§ 3. THE MSS

The Codex Chisianus 87, first published at Rome in 1772, is for Susanna, as for Daniel, the sole authority for the Greek of the Septuagint. It is a ninth-century cursive, and at the end of Dan. 12 says it was copied from an exemplar with this subscription: ἔγραφη ἐκ τῶν τετραπλῶν ἐξ ὧν καὶ παρετέθη. Its text is thus only once removed from the recension of the LXX made by Origen c. a.d. 240. The Codex Chisianus receives important corroboration from the Syro-Hexaplar Codex, written in Alexandria a.d. 616–617 by Mar Paulus of Mesopotamia. The LXX text from Origen’s Hexapla is rendered literally into Syriac. The agreement of Chisianus with the Syro-Hexaplar gives assurance for the LXX text of Susanna as approved by Origen. The Old Latin versions and quotations in the Fathers do not suffice to fix a generally received text at an earlier period.

Theodotion’s version of Susanna was adopted into the Greek Bible in place of LXX. It has thus all the MS. evidence available for the Greek Daniel in the Church Bible, and is found in Codex Vaticanus B, Codex Alexandrinus A, and in Cod. Marchalianus Q, sixth century. The text here used is that of Swete, vol. 3.

Among MSS. two in Hebrew require notice, because the question of a Semitic original is much discussed, and because one of these MSS. has been supposed to contain the Semitic original of certain apocryphal books.1

In Bodley’s Library at Oxford is a MS. (Heb. d. 11, Catalogue No. 2797) called Sepher haz-Zikhronoth, compiled by Asher hal-Levi about a.d. 1325, written in German rabbinical character. It contains legendary matter illustrating Biblical history from the Creation to the time of the Maccabees. The catalogue describes the contents of the part preceding Susanna as a Hebrew translation of the Aramaic passages in Daniel by Yerạmeel, … the Aramaic text of the Song of the Three Children, the history of Bel and the Dragon in Syriac in Hebrew characters without a Hebrew translation. In fol. 74 b begins the Midrash concerning Ahab and Zedekiah (Jer. 29:21). Fol. 75 a and 75 b contain the Story of Susanna in Hebrew, occupying fifty-three lines. A later hand has headed the page: מעשה שושנה בימי רניאל. The story itself begins a new paragraph headed זה מעשה שושנה. After Susanna the history of Nebuchadnezzar is resumed. The compiler considered the elders identical with the false prophets mentioned by Jeremiah, and located the story in Babylon. Has this Hebrew text any claim to be considered the original of the LXX and Theodotion? The Greek versions have some thirty verses nearly identical; in these passages this MS. omits much, adds not a little, and freely paraphrases the rest. Two translators, however arbitrary, could not make this text responsible for the agreements or divergences that exist in LXX and Theodotion. The language is in parts a fair imitation of Biblical Hebrew: in other parts it is not; e.g. v. 23 θ´ fol. 75, l. 18, צבאות שמו׳

קזח לאג עישומו ליצם ארונהו רוביגה לודגה בוטהו קידצה

דיב הלופאו יל בטום; fol. 76, l. 29, a supplement to θ´ v. 59 שאין בגן לא זה אילן ולא זה אילן והלכו וראו האמת; for הִנֵּה we find הרי three times; for ‘thereupon’ מיר with a Perf. three times; twice there appears גינת הביתו for ‘the garden of his house’. The compiler of the MS. evidently knew Syriac, and may have carelessly followed some Syriac version in writing the story for the amusement of his heirs male. His object appears in his preface: ‘Blessed be my descendants, and may they be established if they fulfil my wishes.’

The second Hebrew MS. is also in the Bodleian (Heb. MS. e. 12, Catal. No. 2777). The volume, with which the leaf containing Susanna is bound up, contains hymns, astronomical tables, &c., disorderly arranged. The copyist of fol. 3 signs himself Mordecai ben Samuel, and finished his work a.d. 1691. A note on f. 71 implies the date a.d. 1737.

 Susanna occupies both sides of one folio, 55, thirty-five lines on the first page, thirty-four on the other. The story conforms closely to the Greek of Theodotion, so closely that either the Vulgate or Theodotion must have been used by the translator into Hebrew. The additions and omissions in Heb. e. 12 are not many and not important. The garden, v. 3, ‘has all kinds of trees’; the elders are called ‘priests’; the maids fetch soap going out ‘by the doors of the house’. The Hebrew is more idiomatic than in MS. d. 11. Yet here too we have a version. The writer has not understood v. 5, yet has tried to be faithful to the obscurity of the Greek. מבבל מהשופטים הראשונים ויקומו שופטים אחרים וילכו אחרי ה֗ À ונעשז אז באותו הזמן שני כהנים ברצון ה֗ שופטים כי סר העון [העון. Again, in v. 15 he has failed to recognize the Greek form of כִּתְמוֹל שִׁלְשֹׁם and renders: ויהי כראותם אותה בכל יום קרה ביום השלישי ורצתה לילך עם שתי נערוּת לרחוץ עצמה … In v. 18 he ignores the gender in the verbs; περιπατούντων ἡμῶν = כשהלכנו v. 36; the comparative he renders by יותר, ἐνδοξότερον = יותר נכבד v. 4; αἱρετόν μοι = יותר טוב. That he used Theodotion and not the Vulgate appears to follow from his treatment of v. 22: καὶ ἀνεστέναξεν Σ. καὶ εἶπεν Στενά μοι πάντοθεν = ותאנח שושנה ותאמר אנחה תהיה לי. Here he reproduces the repetition of the sound. He ignores the play on the names of the trees.

These two Hebrew MSS. are of some interest as showing the Jewish attitude to the story during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They also illustrate the facility with which every phrase of the Greek can be reproduced in Hebrew.


Septuagint Version


Septuagint Version






Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, vol. [16, 1894, ‘The Unknown Aramaic Original of Theodotion’s Additions to the Book of Daniel,’ pp. 280–90, 312–17.