The three apocryphal portions of Daniel considered in this book have often been hardly judged. One of them had almost become a byword of contempt for fabulous inventiveness. Yet the writer hopes that he has succeeded in shewing that they are worthy of more serious attention than they have frequently received. The prejudice long existing in this country against the Apocrypha as a whole has told heavily against two at any rate of these booklets; and he who attempts to investigate the nature and origin of the Additions to Daniel finds himself following a track which is anything but well beaten. The number of commentaries or treatises in English dealing directly with these works is very small. Indeed, considering the position accorded to them by the Church, it is surprisingly so. And of those which exist, some are not very valuable for accurate study. Hence, in preparing a treatise of this kind, materials have to be quarried and brought together from varied and distant sources; and the work, small as its result may be in size, has proved a laborious one. The conclusions arrived at on many points are but provisional; for the writer thinks that the day has not yet come when the source and place of these Additions to Daniel can be surely and incontrovertibly fixed. It is to be hoped that further evidence and longer study will eventually make these matters clearer than they are at present. Meanwhile, careful and unprejudiced work upon the subject, by whomsoever undertaken, cannot but tend towards that goal; and the author trusts that he may have contributed something which will help, at least a little, towards the solution of the difficult problem presented.
The Song of the Three and the Histories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are most interesting memorials of the spirit of their time, though that time may be difficult to fix precisely. And when looked at from the religious point of view they are replete with valuable moral lessons for |example of life and instruction of manners,| to borrow the terms which the Sixth Article of Religion employs with regard to the Apocryphal books. An attempt has been made, in a concluding chapter on each book, to draw some of these lessons out, so that they may be easily available for such homiletic and other purposes as are contemplated in that Article.
The study of these three pieces supplementary to Daniel has convinced the writer that they are of more value than has been generally supposed, and are worthy of the attention of biblical scholars in a much higher degree than that which has usually been accorded to them. If he has in any way helped in providing materials, or in suggesting ideas, which may fructify in abler hands, he will be rewarded for the researches he has made.
It appears to him that there is much connected with these books which we are unable now fully to discover; much about which it is unwise to dogmatize; many questions which must be treated as open ones; many problems which can at most only receive provisional solutions, till further facts are elicited and further insight given. The time is apparently still distant when the origin and true standing of these Additions can be certainly assigned to them: for, at the present, agreement amongst Christians on these points shews but little sign of being arrived at. Yet we trust that the time will come when deeper knowledge will make it possible for disputed points to be settled. |The patience of the godly shall not be frustrate| (Ecclus. xvi.13).
In conclusion I must record my hearty thanks to Dr. Sinker, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, for the great assistance he has given me in correcting the proof-sheets, as well as for his constant kindness in many other ways, of which these words are but an insufficient acknowledgment.
W. H. D.
St. Margaret's Gate,
Bury St. Edmunds.
St. Matthias' Day, 1906.