Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Preface is interesting as showing the difficulties caused by the incorporation of apocryphal matter into this book, the fact that Theodotions version, not the LXX., was read in the Churches, and that the book was reckoned by the Jews not among the prophets but among the Hagiographa. It was addressed to Paula and Eustochium about a.d. 392.
The Septuagint version of Daniel the prophet is not read by the Churches of our Lord and Saviour. They use Theodotions version, but how this came to pass I cannot tell. Whether it be that the language is Chaldee, which differs in certain peculiarities from our speech, and the Seventy were unwilling to follow those deviations in a translation; or that the book was published in the name of the Seventy, by some one or other not familiar with Chaldee, or if there be some other reason, I know not; this one thing I can affirm—that it differs widely from the original, and is rightly rejected. For we p. 493 must bear in mind that Daniel and Ezra, the former especially, were written in Hebrew letters, but in the Chaldee language, as was 5406 one section of Jeremiah; and, further, that Job has much affinity with Arabic. As for myself, when, in lily youth, after reading the flowery rhetoric of Quintilian and Tully, I entered on the vigorous study of this language, the expenditure of much time and energy barely enabled me to utter the puffing and hissing words; I seemed to be walking in a sort of underground chamber with a few scattered rays of light shining down upon me; and when at last I met with Daniel, such a sense of weariness came over me that, in a fit of despair, I could have counted all my former toil as useless. But there was a certain Hebrew who encouraged me, and was for ever quoting for my benefit the saying that “Persistent labour conquers all things”; and so, conscious that among Hebrews I was only a smatterer, I once more began to study Chaldee. And, to confess the truth, to this day I can read and understand Chaldee better than I can pronounce it. I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing to them an obelus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume. I heard a certain Jewish teacher, when mocking at the history of Susanna, and saying that it was the fiction of some Greek or other, raise the same objection which Africanus brought against Origen—that these etymologies of 5407 σχίσαι from 5408 σχίνος, and 5409 πρίσαι from 5410 πρίνος, are to be traced to the Greek. To make the point clear to Latin readers: It is as if he were to say, playing upon the word ilex, illico pereas; or upon lentiscus, may the angel make a lentil of you, or may you perish nan lente, or may you lentus (that is pliant or compliant) be led to death, or anything else suiting the name of the tree. Then he would captiously maintain that the three youths in the furnace of raging fire had leisure enough to amuse themselves with making poetry, and to summon all the elements in turn to praise God. Or what was there miraculous, he would say, or what indication of divine inspiration, in the slaying of the dragon with a lump of pitch, or in frustrating the schemes of the priests of Bel? Such deeds were more the results of an able mans forethought than of a prophetic spirit. But when he came to 5411 Habakkuk and read that he was carried from Judæa into Chaldæa to bring a dish of food to Daniel, he asked where we found an instance in the whole of the Old Testament of any saint with an ordinary body flying through the air, and in a quarter of an hour traversing vast tracts of country. And when one of us who was rather too ready to speak adduced the instance of Ezekiel, and said that he was transported from Chaldæa into Judæa, he derided the man and proved from the book itself that Ezekiel, in spirit, saw himself carried over. And he argued that even our own Apostle, being an accomplished man and one who had been taught the law by Hebrews, had not dared to affirm that he was bodily rapt away, but had said: 5412 “Whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth.” By these and similar arguments he used to refute the apocryphal fables in the Churchs book. Leaving this for the reader to pronounce upon as he may think fit, I give warning that Daniel in Hebrew is not found among the prophets, but amongst the writers of the Hagiographa; for all Scripture is by them divided into three parts: the law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, which have respectively five, eight, and eleven books, a point which we cannot now discuss. But as to the objections which 5413 Porphyry raises against this prophet, or rather brings against the book, 5414 Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinaris may be cited as witnesses, for they replied to his folly in many thousand lines of writing, whether with satisfaction to the curious reader I know not. Therefore, I beseech you, Paula and Eustochium, to pour out your supplications for me to the Lord, that so long as I am in this poor body, I may write something pleasing to you, useful to the Church, worthy of posterity. As for my contemporaries, I am indifferent to their opinions, for they pass from side to side as they are moved by love or hatred.
To split. The word has no sort of etymological connection with σχῖνος. Sus. 1:54, 55, 58, 59. When the first elder says the crime was committed under a mastich tree (schinos), Daniel answers, “God shall cut thee in two” (schisei).493:5408
The mastich tree.493:5409
In the LXX. the story of Bel and the Dragon bears a special heading as “part of the prophecy of Habakkuk.”—Westcott. The angel is said to have carried Habakkuk with a dish of food in his hand for Daniel from Judæa to Babylon.493:5412
2 Cor. xii. 2.493:5413
The bitter enemy of the Christian faith. Born at Tyre 223. Died at Rome about 304.493:5414
Bishop of Patara in Lycia, and afterwards of Tyre. Suffered martyrdom 302 or 303.
Next: The Twelve Minor Prophets.
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