How can a story from the book of Daniel be true if a dragon appears in it?


Full Question

How can I argue that the story of Bel and the Dragon (Dn 14) is true when a dragon, an imaginary creature, appears in the story?

Answer

Daniel 14 records that some of the Babylonians around Daniel worshipped a living creature as a god, and this creature is called a drakon in the Greek version of Daniel 14. While the term drakon is often translated into English as "dragon," this is not the only meaning of the term in the Septuagint Greek in which Daniel 14 is written.

In the Septuagint drakon is used to translate a wide variety of Hebrew words denoting various kinds of terrifying animals, including terrestrial animals, such as the wolf (Mi 1:8), snake (Ex 32:33), and large reptiles (Jb 40:20[25]), as well as marine animals, such as actual sea creatures (Ps 103[104]:26) . . . While modern English translations still prefer to translate drakon in our verse as "dragon" (with all the awesomeness, mystery, and eerie nuances that word may have), it is nonetheless better to render it as "snake," since candidates for our sacred drakon must be limited to the ranks of actual living creatures. (Carey A. Moore, Daniel, Esther, and Jeremiah: The Additions, 141-142)

Some translators are now referring to the story of "Bel and the Dragon" as "Bel and the Snake," snake worship being common in the ancient world.

 


Catholic Answers Staff