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DATE AND PLACE OF WRITING.
Susanna is deemed by J. M. Fuller (Speaker’s Comm., Introd. to Dan., 221a) to be probably the oldest of the three additions. This opinion is however by no means universally accepted.
If a Semitic original really existed, it no doubt preceded the Greek texts. R. C. opinion (e.g. Dereser, quoted by Bissell, p. 444), as that of all who regard the booklet as canonical, treats it as part of Daniel, and therefore whatever date is assigned to that book is made to apply to this also. Professor A. A. Bevan (Comm. on Dan., Camb. 1892, p. 45) thinks that this piece and Bel and the Dragon “appear to have been circulated independently before they were incorporated with the book of Daniel.” C. J. Ball ascribes the origin of the piece to the struggles between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, b.c. 94–89 (p. 330a). But to attribute it thus to the outcome of these quarrels, brings the original down to a later date than is at all probable, in view of its incorporation with the LXX.3131Rothstein (Kautzsch I., 176) gives the first quarter of the last century b.c. as the latest possible date for the LXX version of Daniel. Exceedingly little time therefore would be allowed, on Ball’s theory, for the original publication, the translation, and the incorporation into the Alexandrian canon, of this Susanna-book. Nor does the bitterness of those disputes seem stamped with sufficient strength upon the document itself to compel us to see in them its period of origin.
J. T. Marshall (Hastings’ D. B. IV., 631–2) conjectures that the latter part of the story arose out of Simon ben Shetach’s efforts, about 100 b.c., to get the law as to witnesses in criminal cases altered. This view is perhaps a trifle more probable than Ball’s.
As to the true LXX text, Bissell (p. 444) rather inclines to deem it to have been from the first a part of the LXX. So Pussy, quoted by Churton (p. 389), says that it is “admitted to have been contemporary with the LXX version;” and W. Selwyn (D. B. III., p. 1210a) thinks that this, with the other additions, was “early incorporated with the LXX.” Rothstein in Kautzsch, very hesitatingly and with much caution, suggests (I., p. 178) the second century before Christ.
On the other hand, A. Kamphausen (Encyclop. Bibl. I. 1013) writes, “When [Daniel] first began to be translated by the Egyptian Jews into Greek, the legends of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, which may very well have had an independent circulation, had certainly not as yet been taken up into it. . . . . We cannot tell at what date it was that these apocryphal additions (which are contained in all MSS. that have reached us), were taken up into the Greek and Syriac Daniel.” How he knows so “certainly” that they were not in it at the period named, he does not explain; and before this positive statement can be unreservedly accepted strong proof is wanted.
As to Theodotion’s version, there is no reason to suppose that the portion consisting of Susanna differs in date from the rest of the book. It may probably be assigned to the latter half of the second century A.D. Behrmann, in Nowack’s Hand Kommentar, p. XXX. says, ”um 150.”
Most writers on this subject, such as Westcott, Streane, and Marshall, as well as some of those previously mentioned, markedly avoid any approach to definite dates as to the original, or as to the LXX Greek. And justly so; for the evidence in our hands does not, unfortunately, admit of anything closer than a “period” being safely fixed. The materials we have are not sufficiently precise for closer approximation with any decree of security. Rothstein (Kautzsch, I., p. 178) very wisely says, ”Natürlich lasst sich mit irgend welcher Sicherheit über diese Frage nichts ausmachen.“ With this, until further evidence be forthcoming, it is well to agree.
Of Original. As to the place of origin nearly every writer on Susanna is silent except Scholz, who (p.147) favours a non-Alexandrian birthplace, giving a preference to the land of the Captivity. And if we assume, as he does, a Semitic original, Babylonia is no doubt its probable birthplace, or, failing that, Palestine.
It might appear, if the trees named could be botanically identified with a reasonable degree of certainty, that a valuable sign would thus be given of the place of origin. But inasmuch as Joacim’s park or garden would be a likely place for the cultivation of exotics, perhaps no safe theory could be built upon the identification of the trees, unless they were shewn to be such as would not live in the climate of the country suggested.
There is no trace of Alexandrian philosophy or speculation, nor of commercial interests, some of which generally betray themselves in writings of Alexandrian origin. And the same may be said of the Song of the Three, and Bel and the Dragon. But in such short pieces it is not wise to build much on the absence of these traces.
Of LXX Greek. That this was made at Alexandria admits of little doubt. From the similarity of style, too, it would appear that the translator (or editor) was identical with the translator of the canonical Daniel. This is the opinion of Rothstein (in Kautzsch, I. 178). Schürer (H. J. P. II. III.), who denies the existence of a Semitic original, classes this (with the other additions) not in his ’Palestinian-Jewish,’ but in his ‘Graeco-Jewish’ section.
The mention of Sidon in v. 56 (where Θ has Canaan) may perhaps suggest a writer in the original, whatever language he may have used, who was connected with the north of Palestine. But it is quite as probable that the writer (or translator) had some idea of Gen. x. 15 in his mind, “Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn.” After him, according to Josephus (Ant. I. VI. 2), the city was named: Σιδώνιος ὃς καὶ πόλιν ἐπώνυμον ἔκτισεν ἐν τῇ Φοινίκῃ, Σιδὼν δ᾿ ὑφ᾿ Ἑλλήνων καλεῖται. It is worth noticing that in St. Matt. xi. 21 our Lord speaks of the city more favourably.
Of Theodotion’s Greek. Of the ‘provenance’ of the Greek version bearing Theodotion’s name very little is known. But Ephesus may be suggested as not altogether improbable with regard to what little we know of Theodotion’s life. If we take the Revelation of St. John, too, as having been written at Ephesus, this will accord well with the use made of Theodotion’s version of Daniel in that book. Or if Theodotion made use, in whole or in part, of some previous version, as seems certain, this fact would not at all militate against St. John at Ephesus having also made use of the same earlier version. And it is quite possible that this version may have been of Alexandrian origin, although worked up by Theodotion elsewhere.
Whatever the place of origin may have been, it is very remarkable that a version by one who was either a Jew or a heretic Christian should have been preferred to the LXX of Daniel and the Additions so as practically to supersede it. Prof. J. J. Blunt describes Theodotion as one who “attempts to wrest the Hebrew from the cause of the Gospel” (Christian Church, 1869, p. 129). This was indicated by Irenæus, III. xxiii. 1. If, however, the previous version used by him was due to a pre-Christian Jew, this may have smoothed the way for its acceptance among Christians. For Jews b.c. and Jews a.d. were regarded by the Church, as was natural, in very different lights, and their writings likewise.
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