What is the difference between ‘the book of Daniel’ and ‘Bel and the Dragon’?

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The narrative of Bel and the Dragon incorporated as chapter 14 of the extended Book of Daniel exists only in Greek in the Septuagint. This chapter, along with chapter 13, is referred to as deuterocanonical, in that it is not universally accepted among Christians as belonging to the canonical works accepted as the Bible. The text Bel and the Dragon is viewed as canonical by only the Catholic and Orthodox Christians but as apocryphal by Protestants and typically not found in modern Protestant Bibles.

Bel and the Dragon consists of two separate stories: one relating to Bel; the other, to the Dragon. In the former, Daniel, by a clever device, exposes the trick by which the priests of Bel made it appear that the idol consumed the food and drink set before it. In the latter, Daniel slays the Dragon-god by putting into its mouth cakes made of pitch, fat, and hair, after eating which it bursts apart. Daniel is thereupon cast into a den of lions, but remains unharmed by the beasts, and is fed by the prophet Habakkuk, who is miraculously brought from Judea for that purpose by an angel.

The purpose of the stories in Bel and the Dragon is to ridicule idol-worship, and to extol the power of God, who preserves His faithful servants in all perils. But the material is drawn from current ideas and legends rather than facts as in the book of Daniel. Bel was the central figure of the Babylonian idolatry. And how the prophet Habakkuk came to be introduced into the story is hardly possible to explain!

Legends relating to Daniel circulated in a great variety of forms, and were constantly modified by scribes. From such legends there are independent selections in Daniel and Bel and the Dragon. The tone and contents of the latter work show that it was not taken from the book of Daniel.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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