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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.21 no.3 Pretoria  2008


Prophet, poetry and ethics: a study of Jeremiah 5:26-29



Wilhelm J. Wessels

University of South Africa





This article is not just about reading and interpreting a few verses from a prophetic poetic text; instead, the aim is to consider ethical issues raised by the passage in question. The first step is to come to grips with the prophetic message in Jeremiah 5:26-29, and then to relate it to the debate on ethics, the Old Testament and our present-day context. The idea is therefore to relate the biblical text to our context, while realising that there is not a direct correlation between the two. The world of the Bible and our world are in many respects far removed from each other. This implies that many ethical questions we are confronted with will fall outside the scope of the Bible. Indeed, many of the issues that the people of Israel had to face are no longer relevant in our context. The Old Testament therefore cannot be used as precept when it comes to ethics, but it makes a valuable contribution in terms of the examples it offers. In engaging in dialogue with the biblical text, we are not only confronted with an ancient world, but in the process we come face to face with our own world, our own ideas, and the challenges we ourselves have to face.



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Wilhelm J. Wessels
Professor of Old Testament
Department of Old Testament
Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa
PO Box 392, Pretoria, 0003, South Africa

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