Friday, December 28, 2007

Well, Well, We've Got Two Extra Chapters of Daniel in the Bible

"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:
  • 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 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 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.
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.

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.


  1. This an outrage! To think that any person should add to the Bible in any way shape or form. Do you mean to tell that the church "catholics" gave everyone a wrong copy of the Bible years ago? (somewhere around 400A.D.) So does that mena between the two that everyone did not go to heaven because they didn't have the actual Bible. As fo me I can not find anything in the Bible that shows or speaks of any thing close to your mass and the way you seem to put other mortal men above others. I speak to God throught Jesus not some other man who sins as much as I do on a daily basis, also you discount the price that Christ paid for your soul? Why? You say that you MUST give to the church, you MUST go to confession and you MUST have good works to get into heaven, so that means when Christ paid that price for you that he is not good enough to get you to heaven on his own? Christ needs help saving your soul. Pull your heads out, MY LORD!

  2. Gee, I'd think you'd be more upset with the people who removed the chapters that were originally in the Bible. We didn't add them. They were removed by Protestants.

    I'm not sure where you have gotten your info on the Catholic Church but I am happy to be able to tell you that we do not have all those requirements that you have been misinformed on. Good works are a fruit of having faith. We don't have any rules about having to give to the church to get into heaven. As well, confession is a help to our souls, but also not a requirement to get into heaven.

    To see something that is extremely close to our Mass in the Bible, simply read the Revelation. There are parts that are practically the same ... eerily so. You may read more explanation about this in this book.

    1. Please don't get a wrong idea of Protestants based off of her. I'm still trying to understand exactly what denomination I belong to, but I've grown up mostly protestant (dad's catcholic, mom's southern baptist, they met in the middle with contemporary Protestant churches for their kids), and we in no way belive you have to read the "correct" Bible to get into Heaven. Heck, we don't even believe you have to read the Bible at all! Reading the Bible is the response of a heart yearning after God, but it's not what gives you salvation. If someone had never read the Bible once, they would still go to heaven, and someone who has meticulously studied the Bible may go to Hell. The point of salvation is accepting Christ's sacrifice and gift of salvation; that's it. Protestants do not believe that there's any more required for salvation. We read mostly the same Bible, and that Bible says "whoever believes in me will have eternal life."

    2. Since they were added rather than removed, it is appropriate to be upset at the presence. Even the early Catholic church did not recognize these writings as authoritative. You really need to ask more questions.

    3. They actually weren't added since they were part of the Koine Greek Septuagint, the earliest Old Greek translation. It is thought that the Greek translation had chapters from the earliest Hebrew translations which were lost and only preserved in the Greek. It is true, as I mentioned above, that St. Jerome wasn't on board with these chapters, but on the flip side St. Augustine was. And since the Council of Trent, which spoke authoritatively on both the Old and New Testament books included in the Bible, included it then it is recognized. Thanks for allowing me to comment on that more fully.

  3. I have to agree with Julie and Carrie........