Hebrew Bible, Old Testament. The History of Its Interpretation 3. From Modernism to Post-Modernism, Part 2. The Twentieth Century - From Modernism to Post-Modernism 3525540221, 9783525540220

The HBOT-Project describes the history of interpretation of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament from the beginnings to the

280 56 3MB

English Pages 777 [770] Year 2015

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Hebrew Bible, Old Testament. The History of Its Interpretation 3. From Modernism to Post-Modernism, Part 2. The Twentieth Century - From Modernism to Post-Modernism
 3525540221, 9783525540220

Table of contents :
9783666540226.front
9783666540226.toc
9783666540226.17
9783666540226.19
9783666540226.29
9783666540226.45
9783666540226.58
9783666540226.96
9783666540226.125
9783666540226.148
9783666540226.170
9783666540226.196
9783666540226.221
9783666540226.253a
9783666540226.253b
9783666540226.269
9783666540226.285
9783666540226.300
9783666540226.336
9783666540226.371
9783666540226.391
9783666540226.433
9783666540226.467
9783666540226.500
9783666540226.531
9783666540226.559
9783666540226.594
9783666540226.622
9783666540226.642
9783666540226.674
9783666540226.704
9783666540226.709
9783666540226.717
9783666540226.726

Citation preview

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament The History of Its Interpretation Volume III/2

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament The History of Its Interpretation Edited by

Magne Sæbø

Volume III

From Modernism to Post-Modernism (The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries)

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament The History of Its Interpretation Volume III

From Modernism to Post-Modernism (The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries) In Co-operation with

Peter Machinist and Jean Louis Ska, SJ edited by

Magne Sæbø Part 2

The Twentieth Century – From Modernism to Post-Modernism

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data available online: http://dnb.d-nb.de. ISBN 978-3-525-54022-0

You can find alternative editions of this book and additional material on our Website: www.v-r.de © 2015, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen/ Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht LLC, Bristol, CT, U.S.A. www.v-r.de All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher. Printed in Germany. Typesetting by Dörlemann Satz, Lemförde Printed and bound by Hubert & Co, Göttingen Printed on non-aging paper

Gerhard von Rad (1901–1971) the Interpreter

Contents Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

17

25. In Our Own, Post-modern Time – Introductory Remarks on Two Methodological Problems in Biblical Studies By Magne Sæbø, Oslo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Contemporary History as a Historiographical Challenge . . . . 2. On the Methodological Pluralism of Contemporary Biblical Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

19 21 23

A. General Prospects of Context and Approaches of Biblical Interpretation in the Twentieth Century 26. Basic Questions of Hermeneutics as Part of the Cultural and Philosophical Framework of Recent Bible Studies By Dagfinn Føllesdal, Oslo / Stanford . . . . . . . . . 1. Hermeneutics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1. Hermeneutics in China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2. Canon. Theology and Law. Philosophy . . . . . . . . 1.3. Expansion to Literary and Other Kinds of Texts . . . . 1.4. Hermeneutics and Natural Science . . . . . . . . . . 1.5. The Hermeneutic Circle . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

29 30 30 31 32 32 33 34 37 38 39 39 40 42 44

27. The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic in the Framework of Semitic Philology, Including Semitic Epigraphy By Steven E. Fassberg, Jerusalem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Increasing Knowledge of the Semitic Languages . . . . . . . . 2. Discoveries in Northwest Semitic . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

45 46 48

1.6. The “New” Hermeneutics. Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer 1.7. Hermeneutics of Suspicion. Habermas. Ricoeur . . . . . . 1.8. What are we after in Hermeneutics? Meaning? . . . . . .

2. What is Meaning? Quine and Davidson . . . 2.1. The Public Nature of Language . . . . . . 2.2. Problems with Perception . . . . . . . . 2.3. The Early Davidson: “Maximize Agreement” . 3. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

8

Contents

3. Discoveries in Hebrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Discoveries in Aramaic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Grammars and Dictionaries in the Light of New Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28. Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects By Anselm C. Hagedorn, Berlin . . . . . . . . 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. From J. Wellhausen and M. Weber to R. de Vaux 2.1. Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) . . . . . . . 2.2. Max Weber (1864–1920) . . . . . . . . . . 2.3. Johs. Pedersen (1883–1977) . . . . . . . . 2.4. Antonin Causse (1877–1947) . . . . . . . . 2.5. Roland de Vaux (1903–1971) . . . . . . . . 3. Beyond Roland de Vaux . . . . . . . . . . 3.1. Anthropologists Discover the Hebrew Bible . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

50 54 55

. . . . . . . . . .

58 61 64 64 67 74 77 81 83 83

3.2. The Study of Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel since 1970 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

90

29. The Legacy of the Literary-critical School and the Growing Opposition to Historico-critical Bible Studies. The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History By John Barton, Oxford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 1. Early Opposition to Historical Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . 97 2. Biblical Archaeology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 3. Karl Barth and the Canonical Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 4. Advocacy Readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 5. Literary Study of the Bible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 6. Postmodernism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 7. Reader-response Criticism and Wirkungsgeschichte . . . . . . . 115 8. New Historicism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 9. The Term ‘Historical Criticism’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 30. The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches By Antony F. Campbell, Parkville, Victoria, Australia . . . . . . . 1. Introductory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Hermann Gunkel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Hugo Gressmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. In the Wake of Hermann Gunkel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1. Johannes Hempel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2. Albrecht Alt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

125 126 128 133 136 136 137

9

Contents

. . . . . 5. Conclusion . . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

138 138 141 142 144 145

31. Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism By David J. A. Clines, Sheffield . . . . . . . . 1. Literary Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1. Genre Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2. Rhetorical Criticism . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

148 149 149 151 152 153 154 157 158 158 159 159 160 160 162 164 165 166 166 167 168

32. The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology By Manfred Oeming, Heidelberg . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Preliminary Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Karl Barth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Hans Urs von Balthasar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

170 172 174 181 187 194

4.3. 4.4. 4.5. 4.6. 4.7.

1.3. 1.4. 1.5. 1.6.

Sigmund Mowinckel Gerhard von Rad . Martin Noth . . . Klaus Koch . . . Rolf Knierim . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

New Criticism / Formalism / Close Reading / Narratology Reader-response Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reception Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intertextuality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2. Structuralism and Poststructuralism 2.1. Structuralism . . . . . . . . . 2.2. Poststructuralism . . . . . . . 2.3. Deconstruction . . . . . . . . 3. Ideological Criticisms . . . . . . 3.1. Feminist Criticism . . . . . . . 3.2. Gender Criticism . . . . . . . 3.3. Materialist / Political Criticism . . 3.4. Postcolonial Criticism . . . . . 3.5. Minority Criticism . . . . . . . 3.6. Cultural Criticism . . . . . . . 3.7. Autobiographical Criticism . . . 3.8. Psychoanalytic Criticism . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

33. Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’ By Dennis Olson, Princeton, NJ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 1. Canonical Aspects in Modern Biblical Studies . . . . . . . . . 200

10

Contents

2. The ‘Canonical Approach’ of Brevard S. Childs . . . . . . . . 202 2.1. Childs: Three Underlying Convictions . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 2.2. Childs: Three Touchstones in the Practice of a Canonical Interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 2.3. Critiques of Childs’s Canonical Approach . . . . . . . . . . . 210

3. The ‘Canon-critical’ Position of James A. Sanders

. . . . . . . 212

3.1. Sanders’ Canonical Hermeneutics: Steps in the Process . . . . . . 214 3.2. Sanders: Torah, Pentateuch, and Monotheizing . . . . . . . . . 215

4. Recent Discussions of the ‘Canonical Approach’ . . . . . . . . 216

B. Main Regional and Confessional Areas of the Twentieth Century Biblical Scholarship 34. Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in the Americas of the Twentieth Century By Douglas A. Knight, Nashville, TN . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Location and Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. Ethnicity and Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2. Religiosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Sociology of Knowledge and Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . 4. History of Biblical Scholarship in the Americas since 1900 . . . 4.1. The Period from 1900 to 1940 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2. The Period from 1940 to 1968 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . 4.3. The Period from 1968 to the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century .

221 224 224 224 226 229 235 235 239 245

35. Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in Africa, Australia / New Zealand and Asia 1. The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa By Hendrik Bosman, Stellenbosch . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Context of Biblical Interpretation in Africa . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. Bible Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2. Theological Colleges, Seminaries and Faculties . . . . . . 2.3. Theological Journals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4. Academic Organizations and Societies . . . . . . . . . . 2.5. Ecclesial Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Approaches to Biblical Interpretation in Africa . . . . . . . . . 3.1. Surveys of Existing Approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2. Pre-modern and Pre-critical Approaches . . . . . . . . . 3.3. Modern and Critical Approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4. Post-modern and Post-critical Approaches . . . . . . . .

253 255 256 256 257 258 258 260 261 261 263 265 266

11

Contents

4. Prospects of Biblical Interpretation in Africa . . . . . . . . . 2. The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand By Mark A. O’Brien, Melbourne . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Up to the First World War of 1914–1918 . . . . . . . . . . 3. War Years and Post-war Years: 1914–1960 . . . . . . . . . . 4. From the 1960’s to the End of the Century . . . . . . . . . . 3. The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Asia By Seizo¯ Sekine, Tokyo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Japan . . . . . . . .

. . . . .

269 271 272 276 281

. 285 . 285

1.1.

2.

3.

The Society for Old Testament Study in Japan and the Japanese Biblical Institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2. Overview of International Research Achievements . . . . 1.3. Overview of Domestic Research Achievements . . . . . 1.4. Prospects of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Japan Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in South Korea . . . . . 2.1. Overview of Research Achievements . . . . . . . . . 2.2. Prospects of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in South Korea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in China . . . . . . . 3.1. Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies as Literature: the Central Thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2. Hebrew Bible / Old Testament as a Small Part of Chinese Theology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3. Old Testament Studies as One Independent Discipline . .

. 267

36. Biblical Scholarship on the European Continent and in the United Kingdom and Ireland By John Barton, Oxford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. The Triumph of Wellhausen . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Wellhausen’s Agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Religious History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Prophecy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. Behind or in Front of the Text? . . . . . . . . . . 8. Text and Versions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . .

285 287 290 292 293 294

. 296 . 296 . 296 . 297 . 298

. . . . . . . . . .

300 302 304 306 314 319 326 329 333 335

37. Biblical Scholarship in Northern Europe By Antti Laato, Aabo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336 1. Early Impulses to Scandinavian Old Testament Scholarship . . . 341

12

Contents

2. Understanding the Old Testament Texts from the Inside – Johannes Pedersen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Scandinavian Tribute to the Book of Psalms – Sigmund Mowinckel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. The Uppsala School and Sacral Kingship – Ivan Engnell . . . 5. Research on the Prophetic Literature . . . . . . . . . . . 6. Deuteronomistic History – The Göttingen School at Helsinki 7. The Copenhagen School – New Trends in the History of Israel 8. Methodological Pluralism – Tryggve N. D. Mettinger as an Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9. Old Testament Theology – Why Not? . . . . . . . . . .

. . 344 . . . . .

. . . . .

347 350 356 363 365

. . 367 . . 369

38. Major Developments in Jewish Biblical Scholarship By S. David Sperling, New York . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 371

C. Special Fields and Different Approaches in the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament 39. Questions of the ‘History of Israel’ in Recent Research By Jean Louis Ska, Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. The Intellectual Climate in Historical Research in the Twentieth Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1. The “Annales School” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2. The “New Historicism” and its Impact on the Biblical Field . . . 2. The Impact of Hermann Gunkel and Hugo Gressmann . . . . 3. The Problem of the Beginning of Israel’s History . . . . . . . 4. The Discussion around the Definition of History and Historiography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. The History of Israel before 1975 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1. Gerhard von Rad (1901–1971): History or History of Salvation? . 5.2. The History of Israel of Martin Noth (1902–1968) . . . . . . .

. 391 . . . . .

391 392 394 399 403

. . . . 5.2.1. The Peaceful Occupation of the Land by the Tribes of Israel . 5.2.2. The Confederation of the Twelve Tribes of Israel . . . . . .

406 409 410 412 413 414

5.3. W. F. Albright (1891–1971) and the so-called North-American School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416 5.4. Roland Guérin de Vaux (1903–1971) and the so-called French School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420

6. The Debate around the so-called “Copenhagen and Sheffield School” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 422 7. Histories of Ancient Israel from 1970 up till 2013 . . . . . . . 426

13

Contents

8. As a Conclusion: some Open Questions . . . . . . . . . . . 428 9. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 432 40. Changes in Pentateuchal Criticism By David M. Carr, New York . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Anticipations of the Later Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. Older Questions about the Four Document Approach . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

2.2. Publications in the Sixties by Samuel Sandmel and Frederick Winnett

3. The Nineteen-seventies and an Emerging Crisis in Pentateuchal Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1. The So-Called “Toronto School” of Pentateuchal Scholarship . 3.2. Tremors in the Source-Critical Foundation in Europe . . . . 4. The Unfolding Debate in the Nineteen-Eighties and Nineties (Focus on Non-Priestly Material) . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Developments in Concepts of the Priestly Layer . . . . . . 6. A Trend Toward Identification of Post-Priestly Elements in the Pentateuch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. Emerging Concensus in Europe and Backlash . . . . . . . 41. Historiography in the Old Testament By Walter Dietrich, Bern . . . . . . 1. Old Testament Historiography . . . 2. The Deuteronomistic Historiography . 2.1. Preliminary Remarks . . . . . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

2.2. Development of the Hypothesis of the Deuteronomistic History 2.3. Questioning the Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4. Variations of the Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4.1. The So-called ‘Block Model’ . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4.2. The So-called ‘Layer Model’ . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4.3. Compromise Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.5. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3. The Chronistic Historiography . . . . . . . . . . . . .

433 433 434 435 436

. . 438 . . 438 . . 440 . . 444 . . 454 . . 460 . . 464

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

467 467 469 471 473 476 478 479 481 483 485 488

3.1. The Question of a ‘Chronistic Work of History’ and the Character of Ezra-Nehemiah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 489 3.2. The Question of Further Sources and the Historical Reliability of Chronicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 495 3.3. Literary and Theological Ambitions of the Chronicler . . . . . . 497

42. The Prophets and the Prophetic Books, Prophetic Circles and Traditions – New Trends, Including Religio-psychological Aspects By Marvin A. Sweeney, Claremont, CA . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500

14

Contents

2. Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century Sources: Wellhausen, Duhm, and Hölscher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 501 3. The Impact of Tradition-Historical Research: Gunkel, Mowinckel, Noth, and von Rad . . . . . . . . . . . 505 4. Classical Form-Critical Research: Study of Prophetic Genres and Their Social Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 509 5. The Formation of Prophetic Books: Redaction- and Canonical-Critical Approaches . . . . . . . . 5.1. The Book of Isaiah . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2. The Book of Jeremiah . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3. The Book of Ezekiel . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4. The Book of the Twelve Prophets . . . . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

515 516 519 523 525

6. Conclusions and Prospects for Future Study . . . . . . . . . . 530 43. The Psalms – Their Cultic Setting, Forms and Traditions By Corinna Körting, Hamburg / Oslo . . . . . . . . . . . . . 531 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 534 2. Form- and Genre-Critic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 535 2.1. Genre according to Gunkel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 537 2.2. Ongoing Research on Genre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 540 3. The Significant Role of the Cult: Tradition- and Cult-historical Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1. Sigmund Mowinckel and the Enthronement Festival . . . . . . . 3.2. Further Research: the Cult Pattern and the Central Role of the King . 3.3. A Shift in German Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

542 542 543 546

4. Methodological Plurality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 548 5. The Search for a “Theology of the Psalms” . . . . . . . . . . 549 5.1. “Zion-Theology” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 551 6. “Shape and Shaping of the Psalter” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 552 7. The Textual Basis – the Masoretic text, the Septuagint and the Qumran-Psalter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 555 44. The Phenomenon and Literature of Wisdom in Its Near Eastern Context and in the Biblical Wisdom Books By Knut M. Heim, Bristol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 559 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 566 2. A Brief History of Compendia of Ancient Near Eastern Texts . . 568 3. The Book of Proverbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 571 3.1. General Studies on Wisdom Literature in its Near Eastern Context . 572 3.2. Interim Summary and Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 579 3.3. Other Themes in Proverbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 580 3.4. Commentaries on Proverbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 583

15

Contents

4. The Book of Job

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 585

4.1. Job in its Near Eastern Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 585 4.2. Commentaries on Job . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 589

5. The Book of Ecclesiastes . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1. Ecclesiastes in its Near Eastern Context . . . . . . . 5.2. Commentaries on Ecclesiastes . . . . . . . . . . 6. Conclusion and Outlook into the Twenty-first Century

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

. . . .

590 590 591 592

45. The Study of Law and Ethics in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament By Eckart Otto, Munich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 594 1. The Legal History of the Hebrew Bible in the Horizon of an Ancient Near Eastern Legal History . . . . . . . . . . . . . 597 2. The Ethics of the Hebrew Bible in its Ancient Near Eastern Context 610 46. Problems and Prospects of a ‘History of the Religion of Israel’ By Joachim Schaper, Aberdeen . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. The Rise of the ‘History of Israelite Religion’ Genre in Old Testament Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Histories of Israelite Religion between the Wars and after the Second World War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Attempts at Mediation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. The Recent Controversy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . 622 . . . 625 . . . 631 . . . 633 . . . 634

4.1. The History of Israelite Religion and/versus the Theology of the Old Testament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 634 4.2. History of Israelite Religion versus Old Testament Theology – which has Pride of Place? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 635 4.3. The true ‘Queen’ of the Genres of Old Testament scholarship, and the History of Israelite Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 639

5. Epilogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 640 47. Old Testament Theology – Preliminary Conclusions and Future Prospects By Bernd Janowski, Tübingen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Survey of Recent Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1. Theology of the Old Testament as Re-telling . . . . . . . 1.2. History of Israelite Religion as a “Summarising Discipline” . 2. Arguments for an Integrative Perspective . . . . . . . .

. . . . .

2.1. The Correlation between the History of Religion and Theology 2.1.1. The History of Israelite Religion . . . . . . . . . . 2.1.2. Old Testament Theology / Theology of the OT . . . . 2.2. The Hermeneutical Function of the Canon . . . . . . . . 2.2.1. Inscripturation (Schriftwerdung) and Canonization . . . 2.2.2. Transition from Canonization to the Closure of the Canon 2.2.1.1. Canon and Theology . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .

642 647 648 652 656 657 658 662 668 669 670 671

16

Contents

3. Concluding Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 672 48. Modern Theories of Translation with Special Regard to Recent Bible Translations By Jan de Waard, Amsterdam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Presuppositions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Translation Equivalence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. Source Languages and Source Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2. Source Culture and Problems of Translation . . . . . . . . . 3. Receptor Languages and Receptor Texts . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1. Typology of Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.1. The Interlinear Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.2. The Literal Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.3. Philological Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.4.0. Introductory Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.4.1. The Communicative Type of Translation . . . . 3.1.4.2. The Ways of Communicative Translation . . . . 3.1.4.3. The Receptors . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

674 676 677 678 682 685 685 685 687 690 692 694 696 701

49. A Brief Epilegomenon to the History of Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament By Magne Sæbø, Oslo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 704 Contributors

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 709

Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 717 Indexes (Names / Topics / References) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 726

Preface With this second part of volume III of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: the History of Its Interpretation (HBOT), devoted to the relevant research and studies on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in the twentieth century, the HBOT Project’s long road has finally reached its end, Vol. III/2 being the fifth part volume of the whole enterprise. From the first planning of the HBOT Project − around 1980 − it has been one of its main intentions to contribute to and to further the ponderous traditions of Ludwig Diestel (Geschichte des Alten Testamentes in der christlichen Kirche, 1869) and Frederic W. Farrar (History of Interpretation, 1886) in the nineteenth century as well as to continue and extend the recent studies of the history of biblical research where scholars have presented not only specialized studies in this field of research history but even handbooks and dictionaries. The first books that in the twentieth century opened for a new interest in the history of biblical research with special regard to the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament were the handbooks of modern Old Testament study history presented by Herbert F. Hahn in America (Old Testament in Modern Research, 1954) and Hans-Joachim Kraus in Europe (Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments, 1956). Towards the end of the last century and in the beginning of our own a new situation has developed, and at present there seems to be a remarkably great engagement worldwide in this area of biblical research, and the publication of individual studies and general histories here is just increasing. Among the new works special reference may be made to the monumental Bible de tous les Temps (in eight volumes, 1984–89), written by Roman-Catholic scholars, and the impressive individual opus by Henning Graf Reventlow, Epochen der Bibelauslegung (in four volumes, 1990–2001); out of many important books and actual ventures these two projects may be mentioned especially. The present situation in this field of biblical studies seems to be open in various ways; to some extent biblical scholars may be reflecting over their own position − not least in the perspective of what past generations have achieved. As for the contributions to this last part volume of HBOT, covering our recent past, it was regrettably unavoidable that some occurrences of over-lapping between near related essays came about − the relevant contexts of these cases, however, being different. In earlier research and descriptions of biblical interpretation history the borders of the actual enterprises were frequently drawn rather narrow, in this way or another; often was the long historical perspective shortened, or the broad and manifold Jewish study of the Hebrew Bible was overlooked, if not completely set aside. To a great extent, the history of biblical interpretation has been written from an European point of view, which in the present − and future − situation most likely will be replaced by perspectives that are longer and more open.

18

Preface

The books and studies of biblical interpretation history referred to above as well as many similar ones tend to cover the whole Bible, not only the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament but the New Testament as well. Many of these books have, further, been written by single authors alone. Also at this point the situation of today has changed considerably. Because of the great and quickly growing amount of research and studies in this field there seems to be less place and possibility any longer for one-man enterprises; instead the present challenges may call for more organized team work . By closing this last volume of the HBOT Project I would like to extend, again, my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Arndt Ruprecht, of Göttingen, who as Publisher so readily accepted my first proposal and idea of the present Project and has sustained it ever since. Further, I am deeply grateful for excellent co-operation with him as also with the staff of the Department of Theology and Religion in Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlag, Göttingen; especially, I would like to thank those with whom I have been in direct contact for the last volume: Jörg Persch, Christoph Spill and Renate Rehkopf. Further, I would like to express my best thanks to Professor Ronald Clements, of Cambridge, for all his help as linguistic consultant. Finally, I would also express best thanks to my co-editors; for the last Volume III they are Professor Peter Machinist, of Harvard, and Professor Jean Louis Ska, SJ, of Rome. Last but not least I am deeply obliged to all the individual authors of the HBOT Project − without whose contributions there would not be any Volume III/2. Oslo, in July 2014

Magne Sæbø

Chapter Twenty-five

In Our Own, Post-modern Time – Introductory Remarks on Two Methodological Problems in Biblical Studies By Magne Sæbø, Oslo

General works: B. Albrektson, History and the Gods (ConBOT 1; Lund: Gleerup 1967). – G. W. Anderson (ed.), Tradition and Interpretation (Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study; Oxford: Clarendon Press 1979). – T. Austad, “Die Bedeutung der Kirchlichen Zeitgeschichte für die Systematische Theologie”, in: Glaube – Freiheit – Diktatur in Europa und den USA (FS für G. Besier, ed. K. Stoklosa / A. Strübind; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2007), 173–186. – J. Barr, The Bible in the Modern World (London: SCM 1973); Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism (Oxford: Oxford UP 1983); The Concept of Biblical Theology. An Old Testament Perspective (London: SCM 1999); History and Ideology in the Old Testament. Biblical Studies at the end of a Millennium (Oxford: Oxford UP 2000). – J. Barton, Reading the Old Testament. Method in Biblical Study (London: Darton Longman and Todd 1984; repr. 1989). – K. Berger, “Exegese und Kirchengeschichte im 20. Jahrhundert. Eine exemplarische und biographische Untersuchung”, in: Glaube – Freiheit – Diktatur in Europa und den USA (FS für G. Besier; 2007, s. above), 395–404. – G. Besier e.a., “Einführung der Herausgeber” [Introduction by the six editors to the new journal: Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte], KZG 1 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1988) 3–6. – M. G. Brett, Biblical Criticism in Crisis? The Impact of the Canonical Approach on Old Testament Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1991). – B. S. Childs, Biblical Theology in Crisis (Philadelphia: Westminster Press 1970). – R. E. Clements, A Century of Old Testament Study (Guildford / London: Lutterworth Press 1976); idem (ed.), The World of Ancient Israel. Sociological, Anthropological and Political Perspectives (Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1989). – J. Day (ed.), In Search of Pre-exilic Israel (Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar; London / New York: T & T Clark International 2004). – G. P. Fogarty, American Catholic Biblical Scholarship: A History from the Early Republic to Vatican II (San Francisco: Harper & Row 1989). – H.- G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik (Tübingen: Mohr 1960; 51986); “Hermeneutik und Historismus”, PhR 9 (1961) 241–276. – P. Gardiner, Theories of History (New York: The Free Press 1959). – H. Gese, “Geschichtliches Denken im Alten Orient und im Alten Testament”, ZThK 55 (1958) 127–145; repr. in: idem, Vom Sinai zum Zion (BEvTh 64; München: Kaiser 1974), 81–98. – L. Gottschalk, Understanding History (New York: Knopf 1950). – A. Grafton, What was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2007). – M. Greschat, Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte. Versuch einer Orientierung (ThLZ.F 16; Leipzig: Evang. Verlagsanstalt 2005). – H. F. Hahn, Old Testament in Modern Research (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press 1954; 2nd edn. 1970). – G. G. Iggers, Deutsche Geschichtswissenschaft. Eine Kritik der traditionellen Geschichtsauffassung von Herder bis zur Gegenwart (München: Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag 1971; 21972). – F. Jaeger / J. Rüsen, Geschichte des Historismus. Eine Einführung (München: Beck 1992). – D. Lee / R. N. Beck, “The Meaning of ‘Historicism’”, AHR 59 (1953/54) 568–577. – O. Kaiser, “Von Stand und Zukunft der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft”, in: Congress Volume Oslo 1998 (2000; s. below), 489–507. – K. Koch, Was ist Formgeschichte? Neue Wege der Bibelexegese (Neukirchen-Vluyn 1964); ET: The Growth of the Biblical Tradition. The Form-Critical Method (New York / London 1969). – D. A.

