Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Verbum et Ecclesia]]> vol. 34 num. 2 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>'Actualisation' and 're-enactment': Two categories in understanding the Old Testament</b>]]> Exegesis has been an integral part of Professor Jurie le Roux's life. Throughout his scholarly career, he has continually worked to realise the 'actualisation' and 're-enactment' of Old Testament stories and ideas. As a modest tribute to Professor le Roux, this contribution seeks to demonstrate that both concepts also play a central role within the process of composing Old and New Testament texts. This will be illustrated with reflections on how Old and New Testament texts speak about the Sabbath. Firstly, the Sabbath commandment in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy will be dealt with. Secondly, a brief survey will present how the Sabbath commandment has been understood during the Second Temple period. Finally, it will be argued that the New Testament authors sought to forge a link with the original tenor of the Sabbath commandment by presenting Jesus as the one who 'actualises' and 're-enacts' the Sabbath commandment that often became rigid over time. <![CDATA[<b>The Sacrifice for (the) God(s) after the Flood in Ancient Israel and the Ancient Near East: A New Interpretation.</b>]]> The experience of a large, devastating flood is part of the cultural heritage of mankind. The famous 'texts of the deluge' come from Mesopotamia. Here, the flood tradition dates back to the 3rd Millennium. The longest and most traditional of these texts, which - amongst other things - deal with the interpretation of these events, is the Atramhasis myth. The literary-dependent text is the Gilgamesh epic, and the Old Testament version is the story of the Flood that is found in Genesis 6-9. For a long time the similarities and differences between these three texts have been known. However, so far little attention was given to a passage that all three texts share: the sacrifice of the surviving humans after the Flood. The reaction of the deity(ies) differs in these three texts. In this article I would like to consider the similarities and differences between the texts in order to evaluate the significance of the Old Testament text. This is against the background of recent insights in the field of ancient Israelite sacrifice, related to cultural anthropology. These three passages are first considered in their context and then compared to the relevant aspects of each other before a conclusion is drawn. <![CDATA[<b>The historical understanding of the Old Testament in South Africa: Colenso, Le Roux and beyond</b>]]> Isaiah Berlin quoted Archilochus to distinguish between two styles of academic reasoning that, to some extent, summarises the transition of historiography from Modernism to Postmodernism: 'The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.' The modernistic master narratives of the first half of the 20th century (quests for the 'centre of the Old Testament' etc.) were in obvious decline during the second half of the 20th century and, triggered by the Annates school of historiography social scientific methods, were incorporated into the study of ancient Israel. Historiography became less of an art that depended on an informed imagination and more like a science that presupposed empirical or social scientific research and a multidisciplinary approach to describe and explain the past. Against this backdrop, the historical understanding of the Old Testament in South Africa was discussed, starting with one of its oldest exponents, Bishop J.W. Colenso (disproving the chronological priority of the 'E source', rejecting the 'truth proving' function of archaeology and interpreting biblical texts within the historical context of its writing), and concluding with the current chair of the Old Testament Society of South Africa, Prof J.H. le Roux (influenced by Old Testament scholars such as G. von Rad and E. Otto and historiographers such as E. Troeltsch and R.G. Collingwood). The methodological principles of historiography suggested by Troeltsch (criticism, analogy and correlation) were adapted to describe and explain some trends in South African Old Testament historiography that go beyond a superficial division between maximalists and minimalists. <![CDATA[<b>Ruth 4:18-22: A window to Israel's past</b>]]> The genealogy at the end of the Book of Ruth starts with Perez and ends with David, thereby covering Israel's history since the time of the sojourn in Egypt to the Davidic monarchy. This article focuses on Ruth 4:18-22 and what its genealogy may reveal. After a brief review of different types of genealogies in the Hebrew Bible, the problematic dating of the Book of Ruth becomes secondary; however, a particular perspective will determine the rest of the interpretation of the genealogy. My point of view in this article is that the Book of Ruth dates back to the period of the Second Temple. I examine the following issues: the connection between Ruth 4:18-22 and 1 Chronicles 2:4-15, as David's genealogy appears only in these two passages of the Hebrew Bible; the connection between the ten-member genealogy in the Book of Ruth and similar ten-member genealogies of Genesis; and whether Ruth 4:18-22 is a later addendum to the text or part of the original. The conclusion to these questions is that the genealogy of the Book of Ruth is similar to those in Genesis, and that it