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The Many Fiery Furnaces of Daniel 3: The Evolution of a Literary Model

In: Biblical Interpretation
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  • 1 University of Edinburgh, Mound Pl, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX, United Kingdom
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The fiery furnace episode of Daniel 3 can be described as a martyr legend without a martyrdom. It shares many formal features with other martyr accounts but ends with the deliverance of the three young men. Early on, the episode was used as a model to narrate similar deliverances from fiery furnaces. But with time, the episode became the template for accounts which ultimately end in the death of the martyr. This article traces this development by surveying the use of Daniel 3 as a literary model from the Second Temple period to the present day. By re-working a narrative of deliverance into a narrative of death, Jewish and Christian traditions updated the legend to reflect the reality of a new situation, whilst also responding to a latent story of death already present in Daniel 3.

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