20

Magne Sæbø

Knight, Rediscovering the Traditions of Israel (Third edn.; Studies in Biblical Literature 16; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2006). – H.-J. Kraus, Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 1956; 41988). – Th. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, 2nd edn. enlarged; Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press 1970). – A. Lemaire / M. Sæbø (eds.), Congress Volume Oslo 1998 (VTSup LXXX; Leiden e.a.: Brill 2000). – A. D. H. Mayes (ed.), Text in Context (Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study; Oxford: Oxford UP 2000). – W. McKane, Selected Christian Hebraists (Cambridge e.a.: Cambridge UP 1989). – J. Mehlhausen e.a., “Geschichte / Geschichtsschreibung / Geschichtsphilosophie”, TRE XII (1984), 565–698, esp. 658–674. – F. Mildenberger, Die halbe Wahrheit oder die ganze Schrift. Zum Streit zwischen Bibelglauben und historischer Kritik (BEvTh 46; München: Kaiser Verlag 1967); Geschichte der deutschen evangelischen Theologie im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (ThW 10; Stuttgart e.a.: Kohlhammer 1981). – P. R. Noble, The Canonical Approach. A Critical Reconstruction of the Hermeneutics of Brevard S. Childs (Biblical Interpetation Series 16; Leiden e.a.: Brill 1995). – M. Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien. Die sammelnden und bearbeitenden Geschichtswerke im Alten Testament (1943; unveränd. Nachdruck, Tübingen: M. Niemeyer Verlag 1957 / Darmstadt: WBG 1957); Überlieferungsgeschichte des Pentateuch (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1948; unveränd. Nachdruck, Darmstadt: WBG 1960). – M. Oeming, Biblische Hermeneutik. Eine Einführung (Darmstadt: WBG 1998; 2nd rev. edn. 2007). – J. C. O’Neill, The Bible’s Authority. A Portrait Gallery of Thinkers from Lessing to Bultmann (Edinburgh: T & T Clark 1991). – A. S. Peake (ed.), The People and the Book (Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study; Oxford: Clarendon Press 1925). – L. G. Perdue, Reconstructing Old Testament Theology: After the Collapse of History (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2005). – K. R. Popper, The Poverty of Historicism (Boston: Beacon Press 1957). – R. Rendtorff, Das überlieferungsgeschichtliche Problem des Pentateuch (BZAW 147; Berlin e.a.: De Gruyter 1977). – H. Graf Reventlow, Hauptprobleme der alttestamentlichen Theologie im 20. Jahrhundert (EdF 173; Darmstadt: WBG 1982); Hauptprobleme der Biblischen Theologie im 20. Jahrhundert (EdF 203; Darmstadt: WBG 1983); Epochen der Bibelauslegung, IV. Von der Aufklärung bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (München: Beck 2001). – H. H. Rowley (ed.), The Old Testament and Modern Study. A Generation of Discovery and Research (Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study; Oxford: Oxford UP 1951; repr. 1952; see esp. Editor’s “Introduction”, xv– xxxi). – J. Rüsen, “Überwindung des Historismus?”, PhR 20 (1974) 269–286. – M. Sæbø, On the Way to Canon. Creative Tradition History in the Old Testament (JSOT.S 191; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998); “Zur neueren Interpretationsgeschichte des Alten Testaments”, ThLZ 130 (2005) 1033– 1044; “Fascination with ‘History’ – Biblical Interpretation in a Century of Modernism and Historicism”, HBOT III/1 (2013), 17–28. – R. Smend, Elemente alttestamentlichen Geschichtsdenkens (ThSt 95; Zürich: EVZ-Verlag 1968; repr. in: idem, Die Mitte des Alten Testaments. Gesammelte Studien, 1; BEvTh 99; München: Kaiser 1986, 40–84); Deutsche Alttestamentler in drei Jahrhunderten (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1989); Bibel und Wissenschaft. Historische Aufsätze (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2004); From Astruc to Zimmerli. Old Testament Scholarship in three Centuries (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2007); Vier Epitaphe – die Basler Hebraistenfamilie Buxtorf (Litterae et Theologia 1; Berlin e.a.: 2010). – H. Wheeler Robinson, Record and Revelation (Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study; Oxford: Clarendon Press 1938). – D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Archaeology and Old Testament Study. Jubilee Volume of the Society for Old Testament Study 1917– 1967 (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1967). – Wie biblisch ist die Theologie? (JBTh 25; ed. M. Ebner e.a.; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 2010). – D. J. Wiseman (ed.), Peoples of Old Testament Times (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1973). – A. Wittkau, Historismus. Zur Geschichte des Begriffs und des Problems (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1992; 21994). – R. Wittram, Das Interesse an der Geschichte. 12 Vorlesungen über Fragen des zeitgenössischen Geschichtsverständnisses (1958; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 31968).

The achievements of exegetical, theological as well as historical studies on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the twentieth century were both great in number and many-sided in character so that the foregoing bibliographical summary represents no more than a small part of a more extensive bibliography of the scholarly research and publications in this field, which appear with increasing rapidity.

Introductory Remarks on Two Methodological Problems in Biblical Studies

21

In regard to the distinctive character of this last period of the research history of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament the first point of note is that in the twentieth century scholars of various disciplines and traditions have been particularly concerned with the phenomenon of history and its great challenge. Although this is not altogether dissimilar from what was achieved in the immediately preceding centuries, it differed in certain respects from the biblical research of the nineteenth century, described in the first part of the present volume.1 So far as history is concerned it may, first of all, be noted as significant that this subject, more than any other of those closely related to it, has remained a central and important field of research throughout the twentieth century also. The historical aspect may even be regarded as a common denominator of widely different subject-areas and disciplines of study. The issue of history then does not represent a minor but a major point of interest and has, accordingly, formed a highly complex subject within modern biblical studies. Also, in modern research the discipline of history has been placed under the closest scrutiny, with a greater conceptual sub-division than ever before, not least in respect of methodology. To an increasing extent this may itself be the consequence of the separation of the various disciplines that relate to this field of research.2 Two problems therefore are prominent and call for special attention at this point, making it appropriate to discuss them briefly at the outset. The first is related to the use and meaning of the term ‘history’, especially when as here, this concerns ‘contemporary history’. The second problem arises from the strong plurality of methods that has become a prevalent feature of biblical studies and has caused some embarrassment among scholars.

1. Contemporary History as a Historiographical Challenge When the subject of history was brought into focus in a new way during the early Renaissance and subsequently became a significant part of many new studies in that creative period, the sense of distance in time, which included historical perspectives and a sense of different epochs, was taken to be the main feature of what was considered to constitute history. For instance the epoch of the Renaissance was closely related to the comparable period of classical Antiquity.3 However, temporal distance is a relative and complex matter, and its importance diminishes as the period in question draws closer to the time and events of the author’s present, when history takes on the character of becoming ‘contemporary history’. The concept of ‘contemporary history’ (Zeitgeschichte, l’histoire contemporaine) may seem, at least prima facie, to be a self-contradiction. However, the

1

Cf. the introduction by Sæbø, Fascination with ‘History’, HBOT III/1 (2013), 17–28. Cf. i.a. Rowley, “Introduction: Trends in Old Testament Study”, The Old Testament and Modern Study (1951), xv–xxxi, esp. xviiif: “In contrast to the large measure of unity that prevailed a generation ago, there is today an almost bewildering diversity of view on many questions, and it is necessary to speak of trends, rather than of a single trend, in our studies”. 3 See further HBOT I/2 (2000), 19–27; HBOT II (2008), 26–33. 2

22

Magne Sæbø

terminology is well established and indicates the most recent aspect of the long process of history. It is therefore both meaningful and functional and should be retained. Standing between the present and the past, to which it belongs, contemporary history shares the general condition of all human activities which are in perpetual transition from the past to the present, since time is in continual motion and the present becomes part of history. This endless passage of time has not always received sufficient attention by scholars; however, as a historical phenomenon it poses a major historiographical challenge, especially when the issue of ‘contemporary history’ is raised. Quite apart from the way in which its boundaries may be more narrowly defined, contemporary history not only represents the most recent aspect of history, but may in itself raise the problem that the element of historical distance becomes more restricted. In this way a feature common to all history becomes reduced in perspective. However it may be of greater significance to take into consideration the special character and context of contemporary history, even when it can only be done briefly, as here. This will also include its relationship to the most recent past as well as to the fundamental nexus of cause and effect. So far as the delimitation of the period of contemporary history is concerned the period should not be defined too narrowly in this context, but may include the whole of the twentieth century. In this there were, as is well recognized, different periods of major events and influential developments, including inter alia two world wars that made a broad and deep impact on the general cultural situation as well as on theology. Most interesting, however, these periods of intense crisis gave rise to an increased focus on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. This had a strong bearing on exegesis and its interpretation as Holy Writ for Jews and Christians which has continued up to the present. Of greatest significance in this situation is further the fact that this renewal of interest and research in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament was not only linked to Germany and central Europe where it began, but was globalized and became international in its scope.4 This was partly in the framework of a specific ‘Bible movement’.5 From being a predominantly Protestant affair it became a worldwide concern, shared by Roman Catholic and Jewish scholars, as well as others. It may be regarded most positively that the flourishing of biblical studies during the twentieth century proved to be methodically innovative in various ways and became more productive than ever before. On the other hand it poses a challenging problem for scholars that the various methodological approaches that have been used frequently differ considerably from each other.

4 See below in Part B of this volume chapters like 35 on the Americas and Canada, by D. A. Knight, and 36 on Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, by H. L. Bosman. 5 Cf. especially B. S. Childs, Biblical Theology (1970), 13–87.

Introductory Remarks on Two Methodological Problems in Biblical Studies

23

2. On the Methodological Pluralism of Contemporary Biblical Studies Current studies of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament have not only experienced an international expansion of interest and research but have also become specialized as a consequence of the increasingly plurality of methodologies. This is partly on account of the broader, and more precisely differentiated, subject of history. Increasing differences in exegetical methodology are to some extent rooted in the biblical text itself, being related to various characteristics and aspects of it. On the other hand the variety of approaches has also been rooted in divergences of methodology in modern biblical research or, in a still wider context, they have sometimes been the result of the establishing of a separate identity for various historical sub-disciplines. These factors, along with others, have affected the modern study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in a variety of ways, not least in respect of the methods that have been employed. Biblical studies have brought to light many literary and theological features of the biblical material, as well as the many intrinsic varieties of content. These studies, being mostly historical and critical in character, are manifold and have, taken as a whole, led to the books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament being scrutinized as literary texts, in a manner that is similar to the way in which ancient texts generally have been regarded in modern times. This feature may be a common denominator of the many specialized methodological techniques that have originated, one after another, and which have, as a result, been adopted as features of ordinary exegetical work on the Bible. The basic Masoretic form of the text, as also reflected in the ancient versions, has remained as central a challenge as ever in the study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. In its long and complex history this text exhibits many distinctive aspects and stages. Since this specific textual history fundamentally affects all other approaches in biblical studies it has especially been examined by generations of scholars, perhaps to a greater extent in the present than ever before.6 Its challenge is still considerable. As for other main methodological approaches that have been developed and practised in current study of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, the literary-critical approach was one of the first methods that received special attention and gained particular significance; it was mainly developed in the nineteenth century, but has played a key role in the twentieth as well. A chief concern of this approach has been to understand and explain the final form of the biblical books and texts as the result of a prolonged work of editorial combination of older and younger literary ‘sources’.7 This method was primarily used in the study of the five books of the Law, the Pentateuch,8 but was, to some extent, also practised in 6 Cf. in HBOT III, Part 1 (2013), Chap. 13 by R. D. Weis, 346–392, esp. 380–392, and see below Chap. 48 by J. de Waard. 7 Cf. various contributions in Part 1 of this Volume, esp. Chap. 14 by Th. Römer and Chaps. 15 and 17 by R. Smend as well as Chap. 29 below by J. Barton. 8 Cf. in Part 1 Chap 14 by Römer, and see below Chap. 40 by D. Carr.

24

Magne Sæbø

regard to the older and younger historical books,9 and was even applied to some prophetical books.10 The literary-critical method was practised in different ways,11 and similarly opposed in various contexts.12 Its general effect has been of great and long-lasting significance. At the end of the nineteenth century, and especially in the twentieth, the question of ‘sources’, as constitutive elements of a text, was perceived as less relevant for its interpretation, than had previously been the case. Instead, without abandoning the literary-critical perspective, more attention was given to specific literary features of form (die Gattungen) that pertain to a given text. Aside from their respective contexts, the individual forms and form elements were compared with analogous or similar forms and form elements in other texts and contexts, including texts from neighbouring peoples.13 A further issue of current interest was connected with a closer attention to the specific function that the forms and form elements might have had in their original setting (Sitz im Leben), either socially, culturally, or in a cultic sense. Correspondingly this raised questions about what these forms and form elements came to mean in their new context and how they functioned as integral parts of a different setting. The various new usages of forms and form elements showed by all this a distinct historical aspect, as the forms and form elements, in the course of a long editorial process, moved, or were moved, from the original setting to a new one. In this complex and significant historical process of creative re-use, the forms and form elements might acquire a new function and a new meaning in their new context. This whole process has been viewed and placed under scrutiny in historical categories and has generally been characterized as ‘form criticism’ (‘form history’, Ger. Formgeschichte). Closely related to this ‘form history’ the ‘tradition history’ (Ger. Traditionsgeschichte) represents another approach which also relates directly to the content of the literary units.14 This was viewed both as traditio, i.e. the process of transmission, and tradition, the literary unit that was transmitted. Since this historical process was related to − and actualized − the original location of these various forms and form elements (i.e. their respective Sitz im Leben), it also raised major questions regarding their specific social structure and background.15 That included the wider social framework of which they were a part and which called for attention as well. This was, further, also true with regard to the wider, many-sided, context of biblical studies more generally, including those contexts which were foreign to its essential nature, but covered general history, Semitic philology16 and philosophy.17

9

Cf. in Part 1 Chap.19 by K. W. Weyde, and see below Chap. 41 by W. Dietrich. Cf. in Part 1 Chap. 20 by Chr. R. Seitz, and see below Chap. 42 by M. Sweeney. 11 Cf. in Part 1 Chaps. 7–11 and 17 by J. P. Byrd, J. W. Rogerson, J. Høgenhaven, G. P. Fogarty, E. Breuer, Ch. Gafni and R. Smend, and see below Chaps. 34–38 by D. A. Knight, H. L. Bosman, M. A. O’Brien, S. Sekine, J. Barton, A. Laato and S. D. Sperling. 12 Cf. in Part 1 Chap. 18 by R. Smend, and see below Chap. 29 by J. Barton. 13 Cf. in Part 1 Chap. 16 by E. S. Gerstenberger, and see below Chap. 30 by A. F. Campbell. 14 See the preceding note and cf. K. Koch, Formgeschichte (1964/1969). 15 See below Chap. 28 by A. Hagedorn. 16 See below Chap. 27 by S. Fassberg. 17 See below Chap. 26 by D. Føllesdal. 10

Introductory Remarks on Two Methodological Problems in Biblical Studies

25

In summary, the modern history of studies on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament has become decidedly more complex – and to some extent more confusing, in the last century, not least in regard to the question of the variety of the contexts of its different disciplines. At the present time there is scarcely any sign of radical change in this feature of contemporary research; rather the plurality of methods and their complexity may be still increasing.

Chapter Twenty-six

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics as Part of the Cultural and Philosophical Framework of Recent Bible Studies By Dagfinn Føllesdal, Oslo / Stanford Sources: Plato, Cratylus (Jowett transl, London; Macmillan 1892 and later editions). Studies: K.-O. Apel e.a. (eds.), Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik: Theorie-Diskussion (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1971). – E. Betti, Teoria generale della interpretazione,1–2 (Milan: Giuffrè 1955). – L. Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass (Raleigh, NC: Hayes Barton Press 1872). – N. Chomsky, “A Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior”, Language 35/1 (1959) 26–58. – R. W. Dasenbrock (ed.), Literary Theory After Davidson (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP 1993). – D. Føllesdal, “Hermeneutics and the hypothetico-deductive method”, Dialectica 33 (1979) 319–336; “Meaning and experience”, in: Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language: Wolfson College Lectures 1974 (Oxford: Oxford UP 1975) 34–35; “Developments in Quine’s Behaviorism”, American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2011) 273–282. – H.-G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tübingen: Mohr 1960); Truth and Method (tr. J. Weinsheimer / D. G. Marshall; New York: Continuum 1994). – N. Goodman, Fact, Fiction and Forecast (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP 1955). – J. Habermas, Erkenntnis und Interesse (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1968); “Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften”, PhR, Beih. 5 (1967); repr. in his Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften: Materialien (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1970; expanded edn. 1984). – Van Harvey, The Historian and the Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press 1996). – M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (ed. E. Husserl), Jahrbuch für Phänomenologie und phänomenologische Forschung, VIII (1927). – E. D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (New Haven: Yale UP 1967). – L. A. Jakobovits / M. S. Miron (eds.), Readings in the Psychology of Language (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall 1967). – E. Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität. Texte aus dem Nachlass (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff 1973). – E. Käsemann, “Zum Thema der urchristlichen Apokalyptik”, ZThK LIX (1962) 257– 284. – J. Malpas (ed.), Dialogues with Davidson. Acting, Interpreting, Understanding (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2011). – D. Nivison, The Riddle of the Bamboo Annals (Taipei: Airiti 2009). – W. V. Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1960, 2013); Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia UP 1969). – B. Ramberg, Donald Davidson’s Philosophy of Langage (Oxford: Blackwell 1989). – J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice ( Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP 1971). – P. Ricoeur, “Ethics and Culture: Gadamer and Habermas in Dialogue”, Philosophy Today17/2 (1973) 154–155; Oneself as Another (tr. Kathleen Blamey; Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1992); Essays on Biblical Interpretation (ed. with an Introduction by Lewis S. Mudge; Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1980). – W. Stegmüller, Rationale Rekonstruktion von Wissenschaft und ihrem Wandel (Reklam Universal-Bibliothek 9938; Stuttgart: Reklam Verlag 1979). – M. S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testament (The Library of Biblical and Theological Literature; New York: Eaton & Mains / Cincinnati: Curts & Jennings 1883; 2nd edn. 1890; various later reprints).

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament studies have changed much during the more than two thousand years that separate Antiquity, which was the topic of volume I/1 of

30

Dagfinn Føllesdal

HBOT, and the twentieth century, to which this volume III/2 is devoted. Major changes have also taken place in the main auxiliary discipline that is at the center of these five volumes, the theory and practice of interpretation, or hermeneutics. Since the development of hermeneutics in connection with the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament up to 1900 has been covered in the earlier volumes of this Project, the present article will concentrate on the developments in the twentieth century and include only some main points from the earlier history of hermeneutics. I shall here not say much about hermeneutics before 1900, since this has been covered in the earlier volumes of this series, and I will therefore only briefly mention a couple of main steps in this early development of hermeneutics. After some remarks on the hermeneutic circle and the relation between hermeneutics and the natural sciences I will go on to discuss the main developments in twentieth century hermeneutics, notably Gadamer’s new approach to hermeneutics and its roots in Husserl’s phenomenology and Ricoeur’s application of hermeneutics to biblical texts. I will also present briefly two main approaches to meaning in so-called “analytic” philosophy, those of Quine and Davidson, and indicate their close connection with the classical issues in phenomenology, including Gadamer’s view on truth and method.

1. Hermeneutics Hermeneutics is often said to have begun in ancient Greece, in the efforts to interpret Homer. One story has it that the word ‘hermeneutics’ derives from the name of the Greek god Hermes, “the messenger of the gods”. His task was not only to convey the messages, but also often to interpret them, since they could be quite obscure. However, Plato has it the other way, Socrates says in Cratylus: “I should imagine that the name Hermes has to do with speech, and signifies that he is the interpreter (ʿερμηνεύς)”.1 Aristotle uses the term around 360 BC in his text Περὶ Ἑρμηνείας (“On Interpretation”); and there is a cognate in Hebrew: on Mount Sinai Moses interpreted the Jewish Law, known as haEmes (haˉ - ͗ämät), ‘the Truth’, to the people.

1.1. Hermeneutics in China However, interpretation and reflections on interpretation started long before this. It must have begun concurrently with writing. When it became possible to leave a message whose meaning must be conjectured without immediate help from the one who left it, the need arose to figure out what it meant on the basis solely of the message and other available clues. The oldest pieces of writing seem to be the Shang “shell and bone” inscriptions from the late twelfth century BC in China. In 1979 David Nivison at Stanford discovered that an old chronicle called

1

Plato, Cratylus, 407–408; here quoted from the Jowett translation.

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

31

the “Bamboo Annals” could be used to solve problems in dating this material and he showed how to exploit it to recover accurate historical information, especially exact dates back to the third millennium BC.2 These inscriptions and later documents were much discussed and interpreted in different ways in the early Chinese tradition. Confucius (551–479 BC) is usually regarded as the originator of the Confucian tradition, and it is common to consider his Analects as the original source of Confucianism. However, Confucius himself claimed to be only a transmitter of the old Chinese moral and social tradition, going back at least to around 2000 BC, our calendar. He looked upon himself as an interpreter. The Confucian tradition has many similarities with the Christian tradition, not only by having canonical works, but also by having two generations of them. First there are the so-called Five Classics: the Classic of Change (Yjing or I Ching), the Spring and Autumn Annals, the Classic of History (Shujing), the Classic of Poetry (Shijing), and the Record of Rites (Liji). These are often attributed to Confucius, but the available evidence goes against his being the author, editor, or even the compiler of the Classics. The Five Classics were taught from 136 BC (when Confucianism became the state ideology of China) until the early twentieth century. During the Song dynasty, more than thousand years after the Five Classics were established, the Four Books were added to the Confucian Canon: the Analects, the Mencius, the Doctrine of the Mean, and the Great Learning. The Four Books gradually came to eclipse the Five Classics, in much the same way as the New Testament came to overshadow the Old Testament in the Christian tradition.

1.2. Canon. Theology and Law. Philosophy The establishment of a canon is particularly conducive to the development of hermeneutics. Generally, the problems of interpretation become particularly acute where one is dealing with texts the correct interpretation of which is a matter of some importance, and which were written at a time or in a situation that are very different from those of the interpreter. Religious and legal texts are notable instances. Thus theology and law were the areas where hermeneutics was first systematically studied. In these two fields, interpretation was studied and debated throughout Antiquity, into the Middle Ages and modern times. Gradually interpretation and discussion of the methods of interpretation spread from religion and law to other works that were regarded as particularly important. An example is Aristotle’s philosophical work that was thoroughly discussed both in the Arab and in the Latin traditions in the Middle Ages. In these discussions, as in the Chinese tradition and also in many other cultures commentary was the main kind of scholarship. One always treated selected works with great respect. However, this did not prevent new ideas from emerging. Thus, for

2

Nivison, The Riddle of the Bamboo Annals (2009).

32

Dagfinn Føllesdal

example, many of Thomas Aquinas’ commentaries to Aristotle give new important insights, but Thomas always modestly reads these into the Aristotelian text: “as the Philosopher says …”. In contrast to contemporary science and scholarship, where novelty is praised and where work that lacks novelty is often made to appear new by new terminology and a lack of references to earlier similar work, commentary was the standard form of scholarship in most or all cultures through millennia. Accordingly, hermeneutics was the dominant methodology, which was refined and developed by generations of scholars.

1.3. Expansion to Literary and Other Kinds of Texts The expansion of hermeneutics from theology and law to philosophy was followed by a second major expansion two hundred years ago, when Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) established hermeneutics as a separate discipline and expanded the area of texts to be studied to include every kind of text, for example literary texts, in addition to the legal and religious and philosophical ones. A good overview of the developments of classical hermeneutics, particularly biblical hermeneutics, up to the late part of the nineteenth century is Milton S. Terry’s Biblical Hermeneutics: A treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testament (1883).3 This sadly neglected treatise gives a broad survey of the various issues in hermeneutics, amply illustrated by concrete analyses of a large variety of genres of biblical texts.

