From the series Discovering Infinity
Who and what are we,
and how do we relate to one another
The scene on the cover page is a portion of Rembrandt van Rijn's painting , Susanna and the Elders, from the year 1647. The painting is believed to have contributed to the revolutionary renaissance-thinking that developed during the time the painting was created. A new paradigm was unfolding that culminated in the following year in the historic Treaty of Westphalia that became the corner stone for modern civilization. The treaty also became the foundation for a cultural renaissance that enabled the founding of the United States of America and some of the brightest cultural developments in Europe.
If any work of art was intertwined with movements that changed the course of history, Rembrandt's painting, Susanna and the Elders, was, and this not so much for the paining itself, but for its highlighting the ancient biblical story of Susanna from Daniel 13. The story exposes the prominent elite of its time as conspirators and liars. This type of exposure appears to have been very much needed in 1647 in an effort to overturn the lies of the Hobbesian kind of ideology that stood behind the 80 years of war that the Thirty Years War was a part oft. In the Susanna story, the legendary Daniel saved society from having to suffer the effects of a lie, and saved Susanna's life from the death sentence that had been based on that lie. The elders had wanted to have sex with Susanna. When she refused, they accused her of adultery, a capital offense that a woman had little chance to prove her innocence of. Daniel proved her innocence by exposing the lies.
In historic terms the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia put an end to the endless seeming Thirty Years War in which half the population of Europe had perished. We will never know for certain to what degree Rembrandt's painting had affected the development that created the resulting New World, but we do know that the story of Susanna has been removed from the Bible. The chapter, Daniel 13, now exists only in the Apocrypha, while world is once again an arena of war.
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