Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Old Testament Essays]]> vol. 24 num. 1 lang. <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Resurrection or miraculous cures? The Elijah and Elisha narrative against its ancient Near Eastern background</b>]]> The Elijah and Elisha cycles have similar stories where the prophet brings a dead child back to life. In addition, in the Elisha story, a corpse is thrown into the prophet's grave; when it comes into contact with one of his bones, the man returns to life. Thus the question is do these stories allude to resurrection, or "only" miraculous cures? What was the purpose of the inclusion of these stories and what message did they convey? In this paper we will show that these are legends that were intended to lend greater credence to prophetic activity and to indicate the Lord's power over death. <![CDATA[<b>The path image schema as underlying structure for the metaphor <i>moral life is a journey</i> in Psalm 25</b>]]> Metaphorical language abounds in the Psalter. Metaphors are employed to describe the gamut of human experience. In the Psalms, both profane and sacred realities are perceived and comprehended in terms of metaphors. Through metaphor, the poet is able to reason about aspects of life that would otherwise remain inexpressible and incomprehensible. The description of moral life/conduct in Psalm 25 is a case in point. In this psalm, moral life is presented as a journey along a particular path the poet is walking on. This article argues that the metaphor moral life is a journey arises from the poet's recurring bodily experience of movement/motion in the world. Cognitively, the poet utilises the path image schema to depict his moral conduct (living according to the covenant stipulations of Yahweh) as a journey. Thus, this image schema, which underlies and structures his abstract thoughts, gives rise to the metaphor moral life is a journey. <![CDATA[<b>Poetry and perlocution in Psalm 26</b>]]> Psalm 26 has been described as a late pre-exilic prayer of innocence. In it a speaker professes innocence, invites Yahweh to put him to the test, and expresses dissociation from certain groups of people who behave unethically. In contrast to this type of behaviour, the speaker expresses a strong desire to visit the temple in order to praise Yahweh among co-believers. This article investigates its poetic and literary features and speech-act potential. Its form and the connections it displays with the work of the post-exilic wisdom editors of Psalms and the Deuteronomistic works are used to argue that it is an argumentative text rather than a liturgical remnant. Its purpose seems to have been to inspire members of the post-exilic in-group of the author to imitate David and Hezekiah in their wholehearted dedication to Yahweh, since Yahweh would eventually vindicate their uprightness. <![CDATA[<b>The epistemology of Israelite religion: Introductory proposals for a descriptive approach</b>]]> In this article I offer a venturesome introduction to the possibility of an analytic epistemology of Israelite religion. The aim is to propose some descriptive concerns for the biblical scholar interested in what the Hebrew Bible assumed about the justification of religious knowledge and belief in the world of the text. Topics touched on are evidentialism, divine testimony, the problem of allotheism, the concept of divine revelation and the logic of belief revision. <![CDATA[<b>Biblical spirituality and human rights</b>]]> After delineating the central concepts of this paper-the Bible, Spirituality, Biblical Spirituality and human rights-the contribution of Eckart Otto to the current understanding of ancient Jerusalemite origins of one central aspect of modern human rights culture is highlighted. Two Pentateuch texts are discussed in this light: Genesis 1:26-27 and Deuteronomy 13:2-10. Insights from these deliberations may assist people today in considering two recent developments relating to religion in the modern world: court decisions in Canada and South Africa on religion as a secular matter (drawing on the work of I. Benson), and the debate on the wearing of Muslim headscarves in France (drawing on the work of Gerrit Brand). <![CDATA[<b>Towards an ethical reading of the Hebrew bible in the fight against HIV and AIDS</b>]]> The high rates of prevalence of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in the African continent in general, and in the Southern African region in particular, has rightfully attracted the attention of scholars across various disciplines, including a few of the Hebrew Bible (HB) scholars in South Africa. Some have responded to the discourse of the relationship between HIV and AIDS and the HB by making claims that the HB is a source of