was part of the original book. The median of the genealogy of the Book of Ruth takes place in the desert with Nahshon as the representative of that era. Nahshon's sister happens to be married to Aaron whose priesthood is elevated above the rest of the tribe of Levi, and to whose descendants eternal priesthood is promised. Phinehas, his grandson, appears to be extremely intolerant of mixed marriages - an attitude which is later sustained by his descendant, Ezra, the scribe. The article also touches briefly upon the whole problem of mixed marriages and a sense of identity during the Second Temple period. The conclusion is that the author of the Book of Ruth was written by members of the scholarly circles of this period in opposition to exclusivist circles as to remind the community of the important role that women - especially foreign women - played in the formative history of the nation. <![CDATA[<b>Just emotions: Reading the Sarah and Hagar narrative (Genesis 16, 21) through the lens of human dignity</b>]]> This article seeked to read the interconnected narratives of Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 16, 21) in terms of the hermeneutical lens of human dignity. For the purpose of this article, recent studies on the performative nature of emotions, which considered the central role of emotions such as pain, disgust and hatred in shaping the lives of individuals as well as the ways in which people relate to one another, were helpful in contemplating the situations of dehumanisation faced by both Sarah and Hagar as well as the broader question regarding upholding human worth in a context of indignity. This article furthermore considered the role of emotions in a conversation on ethics and particularly the way in which the narrative offered a fruitful avenue for considering Israel's relationship to their neighbours - a line of interpretation that holds potential for reflecting on complex interracial and interethnic relationships in today's global context. <![CDATA[<b>Beyond monotheism?</b> <b>Some remarks and questions on conceptualising 'monotheism' in Biblical Studies</b>]]> In the first part of this article I outline serious objections against the concept of monotheism. I will ask whether the ambiguity and the problem discredit the concept of monotheism as inappropriate for Biblical Studies, or whether it calls for differentiation. In the argument following thereupon, the concept is found to be more useful to describe certain stages of the conceptual and linguistic development of Israelite religion. The term and concept of monotheism in Biblical Studies is necessary, but not sufficient, if we want to reconstruct the religious history of Israel, Judah, Yehûd and Early Judaism or Judaisms. In this article I propose categories such as implicit monotheism, intolerant monolatry, implicit exclusion, explicit uniqueness, monotheism as implication et cetera, which are especially useful if we want an accurate description of the statements. This makes the category of monotheism useful as heuristic and relational category. <![CDATA[<b>J.H. le Roux's philosophy of religion</b>]]> J.H. le Roux had a passion for philosophy. His writings contain recourse to the history of philosophy in a way that bespeaks a deep underlying interest in the subject. This much is relatively well-known. This contribution, by contrast, aims at reconstructing something hitherto mostly covert: Le Roux's philosophy of religion. Of interest is what his writings presuppose about the nature of religion, religious language, the nature of God, the existence of God, religious epistemology, the relation between religion and morality and the problem of religious pluralism. <![CDATA[<b>An exegetical analysis of the vision of peace in the Book of Isaiah (2:1-5)</b>]]> The vision in Isaiah 2:1-5 of nations streaming to Zion in the days to come to receive Yahweh's Torah is one of the best-known texts in the entire Book of Isaiah. The chapter begins with the description of Yahweh, the universal Judge, who issues effective decrees and exercises authority over the earth from atop Mount Zion. The standards for the nations' relationships amongst themselves are set by Yahweh. The nations will learn peace and practice peace. The question of Israel's relationship to the nations is addressed in many texts in the Old Testament, but they do not offer a uniform opinion on this matter. The Book of Isaiah goes a step further than other texts: the Torah is also valid for the other nations. In this article the focus will be on Isaiah 2:1-5. The relationship of this text with other parts of the Book of Isaiah will also be addressed. <![CDATA[<b>'Deep is the well of the past': Reconsidering the origins of the Exodus motif in its cultural context</b>]]> The article shows, that the stories of the Patriarchs as well as the Exodus-story are allochthonous traditions of origin. We find comparable stories in the neighboring cultures of Israel. Egypt as origin of human culture was of utmost importance in the Levant. Herodotus reports a myth of origin of the Phoenicians which is of particular interest in this respect. As far as it can be seen there are affinities between this tradition and the Exodus motif from the Hebrew Bible. This raises the question if we should read the Biblical traditions as part of the comprehensive cultural context of the Levant. <![CDATA[<b>Why history matters: The place of historical consciousness in a multidimensional approach