The title is presumably taken from that occurring in some late Greek cursives, "Hymn of the Three Children."
It is an inadequate title, for the piece consists of three sections:
|(a)||The Prayer of Azariah,||Vss.24-45||RV.3-22;|
|(b)||A narrative portion,||Vss.46-51||RV.23-27;|
|(c)||The Hymn of "the Three,"||Vss.52-90||RV.28-68.|
In the canonical Daniel iii.23 it is said: "And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace," after which comes (Theodotion's Version): "And they walked in the midst of the fire, praising God, and blessing the Lord," followed by the three sections just mentioned; and the Septuagint has: "Therefore thus prayed Ananias and Azarias, and Misael, and they praised the Lord when the king had ordered them to be cast into the furnace." There is thus no title either in Theodotion's Version or in the one existing MS of the Septuagint (see ? V). But in the Greek ecclesiastical Canticles added as an appendix to the Psalter, Cod.A (fifth century) has the title "Prayer of Azarias" to verses 24-45 (RV.3-22), and the title "Hymn of our fathers" to verses 52-90 (RV.28-68), for this latter Cod.T and the cursive 55 have "Hymn of the Three Children."
(Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, p.261 (1900): "It will be noticed that Cod.A recognizes two distinct Canticles; but a sixth-century text shows us that the African Church at this time possessed a collection of Canticles which did not differ much from that of the Greek Church"; in this text the two parts of the Canticle are not separated (CabroI, Dict. d'Archeol. Chretienne et de Liturgie, Fasc. xiv.661 (1908).)
The narrative portion, verses 46-51 (RV.23-27), does not, of course, find a place in the appendix.
The Syriac Version (Peshitta) has the title: "Prayer of Hananiah and his companions" for the whole of the Addition.
The Vulgate also treats the whole of the Addition as a single piece; it gives no title, but prefaces it with the words: Quae sequuntur in Hebraeis voluminibus non reperi, and at its conclusion adds: Hucusque in Hebraeo non habetur, et quae posuimus de Theodotionis editione translata sunt.
As already pointed out, this Addition to Daniel, consists of three separate pieces; their contents are as follows:
|(1)||The Prayer of Azariah (verses 24-45 = RV.3-22).|
|(RV) v.3, 4||An ascription of praise to God;|
|v.5||a recognition of God's justice, in accordance with which misfortune has fallen upon Jerusalem owing to the sins of the people;|
|v.6, 7||confession of sin;|
|v.8-10||justice of the divine punishment;|
|v.11-13||prayer for deliverance for the fathers' sake;|
|v.14-22||The present plight of the people, but in penitence and promise of amendment God's mercy is entreated, and the downfall of the enemy is besought.|
|(2)||The Narrative Portion (verses 46-51 = RV.23-27).|
|An account of the heating of the furnace; the fury of the fire destroys the Chaldaeans who are about the furnace. An angel appears in the furnace who "smote the flame of the fire out of the furnace," so that the fire becomes like "a moist whistling wind," and Azarias and his companions remain uninjured.|
|(3)||The Song of the Three Children (verses 52-90 = RV.28-68).|
|v.29-34||General introductory Benedictions;|
|v.35||Introductory words to the Song or Hymn, itself, calling upon all the works of Creation to bless the Lord.|
|The Hymn is divided into three main portions, comprising three themes:|
|v.36-52||The theme is the "Heavens"; all that is in any way connected with the Heavens is called upon to praise and exalt the Lord.||[In the R.V. verses 36, 37 are misplaced; the misplacing consists really in transposition, for the RV is here following Theodotion, the reverse order being found in the Septuagint.]|
|v.53-60||The theme is the "Earth," and all that belongs to it; here similarly everything is called upon to praise and exalt the Lord.||[In the R.V. verses 45, 46, 49 are omitted.]|
|v.61-65||"Israel" is the main theme; priests, servants of the Lord, the spirits of the righteous, and all that are " holy and humble of heart," are bidden to praise and exalt the Lord.|
|v.67, 68||The Hymn concludes on the note of thanksgiving.|
|v.66||This verse, evidently, does not belong to the original form of the Hymn; it may be conjectured that it was inserted in order to bring the Hymn into more immediate relation with the context into which it was inserted.|
The question arises as to whether these three literary pieces which in the Septuagint follow after Dan. iii. 23, but which do not figure in the canonical Daniel, are later insertions; and whether they were inserted before or after the translation was made?
Opinions on these matters differ.