moral values. Some explore whether it may reveal something about the pandemic, while others investigate whether the HB engenders stigma against the affected and infected. The scholars' response (or lack thereof) to this discourse depends largely, in the first place, on the type of questions they pose, their attitude to the biblical narrative in general and secondly, the main text(s) of their investigation in particular. They employ basically two approaches in their hermeneutical and exegetical efforts. Firstly, there is an option for what may be called "alternative readings." Secondly, there are readings aimed at providing deconstructions of specific HB texts. In this article, we propose that the link between the pandemic of HIV and AIDS and the HB could be better resolved by taking a closer look at the literary narrative constructions themselves, identifying as many ideologies as possible in our quest for a more holistic ethical reading of the HB in the context of HIV and AIDS. <![CDATA[<b>Jeremiah's royal oracle: A contextual reading of 23:1-8 and 33:14-26 in the African leadership situation</b>]]> The royal oracle in Jeremiah (23:5-6; 33:14-16) intervened in the Judean context as a real challenge with regard to a "loyal leadership" capable of restoring social justice in the community. This challenge is of significance to the current African leadership, particularly, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This paper, firstly, analyses the --• texts of Jeremiah in their contexts. Secondly, it discusses the context of African leadership. Thirdly, in considering the two contextual poles as two sets of protagonists which mirror in each other, the African leadership situation is brought to Jeremiah's texts in their contexts. In this regard, an appropriative process of the texts in their contexts is realised which provides the African leadership with insight on how to be "loyal" in managing public affairs. <![CDATA[<b>Respect for animal life in the book of Leviticus. How <i>green</i> were the priestly authors?</b>]]> The article engages with Leviticus 11 and with some of the ways in which it has been used in the ecotheological debate. Leviticus 11 is part of the Priestly text and Priestly theology has mostly been criticised for its legalism and ritualism as well as for its stifling of spontaneity. Recently our understanding of the priestly worldview has vastly improved and scholars tend to show more appreciation of the priestly cosmology, where Israel finds its place amongst other nations, but where there is also a place for animals in relation to humanity. The well-known Torah scholar Jacob Milgrom has insisted for more than forty years that there is an ethical system of "reverence for life" behind these laws. And the anthropologist Mary Douglas has argued that a respect for animal life is part and parcel of the priestly world-view and is clearly expressed in the priestly sacrificial system. This article attempts to critically engage with these two contributions to biblical scholarship. <![CDATA[<b>A linguistic introduction to the origins and characteristics of early Mishnaic Hebrew as it relates to Biblical Hebrew</b>]]> Scholarship has failed to clearly establish the linguistic relationship between Mishnaic Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew. This article serves as an introduction to the problem by: (1) discussing the diachronic development of Mishnaic Hebrew, (2) providing a synchronic linguistic analysis of Mishnaic Hebrew in relation to Biblical Hebrew, and (3) offering direction for future research. The discussion highlights the proposal that Mishnaic Hebrew developed alongside Biblical Hebrew as a popular oral language that was later significantly influenced by Aramaic. The present study shows the non-systematic relationship between Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew, and therefore concludes that students of Biblical Hebrew must exercise caution in looking to Mishnaic Hebrew to interpret the Old Testament. <![CDATA[<b>A new interpretation of Qohelet 10:10</b>]]> We offer a new interpretation of Qoh 10:10, which is based on the view that the unit consisting of vv. 10-11 is an expansion of the original proverb ”-“-•• •”-•- ”•- •-•- -”-- •--1- "If a blade became blunt, then the owner of the blade (•--1-) has no advantage. " The rest of the unit is an elaboration of the idea that a blunted tool offers no advantage to its owner. We suggest that Qoh 10:10 consists of a rhetorical question (10:10a), and an answer which advises proper training for a battle-axe user (10:10b). Qohelet exploits the example of a battle-axe user to bring home the idea that honing wisdom skills would keep them useful. The hallmark of Wisdom is sharpness of thought encapsulated in