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These Additions differ from the other Apocryphal books, except the “rest of” Esther, in not claiming to be separate works, but appearing as supplements to a canonical book. The Song of the Three Children takes its assumed place between vv. 23 and 24 of Dan. iii.; the History of Susanna in the language of the A. V. is “set apart from the beginning of Daniel”; and Bel and the Dragon is “cut off from the end of” the same book. The first of these additions alone has an organic connection with the main narrative; the other two are independent scenes from the life, or what purports to be the life, of Daniel—episodes, one in his earlier, one in his later, career. In the Song, Daniel personally does not appear at all; in Susanna and in Bel he plays a conspicuous part; in Susanna appearing as a sort of ’deus ex machina’ to set things right at the end; and in Bel he is an essential actor in the whole story.
It is hoped to shew, amongst other things, that the dissimilarity supposed to exist between these additions and the rest of Daniel is by no means so great as has sometimes been imagined. The opinion of one of the latest commentators on Daniel (Marti, Tübingen, 1901, p. xx) may be taken as a fair sample of this view. He thinks these pieces by no means congruous with the canonical Daniel: ”Den Abstand dieser apokryphischen Erzählungen von dem in hebr.-aram. Dan. aufgenommen Volkstradition kann niemand verkennen.“ So far as these additions to the contents of Daniel are concerned, he would agree with the exaggerated statement of Trommius as to all the Apocrypha: ”ad libros canonicos S. Scripturae proprie non pertinent nec cum Graeca eorum versione quicquam commune habent,” etc. (Concord. Praef. § xi.). The sharp distinction drawn by J. M. Fuller also between the style and thought of these additions, and of the canonical Daniel, is far too strong: “as clearly marked as between the canonical and apocryphal gospels.” Few will think the separation between them so wide as this (Speaker’s Comm. Introd. to Dan. p. 221a). Moreover, they are much less obviously incongruous, less plainly meant for edifying “improvements” by a later hand, than the Additions to Esther.
But beyond the connection, more or less strong, which these pieces have with the canonical book, they have also a connection, by means of certain similar features, with one another. All have this in common, viz. the celebration or record of some deliverance. God’s persecuted people are rescued from mortal danger. In the first and third cases they suffer at the hands of idolaters; in the second, of Jewish co-religionists. In each case they provide us with a scene from Israelitish life “in a strange land.” They are tales of the Babylonian Captivity.
In each story the ministry of angels, giving aid against visible foes, takes a prominent place; though in Susanna these appearances are suppressed in Theodotion’s version, an angel, however, being just mentioned in Daniel’s sentences of condemnation. In each case too there is distinct progress under God’s guiding hand; things are left much better at the end than at the beginning. There is a tone of confidence, bred of sure conviction, in one abundantly expressed, in the others latent, as to the ultimate triumph of right. They agree in the certainty of God’s defence, and shew complete reliance on Him. The Captivity had done a purifying work.
These stories of rescue from oppressors would be specially acceptable to the Jews of the Babylonian Captivity; more so probably than to the Jews of the Dispersion elsewhere. Howbeit they are records of zeal and trust which have moved many hearts in all ages and places.
In the last two Daniel appears as a person of great knowledge and power, successfully acting under the Divine guidance. In all three there is little which can properly be called strained or far-fetched. Almost everything is drawn naturally from what we may presume would be the condition of Daniel’s time. Both behind and through the details of the stories we can see the heart of one who praised God, loved justice; and hated idolatry; who took delight in what was noble, pure, and truthful, and waged a successful warfare with whatever he encountered of an opposite character.
Each piece, moreover, has what may be thought to be its own allusion or reminiscence in the New Testament. And each of these parallels, curiously enough, seems eminently characteristic of the addition whence it may have been taken.
Thus we find in the parallel of St. Matt. xxvii. 24 with Susanna 46 the assertion of innocency in respect of miscarriage of justice; in that of Heb. xii. 23 with the Song 64 (86), the utterance of the spirits and souls of the righteous; and in that of Acts xvii. 23 with Bel and Dragon 27, the mocker of idols.
One is from the beginning, one from the midst, one from the end of the Greek Daniel; the first by St. Matthew reporting Pilate; the second by a writer not certainly identified; the third by St. Luke reporting St. Paul. These may be merely accidental resemblances, but their occurrence in this way is curious, and worthy of consideration.
