The following examples from primitive Christian writings bear more or less directly upon this book.
New Testament. Compare B.V.M.s words in St. Luke i.38 with Daniel's at the end of v.9, Th. With John xviii.35 compare Bel 38, O' and Th, as to a Gentile being taken for a Jew. Moreover the phrase ta sebasmata humon in Acts xvii.23 is very like a reminiscence of Bel 27, Th, end. But A. Scholz's idea that our Lord's words in John x.9 are based on vv.3, 6, 13 has little likelihood: |gegensätzlich so nahe verwandt, dass in den Evangelium darauf Bezug genommen sein könnte| (note on v.13).
Irenæus (200) in IV. ix.1 quotes vv.4, 5, 24, as coming from Daniel, apparently without the smallest misgiving. His quotations accord with Th as against O', v.4 being the same in both. As Schürer says in Hauck's Encyclopædia (I.640): |Irenäus benuzt die Uebersetzung des Theodotion und so alle Folgenden.| But see under Cyprian.
Clement of Alexandria (220) refers, Strom. I.21 (middle, ed. Potter, Oxf.1715), among a chain of historic events, to the closing scene in this piece: tote dia drakonta Daniel eis lakkon leonton bletheis, hupo Ambakoub pronoia theou trapheis, hebdomaios anasozetai.
Tertullian (240). In de Jejun. vii. (end) reference is made to vv.35-39; and in ix. the story is again mentioned. In de Oratione, 29, he quotes vv.33, 34, seemingly with full acceptance. In de Idol. XIX. he says that |Daniel nec Belum nec draconem colere.|
Origen (254). Besides the question dealt with in his controversy with Julius Africanus, Origen in the Fragment of his Strom. bk. X. expounds Bel. He also quotes it in his Exhort. ad martyrium, § 33.
Cyprian (258) in ad Fortunatum, 11, quotes v.5, apparently following a translation of the O', and not of Th's, text. The same verse is again quoted by him in Ep. lviii.5 in exactly the same words. It is curious that both passages are preceded, in the same sections, by a quotation of Dan. iii.16-18, apparently based on Th's version. In the case of v.5 in Ep. lviii. there is a slight variation in the readings of some MSS. as given by Hartel. Cf. Prof. Swete's Introd.1902, p.47.
Pseudo-Cyprian (3rd century ?) gives parts of vv.37, 38, in Oratio II.2, following O' a little more closely than Th.
Passing of Mary (3rd or 4th century, see D.C.B., Mary, 1142b). In the First Latin form vv.33-39 are clearly referred to.
Athanasius (373) in his Discourse against Arians, II.8, quotes v.5 as words of Daniel, which he also refers to in III.30.
Ephrem Syrus (378). In the hymn de Jejunio there is, according to T. J. Lamy (Mechlin, 1886), a reference to Bel and the Dragon, |cum Daniel jejunavit|
Gregory Nazianzen (390) in his poetical Præcepta ad Virgines has the line, speaking of Daniel,
aerien d' eni chersin edexato daita prophetou.
Ambrose ( 397), in his Commentary in Ep. ad Rom. I.23, writes, |Coluerunt et serpentem draconem quem occidit Daniel, homo dei| (Basel, 1527, iv. p.768).
Chrysostom (407), In Danielem, cap. XIII. (xiv.) comments on Bel and the Dragon as part of the book, seemingly without reserve or alteration of tone.
Prudentius (410), in his Cathemerinon, iv., has several verses on the den episode, of which this is one:
|Cernit forte procul dapes ineuntas
Quas messoribus Habakkuk propheta
Agresti bonus exhibebat arte.|
Jerome (420), though excluding this and the other Additions from the canon, according to what he writes in his preface to Daniel, |veru anteposito Basque jugulante subjecimus,| retains it in his Bible. In his Onomasticon de Nominibus Hebraicis he includes under Daniel, Astyages, Bel, Ambacum, without distinction from the rest of the names in Daniel. But for this last work he was chiefly indebted to Eusebius, Peri ton topikon onomaton. (D.C.B. II.336a).