towards biblical interpretation</b>]]> Since the linguistic turn of New Criticism and the advent of reader-response approaches in the previous century, the category of history has come under pressure in biblical interpretation. New developments in general historiography have also emphasised that the past is forever past, and that only constructions of the past remain. These developments bring many to the conclusion that the past offers no assistance in the interpretation process. In my paper I would like to re-emphasise that 'historical consciousness' does not mean an anachronistic clinging to something which no longer exists, but rather refers to the ability to sense the multidimensionality of interpretation, particularly in the case of ancient biblical texts. <![CDATA[<b>Confusing redaction and corruption: A house going to hell</b>]]> There are two dimensions to the argument offered in this article, both of them pertaining to methodological issues. The first is that of distinguishing textual criticism from redactional criticism, especially with recourse to the critical apparatus of the Stuttgart Hebrew Bibles. Secondly, the danger of over-emphasising the sound distinction between so-called 'literary' and 'historical' exegetical modes into an unsound separation between them. Proposals for the emendation of the text in Proverbs 2:18 are used as an example of both issues at once. It is advanced that a historical enquiry into the origin of the text can shed light on an analysis of the text 'as it stands', which undermines the reading of the 'final text' as an exercise that can, and may, have nothing to do with enquiry into the growth of that text. This article endeavours to advance its argument by means of a practical contribution to solving the perceived textual problems of the crux interpretum, rather than indulging in the kind of theoretical skirmishes that characterised South African debates at the end of the previous century. <![CDATA[<b>Issues in or with Genesis 22: An overview of exegetical issues related to one of the most problematic biblical chapters</b>]]> The understanding of the Akedah (Genesis 22) has since its very inception been contentious. The psychologically disturbing and theologically challenging account renders a series of exegetical and interpretative problems. Often methodology serves to hinder a fuller perception of the elements and aspects of the text, examples of which are given here relating to the opening phrase to the chapter, the choice of literary or historical placement implied by the exegete's choices on the opening phrase, the treatment of verses 15 to 18 (and, hence, verse 1) and the treatment of the morality (ethics and philosophy) involved with this text. <![CDATA[<b>Moses' praise and blame - Israel's honour and shame: Rhetorical devices in the ethical foundations of Deuteronomy</b>]]> This article analyses the rhetorical devices of praise and blame employed in Moses' speeches in the book of Deuteronomy. Praise and blame are mainly used in the framework of the central Law Code, Deuteronomy 1-11, 26-34. Some of the most prominent occurrences of Moses' rhetoric of praise and blame form literary inclusions, in parallel (Dt 4:7; 33; 29) and contrasting (Dt 4:6; 29:24; 32:6) ways. Both praise and blame are used to inspire faithfulness to God and obedience to the Torah. In this way, Moses forms Israel's ethical values as the foundation of the people's legal order. <![CDATA[<b>From cult to community: The two halves of Leviticus</b>]]> Traditionally in Old Testament redactional criticism, a distinction is made between the first half of Leviticus (usually Lv 1-16) and the second half (Lv 17-26). In historical-critical jargon, the first half is usually regarded as part of the Priestly texts (P) and the second is called H by some, after the Holiness Code. Some have argued that Leviticus 1-16 is mostly concerned with what we would call rituals, whereas the second half (or H) is concerned with 'ethics', amongst other things. The article attempted to explore the relation between rituals and ethics by first asking what Old Testament critics seem to mean when they use terms such as 'ritual' and 'ethics'. The article then critically engaged with two different hypotheses which attempt to explain the ethical turn in the Book of Leviticus. <![CDATA[<b>Torah and prophecy: A debate of changing identities</b>]]> The study interprets the postexilic book of Deuteronomy as a prophetic testament, which characterises Moses as the only arch-prophet (Dt 34). This was a position not of prophetic groups of the Second Temple Period, but of priestly scribes who were responsible for the postexilic redaction of the Pentateuch. They were in a discourse with postexilic groups and schools of prophetic scribes who denied the priestly theory of legitimate prophecy, especially in the book of Jeremiah, but also in Isaiah. The study highlights the discussion and draws some conclusions about postexilic circles of authors in Torah and prophecy. <![CDATA[<b>Deuteronomy in the Second Temple period: Law and its developing interpretation</b>]]> A fulfilled ethical life is a desire that in Israel is closely integrated with the observance of laws and legal instructions. The specific way, in which this aspect is concretised, is not the fundamental aspect for the biblical authors. In Pentateuch there are in fact a lot of legal codes. In prophetical writings these are often called into question and in the Second Temple period there are also attempts to correct biblical legislation, which are not in our biblical canon like the qumranic Temple Scroll. The differences between legal codes in the Bible and in the writings of the Second Temple period are above all witnesses that it is possible to correct, to interpret, to actualise and to rewrite laws, which remains authoritative for the people or for a part of it. <![CDATA[<b>Yhwh, the Goddess and Evil: Is 'monotheism' an adequate concept to describe the Hebrew Bible's discourses about the God of Israel?