Almost everything, excepting its absence from the original, points to the Song having been from the beginning a part of the LXX text of Daniel. Its date therefore in this case would be the date of that text. The way in which it is worked into the canonical Daniel narrative suggests that, if there be any variation as to date in the three additions, this is seemingly the earliest.
That the LXX translator invented this enlargement out of his own genius seems highly improbable; nor, were it not for its absence from the original Daniel, few would have doubted that he obtained the whole of his material from the same quarter. In such case our apocryphon' would obviously ante-date the LXX text.
It is not unlikely that the Alexandrian translator worked up certain traditions (J. M. Fuller, S.P.C.K. Comm.; see also Bevan, Dan. Camb.1892, p.45), or, if Gaster's discovery be what he thinks, written narratives. What sources, however, were used in preparing its LXX Greek form can only be conjectured, and that on very slender data.
Rothstein in Kautzsch (I.176) deems it to have been imported into the text of Daniel before the LXX translation, which he dates at latest in the first quarter of the last century b.c.
How an interpolation of this kind came to be admitted into the original of Daniel is a difficult matter to explain. Even on the supposition that the ktvvym were less rigidly fixed than the Law or even the Prophets, the insertion or omission of such a section as this seems a very bold step. Ewald (Hist. Israel, V.86, 87, Eng. Tr.) thinks these additions to be fragments of an enlarged Daniel based on the older book; which was composed one or two centuries earlier. Some later writer must have compared this new book, which was originally written in Greek, with the translation of the older book of Daniel, and transferred whatever he thought proper from the former into the latter. The work, thus compiled afresh, has been preserved in Greek shape, while the intervening book, whose former existence is proved by clearest traces, is now lost. It is only in this way, Ewald thinks, that we can explain the origin and preservation of the portions which are not contained in the Hebrew.
Prof. Kautzsch (I.121) deems III. Maccabees, in vi.6 of which book there is a reference to v.27 (50) of the Song, to date from some time between the end of the second century b.c. and 70 a.d. at the latest. Within these limits he fixes upon the commencement of the Christian era as the most likely time. Dr. Streane, moreover (Age of Macc. p.157), thinks that while century I. b.c. is very possible, it cannot be of earlier date, on account of the proof given by this verse of acquaintance with the Song. This reference, therefore, undoubted as it is, does not greatly help us in solving the problem of date, except as to its ad quem limit.
Tob. xii.6 and xiii.10 (the latter especially in the Vulgate) are very similar in phraseology to the refrain of the Benedicite; vv.29, 30 (52) too, in both Greek versions, strongly suggest an acquaintance with Tob. viii.5, since kurie appears more likely to have been added to, than omitted from, the later document of the two. This is on the assumption that Tobit is, as Streane thinks (p.148), pre-Maccabean, or at any rate earlier than this Song. But as the words used are not very distinctive, it is quite possible that they might have been independently prepared. The mention of Ananias, Azarias, and Misael in I. Macc. ii.59 is not conclusive as to its writer's knowledge of the Song, but the order of the names, which does not occur elsewhere, makes a remembrance of v.88 not improbable. I. Macc. is dated by Kautzsch (I.31) from 100 to 90 b.c.; Streane (p.149) allows slightly wider limits; and Westcott (Smith's D. B. II.173) suggests 120 to 100. As to another possible indication given by v.66 (88), see Chronology,' p.69.
Of that scepticism which followed the refinements of rabbinism there is no trace, either here, or in Susanna, or in Bel and the Dragon. The tone of them all is that of an earlier time, free from any symptoms of this later decline. But still the signs of date are not sufficiently decided to justify us in fixing upon a narrow period with any degree of certainty. Taking the piece as independent of the original Daniel, the second century b.c. might perhaps be named as far from improbable. But a closer date than this it is hardly safe to fix.
If we assume an Aramaic original, Babylonia most probably will be the place for its production; Palestine somewhat less probably. But indications of place in the piece itself are very faint. It is true, however, that the order |nights and days| is |in conformity with the Shemitic custom of fixing the beginning of the day at the preceding evening| (McSwiney, Psalms and Canticles, 1901, p.644).
