Apocrypha: The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Holy Children

This is another piece that attempts to link itself to canonical Old Testament book of Daniel.  However there is no textual evidence indicating this was ever part of the original book of Daniel.  There are internal issues as well that indicate it was likely authored long after the events of Daniel.  Verse 15 makes reference to a cessation of offerings or perhaps even inability to access the Temple for prayers, something that was not in issue for Daniel – at least when he first went into exile.  This verse and linguistic issues lead some scholars to theorize this was written in the 2nd century BC as issues with Greek kings – particularly Antiochus IV Epiphanes – made worship in the Temple impossible for a period of time.

Once again as I read this I’m led to see this easily as religious fiction.  Someone imagining what it must have been like to be thrown into the furnace, only to discover the miraculous preservation of God (Daniel 3)!  First a prayer from Azariah (Abednego) acknowleding the sin of God’s people as the cause for their rightful discipline in exile.  Then a longer, extended hymn of praise to God as his angel shelters them from the flames.  Once again it adds nothing to existing Scripture, though it doesn’t detract from it or contradict it either and has a certain beauty to it.

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