June 25, 2023

Two Greek Versions of Daniel Predating the 1st Century


Alexander A. Di Lella in a chapter entitled “The textual History of Septuagint-Daniel and Theodotion-Daniel” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception (2002), vol 2, pp. 586-607), presents the scholarship that has demonstrated two major Greek versions of Daniel that predate the 1st Century. This is known in scholarship as OG-Dan and Th-Dan. Critical editions of the Septuagint (LXX) often include both versions.  

For example, the LXX with Critical Apparatus published by German Bible Society contains both versions designated as  “DAN” and “DANT”. “DAN” corresponds to OG-Dan, and “DANT” corresponds to Th-Dan.

OG-Dan (Septuagint Daniel)

OG-Dan, known as “Old Greek” or “Septuagint” Daniel is a primitive Greek translation of Daniel. The date of OG-Dan has generally been assigned to the late second or early first century BCE. OG-Dan is prior to Th-Dan and was likely translated in Alexandria Egypt.

There is scholarly consensus that the OG (Old Greek) is not a homogeneous or uniformly literal translation of the Old Testament but differs from book to book in the accuracy and quality of its results. (Di Lella, p 595) 

There are only two complete witnesses of OG-Dan (manuscript 88 and (c), a literal Syriac translation of the OG that was made in the 7th century). The reason for the scarcity of witnesses to OG-Dan is that early on the Christian church abandoned OG-Dan and replaced it by Th-Dan. Th-Dan triumphed over OG-Dan in 150-200 CE in the Greek church (R. H Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times, (1949) p. 444)

St. Jerome attested to this replacement in the preface to his translation of Daniel in the Vulgate:

The churches of our Lord Savior do not read the prophet Daniel according to the Seventy Interpreters; they use the edition of Theodotion. But why this happened I do not know. .. This one thing I can affirm - that it [the LXX] differs a great deal from the truth, and with good reason was rejected (Jerome, "Prologus in Danihele Propheta," in R. Weber (ed.) Bibla Sacraiuxta vulgatam versionem (2nd ed., 2 vols. (1975) 2.1231)


Th-Dan (Theodotion Daniel)

Di Lella argues that another Greek translation, now known as Th-Dan, was produced in Palestine or Asia Minor by a Jewish translator during pre-Christian times. It follows that the translator was of the opinion that OG-Dan did not accurately render the Hebrew and Aramaic original, so he translated the work anew with OG-Dan in view. Di Lella further argues that Th-Dan is essentially in its present form (as found in all the Greek MSS, except for 88-Syh and 967) a first-century BCE production that never was reworked by Theodotion. Thus “Th-Dan” is a misnomer. Instead, it is a designation that has been maintained to avoid further confusion. (p 596)

Th-Dan was initially associated with the historical Theodotion, who lived in the early second century CE and was previously thought to have reworked much of the Greek OT. Dan. It is now certain that Th-Dan is not the work of Theodotion, but pertains to an earlier Greek manuscript tradition of the Old Testament that precedes the 1st century CE. 

A date later than the composition of the New Testament texts cannot account for how the NT cites many phrases from Th-Dan. Because of the correspondence between Th-Dan and the New Testament, scholars have concluded that Th-Dan must antedate it. 

The New Testament cites readings that come from OG-Dan as well as Th-Dan. Again, the evidence seems to indicate that the NT writers and the early Christian community employed at least two different Greek forms of Daniel. 

J. Gwynn has argued in “Theodotion,” Dictionary of Christian Biography ((1887) 4.970-79) for a probable theory that in addition to OG-Dan the Jews of pre-Christian times had another Greek form of Daniel. This form was known to the translator of the deuterocanonical Book of Baruch into Greek at around 70 CE, in addition to the NT writers and the earliest Church Fathers such as Clement and Hermas. Gwyunn concludes that this other Pre-Christian Greek form of Daniel became the foundation of the work of the historical Theodotion.

Ziegler (Daniel, 28-29 n. 1.) had the view that Th-Dan has nothing at all to do with Theodotion but was only superficially reworked by him.

DiLella concludes that translators of OG-Dan and Th-Dan were consciously at work on a canonical text. These Greek forms, with the Additions, served as canonical Scripture for the several Greek-speaking Jewish and Christian communities that received (or revised) them. Being Scripture, OG-Dan and Th-Dan deserve the same respect and consideration as the MT. (p. 604)

By the end of the 2nd Century, Th-Dan was the principal version of Daniel used by Christian communities. 

The reading of Daniel 7:13-14

Th-Dan, the authoritative version of Daniel among early Christians, reads in Dan 7:14 douleuo, meaning to serve, to be in subjection to, rather than latreuo, meaning divine worship/service. The variant is theologically significant, as the use of latreuo might seem to suggest divine worship rendered to the Son of Man. 

Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV) 

13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Daniel Theodotion [Th-Dan] 7:13-14 (LXX-APP)

13 ἐθεώρουν ἐν ὁράματι τῆς νυκτὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενος ἦν καὶ ἕως τοῦ παλαιοῦ τῶν ἡμερῶν ἔφθασεν καὶ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ προσηνέχθη.
14 καὶ αὐτῷ ἐδόθη ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ βασιλεία, καὶ πάντες οἱ λαοί, φυλαί, γλῶσσαι αὐτῷ δουλεύσουσιν· ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ἥτις οὐ παρελεύσεται, καὶ ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ οὐ διαφθαρήσεται.

GPT4 Translation, Daniel Theodotion [Th-Dan]

13 I was watching in the visions of the night, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man was coming, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

14 And to him was given dominion, and honor, and the kingdom, and all peoples, tribes, and languages will serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away, and his kingdom will not be destroyed.

Daniel [OG-Dan] 7:13-14 (LXX-APP)

13 ἐθεώρουν ἐν ὁράματι τῆς νυκτὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἤρχετο, καὶ ὡς παλαιὸς ἡμερῶν παρῆν, καὶ οἱ παρεστηκότες παρῆσαν αὐτῷ.
14 καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἐξουσία, καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς κατὰ γένη καὶ πᾶσα δόξα αὐτῷ λατρεύουσα· καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ἥτις οὐ μὴ ἀρθῇ, καὶ ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ, ἥτις οὐ μὴ φθαρῇ.

GPT4 Translation, Daniel [OG-Dan]

13 I was watching in the visions of the night, and behold, upon the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man was coming, and as an ancient of days was present, and those who stood by were present with him.

14 And authority was given to him, and all the nations of the earth according to their kind, and all glory was serving him; and his authority is an eternal authority, which shall not be taken away, and his kingdom, which shall not be destroyed. 

The progressive embellishment of the Gospels in reference to Daniel

On https://LukanPriority.com the case is made of progressive embellishment from Luke to Mark to Matthew. Comparing parallels of the three gospels with respect to Daniel references. Luke and Mark reference Th-Dan and Matthew OG-Dan. Matthew is actually making reference to the more unreliable version of Daniel (OG-Dan).

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