Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Old Testament Essays]]> vol. 27 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>A Tribute to Prof Herrie van Rooy</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Herrie (H. F.) van Rooy</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Literary criticism and textual criticism in Judg 6:1-14 in light of 4QJudg<sup>a</sup></b>]]> Until recently, textual criticism and historical-critical scholarship have been considered as two separate disciplines. However, due to important developments within the field of textual criticism itself -not least thanks to the discovery of new manuscript findings - it has become evident that both fields of research are intrinsically interwoven. The present contribution - written in honour of Prof. Dr. Herrie van Rooy - explores this relationship on the basis of the passage of the call narrative of Gideon in Judg 6. It will demonstrate how the pericope of the unknown prophet (Judg 6:7-10), and more particularly its absence in 4QJudgª, can serve as a good example to clarify the close intertwinement between historically oriented literary criticism and textual criticism.¹ <![CDATA[<b>From "divination" to "revelation"? A post exilic theological perspective on the relationship between law and prophets in the Old Testament</b>]]> Recent research on the formation of the canon of the OT suggests that it is crucial to understand how theological presuppositions concerning divine revelation linked to Moses made the Torah to be authoritative for subsequent traditions of revelation such as the prophets. The early post exilic redefinition of the prophet (Deut 18:15-22) is linked to the introductory rejection of a comprehensive list of divinatory practices (Deut 18:9-14). Diverging depictions of Balaam as diviner and soothsayer are briefly discussed to illustrate the development from an appreciated diviner of divine will (Num 22-24) to a detestable soothsayer who cursed the people of God (Deut 23 & Josh 13 & 24). Finally, some thought is given to how the development from "divination" to "revelation" influenced the process of canon formation in the period after the Babylonian exile. <![CDATA[<b>The exegesis and polemical use of Ps 110 by Ephrem the Syriac-speaking church father</b>]]> The interpretation and polemical use of Ps 110 by Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373 C.E.) are investigated. It seems that Ephrem was hesitant to speculate about the relationship between God the Father and Jesus on the basis of his exegesis of Ps 110, but that he insisted that Jesus is called "Lord" by David in Ps 110:1 and "Son" by God in Ps 2:7, while both Pss 2:7 and 110:3 are witnesses which prove that the Father was the procreator of the Son. These texts are used to refute Arian allegations that Jesus was a creature, but are also understood as prophecies which should have been enough to prevent the Jewish leaders from rejecting their Messiah. Particulars of the crucifixion of Jesus are interpreted by Ephrem polemically as symbolic pointers to the status of the Jewish people and the Church in the fourth century, and Ps 110:1 provides the key to understanding this symbolism. <![CDATA[<b>When historical minimalism becomes philosophical maximalism</b>]]> In this article the author takes a closer look at the turn to philosophy in the writings of some scholars associated with so-called historical minimalism (Thomas L. Thompson & Philip R. Davies). Whereas scholarly focus has tended to be on deconstructive aspects of the collapse of history this contribution looks at one constructive part thereof, namely the overlooked reappearance of what boils down to philosophical maximalism. <![CDATA[<b>Pregnancy and Psalms: Aspects of the healing ministry of a Nigerian prophet</b>]]> The essay analyses the healing ministry of a prophet operating within one of the African Instituted Churches in Nigeria, and it focuses on his instrumental use of texts from the biblical Book of Psalms - read "into " olive oil and water - in connection with personal crises in relation to pregnancy. With some theory from glocal studies and postcolonial biblical hermeneutics, the prophet's use of Psalms texts is related to the development of a contextually sensitive biblical studies. <![CDATA[<b>Wisdom of life as way of life: The Wisdom of Jesus Sirach as a case in point</b>]]> After a general introduction to the idea of Biblical Wisdom as wisdom of life, the present contribution will introduce three crucial concepts thereof: "righteousness, " "fear of the Lord" and "blessing. " These concepts will be dealt with in the context of both an immanent and transcendent orientation of Biblical wisdom. Thereafter, and against the background of the book Ecclesiasticus or The Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach, this Biblical wisdom will be concretely illustrated. As wisdom pertains to many aspects of daily human life, the text will be presented on the basis of a florilegium of a number of pericopes which are related to the varying facets of human life in its search for meaning and happiness. <![CDATA[<b>Mysticism and understanding: Murmurs of meaning(fulness) - unheard silences of Psalm 1</b>]]> In this paper, two contributions are made. First, the aspect of faith impulses behind the text of Ps 1 are traced, also as an indication of this aspect being overlooked