1.4. Hermeneutics and Natural Science The next major expansion of the scope of hermeneutics came with Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911), who argued that hermeneutics applies to all “manifestations of the human spirit”. Dilthey also endorsed the explanation-understanding thesis that had been put forth in 1858 by the historian Johann Gustav Droysen (1808–84) to the effect that while the natural sciences aim at explanation, the humanities and in part also the social sciences aim at understanding. The difference presumably turned on whether what was being sought were causal laws or an elucidation of meaning. However, many different issues have been lumped together in this discussion and it is far from clear what the points are and how the arguments run. In any case, hermeneutics came to be conceived as the method of the humanities. Neither Droysen nor Dilthey said much about the method of the natural sciences. In 1968 Jürgen Habermas (1929–) put forward the view that the natural sciences are characterized by the use of the hypothetico-deductive method, and thereby contrast with the humanities, which use the hermeneutic method, and the social sciences, which use what Habermas calls the “critical” method.4 This is not the place to discuss this view. However, it would seem to count against it that her3 4

M. S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics (1883, 21890). J. Habermas, Erkenntnis und Interesse (1968).

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

33

meneutics shares the two defining feature of the hypothetico-deductive method: (1) setting forth interpretational hypotheses and (2) checking whether they together with our beliefs imply consequences that clash with our material, that is, with the text we are interpreting. Examples of this abound in the interpretation of literary works. Wolfgang Stegmüller (1923–91) showed this in 1979 in his interpretation of Walter von der Vogelweide.5 Another example is some passages in Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt for which half a dozen interpretations have been proposed, most of which have afterwards been rejected because they fit poorly in with the text.6 Rather than contrasting hermeneutics and the hypothetico-deductive method, I regard hermeneutics as the hypothetico-deductive method applied to meaningful material in order to bring out its meaning. I believe that Habermas has given up this view, but I have not seen any place where this is confirmed in writing.

1.5. The Hermeneutic Circle In hermeneutics, as in the natural sciences, we go back and forth between the hypotheses and the material until we achieve a fit, or “reflective equilibrium”, to speak with Rawls.7 We may find hypotheses that fit in with part of the material, but which have to be revised because they do not fit in with other parts. A good hypothesis must fit the whole material, and so will have to be modified until we find an interpretation that fits all the parts. During this process the material itself against which the hypotheses are tested changes; passages that originally were interpreted one way come to be interpreted in another. This malleability of the material is more pronounced in hermeneutics than in natural science, but it has long been known there, too, under the title “the theory-ladenness of observation”. Going back and forth between part and whole in this way is one ingredient in the renowned “hermeneutic circle”. This expression was introduced in 1808, by the German theologian and philosopher Friedrich Ast (1778–1841). It had been noticed far earlier that when we interpret a text, our initial interpretation of a passage may come to change when we read it within the wider context of the whole text. And conversely, our interpretation of the whole text depends upon our interpretation of the parts. The hermeneutic whole-part circle includes, however, more than the text itself, for the text has to be understood within a context that comprises other works by the author, and also both its linguistic and its cultural setting. The setting helps us understand the text; the text, on the other hand, may help us see the setting in a new light, which in turn may change our interpretation of the text, etc. Further, there is a question-answer circle: when we approach a text, we approach it with certain questions that may come to change as we get a better un5 W. Stegmüller, “Walther von der Vogelweides Lied von der Traumliebe und Quasar 3 C 273”, in: idem, Rationale Rekonstruktion (1979), 27–86. 6 See my Hermeneutics and the hypothetico-deductive method, Dialectica 33 (1979) 319–36. 7 J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971), 20 and pass. The idea is old and was given especially clear expression in N. Goodman, Fact, Fiction and Forecast (1955), 65–68.

34

Dagfinn Føllesdal

derstanding of the text. These new questions, in turn, may change our interpretation of the text. Finally, there is the subject-object circle: the totality that comes into play when we interpret a text comprises not only the text and its linguistic and cultural setting, but also us, the interpreters. We come to the text not only with explicit questions, but also with our whole horizon of beliefs and attitudes. Most of them we do not know, and are not even aware of, and many of them become changed as a result of our encounter with the work. These changes, in turn, alter our interpretation of the work, which in turn may lead to new changes in us, and so on. This wider circle that involves the subject’s changing anticipations is a main topic in the New Hermeneutics.

1.6. The “New” Hermeneutics. Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer The circle that involves the interpreting subject and the interpreted object is certainly the most intriguing, going to the core of how interpretation affects us and changes both subject and object. This is also the key issue between traditional and “new” hermeneutics. The new hermeneutics is usually associated with HansGeorg Gadamer (1900–2002) and his teacher Martin Heidegger (1889–1976). However, its basic ideas go back to Edmund Husserl (1859–1938). Husserl’s phenomenology is largely a study of the subjective perspective, the way in which all our experience, whether it be of the physical nature, of other human beings or of their actions and the products of these actions, such as texts, is imbued with meaning: there is always a web of anticipations involved, so that what we experience goes far beyond the patterns of irritations on our sensory surfaces. We are not aware of most of these anticipations. They form a horizon, a background, which for the most part is not thematized. Husserl developed a special method for studying these anticipations, including the tacit ones that we are not normally aware of. This method, which he called the phenomenological reduction, is a special kind of reflection that makes it possible to bring our anticipations to consciousness and study their intricate structure. We can never uncover them completely, and we may make mistakes in recognizing them. Phenomenological reduction, like all other inquiries, is fallible and when we use it, we often discover that earlier findings have to be revised. This is partly because the reduction, like all other actions of ours, takes place within a horizon, which strongly affects what we observe, but which largely remains unknown to us. Husserl was especially interested in studying intersubjectivity, or what happens when we live in a society with others to whose anticipations we gradually come to adjust; the result is that our horizons become mutually attuned. This mutual adaptation mostly takes place silently and unnoticed, through common activities. However, it happens partly through actions and products of action that are intended for communication, such as speech or texts. When applied to speech or texts, the phenomenological analysis becomes meaning analysis of the kind one finds in traditional hermeneutics. However, since phenomenology extends the realm of meaning to all kinds of human experience, phenomenology becomes

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

35

a kind of general meaning analysis, a generalized form of interpretation, or hermeneutics.8 Heidegger therefore calls his version of phenomenology, which he took over from Husserl, “hermeneutics”: “The phenomenology of Dasein [the human subject] is a hermeneutic in the primordial signification of this word, where it designates this business of interpreting”.9 Hermeneutics thereby becomes a means for getting insight into man’s existence, which is the central theme in Heidegger’s philosophy. Gadamer, in his main work Truth and Method10 and in several smaller works, applies this phenomenological conception of hermeneutics to the subject matter of traditional hermeneutics, the interpretation of texts. Husserl’s notion of the horizon becomes particularly important in this enterprise. Gadamer emphasizes that when we read a text, our reading is shaped by anticipations we bring to our reading. Following Heidegger, Gadamer sometimes calls these anticipations fore-structures or fore-meanings; he also calls them prejudices (Vorurteile), and argues that we have inherited from the enlightenment a prejudice against prejudices. Rather than being something negative, prejudices in the sense of anticipations are unavoidable, writes Gadamer. However, one unfortunate drawback of this attempt to give an old word a new sense is that Gadamer’s German word Vorurteil, like its English equivalent “prejudice”, has a strong negative flavor, and even more than its English equivalent has overtones of consciously made judgments. A most important feature of Husserl’s notion of anticipation, or better fore-meaning or fore-structure, is that it is unconscious. We are not aware of it, and this is just why it is such a challenge to hermeneutics. A main task of hermeneutics is to adapt our fore-meaning to the text. We must approach the text with openness, that is with awareness that we have fore-meanings and that the text may have a meaning that is incompatible with our fore-meaning. When we perceive a physical object we adapt our anticipations to the object: we revise anticipations that do not fit until we reach an equilibrium. Similarly, when we encounter a text, we adapt our fore-meanings to the text: we revise our anticipations of what is expressed in the text until we find an interpretation that seems to us to be true or at least reasonable. That is, we adjust our interpretation and we adjust our opinions until we get as close as we can to agreeing with the text. The criterion of understanding is this kind of “fusion of horizons” (Horizontverschmelzung). The fusion of the horizons is a central idea in Gadamer’s hermeneutics. The aim of interpretation is to enable us to agree with the text. However, there are two dangers connected with striving for agreement. First, we may become too eager to adapt our own views to the text. Gadamer concentrated his own work on great classical texts, such as for example Plato’s

8 The main Husserlian texts relevant to hermeneutics are his manuscripts on intersubjectivity, which make up about 6000 pages. About one third of these texts have been selected and edited by Iso Kern in volumes 13, 14, and 15 of Husserliana, Husserl’s Collected Works: Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität, Texte aus dem Nachlass (1973). 9 M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (1927). 10 H.-G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (1960); Truth and Method (1994).

36

Dagfinn Føllesdal

dialogues. In order to learn from these classics, we have to be open and adapt our views. This was criticized by Jürgen Habermas from 1967 on, in the context of a discussion of the methodology of social science. Habermas observed that Gadamer gave us no criteria for distinguishing good authorities, with whom there was reason to agree, and others, whom we should distance ourselves from. Habermas’ criticism led to a discussion in which not only he and Gadamer took part, but also Paul Ricoeur, Karl Otto Apel, Rüdiger Bubner and others.11 The second danger when one uses agreement as the criterion for understanding is the opposite of the one warned against by Habermas: instead of adapting to the text one may try to achieve agreement by adapting the text to fit in with one’s fore-meanings. Many theologians who were inspired by Gadamer’s hermeneutics found that this criterion gave them lots of freedom to interpret the biblical texts in exciting new ways, which were engaging for Christians of our time. Engagement is, of course, of great value for the interpreter of a religious text, and engagement became a key notion in Gadamer’s hermeneutics. The issue of engagement became central in the discussion of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Some ways of interpreting it made it more engaging and what could be more welcome? After all, the Letter to the Romans has been universally praised among theologians. Luther described it in the opening lines to his Preface to this letter commentary as “the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul”.12 Many of the more traditional hermeneuticists became upset by this free treatment of the text. While Gadamer himself had been trained in traditional hermeneutics, with close attention to language, cultural and social background, etc. many of those who were influenced by him, had no such ballast. And why should they? Gadamer gave no criteria for what would be a satisfactory “fusion of the horizons”. One of the many who objected to Gadamer’s lack of criteria was the theologian Ernst Käsemann (1906–98). He exclaimed: The cardinal virtue of the historian and the beginning of all meaningful hermeneutic is for me the practice of hearing, which begins simply by letting what is historically foreign maintain its validity and which does not regard rape as the basic form of engagement.13

11 Habermas’ original criticism appeared in his “Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften”, PhR, Beih. 5, 1967, and was reprinted in his Zur Logik der Sozialwissenschaften: Materialien (1970 and later; expanded edn. 1984). The exchange between him and Gadamer along with essays by some of the other participants in the debate have been collected in Karl-Otto Apel e.a. (eds.), Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik: Theorie-Diskussion (1971). See also Paul Ricoeur, “Ethics and Culture: Gadamer and Habermas in Dialogue”, Philosophy Today 17/2 (1973) 154–55. 12 The German text of Luther’s Preface to the Romans is available online from the Archiv der Reformatoren, maintained by Andreas Janssen in Leimen. 13 E. Käsemann, “Zum Thema der urchristlichen Apokalyptik”, ZThK LIX (1962) 262 ff.

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

37

1.7. Hermeneutics of Suspicion. Habermas. Ricoeur While Gadamer, as the classical scholar he was, aimed at a faithful interpretation of the text, many other hermeneuticists in the twentieth century have approached the texts with much more suspicion. Habermas is an example. His criticism of Gadamer is connected with his view that many perspectives on the world, “horizons of understanding” to use Gadamer’s phrase, are seriously defective. Habermas agrees with Marx and Freud that our anticipations, “prejudices” are unconscious – we structure the world without being aware of it, and the way we structure it, depends on factors that are ingrained in our society and that we are absorbing without being aware of them or reflecting on them. For Habermas, a main aim of hermeneutics is to uncover this hidden structuring and thereby take a first important step towards freeing ourselves from it. Habermas’ “critical” hermeneutics is therefore a social parallel to Freud’s conception of psychoanalysis. In France, the influence from Husserl on hermeneutics has been stronger than in Germany, although as noted above, much of what Gadamer has learned from Heidegger stems from Husserl. Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005) started out as a Husserl scholar. He translated one of Husserl’s main works, Ideas, into French and was very well aware of how much phenomenology could contribute to hermeneutics. He said himself that his variety of hermeneutics could be called “hermeneutical phenomenology”, since this label “does justice both to my allegiance to Husserl and Merleau-Ponty and to my later recognition of Heidegger and Gadamer”.14 Like Husserl, Ricoeur regards actions as an important part of what structures the world, actions like texts have meaning. Our actions in general, and not only what we write or produce, make us what we are. Hermeneutics therefore includes the phenomenological study of actions. Hermeneutics gives us insight into our actions and thereby in who we are. The hermeneutic reflection is itself action and contributes to shaping us. Like Habermas and other “hermeneuticists of suspicion” hermeneutics shall help us to overcome hypocrisy and concealment. It will thereby be a tool for bringing about what Ricoeur calls “the narrative unity of a person’s life”.15 Ricoeur was throughout his life engaged by the many different genres of texts and how to interpret them. He stressed “the heterogeneity among the innumerable language games” that “forbids any attempt to make a system of such distinctive uses of language as science, poetry, ordinary discourse, psychoanalytic discourse, religious discourse, etc.”. From 1954 on Ricoeur taught regularly in the United States. In 1967 he succeeded Paul Tillich as professor of philosophical theology at the University of Chicago. During the 25 years he stayed there his work took a stronger turn towards theology. Many texts in the Bible are of the narrative kind, and Ricoeur was concerned with their truth claim. He refers to Van Harvey’s The Historian and the Believer16 and writes “If the stories of the Old Testament are historylike, … the question of 14 This and the following quotations from Ricoeur are taken from Paul Ricoeur, Essays on Biblical Interpretation (1980). I find Ricoeur’s “Reply to Lewis S. Mudge” in this volume particularly helpful. 15 See for example Oneself as Another (1992). 16 Van Harvey, The Historian and the Believer (1996).

38

Dagfinn Føllesdal

the referential claims of these stories remains unavoidable. The attempt to bracket reference and to keep sense, i.e., to raise only questions of meaning and to drop questions about historical reality, fails somewhere, because it runs against my main contention that even fictions are about a world”. Ricoeur considers the idea that the religious reality is something elusive, like the Kantian Ding an Sich. However, he rejects this and concludes: “The question remains open whether and to what extent the category of testimony may preserve the dialectic of sense and reference – i.e., of immanent meaning and of aboutness – without falling into any of the too well-known pitfalls. The status of historylike stories relies ultimately on the answer given to this vexing problem. I am now wrestling with the different alternatives which still remain open”.

1.8. What are we after in Hermeneutics? Meaning? Is there something to be right or wrong about in interpretation, or is everything up for grabs? This is a key question that has been discussed again and again in hermeneutics. Traditionally, hermeneutics has aimed at grasping the meaning of a text, an action or whatever else we regard as meaningful. But what is meaning? One fairly common proposal is that we are after “the speaker’s meaning”, that is, the meaning that the author had “in the head” and more or less consciously is trying to express. Some hermeneuticists, such as Emilio Betti (1890–1968) and Eric D. Hirsch (1928–),17 have argued that this is the only notion of meaning that would provide a satisfactory notion of validity in interpretation. However, this approach gets into difficulties in connection with the so-called “Humpty-Dumpty” argument, from the episode in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1872) where Humpty-Dumpty uses the word ‘glory’: “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’”, Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’” “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’”, Alice objected. “When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”. “The question is”, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things”. “The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all”.18

We all agree with Alice that what words mean is not determined by the speaker, but depends on the language that is used. It is also not clear what it means that a person has something “in his head”. And further: how can we find out what this is except by interpreting what is being said, supplemented possibly by other sources of evidence, such as actions, etc.? We are getting back to this issue later, in connection with Davidson’s idea of adding observation of actions to our evidential basis for interpretation and translating of language.

17 18

Betti, Teoria generale della interpretazione (1955); Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (1967). L. Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass (1872).

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

39

A further question in hermeneutics is how the language of the text should be interpreted. Among the various options that have been discussed are: (1) What the language meant to the author. (2) What the author regards as a suitable way of communicating with the audience. This often happens in popularizations or in texts written for readers with another cultural background, and it is exemplified in many biblical texts, for example Paul’s letters to communities in various countries and various cultural settings. (3) One may study how a text is interpreted at different times in different cultures. This so-called “reception theory” is an important part of hermeneutics.

2. What is Meaning? Quine and Davidson The evolution in hermeneutics we have just traced has taken place on the continent, independent of and in isolation from similar developments in so-called “analytic” philosophy, whatever that may mean. However, the same issues have been discussed intensively also in the “analytic” traditions, although often under other headings. I will here concentrate on the notion of meaning, which as we just noted is a central notion in hermeneutics. I will discuss the issues in some detail, since they are important for hermeneutics and since they tend to be neglected and even unknown in much of the discussion of hermeneutics.19 There are philosophers, like Gottlob Frege (1848–1925) and Karl Popper (1902–94), who have held that in the study of linguistic meaning we are investigating a “third world”, which is not of human making, but is akin to a Platonic realm, waiting for us to explore it. Frege’s main argument for such a third world was that without it communication would be impossible. According to Frege, communication takes place when a speaker or writer expresses a certain meaning by help of a linguistic expression and a listener or reader connects the same meaning with this expression. A similar view often seems to have been taken for granted by hermeneuticists, however, apparently without awareness of the problematic philosophical presuppositions involved. An abstract world of meanings, without an account of how we get access to this world and why it is the same for all people, does nothing to explain language learning and communication. We owe it to Quine to have seen the emptiness of such an approach to meaning and communication.

2.1. The Public Nature of Language Philosophers and linguists have always said that language is a social institution. This seems obvious. However, usually they have immediately forgotten this and have adopted notions of meaning that are not publicly accessible and where it remains unclear how such entities are grasped by us. 19

An exception is R. W. Dasenbrock, Literary Theory after Davidson (1993). See also B. Ramberg, Donald Davidson’s Philosophy of Language (1989), and J. Malpas, Dialogues with Davidson (2011).

40

Dagfinn Føllesdal

Willard Van Orman Quine (1908–2000) seems to have been the first to take the public nature of language seriously and explore its consequences for meaning and communication.20 He begins with a situation where two people, each with their own language and view of the world, attempt to communicate. They have no previous translation manual to fall back on, no grammar or dictionary, but must carry out “radical translation”, where they try to establish a grammar and a dictionary that they test out by observing one another’s behavior. Quine specifies two constraints that translation manuals have to satisfy. First, a condition on observation sentences, that is sentences which the other person assents to or dissents from only in certain observational circumstances. Such sentences should be translated into sentences that we assent to or dissent from in similar circumstances. Secondly, a principle of charity. Sentences which the other person accepts should not be translated into sentences which we regard as absurd, and sentences which the other person dissents from, should not be translated into sentences that we regard as banal. As Quine points out, several different translation manuals can satisfy these constraints. Given that these two constraints are all the evidence there is for correct translation, Quine concludes that translation is indeterminate; there are several translation manuals between two languages, and they are all correct. I shall not here discuss indeterminacy of translation, but I will concentrate on Quine’s constraints on translation.

2.2. Problems with Perception I find the second of Quine’s constraints, the principle of charity, well justified. It reflects an old and well-established hermeneutic principle and Quine supports it with good arguments. The first constraint, however, the observation constraint, is very problematic. Not because observations are irrelevant to understanding and translation – their relevance will be a main theme of this section – but because Quine defines observations in terms of the behaviorist notions of stimulus and response. Our problem is not the usual arguments against behaviorism, such as those of Chomsky against Skinner.21 Chomsky’s arguments are pretty irrelevant against Quine’s more discerning behaviorism. Our problem is that we find that Quine through his focus on stimulus and response has forsaken the public nature of language. Stimuli can be empirically studied, but they are not publicly accessible. And according to Quine’s fundamental insight, the emergence and development of language, the learning of language, and the use of language in communication must all be founded on publicly available evidence. In my daily life, where I learn and use language, I cannot observe the sensory stimuli of others. And I have never observed my own. How can 20

W. V. Quine, Word and Object (1960, 2013). N. Chomsky, “A Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior”, Language 35/1 (1959) 26–58; repr. with a new preface by Chomsky in: L. A. Jakobovits/M. S. Miron, Readings in the Psychology of Language (1967). 21

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

41

I then compare the stimuli of others with those of my own, as Quine requires? The stimuli are encumbered by the same problem as Frege’s “Sinne”, they are not publicly accessible. What the child learns to associate with words, are neither “Sinne” nor stimuli, but things in the surrounding world. Quine developed his view on stimuli further in Ontological Relativity (1969)22 and ended the book with the open problem of “saying in general what it means for two subjects to get the same stimulation or, failing that, what it means for two subjects to get more nearly the same stimulation than two others”. Quine’s original proposal that stimulations should be identified with triggering of nerve endings sets us off on a wrong track. By talking about the triggering of the sensory receptors we are already going too deeply inside the skin. Language being a social phenomenon, the basis for language learning and communication should also be publicly accessible without the aid of neurophysiology.23 This is a point repeatedly emphasized by Quine himself. In fact, on page 157 of Ontological Relativity he says that homology of receptors “ought not to matter”. Also, already in the very opening sentences of Word and Object Quine stressed how language learning builds on distal objects, the objects that we perceive and talk about: “Each of us learns his language from other people, through the observable mouthing of words under conspicuously intersubjective circumstances. Linguistically, and hence conceptually, the things in sharpest focus are the things that are public enough to be talked of publicly, common and conspicuous enough to be talked of often, and near enough to sense to be quickly identified and learned by name; it is to these that words apply first and foremost.”24

Why, then, did Quine turn to stimuli? He saw, I think, clearer than it had ever been seen before, how intricate the notion of an object is. We cannot determine through observation which objects other people perceive; what others perceive is dependent upon how they conceive of the world and structure it, and that is just what we are trying to find out. When we study communication and understanding, we should not uncritically assume that the other shares our conception of the world and our ontology. If we do, we will not discover how we understand other people, and we will not notice the important phenomena of indeterminacy of translation and of reference. Already in chapter 3 of Word and Object, the chapter following the chapter where he introduces stimuli, Quine discusses the ontogenesis of reference, and the discussion of this topic takes up several of the following chapters.

22

Quine, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (1969). For more on this see my “Meaning and experience”, in: S. Guttenplan, Mind and Language (1975), 34–35, and also my “Developments in Quine’s Behaviorism”, American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2011) 273–82. 24 Word and Object (1960, 2013), 1. 23

42

Dagfinn Føllesdal

2.3. The Early Davidson: “Maximize Agreement” Donald Davidson (1917–2003) proposed a theory of interpretation that is similar to, but also interestingly different from Quine’s theory of translation. One highly important contribution of Davidson to the whole theory of understanding, understanding language as well as understanding action and the mind, is his idea of comparing the problem of separating belief from meaning in the understanding of language to the problem of separating belief from value – or desire, or generally, pro-attitude – in the explanation of action. Our understanding of linguistic expressions depends, as also Gadamer observed, on an interplay between our beliefs and our view on meaning. Similarly, our actions depend on an interplay between our beliefs and our values. Since one component in each pair, that of belief, is the same, Davidson is able to add observation of actions to our evidential basis for interpretation and translating of language. I regard this idea of Davidson as a highly important contribution to hermeneutics. I will, however, now discuss that part of Davidson’s theory of interpretation that has a counterpart in Quine’s theory of translation. In order to compare the two theories let us transform Davidson’s theory into a theory of the conditions a correlation between two languages must satisfy in order to be a translation. There are various reasons why Davidson prefers a theory of interpretation to a theory of translation manuals, but they are not pertinent to my aim in this article.25 I shall argue that there is an early and a late version of Davidson’s theory. I will here concentrate on the early theory, which is most relevant to Gadamer. Davidson held his early theory up to 1973. This early theory differs from Quine’s on the following two points: (1) Davidson replaces Quine’s systematization via grammar with a systematization by means of Tarski’s theory of truth. This change reflects the fact that the systematization concerns semantics: one wants to see how the semantic features, for example truth, of complex expressions depend upon the semantic features of their component expressions. More accurately: given that one knows, through behavioral evidence, which sentences a person assents to – that is, regards as true – and which sentences he dissents from – regards as false – we try to segment these sentences into recurrent parts, that is words, and to find extensions and references for these words that make most of the sentences that the person assents to true and most of the ones he dissents from false. This idea of interpreting the other’s sentences so as to make the sentences he assents to true, is a point of similarity between Davidson and Gadamer, although Gadamer does not mention Tarski. This proposal by Davidson could be looked upon as applying Tarski upside down. While Tarski assumed that we knew the extensions and references of the smallest components and built up from there, Davidson starts with the truth and falsehood of sentences and tries to determine the parts and their semantic features from there.26

25 26

See D. Davidson, “Radical Interpretation”, Dialectica 27 (1973) 313–28, esp. 316–17. See, e.g., Davidson, “Belief and the Basis of Meaning”, Synthese 27 (1974) 318.

