Apocrypha: Susanna

This is a brief work intended as part of the canonical Hebrew book of Daniel, but it appears in none of the Hebrew copies of Daniel and is presumed to have been authored much later and in Greek.   It was contained in both the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) as well as the Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments (the Vulgate).  In some traditions this apocryphal  work is included as the last chapter of Daniel (Chapter 13), although in others it appears before the canonical material as Chapter 1.  It deals with themes of justice, righteousness, and the figure of a young Daniel emerging as wise beyond his years.

Susanna is relegated to apocryphal writings because it contradicts certain aspects of the canonical work of Daniel (such as portraying an already well-established Jewish community in exile, whereas the canonical Daniel begins with Babylon’s conquering of Jerusalem and taking people into exile, including Daniel) and because there are no examples  of it in any Hebrew Old Testament copies.

The story briefly is that a virtuous young wife is wrongly accused of adultery by two Jewish elders who are angry she rebuffed their demands that she sleep with them.  In a he-said-she-said situation, Susanna gets the worst of it and is sentenced to death based on the accusations of the elders. Enter young Daniel who suspects foul play and exposes the lies of the elders, leading to Susanna’s exoneration and their execution.

It would primarily seem to serve as a story introducing or further elaborating on the life of Daniel.  It demonstrates the very real dangers of misuse of power as well as God’s attention to his people.  It elevates the use of wisdom and our intellects in being able to discern truth, rather than relying exclusively or unhealthily on spiritual insight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s