Michael D. Coogan

in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Augmented Third Edition, New Revised Standard Version

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780195288803
Published online April 2009 |

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Often called the first detective story, this Addition to the book of Daniel appears in two different forms and locations in the early textual traditions. The Septuagint (and the Vulgate) locate it afterDan 13 ; Theodotion, the version followed in this as well as most modern translations, locates the story at the beginning of the book of Daniel, since Sus 45 describes Daniel as a “young man.” Perhaps composed as early as the Persian period (539–333 bce), Susanna's story was added to the cycle of tales about Daniel probably ca. 100 bce. The story may originally not have been about Daniel; the naming of the rescuing lad as Daniel would then be a secondary attribute of the story, added when the tale was attached to other materials concerning Daniel, just as the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews may not have had an original connection to Dan 3 . Susanna's setting in peaceful Babylon, in which the enemies are not wicked pagan kings but corrupt Jewish judges, contrasts with threats emphasized in Dan 1–6 .

Like Greek Esther, Judith, and Sarah of the book of Tobit, Susanna is beautiful and chaste, and as in those books, prayer and piety are major motifs. Indeed, with the exception of the villainous elders, all the characters—including the narrator—mention God. First cited as having canonical status by the church father Irenaeus of Lyons in the late second century, Susanna's story was also adapted by Samaritan and medieval Jewish writers.

Chapter.  1662 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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