Basic Questions of Hermeneutics

43

I regard this first proposal of Davidson’s as an improvement upon Quine. And Quine accepted it. (2) Davidson’s second proposal is to fuse Quine’s two constraints on translation that I outlined above into one single constraint, a sweeping principle of charity that he expresses as a maxim: maximize agreement. That is: try to correlate the two languages in such a way that the sentences to which the other person assents are correlated with sentences to which we assent, and sentences from which he dissents are correlated with sentences from which we dissent.27 This simple constraint was the only condition Davidson put on translation in his early writings. He had recognized Quine’s problems in connection with perception, and he formulates his constraint without any appeal to perception. In Davidson’s early writings there is no mention of perception as one of the factors one has to take into account when one interprets somebody else. It would certainly simplify matters if perception did not have to enter the picture. However, here is an example of a rabbit behind a tree, which brings out the problems in Davidson’s attempt to get by without bringing in perception: I am together with a person who speaks a language which I do not know, but would like to learn. He frequently uses the phrase ‘Gavagai’ and I have formed an hypothesis that it has to do with rabbits. While we are in a forest and I note a rabbit I try out the phrase ‘Gavagai’. However, my friend dissents. According to Davidson’s maxim of maximizing agreement this would be a reason against my hypothesis that ‘Gavagai’ should be translated ‘Rabbit’. If I now discover that there is a big tree between my friend and the rabbit, I immediately have an explanation for our disagreement: I take it for granted that my friend, like me, is not able to see through trees and that he therefore does not think that there is a rabbit there. I even take my friend’s dissent as confirming my hypothesis; I do not expect him to believe that there is a rabbit there.28 The maxim of maximizing agreement hence has to be modified into maximize agreement where you expect to find agreement. Here both of Quine’s constraints on translation come in, the observational and the principle of charity. Interpretation recapitulates epistemology, and Quine’s two principles reflect the two main ingredients in epistemology: perception and reason. The rabbit-behind-the-tree example illustrates how the perceptual situation which we assume the other to be in may be decisive for the beliefs we ascribe to him and thereby for how we interpret and translate what he says. When Davidson was confronted with this example, he agreed that perception is important for translation and interpretation. In his later writings Davidson gives prominence to perception. To sum up: According to Quine, communication and understanding are based on our observation of one another’s behavior, not only in the sense that the be-

27 The expression “maximize agreement” recurs in many of Davidson’s papers from this period, for example in “Truth and Meaning” (1967), where it is explained as follows: “The linguist will then attempt to construct a characterization of truth-for-the-alien which yields, so far as possible, a mapping of sentences held true (or false) by the alien on to sentences held true by the linguist” (p. 27 of the reprint in Davidson’s Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, Oxford: Oxford UP 1984). 28 See my “Meaning and Experience” (1975), referred to earlier (footnote 23).

44

Dagfinn Føllesdal

havior provides evidence upon which we can base our judgments concerning meaning, but in the much more radical sense that meaning is a product of this publicly accessible evidence. That is, meaning, unlike nature, was not there before public interaction began, waiting to be discovered, but it has been produced, and is continually being produced, through this interaction. This production is a co-operative enterprise, where previous generations and specialists on various subjects (theoreticians and practitioners) have done their part, and created the semantic construction that the learner of the language strives to master. The production process still goes on, through our introduction of new expressions and through our using old expressions in new ways, as for example in metaphors. Where the evidence leaves off, there is nothing more to be right or wrong about. This is the gist of Quine’s thesis of “indeterminacy of translation”. For Quine, epistemology and meaning are intertwined: one of our main tasks when we try to understand a text or another person is that we try to interpret the other in such a way that he comes to have views that it would be reasonable for this person to have, given the person’s background and past and present experiences. That is, when we translate what another person says or writes into our own language or idiom, we seek to translate it in such a way that we come to attribute to him beliefs that we would expect him to have, given our theory of how people acquire and alter their beliefs: “the more absurd or exotic the beliefs imputed to a people, the more suspicious we are entitled to be of the translations”.29 Though the way of arguing for it is very different, this is also essentially Gadamer’s view.

3. Conclusion To conclude: There is a striking similarity between Gadamer, Quine and Davidson in their emphasis on how truth and agreement is crucial for interpretation. Where they differ, is that Quine and Davidson find the notion of meaning deeply problematic. Given that meaning is the central notion in hermeneutics, hermeneutics cannot ignore the radical exploration into the nature of meaning that Quine and Davidson have begun.30

29

Quine, Word and Object (1960, 2013), 69. I am grateful to two of my Stanford friends and colleagues: David Nivison, who has enlightened me about Chinese philosophy in conversations for more than forty years, and Van Harvey for stimulating co-teaching of seminars on hermeneutics. 30

Chapter Twenty-seven

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic in the Framework of Semitic Philology, Including Semitic Epigraphy By Steven E. Fassberg, Jerusalem

For general surveys on Semitic languages, see Th. Nöldeke, “Semitic Languages”, EncBr 24 (11th edn.; London 1911), 617–630. – G. R. Driver, “Semitic Languages”, EncBr 20 (14th edn.; London 1932), 314–318. – W. Leslau, “Semitic Languages”, EncBr 20 (rev. 14th edn.; Chicago 1967), 208–211. – C. Rabin, “Semitic Languages”, EncJud 14 (Jerusalem: Keter 1971), 1149–1157. – H. J. Polotsky, “Semitics”, The World History of the Jewish People: At the Dawn of Civilization, I.1 (Ramat-Gan: Jewish History Publications / Rutgers University Press 1964), 99–111, 357. – E. Ullendorff, “Comparative Semitics”, Current Trends in Linguistics, 6 (ed. T. A. Sebeok; The Hague: Mouton 1970), 261–273. – M. Cohen, “Langues chamito-sémitiques”, Les langues du monde (ed. A. Meillet / M. Cohen; Paris: Centre national de la recherche scientifique 1952), 82–99. – C. Brockelmann, “Stand und Aufgaben der Semitistik”, Beiträge zur Arabistik, Semitistik und Islamwissenschaft (ed. R. Hartmann / H. Scheel; Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz 1944), 3–41. – J. H. Hospers, “A Hundred Years of Semitic Comparative Linguistics”, Studia Biblica et Semitica: Th. C. Vriezen… dedicata (Wageningen: H. Veenman 1966), 138–151. – J. Huehnergard, “Languages (Introductory)”, ABD 4 (New York: Doubleday 1992), 155–170; “Semitic Languages”, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, 4 (ed. J. M. Sasson; New York 1995), 2117–2134; “New Directions in the Study of Semitic Languages”, The Study of the Ancient Near East in the 21st Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference (ed. J. S. Cooper / G. M. Schwartz; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1996), 251– 272. – R. Hetzron e.a., The Semitic Languages (London: Routledge 1997). – S. Weninger e.a., The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook, HSK 36 (Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter 2011). Works on Comparative Semitic philology include Th. Nöldeke, Beiträge zur semitischen Sprachwissenschaft (Strassburg: Karl J. Trübner 1904); Neue Beiträge zur semitischen Sprachwissenschaft (Strassburg: Karl J. Trübner 1910). – C. Brockelmann, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen (Berlin: Reuther / Reichard 1908–1913); Précis de linguistique sémitique (Paris: Geuthner 1910). – J. Barth, Die Pronominalbildung in den semitischen Sprachen (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs 1913). – E. de Lacy O’Leary, Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages (London: K. Paul, Trench, Truber / New York: E. P. Dutton 1923). – G. Bergsträsser, Einführung in die semitischen Sprachen, Sprachproben und grammatische Skizzen (München: Max Hueber 1928; ET: P. T. Daniels, Introduction to the Semitic Languages, Text Specimens and Grammatical Sketches, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1983). – L. H. Gray, Introduction to Semitic Comparative Linguistics (New York: Columbia UP 1934). – S. Moscati e.a., An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz 1964). – J. Kuryłowicz, Studies in Semitic Grammar and Metrics (Wrocław: Polska Akademia Nauk 1972). – E. Lipin´ski, Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar (Leuven: Peeters 1997). – R. Bennett, Comparative Semitic Linguistics: A Manual (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1998). – R. Stempel, Abriss einer historischen Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen (Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang 1999). – A. Dolgopolsky, From Proto-Semitic to Hebrew. Phonology: Etymological Approach in a Hamito-Semitic Perspective (Milan: Centro Studi Camito-Semitic 1999). – B. Kienast, Historische Semitische Sprachwissenschaft (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz 2001). – J. Fox, Semitic Noun Patterns (HSS 52; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns

46

Steven E. Fassberg

2003). – J.-C. Haelewyck, Grammaire comparée des langues sémitiques (Bruxelles: Éditions Safran 2006). For works dealing more specifically with the relationship of the Northwest Semitic languages one to another, see Z. Harris, Development of the Canaanite Dialects: An Investigation in Linguistic History. (AOS 16; New Haven: American Oriental Society 1939). – H. L. Ginsberg, “The Northwest Semitic Languages”, The World History of the Jewish People: Patriarchs, I.2 (Givatayim: Jewish History Publications / Rutgers University Press Tel Aviv 1970), 102–124, 270. – W. R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000–586 BCE (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 1985). – R. Voigt, “The Classification of Central Semitic”, JSS 32 (1987) 1–21. – J. Huehnergard, “Remarks on the Classification of the Northwest Semitic Languages”, The Balaam Text from Deir Alla Re-evaluated: Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Leiden 21–24 August 1989 (ed. J. Hoftijzer / G. van der Kooij; Leiden 1991), 282–293; “Features of Central Semitic”, Biblical and Oriental Essays in Memory of William L. Moran (BiOr 48; ed. A. Gianto; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 2005), 155–203. For general works on Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic, see C. Rabin, “Hebrew”, Current Trends in Linguistics, 6 (ed. T. A. Sebeok; Mouton: The Hague 1970), 304–324. – E. Y. Kutscher, “Aramaic”, Current Trends in Linguistics 6 (1970), 347–412; A History of the Hebrew Language (ed. R. Kutscher; Jerusalem: Magnes Press / Leiden: Brill 1982), 1–114. – A. Sáenz-Badillos, A History of the Hebrew Language (tr. J. Elwolde; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1993), 1–49.

The ever-growing knowledge of Semitic languages that took place in the nineteenth century1 gained momentum in the twentieth. Considerable progress was made in the analysis and description of Akkadian, and archaeological activity and field work led to the discovery of new texts, dialects, and languages. The expanding field of Semitic languages had a significant impact on the relationship of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic to the other Semitic languages, as well as the relationship of the two biblical languages to each other. The new materials engendered paradigm shifts in the family tree of Semitic languages and changed previously accepted historical reconstructions of the Semitic family. Moreover, advances in general historical linguistics were gradually applied in analyzing the development of the Semitic languages, leading some scholars to widen the scope of inquiry: the individual languages were no longer just members of the Semitic family, but rather members of a larger Afroasiatic family (formerly known as Hamito-Semitic), which included Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Cushitic, Chadic, and possible additional branches.2 By the end of the twentieth century, the growing inventory of Northwest Semitic languages had spurred growing debate over the internal classification of languages in this branch of Semitic. With regard to Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, the discovery of extra-biblical materials supplemented what was known about the two languages during the First and Second Temple Periods and presented a fuller picture of the languages and their diversity.

1. Increasing Knowledge of the Semitic Languages The critical study of the Semitic languages known as Comparative Semitics thrived in the twentieth century as old data were integrated into the constant flow 1 See Chap. 6 in this volume (2013), H. Gzella, “Expansions of the Linguistic Context of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: Hebrew Among the Languages of the Ancient Near East” (134–167). 2 J. Huehnergard, “Afro-Asiatic”, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages (ed. R. D. Woodard; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2004), 138–159.

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrewand Aramaic

47

of new information. Archaeologists unearthed epigraphic remains, librarians and archivists located and identified medieval manuscripts, and field workers recorded new dialects and languages. Hundreds of thousands of cuneiform tablets put Akkadian grammar and lexicon on a firm basis. Wolfram von Soden (1908–1996) was a central figure who helped make the field accessible for Semitists and Biblicists. His grammar, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik,3 and dictionary, Akkadisches Handwörterbuch,4 became basic tools of research. No less important was the monumental The Assyrian Dictionary put out by the University of Chicago, whose volumes appeared over almost half a century (1956–2005).5 The age of Akkadian texts and the archaic looking structure of their language (particularly the verbal system6) led Semitists to modify their reconstruction of the Semitic languages. Arabic, which was viewed during the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century as being close to Proto-Semitic and similar to what Biblical Hebrew must have looked like at an earlier stage in its development, began to give away to Akkadian as a more accurate representative of earlier Semitic. In general one may say that over the course of the twentieth century, the pendulum swung from an Arabic-based reconstruction of Proto-Hebrew to an Akkadian-based reconstruction,7 only to be followed by a swing back to an intermediate position that reconstructed early Semitic based on both Arabic and Akkadian, as well as Ugaritic and other Semitic languages. The development of Comparative Semitic philology in the twentieth century can be traced through the prism of comparative grammars. The most comprehensive and influential grammar for most of the century remained that of Carl Brockelmann (1868–1956). His two volume Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen, which appeared between 1908 and 1913, encompassed all known languages and dialects of the time; an abridged version of the work appeared in French in 1910. Additional comparative grammars of varying length and scope appeared throughout the century: in 1923 by Evans Lacy O’Leary (1872–1957), in 1964, edited, by Sabatino Moscati (1922–1997), in 1972 by the Indo-European linguist Jerzy Kuryłowicz (1895–1978), in 1997 by Edward Lipin´ski, in 1999 by Reinhard Stempel, in 2000 by Kienast, and in 2006 by Jean-Claude Haelewyck. The grammars of Kienast and Lipin´ski also include, to varying degrees, Afroasiatic material, reflecting the importance both scholars attribute to Semitic languages as a branch of the larger Afroasiatic family. Additional scholars who worked in the last half of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century and who have left a lasting mark on Comparative Semitic philology include Jakob Barth (1851–1914), Gotthelf Bergsträsser (1886–1933), and Theodor Nöldeke (1836–1930).

3 W. von Soden, unter Mitarbeit von W. R. Mayer, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik, 3. ergänzte Auflage (AnOr 33; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1995). 4 W. von Soden, unter Benutzung des lexikalischen Nachlasses von Bruno Meissner (1868– 1947), Akkadisches Handwörterbuch (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1965–1981). 5 The Assyrian Dictionary (Chicago: Oriental Institute 1956–2005). 6 For the most recent treatment of the Akkadian verbal system in the light of Semitic, see N. J. C. Kouwenberg, The Akkadian Verb and Its Semitic Background (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 2010). 7 See, e.g., the historical Semitic grammar of Burkhart Kienast (b. 1933).

48

Steven E. Fassberg

Since new data were continuously being collected and sorted, there was a reluctance on the part of scholars to attempt a comprehensive dictionary of the Semitic languages. The closest projects were initiated by David Cohen (1922–), who began publishing in 1970 a dictionary of Semitic roots that reached KTT in 2012,8 and Alexander Militarev and Leonid Kogan, who published two volumes of a Semitic etymological dictionary, one on the anatomy of man and animals, and the other on animal names.9

2. Discoveries in Northwest Semitic Before the twentieth century, the only languages known to belong to the branch of Semitic known as ‘Northwest Semitic’ were Hebrew, Phoenician and Punic, Moabite (known only from the Mesha Stele), and Aramaic. On linguistic grounds scholars divided Northwest Semitic into two related families: Canaanite (Hebrew, Phoenician and Punic, and Moabite) and Aramaic. By the end of the twentieth century, four new members joined the family: Ugaritic, the language of the Deir Alla plaster inscription, Ammonite, and Edomite. Without a doubt the most dramatic discovery in Northwest Semitic was that of Ugaritic. Discovered in 1929 at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) on the Syrian coast, tablets written in cuneiform from the 14th–13th centuries BCE revealed an unknown Northwest Semitic language. An initial decipherment of the tablets was presented just a year later by Hans Bauer (1878–1937), which was shortly followed by additional decipherment and refinement by Charles Virolleaud (1879–1968) and Paul (Edouard) Dhorme (1881–1966).10 The contents and language of the tablets drastically altered earlier views on Northwest Semitic and on Canaanite civilization. With regard to biblical literature, the tablets revealed early Canaanite epic poetry with tales of a pantheon of Gods, whose echoes were identified in the Hebrew Bible. Linguistically, Ugaritic turned out to be a Northwest language that was older and more archaic than those already attested. The study of Biblical Hebrew was revolutionized. For the first time scholars were afforded a glimpse of a closely related language that offered a view of what Hebrew might have looked like centuries earlier. The similarity to Biblical Hebrew in lexicon, poetic parallelism, meter, and grammar was striking,11 and was used to explain cruces in the language of the biblical text,12 even though the nuances of much of 8 D. Cohen, secondé par Jérome Lentin avec la collaboration de François Bron et Antoine Lonnet, Dictionnaire des racines sémitiques ou attestées dans les langues sémitiques (Paris: Mouton/ Leuven: Peeters 1970–). 9 A. Militarev/L. Kogin, with the assistance of A. Belova, Semitic Etymological Dictionary (AOAT 278/1; Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2000–). 10 For an account of the decipherment, see E. Doblhofer, Voices in Stone: The Decipherment of Ancient Writings and Scripts (London: Paladin 1973), 203–226. 11 E.g., the similarity in word pairs provided enough examples for three volumes: M. Dahood, “Ugaritic-Hebrew Parallel Pairs”, in Ras Shamra Parallels: The Texts from Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1972–1981). 12 D. Sivan, “Biblical Hebrew in the Light of Ugaritic Literature”, Leshonenu La’am 43 (1992) 123–134.

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrewand Aramaic

49

the Ugaritic lexicon was unclear and the parsing of many words debated. Biblical Hebrew was used to decipher Ugaritic grammar and vocabulary, and in return Ugaritic vocabulary was used to elucidate biblical vocabulary. The exact relationship of Ugaritic to Biblical Hebrew remained contested: some argued that the former should be classified as a Canaanite language (like Biblical Hebrew) while others proposed that it reflected a different branch within Northwest Semitic.13 Ugaritic was not the only earlier Northwest Semitic material that became known during the twentieth century.14 In the first quarter of the century scholars culled Northwest Semitic personal and geographical names from texts written in Egyptian from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE (e.g., the Execration Texts from the 20th–19th centuries).15 This material was supplemented by Amorite personal names in Akkadian texts from the 20th–18th centuries BCE from Mari16 and elsewhere, which also contained Northwest Semitic elements.17 Additional Northwest Semitic material contemporaneous with Ugaritic was supplied by the fourteenth century Amarna Tablets, which were written in Akkadian by Canaanite scribes, whose native language sometimes penetrated the Akkadian. Canaanitisms appeared occasionally as glosses to Akkadian words and at times were discerniblely part of Akkadian words. As in the case of Ugaritic, no direct line could be drawn from the Canaanite language(s) reflected in the Amarna Tablets to Biblical Hebrew, but what is attested is suggestive for what Proto-Hebrew might have looked like. The pioneering works on the subject were those of Franz M. Th. Böhl (1882–1976),18 P. Dhorme,19 and Erich Ebeling (1996–1955).20 A major leap forward was made by William L. Moran (1921–2000) in his syntactical study of the language of the letters sent from Byblos to El-Amarna,21 and building on his work, by Anson F. Rainey (1930–2011).22 Additional materials were also identified by scholars, e.g., Daniel Sivan collected and analyzed the Canaanite words attested in Akkadian texts from the 15th–13th centuries

13 For the history of the debate, see D. Sivan, “m‘md h’wgrytyt bqrb hlšwnwt hšmywt hs. pwnywt-m‘rbywt: m‘qr h. dš”, TŠWRH LŠMW’L: MH . QRYM B‘WLM HMQR’ (ed. Z. Talshir/S. Yona/D. Sivan; Jerusalem: Ben-Gurion UP/Bialik Institute 1991), 282–297. 14 An influential article on the subject was that of W. L. Moran, “The Hebrew Language in its Northwest Semitic Background”, The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of William Foxwell Albright (ed. G. Ernest Wright; Garden City: Anchor 1961), 54–72 15 Y. Muchiki, Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in North-West Semitic (SBLDS 173; Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature 1999). 16 On the relationship of Mari and early Israel, see A. Malamat, Mari and the Early Israelite Experience (Oxford: Oxford UP 1989); idem, Mari and the Bible (Leiden: Brill 1998). 17 M. P. Streck, Die Amurriter, die onomastische Forschung, Orthographie und Phonologie, Nominal Morphologie (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2000). 18 F. M. Th. Böhl, Die Sprache der Amarnabriefe mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kanaanismen (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs 1909). 19 P. (E.) Dhorme, “La langage de Canaan”, RB 10 (1913) 369–393, 11 (1914) 37–59, 344–372. 20 E. Ebeling, “Das Verbum der El-Amarna-Briefe”, Beiträge zur Assyriologie und semitischen Sprachwissenschaft 8 (1910) 39–79. 21 W. L. Moran, “A Syntactical Study of the Dialect of Byblos as Reflected in the Amarna Tablets” (Ph.D. dissertation, Johns Hopkins University 1950). This oft-cited dissertation was finally published in W. L. Moran, Amarna Studies: Collected Writings (ed. J. Huehnergard/S. Izre’el; HSS 54; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1993), 1–130. 22 A. F. Rainey, Canaanite in the Amarna Tablets: A Linguistic Analysis of the Mixed Dialect Used by Scribes from Canaan (Leiden: Brill 1996).

50

Steven E. Fassberg

BCE found in the El-Amarna Tablets, the Ta‘anakh Tablets, and at Alalakh and Ugarit;23 and Eugen J. Pentiuc investigated Northwest Semitic material found in Akkadian texts from Emar (Tell Meskene in Syria) from the late fourteenth to early twelfth centuries.24 During the 1980’s, cuneiform tablets found at Ebla (Tell Mardikh in Syria) from the 3rd millennium BCE caused a flurry of excitement when some scholars thought their language reflected a new West Semitic language;25 today the language of the tablets is thought by most scholars to be a dialect or sub-branch of Akkadian.26 Northwest Semitic evidence from the 1st millennium BCE also became more plentiful over the course of the century.27 Many new Phoenician and Punic inscriptions were unearthed at different sites in the Phoenician homeland and diaspora (e.g., Byblos, Sidon, Karatepe, Cyprus, Carthage) and they reinforced the view that Phoenician and Hebrew were closely related Canaanite languages. The discoveries of fragmentary inscriptions in Ammonite and Edomite, which share common phenomena with Biblical Hebrew, have demonstrated the diversity of languages belonging to the Canaanite branch of Northwest Semitic.28 The language of the fragmentary Deir Alla plaster inscription from the eastern side of the Jordan River, which mentions the seer Balaam, was debated from the moment it was published in 1976. Some argued that it was written in Aramaic while others considered it to reflect a local dialect or another unknown Northwest Semitic language.29 The simple bipolar division of Northwest Semitic that existed at the beginning of the twentieth century, Canaanite vs. Aramaic, was no longer valid at the end of the century because of the new epigraphic finds. The debate now focused on whether Ugaritic was Canaanite, and whether Deir Alla was Aramaic.

3. Discoveries in Hebrew The linguistic authenticity of the Hebrew attested in the Old Testament was corroborated with each new epigraphic find. In 1903 G. A. Cooke (1865–1939) was able to include only one significant Hebrew inscription in a collection of inscriptions from the First Temple Period, that from Siloam, and from the Second Temple

23 D. Sivan, Grammatical Analysis and Glossary of the Northwest Semitic Vocables in Akkadian Texts of the 15th–13th C.B.C. from Canaan and Syria (AOAT 14; Kevelaer: Butzon und Bercker/Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 1984). 24 E. J. Pentiuc, West Semitic Vocabulary in the Akkadian Texts from Emar (HSS 49; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 2001). 25 M. Dahood, “Ebla, Ugarit, and the Bible”, in G. Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla: An Empire Inscribed in Clay (Garden City: Doubleday 1981), 271–321. 26 J. Huehnergard/C. Woods, “Akkadian and Eblaite”, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages (ed. R. D. Woodard; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2004), 219–287. 27 H. Donner/W. Röllig, Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften, 1/5, erweiterte und überarbeitete Auflage (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2002); S. Ahituv, Echoes from the Past: Hebrew and Cognate Inscriptions from the Biblical Period (Jerusalem: Carta 2008). 28 Garr, Dialect Geography (1985). 29 Huehnergard, Classification (1991).

