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The Prayer of Manasses
2. Canonicity and Position
4. Original Language
6. Author and Motive
8. Text and Versions
purports to be, and may in reality be, the prayer of that king mentioned in
A. it is called simply "A," in the London Polyglot "A Prayer of Manasses, ." Its title in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is "A Prayer of Manasses, King of Judah, when He Was Held Captive in Babylon." In Baxter’s Apocrypha, Greek and English this Prayer appears at the end with the heading "A Prayer of Manasses, son of Ezekias" (equals Hezekiah).
2. Canonicity and Position:
The Greek church is the only one which has consistently reckoned this Prayer as a part of its Bible. Up to the time of the(1545-1563 AD), it formed a part of the Vulgate, but by that council it was relegated with 3 and 4 (1 and 2) Esdras to the appendix (which included uncanonical scriptures), "lest they should become wholly lost, since they are occasionally, cited by the Fathers and are found in printed copies. Yet it is wholly absent from the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of Sixtus V, though it is in the Appendix of the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of . Its position varies in manuscripts, versions and printed editions of the Septuagint. It is most frequently found among the odes or canticles following the Psalter, as in Codices Alexandrinus, T (the Zurich Psalter) and in Ludolf’s Ethiopic Psalter. In Swete’s Septuagint the Psalter of Solomon followed by the odes (Odai), of which The is the 8th, appear as an Appendix after 4 Maccabees in volume III. It was placed after 2 Chronicles in the original Vulgate, but in the Romanist Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) it stands first, followed by 3 and 4 (1 and 2) Esdras in the apocryphal Appendix. It is found in all manuscripts of the Armenian Bible, where, as in Swete’s Septuagint, it is one of many odes. Though not included in Coverdale’s Bible or the Geneva VS, it was retained (at the close of the Apocrypha) in Luther’s translation, in Mathew’s Bible and in the , whence it passed into our of the Bible.
4. Original Language:
The bulk of scholars (Fritzsche, Reuss, Schurer, Ryssel, etc.) agree that this Prayer was composed in Greek. The Greek recension is written in a free, flowing and somewhat rhetorical style, and it reads like an original work, not like a translation. Though there are some Hebraisms, they are not more numerous or striking than usually meet us in Versions; Text of the Old Testament). On the other hand, Ewald (Hist. Isr, I, 186; IV, 217, note 5, German edition, IV, 217 f), Furst (Gesch. der bibl. Lit., II, 399), Budde (ZAW, 1892, 39 ff), Ball (Speaker’s Apocrypha) and others argue for a Hebrew original, perhaps existing in the source named of
Have we here the authentic prayer of Manasseh offered under the circumstances described in
6. The Author and His Motive:
That the author was an Alexandrian Jew is made probable by the (Greek) language he employs and by the sentiments he expresses. It is strange to find Swete (Expository Times, II, 38 f) defending the Christian authorship of this Prayer. What purpose could the writer seek to realize in the composition and publication of the penitential psalm? In the absence of definite knowledge, one may with Reuss (Das Altes Testament, VI, 436 f) suppose that the Jewish nation was at the time given up to great unfaithfulness to God and to gross moral corruption. The lesson of the Prayer is that God will accept the penitent, whatever his sins, and remove from the nation its load of sufferings, if only it turns to God.
Ewald and Furst (op. cit.) hold that the prayer is at least as old as the Book of Chronicles (300 BC), since it is distinctly mentioned, they say, in
8. Text and Versions:
The Greek text occurs in Codices Alexandrinus, T (Psalterium Turicence 262, Parsons). Swete (OLD TESTAMENT in Greek, III, 802-4) gives the text of Codex Alexandrinus with the variations of T. It is omitted from the bulk of ancient manuscripts and editions of the Septuagint, as also from several modern editions (Tischendorf, etc.). Nestle (Septuaginta Studien, 1899, 3) holds that the Greek text of Codices Alexandrinus, T, etc., has been taken from the Apostolical Constitutions or from the Didaskalia. The common view is that it was extracted by the latter from the Septuagint.
The Latin text in Sabatier (Bib. Sac. Latin, III, 1038) is not by Jerome, nor is it in the manner of the Old Latin; its date is later.
The outstanding literature has been cited in the foregoing article. Reference may be made to Howorth ("Some Unconventional Views on the Text of the Bible," PSBA, XXXI, 89 ff: he argues that the narrative concerning Manasseh, including the Prayer in the Apostolical Constitutions, represents a portion of the true Septuagint of
T. Witton Davies