Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Old Testament Essays]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=1010-991920090003&lang=pt vol. 22 num. 3 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>An ecological interpretation of Leviticus 11-15 in an African (Nigerian) context</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300001&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Leviticus 11-15 contains regulations to distinguish animals which are fit for consumption from those which are not, and regulations to control and prevent certain skin and emission diseases. Although these rules were originally meant to regulate ritual cleanness, they also anticipate certain aspects of modern environmental sanitation thereby making possible an ecological interpretation of the text. These regulations are particularly relevant in contemporary Africa where preponderant environmental pollution and frequent outbreaks of communicable diseases prevail. <![CDATA[<b>Answers disguised as questions: Rhetoric and reasoning in Psalm 24</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300002&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Psalm 24 seems to consist mainly of a hymnic introduction (vv. 1-2), a so-called "entrance torah" (vv. 3-5), and a liturgical piece once used at the temple gates (vv. 7-10), to which a post-exilic identification of the true Israel was added (v. 6). It contains four questions which are almost universally interpreted as dialectical or antiphonal questions formulated for the purpose of regulating entrance to the temple within some or other liturgy. This paper consists of a poetic and rhetorical analysis of the psalm in which it is argued that the questions rather serve a rhetorical function in the present form of Ps 24. The purpose of the questions is to highlight the profile of a true worshipper of YHWH on the one hand, and to highlight the military might and splendour of YHWH on the other. It probably sought to outline the religious profile of the worshipping community in the post-exilic period more clearly, and to reconfirm the consensus that they would be vindicated as the true Israel when YHWH would reveal his true power and glory. The psalm is also contextualised as part of the post-exilic composition Pss 15-24. <![CDATA[<b>Psalm 85: Yearning for the restoration of the whole body</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300003&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt In this paper Psalm 85 is approached from the angle of embodied language. The embodied experiences of the poet are verbalised and metaphorised in terms of the societal body, the people of Israel in distress after their return from the Babylonian exile. The societal body of Israel, the role of "land" in the psalm, and the three-dimensional relationship between God, the people, and the land are analyzed in terms of the embodied rhetoric implemented by the poet in order to indicate how the embodied language expresses the yearning for whole-bodiedness by the returned exiles. <![CDATA[<b>King lists and genealogies in the Hebrew Bible and in Southern Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300004&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt King lists and genealogies are used in this article as a point of reference from which to consider similarities between the histori-ographical perspectives of early Israel and traditional Africa, with special reference to the Lemba people of Southern Africa. Several Lemba king lists / clan lists and genealogies are examined, and compared with similar texts from the Hebrew Bible. Interesting findings include the unusual brevity of the Lemba genealogies in comparison with both Ancient Near Eastern and other African genealogies, and a cultural paradigm occurring both in Genesis and in Lemba texts, where the heir to a father's leadership is not his oldest son but rather the son of the pre-eminent wife. <![CDATA[<b>Did Prince Cetshwayo read the Old Testament in 1859? The role of the Bible and the art of reading in the interaction between Norwegian missionaries and the Zulu elite in the mid-19<sup>th</sup> century</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300005&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The context of this essay is the celebration of 150 years of theological - including Old Testament - studies in South Africa, commemorating the establishing of a theological seminary in Stellenbosch in 1859. The essay discusses another but simultaneous incident reflecting the early interface between South Africa and the Bible. In late 1859, the Zulu Prince (later King) Cetshwayo approached Norwegian missionaries operating at the border between Natal and Zululand, expressing his wish to learn to read. The missionaries saw this as a God-given opportunity to expose the prince to the Word of God, and Moses, a Christian Zulu, was put in charge of the instruction. Based on Norwegian (and to some extent British: Colenso) missionary sources, the essay discusses this incident in 1859 from the perspective that the Bible is perceived by both missionaries and Zulus as a particular object of power, within the more general exchange of goods and services between the missionaries and the Zulu elite. <![CDATA[<b>Jonah's commission</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300006&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt This article analyses repetition and variance in God's two commissions to Jonah. The differences do not only concern the fact that the commissions occur at subsequent points in narrated time and that Jonah first disobeys and afterwards obeys, but also entail intertextual references, subtle idiomatic variance, plusses and minuses, and even a curious assortment of pointing phenomena in the Codex Leningradensis B19a. It is argued that the subtlety constitutes an adept application of the literary device of repetition. The technique is a means by which the narrator activates his options for opening new windows in the following sections on the confrontation of the Ninevites with the word of God. The curious pointing in B19a may merely be due to Samuel ben Jacob's following the pronunciation he was used to instead of the "correct" pronunciation or simple scribal errors, but it may also be that this was his way to draw attention to the shift. <![CDATA[<b>A new Bible translation: "The syntactic translation"?