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrewand Aramaic

51

Period only a few inscriptions, coins, and one seal.30 Since then excavations have considerably enlarged the First Temple corpus with additional epigraphic material from sites such as Jerusalem, Gezer, Samaria, Lachish, Arad, and Yavne-Yam.31 The ostraca found at Samaria gave tantalizing evidence of a northern dialect of classical Biblical Hebrew. New inscriptional material also included weights and measures, abecedaries, jar handles, graffiti, and seals. Two inscriptions, one from from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud and the other from Makkedah, revealed a linguistic crux whose interpretation may or may not have theological implications for Israelite religion.32 The inscriptional material added only a few new words to the biblical vocabulary, but more importantly it confirmed many biblical grammatical phenomena that had been thought by some scholars to be artificial forms. Epigraphic finds from the Second Temple Period also multiplied, the most important being the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls. The first of the scrolls were found at the end of the 1940’s and much of the material was published at a snail’s pace beginning in the early 1950’s up through the first decade of the twenty-first century. The slow publication of the Scrolls led to unfounded conspiracy theories that the contents of the Scrolls were being deliberately surpressed. The Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran were biblical texts, para-biblical (or “reworked” biblical) texts, and non-biblical texts, some of which were sectarian (usually thought to be Essene) and others fragments of apocryphal works.33 The language of the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls was shown to share salient features with other corpora from the Second Temple Period, in particular the language of the post-exilic biblical books (Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles). In 1959, E. Y. Kutscher (1909–1971) demonstrated the similarities in his influential work on the language of the Great Isaiah scroll (1QIsaa).34 He described the language as an attempt on the part of scribes to imitate the classical Hebrew found in the biblical books from the First Temple period. Often, however, the scribes were influenced by the spoken languages of the period, namely a form of Hebrew that looked like a precursor of Tannaitic Hebrew, and Aramaic. Kutscher’s description of the language presented an explanation for the classicisms, pseudo-classicisms, and the colloquial-looking features found side-by-side in the Scrolls. Though accepted 35 by the majority of scholars, some such as Ze’ev Ben-H . ayyim (1907–2013) and Shelomo Morag (1926–1999) ,36 chose to emphasize the colloquial nature of many features, and Elisha Qimron (1950–), in particular, argued forcefully that the mix-

30

G. A. Cooke, A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1903). Collected in J. Renz/W. Röllig, Handbuch der althebräischen Epigraphik (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1995–2003). For grammatical analysis of the material see S. L. Gogel, A Grammar of Epigraphic Hebrew (SBLRBS 23; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press 1998). 32 On the difficult lyhwh (w)l’šrth, see Ahituv, Echoes (2008), 221–224. 33 D. Dimant, “The Library of Qumran: Its Content and Character”, The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years After Their Discovery: Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 1997 (ed. L. H. Schiffman/E. Tov/J. C. VanderKam; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society/Israel Museum 2000), 170–176. 34 E. Y. Kutscher, The Language and Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll (Jerusalem: Magnes Press 1959; tr. Leiden: Brill 1974). 35 Z. Ben-H . ayyim, Studies in the Traditions of the Hebrew Language (Madrid/Barcelona: Instituto Arias Montano 1954), 77–92. 36 S. Morag, “Qumran Hebrew: Some Typological Observations”, VT 38 (1988) 148–164. 31

52

Steven E. Fassberg

ture of features reflected that of a spoken dialect.37 All scholars agreed that colloquial features penetrated the Hebrew of the Scrolls; the debate centered (and still centers) on the extent of the phenomenon: does the language of the Scrolls reflect, on the whole, a literary or a spoken Hebrew?38 In addition to the documents found in the caves behind Qumran, additional documents from the Judean Desert turned up. They belonged to a later period whose terminus ad quem was the end of the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE. The documents included biblical manuscripts, legal documents, and letters sent by Bar Kochba.39 The letters were colloquial in nature and shared features with Tannaitic Hebrew. The copy of Ben Sira found at Masada in the Judean Desert40 provided early evidence for the extra-biblical work in Hebrew, and its discovery stimulated the renewed linguistic investigation into the medieval Cairo Geniza exemplars discovered at the end of the nineteenth century. Yet another discovery that shed light on the Hebrew of the Second Temple Period was the analysis by Ben-H . ayyim of the reading tradition of the Samaritan Pentateuch, for it demonstrated features that had their origins in the Second Temple Period.41 Although Wilhelm Gesenius (1786–1842) had already noted the distinction between the Hebrew of the First and Second Temple Periods, the full-fledged study of the Hebrew in the late books of the Bible can be said to have begun with Arno Kropat and his 1909 work on the syntax of Chronicles.42 The salient features of Late Biblical Hebrew were further investigated by Abba Bendavid (1911–1994),43 Avi Hurvitz (1936–),44 and Robert Polzin45 in the light of the extra-biblical sources of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira. By the end of the century it was unthinkable to analyze Late Biblical Hebrew without taking into consideration the extra-biblical sources. The study of Biblical Hebrew benefited during the past century not only from the discoveries of epigraphic remains and oral traditions, but also from the study of early transcriptions of Hebrew into Greek and Latin as attested in the Septua37 E. Qimron, “The Nature of DSS Hebrew and Its Relation to BH and MH”, Diggers at the Well: Proceedings of a Third International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls & Ben Sira, (ed. T. Muraoka/J. F. Elwolde; Leiden: Brill 2000), 233–244. 38 A. Hurvitz, “Was QH a ‘Spoken’ Language? On Some Recent Views and Positions: Comments”, Diggers at the Well (2000), 113. 39 E. Y. Kutscher, “The Language of the Hebrew and Aramaic Letters of Bar-Kosiba and His Contemporaries. A. The Aramaic Letters”, Leš 25 (1960–1961) 117–133. For the most recent edition of the letters, see Y. Yadin e.a., The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters: Hebrew, Aramaic and Nabatean-Aramaic Papyri (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society/Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem/Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum 2002). 40 Y. Yadin, Masada VI: Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963–1965. Final Reports (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1999), 151–252. 41 Z. Ben-H . ayyim, A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions (Jerusalem: Magnes Press/Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 2000). 42 A. Kropat, Die Syntax des Autors der Chronik verglichen mit der seiner Quellen: Ein Beitrag zur historischen Syntax des Hebräischen (BZAW 16; Giessen: Alfred Töpelmann 1909). 43 A. Bendavid, Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew (Tel-Aviv: Dvir 1967–1971). 44 A. Hurvitz, The Transition Period in Biblical Hebrew: A Study in Post-Exilic Hebrew and its Implications for the Dating of Psalms (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute 1972). 45 R. Polzin, Late Biblical Hebrew: Toward an Historical Typology of Biblical Hebrew Prose (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press 1976).

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrewand Aramaic

53

gint,46 Hexapla,47 and the writings of St. Jerome.48 Even more important was the progress made in the study of the medieval vocalization traditions that preserve earlier pronunciations of the Hebrew Bible.49 Prior to the beginning of the twentieth century, the pronunciation of Hebrew was known to most scholars only from the Tiberian vocalization system, which was first attested in manuscripts from the latter part of the 1st millennium CE, though the tradition it reflected went back much earlier. Some biblical manuscripts with Babylonian supralinear vocalization system were already published in the nineteenth century, but it was during the twentieth century that the extent of the Babylonian vocalization system became evident, as more and more manuscripts were located in libraries and private collections.50 The Tiberian and Babylonian systems were joined by two additional vocalization systems. The first, the Palestinian supralinear vocalization system, was discovered in the Cairo Geniza at the close of the nineteenth century and during the twentieth century additional manuscripts came to light.51 The second new system was characterized by Tiberian vowel signs that were used to represent a Palestinian vowel inventory; this system was designated by several different names, among them the Palestinian-Tiberian system, Fuller Palestinian System, Pre-Masoretic Tradition, Proto-Tiberian Non-Receptus Tiberian Punctuation, and the Tiberian Non-Conventional System.52 Paul Kahle, who published many of the first Palestinian vocalized manuscripts believed that it preserved a more vulgar and accurate pronunciation of Biblical Hebrew in Antiquity, as opposed to the Tiberian vocalization, which he argued was a much later and partially artificial tradition. Kahle thought that Arabic influence on the Masoretes was responsible for reintroducing gutturals consonants (which had weakened and disappeared in Palestinian vocalized manuscripts) and some final vowels (the 2nd masculine singular suffix and the 3rd feminine singular suffix), whereas the Masoretic bgdkpt distinction (stop vs. fricative realizations) he attributed to Syriac influence.53 This anti-Tiberian bias influenced many scholars54 and eventually lost ground to the view that the Tiberian tradition was indeed historically

46 G. Lisowsky, “Die Transkription der hebräischen Eigennamen des Pentateuchs in der Septuaginta” (Ph.D. dissertation; Theologische Fakultät der Universität Basel, 1940). 47 E. Brønno, Studien über Hebräische Morphologie und Vokalismus auf Grundlage der Mercatischen Fragmente der zweiten Kolumne der Hexapla des Origenes (AKM 28; Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus 1943); A. Yuditsky, The Grammar of the Hebrew of Origen’s Transliterations (Ph.D. dissertation; Ben-Gurion University of the Negev 2007). 48 C. Siegfried, “Die Aussprache des Hebräischen beim Hieronymus”, ZAW 4 (1884) 34–83; A. Sperber, “Hebrew Based upon Greek and Latin Transliterations”, HUCA 12–13 (1937–1938), 103–274. 49 S. Morag, The Vocalization Systems of Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic (’s-Gravenhage: Mouton 1961). 50 See I. Yeivin, The Hebrew Language Tradition as Reflected in the Babylonian Vocalization (Jerusalem: The Academy of the Hebrew Language 1985). 51 J. Yahalom, Palestinian Vocalised Piyyut Manuscripts in the Cambridge Genizah Collection (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1997), 1–27. 52 S. Morag, “The Vocalization of Codex Reuchlinianus: Is the ‘Pre-Masoretic’ Bible Pre-Masoretic?” JSS 4 (1959) 216–237. 53 P. Kahle, The Cairo Genizah (2nd edn.; Oxford: Blackwell 1959), 36–110. 54 For an early and significant dissenting voice see G. Bergsträsser, “Ist die tiberiensische Vokalisation eine Rekonstruktion?”, OLZ 26 (1924) 582–586.

54

Steven E. Fassberg

reliable and accurate. Morag, for example, demonstrated this on the basis of oral reading traditions of Hebrew as well as manuscripts of Tannaitic Hebrew.55

4. Discoveries in Aramaic The corpus of Aramaic inscriptions from the first half of the 1st millennium BCE grew significantly during the twentieth century with the discovery of inscriptions such as those from Sefire, Tell Fekheryeh, and Tel Dan. Some of these inscriptions revealed vocabulary and idioms that paralleled those found in the Hebrew Bible.56 Moreover, the language of these inscriptions provided additional evidence in the debate over the relationship between Aramaic and Hebrew in the First Temple period, in particular, the extent of Aramaic influence on early Hebrew and the status of words in archaic biblical poetry that appeared at first blush to be borrowed from Aramaic.57 The number of texts roughly contemporaneous with Biblical Aramaic also increased considerably as more Official Aramaic documents were found in Egypt. The corpora of texts found at Elephantine, Hermopolis, and elsewhere included letters, literature, accounts, lists, contracts, and ostraca.58 They helped confirm the time period in which Biblical Aramaic was written, elucidated words and expressions, and also supplied grammatical forms unattested in Biblical Aramaic (e.g., 2nd person feminine singular forms). Throughout the century the existence of dialects in Aramaic was pushed back further and further into Old Aramaic.59 Though at one time Official Aramaic had been considered by many to be uniform in nature, Kutscher demonstrated that Biblical Aramaic actually had its origin in an eastern form of the language.60 The discovery of the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls presented scholars with another form of Standard Literary Aramaic, like that of Biblical Aramaic,61 though it also contained features that presaged later Palestinian Aramaic dialects.62 The Aramaic letters of Bar Kochba from the Second Jewish Revolt provided a glimpse into the colloquial language of a slightly later period. As for Biblical Hebrew, the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls together with the Egyptian documents and Biblical Aramaic

55 S. Morag, “On the Historical Validity of the Vocalization of the Hebrew Bible”, JAOS 94 (1974) 307–315. 56 See J. C. Greenfield, ‛Al Kanfei Yonah: Collected Studies of Jonas C. Greenfield on Semitic Philology (ed. S. M. Paul/M. E. Stone/A. Pinnick; Jerusalem: Magnes Press/Leiden: Brill 2001). 57 An important work on the subject of supposed Aramaisms in the oldest Hebrew sources is G. R. Driver, “Hebrew Poetic Diction”, VT.S 1 (1953), 26–39. 58 B. Porten/A. Yardeni, Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt (Jerusalem: Department of the History of the Jewish People, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1986–1999). 59 J. C. Greenfield, “The Dialects of Early Aramaic”, JNES 37 (1978) 93–99. 60 E. Y. Kutscher, “h’rmyt hmqr’yt – ’rmyt mzrh. yt hy’ ’w m‘rbyt?”, Leš 17 (1951) 119–122. 61 J. C. Greenfield, “Standard Literary Aramaic”, in: Actes du premier congrès de linguistique sémitique et chamito-sémitique, Paris, 16–19 juillet 1969 (ed. A. Caquot/D. Cohen; The Hague: Mouton 1974), 281–289. 62 S. E. Fassberg, “Qumran Aramaic”, Maarav 9 (2002) 19–31.

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrewand Aramaic

55

revealed more evidence of the pervasiveness of Aramaic during the post-exilic period when the latest books of the Hebrew Bible were composed.63

5. Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Grammars and Dictionaries in the Light of New Data The expanding and rapidly developing field of Comparative Semitic philology and the new data from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Northwest Semitic in general had a significant impact on the Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic grammars and dictionaries prepared during the twentieth century, though on occasion there was excessive use and misuse of comparative material.64 With regard to Hebrew, the works should be divided into those that appeared before the discovery of Ugaritic and the Dead Sea Scrolls and those that appeared after. For English speakers, both the Brown-Driver-Briggs dictionary65 from 1907 and Gesenius’ grammar66 from 1910 remained widely-used reference works throughout the entire century even though they became outdated because of new finds; the same is true for German speakers and the twenty-ninth edition of Gesenius’ grammar67 from 1909 and the seventeenth edition of Gesenius’ dictionary.68 Bergsträsser’s Hebräische Grammatik (1918–1929), which began as an update of Gesenius’ grammar, improved on its predecessor, and among other things, incorporated data from Greek and Latin transcriptions, and the Babylonian and Palestinian vocalization systems. It is still used today for its synchronic description of the Tiberian system. Paul Joüon’s Grammaire de l’hébreu biblique69 from 1923 was a noteworthy scholarly achievement for its treatment of syntax. The Historische Grammatik der hebräischen Sprache by Hans Bauer and Pontus Leander70 from 1922, which contained a lengthy excursus by Kahle on the Tiberian Masoretic tradition and the other known vocalization systems, deeply influenced and continues to influence the historical reconstruction of Biblical 63 On identifying Aramaic loanwords in Hebrew, see A. Hurvitz, “Hebrew and Aramaic in the Biblical Period: The Problem of ‘Aramaisms’ in Linguistic Research on the Hebrew Bible”, Biblical Hebrew: Studies in Chronology and Typology (ed. I. Young; London: T & T Clark 2003), 24–37. 64 James Barr (1924–2006) sharply critiqued the way in which other Semitic languages were often used to explain Hebrew words; see his Comparative Philology ad the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford UP 1968). 65 F. Brown/S. R. Driver/C. A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1907). It was originally based on a translation of Gesenius’s dictionary into English by Edward Robinson. 66 Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar as edited and enlarged by E. Kautzsch, Second English edition revised in accordance with the twenty-eighth German edition (1909) by A. E. Cowley (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1910). 67 W. Gesenius, Hebräische Grammatik (28th edn.; Leipzig: Vogel 1909). 68 Wilhelm Gesenius’ Hebräisches und aramäisches Handwörterbuch über das Alte Testament, in Verbindung mit H. Zimmern, W. Max Müller und O. Weber bearbeitet von Frants Buhl (17th edn.; Leipzig: F. C. W. Vogel 1921). 69 P. Joüon, Grammaire de l’hébreu biblique (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1923). 70 H. Bauer/P. Leander, Historische Grammatik der hebräischen Sprache (Halle: Max Niemeyer 1922).

56

Steven E. Fassberg

Hebrew to this day. The ‘Mischsprache’ theory espoused in the grammar reconstructed Hebrew as a mixed language composed of an older stratum of Canaanite spoken by the indigenous inhabitants of Canaan and a younger linguistic stratum that was brought into the area with later immigrants. This theory attempted to reconcile certain doublets in the language in the light of the biblical accounts of the migrations of the Patriarchs and the conquest of Canaan. Despite the influence of the grammar, the mixed language theory was not widely accepted. No other full-scale historical grammars were attempted later in the century. Klaus Beyer (1939–) presented an interesting attempt to reconstruct Biblical Hebrew in its pre-Tiberian stage in his Althebräische Grammatik71 from 1969. Grammars and dictionaries composed in the second half of the past century began to incorporate material from Ugaritic and the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as new epigraphic finds and Ben Sira. The first grammar to do so was Hebräische Grammatik by Rudolf Meyer (1909–1991), which appeared between 1966 and 1972.72 It was followed in 1990 by An Introduction to Biblical Syntax73 by Bruce K. Waltke (1930–) and Michael O’Connor (1950–2007) and by Takamitsu Muraoka in his 1991 revision and translation into English of Joüon’s grammar.74 Though expressly a grammar of Tiberian Hebrew, Muraoka occasionally incorporated other Hebrew traditions, including references to Amarna Canaanite (as did Waltke and O’Connor) as well as Tannaitic Hebrew. Ludwig Koehler (1880–1956) published in 1953 the first full-scale dictionary of Biblical Hebrew to appear in over thirty years.75 Walter Baumgartner (1887– 1970) published a second edition of the work in 1958,76 and with the aid of other scholars published a third edition between 1967 and 1996;77 an English version appeared between 1994 and 2000.78 The Koehler-Baumgartner dictionary included in the etymological and comparative remarks preceding each entry all the new sources at their disposal, including the Samaritan reading tradition of the Hebrew Bible. The new eighteenth edition of Gesenius’s dictionary, which was published between 1987 and 2010, follows the same pattern.79 An entirely different

71 K. Beyer, Althebräisches Grammatik: Laut und Formenlehre (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1969). 72 R. Meyer, Hebräische Grammatik (Sammlung Göschen; 3rd edn.; Berlin: De Gruyter 1966– 1972). 73 B. K. Waltke/M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1990). 74 P. Joüon/T. Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1991; 2nd edn. 2006). 75 L. Koehler, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros: Wörterbuch zum hebräischen Alten Testament in deutscher und englischer Sprache (Leiden: Brill 1953). 76 The second edition consisted of the first edition along with a supplement: L. Koehler/W. Baumgartner, Supplementum ad Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti libros (Leiden: Brill 1958). 77 L. Koehler/W. Baumgartner e.a., Hebräisches und aramäisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament, 3rd edition (Leiden: Brill 1967–1996). 78 L. Koehler/W. Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (tr. and ed. by M. E. J. Richardson; Leiden: Brill 1994–2000). 79 W. Gesenius, Hebräisches und aramäisches Handwörterbuch über das Alte Testament unter verantwortlicher Mitarbeit von Udo Rüterswörden, bearbeitet und herausgegeben von R. Meyer und H. Donner (18. Auflage; Berlin e.a.: Springer 1987–2010).

The Linguistic Context of Biblical Hebrewand Aramaic

57

approach was adopted by The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew,80 which appeared between 1991 and 2011 and which treated together in each entry Biblical Hebrew, epigraphic Hebrew, the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Ben Sira. This was the first dictionary to aim to include all classical Hebrew corpora and to analyze them from a purely Hebrew context. Mention should also be made of the combined dictionary and concordance begun by Samuel Loewenstamm and Joshua Blau (1919), whose first volume was published in 1957;81 the dictionary was eventually finished in 2006 by Kaddari (1925–2011).82 The dictionaries mentioned above were joined in the latter half of the twentieth century by theological dictionaries, which were limited to words of theological importance. Unlike the standard biblical dictionaries, the theological dictionaries contained in-depth semantic discussions of entries. The two most important works were edited by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren (1917–2012),83 and of Ernst Jenni (1927–) and Claus Westermann (1909–2000).84 Both dictionaries appeared first in German and then in English. With regard to Biblical Aramaic grammars and dictionaries, Hans Bauer and Pontus Leander’s Grammatik des Biblisch-Aramäischen from 1927 remained the most complete grammar.85 Like their Hebrew grammar, the Aramaic grammar was also diachronic and synchronic, the only one of its kind. Several smaller grammars of Biblical Aramaic appeared during the century, the most important and widely used being that by Franz Rosenthal (1914–2003), which has gone through seven editions.86 The most recent grammar is that by Elisha Qimron (1950–), published first in 1995, with a revised second edition in 2002.87 The main lexicographic works of the twentieth century, Gesenius, Brown-Driver-Biggs, and Koehler-Baumgartner,88 each included a separate Aramaic section at the end of the dictionary.

80 D. J. A. Clines (ed.), The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1993–2011). 81 S. E. Loewenstamm/J. Blau/M. Z. Kaddari, Thesaurus of Biblical Hebrew: Concordance and Hebrew-English Dictionary (Jerusalem: Bible Concordance Press; vol. 1 1957, vol. 2 1959, vol. 3 1968–). 82 M. Z. Kaddari, A Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew (Alef – Taw) (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan UP 2006). 83 G. J. Botterweck/H. Ringgren, Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer 1973–1995); ET: G. J. Botterweck/H. Ringgren/H.-J. Fabry, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (tr. J. T. Willis/D. E. Green; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1977–2006). 84 E. Jenni unter Mitarbeit von C. Westermann, Theologisches Handwörterbuch zum Alten Testament (3rd edn.; München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag/Zürich: Theologischer Verlag 1971–1979); ET: Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (tr. M. E. Biddle; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson 1997). 85 H. Bauer/P. Leander, Grammatik des Biblisch-Aramäischen (Halle: Max Niemeyer 1927). 86 F. Rosenthal, A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic (PLO; 7th expanded edition; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2007). It was also translated into French. 87 E. Qimron, Biblical Aramaic (BEL; 2nd edn.; Jerusalem: Bialik Institute 2002). 88 For a review of the Aramaic section in the most recent German edition, see M. Sokoloff, DSD 7 (2000) 74–109.

Chapter Twenty-eight

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects By Anselm C. Hagedorn, Berlin

Culture hides much more than it reveals, and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants.1 Sources and studies: S. Ackermann, “Household Religion, Family Religion, and Women’s Religion in Ancient Israel”, in: Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (ed. J. Bodel/S. M. Olyan; The Ancient World: Comparative Histories; Oxford 2008), 127–158. – R. Albertz, Persönliche Frömmigkeit und offizielle Religion: Religionsinterner Pluralismus in Israel und Babylon (CThM A 9; Stuttgart 1978); “Social History of Ancient Israel”, PBA 143 (2007), 347–367; “Family Religion in Ancient Israel and its Surroundings”, in: Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (ed. J. Bodel/S. M. Olyan; The Ancient World: Comparative Histories; Oxford 2008), 89–112. – C. B. Andersen, Women, Ideology, and Violence: Critical Theory and the Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and the Deuteronomic Law (JSOT.S 394; London/New York 2004). – G. A. Anderson, Sacrifices and Offerings in Ancient Israel: Studies in Their Social and Political Implications (HSM 41; Atlanta 1987). – G. A. Anderson/S. M. Olyan (eds.), Priesthood and Cult in Ancient Israel (JSOT.S 125; Sheffield 1991). – J. Barton, Oracles of God: Perceptions of Ancient Prophecy in Israel after the Exile (London 1986). – S. Bendor, Social Structure of Ancient Israel: The Institution of the Family (beit ’ab) from the Settlement to the End of the Monarchy (Jerusalem Biblical Studies, 7; Jerusalem 1996). – H. V. Bennett, Injustice Made Legal: Deuteronomic Law and the Plight of Widows, Strangers, and Orphans in Ancient Israel (The Bible in Its World Series; Grand Rapids 2002). – I. Benzinger, Hebräische Archäologie (Angelos Lehrbücher, 1; Leipzig 31927). – J. Berlinerblau, “The Present Crisis and Uneven Triumphs of Biblical Sociology: Responses to N. K. Gottwald, S. Mandell, P. Davies, M. Sneed, R. Simkins and N. Lemche”, in: Concepts of Class in Ancient Israel (ed. M. R. Sneed; South Florida Studies in the History of Judaims 201; Atlanta 1999), 99–120. – J. L. Berquist, Controlling Corporeality: The Body and the Household in Ancient Israel (New Brunswick 2002). – A. Bertholet, Kulturgeschichte Israels (Göttingen 1919). – J. Blenkinsopp, Sage, Priest, Prophet: Religious and Intellectual Leadership in Ancient Israel (Louisville 1995). – J. Bodel/S. M. Olyan (eds.), Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (Ancient World. Comparative Histories; Oxford 2008). – J. P. Brown, Ancient Israel and Ancient Greece: Religion, Politics, and Culture (Minneapolis 2003). – K. M. Campbell (ed.), Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (Downers Grove 2003). – R. P. Carroll, When Prophecy Failed: Reactions and Responses to Failure in the Old Testament Prophetic Traditions (London 1979). – D. J. Chalcraft (ed.), Social-scientific Old Testament Criticism (The Biblical Seminar 47; Sheffield 1997). – M. L. Chaney, “Ancient Palestinian Peasant Movements and the Formation of Premonarchic Israel”, in: Palestine in Transition: The Emergence of Ancient Israel (ed. D. N. Freedman/D. F. Graf; Sheffield 1983), 39–90. – R. E. Clements (ed.), The World of Ancient Israel. Sociological,