in recent research reviews on Psalter scholarship. Second, the seeming oversimplification of questions of theodicy in this Psalm is characterised here as not ignorance on the part of its author/s, but as taking a considered stance within a highly complex philosophical-theological debate within post-exilic Israel. Such a realisation however requires careful "listening" to the implied religious situation to which the text spoke, an exercise which is methodologically difficult, yet which is historically and theologically important. <![CDATA[<b>Female and royal humanity? One African woman's meditation on Psalm 8</b>]]> In 2008, the legal case of the now Hosi (chief) N'wamitwa II made headlines in South Africa. Although a legitimate heir to her father's throne, N'wamitwa's gender posed the main hindrance to her assuming the royal position.¹ The preceding scenario reveals that even fourteen years into the non-racist, non-sexist post-apartheid South Africa, there was still opposition among many Africans to women leading communities as traditional leaders; that is, a belief that women lacked the capacity to rule. Dare one say this remains so even today? A rereading of Ps 8 reveals the equality and royalty of all human beings irrespective of their gender, among others. The main question the present article seeks to investigate concerns what it means to be a human being both in an African-South African context as well as in the meditation presented by Ps 8. In particular, if Ps 8 is re-read from the perspective of a context in which female humanity (read: women) must at times go through a legal process in order to rule, one in which female humanity seems to be contested, which insights might emerge from such a reading? <![CDATA[<b>Returning to an empty land: Revisiting my old argument about the Jubilee</b>]]> In this article the author engages with his own work on the Jubilee published in 2003. The focus is especially on Lev 25 and 26. In 2003 the author argued that Lev 25 was a text associated with the elite about to return from exile and who wanted their land back. This argument was supported by referring to the "myth of the empty land" in Lev 26, which views the land as lying empty during exile and waiting for the exiles to repopulate it again. On historical-critical grounds the first part of his argument about ch. 25 is rejected. The second part of the argument about the "myth of the empty land" is supported by current historical-critical debates about the portrayal of land in the Priestly text and the Holiness Code. <![CDATA[<b>Haggai 2:20-23: Call to rebellion or eschatological expectation?</b>]]> This article investigates one of the most well-known passages in the book of Haggai, namely Hag 2:20-23. The following question is posed: Is Hag 2:20-23 a call to rebellion or eschatological expectation ? An exegetical study of the passage focuses on the literary, historical and theological dimensions of the text. The final oracle in Haggai is introduced with a specific date formulae namely December 18, 520 B.C.E.. Some scholars opt for a later dating (e.g. during the time of the Chronicler or Hellenistic period), but several indicators favour an earlier dating. If one focuses on vv. 21 and 22, the impression could be that the prophet Haggai calls his people to rebel against the Persian empire and other oppressing kingdoms. However, these verses never emphasise that Zerubbabel or any other Israelite leader will take responsibility for the "overthrow of kingdoms." YHWH is the subject of the Hebrew verbs •-• (overthrow) and --• (destroy). If one focuses on v. 23 the call to rebellion fades away. Verse 23 does not use military symbols or political terms like "king " or "governor. " It rather uses eschatological terms and expressions like "on that day," "servant" and "signet ring. " Haggai prophecies about an eschatological day when the Davidic kingdom will be restored by means of Zerubbabel, YHWH's servant and chosen signet ring. <![CDATA[<b>Van hoog tot laag afgestraft: Betekenis en functie van Jeremia 46:25-26a</b>]]> In de samengestelde bundel van profetieën tegen Egypte in Jer. 46 vormt de sectie van vss 25-26 een probleem. Stilistisch en inhoudelijk wijkt dit gedeelte af van de voorgaande profetie (vss 1324), maar tegelijk lijkt er een zekere samenhang mee te zijn. Dit artikel onderzoekt of het laatste het geval is, en zo ja, op welke wijze vss 25-26 als integrerend onderdeel van de voorafgaande profetie gelezen kan worden. Op basis van een nieuwe exegese van deze tekstpassage en een analyse van gemeenschappelijke elementen van beide gedeelten, verdedig ik de stelling dat vss 25-26, hoewel vermoedelijk een latere redactionele toevoeging, doelbewust de voorafgaande profetie voorzien van een verdiepende conclusie. Part of the composite collection of oracles againt Egypt in Jer 46 is the section of vv. 25-26. With respect to style and content, this passage obviously deviates from the preceding prophecy (vv. 13-24). At the same time, however, the reader senses some kind of connection between the two sections. In this article, I investigate this issue, trying to understand how vv. 25-26 can be read as part and parcel of the preceding oracle against Egypt. On the basis of both a new exegesis of vv. 25-26 and an analysis of the common features of the two passages, I will argue that vv. 25-26, although probably a later redactional