"We" meaning Catholics. I knew there were books the Protestants didn't include such as Tobit (and what a shame that is ... it is fantastic and a favorite of mine). However, this morning, having forgotten to pick up my Magnificat for the daily Mass readings and having already set my timer (to be sure I put in some quantity as well as quality time with God) ... I just did a Bible flip and wound up at chapter 14 of Daniel. Really great and I found it quite absorbing.
Specifically I was at verse 13 and I will paraphrase the story (read it here). The king shows Daniel a living dragon, says it is a god and tells him to worship it. Daniel disposes of the dragon quite elegantly, the mob protests his getting rid of a god (as well as another one from earlier in the chapter) and the king responds by tossing Daniel in a den of hungry lions. They leave him in there for 7 days and I was most impressed by the level of detail. For instance, God sends an angel to the prophet Habukkuk to bring Daniel something to eat. When Habukkuk tells the angel that he doesn't have any idea where either Babylon or the den are, the angel seizes him by the crown of his head and whisks him by his hair off to feed Daniel. I just loved that.
Picking up my brand new Archaeological Study Bible (which has an adamant "yay Protestant Biblical books choice!" cheering section of the introduction) I was curious to see what they might have for entries on those pages. Surprise, surprise, surprise!
The Book of Daniel didn't end at all as I expected with the story of Susannah in chapter 13 and Daniel exposing various false gods in chapter 14. The Protestant Bible only goes to chapter 12.
And here is why.
The Hebrew and Aramaic sections of the Book of Daniel thus far dealt with, are the only ones found in the Hebrew Bible and recognized by Protestants as sacred and canonical. But besides those sections, the Vulgate, the Greek translations of Daniel (Septuagint and Theodotion) together with other ancient and modern versions, contain three important portions, which are deuterocanonical. These are:No matter which Bible you use, do go read chapters 13 and 14 of Daniel. I found them both to be ripping stories and (most important of all) to have some good food for thought.
The first of these fragments (Dan., iii, 24-90) consists of a prayer in which Azarias, standing in the midst of the furnace, asks that God may deliver him and his companions, Ananias and Misael, and put their enemies to shame (verses 24-45); a brief notice of the fact that the Angel of the Lord saved the Three Children from all harm, whereas the flame consumed the Chaldeans above the furnace (46-50); and a doxology (52-56) leading on to the hymn familiarly known as the "Benedicite" (57-90). The second fragment (ch. xiii) tells the history of Susanna. ... The last deuterocanonical part of Daniel (ch. xiv) contains the narrative of the destruction of Bel and the dragon. ...
- the Prayer of Azarias and the Song of the Three Children, usual}y inserted in the third chapter between the twenty-third and the twenty-fourth verses;
- the history of Susanna, found as ch. xiii, at the end of the book;
- the history of the destruction of Bel and the dragon, terminating the book as ch. xiv.
The Greek is, indeed the oldest form under which these deutero-canonical parts of the Book of Daniel have come down to us; but this is no decisive proof that they were composed in that language. In fact, the greater probability is in favour of a Hebrew original no longer extant. It is plain that the view which regards these three fragments as not originally written in Greek makes it easier to suppose that they were from the beginning integrant parts of the book. Yet, it does not settle the question of their date and authorship. It is readily granted by conservative scholars (Vigouroux, Gilly, etc.) that the last two are probably from a different and later author than the rest of the book. On the other hand, it is maintained by nearly all Catholic writers, that the Prayer of Azarias and the Song of the Three Children cannot be dissociated from the preceding and the following context in Dan., iii, and that therefore they should be referred to the time of Daniel, if not to that Prophet himself. In reality, there are well nigh insuperable difficulties to such an early date for Dan., iii, 24-90, so that this fragment also, like the other two, should most likely be ascribed to some unknown Jewish author who lived long after the Exile. Lastly, although the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel seem to contain anachronisms, they should not be treated -- as was done by St Jerome -- as mere fables. More sober scholarship will readily admit that they embody oral or written traditions not altogether devoid of historical value. But, whatever may be thought concerning these literary or historical questions, there cannot be the least doubt that in decreeing the sacred and canonical character of these fragments the Council of Trent proclaimed the ancient and morally unanimous belief of the Church of God.
As a side note, I checked the Archaeological Study Bible out of the library for several weeks before adding it to my Christmas wish list. All the notes, articles, and commentary are about such things as historical/cultural notes, archaeological discoveries, artifacts, and more. If you go to their site they have sample pdfs to examine. I use it in conjunction with my The Catholic Study Bible or, in the case of my current reading of Romans, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.