Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why do some Bibles omit portions of Daniel and Esther? Akin Says: Luther

Here's one I found over on the Catholic Answers Facebook page: "Why do some Bibles omit portions of Daniel and Esther? Catholic Answers Senior Apologist Jimmy Akin explains:"

The question given to Mr. Akin concerns why Protestant Bibles do not have Daniel 14. The question actually begins abruptly, so it's a little confusing. The question concerns all the additional material in Daniel  (those sections that find their home in contemporary Roman Catholic versions of the Bible).

Akin begins his answers by presenting the standard response: the alleged additional material is found in the Septuagint. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'll refer to earlier blog entries: Daniel's Susanna: Why Isn't it Biblical? (see particularly Jason Engwer's comments), and Francis Beckwith: ETS Shows Sympathies for the Catholic Canon. Akin infers that Protestant reliance on the Masoretic text (which excludes the additional material in Daniel) is relying on "modern Judaism." Previous to this, there were multiple canons used by the Jews. The only thing Akin sees as certain is that the early church used the Septuagint. What exactly was contained in the Septuagint though is a little murky (as discussed in the links above). For Akin, the testimony of the early church's acceptance of the Septuagint is that which confirms the inclusion of the extra material in Daniel.

Why then do Protestant bibles not have the additional material in Daniel?  It was the devious work of that rascal Martin Luther (begin Akin clip at 3:10): "Martin Luther decided he didn't like certain things that were in the Catholic Bible... he looked for a way to exclude those things." What were the certain things? Akin doesn't say. He says that the easiest way for Luther to remove things from the Bible was to look at what the Jews used for the Old Testament, and the the only Jews Luther was aware of were "modern Jews."