Hesychius of Jerusalem (438), in his Sticheron on the XII prophets, says of Habakkuk that, whether he was the same Habakkuk as an angel carried to Babylon, eipein to saphes ouk echo.
Theodoret (457), towards the close of Ep. CXLV., quotes v.36 with clear belief in the miracle. He also comments on vv.1, 2 as if forming v.14 of Dan, xii.; and then ceases.
We see, then, that the more than respectful references to this piece in the writers of ancient Christendom, if not quite so frequent as the citations of the Song and of Susanna, are still numerous and clear.
This apocryphal tract has afforded two fairly popular subjects for artistic illustration, viz., Daniel destroying the dragon, and Daniel and Habakkuk in the lions' den.
Daniel destroying the Dragon is a subject represented on glass from the catacombs (D. C. A. art. Glass, p.733a). Garrucci (Vetri, XIII.13) has a glass vessel in which Christ is represented with Daniel, who is giving cakes to the dragon (D. C. A. Jesus Christ, Representations of, p.877b). In Paganism in Christian Art in the same Dictionary (p.1535a), it is said, |Hercules feeding the fabled dragon with cakes of poppy-seed appears to have furnished the motive for the representation of the apocryphal story of Daniel killing the dragon at Babylon.| Presumably this means the dragon Ladon in the garden of the Hesperides. But the connection between the two dragon episodes of Hercules and Daniel seems a little difficult to establish by indisputable evidence.
In Walter Lowrie's Christian Art and Archaeology (Lond. and New York, 1901, p.363) is a woodcut of a fragment of gold glass, with Daniel slaying the Dragon. This is correctly described on p.209, but is wrongly entitled under the figure itself, as Daniel slaying Bel.' The picture is said to be taken from Garrucci, Storia dell' Arte, but no further reference is given. On p.365 of Lowrie's book is a smaller scene of the same in glass, again with an erroneous description on p. XXI. as |Daniel and Bel.| No dates are suggested for the above pieces of glass, but they appear to be very ancient.
In the Vatican cemetery a representation of Daniel's destruction of the dragon has been found on a sarcophagus; nor is this a solitary instance. (See O. T. in Art, D. C. A. p.1459a.) And on the south side of the Angel Choir in Lincoln Minster, among a series of sculptures in the spandrils of the triforium arches, occurs a figure, described by Cockerell, the architect, as that of the |Angel of Daniel,| with a monster under his feet, deemed to be |the old Dragon| (Archæol. Institute's Memoirs of Lincoln, Lond.1850, p.222).
Habakkuk with the loaves often appears in representations of the lions' den (O. T. in Art, 1459a). In fact there is reason to think that this apocryphal scene was at least as frequently represented as the corresponding canonical one; e.g. on a sarcophagus at Rome figured in the frontispiece to Burgon's Letters from Rome, thought by him to be of about the 5th century (p.244). There is also a woodcut of this in D. C. A. art. Sculpture, p.1868. A sarcophagus of the 4th century also, like Burgon's, in the Lateran Museum (though not, it would seem, identical) is mentioned in W. Lowrie's Art and Archaeology, p.260, as carved with the same subject of Daniel and Habakkuk.
In Bohn's edition of Didron's Christian Iconography (Lond.1886, II.210) there is a woodcut of a miniature in the Speculum hum. salv. (circ.1350), in the library of Lord Coleridge, portraying Daniel among the lions. The appearance of Habakkuk guided by the angel in the background, carrying food, identifies the scene with Bel and the Dragon, and not with the history of Dan. vi. Even in representations of this, the canonical den-scene, it is noteworthy how often Daniel is shown in a sitting posture, although all mention of this is confined to v.40 of the apocryphal story.
It is a little remarkable that Daniel's dramatic disclosure of the priests' trick (v.21) has not, so far as the writer is aware, commended itself to artists. The ash-strewn floor of Bel's temple, the tell-tale footmarks, and the emotions of exultation and surprise on the face of Daniel and the King respectively, with a possible introduction of the detected impostors at the side, might make, in capable hands, a very effective picture.