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EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE AND ART.
New Testament. In St. Matt. xxvii. 24 Pilate possibly adopts Daniel’s words in v. 46, or at least accidentally falls in with them. In Heb. xi. 23 and Sus. 7 (Οʹ) there is a strong similarity in the use of the word ἀστεῖος, as well as in Exod. ii. 2.
“Among names taken from the O.T., that of Susanna is not uncommon” (D.C.A. art. Names, 1374a). Not improbably therefore Susanna, in St. Luke viii. 3, may have been named after the Susanna of this history, as already mentioned under ’Canonicity,’ p.161. St. Susanna of the Roman Calendar, who is dated circ. 293, is most likely an example of this. She is not given an article in D. C. B., but there is a short notice of her in D. C. A., as commemorated in various Martyrologies on August 11th.
Irenæus (†200). In Adv. Haer. III. xlii. 1 there is an apparent reference to v. 55; in IV. xxxv. 2 to v. 42; and in IV. xli. 1, ’de presbyteris injustis,’ vv. 20, 26 are quoted as ”a Daniele propheta voces“ in reproof of Christian presbyters. It is probable, too, that ”Deum qui absconsa manifestat“ (IV. xxxi. 2) may be a reminiscence of the phrase ὁ τῶν κρυπτῶν γνώστης in v. 42; and still more probably perhaps ”qui est absconsorum cognitor“ in IV. xxxv. 2 has its origin in this same verse.
Clement of Alexandria (†220). In Strom. IV. (Heinsius’ ed., Paris, 1629, p. 522) he speaks of Susanna and Miriam together, as if their biblical positions were on a par. In Hort and Mayor’s edit. (1902) of Strom. VII. the words πρὸ τῆς γενέσεως in § 37 are referred to Susanna 43 (Θ); but it is hardly safe to assume that we have here more than an accidental approximation of wording.
Hippolytus (†230) distinctly recognizes Susanna at the end of his Preface to Daniel, as well as in his Commentary itself. This last, Bardenhewer (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1877, p. 69) deems, on account of its homiletic phrases, to be “Bruchstücke einer Homilie” (cf. art. Hippolytus, D. C. B. iii. 102a).
Apostolic Constitutions (third century ?). Susanna’s trial is instanced in II. 49, “Concerning accusers and witnesses” (see quotation under ’Canonicity,’ p. 161), and again in cap. 51.
Tertullian (†240). In de Corona militis, 4, after instancing Rebecca, he goes on to say of Susanna: “si et Susanna in iudicio revelata argumentum velandi præstat, possum dicere: et hic velamen arbitrii fuit,” etc. Also de Pudic. 17, etc.
Origen (†254) frequently refers to Susanna in his commentaries, many references to which are collected by Schürer, H. J. P., II. III. 186. In the middle of § 1 of his Hom. in Levitic. he quotes Susanna’s words in v. 22 as if appropriate to the mouth of the book itself, surrounded. by those who doubted its canonicity (words quoted under ‘Canonicity,’ p. 158). In Eusebius’ Præp. Ev. VI. 11, Origen is given as quoting v. 42 as a proof of God’s foreknowledge, ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν τοῦτο παραστῆσαι. In his Commentary on St. John (bk. XX. § 5) he quotes v. 56 with ὡς ὁ Δανιήλ φησι.
Cyprian (†258), in Ep. XLIII. 4, illustrates his remarks by a reference to “Susannam pudicam.“
Bleek (O. T. II. 316) says that Bel and the Dragon and Susanna were used by both Irenæus and Cyprian in a similar way to the Scriptures of the Hebrew canon.
Methodius (†330), in his “Song of the Virgins” (II. 2). ’Ἄνωθεν, παρθένοι βοῆς, includes Judith and Susanna:
ὁρῶντες εἶδος εὐπρεπὲς, ὑφ᾿ ἧς
δύο κριταὶ Σουσάννας ἐμμανεῖς,
ἔρωτι λέξαν, Ὠ γύναι, κ.τ.λ.
(Migne, Patr. gr. XVIII. 212).