Some scholars maintain that the Additions formed an original part of the canonical book. (E.g. v. Gall, Die Einheitlichkeit sit des Buches Daniel, p.23 (1895).)
Their main argument being that there is otherwise an unaccountable gap after iii.23, and that without the Additions the verses which follow read strangely since the reason for Nebuchadrezzar being "astonied" is not given until later. Of the existence of the gap between iii.23 and 24 there can be no doubt.
Rothstein accounts for it by suggesting that verses 23-27 in the Septuagint
(the Narrative portion) formed part of the original text, which is likely enough, as it would certainly fill in the gap. (In Kautzsch, op. cit. i.173; see also Jahn, Das Buch Daniel nach der LXX
hergestellt, pp.32 f. (1904).)
The Hymn he regards as a later addition, to which, still later, the Prayer of Azarias was prefixed this is suggested by the textual confusion of verse 24 in the Aramaic, i.e. the logical gap between verse 23 and this verse. Rothstein holds to the possibility, however, that both the Prayer and the Hymn stood in the original text.
(The question of the original language of the canonical Daniel arises here. But into this we cannot enter. Rothstein and others contend for a Hebrew original for the whole of the Additions, but as they belong to the Aramaic portion of Daniel one might expect, though not necessarily, that they would have been written in Aramaic originally. Charles holds that both the Prayer and the Hymn " were written in Aramaic and inserted at an early date in some manuscripts of Daniel, but not in others " (A Critical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, p.73 ).)
There are, on the other hand, some strong grounds for doubting whether the two main Additions formed part of the original text:
Dan.iii is a self-contained narrative; the Additions are not only unnecessary, they are intrusive, and break the otherwise even flow of the story. Moreover, they have no bearing on the narrative itself; as will have been seen from the contents of the Prayer, it would have been quite inappropriate in the mouth of Azarias, and the same is true of the Hymn. Apart from the introductory words (verses 1, 2) to the Prayer, and to the Hymn (verse 28), the absence of which would not make the slightest difference to either, there is only one reference to the narrative in the canonical Daniel iii. Namely verse 66, and this has quite obviously been inserted after the composition of the Hymn, for it cuts off the concluding thanksgiving from the rest of the Hymn. The Narrative portion (vv.23-27), as already pointed out, may well have formed part of the original narrative in Daniel iii. Though why it is not found in the canonical Daniel is difficult to say excepting on the assumption that the Prayer and the Hymn were inserted in the original text, and afterwards deleted, but preserved in the Greek translation. In this case, the Narrative portion would have been torn from its context when the Additions were first inserted.
Kuhl denies that the Narrative portion formed part of the original text. He does not regard the "gap" after iii.23 (canonical Daniel) as such, but merely a break, purposely made, as a literary device to enhance the interest of the narrative. So that, according to him, there is no need to suppose that the Narrative portion ever formed part of the original text. He holds, however, that all three Additions were inserted in the original text before the Septuagint translation was made. (Die Drei Manner im Feuer, pp.86 ff., 105 f (1930))
A good deal turns on what the original language of the Additions was. Here again, opinions differ, though the
general tendency inclines towards a Hebrew original.
(See, e.g., Bludau, Die alexandrinische Ubersetzung des Buches Daniel, pp. 157 f. (1897). Gaster contends for an Aramaic original (Proceedings of the Soc. of Bibl. Arch., xvi.280 ff., 312 ff., -ii- 75 ff. 11894, 18951). But the mediaeval Aramaic MS. published by Gaster seems to be a translation of Theodotion's Version.)
Kuhl seems to us, however, to have settled the question definitely. His re-translation of the Additions into Hebrew compels the conviction that this, and neither Aramaic nor Greek, was the original language. (Op. cit., pp.128-133, 150-153.)
The object of the Additions is fairly obvious; the Prayer of Azarias was added, in the first place, to show that Nebuchadrezzar did not forestall Azarias, the servant of God, in recognizing and blessing the God of Israel (canonical Daniel iii.28, 29). A second reason was to show that the deliverance from the fire was in answer to prayer (v.20 in the Additions). The Hymn was added as an expression of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator.
That neither the Prayer nor the Hymn was composed for insertion in the text of Daniel is evident because there is no point of contact between them and the context in which they stand. The Hymn, at any rate, will have belonged to some collection of hymns traditionally handed down, just as there were numerous collections of psalms; the similarity in many respects between our Hymn and Ps.cxlviii has often been pointed to.