</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300007&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Over the past decades various versions of the Biblical text have appeared. Many appeared in response to the need to update the language of an older, yet popular version, such as the King James and the old Afrikaans translation. Thereafter versions appeared in which the translation per se was not altered, but notes were added of an encyclopaedic or homiletical sort. These were frequently labelled "study Bibles. " The variety of translations and the inserted notes have in some sense assisted the average user of the Bible, whether preacher, teacher or reader, but have also further complicated the situation of understanding the text, since the new translations differ in their rendering and in the quality of the additional notes. In the light of these developments and the fact that standards of proficiency in the reading of Hebrew are often less than satisfactory among current church leaders, has the time not come for Biblical scholarship to provide clearer guidance in the syntactic structure of Hebrew prose and poetry in order to enhance the understanding of the text? Would a translation that reflects the Hebrew not fill a very glaring gap in the research tools that are available to students of the text? <![CDATA[<b>A new approach to Qohelet 11:1</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300008&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Determination of the meaning of Qoh 11:1 has been, and continues to be, one of the many problems that we face in the interpretation of the Book of Qohelet. None of the interpretations that have been discussed can circumvent the fact that the figure presented in the MT is unrealistic and untenable. Clearly, any approach to the resolution of the textual difficulties has to be anchored in text, context, and structure. The author provides an overview of a representative sample of interpretations for Qoh 11:1. His analysis shows that the various interpretations are not solidly anchored in the text. The text per se does not exhibit a compelling preference for any particular interpretation of those that have been discussed. Moreover, each of the interpretations has a number of serious deficiencies. Facing such inadequacies it seems reasonable to reconsider the premise at the basis of the standard approaches to Qoh 11:1, namely, that Qoh 11:1 begins a new unit. The author considers Qoh 11:1 to continue the warnings against unguarded talk which Qohelet started to present in 10:20. The author suggests that the Urtext of Qoh 11:1 was, "Whisper your dream upon the water, yea, in many seas you will find it. " This can be paraphrased: whisper to your reflection upon the water your dream, and you will find what you whispered in many seas; that is, it will be heard by others in public places. No secret, once uttered, is anymore a secret. This sense for Qoh 11:1, continues and develops an idea that Qohelet began to expound in 10:20, in reaction to the many informers which were active during the Ptolemaic rule. <![CDATA[<b>Carchemish in Near Eastern historiography and in the Old Testament</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300009&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The goal of this article is to show how the three Old Testament texts mentioning Carchemish (Isa 10:9; Jer 46:2; 2 Chr 35:20) treat and reflect the historical event of the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.E. which totally changed the political landscape in the Ancient Near East. The article begins with a short introduction to the history of Carchemish in the last three millennia B.C.E. followed by a discussion of the three references to Carchemish in the Old Testament. The article concludes with some methodical reflections on Carchemish's textual attestation and how the Old Testament authors used, preserved and transformed historical facts and dates. <![CDATA[<b>Darwin, Du Plessis<i>, </i>Dead Sea Scrolls and Democracy: Four important events on the road of Old Testament research in South Africa (1859–2009)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300010&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The Dutch Reformed Theological Seminary at Stellenbosch celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. This article takes a look at four important events on the road of the study of the Old Testament in South Africa during this period. The seminary was established in the same year in which Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species was published (1859). Although there is no direct link between the two events, Darwin's theory of natural selection impacted on the Christian doctrines of creation and fall. The second event is the introduction of historical-critical study at the seminary and the dismissal of Johannes du Plessis who was professor during the late 1920s. The third event is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947-1956) and the impact which this had on the study of the Second Temple period and the idea that Christianity superseded Judaism. The fourth event is the establishment of a proper democracy in South Africa in 1994. The idea that Christianity in its Western dress is the supreme religion does not go unchallenged. Old Testament scholars in South Africa cannot ignore these important events. They need to acquaint theological students with these and assist them in creating a theology which is relevant to the needs of people living in our corner of the "global village." <![CDATA[<b>An alternative ideology relating to difference as hidden polemic in the Book of Judges: Judges 4-5 as an illustration</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300011&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt In the book of Judges we come across the literary depiction of a corporate body (tribe or a group of tribes) consisting of individuals seeking to survive in the midst of threatening danger. The reader would, therefore, expect to find the literary depiction of Israel's survival being produced by ideal bodies (whole male warriors) in