1

E. T. Hall, The Silent Language (Garden City 1959), 53.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

59

Anthropological and Political Perspectives (Cambridge 1989). – S. L. Cook/R. A. Simkins, “Introduction: Case Studies from the Second Wave of Research in the Social World of the Hebrew Bible”, in: The Social World of the Hebrew Bible: Twenty-Fife Years of the Social Sciences in the Academy (ed. R. A. Simkins/S. L. Cook; Semeia 87; Atlanta 1999), 1–14. – R. B. Coote/K. W. Whitelam, The Emergence of Ancient Israel in Historical Perspective (SWBAS 5; Sheffield 1987). – J. A. Crenshaw, “Education in Ancient Israel”, JBL 104 (1985) 601–615. – F. Crüsemann, The Torah: Theology and Social History of Old Testament Law (Minneapolis 1996). – U. Dahm, Opferkult und Priestertum in Alt-Israel: Ein kultur- und religionswissenschaftlicher Beitrag (BZAW 327; Berlin 2003). – J. Day e.a. (eds.), Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton (Cambridge/New York 1995). – R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel. Its Life and Institutions (London 3 1973). – W. G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids 2001); Archaeology and Biblical Studies: Retrospects and Prospects (Evanston 1974); Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research (Seattle 1990); Who were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come from? (Grand Rapids 2003); Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids 2005). – W. G. Dever/S. Gitin (eds.), Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel, and their Neighbors from the Late Bronze Age through Roman Palaestina. Proceedings of the Centennial Symposium, W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and American Schools of Oriental Research, Jerusalem, May 29/31, 2000 (Winona Lake 2003). – J. H. Elliott, What is Social-Scientific Criticism? (GBS; Minneapolis 1993). – P. F. Esler (ed.), Ancient Israel. The Old Testament in Its Social Context (Minneapolis 2006). – I. Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement (Jerusalem 1988). – I. Finkelstein/N. Na’aman (eds.), From Nomadism to Monarchy: Archaeological and Historical Aspects of Early Israel (Washington 1994). – I. Finkelstein/N. A. Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (New York 2001); David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition (New York 2006). – I. Finkelstein/A. Mazar, The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel: Invited Lectures Delivered at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Detroit, October 2005 (ed. B. B. Schmidt; Atlanta 2007). – N. S. Fox, In the Service of the King. Officialdom in Ancient Israel and Judah (HUCM 23; Cincinnati 2000). – H. Frankfort, The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man: An Essay on Speculative Thought in the Ancient Near East (Chicago 1972). – J. G. Frazer, Folk-Lore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion (London 1918). – F. S. Frick, “Reconstructing Ancient Israel’s Social World”, in: The Social World of the Hebrew Bible: Twenty-Five Years of Social Sciences in the Academy (ed. R. A. Simkins/S. L. Cook; Semeia 87; Atlanta 1999), 233–254. – H. Gaubert, La vie familiale en Israël (Paris 1971). – S. Gitin/A. Mazar/E. Stern, Mediterranean Peoples in Transition: Thirteenth to Early Tenth Centuries BCE: In Honor of Professor Trude Dothan (Jerusalem 1998). – J. M. Golden, Ancient Canaan and Israel: New Perspectives (Santa Barbara 2004). – N. K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel 1250–1050 B.C.E. (Maryknoll 1979); “Preface to the Reprint”, in: The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel 1250–1050 B.C.E. (The Biblical Seminar 66; Reprint Edition; Sheffield 1999), xxvi–xlx; idem (ed.), Social Scientific Criticism of the Hebrew Bible and Its Social World: The Israelite Monarchy (Semeia 37; Decatur 1986); The Hebrew Bible in Its Social World and in Ours (SBLSS; Atlanta Press 1993). – L. L. Grabbe, Priest, Prophets, Diviners, Sages. A SocioHistorical Study of Religious Specialists in Ancient Israel (Valley Forge 1995); “Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy from am Anthropological Perspective”, in: Prophecy in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context. Mesopotamian, Biblical, and Arabian Perspectives (ed. M. Nissinen; SBLSS 13; Atlanta 2000), 13–32; “Sup-Urbs or only Hyp-Urbs? Prophets and Populations in Ancient Israel and Socio-Historical Method”, in: ‘Every City Shall Be Forsaken’: Urbanism and Prophecy in Ancient Israel and the Near East (ed. L. Grabbe/R. D. Haak; JSOT.S 330; Sheffield 2001), 95–123. – A. C. Hagedorn, Between Moses and Plato: Individual and Society in Deuteronomy and Ancient Greek Law (FRLANT 204; Göttingen 2004). – J. M. Halligan, “‘Where Angels Fear to Tread …’ An Account of the Development of the Social-Scientific Approach to the Study of the Ancient World”, in: ‘Imagining’ Biblical Worlds. Studies in Spatial, Social and Historical Constructs in Honor of James W. Flanagan (ed. D. M. Gunn/P. McNutt; JSOT.S 359; Sheffield 2002), 202–218. – P. D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic: The Historical and Sociological Roots of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia 1975). – G. A. Herion, “The Impact of Modern Social Science Assumptions on the Reconstruction of Israelite

60

Anselm C. Hagedorn

History”, JSOT 34 (1986) 3–33. – M. Herman, “Tithe as Gift: The Biblical Institution in Light of Mauss’s ‘Prestation Theory’”, AJS Review 18 (1993) 51–73. – S. H. Hooke (ed.), Myth, Ritual, and Kingship: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Kingship in the Ancient Near East and in Israel (Oxford 1958). – L. J. Hoppe, Priests, Prophets, and Sages: Catholic Perspectives on the Old Testament (Cincinnati 2006). – R. R. Hutton, Charisma and Authority in Israelite Society (Minneapolis 1994). – D. W. Jamieson-Drake, Scribes and Schools in Monarchic Judah: A Socioarcheological Approach (JSOT.S 109; Sheffield 1991). – D. Janzen, The Social Meanings of Sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible: A Study of Four Writings (BZAW 334; Berlin/New York 2004). – A. R. Johnson, Sacral Kingship in Ancient Israel (Cardiff 1955). – R. Kessler, Staat und Gesellschaft im vorexilischen Juda. Vom 8. Jahrhundert bis zum Exil (VT.S 47; Leiden 1992); Sozialgeschichte des alten Israel. Eine Einführung (Darmstadt 2006); Studien zur Sozialgeschichte Israels (SBAB 46; Stuttgart 2009); “Anthropologie und Sozialgeschichte”, in Anthropologische Aufbrüche. Alttestamentliche und interdisziplinäre Zugänge zur historischen Anthropologie (ed. A. Wagner; FRLANT 232; Göttingen 2009), 69–76. – P. J. King/L. E. Stager, Life in Biblical Israel (Louisville 2001). – H.-J. Kraus, “Die Anfänge der religionssoziologischen Forschung in der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft”, in: Biblisch-theologische Aufsätze (Neukirchen-Vluyn 1972), 296–310. – P. Laslett, “The Wrong Way Through the Telescope: A Note on Literary Evidence in Sociology and in Historical Sociology”, The British Journal of Sociology 27 (1976) 319–342. – N. P. Lemche, Early Israel. Anthropological and Historical Studies on the Israelite Society Before the Monarchy (VT.S 37; Leiden 1985). – G. E. Lenski/J. Lenski, Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology (New York 51987). – T. E. Levy (ed.), The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land (London / Washington 1998). – J. Lindblom, Prophecy in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia 1962). – B. J. Malina, “The Social Sciences and Biblical Interpretation”, Int 37 (1982) 229–242. – V. H. Matthews/D. C. Benjamin, Social World of Ancient Israel, 1250–587 BCE (Peabody 1993). – V. H. Matthews, “Honor and Shame in Gender-Related Legal Situations in the Hebrew Bible”, in: Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (ed. V. H. Matthews e.a.; JSOT.S 262; Sheffield 1998), 97–112. – A. D. H. Mayes, The Old Testament in Sociological Perspective (London 1989). – P. McNutt, Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel (Library of Ancient Israel; Louisville 1999). – M. McVann (ed.), Transformations, Passages, and Processes: Ritual Approaches to Biblical Texts (Semeia 67; Atlanta 1995). – G. E. Mendenhall, “The Hebrew Conquest of Canaan”, BA 25 (1962) 66–87; The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition (Baltimore 1973). – K. Neumann, Das Fremde verstehen – Grundlagen einer kulturanthropologischen Exegese. Untersuchungen zu paradigmatischen mentalitätsgeschichtlichen, ethnologischen und soziologischen Zugangswegen zu fremden Sinnwelten, I–II (Theologie 18; Münster 2000). – P. Nolan/G. Lenski, Human Societies. An Introduction to Macrosociology (New York 81999). – M. Noth, Die Welt des Alten Testaments. Einführung in die Grenzgebiete der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft (Berlin 1962). – S. M. Olyan, Biblical Mourning: Ritual and Social Dimensions (Princeton 2004); “Family Religion in Israel and the Wider Levant of the First Millennium bce”, in: Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (ed. J. Bodel/S. M. Olyan; The Ancient World: Comparative Histories; Oxford 2008), 113–126. – E. Otto, “Sozialgeschichte Israels. Probleme und Perspektiven. Ein Diskussionspapier”, BN 15 (1981) 87–92; Gottesrecht als Menschenrecht: Rechts- und literaturhistorische Studien zum Deuteronomium (BZAR 2; Wiesbaden 2002). – T. W. Overholt, “The Ghost Dance of 1890 and the Nature of the Prophetic Process”, Ethnohistory 21 (1974) 37–63; “Prophecy: The Problem of CrossCultural Comparison“, in: Anthropological Perspectives on Old Testament Prophecy (ed. R. C. Culley/T. W. Overholt; Semeia 21; Atlanta 1982), 55–78; Prophecy in Cross-Cultural Perspective: A Sourcebook for Biblical Researchers (SBLSBS 17; Atlanta 1986); Channels of Prophecy: The Social Dynamics of Prophetic Activity (Minneapolis 1989); Cultural Anthropology and the Old Testament (Guides to Biblical Scholarship; Minneapolis 1996). – S. M. Paul/W. G. Dever (eds.), Biblical Archaeology (New York 1974). – J. Pedersen, Israel. Its Life and Culture, I–IV (London/ Copenhagen 41959). – L. G. Perdue e.a., Families in Ancient Israel (The Family, Religion, and Culture; Louisville 1997); idem (ed.), Scribes, Sages, and Seers: The Sage in the Eastern Mediterranean World (FRLANT 219; Göttingen 2008). – L. G. Perdue/J. G. Gammie (eds.), The Sage in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Winona Lake 1990). – D. L. Petersen, The Roles of Israel’s Prophets (JSOT.S 17; Sheffield 1981). – J. J. Pilch/B. J. Malina (eds.), Biblical Social Values and Their Meaning. A Handbook (Peabody, MA 1993). – C. Pressler, The View of Women Found in the Deuteronomic Family Laws (BZAW 216; Berlin 1993). – J. Redfield, “Classics and Anthropology”, Arion 3 (1991) 5–23. – W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia (Cambridge 1885). – J. W.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

61

Rogerson, “The Use of Sociology in Old Testament Studies”, in: Congress Volume Salamanca 1983 (ed. J. A. Emerton; VT.S 36; Leiden 1985), 245–256; Anthropology and the Old Testament (The Biblical Seminar 1; Sheffield 22001). – D. W. Rooke, Zadok’s Heirs: The Role and Development of the High Priesthood in Ancient Israel (Oxford Theological Monographs; Oxford/New York 2000). – J. M. Salmon, Judicial Authority in Early Israel: An Historical Investigation of Old Testament Institutions (Ann Arbor 1969). – C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, “Zur Funktion der Soziologie im Studium des Alten Testaments”, in: Congress Volume Oslo 1998 (ed. A. Lemaire/M. Sæbø; VT.S 80; Leiden/Boston/Cologne 2000), 179–202. – D. J. Schloen, The House of the Father as Fact and Symbol. Patrimonialism in Ugarit and the Ancient Near East (Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant, 2; Winona Lake 2001). – W. Schottroff, Gerechtigkeit lernen. Beiträge zur biblischen Sozialgeschichte (ThB 94; Gütersloh 1999); “Soziologie und Altes Testament”, VuF 19 (1974) 46–66; “Zur Sozialgeschichte Israels in der Perserzeit”, VuF 27 (1982) 46–68. – J. A. Soggin, Israel in the Biblical Period: Institutions, Festivals, Ceremonies, Rituals (tr. J. Bowden; Edinburgh / New York 2001). – G. Sprondel, “Sozialgeschichtliche Forschung am AT und ihr theologischer Ertrag”, in: Studien zur Ritual- und Sozialgeschichte im Alten Orient (ed. T. R. Kämmerer; BZAW 374; Berlin/New York 2007), 343–348. – E. Stern (ed.), Material Culture of the Land of the Bible in the Persian Period, 538–332 B.C. (Warminster 1982); Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, I–V (Jerusalem 1993–2008); Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, II: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian periods, 732–332 BCE (New York 2001). – G. W. Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (New York 1987); After Tylor. British Social Anthropology 1888–1951 (Madison 1995). – W. Thiel, Die soziale Entwicklung Israels in vorstaatlicher Zeit (Neukirchen-Vluyn 21985). – T. Thompson, Early History of the Israelite People: From the Written and Archaeological Sources (Studies in the History of the Ancient Near East, 4; Leiden 1992). – K. van der Toorn, Family Religion in Babylonia, Ugarit, and Israel: Continuity and Changes in the Forms of Religious Life (Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East, 7; Leiden/New York 1996). – S. Weeks, Early Israelite Wisdom (Oxford 1994). – M. Weinfeld, Judge and Officer in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East, IOS 7 (1977) 65–88. – P. Welten, “Ansätze sozialgeschichtlicher Betrachtungsweise des Alten Testaments im 20. Jahrhundert”, BThZ 6 (1989) 207–221. – K. W. Whitelam, Just King: Monarchical Judicial Authority in Ancient Israel (JSOT.S 12; Sheffield 1979); “The Social World of the Bible”, in: The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation (ed. J. Barton; Cambridge 1998), 35–49. – T. M. Willis, The Elders of the City: A Study of the EldersLaws in Deuteronomy (SBLMS 55; Atlanta 2001). – R. R. Wilson, “Prophecy and Ecstasy: A Reexamination”, JBL 98 (1979) 321–337; Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia 1980); Sociological Approaches to the Old Testament (GBS; Philadelphia 1984).

1. Introduction The nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a major increase in the number of travellers to Palestine and the Eastern Levant. The reports brought back from these men and women as well as the numerous archaeological finds revealed a world radically different from Europe and the United States. “At the same time, biblical scholars were trying to reconstruct the history and social contexts out of which the Bible arose in order to understand a foundational text for Western culture”.2 The vivid picture painted by the Hebrew Bible itself as well as the observance of correspondences between early modern Arab culture and behaviour triggered an interest in the social organization and social life, customs and institutions of ancient Israel.3 These approaches began to supplement the purely lit2

Whitelam, Social World (1998), 35. See e.g. W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book or, Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery of the Holy Land (London 1887). The book is in fact 3

62

Anselm C. Hagedorn

erary-critical investigation of the Hebrew Bible. One of the main reasons for the increasing interest in the ‘social life’ of ancient Israel has surely been the feeling that the rather abstract nature of literary critical study does not always do justice to the rich texture of the biblical narratives. Since the Bible served as the first guidebook to Palestine it was only natural that travellers and authors should use the character and behavioural traits of the biblical persons found in the narrative as a starting point for any investigation of the social and institutional life. As such, the literary picture of the Bible determined how one looked at contemporary Arab people and culture and vice versa – the modern Arab person was seen as enshrining traits of the biblical characters. Here, Biblical scholars readily accept E. B. Tylor’s theory of survival.4 “As applied to cultural data, the doctrine of survivals drew attention to the presence of functionless crude or superstitious elements of belief or custom to be found in civilized societies, usually among the peasantry of such societies”.5 These remnants were seen as “fossilized remains” of a historical period when all of the society under scrutiny were at a stage of a less developed culture. If one wants to understand the development of human culture properly it is therefore mandatory to study its earlier forms still visible in pre-industrial peasant societies. Since E. B. Tylor had argued for a certain degree of stability of these archaic survivals in culture, this aspect of his theory served scholars well who wanted to study the daily life of ancient Israel through the customs and behaviour of the modern Arab person, since stability is a characteristic trait of the Orient. This assumed stability in customs and social life allows Western scholars to argue for a certain continuity between ancient Israel and modern Palestine.6 This approach is prevalent in the works of I. Benzinger (1865–1935), A. Bertholet (1868–1951)7 and G. Dalman (1855–1941).8 G. Dalman, who regards Jewish immigration to Palestine and British reform as the two main reasons for the destruction of the “mystery of the Orient” (Zauber des Orients)9, sets out his methodology a published form of a travel diary; Thomson describes Palestine as “one vast tablet whereupon God’s messages to men have been drawn, and graven deep in living characters by the great Publisher of glad tidings, to be seen and read of all to the end of time” (xvi). 4 On the impact of E. B. Tylor on the development of (British) Social Anthropology see G. Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (1987), and idem, Race, Culture, and Evolution. Essays in the History of Anthropology (Chicago/London 21982), 69–109. 5 Rogerson, Anthropology (2001), 23. 6 So Benzinger, Hebräische Archäologie (1927), 5. 7 Bertholet, Kulturgeschichte Israels (1919); for a biographical sketch of Bertholet see R. Smend, “Ein Göttinger Deuteronomiumskommentator: Alfred Bertholet (1868–1951)”, in: Liebe und Gebot. Studien zum Deuteronomium. Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag von Lothar Perlitt (ed. R. G. Kratz/H. Spieckermann; FRLANT 190; Göttingen 2000), 173–189; R. Kittel, “Die Zukunft der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft”, ZAW 39 (1921) 84–99, makes the following condescending remark on Bertholet’s work: “Denn daß das an sich schöne Buch, das Bertholet jüngst unter jenem Namen ausgehen ließ, in großen Partien die Aufgabe nicht bemeistert hat, liegt für jeden wirklichen Kenner … am Tage” (99). 8 On G. Dalman see the excellent biography by J. Männchen, Gustav Dalman als Palästinawissenschaftler in Jerusalem und Greifswald 1902–1942 (ADPV 9/2; Wiesbaden 1993). 9 G. Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, Band 1, Jahresablauf und Tageslauf, 1. Hälfte: Herbst und Winter (SDPI 3/1; Gütersloh 1928), vi: “Noch hatten die wohlgemeinten Reformen der englischen Regierung und der jüdischen Einwanderung nicht allen Zauber des Orients zerstört”.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

63

in the preface to his detailed work Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina (1928–1942) as follows: Der biblische und der jüdisch-palästinische Stoff, auch das durch Ausgrabungen Ermittelte soll mit dem aus der Gegenwart Palästinas Entnommenen verbunden werden, ohne daß absolute Vollständigkeit dabei beabsichtigt wäre.10

If social life – according to the Oxford English Dictionary – can be defined as a person’s social interaction and activity considered as a whole,11 it is hardly surprising that the clearest expression of any social life can be found in the various institutions of a society. In the following survey, the term institution will be defined rather broadly, encompassing both aspects of private and public social life. The problem the biblical interpreter faces is that the social life he sets out to investigate is conserved in literary texts and archaeological artefacts that need to be deciphered.12 This process of deciphering bears the danger of “illegitimate totality transfer”, i.e. a procedure that uses the often sparse textual and other evidence to argue for the social environment that produced such texts and then continues to elaborate on the normative social behaviour in ancient Israel.13 We always have to keep in mind that the texts we study most likely stem from the elite of the particular society and thus do not necessarily reflect the whole spectrum of the society. In addition one studies the structures of a society from the past and that the underlying value system of such a society differs from our own. In other words, the interpreter has to resist the pitfalls of ethnocentrism.14 The following survey has a distinct historical dimension and attempts to reconstruct relevant sociological models and approaches to the institutions of ancient Israel by looking at influential scholars and concepts starting with J. Wellhausen and M. Weber.

10

Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, I/1 (1928), viii. The phrase was first used in 1689 in the English translation of B. de Spinoza’s Tractatus. Here ‘social life’ is opposed to solitary life of the human person. See also Bertholet, Kulturgeschichte (1919), 162. 12 See the critical remarks in Laslett, “The wrong way through the telescope” (1976), 319–342, who observes that “literary evidence cannot be supposed to have a temporally specific context. It is always possible that there never was a year or a century in which all or even a number of the elements referred to were present as a collection, belonging as a whole to a past present, a once-existent social structure” (323). 13 The term is taken from J. Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford 1961), 218. 14 On the problem of ‘ethnocentrism’ see M. Herzfeld, Anthropology through the looking glass. Critical ethnography in the margins of Europe (Cambridge 1987), 13–18. 11

64

Anselm C. Hagedorn

2. From J. Wellhausen and M. Weber to R. de Vaux 2.1. Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) Every list of influences on social scientific studies of ancient Israel must mention Julius Wellhausen …15 Works:16 Grundrisse zum Alten Testament (ed. R. Smend; ThB 27; Munich 1965); Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte. Mit einem Nachwort von Rudolf Smend (de Gruyter Studienbuch; Berlin 10 2004 [reprint of the seventh edition from 1914]); Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (de Gruyter Studienbuch; Berlin 2001 [reprint of the ninth edition from 1958]). Studies: R. G. Kratz, “Wellhausen, Julius”, TRE 35 (Berlin/New York 2003), 527–536; “Eyes and Spectacles: Wellhausen’s Method of Higher Criticism”, JTS 60 (2009) 381–402. – L. Perlitt, Vatke und Wellhausen. Geschichtsphilosophische Voraussetzungen und historiographische Motive für die Darstellung der Religion und Geschichte Israels durch Wilhelm Vatke und Julius Wellhausen (BZAW 94; Berlin 1965). – J. Rogerson, Old Testament Criticism in the Nineteenth Century. England and Germany (London 1984). – R. Smend, “Julius Wellhausen and His Prolegomena to the History of Israel”, in: Julius Wellhausen and His Prolegomena to the History of Israel (ed. D. A. Knight; Semeia 35; 1982), 1–20; “Julius Wellhausen”, in: idem, Deutsche Alttestamentler in drei Jahrhunderten (Göttingen 1989), 99–113; “Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte. Zur Entstehung von J. Wellhausens Buch“, in: Geschichte – Tradition – Reflexion, FS Martin Hengel, I (ed. P. Schäfer; Tübingen 1996), 35–42; Julius Wellhausen. Ein Bahnbrecher in drei Disziplinen (Themen 84; Munich 2006); “Julius Wellhausen”, in: From Astruc to Zimmerli. Old Testament Scholarship in three Centuries (Tübingen 2007), 91–102. – M. Weinfeld, The Place of the Law in the Religion of Ancient Israel (VT.S 100; Leiden 2004).

