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This ‘History’ does not appear to have been written with a view of supporting any erroneous or debateable points in theology.
God is represented as being in heaven, as One on whom the heart relies (v. 35); as eternal, a knower of secrets, of entire foreknowledge (v. 42); One to be appealed to by His servants in danger (v. 43), efficaciously answering humble requests. The value of ejaculatory prayer to Him in sudden peril is shewn (v. 44).
God had not so entirely cast off His people as to cease from caring for separate souls. He hears 149the prayers of individuals (v. 35, end, Οʹ), for the individual, as well as the nation, is under His eye. He is spoken of as raising up “the holy spirit” of a man (v. 45); as conferring the eldership, regarded as a divine institution (v. 50); as forbidding injustice (v. 53); as giving sentence to an angel to execute upon an individual (v. 55); as worthy to be praised for saving those who hope in Him (v. 61). A special Providence is recognised as watching over the destinies of separate souls; inspiring Daniel for a special effort; rescuing Susanna from a special danger. Heaven is regarded as the seat of the Divine Judge, towards which the innocent Susanna turned her eyes (v. 35), but from which the guilty Elders averted theirs (v. 9).
In v. 5 God is termed ὁ δεσπότης (cf. St. Luke ii. 29, Acts iv. 24); in vv. 24, 44, κύριος; in vv. 55, 59 (Θ) θεός, for which Οʹ has κύριος, a word which it seems to prefer, as in i. 17, ii. 45, ix. 18. The fear of the Lord is evidently approved (v. 2), and instruction in the Law of Moses regarded as proper (v. 3), which is also referred to in vv. 33 and 62 (Θ only), and in act in v. 34. It would appear likely too that II. Sam. xxiv. 14 is quoted in v. 22 (Θ), Susanna in her strait borrowing the exclamation of David in his, 150and the words of both may well be contrasted with the idea of Hos. iv. 16b. Adultery is condemned as “sin before the Lord” (v. 23).
An angel is spoken of in vv. 44, 45 (Οʹ only) as giving a spirit of understanding to Daniel. The former verse might be taken to mean that he was visible.4949καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος. He enabled Daniel to clear Susanna from her false accusation. An angel is also named in v. 55, in both versions, as likely to execute God’s vengeance on the lying Elders. He is also mentioned in v. 62 of Οʹ as bringing a judgment of fire. This frequent mention of angels is quite in keeping with the canonical Daniel and other late books. And as E. Bunsen remarks, “the apocryphal doctrine about angels and evil spirits is sanctioned by the recorded doctrine of Christ” (Hidden Wisd. of Christ, 1865, I. 186). But it is singular that what has generally been considered the later recension should have less of it in this case than the earlier.
The description (v. 9) of the workings of conscience, while overt sin was under consideration, but before it was actually committed, shews a deep knowledge of the human heart, such as is found in the biblical writers. A process the reverse of ‘turning 151unto God,’ ‘having the eyes unto Him’ (II. Chron. xx. 12, Ps. xxv. 14), is very accurately depicted, as the dwelling upon some attractive lust is allowed to engage the mind. A better way of narrating such a matter it would be hard to devise.
Hippolytus, in his Comm. on Dan., treats the whole story as having an allegoric meaning. Joacim represents Christ, Susanna the Christian Church; the bath represents Holy Baptism; and the two Elders the Jews and Gentiles persecuting the faithful (D. C. B. art. Hippolytus, p. 104a. For Christian sarcophagi with like symbolism, see ‘Art’). M. de Castillo (Madrid, 1658) reflects in symbolism the increments of a later age when he sees in Susanna a type of the Virgin Mary—“Maria Virgo in illa figurata.“
There does not appear to be anything ‘Messianic’ in this writing, unless Daniel himself be regarded as a type of Christ, executing just judgment, separating the righteous publicly from the wicked. There is also Origen’s statement bearing upon this matter (ad Afric., see Speaker’s Comm. 327b), as to the prospect of becoming Messiah’s mother, which the Elders held out to Susanna. St. Jerome, at the end of his Commentary on Jeremiah, 152has a slightly different version of their outrageous pretences.
Standing on surer ground than such speculations the theology of the piece itself is sound and proper.
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