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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible A richly illustrated account of the story of the Bible written by leading scholars.

The Additions to Daniel

As with Jeremiah and Esther, the ancient Greek translations reflect both a different Hebrew original from that preserved in the Masoretic text, and also additions originally composed in Greek, with only the major additions being later removed and assigned to an Apocrypha. Of these three additions, one, the ‘Prayer of Azariah and the Three Young Men’, belongs in the body of the book of Daniel (ch. 3 ), while the other two, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon (or Snake) are freestanding narratives.

As with Esther, there exist two ancient Greek translations of the biblical book: the Old Greek text, usually that found in the ancient codices (and previously referred to as the Septuagint version), and one assigned to Theodotion, which in this case has replaced it in these codices, and is used by most ancient versions.

Alte Pinakothek, Munich/Bridgeman Art Library.

As far as the Additions are concerned, both Greek translations have almost identical texts in the Prayer of Azariah, but they are different in Susanna and slightly different in Bel and the Dragon. How this is to be explained remains unclear. The Theodotion text of Susanna differs from the Old Greek first of all in its placement of the story within Daniel as a whole. In the Old Greek version it comes as chapter 13 , after the end of the material in the Masoretic Daniel, while in Theodotion it comprises chapter 1 . There are also a number of additions in Theodotion (e.g. vv. 11, 15–18, 20–1, 24–7 , 46–7, 49–50 ) which perhaps enhance the tale. It is not clear how to explain these differences. Moore suggests that there was a different Semitic text available to each Greek translator, and because Theodotion exhibits more Hebraic Semitisms, perhaps an Aramaic for the Old Greek and a Hebrew for Theodotion (recall that there were manuscripts of Tobit in both Hebrew and Aramaic at Qumran). Milik has argued for Aramaic as the original language of the story. But the Theodotion translator must have had access to the Old Greek version, because there is so much verbal agreement between the two and may even be regarded to some extent as a revision of the Old Greek (so Di Lella). The evidence for a Semitic original is thus substantial but not conclusive.

Bel and the Dragon (ch. 13 in the Old Greek and ch. 14 in Theodotion) actually comprises two stories, and in both parts the two Greek translations again differ. Again, as with Susanna, the explanation may be that each worked from a different Semitic text, perhaps a different Semitic language. Verbal agreement between the two Greek translations is evident only in vv. 23–4 and 33–9 , raising the question of whether, or how, the later translation consulted the earlier.

As with Esther, the evidence of the Greek versions of Daniel may suggest that a Semitic version of the Daniel collection continued to expand beyond the stage represented by its canonized Masoretic form, before being rendered into Greek.

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