few words, as is the ease of using effectively a sharp axe. This advantage is lost when the tool becomes blunted, and can be maintained by training and exercise. <![CDATA[<b>Pleading poverty (or identifying with the poor for selfish reasons): On the ideology of Psalm 109</b>]]> In this article the popular view that the "voice of the poor" is expressed in the Psalms (the so-called Armenfrömmigkeit) is challenged. Although the psalms contain many references in which a positive concern for the extremely poor are expressed, this is not always the case. Psalm 109 is discussed as an example in which the supplicant identifies with the poor for his own interest. It is argued that the reader of the psalms should not merely accept that all references to the poor in the psalms could (from a hermeneutical perspective) positively be appropriated. "Pleading poverty" to selfishly justify feelings of enmity should be exposed in the psalms-not only for honesty's sake, but also for the sake of the really poor. <![CDATA[<b>An African bible for African readers: J. G. Shembe's use of the Bible in the sermon</b>]]> It is true that Isaiah Shembe used the Bible as one of the important foundations for the creation of his Ibandla lamaNazaretha. While more work needs to be done on how Isaiah Shembe appropriated the Bible in forging his Church, there is a pressing need to research the way in which the Bible is used and interpreted in the Ibandla lamaNazaretha post Isaiah Shembe, by both members of the Church and the leaders: iLanga, iNyanga Yezulu and especially the present leader, UThingo. This paper is part of a broader project in which I try to explore the reception of the Bible in the Ibandla lamaNazaretha. Here I look at the use and appropriation of the Bible by Isaiah Shembe's son and successor, J. G. Shembe, popularly known to members as iLanga (Sun). I argue that while J. G. Shembe is at pains to appropriate the Bible for Africa, presenting it as an African inspired and created text, he is also forced to denounce it as foreign because of its interpretation by the educated elite. This interpretation (by the educated elites) negates African religion and the worship of ancestors which J. G. Shembe supports. <![CDATA[<b>Reappraising the historical context of Amos</b>]]> The dominant communis opinio dating of Amos' prophetic activity in 760-750 B.C.E.-which is often entirely based on the reference in the Amos text to king Jeroboam II's reign (Amos 1:1 and 7:10-11)-is critically questioned by linking a fresh interpretation of the seemingly obscure, but significant evidence in Amos 6:2 with the western campaigns of Tiglath-Pileser III and with other historically pointed allusions in the text. This leads to the conclusion that several recorded prophetic words of Amos become lucid and more intelligible at a significantly later date between 738-732 B.C.E.. <![CDATA[<b>Abraham (does not) know(s) us: An intertextual dialogue in the book of Isaiah</b>]]> The stance towards Abraham in Isaiah 63:16 seems to be at odds with the high esteem in which Abraham is held in the other texts in the book of Isaiah which explicitly mention him, and other exilic and post-exilic texts. This state of affairs points to an intertextual dialogue between the Abraham texts in the book of Isaiah. The proper name Abraham acts as a signal which alerts a reader to the inter-textual relationship. Isaiah 63:16 displaces 29:22, 41:8 and 51:2 from their positions of authority. Trust in Yahweh himself was the only option for the people. <![CDATA[<b>A mon aide hâte-toi ! Nouvelle étude structurelle du Psaume 70</b>]]> The author has tried twice (in 1987 and 2001) to identify the literary structure of Psalm 70, and Marc Girard has done the same in the time between these attempts (in 1994). Having adopted the proposal of the latter, the author returns to his original proposal (that there is a concentric pattern around the centre, 4, with 3 and 5 corresponding, and then 2 and 6). In this contribution he adjusts his proposal, proceeding more methodically and going from the structure of small units to that of larger units in order to determine the structure of the psalm as a whole. <![CDATA[<b>Book Reviews</b>]]> The author has tried twice (in 1987 and 2001) to identify the literary structure of Psalm 70, and Marc Girard has done the same in the time between these attempts (in 1994). Having adopted the proposal of the latter, the author returns to his original proposal (that there is a concentric pattern around the centre, 4, with 3 and 5 corresponding, and then 2 and 6). In this contribution he adjusts his proposal, proceeding more methodically and going from the structure of small units to that of larger units in order to determine the structure of the psalm as a whole.