J. Wellhausen presents the history of Israel as an evolution from a Hebraic paganism to the Israelite-Jewish religion of the Hebrew Bible.17 The history of the Jewish people is seen as a development from a nation in the political sense to a religious community.18

15 J. W. Flanagan, David’s Social Drama. A Hologram of Israel’s Early Iron Age (JSOT.S 73; Sheffield 1988), 54. Flanagan continues to mention W. Robertson Smith. Since his work will be treated in a separate chapter of this volume written by J. W. Rogerson, we can exclude Robertson Smith’s work from our survey; next to Rogerson’s article in the present volume see B. Maier, William Robertson Smith. His Life, his Work and his Times (FAT 67; Tübingen 2009), and on his relationship to J. Wellhausen see R. Smend, “William Robertson Smith and Julius Wellhausen”, in: William Robertson Smith: Essays in Reassessment (ed. W. Johnstone; JSOT.S 189; Sheffield 1995), 226–242. 16 A complete list of J. Wellhausen’s works is compiled by A. Rahlfs, “Verzeichnis der Schriften Julius Wellhausens”, in: Studien zur semitischen Philologie und Religionsgeschichte. FS Julius Wellhausen (ed. K. Marti; BZAW 27; Giessen 1914), 351–368. 17 He derives the cultural importance of the Israelite-Jewish religion for the present (Kultur der Gegenwart) from the fact that in it we encounter a preliminary stage of Christian Religion; see Wellhausen, Grundrisse (1965), 65. 18 Wellhausen, too, adheres to the – then common – view that we can detect parallels to earlier forms of Israelite socitey and religion in the Arabic literature of pre-Islamic times; he writes: “… den Wildling kennenzulernen auf den von Priestern und Propheten das Reis der Thora Jahve’s gepfropft ist. Denn ich zweifle nicht daran, dass von der ursprünglichen Ausstattung, mit der die Hebräer in die Geschichte getreten sind, sich durch die Vergleichung des arabischen Altertums am ehesten eine Vorstellung gewinnen lässt” (J. Wellhausen, Muhammed in Medina. Das ist Vakidi’s Kitab al maghazi in verürzter deutscher Wiedergabe [Berlin 1882], 5); on the further implications of the statement see R. G. Kratz, “Reste hebräischen Heidentums am Beispiel der Psalmen” (NAWG. Hist.-phil. Klasse, Göttingen 2004), 27–65, and R. G. Kratz, Eyes and Spectacles (2009), 384–385.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

65

For Wellhausen, the blood-bond and the theocratic orientation form the basis for the emerging social structure of ancient Israel.19 This structure of society as a system of families, clans and tribes remains remarkable stable and ensures the social order.20 He continues to state that the blood-bond legitimates the community and he sees such a community as the natural order of a people because this Blutsgemeinschaft is not based on pressure (Zwang).21 In turn, according to J. Wellhausen, Israel emerges as a community of tribes and clans, which unites itself under the name of and the belief in Yahweh.22 To describe this social entity more clearly, Wellhausen introduces the term Eidgenossenschaft, a characterization that will later determine much of M. Weber’s description of ancient Israel’s social structure.23 The aspect of war is added to the two pillars (blood-bond and Yahweh) of early Israelite social identity. The lack of a central political authority does not create anarchy or chaos; rather it guarantees a certain vivacity of the religion.24 On the basis of the source-critical analysis in his magisterial work Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte J. Wellhausen starts his overview of the social life in ancient Israel with the family. He advocates a monogamous marital union but states that polygamy or extramarital relationships are not regarded as deviant behaviour. The same has to be said about endogamy, since laws prohibiting it (Leviticus 18; Deut 27:20–23) are from a later period.25 The Nomadic life-style has long been abandoned and the intensity of cattle farming decreased in favour of fieldwork, which is – on the basis of Gen 2:15; 3:17 ff. – seen as the major work of the human person.26 This originally agrarian life changes with the adaptation of certain Canaanite features, especially trade (cf. Hos 12:8–9). As a result the importance of the urban settlements (cities) increases and the gulf between rich and poor widens.27 It becomes quite clear that the introduction of money and trade leads – according to J. Wellhausen – to the destruction of the old solidarity. The king, the elders, prophets and priests form the four pillars of Israelite society.28 Here, kingship remains tied to tribal allegiance but the king is not very influential in the land as a whole, because he mainly serves as first general in the case of war. Additionally this lack of central authority fosters the emergence of social problems.29 The absence of a strong political power, however, does not hinder intellectual progress,

19

Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 20–21. Ibid. 21 Ibid. 22. 22 Ibid. 23. 23 J. Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 23. 24 J. Wellhausen, ibid. 33. 25 Ibid. 80; see also J. Wellhausen, Grundrisse (1965), 40–41. 26 J. Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 81. 27 “Auf allen Gebieten machte sich der materielle Fortschritt bemerkbar, die Einfachheit schwand und der Luxus nahm zu”, so Wellhausen, Grundrisse (1965), 41. 28 J. Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 91. At this the early stage law cannot be a further institution, since custom orders the social life (ibid. 86). 29 Ibid. 20

66

Anselm C. Hagedorn

since the family and tribe/clan guarantee the intellectual and moral Bildung of the people.30 Despite this intellectual progress that found its clearest expression in the writings of the Yahwist, society remains collectivistic and we do not find any form of emerging individualism.31 Yahwistic religion forms the glue that kept society together32 and the relationship between Yhwh and his people manifests itself in the cult. This relationship is not yet constructed as a covenant, since this is a late idea.33 The exile is seen as a turning-point, which enables the Jewish community to lay the foundations for its continuing existence.34 The social structure of the inhabitants of the Southern Kingdom ensures their survival during the exilic period in a way the Northern Israelites never managed to do.35 Wellhausen speaks here of a Volksgemeinschaft and claims that the bloodbond, i.e. the ethnic group was able to replace the state. Judah remembers its beginnings and the elders and the heads of the families regained their importance which they had lost temporarily to the monarchy and its administrators. During the period of the restoration, the law becomes a further – and now defining – institution of the post-exilic community.36 The introduction of the law at the hand of Ezra and Nehemiah marks the end of the reformation.37 In a way, J. Wellhausen’s presentation of the (social) history of ancient Israel is the clearest expression of an evolutionary approach and it will be precisely this methodological presupposition that M. Weber will later critique, since for him the idea of a “covenant is the foundation of Israel’s social and political existence rather than a gradually emerging theological idea”.38

30

Wellhausen, Grundrisse (1965), 43. Later in his work, when he addresses “Jewish piety” he maintains: “Die Juden arbeiten für das Ganze und hoffen auf das Ganze. Ihre Gemeinschaft ging ihnen über alles” (Wellhausen, Geschichte, 1914/2004, 199). Despite such a continuity Wellhausen also sees a development towards individualism in exilic/post-exilic Judaism. He acknowledges a modification of the collectivistic concept and as a result he now regards the community as a group of indivduals: “Die gleichgesinnten Individuen halten zusammen. Die Gemeinde ist das fromme Ich” (ibid. 200). Throughout his work it becomes apparent that he values individualism above everything and it is hardly surprising when he concludes his history as follows: “Das Evangelium ist das Salz der Erde; wo es mehr sein will, ist es weniger. Es predigt den edelsten Individualismus, die Freiheit der Kinder Gottes” (Wellhausen, Geschichte, 1914/2004, 371). 32 “Religion und Volk von Israel gehören zusammen” (ibid. 65). 33 Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 101. 34 Wellhausen, ibid. 141–142. 35 Wellhausen, ibid. 142. 36 What is meant here, is – of course – the religious law and not the rules and legal customs governing society before the exile. As such the law becomes one of the cornerstones of a theocratic system. 37 Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 166. 38 A. Mayes, Old Testament (1989), 49. On the reception of M. Weber’s ideas of a covenant between Yahweh and his people see E. W. Nicholson, God and His People. Covenant and Theology in the Old Testament (Oxford 1986), 38–44.207–208. 31

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

67

2.2. Max Weber (1864–1920)39 Works (selected):40 Die Wirtschaftsethik der Weltreligionen. Das antike Judentum. Schriften und Reden 1911–1920 (ed. E. Otto; MWG I/21; Tübingen 2005);41 “Die Agrarverhältnisse im Altertum”, in: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte (ed. Marianne Weber; UTB 1943; Tübingen 21988), 1–288; Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundriß der verstehenden Soziologie (ed. J. Winckelmann; Studienausgabe, Tübingen 51972); Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Die Wirtschaft und die gesellschaftlichen Ordnungen und Mächte. Nachlaß-Teiland; 2. Religiöse Gemeinschaften (ed. H. G. Kippenberg; MWG I/22–2; Tübingen 2001); Zur Politik im Weltkrieg. Schriften und Reden 1914–1918 (ed. W. J. Mommsen/G. Hübinger; MWG I/15; Tübingen 1984). Biographies: D. Kaesler, Max Weber. Eine Biographie (Munich 2014). – J. Kaube, Max Weber. Ein Leben zwischen den Epochen (Berlin 22014). – J. Radkau, Max Weber. Die Leidenschaft des Denkens (Munich/Vienna 2005). Studies: D. J. Chalcraft, “Max Weber on the Watchtower: On the Prophetic Use of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 102 in ‘Politics as a Vocation’”, in: Apocalyptic in History and Tradition (ed. C. Rowland/ J. Barton; JSP.S 43; London 2002), 253–270; “Why Hermeneutics, the Text(s) and the Biography of the Work Matter in Max Weber Studies”, in: Max Weber Matters. Interweaving Past and Present (ed. D. Chalcraft/F. Howell/M. Lopez Menendez/H. Vera; Rethinking Classical Sociology; Aldershot 2008), 14–70. – F. Crüsemann, “Israel in der Perserzeit. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Max Weber”, in: Max Webers Sicht des antiken Christentums (ed. W. Schluchter; Frankfurt a.M. 1985), 205–231. – J. Deininger, “Die politischen Strukturen des mittelmeerisch-vorderorientalischen Altertums in Max Webers Sicht”, in: Max Webers Sicht des antiken Christentums. Interpretation und Kritik (ed. W. Schluchter; stw 548; Frankfurt a.M. 1985), 72–110; “Eduard Mayer und Max Weber”, in: Eduard Meyer. Leben und Leistung eines Universalhistorikers (ed. W. M. Calder III/A. Demandt; Mnemosyne Supplement 112; Leiden 1990), 132–158. – T. Fahey, “Max Weber’s Ancient Judaism”, The American Journal of Sociology 88 (1982) 62–87. – W. Gephart, Handeln und Kultur. Vielfalt und Einheit der Kulturwissenschaften im Werk Max Webers (stw 1374; Frankfurt a.M. 1998). – J. C. Gertz, “Der fremde und der ferne Gott. Max Webers Sicht der altorientalischen Religion”, ZNThG 6 (1999) 246– 263. – P. Gosh, “The Place of Judaism in Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic”, ZNThG 12 (2006) 208–261. – W. Hennis, Max Webers Fragestellung (Tübingen 1987); Max Weber und Thukydides. Nachträge zur Biographie des Werks (Tübingen 2003). – S. Kalberg, Max Weber’s Comparative Historical Sociology (Chicago 1994). – B. Lang, “Max Weber und Israels Propheten. Eine kritische Stellungnahme”, ZRGG 36 (1984) 156–165; “Prophet, Priester, Virtuose”, in: Max Webers “Religionssystematik” (ed. H. G. Kippenberg/M. Riesbrodt; Tübingen 2001), 167–191. – K. Lichtblau, “Ressentiment, negative Privilegierung, Parias”, in: Max Webers “Religionssystematik” (ed. H. G. Kippenberg/M. Riesbrodt; Tübingen 2001), 279–296. – H. Liebschütz, Das Judentum im deutschen Geschichtsbild von Hegel bis Max Weber (Tübingen 1967). – J. Love, “Max Weber’s Ancient Judaism”, in: The Cambridge Companion to Weber (ed. S. Turner; Cambridge 2000), 200–220. – A. Momigliano, “A Note of Max Weber’s Definition of Judaism as a Pariah-Religion”, History and Theory 19 (1980) 313–318. – E. Otto, Max Webers Studien des antiken Judentums. Historische Grundlegung einer Theorie der Moderne (Tübingen 2002); “Die hebräische Prophetie bei Max Weber, Ernst Troeltsch und Hermann Cohen. Ein Diskurs im Weltkrieg zur christlich-jüdischen Kultursynthese”, in: Asketischer Protestantismus und der “Geist” des modernen Kapitalismus (ed. W. Schluchter/F. W. Graf; Tübingen

39 I would like to express my thanks to David Chalcraft (Sheffield) for critical comments, engagement and bibliographical help while writing the passage on M. Weber. All remaining shortcomings are of course my own. 40 Abbreviations for Max Weber’s works: MWG Max Weber Gesamtausgabe MWS Max Weber Studienausgabe RS M. Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, I–III (Tübingen 1921). WuG M. Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundriß der verstehenden Soziologie (Studienausgabe, Tübingen 51972). 41 This important new edition contains a detailed introduction as well as numerous annotations and notes in addition to an editorial report. See also the review of H. Treiber, Der Fachtheologe (2006), 375–385.

68

Anselm C. Hagedorn

2005), 201–255; “Max Weber als Sozial- und Wirtschaftshistoriker der Antike”, ZABR 13 (2007) 382–390. – B. K. Quensel, “Der ‘spekulative Paria-Kapitalismus’ des Judentums. Max Webers These in wirtschaftsrechtlicher Rekonstruktion”, ZABR 11 (2005) 214–273. – F. Raphaël, “Die Juden als Gastvolk im Werk Max Webers”, in: Max Webers Studie über das antike Judentum. Interpretation und Kritik (ed. W. Schluchter; stw 340; Frankfurt a.M. 1981), 224–262. – K.-S. Rehberg, “Person und Institution. Überlegungen zu paradigmatischen Strukturen im Denken Max Webers”, in: Das WeberParadigma. Studien zur Weiterentwicklung von Max Webers Forschungsprogramm (ed. G. Albert/A. Bienfait/S. Siegmund/C. Wendt; Tübingen 2003), 371–394. – G. Roth, “History and Sociology in the Work of Max Weber”, British Journal of Sociology 27 (1976) 306–318. – C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, Stadt und Eidgenossenschaft im Alten Testament. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Max Webers Studie “Das antike Judentum” (BZAW 156; Berlin/New York 1983); “Vom Nebensatz zum Idealtypus: Zur Vorgeschichte des ‘Antiken Judentums’ von Max Weber”, in: Die hebräische Bibel und ihre zweifache Nachgeschichte. FS Rolf Rendttorff (ed. E. Blum/C. Macholz/E.W. Stegemann; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1990), 419–433. – W. Schluchter, Religion und Lebensführung, 1. Studien zu Max Webers Kultur- und Werttheorie (Frankfurt a.M. 1988); Religion und Lebensführung, 2. Studien zu Max Webers Religionsund Herrschaftssoziologie (Frankfurt a.M. 1988). – G. Seibt, “Das Paria Volk. Nietzsche, Weber und die Juden”, in: Canaletto im Bahnhofsviertel. Kuturkritik und Gegenwartsbewußtsein (Springe 2005), 140–157.42 – E. Shmueli, “The ‘Pariah-People’ and Its ‘Charismatic Leadership’. A Revaluation of Max Weber’s Ancient Judaism”, PAAJR 36 (1968) 167–241. – H. Treiber, “Anmerkungen zu Max Webers Charismakonzept”, ZABR 11 (2005) 195–213; “Der Fachtheologe – einst ‘kompetentester’ Gesprächspartner Max Webers in Sachen Religionssoziologie, nunmehr kompetentester Kritiker und Editor seiner Studien zum antiken Judentum”, ZABR 12 (2006) 375–385; “Max Weber and Eugen Ehrlich: On the Janus-headed Construction of Weber’s Ideal Type in the Sociology of Law”, Max Weber Studies 8 (2008) 225–246. – H. Tyrell, “Max Webers Sozialökonomik”, ZABR 13 (2007) 373–382.

Like K. Marx from whom he takes several sociological insights,43 M. Weber is a proponent of interpreting society through the lenses of conflict theory – though we have to note that placing Weber in this tradition is slightly unhistorical.44 This implies that society or social order is understood as consisting of individuals or groups that are in constant violent or non-violent struggle to promote their interests.45 As a result, M. Weber is able to subsume under such struggle to promote

42

I thank B. M. Levinson (Minnesota) for alerting me to this essay. The relation between Weber and Marx is notoriously difficult to assess (on Weber’s discussion with K. Marx and socialism see M. Weber, Zur Politik im Weltkrieg [1984], 599–633; W. Gephart, Handeln und Kultur [1998], 147 ff, and W. Schluchter, Religion und Lebensführung, 1 [1988], 64–79). We have to note, however, that “too often Weber has been interpreted within the framework of a rather naïve contrast between him and Marx, according to which the latter was a materialist while Weber was an idealist” (Mayes, Old Testament [1989], 19). A major influence of Marx can be detected in the focus on economic processes that determine social life an societal development. In contrast to Marx, however, he never sees the economic process as mono-causal because he adds religion as a major factor to the social development. 44 Here we should note that conflict theory is not a single or consensus theory but rather a convenient label used by sociologists to describe various reactions to the then-prevailing model of structural functionalism; see J. H. Turner, The Structure of Sociological Theory (Chicago 41986, 129–212). The theory can briefly be summarised as follows: “A struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals”; cf. L. A. Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict (Glencoe/IL 1956), 8; J. H. Turner, Sociological Theory (1986), 179, and R. M. Williams, “Social Order and Social Conflict”, APSP 114 (1970) 217–225. For a recent application of the theoretical model to race-conflicts see J. M. Glaser, “Social Context and Inter-Group Political Attitudes: Experiments in Group Conflict Theory”, British Journal of Political Science 33 (2003) 607–620. For an application of the theory to a biblical text see B. J. Malina, “A Conflict Approach to Mark 7”, Forum 4/3 (1988), 3–30. 45 See Mayes, Old Testament (1989), 19. 43

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

69

one’s interest in a series of economic, social and religious factors. This allows Weber to show how religion influences economics and how expressions of religious and social life are dependent on economic processes and social facts. For M. Weber, any social investigation is tied to the exploration of reality and must help to understand the cultural significance of social expressions.46 Conflict theory, or more precisely, the study of conflicts within social and economic settings to promote interests is only one side of the Weberian methodology. The other side is his analysis of the phenomenon of authority. In agreement to his study of social formations, M. Weber constructs ‘ideal types’ as models through which the particular tendencies of actual historical manifestations of authority might be understood.47 For Weber, ‘ideal types’ are a theoretical construction or even a figment of the imagination (Phantasiebilder),48 which serve a heuristic purpose.49 As a result Weber is able to investigate society through an analysis of social structure and authority in terms of its traditional, charismatic and legal types. These types find their clearest expression in the figures of the prophets and priests as well as in the institutions of the covenant and the law. M. Weber approaches the social world of ancient Judaism and its institutions from a comparative perspective.50 After having investigated the sociology of the Indian caste-system he moves on to study ancient Judaism and expresses his methodological presupposition that the comparison with the Indian system will allow us to understand the sociological problems of Judaism.51 Within this comparative framework, M. Weber labels the Jews a pariah people (Pariavolk).52 Though M. Weber does not invent the term to describe Judaism,53 his use of the term has been rightly criticized.54 Next to the terminological difficulties in Weber’s own language55 it is – amongst other things – a problem that he starts his 46 M. Weber, “Die ‘Objektivität’ sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis”, in: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre (UTB 1492; Tübingen 71988), 146–214, 170. 47 See A. Mayes, The Old Testament (1989), 38. M. Weber develops the theory of an ‘ideal type’ in an essay published in 1904: “Die ‘Objektivität’ sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis”,146–214; see esp. p. 191. 48 See M. Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre (1968), 275. 49 WuG, 10. On Weber’s concept of an ‘ideal type’ see C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, Stadt und Eidgenossenschaft (1983), 24–33. See also the definition of J. H. Elliott, Social-Scientific Criticism (1993), 130: “A hypothetical idea of a phenomenon in which the phenomenon’s most characteristic features are exaggerated so as to create mutually exclusive constructs and standards against which actual historical and social phenomena can be measured”. 50 On Max Weber’s view of Judaism see T. Fahey, Max Weber’s Ancient Judaism (1982), 62–87; P. Ghosh, The place of Judaism (2006), 208–261; E. Otto, Max Webers Studien (2002); W. Schluchter, Religion und Lebensführung, 2 (1988), 127–196; J. Radkau, Max Weber (2005), 673–698. 51 MWS I/21, 13 = RS III, 2. 52 MWS I/21, 13. 53 See H. Arendt, The Jew as Pariah (New York 1978); A. Momigliano, A Note (1980), 313; E. Otto, Max Webers Studien (2002), 51–52; F. Raphaël, Die Juden als Gastvolk (1981), 224–262; E. Shmueli, The ‘Pariah-People’ (1968), 170. On Arendt’s concept see J. Ring, “The Pariah as Hero: Hannah Arendt’s Political actor”, Political Theory 19 (1991) 433–452. 54 See H. Liebschütz, Das Judentum (1967), 303–335; G. Seibt, Das Paria Volk (2005), 140–157. 55 See the slightly different description of the Jews as pariah people in WuG, 300: Here, Weber omits the term guest-people and simply mentions a “group lacking autonomous political organization”. On Weber’s use of the term see further G. Seibt, Das Paria Volk (2005), 140–157, and K. Lichtblau, Ressentiment (2001), 279–296.

70

Anselm C. Hagedorn

investigation with the statement what the Jews were, i.e. using the past tense even though the existence as pariah-people represents the end of a historical development in his thought. For Weber the history of the Jewish people consists of three distinct epochs: Eidgenossenschaft, monarchy, pariah people (Pariavolk). Further, despite Weber’s initial question – how did the Jews become a pariah-people56 – one gets the impression that he places much more importance on the first two epochs. Next to the problematic term ‘pariah people’, Weber also introduces the term status group to describe the post-exilic community. As such, Judaism has to be distinguished from a political party or an economic class. Rather it is seen as a group, which does not necessarily consist of economic unity but is held together by a strict adherence to a common life-style, expressed in several distinct ways.57 This definition is quite close to his description of ethnicity given in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft.58 Like several exegetical studies before him, the studies of M. Weber follow the chronology given by the biblical books and he prefaces his description by a short sketch of the geographical and political surroundings of ancient Israel.59 He highlights the contrasts given by nature and postulates that these contrasts find their expression in the economic and social structures.60 Weber begins to highlight the antagonism between the Bedouin and the city-dweller61 and regards ancient Israel even at its earliest stages already influenced by city-culture.62 Here we see that he placed the origin of ancient Israel in the social context of different if not antagonistic social structures. He mentions – next to the city dweller and the Bedouin – a third type, the peasant farmer.63 Weber observes that ancient Israel cannot be identified with any of these three types. If that is the case, the emergence of ancient Israel must be connected with a creation of a new social order that was able to overcome the existing social structures. The (early) biblical law codes reflect the manifold social tensions of Israelite society.64 In a major revision of J. Wellhausen’s dating of the idea of the covenant, M. Weber sees in the concept the earliest and probably clearest expression of Israel’s foundation charter.65 Thus Weber’s concept of ancient Judaism rests on three pil56

MWS I/21, 18. Cf. A. Mayes, The Old Testament (1989), 37. 58 WuG, 237. 59 MWG I/21, 244–251. 60 MWG I/21, 251. 61 Weber speaks here of two ends of a scale where the Bedouins occupy one end and the city the other (MWG I/21, 251.255). 62 Cf. M. Weber, Die Agararverhältnisse im Altertum (1943/1988), 34. On Weber’s concept of the city see C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, Stadt und Eidgenossenschaft (1983), 47–106. 63 M. Weber admits that we do not know anything about this type (MWG I/21, 271). 64 Following A. Merx, Die Bücher Mose und Josua: Eine Einführung für Laien (Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbücher für die deutsche christliche Gegenwart, Reihe 2, Heft 3,1/2, Tübingen 1907), 36, Weber dates the Covenant Code to the pre-state period (MWG I/21, 322). He maintains, however, that these early law codes do not reflect a period of an original state of the peasant farmer ignorant of city-life and monetary-systems: “[D]ie Annahme man habe es im ältesten ‘Gesetz’ (Exodus 19 ff.) mit irgendwie ‘ursprünglichen’ Zuständen zu tun, mit dem Recht eines primitiven Bauernvolkes, noch frei von allem städtischen und geldwirtschaftlichen Einschlag, ist ganz unhaltbar …” (M. Weber, Agrarverhältnisse, [1988], 84). 65 MWG I/21, 126–127. For a critique of Weber’s concept see E. Otto, Max Webers Studien (2002), 276–283. 57

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

71

lars: an early idea of the covenant between Yahweh and his people, an Eidgenossenschaft66 that keeps the covenant and serves as a contractual partner of Yahweh and finally a distant God of election with distinct monolatrous features.67 It is precisely this concept that will be taken up by A. Alt and M. Noth in their constructions of early Israel.68 Here, especially M. Noth’s idea of an amphictyony to explain the early tribal league is close to M. Weber’s “ideal type”.69 We see that for M. Weber, Israel’s creation of a new order was determined by concrete religious-historical circumstances.70 Since the validity of ideas is judged on the level of its institutionalisation, or better on the level of the persons and concepts adhering to them, it is only logical that M. Weber now proceeds to describe the various institutions of the covenant.71 This is logical, since he believes that any institution points to the people behind it. Here he mentions amongst others the legal institutions, priests and prophets.72 M. Weber’s view of biblical law is a highly complex subject, which has recently been investigated in detail by E. Otto.73 This cannot be the place to offer an equally detailed analysis and we will limit our remarks to those instances where law is used to express or regulate aspects of social life. Already in his study on the Agrarverhältnisse M. Weber is convinced that legal texts – here especially the Covenant Code – can provide secure data for a reconstruction of pre-exilic society.74 Since this law never reflected Bedouin custom, city-culture must have always influenced Israelite legal traditions.75 The Covenant Code reflects peasant law and helps to protect the free peasant farmer. Against J.Wellhausen and others, Weber regards the social stipulations of

66 M. Weber takes the term Eidgenossenschaft from J. Wellhausen, Geschichte (1914/2004), 23 (MWG I/21, 357–358); see R. Smend, Jahwekrieg und Stämmebund. Erwägungen zur ältesten Geschichte Israels (FRLANT 84; Göttingen 21966), 22. 67 MWG I/21, 423–424; on the problem see J. C. Gertz, Der fremde und ferne Gott (1999), 246– 263. 68 See E. Otto, Max Webers Studien (2002), 277–278 with nn. 4–5. Though neither M. Noth nor A. Alt quote M. Weber verbatim (but see A. Alt, “Erwägungen über die Landnahme der Israeliten in Palästina”, KS I [Munich 41968, 126–175], 141, n. 3) the influence of Weber’s insights is apparent, see esp. A. D. H. Mayes, “Sociology and the Old Testament”, in: The Social World of Ancient Israel. Sociological, Anthropological and Political Perspectives (ed. R. E. Clements; Cambridge 1989; 39–63), 46–48.52–55. For a reception of Weber in the United States see S. Kreuzer, “Max Weber, George Mendenhall und das sogenannte Revolutionsmodell für die ‘Landnahme’ Israels”, in: Altes Testament. Forschung und Wirkung, FS H. Graf Reventlow (ed. P. Mommer/W. Thiel; Frankfurt a.M. 1994), 283–305; for the French-speaking world see F. Raphaël, “Max Weber et le judaïsme antique”, Archives Européennes de Sociologie 11 (1977) 297–336. 69 On the term see already, MWG I/21, 368; RS III, 98. 70 On Weber’s view of the political structures of Mediterranean antiquity see J. Deiniger, Die politischen Strukturen (1985), 72–110. 71 On M. Weber’s theory of institutions see K.-S. Rehberg, Person und Institution (2003), 371–394. 72 See the remarks of E. Otto in MWG I/21, 108 ff. 73 See E. Otto, Max Webers Studien (2002), 83–181 (much of the following presentation owes a lot to his careful presentation). M. Weber’s view of the legal tradition of the ancient Near East has been studied by E. Otto, “Max Weber und die mesopotamische Rechtsgeschichte mit einer werkbiographischen Interpretation der unveröfflichten Exzerpte GStA PK, VI. HA, Nl. Max Weber, Nr. 31, Bd. 2, Bl. 253–253R und 258”, Mitteilungen der Ernst-Troeltsch-Gesellschaft 15 (2002), 41– 88. 74 M. Weber, Agrarverhältnisse (1943/1988), 83. 75 MWG I/21, 328.

