As the lily among thorns: Daniel 13 in the writings of John Wyclif and his followers

Jonathan Stavsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study offers the fullest treatment up to date of references to Susanna and the Elders (Daniel 13) in John Wyclif’s Latin works and in vernacular Lollard writings. Focusing primarily on the political implications of the biblical narrative, it distinguishes between two conceptions of community that shape its medieval reception. Whereas Wyclif transitions from viewing Daniel 13 as the story of a crisis that afflicts one community to one about two antithetical communities, his followers almost invariably take the latter view. Both exploit a traditional interpretation of the Elders as the Church’s enemies in order to oppose its claim to authority while bolstering their own. By contrast, several other treatments of Daniel 13 from late medieval England such as the Pistel of Swete Susan consider it a tale of a single community, where justice and injustice are not contingent on identity. Their Lollard affinity, postulated by some scholars, is therefore doubtful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-276
Number of pages28
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Community
  • Criticism
  • Daniel (biblical figure)
  • Exegesis
  • Incitement
  • John Wyclif
  • Lollards
  • Pistel of Swete Susan
  • Polemic
  • Susanna (biblical figure)
  • William Thorpe


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