Original Research

Thematic irony in the story of Susanna

Dichk M. Kanonge
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1255 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1255 | © 2013 Dichk M. Kanonge | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 April 2012 | Published: 01 March 2013

About the author(s)

Dichk M. Kanonge, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


It is commonly held that irony features significantly in Susanna. This seemingly plausible hypothesis, however, has not yet been supported by compelling evidence resulting from a systematic analysis of Susanna. This study attempts to fill this gap by investigating the main ironic expressions, words and incidents featuring in Susanna. The approach followed consists of uncovering expressions of irony embedded in the story by paying attention to ironic use of metaphor, ironic use of wordplay, ironic use of rhetorical questions, ironic understatements (e.g. litotes), ironic exaggeration (e.g. hyperbole), ironic use of social conventions and traditions and ironic attribution. It is the contention of this study that Susanna is a thematically ironic story. The use of reversed social conventions is the most powerful and the most abundant expression of irony in the story. This dominant derisive technique is possibly aimed at addressing the irrelevance as well as the abuse of Jewish social conventions in the Second Temple period.


Susanna; irony; social conventions; apocrypha; narrative


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