Hilary of Poitiers (†367), de Trin. IV. 8 (Migne, Patr. lat. 10, 101), quotes Susanna 42, “Sicut beata Sus. dicit, Deus æternus absconditorum cognitor, sciens omnia,“ etc.
Athanasius (†373) also, in his Disc. against Arians, I. 13, quotes this popular verse (42) as “in Daniel.” In the Life of Anthony, § 43, he refers to Susanna, as well as in the ‘doubtful’ Synopsis S. S.
Ephrem Syrus (†378) refers both in his Ep. ad Johann. monaehum, and in his 15th Parænesis, to the blessed Susanna.
Gratian (†383) notes on Can. XI. of Neocæsarea (315 a.d.) in Decreta I. 78, c. iv., “Daniel, we read, received the spirit of prophecy before he had arrived even at youth.” The Canon itself, as given by Hefele, makes no mention of Daniel.
Cyril of Jerusalem (†386) refers (Catech. I. 31) to Daniel’s inspiration to rescue Susanna, and quotes v. 45 with γέγραπται γάρ.
Gregory of Nyssa (†396) quotes, in his Hexaëmeron (Migne, Patr. gr. XLIV. p. 71) and in his Making of Man, v. 42, twice as a prophetic writing (XXIX. 1).
Ambrose (†397) has, Sermons XLIX. and L., ”de accusato Domino apud Pilatum et de Susanna,” in which he draws a parallel between them, as to silence under false charges, at considerable length (Basel, ed. 1527, III. 549).
Sulpicius Severus (†400?), in his Hist. Sacr. lib. II. § 1, gives an outline of the story of Susanna, after the events of Dan. i. and before those of chap. ii., evidently regarding it as historical.
Chrysostom (†407) has a sermon “de Susanna,” in which he compares her to the “garden enclosed” of Solomon’s Song iv. 12 (quoted in Arnald’s Commentary).
Jerome (†420), in his de Nominibus Hebraicis, includes, under the Book of Daniel, Susanna and Joacim without any distinction from the names in the rest of the book (ed. Vallarsi, vol. III.).
Augustine (†430) draws, in de Civ. Dei, I. 19, a parallel between Susanna and Lucretia, greatly to the advantage of the former. Arnald, on v. 23, gives some extracts from this.
Cyril of Alexandria (†444) quotes v. 56 at least twice, viz. on Hos. xii. 8 and on Zeph. i. 11. In the latter case he speaks of it as παρά γε τοῖς ίεροῖς γράμμασιν, giving it thus explicitly a high position.
Theodoret (†457) quotes in Letter CX., Susanna 22; but in his comment on Daniel, Susanna is not contained.
Mamertus Claudianus (†474). The following occurs in a hymn attributed to this writer, “In Jacobum magistrum equitum,“ but which Migne says is ’dubiæ auctoritatis’: “Sic tibi det vires sancta Susanna suas.“
Nicephorus of Constantinople (†828) classes Susanna among his “antilegomena.” As he makes no separate mention in his lists of the Song, or of Bel and the Dragon, he presumably reckons them under ‘Daniel’5656But Δανιίλ ψευδεπίγραφα may refer to them. (Migne, Patr. gr. c. 1056). At the end of pseudo-Athanasius’ Synopsis S. S. comes a list of ού κανονιζόμενα, so similar to Nicephorus’ list in order and contents as to suggest that they had some close connection; and it is possible that this appendage may be of even later date than the Synopsis itself, which may be attributed to the 6th century (Loisy, A. T., p. 147).
The above are specimens of the numerous references made to Susanna by early Christian writers, both Greek and Latin, who evidently found in her a favourite instance to adduce in support of their teaching. Nor ought we, in such a matter, to treat lightly the tenor of Christian antiquity so remarkably manifested.
From early times scenes from Susanna were often chosen for artistic treatment. In “a list of the symbols most frequently represented in painting or sculpture by the Church of the first seven centuries” Susanna is included (D. C. A. art. Symbolism).
