considerable portion of the sacred volume. But to whom did he fear to seem to do so? To the ignorant, as he himself observes. Of so much more weight to the ignorant multitude is custom, than the judgment of the learned!'





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Daniel Apocryphal Addenda to'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature".

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