addition, function as a climax and conclusion of the preceding prophecy. <![CDATA[<b>Conflicts at creation: Genesis 1-3 in dialogue with the Psalter</b>]]> Gunkel in his "Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton " argued that the Chaoskampf motif which had its origin in the Babylonian account of creation Enuma Elish is found in two groups of texts: those dealing with the dragon and those dealing with the primal sea. Scholars have since tended to regard the OT as portraying the creation of the universe as the result of a cosmic conflict between God and Chaos. The aim in this paper is not so much to challenge Gunkel's thesis, which others have already done, but to analyse the OT's multiple and diverse voices regarding the protological events. This paper suggests that the relationship between creation and conflict is not that creation occurs through conflict; rather, conflict comes through the process of creation. That is, the fundamental conflict between God and his creatures is evidenced by two conflicts: conflict at sea with Leviathan/Rahab (Pss 74:12-17; 89:9-14), and conflict on land with the serpent and humankind (Gen 2:4b-3:24). <![CDATA[<b>Reflecting on (Non-) violence in the book of Deuteronomy in (Old Testament) canonical context</b>]]> In recent Pentateuch scholarship, the book of Deuteronomy is allocated a central place, not only with regard to the history of the origin of the Pentateuch, but also in constructing the theology of the Pentateuch, even the Tanach, at large. From the perspective which advocates the thematic study of the Pentateuch's life-related themes (amongst others "human rights, " poverty, sexuality or the possession of land), the issue of violence constitutes a particular problem. The paper explores the inner debate on violence within Deuteronomy and the canon within its contemporary context, as well as in terms of its reception in some scholarly commentaries in the (post-) modern world. In an overview of the book as a whole, special attention will be paid to Deut 13 (the demand to killing even the own son in case of idolatry) and Deut 20 (uncritical positive prescriptions for warfare). <![CDATA[<b>A theological appraisal of the book of Malachi</b>]]> The central question put in this paper is: what is the contribution Malachi makes to a theological appreciation of the OT? Four dimensions in determining the theology of the book of Malachi have been detected: a theological dimension portraying the God active in the book, a cultic dimension emphasising the way in which Yhwh demands to be worshipped; an ethical dimension highlighting the expected behaviour of the people of God and finally an eschatological dimension opening up a vision of a future to come. <![CDATA[<b>The spotlight on Genesis 1-3: A report on shifts in mind-set and beliefs</b>]]> The author narrates how his views concerning Gen 1-3 have changed over the past forty years. He enrolled for theological training at the University of Stellenbosch during the seventies of the previous century and had to study the book Hoe lezen wij Genesis 2 en 3? ("How should we read Genesis 2 and 3?"). The book had been written by B. J. Oosterhoff, a Dutch scholar who argued a case for a symbolic reading of the text. Since then the author has become acquainted with the paradigm change in the study of the OT (1880-1900) and he has accepted the view that the biblical documents were written by ordinary human beings whose worldview differs radically from people living in the 21st century. His understanding of Gen 1-3 has changed accordingly and he has taken leave of the grand narrative of Christianity, which can be summarized as Fall-Redemption-Judgement. Genesis 1-3 does not concern a perfect creation and a Fall from grace. It consists of two creation myths that reflect the ancient Israelites' understanding of their world and what it entails to be a human being. If scholars keep this in mind a stalemate between science and religion may be prevented and theology may even be able to contribute to the discussions concerning the current ecological crisis. <![CDATA[<b>Yahweh is the creator of (heaven and) earth: The significance of the intertextual link between Jeremiah 27:5 and 32:17</b>]]> This paper explores the significance of the intertextual link between Jer 27:5 and 32:17 for the portrayal of the prophet in his prayer in Jer 32:17-25. Through the reference to Yahweh as the creator who had made the heaven and the earth, Jer 32:17 recalls Yahweh's decision to hand all earth into the power of Nebuchadnezzar mentioned in 27:5. Jeremiah's purchase of ancestral land as a sign-act proclaiming the restoration of the land should therefore not be placed on the same level as the acts of an optimistic prophet such as Hananiah. However, any doubt with regard to Jeremiah's faith in Yahweh was unfounded. <![CDATA[<b>In search of Eden: A cosmological interpretation of Genesis 2-3</b>]]> Past suggestions for the locality of the biblical Eden mostly fell into the trap of either assuming a real historical setting, or supposing that the garden in Eden had a fictional or fantastical setting. Even in those cases where scholars did assume a mythical setting for the garden, they were more interested in locating the possible historical garden on which this mythical garden may have been modelled than trying to identify the exact imagined position for the