the book, as this reflects Israel's dominant body ideology related to good order. However, contrary to the expected literary depiction, it is the unwhole, different-functioning body, which is depicted as producing survival for the corporate body. This is further emphasised by the fact that the whole, functioning bodies are depicted as jeopardising the survival of the corporate body. The hypothesis of this article is that the paradoxical depiction of bodies in Judges serves as counterculture rhetoric in the form of a hidden polemic to advocate an alternative body ideology of difference. This hidden polemic criticises both the dominant body ideology of the whole body and the idea of good order, which go hand in hand. The alternative ideology proposes that difference is not threatening, but is in fact beneficial to society. Judges 4-5 is used as an example to highlight this counterculture rhetoric in the form of a hidden polemic in the book of Judges. It is of vital importance for the church and biblical scholars to take notice of such hidden polemic in the Bible, especially with reference to body ideology and the treatment of so-called unwhole bodies in society. <![CDATA[<b>Taking stock of Old Testament scholarship on environmental issues in South Africa: The main contributions and challenges</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300012&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt This article offers a survey of Old Testament scholarship on environmental issues in South Africa since the first contribution in this field in 1987. Reference is made to 33 significant studies. The survey highlights hermeneutical issues, and it suggests that, in terms of Paul Ricoeur's idea of a "hermeneutics of suspicion and retrieval," the earlier studies seem to cluster around the "retrieval" element, whereas most of the more recent studies contain a healthy dose of "suspicion" with regard to both the biblical texts and extant interpretation of the texts. A threefold typology of eco-theological studies (covenantal, prophetic and mystic), which is a combination of the typologies offered by Rosemary Radford Ruether and David Tracy, is also employed to highlight some of the affinities and differences between the studies that were the object of the survey. The article concludes with a number of challenges to Old Testament scholars exploring the field of eco-theology, and a statement on the state of the debate. <![CDATA[<b>Dr. P. C. Snijman: A forgotten Old Testament scholar</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300013&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt Dr. P. C. Snijman was the first South African scholar to obtain a Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies at the Free University of Amsterdam, with a thesis on the prophecy of Zephaniah. He died shortly after returning to South Africa. The aim of this paper is to describe the life and contribution of this pioneer in the field of Old Testament Studies in South Africa. This paper starts with a biographical sketch of Snijman. He was one of the pioneers of Christelik-Nasionale Onderwys (Christian National Education). His contribution in this regard is discussed, with special reference to a paper he wrote in 1910. His contribution to the study of Zephaniah is evaluated, with a discussion of some examples of his exegesis. It is clear that his death impacted negatively on the study of the Old Testament in his own church and in South African theological circles in general. <![CDATA[<b>Prophet versus prophet in the Book of Jeremiah: In search of the true prophets</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300014&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The aim of this article is to examine the collection of oracles against the prophets in Jeremiah 23:9-40, with special focus on verses 16-17 and 18-22. The questions to which answers will be sought are: Who were the prophets opposing Jeremiah, and why are they called false prophets? What were the reasons for the conflict, and what criteria are applied to judge the opponents? It seems that the collectors of the Jeremiah oracles had their own ideas about what constitutes a true prophet, and were using Jeremiah's oracles to serve their own purpose. We have learnt that the opposing prophets were part of the power structures in Jerusalem and significant contributors to the moral depravity in Judah. We are dealing with a Jerusalem-based prophetic group close to the power base in Jerusalem. They are blamed for transgressions similar to those committed by the kings of Judah, and were therefore as guilty as everyone else in violating the covenant stipulations. Their deception of the people, however, extended further in that they falsely prophesied under the pretence of speaking on behalf of Yahweh. The people of Judah and its leaders, as a consequence of Yahweh's punishment, would be exiled to Babylonia. <![CDATA[<b>Book Reviews</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192009000300015&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt The aim of this article is to examine the collection of oracles against the prophets in Jeremiah 23:9-40, with special focus on verses 16-17 and 18-22. The questions to which answers will be sought are: Who were the prophets opposing Jeremiah, and why are they called false prophets? What were the reasons for the conflict, and what criteria are applied to judge the opponents? It seems that the collectors of the Jeremiah oracles had their own ideas about what constitutes a true prophet, and were using Jeremiah's oracles to serve their own purpose. We have learnt that the opposing prophets were part of the power structures in Jerusalem and significant contributors to the moral depravity in Judah. We are dealing with a Jerusalem-based prophetic group close to the power base in Jerusalem. They are blamed for transgressions similar to those committed by the kings of Judah, and were therefore as guilty as everyone else in violating the covenant stipulations. Their deception of the people, however, extended further in that they falsely prophesied under the pretence of speaking on behalf of Yahweh. The people of Judah and its leaders, as a consequence of Yahweh's punishment, would be exiled to Babylonia.