</b>]]> The concept of 'monotheism' has become a matter of debate in Hebrew Bible scholarship. This article investigates whether the concept should still be used, starting with Second Isaiah, who in the early Persian period elaborated a discourse that presented Yhwh as the only god. Therefore he had to integrate into this deity functions traditionally attributed to goddesses and to demons or evil gods. However, this attempt did not succeed. The goddess, whose elimination is probably reflected in Zechariah 5, returned in a certain way through the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, and the 'dark sides' of the gods were materialised in the figure of Satan, who experienced an impressive career in the following centuries. The question of evil is not resolved in the Hebrew Bible. Some texts admit the autonomy of evil, whereas Isaiah 45 claims that Yhwh himself is at the origin of evil. This diversity makes it difficult to characterise the Hebrew Bible as the result of a straightforward evolution from polytheism to monotheism. <![CDATA[<b>Hezekiah and the Assyrian tribute</b>]]> The immensity of Hezekiah's tribute payment to the Assyrian monarch, Sennacherib (2 Ki 18:14) has elicited limited reflection by scholars. Agriculture, generally believed to have formed the basis of the Judaean economy, could not alone have financed Hezekiah's expenditure at the close of the 8th and the beginning of the 7th century BCE. Alternative sources of revenue, in addition to the income from the tithes and taxes as a result of his religious reforms, which undoubtedly contributed substantially, must have been available to the king. Archaeological data will not enable us to prove the veracity of the biblical narratives, but they will help us to interpret it, illuminate the context of the biblical passages and provide valuable information for the reconstruction of the social and cultural history of the early Israelites. An entirely accurate picture of the actual events that occurred will continue to elude us. <![CDATA[<b>Of poverty prevention in the Pentateuch as a continuing contemporary challenge</b>]]> This article surveyed how the theme of poverty and caring for the poor functions in the Pentateuch in its legal as well as narrative sections. It included the discussion of a (hopefully) representative selection of texts where the various Hebrew terms (ani or anw, ebjon and dal) are employed, but also where they are absent but the issue is present. Attention is (amongst others) paid to the goodness of creation as counter-pole for poverty in Genesis 1-3, poverty prevention in the Joseph novella, the Exodus as liberation text, the survival of the Israelites during the desert journey (Dt 8) and the specific measures prescribed in the Covenant Code (Ex 20:22-23:33), the Deuteronomic Code (Dt 12-26) and the Holiness Code (Lv 17-26). It is contended that the various expressions regarding poverty originated and functioned contingently in their ancient contemporary contexts but that they can also be critically appropriated in present-day contemporary contexts - for which a great need exists. The article concluded with ten (preliminary) statements to the latter effect. <![CDATA[<b>Some preliminary thoughts on epistemological transformation and the study of the Old Testament</b>]]> This contribution addressed the question of epistemological transformation in the study of the Old Testament in South Africa. Epistemological transformation entails the way in which we think of knowledge: what do we teach, why do we teach the knowledge that we teach and how do we teach? This contribution focused on the first and second aspects of knowledge. The aspect of transformation brings to mind the post-1994 situation in South Africa. In view of the major transition South Africa has made in terms of an inclusive democratic dispensation this new state of affairs, combined with the past we came from, necessitates a process of epistemological transformation in the study of the Old Testament. At the occasion of the retirement of a colleague it might be appropriate to look back and open up some possibilities for the future of Old Testament studies in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Reading the Old Testament in the 21st century using the Book of Jonah as reference</b>]]> Some Old Testament scholars identify three main types of approaches to the Bible, namely, (1) theological (2) historical and (3) literary. Others would rather refer to different methods of studying the Bible, which can be linked to different worlds. Some methods focus more on the world behind the text, others on the world of the text itself, whilst yet a third group focuses more on the world in front of the text. One reads the text according to which of the three worlds one regards as the most important. Although there is truth in all of these classifications of approaches to studying the Bible and methods of doing