Frescoes of Susanna and the Elders occur, though not with great frequency, in the Catacombs (D. C. A. I. Fresco, 700a). W. Lowrie, in his Christian Art (N.Y. and Lond. 1901, p. 210), mentions a second-century fresco of Susanna and the Elders judged by Daniel, in the cemetery of Callistus; also he says, “in the Capella græca in St. Priscilla the story is depicted with unusual dramatic interest in several scenes.” Three old Italian sarcophagi have bas-reliefs of Susanna and the Elders as emblematic of the Church enduring persecution; others are known in southern Gaul (D. C. A. art. Church, Symbols of). A woodcut is given in this article of a sheep (ewe?) between two wild beasts (wolves?), ’ Susanna’ and ’ Senioris’ being written over them respectively, the artist evidently fearing that the symbolism might otherwise not be perceived.
Scenes from the history of Susanna carved on sarcophagi are more frequent in France than in Italy. It has been thought that the two Elders may be taken to represent the two older forms of religion, the Pagan and the Jewish (D. C. A., O. T. in Art, II. 1459b). In the same Dict. (Sculpture, II. 1867a) it is noted that the cycle of subjects has a remarkable correspondence with those named in the Roman Breviary ”Ordo commendationis animæ,” where ”Libera, Dom. animam servi tui sicut liberasti Sus. de falso crimine,” is one of the petitions.
It is fair to presume that Delitzsch refers to some of the above when he writes, ”Susannæ historia in sarcophagis veterum Christianorum cum sacris historiis insculpta conspicitur“ (op. cit. 26).
In the Brit. Mus., 2nd North Gallery, Room V., there is a glass fragment of the 4th century, found at Cologne, representing (probably) Susanna amongst other subjects. She also appears on a carved ivory reliquary of Brescia, which is most likely not later in date than 800 (D. C. A. art. Reliquary, II. 1780b).
In the Byzantine Guide to Painting (Ἑρμηνεία τῆς ζωγραφικῆς), given in Didron’s Christian Iconography (Bohn’s ed., Lond. 1886, I. 45n, ii. 284), ‘Daniel defends Susanna’ is put immediately after the scene in Dan. i. 15, and before the other scenes given out of Daniel (cf. ‘Position,’ p. 109). Didron’s MS. of this work is probably of the 15th century, though the monks of Athos, whence it appears to have come, regarded it as some five centuries older.
There is a window of stained glass, said to be cinque-cento, in the westernmost bay of the south aisle of St. James’ Church, Bury St. Edmunds, of which the three lower lights represent the trial of Susanna. In the centre Susanna’s bath takes the form of a deep font, in which she is standing. The Elders are clothed in purple.5757There is a very quaint note in Gwillim’s Heraldry (1611, p. 109) as to a mulberry figured on a shield, “This fruit hath a purple blushing colour, in the one resembling the judges’ attire who attempted Susanna, in the other that hue of their face which should have been in them, if they had been so gracious to blush at their fault,” etc.
In Summer’s Antiquities of Canterbury, 1703, the second figure in the third window of the cathedral is described as “Daniel in medio seniorum,” and this inscription is given:
“Mirantur pueri seniores voce doceri
Sic responsa dei sensum stupent Pharasaei.”
(Reprinted in Ancient Glass Painting, by an Amateur, Oxf. 1848, p. 355.)
In the scheme of stained glass for Truro cathedral there are several apocryphal subjects, including a window in the south-east transept having “Susanna and the Mother of the Seven Martyrs” for its subjects (Donaldson, Bishopric of Truro, 1902, App. V.).
A carved chimney-piece exists in Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, representing Susanna and the Elders (Murray, Handbook to Northumberland, 1873, p. 326).
This scene has been a wonderfully popular one with painters. Altdorfer, Carracci, Correggio, A. Coypel, van Dyck, Guercino, Rembrandt, Rubens, Santerre, Tintoretto, Valentin, and P. Veronese may be named amongst those who have treated it. A picture entitled ‘Susanna’ was exhibited in the Royal Academy, London, in 1886, by Fred. Goodall, R.A.
Thus we see that the many picturesque incidents in this Addition have not been overlooked by Christian artists in search of subjects for the brush or the chisel. Of these three supplementary sections of Daniel the History of Susanna has, in this respect, been found much the most suggestive; probably as the one which is thought to contain the highest passion and feeling.
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