As to the position of these pieces, whether in or out of the canon, it is probable, speaking generally, that those who used the Hebrew Bible, or versions uninfluenced by the LXX, disregarded them as not being part of Holy Scripture; and that those who used the LXX, or its versions, accepted them, either with or without hesitation. Under the chapters entitled “Early Christian Literature” it will be seen that those were by no means wanting who appear to attribute in practical use canonical authority to each fragment; and at least what Otto, Stähelin says of Clement of Alexandria, that he ”nicht geringer schätzte,” may be held true of nearly all the Fathers who name them (Clem. Alex. und LXX, Nürnberg, 1901, p. 74). It is, however, surprising that this divergence of use, in so important a matter as the extent of the canon, did not give rise to a more general controversy. What discussion there was on this question lay chiefly between a few scholarly individuals, who treated the matter as of private and personal, almost as much as of public, interest.
Even if it were admitted that these works were not in the Hebrew canon, the question is still not absolutely settled. For it might be contended, without at all asserting that the Hebrew canon was erroneous or deficient in its time, that these and other apocryphal works were reserved in the providence of God for the Christian Church to deal with as she thought fit. Nor is it clear that her powers as to them, when deciding for canonicity or no, were of necessity more restricted than her powers as to the N. T. books on the same question. What Tertullian says with regard to ’Enoch’ might be extended to other books, ”Scio scripturam Enoch . . . non recipi a quibusdam quia nec in armarium Judaicum admittitur . . . a vobis quidem nihil omnino rejiciendum est quod pertinent ad nos“ (De cult. foem. I.13).
The title ‘Daniel,’ it should be observed, in lists of Scripture books, often covers these additions; as for example in Origen’s list, as preserved by Eusebius, H. E. VI. 25. For we know that Origen (Ep. ad Afric.) defended these additions, and so almost certainly intended this title to include them. So also with Athanasius and Cyril of Jerusalem (see Sus. ’Canonicity,’ p. 160). Probably it is on this account that Loisy (O. T. Canon, Paris, 1890, p. 97) says that Athanasius received “certainement les fragments de Daniel, sur la foi des Septante, comme le font Origène et tous les Pères grecs.“
Ecclesiastical practice, as well as their distribution amongst the canonical books of both Greek and Latin Bibles, told, as time went on, more and more in favour of their inclusion.
But they were not officially recognized as on a level in all respects with Holy Scripture, even by the Roman Church, till the fourth session of the Council of Trent (1546), when they were all placed on an equality with, in fact treated as portions of, the book of Daniel. Probably the phrase ”libros integros cum omnibus suis partibus“ was introduced into the decree with special reference to these additions and those to Esther. This decree, making them “sacred and canonical,” was carried, according to Loisy (p. 201), by 44 placets to 3 non-placets and 5 doubtful.11He refers to Theiner, Acta . . . concil. Trident. I. 77. Dr. Streane, however, says (Age of the Maccabees, 1898, p. 102) it was passed by “a small majority.” Even writers so late as Nicholas de Lyra (†1340) and Denys the Carthusian (†1471) speak of these additions as true, but not parts of Holy Scripture (Loisy, p. 223, quoting Corn. à Lap. on Dan. xiii. 3). And they were of the Roman obedience.
Bleek (Introd. to O. T. II. 336, Eng. tr.) says that the seventh decree of the Council of Florence (1439), making mention of apocryphal books as canonical, which no one was acquainted with before the Tridentine Council, is very probably not genuine. Denys the Carthusian, it will be observed, was subsequent to the supposed Florentine decree, and seemingly ignorant of its existence.
The same writer states (pp. 336, 339) that while Karlstadt classed some of the Apocrypha, as ”hagiographa extra canonem,” he called these supplements to Daniel, with the Prayer of Manasses, and others as ”plane apocryphos.” He also represents Luther as prettily styling these pieces corn-flowers plucked up, because not in the Hebrew, yet placed in a separate garden or bed, because much that is good is found in them. They are thus detached in his version, as in ours, from Daniel, and placed among the apocryphal books. Calvin, however; in his Lectures on Daniel entirely ignores these additions. His English translator barely mentions them in his preface (Edinb. 1852, p. xlix.).