so, the audience for whom the reading is done plays an even more important role. The different audiences often cherish different views of Scripture which can be linked to a specific paradigm and which dominates the outcome of the reading process. The fact is illustrated by investigating how the book of Jonah has been read and studied in recent years. <![CDATA[<b>Deuteronomy 28 and Tell Tayinat</b>]]> The discovery of Esarhaddon's Succession Treaty (EST) at Tell Tayinat confirms the Assyrian application of this text on western vassals and suggests that the oath tablet was given to Manasseh of Judah in 672 BC, the year in which the king of Assyria had all his empire and vassals swear an oath or treaty promising to adhere to the regulations set for his succession, and that this cuneiform tablet was set up for formal display somewhere inside the temple of Jerusalem. The finding of the Tell Tayinat tablet and its elaborate curses of §§ 53-55 that invoke deities from Palestine, back up the claim of the 1995 doctoral thesis of the author of this article that the impressive similarities between Deuteronomy 28:20-44 and curses from § 56 of the EST are due to direct borrowing from the EST. This implies that these Hebrew verses came to existence between 672 BC and 622 BC, the year in which a Torah scroll was found in the temple of Jerusalem, causing Josiah to swear a loyalty oath in the presence of Yhwh. This article aimed to highlight the similarities between EST § 56 and Deuteronomy 28 as regards syntax and vocabulary, interpret the previously unknown curses that astoundingly invoke deities from Palestine, and conclude with a hypothesis of the composition of the book of Deuteronomy. <![CDATA[<b><i>Fatherless in Galilee</i></b><b>: An autobiographical reflection</b>]]> The article is a academic, reworked version of a public speech in which the author explains his position expressed in his book Fatherless in Galilee: Jesus as Child of God, published in 2001 and which has created ecclesiastical dispute with regard to confessional affirmations about the virginal conception of Jesus, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to heaven. The article discusses the circumstances which led to the writing of the book, the exegetical and theological insights which influenced the author and the continuing relevance of historical Jesus research. The article is written in the genre of autobiographical biblical criticism. <![CDATA[<b>Deep probing questions but answers conceived in vulnerability: On Jurie le Roux’s ‘spiritual empathy’</b>]]> Taking the conversation between the Old Testament scholar Jurie le Roux and the dogmatician Johan Heyns as point of departure, it is argued that his well-founded criticism of Heyns has to be taken seriously, as well as his proposition in favour of spiritual empathy to enhance the understanding of historical texts. However, his recommendation for spiritual emphaty is subsequently constructively valued and criticised from a theological-experiential perspective. It is especially noted that, on the one hand, Le Roux's reactionary historical point of view regarding, amongst others, the retrieval of the orginal intention of the author/text is convincing. On the other hand, it is argued that his perspective is predisposed toward an unproblematical self in the present. As a result, the act of historical interpretation is reduced to dependence on 'the seams of the heart' in the individual quester. It is after all argued and substantiated from systematic-theological, postmodern, philosophical and theological-scientific perspectives that historicity does not consist solely of historical 'seeing' in the sense of retaining the original intention of the author. Historical understanding also entails historical 'hearing' (that is, a surplus of meaning) which broadens and enriches historical understanding. <![CDATA[<b>Exegesis seeking appropriation; appropriation seeking exegesis: Re-reading 2 Samuel 13:1-22 in search of redemptive masculinities</b>]]> Exegesis in the traditional sense is concerned with generating as much (scientific) detail about a biblical text as possible. Whilst the two primary modes of biblical exegesis - socio-historical and literary-semiotic - do this differently, they share a common concern for the detail of the text as an ancient artefact. Critical distance is a key concept here, with the exegetes bracketing (for a moment) their own contexts and concerns. However, such bracketing is impossible to sustain, and so the exegetes' interests (shaped by their contexts and concerns) 'leak' into the act of exegesis. Most exegetes today recognise this leakage, and whilst some still view such leakage as contaminating the exegesis, others, including the tradition of African biblical scholarship, actively identify the contextual concerns they bring to the task of exegesis, both respecting the detail of the text and desiring to be accountable to their contexts in which the Bible is a significant text. This article explored some of the dimensions of forms of exegesis that actively seek appropriation, using 2 Samuel 13:1-22 as an example. In this case, the article analysed the contextual shift from a focus on women as the victims of sexual violence to an emerging emphasis on masculinities. Reading the same text from these different contextual concerns 'activates' particular details of the text, and so both draw on different elements of the text and thus guides the gaze of exegesis.