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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Prayer of Manasseh - Introduction

The Prayer of Manasseh claims to be the prayer that moved God to forgive the wicked king of Judah and restore him from his captivity in Babylon to his throne in Jerusalem (2 Chr 33:12–13 ). The text is preserved only in Christian sources, which are of two kinds. The first is the Odes, a collection of hymns and prayers that forms an appendix to the book of Psalms in three Greek biblical MSS (A, 5th cent.; T, 7th cent.; 55, 10th cent.) and in some daughter translations. A few Syriac MSS append the prayer to 2 Chronicles. Two church handbooks provide the second set of sources. The third-century Didascalia Apostolorum (Teaching of the Apostles) was written in Greek and has been preserved in a Syriac translation and some fragments of a Latin translation. Parts of the Didascalia have also been preserved in another church handbook, the 4th-century Greek Apostolic Constitutions. Both handbooks set the prayer in a narrative context that conflates and expands the accounts of Manasseh's reign in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chr 33 .

It is uncertain whether the Greek of the prayer is the language of its composition or a translation of a Semitic original (APOT i. 614–15; OTP ii. 625–7). The Greek does have a strong Semitic flavour, but it also uses phrases paralleled in the LXX and has some linguistic constructions that suggest composition in Greek.

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