The Book of Susanna – What is it?
The Book of Susanna (also sometimes called the Judgment of Daniel) is a book found in the collection of writings called the Apochrypha or Deuterocanonical Books that claims to be Daniel 13 as an addition to the Book of Daniel (along with Bel and the Dragon, The Prayer of Azariah, and the Song of the Three Jews). It is accepted as part of the inspired Scriptures by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, though most Protestant groups deny including it as part of the Bible. It was also not considered part of the Jewish Scriptures, though it appears in the collection of writings in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament books).
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The book's 64 verses center on the story of Susanna, the wife of Joakim and daughter of a priest. Two elders watch Susanna as she bathes. They later approach Susanna and demand she have sex with them or they will falsely accuse her of cheating on her husband with a young man. She rejects the offer and shouts for help. In court, Susanna stands against her accusers but is proclaimed guilty of infidelity. On her way to execution, Daniel is led by God to tell the people to return for a retrial. Daniel questions each elder individually and discovers their lie. Susanna is freed and the two elders are put to death instead.
This important narrative focuses on the righteous devotion of Susanna to God's Law as well as the consequences of disobedience. Daniel is noted as the prophet informed by God's Spirit of injustice and quickly acts to save a life and stand for God's truth.
Based on the content of the book, it is easy to see why the Book of Susanna has been considered important throughout history. While it was most likely written in connection with Daniel, it came after his lifetime and gives no definite information to confirm its historicity.
Should the Book of Susanna be included in the Bible? Despite the valuable lessons presented in its verses, there are important reasons it has not been included in the Old or New Testament. In the introduction to Jerome's Latin Vulgate (approximately AD 400), he indicated that Susanna was an apocryphal addition because it was not present in the Hebrew text of Daniel. The Hebrew and Aramaic text of Daniel had existed long before the known composition of the Book of Susanna. To claim it belongs in Scripture as part of Daniel is a factual and historical error. Even if the account found in the Book of Susanna is true, the attempt to make it part of the Bible due to a connection with the Book of Daniel is not.
In addition, the Book of Susanna does not claim to be the Word of God. It was not mentioned by other books of the Bible, and was not mentioned by Jesus or His apostles.
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The Book of Tobit – What is it?
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