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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible A richly illustrated account of the story of the Bible written by leading scholars.

The Prayer of Manasses

The Prayer of Manasses (or ‘Manasseh’, the Hebrew form of the name) is represented in ancient Greek codices only by Alexandrinus, and then as part of an addendum to the psalms. Only in later Vulgate Bibles did it become attached to the end of 2 Chronicles (which mentions a prayer spoken by Manasseh, 33: 18–19 ). There are also several Syriac manuscripts of the prayer, but the brevity of the piece makes it difficult to decide what the relationship of the Syriac to the Greek text may be.

No Hebrew or Aramaic version of this prayer has been found; a fragment of a ‘Prayer of Manasseh, king of Judah, when the king of Assyria imprisoned him’ from Qumran Cave 4 is an entirely different composition. (So is the prayer of Manasseh mentioned in the pseudepigraphical work 2 Baruch 64–5 .) Nevertheless, a number of scholars maintain that it was originally composed in Hebrew rather than in Greek. In either event, it follows closely the traditional form of the Jewish penitential prayer and was obviously one of a number of ancient attempts to fill a perceived gap in the biblical record.

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