If we are right in contending that the Additions were inserted in the text of the canonical Daniel before it was translated into Greek, their approximate dates are not difficult to determine. Both the Prayer and the Hymn belonged to traditional material, and the latter must, in all probability, be earlier than the canonical Daniel, written circa 166BC. The words in the Prayer: "Neither is there at this time prince or prophet, or leader, or burnt-offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense or place to offer before thee, and to find mercy" (RV v.15), point to a somewhat later date than the Hymn. For these words clearly reflect the conditions a few years after the accession of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to the Syrian throne in 173BC, i.e. approximately 168BC. The Hymn would appear to be older.
As marks of its relatively early date Kuhl points to "the strict adhesion to the form of the type to which it belongs, its systematic arrangement down to the smallest details, the absence of ordinary forms of speech, the sobriety and realism of its contents, and the entire self-oblivion of the singer." (Op. cit., p.99.)
The Septuagint of the book of Daniel containing the Additions exists in one manuscript only, the cursive 87 (Cod. Chisianus, in the library of the Chigi family at Rome). "The handwriting appears to belong to the Calabrian school of Greek calligraphy, and the date usually assigned to it is the ninth century." (Swete, The Old Testament in Greek, iii.p.xi (1899), p. in 1905 edition.)
It contains also Theodotion's Version; the Septuagint form is somewhat fuller. (Swete gives both on opposite pages (Op. cit., iii.514 ff. for the Additions).)
Theodotion's Version, made in the first half of the second century AD, displaced the Septuagint at a very early date. In addition to the uncials B, A, V, Q, and others of later date, there are a number of cursives which contain this Version. (They are enumerated by Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, pp.165 ff. (1900).)
It seems probable that "there were two pre-Christian versions of Daniel, both passing as the 'LXX,' one of which is preserved in the Chigi MS., while the other formed the basis of Theodotion's revision." (Swete, Intr., p.48, and see further p.423.)
Only fragments of the Old Latin Version are extant. (Sabatier, BibI. Sacr. Latina Versiones Antiquae, II (1751); Burkitt, The Old Latin and the Itala, pp. 18 ff. (1896).) They are mainly translated from Theodotion's Version, but Burkitt shows that before the time of Jerome both the Septuagint and Theodotion's Version existed in Latin Versions. In the Vulgate of Daniel, translated from the Aramaic-Hebrew, the Additions are included, being translated from Theodotion's Version.
The Syriac Version (Peshitta) is likewise translated from Theodotion, but differs both from it and the Septuagint in many instances; whether this is due merely to arbitrariness and textual corruption, or whether some other form of the Greek was laid under contribution cannot be said.
The Syro-Hexaplar is "a literal translation of the LXX of the Hexapla in which the Origenic signs
were scrupulously retained " in the sections which contain these additions. (Swete, Intr.,
p.112; it is, therefore, of considerable value as supplementing or correcting the text of Cod. Chisianus.)
The Syro-Hexaplaric Daniel "is divided into ten chapters, each headed by a full summary of its contents." (Ibid, p.356.)
All the other Versions, Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian, and Slavonic, are translations from Theodotion's Version.
Two very late Aramaic texts, based on Theodotion's Version, are not of much value. (See Gaster, "The Unknown Aramaic Original of Theodotion's Additions to the Book of Daniel," in Proceedings of the Soc. of Bibl. Arch., xvi.280 ff. 312 ff. (1894), and xvii.75 ff. (1893); Neubauer, in the Jewish Quarterly Review for 1899, xi.364 ff.)
Fritsche, op. cit., i. (1851).
Brall, "Das Gebet der drei Manner in Feuerofen," in Jahrbuch fur jadische Geschichte und Literatur for 1887, pp. 22 ff.
Ball, in Wace, op. Cit., ii.305 ff. (1888).
v. Gall, Die Einheitlichkeit des Buches Daniel (1895).
Bludau, Die alexandrinische Ubersetzung des Buch Daniel, pp.155 ff. (1897).
Rothstein, in Kautzsch, op. cit., i.172 ff. (1900).
Andre, op. cit., 208. ff. (1903).
Jahn, Das Buch Daniel nach der LXX hergestellt (1904).
Daubney, The Three Additions to Daniel (1906).
Goettsberger, Das Buch Daniel (1928).
Charles, A Critical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, pp. 72 ff. (1928).
Christie, "The Strophic Arrangement of the Benedicite," in the Journal of Biblical Literature for 1928, pp.188 ff.
Kuhl, Die Drei Manner im Feuer (1930).
For editions of the text see Scharer, Geschichte des judischen Volkes... iii.453 ff. (1909).