Far more contemptuous than Luther’s estimate of these productions is that of Professor (now Bishop) Ryle in the Cambridge Companion to the Bible (1894), where he writes: “The character of these stories is trifling and childish.”
But in reply to this and similar depreciatory opinions, it may be pointed out that one does not look in these extra-Danielic stories for such a knowledge of the human heart as is displayed in the Psalms, nor for such knowledge of the Godhead as is revealed in St. John’s Gospel. If we look for fully developed doctrine of this kind, we shall no doubt be disappointed. But we do find religious teaching after the tenor of the old covenant, such as might be expected in compositions which are mainly narrative; we meet with teaching which looks quite as clear as that, say, of the books of Ruth, Chronicles, or Esther. Indeed, those who have a mind to draw moral and spiritual instruction from these brief works will not find it difficult to do so, or discover that the religious teaching is out of harmony with that which is acknowledged to exist in Daniel (see chaps. on “Example of Life and Instruction of Manners”). In point of fact, an overgrowth of unreasonable objections has been too much encouraged; and if these pieces may not in all respects secure a favourable vote, it is desirable that they may receive at least an unprejudiced and equitable judgment.
The examples of patristic use given under the head of “Early Christian Literature” will, it is hoped, sufficiently refute such statements as that of Albert Barnes (Daniel, Lond. 1853, pp. 79, 80): “It is seldom that these additions to Daniel are quoted or alluded to at all by the early Christian writers, but when they are, it is only that they may be condemned.” This may be taken as a specimen of a certain class of adverse opinion, evidently formed without sufficient investigation of the subject. In reality, these pieces are referred to, considering their brevity, with surprising frequency; that the references are not exclusively, or even generally, for purposes of condemnation, hardly needs to be stated.
What effect these writings took on Jewish readers there is little or nothing to shew. With the rest of the LXX, they seem to have lost ground with Jews as they gained it with Christians. The closing scene of Bel and the Dragon, however, is made use of in Breshith Rabba to illustrate Joseph’s abandonment in the pit (Gen. xxxvii.).22So Raymund Martini, at the end of his Pugio fidei; but his quotation has been doubted. See B. and D. ‘Chronology,’ p. 229. To Christians indeed they have, from a very early date, constantly presented themselves as highly valuable for purposes of edification. Nor, with the possible exception of Susanna, is it easy to see in what way they could have furthered, in that aspect, any undesirable end.
What will be the future of these pieces by which, in the Greek Bible, the contents of Daniel were increased? It is not easy to say. Much will surely depend on the eventual consensus of opinion as to the date of that book itself. Neither the Roman nor Greek Churches shew any sign of modifying their entire,33The Vatican Council confirmed the Tridentine decree on Scripture (Const. “Dei Filius” II., Loisy, p. 239). or very slightly qualified, acceptance of these additions as integral parts of Holy Scripture. On the other hand, English-speaking Protestant Dissenters shew almost as little sign of rising to any religious appreciation of them.
Between these extremes the Church of England, and perhaps the German and Scandinavian Lutherans, hold, as to these books, an intermediate position, which in this, as in some other questions, may not improbably prove to be the right one. In any case the English Church has always treated them with great respect, a large part of one of them entering into her Morning Prayer, and the other two having been appointed as first lessons in her calendar from 1549 to 1872, except that Bel and the Dragon was removed from 1604 to 1662. Previous to this last date they were read, not as independent books, but as Dan. xiii. and xiv.
A patient waiting for the production of further evidence as to the origin and position of these additions can hardly be unrewarded. Meanwhile we may fitly agree with St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ lines, which apply as well to these as to the other books of the Apocrypha:
Οὐκ ἄπασα βίβλος ἀσφαλὴς,
ἡ σεμνὸ͙ν ὄνομα τῆς Γραφῆς κεκτημένη.
εἰσὶν γὰρ, εἰσὶν ἔσθ᾿ ὅτε ψευδώνυμοι
βίβλοι· τινὲς μὲν ἔμμεσοι, καὶ γείτονες,
ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι, τῶν ἀληθείας λόγων.
(Poems, lib. II., ad Seleucum, 252—256;
Migne, Patr. Gr. xxxvii. 1593.)
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