Completely missing from Akin's answer is any of the testimony from Jerome and the reason why many think the extra material in Daniel is a later addition to the text. In responding to Porphyry's claims against the entire book of Daniel, Jerome grants he's made some good points in regard to the apocryphal additions:
But among other things we should recognize that Porphyry makes this objection to us concerning the Book of Daniel, that it is clearly a forgery not to be considered as belonging to the Hebrew Scriptures but an invention composed in Greek. This he deduces from the fact that in the story of Susanna, where Daniel is speaking to the elders, we find the expressions, "To split from the mastic tree" (apo tou skhinou skhisai) and to saw from the evergreen oak (kai apo tou prinou prisai), a wordplay appropriate to Greek rather than to Hebrew. But both Eusebius and Apollinarius have answered him after the same tenor, that the stories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are not contained in the Hebrew, but rather they constitute a part of the prophecy of Habakkuk, the son of Jesus of the tribe of Levi. Just as we find in the title of that same story of Bel, according to the Septuagint, "There was a certain priest named Daniel, the son of Abda, an intimate of the King of Babylon." And yet Holy Scripture testifies that Daniel and the three Hebrew children were of the tribe of Judah. For this same reason when I was translating Daniel many years ago, I noted these visions with a critical symbol, showing that they were not included in the Hebrew. And in this connection I am surprised to be told that certain fault-finders complain that I have on my own initiative truncated the book. After all, both Origen, Eusebius and Apollinarius, and other outstanding churchmen and teachers of Greece acknowledge that, as I have said, these visions are not found amongst the Hebrews, and that therefore they are not obliged to answer to Porphyry for these portions which exhibit no authority as Holy Scripture...
But even Origen in his Vulgate edition (of the Greek Old Testament) placed asterisks around the work of Theodotion, indicating that the material added was missing (in the Septuagint), whereas on the other hand he prefixed obeli (i.e., diacritical marks) to some of the verses, distinguishing thereby whatever was additional material (not contained in the Hebrew). And since all the churches of Christ, whether belonging to the Greek-speaking territory or the Latin, the Syrian or the Egyptian, publicly read this edition with its asterisks and obeli, let the hostile-minded not begrudge my labor, because I wanted our (Latin-speaking) people to have what the Greek-speaking peoples habitually read publicly in the regions of Aquila and Symmachus. And if the Greeks do not for all their wealth of learning despise the scholarly work of Jews, why should poverty-stricken Latins look down upon a man who is a Christian? And if my product seems unsatisfactory, at least my good intentions should be recognized. [source].
Commenting on Daniel 13:54 Jerome says,
'Tell me under which tree thou sawest them conversing with each other.' And he answered, 'Under the mastic tree.' And Daniel said to him, 'Well hast thou lied against thine own head; for behold, the angel of God, having received His sentence from Him, shall cleave thee in twain.' And a little while later the other elder said, 'Under the holm tree.' And Daniel said to him, 'Well hast thou lied against thine own head; but the angel of the Lord waiteth with a sword to sever thee in twain.'" Since the Hebrews reject the story of Susanna, asserting that it is not contained in the Book of Daniel, we ought to investigate carefully the names of the trees, the skhinos and the prinos, which the Latins interpret as "holm-oak" and "mastic-tree," and see whether they exist among the Hebrews and what their derivation is ---- for example, as "cleavage" [Latin (scissio) is derived from "mastic" [Greek skhinos], and "cutting" or "sawing" [Latin sectio, serratio] is derived from "holm tree" [Greek prinos, which resembles the Greek word for "to saw": prio] in the language of the Greeks. But if no such derivation can be found, then we too are of necessity forced to agree with the verdict of those who claim that this chapter [Greek pericope] was originally composed in Greek, because it contains Greek etymology not found in Hebrew. [That is, because Daniel twice makes a sinister wordplay based upon the Greek names of these two trees, and a similar pun could not be made out from the Hebrew names, if any, of these trees, the story itself could never have been composed in Hebrew.] But if anyone can show that the derivation of the ideas of cleaving and severing from the names of the two trees in question is valid in Hebrew, then we may accept this scripture also as canonical.
Commenting on chapter 14, Jerome says:
"And as soon as he had opened the door, the king looked upon the table and cried out with a great voice: 'Great art thou, O Bel, and there is no deceit with thee.'" The statement of Scripture in this passage, "He cried out with a great voice," may seem, because of its reference to an idolator ignorant of God, to refute the observation put forth a little previously, that the expression "great voice" is found only in connection with saints. This objection is easily solved by asserting that this particular story is not contained in the Hebrew of the Book of Daniel. If, however, anyone should be able to prove that it belongs in the canon, then we should be obliged to seek out some answer to this objection.
Dead Sea Scroll manuscript fragments have been found of the book of Daniel. To my knowledge, these fragments do not contain any of the Greek additions (the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, and the Story of Susanna). Jerome's appeal for proof has yet to be answered.

Why did Luther remove the additions to Daniel? He didn't. He actually translated them into German and included them in his translation of the Bible.
Preface to Parts of Esther and Daniel 1534
Here follow several pieces which we did not wish to translate [and include] in the prophet Daniel and in the book of Esther. We have uprooted such cornflowers (because they do not appear in the Hebrew versions of Daniel and Esther). And yet, to keep them from perishing, we have put them here in a kind of special little spice garden or flower bed since much that is good, especially the hymn of praise, Benedicite, is to be found in them. But the texts of Susanna, and of Bel, Habakkuk, and the Dragon, seem like beautiful religious fictions, such as Judith and Tobit, for their names indicate as much. For example, Susanna means a rose, that is, a nice pious land and folk, or a group of poor people among the thorns; Daniel means a judge, and so on. Be the story as it may, it can all be easily interpreted in terms of the state, the home, or the devout company of the faithful. [LW 35:352].
As I pointed out in my previous entry, Luther actually enjoyed some of the additional material. Susanna "seem[ed] like beautiful religious fiction." If someone wanted to use it, Luther said "it can all be easily interpreted in terms of the state, the home, or the devout company of the faithful" [LW 35:353]. Luther being consistent with this either quotes or refers to Susanna in LW 11:112; 12:201; 18:330; 37:322; 44:223.


Martin Yee said...

Great myth busting again. Luther blamed for something he did not even do...truly amazing. Thanks.

James Swan said...