The Preface to Old Greek Daniel 5: A Formal Approach

in Vetus Testamentum
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Prefixed to the Old Greek version of Daniel 5 is a brief Preface that recounts some of the plot lines of the narrative. This article clarifies the nature of the Preface and discusses its significance for understanding the legend’s development. It is argued that the Preface must have derived from a longer version of the narrative, because it lacks elements intrinsic to the og and mt versions. These elements are isolated with the help of the typology of story forms developed in folklore studies. The unique variants preserved in the Preface suggest that it derives from a third, parallel version of the legend. This third version lacked a reference to the temple vessels from Jerusalem, which allows us to appreciate the role of the vessels in the og and mt traditions, especially how they integrate this story into a larger discourse about the fate of the vessels in post-exilic literature.

The Preface to Old Greek Daniel 5: A Formal Approach

in Vetus Testamentum




Niditch and Doran“A Formal Approach” p. 179.


Ibid. pp. 181-82.


Ibid. p. 182.


Ibid. p. 180.


Ibid. p. 192.


So also CollinsDaniel p. 241; Albertz Der Gott des Daniel pp. 80-83.


AlbertzDaniel p. 81. This understanding of the Preface’s raison d’être was first articulated by James Montgomery. In Montgomery’s judgment “[i]t was doubtless a consequence” of the OG’s “failure” to provide a transliteration of the writing on the wall “that a preface was subsequently prefixed to the chap. giving an abstract of the story concluding with the data of the mystic words and their interpretation” (The Book of Daniel p. 267).


P. R. Ackroyd“The Temple Vessels—A Continuity Theme,” in Studies in the Religion of Ancient IsraelVTSup 23 (Leiden: Brill 1972) pp. 166-81. See also Isaac Kalimi and James D. Purvis “King Jehoiachin and the Vessels of the Lord’s House in Biblical Literature” cbq 56 (1994) pp. 449-57; Robert P. Carroll “Razed Temple and Shattered Vessels: Continuities and Discontinuities in the Discourses of Exile in the Hebrew Bible” jsot 75 (1997) pp. 93-106; Jacob L. Wright “The Deportation of Jerusalem’s Wealth and the Demise of Native Sovereignty in the Book of Kings” in Interpreting Exile: Displacement and Deportation in Biblical and Modern Contexts ed. Brad E. Kelle Frank Ritchel Ames and Jacob L. Wright sblail 10 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2011) pp. 105-30.


Wright“The Deportation of Jerusalem’s Wealth” p. 107.


Ackroyd“The Temple Vessels—A Continuity Theme” p. 181.

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