Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

An analysis of the performative nature and power of forensic dialogue in Susanna: A speech act contribution

Risimati S. Hobyane
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a6139 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.6139 | © 2020 Risimati S. Hobyane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 May 2020 | Published: 22 September 2020

About the author(s)

Risimati S. Hobyane, Department of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


This article investigates the performative nature of forensic dialogue as a literary device in the story of Susanna. Whilst Susanna scholars have brought significant contributions in recent years, this article contends that there has never been a special focus on the performative function of forensic dialogue in Susanna. This aspect should be explored further as it can contribute to how the story can be read, interpreted and applied in contemporary society. The article suggests that the forensic dialogue in Susanna is possibly an intentional literary strategy by the implied author and has a performative function to benefit the implied reader. This means that the implied author uses forensic dialogue to invite participation from the reader. From a speech act interpretive angle, this article attempts to prove this claim by exploring the aforementioned literary device in Susanna and demonstrating its performative nature aimed at the reader.

Contribution: The article’s main contribution rests on its unique approach to investigating the performative nature of forensic dynamics in Susanna. This technique of exploring narrative texts does also advance the Susanna scholarship, in that it offers a reader yet another way of reading, interpreting and applying the story to the contemporary society.


Judaism; Susanna; Performative; Forensic dialogue; Implied reader; Speech act theory


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