Everyone must have noticed the frequency with which things watery and things cold are mentioned in the Song. The number of times they occur seems quite out of proportion with the scale on which it is conceived. Water, showers, dew, cold, frost, snow, sea, rivers, fountains, all that move in the waters, are apostrophised in succession. The preponderance of these objects is very noticeable, even to a cursory reader. Now both Babylon and Alexandria are alike situated in hot countries; but of the two, a resident in the former would be more likely to have had these things brought before his eyes than a resident in the latter. Lower Egypt with its almost rainless climate, and its one river, does not seem the most likely locality to suggest a constant reference to such topics. Chaldæa, on the other hand, is better watered and is within the region of rain, and at any rate in its northern parts, of frost and snow. Dura, according to Keith Johnston's map, is close to the hills. But the position of |the plain of Dura,| where the martyrdom took place, has not been certainly identified. J. M. Fuller's note on v.42 (64), |Rain and dew have that prominence which naturally belongs to them in the parched East,| is far from sufficing to explain the oft recurring mention of these matters.
Still less does Bishop Forties' remark that |the element of water seems specially to have received the benediction of the Lord,| serve to elucidate the cause of its preponderance here.
The slight anthropomorphism in v.54, where sitting' is implied in Th, expressed in O', is more conformable to Babylonian than Alexandrian ideas; but this may be a mere reminiscence of Psalms lxxx.1, xcix.1. The mention of pitch or bitumen is inconclusive, inasmuch as it is found in both Babylonia and Egypt; but the mention of |heavens| and |stars of heaven| (vv.59, 63), agrees very well with Chaldean origin. So far, therefore, as these considerations go, they turn the scale, to a small extent, in favour of Babylonia.
The only natural object which may be regarded as telling in the opposite direction is kete (v.79), which might be thought to point to a knowledge of the Mediterranean Sea (see Child Chaplin, Benedicite, 1879, p.324).
The birthplace of the LXX text is surely Alexandria. The character of this, as of the other additions, indicates, according to Westcott (D.B. ed.2, I.1714a) and Wordsworth (on Dan. iii.23), the hand of an Alexandrian writer.
It is well, however, to notice that this, with its companion pieces, has as few indications of Greek philosophy and habits of thought as any part of the Apocrypha; and in common with most Alexandrian writers it has little or nothing of purely Egyptian character. Still, Dereser's idea that |Daniel may have written his book in Greek at Babylon with all the additions| (quoted by Bissell, p.444) seems most unlikely, and could hardly have been advanced except under the necessity of supporting the Roman view of the book.
Theodotion's version, so far as concerns the locality where it originated, shares the obscurity which hangs over much of Theodotion's personal life. Ephesus may be suggested, for Irenæus (III. xxiii.) styles him ho Ephesios; though Epiphanius calls him Pontikos (D.C.B. art. Hexapla, p.22a). The latter author is, for the most part, the less accurate of the two. In De Mensuris, etc., XVII. he states that Th's version was issued in the second Commodus' reign, 180-192, |obviously too late.| The pre-Theodotionic version which Th is thought to have used may of course have been an Alexandrian production; but at present little is known of it.
That Theodotion had some earlier rendering, besides the LXX as his basis, the quotations in Rev. ix.20, etc., and St. Matt. xii.18, coinciding with his version, render highly probable, inasmuch as he wrote subsequently to any likely date for those books. Possibly he may have used Aquila's version, or that of some unknown translator. Professor Gwynn's idea (D.C.B. art. Theodotion, 917a) of |two rival Septuagintal Daniels| seems to have more |inherent improbability| than he is inclined to admit. But where this ground text, circulated apparently in Palestine and Asia Minor, was made, who can say? But if we take St. John as the author of Revelation, his connection with Ephesus, and the probable publication of his work there, give some little support to the theory of an Ephesian origin of Theodotion's translation.
It is strange that a version supposed to be made by one who was not an orthodox Christian, if Christian at all, should have been preferred, as far as concerns Daniel, by the Christian Church for ordinary use. Jerome (Præf. in Dan.) says, as if he felt that some explanation was needed, |et hoc cur acciderit nescio,| though he proceeds to suggest some possible reasons why the version of one |qui utique post adventum Christi incredulus fuit| should have been so much honoured. The religious work of a Jew, who lived before Christ, and that of one who refused to acknowledge his advent after it had taken place, stand obviously, for Christians, on a different footing.