garden within the mythical cosmography of the ANE. It is concluded that it is futile to assume a locality for Eden within the boundaries of our natural human world, because it was perceived as being located outside our known world in the mythical in-between space of the eastern horizon. The Garden in Eden retained most features of the ANE mythical garden of the gods. These include: its sense of abundance, waterrichness, the eastern horizon as the source of cosmic rivers like the Euphrates and Tigris, its association with mythical monsters, guards and spells (cherubs and a flaming sword), wondrous (magical) trees, the allusion to a garden of gems and its association with life and immortality. <![CDATA[<b>Allotted place and cursed space in 1 Enoch 12-36</b>]]> An analysis of the three journeys of Enoch (1 En. 12-36) shows that preference is given to the spatial aspect in these revelation narratives. Both the heavenly journey (1 En. 12-16) and the two earthly journeys to the ends of the earth (1 En. 17-36) implicate space. An actantial model as well as critical spatiality is used to analyze these stories. Allocated place and cursed space influenced by mantic wisdom using cosmological schemes are used here to depict the exclusive ideas of the author(s). <![CDATA[<b>Human pro-sociality, morality and Proverbs</b>]]> Our evolved pro-social mental tools (intuitive morality, social exchange regulator, social status monitor) provided us with social/moral intelligence to live peacefully amongst each other since the early dawn of modern humankind. We not only have the intuitive capacity to act right or wrong but also the reflective (rational) capabilities to negotiate moral norms. Altruism, fairness, honesty, self-control and deference for authority have become the moral embodiments of our pro-social mechanisms. These same social/moral agreements and their implied prosocial originators are all reflected in the ancient wisdom book of Proverbs, providing content to its wisdom order. Amongst many other things, Proverbs is an apt illustration of our humanness, of our natural and cultural capacity for social and moral living. <![CDATA[<b>Subversion of power: Exploring the Lion metaphor in Nahum 2:12-14</b>]]> The short book of Nahum has posed many questions to the scholarly community. For many the book represents an unacceptable display of nationalism and for others the violence in Nahum is too much to bear. The book also stirs emotions with its humiliating references to women to depict weakness and rejection. The book of Nahum also raises the question of YHWH as the aggressor committing acts of violence. These issues are all valid concerns that need to be entertained by scholars. However, the poetic nature of the Nahum text cannot go unnoticed. The view taken is that Nahum should be read as "resistance poetry " similar to struggle poems and songs that function in oppressive contexts. The argument promoted in this article is that the rhetoric of the book serves the purpose of enticing the Judean people to imagine victory in spite of their oppression and victimisation by the Assyrian forces. The text of Nahum is an excellent display of power battles with the sovereign power YHWH overpowering the Assyrian powers with Nineveh and the Assyrian king as symbols of power. YHWH acts on behalf of the Judean people, who feel powerless in their confrontation with the Assyrians. With this in mind, it will be illustrated that some metaphors in Nahum are used as a means to undermine the power of the enemy. A case will be put forward that the metaphor of the lion, which represents power par excellence, is used in Nah 2:12-14 in a taunt song to subvert the idea of power inherent in this very image. The idea is to illustrate how a metaphor depicting power is used creatively to achieve the exact opposite by subverting that power. <![CDATA[<b>Juxtaposing "many cattle" in biblical narrative (Jonah 4:11), imperial narrative, neo-indigenous narrative</b>]]> The final phrase of the book of Jonah offers an opportunity to re-read the book of Jonah from its odd ending. First, the article locates this interpretive project within a form of postcolonial theory, contrapuntal interpretation. Second, exegetical work is undertaken on the enigmatic final phrase. Third, the final phrase of the book of Jonah is brought into juxtaposition with the covetous eyes of the first Dutch settlers who came to South Africa in 1652. Fourth, and finally, the article reflects on the potential of this juxtaposition for the contemporary South African context, focussing specifically on the "Khoisan " descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Cape. <![CDATA[<b>Book reviews / Boekresensies</b>]]> The final phrase of the book of Jonah offers an opportunity to re-read the book of Jonah from its odd ending. First, the article locates this interpretive project within a form of postcolonial theory, contrapuntal interpretation. Second, exegetical work is undertaken on the enigmatic final phrase. Third, the final phrase of the book of Jonah is brought into juxtaposition with the covetous eyes of the first Dutch settlers who came to South Africa in 1652. Fourth, and finally, the article reflects on the potential of this juxtaposition for the contemporary South African context, focussing specifically on the "Khoisan " descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Cape.