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Susanna And The Singular History Of Singular Witnesses

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Chapter Summary

The story of Susanna was written c. 100 b.c., and is preserved in two Greek versions. The story has a pronounced anti-judicial flavour. All the details point to the arrogance of the elders, and the humiliation heaped by them upon Susanna - even before her condemnation. The particular defect in court procedure with which the author is concerned is the collective taking of testimony. The Mishnah requires that witnesses be questioned as to the locus delicti, and rules that contradictory evidence on this point renders the testimony invalid. But the story of Susanna was to play a more significant role than this in the development of the law of evidence. Whether it was indeed reflection on the story of Susanna that provoked the canonists into partial acceptance of testes singulares is difficult to judge. In Scotland, the reception of testes singulares is clearly evidenced.

Keywords: court procedure; law of evidence; locus delicti; Mishnah; Scotland; singular witnesses; Susanna; testes singulares; testimony

10.1163/ej.9789004162730.i-264.33
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