Are the additions to Daniel (Prayer of Azariah, Suzannah, Bel and Dragon) inspired and reliable?
I wanted to ask you a question in regards to the book of Daniel. The LXX [editor’s note: this is the Septuagint Greek version] version of the book of Daniel has three additional passages, “The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children, the stories of Susannah and the Elders and Bel and the Dragon.” I was wondering do you think that these passages are inspired and reliable? Thanks!
In my book, “Daniel, Prophet to the Nations” (www.ipibooks.com, you might want to pick up a copy), I have an appendix on this exact question which goes into more detail.
The evidence supports the conclusion that the Prayer of Azariah, Suzannah, and Bel and the Dragon are Jewish additions from perhaps the second century or even the first century BC. These are not included in the Jewish Bible. They are not found in the Daniel manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. If we accept the Jews to be the ones chosen by God to determine the Old Testament canon, then, by definition, these additions are non-canonical. There is no evidence that the originals of these stories were in Hebrew or even in Aramaic. More likely, the original of these additions was in Greek, as the only ancient versions of them are in that language. The Greek “Apocrypha” (literally hidden books) of the Old Testament crept into use in the Septuagint, principally in the early Christian church, not among the Jews. It is doubtful that a consensus of Jews ever accepted these writings as canonical.
One could argue that just because the additions to Daniel are not canonical–ie are not part of the accepted Old Testament, does not in and of itself prove that they are not inspired. It is possible that God inspired writings that he chose not to cause to enter the scripture. This may seem unlikely, but we cannot rule it out. Therefore, we may need to look at the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Holy Children, Suzannah, and Bel and the Dragon to decide if there are marks of inspiration in these books. I invite you to read the four additions to judge for yourself. Both Susannah and Bel and the Dragon have the feel of moralistic fables, written for unsophisticated audiences. One of the best ways to realize what makes an inspired book is to look at the next best candidates such as the additions to Daniel. A quick glance at canonical Daniel and at Suzannah or Bel and the Dragon will pretty quickly show the vastly greater quality of inspired writings to those of the Jews who were not inspired. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Holy Children are not as obviously unreliable and not inspired, but they are not in the Jewish canonical Daniel, so we can exclude these for that reason.
In conclusion, I reject the additions to Daniel as not inspired or reliable for at least three reasons. 1. The Jews, the arbiters of the Old Testament canon do not include them. 2. The additions were most likely not even originally in Hebrew or Aramaic and 2. The actual content does not have the marks of inspired writing.