Semitic and Greek Daniel, was: Greek vs. Hebrew

Wesselius jwwesselius at
Mon Dec 31 06:54:26 EST 2001

I think that Clay Stirling Bartholomew is basically right, 
and that there are too many variables to come to a 
conclusion about the original form of the book of Daniel, 
unless (I would add) one can think of a reason why this or 
that form of the book looks the way it does: in that case 
at least part of the genealogy of the book can be 
reconstructed. See my "The Writing of Daniel", in: J.J. 
Collins & P.W. Flint, The Book of Daniel. Composition and 
Reception, vol II (Leiden: Brill, 2001) 291-310, for the 
view of MT Daniel as a literary emulation of the book of 
Ezra and of the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50, in which 
nearly all the discontinuities (language, literary genre, 
division of the book, first-third-person narration, 
anachronistic position of chapters) in the book find a 
natural place. This would make the LXX version, where much 
of this is different, secondary in any case. In general 
about this interesting literary strategy: J.W. 
Wesselius, "Discontinuity, Congruence and the Making of the 
Hebrew Bible", Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 13 
(1999) 24-77. 
As for the LXX itself, in a paper for the IOSCS this 
summer, I proposed a systematic literary shift as part of 
the background for the LXX/Old Greek version: one of the 
general characteristics of MT Daniel is postponing the 
giving of information to the reader, for as long as 
possible, about the accusations, the saving of the martyrs 
and the riddles in the stories. The LXX attempted to 
reverse this, with complex literary changes in some 
chapters as a result.
Finally, best wishes for all for 2002!

Jan-Wim Wesselius
Hoekenes 26A, 1068 MT Amsterdam
tel 0(031)20 619 1535; fax 619 1636
e-mail wesselius at 

office: Theological University Kampen
POB 5021, 8260 GA Kampen
tel 0(031)38 3371 662; fax 3371 613
e-mail jwwesselius at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: c stirling bartholomew 
[mailto:cc.constantine at]
> Sent: maandag 31 december 2001 7:14
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Greek vs. Hebrew
> on 12/30/01 12:53 PM, Dave Washburn wrote:
> >> 
> >> We need to shift our focus when moving from NT Textual 
criticism to a
> >> discussion of the relationship between the MT and LXX. 
The traditional
> >> approach with the NT is to make the goal of TC the 
recovery of the
> >> autographs. If you make that your goal with a book 
like Daniel you are
> >> certainly going to end up being frustrated.
> > 
> > Why?
> Why not?
> I have studied the text of both Greek versions of Daniel 
extensively and
> compared them at many points with Daniel in the Hebrew 
Bible and 
> I certainly
> see a number of substantial reasons for being daunted by 
the task 
> of finding
> the "autograph" of the book of Daniel.
> First - What is the book of Daniel? If you take the 
Hebrew Bible as the
> standard it is a book with 2 major divisions and a number 
of minor
> divisions. If you take the LXX Daniel you have a book 
with five major
> divisions, substantial additional material and a lot of 
minor divisions.
> Furthermore in the pseudoepigrapha we find  other pieces 
> Daniel floating
> about. So what is the book of Daniel?  What kind of book 
are we 
> looking for
> in our "autograph?"
> Second - The LXX version of Daniel (Old Greek) is 
considered my many a
> marginal piece of work as translations go. What is called 
the Theodotion
> version may contain a text as old as the OG version. 
There is  debate on
> this issue. The OG and Theodotion versions of Daniel are 
quite different.
> Which Greek edition are you going to trust for finding 
the "autograph?"
> Eclectic approach? Sure, why not.
> Third - Daniel in the Hebrew Bible is bilingual. The 
> division does
> not fall exactly on a major discourse boundary. The 
original language of
> Daniel is a topic of debate. We may not have some of the 
book in its
> original language. It might have all been written 
originally in Aramaic.
> What language are we looking for in our "autograph?"
> Fourth - What is called the Masoretic Text (MT) is 
actually a family of
> texts, highly standardized and centuries removed from the 
date of even the
> latest OT books. The MT is for the Old Testament what the 
Majority Text is
> for the New Testament. It is the "official" text. This is 
not a pejorative
> observation. Being an official text does not make it a 
bad or 
> inferior text
> but it does imply that "standardization" was a part of 
> process. Official
> texts may not preserve the "autograph." An 
understatement? Yes indeed.
> So when we take a look at the text of a book like Daniel 
we find ourselves
> working with a lot of variables. Problems with lots of 
variables are
> difficult to solve. I think the "autograph" of the Daniel 
is out of reach.
> We don't even know what we are looking for, the language, 
> size the shape
> the contents. 
> Enough on this topic.
> greetings,
> Clay
> --  
> Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
> Three Tree Point
> P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062
> ---
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