72

Anselm C. Hagedorn

the Covenant Code as a way to overcome the antagonism of the classes; as such the law is not the result of the social critique of the prophets.76 In Weber’s view, the different law codes reflect different stages of societal development, a development that goes hand in hand with a growing theologization of the law.77 For M. Weber the legal material serves as a framework for his presentation of the development of Israelite society. We see that the institution of the law is able to describe changes and conflicts in the social life of a society.78 In his work, prophecy is a multi-facetted entity and one has to distinguish between different expressions of prophetic activity.79 According to M. Weber a prophet possesses his own personal charisma that distinguishes him from other members of society.80 The demilitarization of the peasant farmers pacifies the prophets and leads to the development of two distinct traits of prophecy: prophets that support the state and independent prophets such as Elijah that can be regarded as the predecessors to the prophets of the eighth century. This development is prompted by the origin of kingship that is seen as a new epoch in the social history of ancient Israel.81 Weber is further determined to show that the prophets are simply motivated by religion and cannot be seen as social activists.82 This distinguishes a prophet from a law-giver, who is appointed in the wake of social tensions.83 Similarly, the personal call of a prophet characterizes the prophet and serves as a distinction from the priest.84 We see here that the prophet is not tied to a religious or civil institution. This, however, does not imply that the prophet acts outside the historical, political or economic realm.85 In the second part of his study on ancient Judaism, M. Weber investigates how prophecy enabled the formation of the post-exilic community. He argues that the Assyrian crisis of the eighth century bce triggered classical prophecy. Again he utilizes the conflict model to describe the engagement of

76 M. Weber follows E. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, II/2 (Darmstadt 31953). On Weber’s relationship to E. Meyer see J. Deiniger, Eduard Meyer und Max Weber (1990), 132–158. 77 MWG I/21, 345. 78 On M. Weber’s sociology of law see B. Quensel, “Logik und Methode in der ‘Rechtssoziologie’ Max Webers. Ein Beitrag zur Klärung der grundlegenden Begriffe und Perspektiven”, Zeitschrift für Rechtssoziologie 18 (1997) 133–159, and H. Treiber, Max Weber and Eugen Ehrlich (2008), 225–246. 79 On M. Weber’s view of prophecy see B. Lang, Max Weber und Israels Propheten (1984), 156– 165; idem, Prophet, Priester, Virtuose (2001), 172–174; E. Otto, Die hebräische Prophetie (2005), 201–255, and idem, Max Webers Studien (2002), 182–245. 80 In WuG, 140 (§ 10) he defines charisma as “eine als außeralltäglich … geltende Qualität einer Persönlichkeit …, um derentwillen sie als mit übernatürlichen oder übermenschlichen oder mindestens spezifisch außeralltäglichen, nicht jedem andern zugänglichen Kräften oder Eigenschaften [begabt] oder als gottgesandt oder als vorbildlich und deshalb als ‘Führer’ gewertet wird.” 81 MWG I/21, 395. 82 This picture of the biblical prophet shows distinct traits of the modern (objective) intellectual who is not guided by interests of society; see E. Otto, Die hebräische Prophetie (2005), 203, n. 5, with reference to F. Voigt, “Das protestantische Erbe in Max Webers Vorträgen über ‘Wissenschaft als Beruf’ und ‘Politik als Beruf’”, ZNThG 9 (2002) 245–267. At the same time this view of prophecy can be seen as an anti-Marxist stance. 83 WuG, 270. 84 WuG, 268. 85 See already M. Weber, Agararverhältnisse (1988), 93 (= MWG I/6, 95) where he speaks of religious and political activity of the prophets.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

73

the pre-exilic prophets with the different interests and parties in Judah.86 Since prophecy is a purely religious institution for him,87 he stresses that any political involvement of the prophets is in the service of the God of the Covenant. The lack of any institutional framework or place for prophecy is reflected in the prophet’s opposition to any community.88 Prophecy begins to support the community and leads in conjunction with the Torah to the dualism of internal and external morals that becomes significant for Jewish ethics. We see that the curious lack of an institutional tie of biblical prophecy is being transformed into one of the main institutions of emerging Judaism. Prophecy and ancient ritual custom become the two pillars of Judaism.89 The conflict between priests and the urban nobility is – next to the conflict between the urban patriciate and the peasant farmers – a second socio-historical conflict that shapes the emergence of Judaism. Here, Deuteronomy is the clearest expression of the priestly interests in pre-exilic times.90 Since Weber closely connects Deuteronomy with priestly circles he needs to stress the theocratic tendencies over a secularization inherent in the book.91 The priesthood acts within the traditional framework of cult and ethos and is seen as a conservative force that determines dogmatic teaching and does so by referring to prophecy. This leads to conflicts between priests and prophets but these are generally solved by compromises because the priests tend to incorporate prophetic teaching.92 As such, the priesthood systematizes the message of the prophets. In the last section of his study on ancient Judaism, M. Weber connects this tendency towards a systematization of prophetic teaching with a waning of the charisma. The priests are seen as the police who begin to control and to suppress charismatic activity.93 Again a change in the social structure can be marked by its relation to a legal code and the development of the postexilic community under the rule of the priests is reflected in the Holiness Code (Leviticus 17–26) and in the Priestly Writer. The exclusive character of the priestly Torah transforms post-exilic Israel into a ritual, or preferably a confessional, community. Membership in this emerging community is no longer defined by war (and the covenant) but by the correct observance of the rituals.94

86 “Diese Propheten sind mitten hineingerissen in einen Strudel von Parteigegensätzen und Interessenkonflikten”, MWG I/21, 615. 87 “Kein Prophet war … Verkünder sozialpolitischer Programme …” (MWG I/21, 622). 88 MWG I/21, 692 (= RS III, 350). 89 “Die Leistung der Prophetie wirkte zusammen mit den überkommenden rituellen Gewohnheiten Israels, um das hervorzubringen, was dem Judentum seine Pariastellung in der Welt eintrug” (MWG I/21, 692). 90 “Das Deuteronomium sucht, wie schon das alte Gesetz und wie die theokratischen Gesetztgebungen überhaupt, die Garantien gegen den Gewaltmißbrauch der Besitzenden zu steigern” (M. Weber, Agrarverhältnisse, 90). 91 On M. Weber’s view of Deuteronomy see E. Otto, Max Webers Studien (2002), 162–171. 92 WuG, 279. 93 MWG I/21, 753. 94 MWG I/21, 694.

74

Anselm C. Hagedorn

This process continues the movement of a ritual separation initiated by Deuteronomy.95 E. Otto has rightly observed that Weber argues that the civil faith community (bürgerliche Glaubensgemeinschaft) began to follow the priestly dictate and voluntarily moved towards the existence of a Pariah-group.96 The growing importance of the priesthood as an institution for the structure of the social life of ancient Israel is – according to M. Weber – a phenomenon that follows prophecy. As such the institution of the priesthood becomes the keeper of the prophetic ideas.97 This conservative tendency allows the continuity of religious traditions and contributes significantly to the emergence of the Jewish people. M. Weber’s studies still represent the most detailed description of the social development and social structures of ancient Israel. The actuality of his work is attested by a plethora of recent studies so that one can rightly speak of a Weber-Renaissance.98 Central to his work was the notion of sociology as a comprehensive investigation of social action. This allows for an integration of a wide set of data and makes his approach an ideal starting point for an analysis of social life and institutions that moves beyond the literary confines of the Hebrew Bible. Additionally, his focus on the subjective meanings that individuals attach to their actions and interactions in various social settings allows for a closer analysis of the social groups behind certain patterns of behaviour.

2.3. Johs. Pedersen (1883–1977)99 Johannes Peder Eijler Pedersen’s massive study, Israel. Its Life and Cultures represents in many ways a departure from older representations of Israelite social life, culture and the description of Biblical institutions.100 Influenced by the works of his Copenhagen colleague Vilhelm Peter Grønbech (1873–1948),101 Pedersen accepts that a culture has to be investigated from the inside.102 What sounds like 95 “Die rein religiöse, auf den prophetischen Verheißungen ruhende Natur der Gemeinschaft bedingte nun, daß diese konfessionelle Absonderung nach außen an Stelle der politischen trat und sich wesentlich verschärfte“, MWG I/21, 695. 96 E. Otto, in MWG I/21, 126, n. 29. 97 See the similar comments in E. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums I/1 (Darmstadt 61953), 147– 148. 98 On M. Weber’s significance for a theology of the Hebrew Bible see E. Otto, “Hat Max Webers Religionssoziologie des antiken Judentums Bedeutung für eine Theologie des Alten Testaments?”, ZAW 94 (1982) 187–203. 99 For biographical information see N. P. Lemche, “Art.: Pedersen, Johannes Peder Eljer (1883– 1977)”, TRE 26 (1996), 162–164, and H. Ringgren, “Art.: Pedersen, Johannes Peder Eljer (1883– 1977)”, DBI II (Nashville 1999), 254–255. 100 The work was first published in Danish in 1920 (Vol I–II) and 1934 (Vol III–IV) and then as an English translation in 1926 (Vol I–II) and 1940 (Vol. III–IV); see also the evaluation of E. Nielsen, “Johannes Pedersen’s Contribution to the Research and Understanding of the Old Testament”, ASTI 8 (1970/71), 4–20, and R. Porter, “Biblical Classics III. J. Pedersen: Israel”, ExpTim 90 (1978), 34–40. 101 See especially V. P. Grønbech, The Culture of the Teutons (London 1931); originally published as Vor folkeæt i oldtiden, I–IV (Copenhagen 1909–1912). 102 Within this programme, J. Pedersen offers a first critique of the dominant literary-critical model as proposed by J. Wellhausen and his followers. He criticizes the rigid chronological and literary

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

75

a plea for anthropological fieldwork carries in fact a decisive psychological tone.103 Pedersen places great importance on the concept of the soul of the individuals (and the society) under scrutiny because it is via the study of the soul that cultural traits and its religious and social manifestations can be determined. Pedersen avoids an anachronistic reading of the biblical evidence by drawing attention to the fact that biblical psychology is entirely different from our own. This dichotomy has to be maintained even though our language employs the same expressions as the Bible and in fact takes much of its vocabulary from the Bible.104 Pedersen is thus able to draw a picture of Israel that departs from traditional portraits modelled and heavily influenced by Western interpretative categories.105 Since Pedersen operates with the concept of Hebrew Thought which he sees in opposition to the Greek way of thinking he can be regarded as a forerunner to the work of Th. Boman.106 This approach, based on ancient Israel’s primitive thought process allowed Pedersen to pay close attention to the social system operating behind the texts as well as to demonstrate that every individual is integral to the social group.107 Here Pedersen mentions several traits that are later integrated into the anthropological concept of a corporate personality developed in detail by H. Wheeler Robinson (1872–1945).108 On the first ninety-six pages of J. Pedersen’s extensive study the author offers a sketch of the social life and the institutions that govern it. Like A. Bertholet in his Kulturgeschichte Pedersen begins his overview with a description of the land.109 Pedersen, however can be much more brief here, since he does not regard order of the sources because “[f]ar too frequently modern logic, in these respects, has blinded the critics and prevented them from discerning the inner logic of the narratives” (Israel, I, 27). As a result, J. Pedersen extends the possibility of oral tradition until exilic/post-exilic period. 103 Anthropology, however, is not entirely absent in Pedersen’s work. In stressing the differences between the biblical and the modern world, he takes up trends in early 20th century social anthropology and its prevailing interest in “primitive mentalities” (on the concept see Rogerson, Anthropology[2001], 46–65 and C. R. Hallpike, “Is There a primitive Mentality?”, Man NS 11 [1976], 253–270). Here Pedersen is especially influenced by those anthropologists like L. Lévy-Bruhl (1857–1939), who provided a classification of human history, based on “man’s mental progress as reflected in his loftiest and religious achievements by contemporary analogies of primitive tribes and men of civilized countries” (S. T. Kimbrough, Israelite Religion in Sociological Perspective. The Work of Antonin Causse, StOr 4, Wiesbaden 1978, 102); see L. Lévy-Bruhl, How Natives Think (New York 1925); idem, Primitive Mentality. The “Soul” of the Primitive. Primitives and the Supernatural (New York 1935); idem, La mythologie primitive (Paris 1935). On Lévy-Bruhl see Neumann, Das Fremde (2000), 69–82, sowie A. Barnard, History and Theory in Anthropology (Cambridge 2000), 105–110; F. Barth/A. Gingrich/R. Parkin/S. Silverman, One Discipline, Four Ways: British, German, French, and American Anthropology (Chicago 2005), 194–199. 104 Pedersen, Israel I, 99. 105 He states in regard to language: “If European ideas are imposed upon the Semitic languages, a crippled product results, with a manner of expression which is awkward as well as uncertain and is neither European nor Semitic” (Pedersen, Israel II, 513). 106 T. Boman, Das hebräische Denken im Vergleich mit dem Griechischen (Göttingen 51968) and see also I. Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism. The A . W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1965 (Washington/London 1999), 3. 107 See already A. Maine, Ancient Law, its connection with the early history of society and its relation to modern ideas (London 121888), 183. 108 See H. W. Robinson, “The Hebrew Conception of Corporate Personality”; in: Werden und Wesen des Alten Testaments (ed. P. Volz, F. Stummer and J. Hempel; BZAW 66; Berlin 1936), 49–62. 109 A. Bertholet, Kulturgeschichte (1919), 1, takes up a phrase coined by R. von Ihering, when he states that geography is bound history. He continues that the earth (Boden) forces the people who

76

Anselm C. Hagedorn

the land as the main factor for the development of culture. Rather he views Palestine, called Canaan by him, as a cross-roads of culture where different people and their customs meet.110 As a result of such a meeting place the local culture is heavily influenced by cultural traits from neighbouring empires. Pedersen aims at a description of a social and cultural milieu in which ancient Israel developed.111 Despite the fact that Pedersen’s approach to the social history of life and his investigation into the different forms of institutions remains descriptive, he is never uncritical. His evaluation of the literary sources shows that he regarded them as later descriptions of the periods they attempted to describe.112 There is, however a certain degree of timelessness in Pedersen’s work.113 He does not work unhistorically but since he is chiefly concerned with the development of social life and culture within the framework of a “primitive mentality” actual historical developments are often sidelined.114 Since Pedersen believes that Israelite Culture in its entirety is governed by the same ‘fundamental psychological conception’ he postulates that “[e]very feature of Israel’s life, its thinking, its activities, its civil and religious institutions, was determined, and can only properly be understood, by reference to” it.115 Here, however, the fundamental institutions seem to be located outside this psychological conception. Pedersen treats the social order and more specifically tribe and city, the family and its property before he addresses the soul.116 In a way they seem to serve as prolegomena for the portrait of Hebrew thinking that will follow. Pedersen sees these fundamental institutions as the purest form of expression of Israelite social life. One gets the impression that he favours the family as the best expression of social life. This is especially apparent when he evaluates the role of the city.117 In contrast to the basic units of social life and its institutions he deals with the offices of king, prophet, and priest as well as with war after he addresses questions of “The Soul, its Powers and Capacity” and after a lengthy section on “Common Life and its Laws”.118 Again one is surprised that the religious dimension seems to be of no influence on social life. The expressions of social life are then grouped under distinctly theological headings such as peace and covenant, peace and salvation, righteousness and truth, sin and curse. Only the paragraphs on maintenance of justice and world of life and death seem to transcend the theological framework. It is here, where criticism of J. Pedersen’s work starts.119 inhabit it to adjust themselves to its peculiarities. Bertholet sees in the special ability of the Jewish people to adapt the starting point of his exercise because one has to inquire which possibilities the land offered for the development of culture. 110 “Canaan was inhabited by a heterogeneous population and became the meeting place of various cultures” (Pedersen, Israel, 1) 111 Pedersen, Israel, I, 11. 112 Ibid. I, 13. 113 Ibid. I, 26. 114 Barr, Semantics of Biblical Language (1961), 184, detects a certain “synthetic approach to Israel’s culture” in Pedersen’s work that is akin to the biblical theology movement. 115 J. R. Porter, “Biblical Classics III. Johs. Pedersen: Israel”, ExpTim 19 (1978) 36. 116 See Pedersen, Israel I, 29–96. 117 Ibid. 46. 118 For Pedersen the soul is not a metaphysical entity. Therefore action and volition are the characteristic traits of the soul (Pedersen, Israel I, 106). 119 See e.g. F. Hahn, The Old Testament in Modern Research (London 1956), 71–73.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

77

Throughout his two extensive volumes one can detect a certain tendency to press diverse biblical data into a single mould.120 All this is done because he wants to present ancient Israel as a (unified) social whole. This approach is not able to do justice to the distinctive features of particular social contexts that are detectable in the Hebrew Bible. When studying so called ‘primitive mentalities / societies’ generalizations are seriously distorting and tend to create a picture of the society that reflects more on the perspective of the person studying it than on the society under scrutiny.

2.4. Antonin Causse (1877–1947) Works (selected): Les “pauvres” d’Israël (Strasbourg 1922); “Du groupe ethnique à la communauté religieuse. Le problème sociologique du judaïsme”, RHPhH 14 (1934) 285–335;121 Du groupe ethnique à la communauté religieuse. Le problème sociologique de la religion d’Israël (EHPhR 33; Paris 1937). Studies: S. T. Kimbrough jr., “A Non-Weberian Approach to Israelite Religion”, JNES 31 (1972) 195–202; Israelite Religion in Sociological Perspective. The Work of Antonin Causse (StOR 4; Wiesbaden 1978).

With Antonin Causse structural functionalism is introduced into the sociological study of the Hebrew Bible.122 The influence of E. Durkheim and L. Lévy-Bruhl is especially apparent in his work and in fact Du groupe ethnique à la communauté religieuse is dedicated to Lévy-Bruhl “le maître des études sur la mentalité primitive”. A. Causse adapts E. Durkheim’s conviction that “the social group was the one independent element in history and sociology. All other phenomena of society are primarily societal functions.”123 Hence society has to be explained from within A. Causse immediately looks at the smallest social unit i.e. the family. Here Durkheim’s theory is at work that social consciousness and forms have to provide the focus for the investigation. If the social group is in fact independent it is hardly surprising that collective mentality plays an important part in A. Causse’s work. Next to M. Noth the work of A. Causse is the clearest example of an early attempt to integrate sociological and anthropological insights into the study of Israelite society. Causse explicitly wanted to move beyond a mere descriptive approach of Israelite society and its myths and institutions.124 A. Causse – like M. Weber – maintains the chronology provided by the Hebrew Bible and attributes significant changes to society to the entry into the land.125 Nevertheless the main social institutions of the nomadic, or desert existence (i.e. clans, families, and 120 Cf. P. J. Budd, “Holiness and Cult”, in: The World of Ancient Israel. Sociological, anthropological and Political Perspectives (ed. R. E. Clements; Cambridge 1989), 275–298. 121 An English translation of this preliminary study to Du groupe ethnique can be found in Community, Identity, and Ideology. Social Science Approaches to the Hebrew Bible (ed. C.E. Carter/C.E. Meyers; Sources for Biblical and Theological Studies 6; Winona Lake 1998), 95–118. 122 A. Causse’s contribution to a sociological understanding of the Hebrew Bible has been throughly evaluated by S. T. Kimbrough, Israelite Religion (1978) and by A. Mayes, Old Testament (1989), 78–87. Much of the following presentation owes a lot to these two works. 123 S. T. Kimbrough, A Non-Weberian Sociological Approach (1972), 197. 124 A. Causse, Du groupe ethnique (1937), 8. 125 A. Causse, Du groupe ethnique (1937), 15.

78

Anselm C. Hagedorn

tribes) are maintained after the settlement in Palestine.126 For A. Causse, family, clan and tribe constitute the basic social institutions of ancient Israel, forming a closely knit social structure.127 As in other ‘primitive societies’ solidarity is essential as well as being characteristic.128 The monarchy is seen as a further departure from the old tribal association.129 It is not grounded in patriarchy but based on wealth and respect. Since it is regarded as a new institution similar to the surrounding nations, the individuals are no longer bound by the duties to their kin-group but simply have to adhere to the rules set up by the authority of the king. Thus a feudal state is formed.130 Like J. Wellhausen, also A. Causse regards war as the main contributor to the origins of ancient Israel but he sees kingship as “une institution mal adapté”.131 The reason for such a negative view of the monarchy is undoubtedly derived from the picture painted in the Hebrew Bible itself and connected with the view of A. Causse that the centralization of authority and cultic activities accelerates the process of destruction of the old mystical solidarity so prominent in early Israelite society.132 Thus we have here – according to A. Causse – a double progress: on the one hand society moves towards a new social form or structure; and on the other ancient Israel reaches a higher step as far as religion is concerned. YHWH is no longer the god of the united tribes but is transformed into a national or state god. This transformation, in fact, creates a new god who is strongly Canaanized and differs significantly from the old rite.133 This development goes hand in hand with a progressive individualization of the population.134 The prophets are seen as promoters of a more and more personal expression of piety. As a result “the institutions of collective life and national religion came to have only a secondary importance”.135 Naturally the religious programme of the prophets led to a crisis of Israelite religion, since – in a way – it fostered a decline of ancient social institutions.136 It fell to the deuteronomic movement to put a halt to this decline. A. Causse readily accepts that the law book found in the Temple is indeed the Book of Deuteronomy137 and that it is a restatement of ancient laws, institutions and rites. It is through the manifold adaptations and modifications 126

Ibid. He nevertheless asserts that the blood-bond, i.e. proper blood-relations are not the guiding principle but that this bond can also be theoretical and symbolical. Thus kinship becomes a mystical link, (ibid. 23). 128 Ibid. 20; see also p. 21 with reference to Lévy-Bruhl and J. Pedersen. 129 Ibid. 32. 130 Ibid. 33. 131 Ibid. 36. 132 Ibid. 60. 133 Ibid. 54. 134 A. Causse departs from L. Lévy-Bruhl who attributed individualism to an internal change of mental structures rather than seeing it as an indication for progress from pre-logical to logical consciousness; see L. Lévy-Bruhl, L’âme primitive (Bibliothèque de Philosophie Contemporaire; Paris 2 1963). 135 A. Mayes, Old Testament (1989), 83. 136 A. Causse, Du groupe ethnique (1937), 114. 137 “Cette tôrâ était présentée come une parole ancienne retrouvée dans le temple de Jérusalem” (ibid. 121). 127

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

79

that betray the critical situation to which it is addressed.138 As such the social and political situation of Deuteronomy reflect that of Judah in the seventh century bce. “Except for the question of centralization and the anti-idolatry struggle, Causse finds the preoccupations of the Deuteronomists oriented more towards the social side than the cultic side.”139 The elders are still important but they are forced to share much of their duties with the Levites. The old tribal organization has lost its importance and the king is no longer a transcended being mediating between the human and divine sphere but simply one of the brethren. Due to the emphasis on the centralized cult (a first step towards Judaism for A. Causse) we see a development towards a society that sharply distinguishes between the sacred sphere and the profane daily life.140 Despite wanting to put a halt to the prophetic critique, Deuteronomy, nevertheless incorporates the prophetic move from primitive collectivism to individualism.141 Additionally, “the deuteronomic lawgiver does not expect the covenant law to be obeyed simply because it is old; society has lost its ancient solidarity and people no longer unquestioningly accept what they have received from the past”.142 Here – according to A. Causse – the author of Deuteronomy displays an extraordinary psychological ability as well as insight into the internal unity of humanity when he argues that it is for the love of God that the covenant as well as the laws have to be kept.143 A. Causse continues his sociological investigation by describing the formation of the Jewish community. Here he rejects the idea that post-exilic development can simply be described in terms of a return from exile and restoration to Jerusalem. Rather he sees it as an evolutionary process that led from an ethnic group to a religious community, which will henceforth be a diaspora.144 As far as the institutions were concerned traditional forms of organization were largely abandoned. Only the family remained as a fairly stable organization but was equally not immune to change.145 The erosion of group solidarity already observed in Deuteronomy is now abandoned in its entirety.146 In a second step, the prophecy of Ezekiel introduces the concept of individual retribution and responsibility and, thus, further, detaches the individual from the destiny of the group.147 This individualism is, however, not absolute and A. Causse draws attention to several texts that keep the myth of a restoration of kol yis´ra’el alive.148

138

Cf. A. Mayes, Old Testament (1989), 83. S. T. Kimbrough, Israelite Religion (1978), 63. 140 Ibid. 153, n. 3. 141 Cf. S. T. Kimbrough, Israelite Religion (1978), 71. “A la place de l’ancienne solidarité physico-mystique, il établissait une solidarité voulue, une fraternité” (Causse, Du groupe ethnique [1937], 175). 142 A. Mayes, Old Testament (1989), 83, 143 A. Causse, Du groupe ethnique (1937), 177. 144 Ibid. 184. 145 Ibid. 189. 146 Ibid. 198. 147 For A. Causse Ezek 3:17–19 is the first statement of integral individualism. Also Ezek 18:29–30 abandons the idea of a group responsibility and should have forced Causse to rethink his Durkheimian framework – but this is never done. 148 Ibid. 201–202. 139

80

Anselm C. Hagedorn

The failure of immediate fulfilment of these visions, however, broadened the gulf between the exilic/post-exilic present and the future. As a result the hopes of the Jews began to detach themselves from the present as reflected in the historical reality. In that process a vision of a utopian and transcendent future began to emerge.149 Texts like Ezekiel 40–48 and the Priestly Code do not favour a just society, as Deuteronomy had done but a Church with its ritual.150 This meant that the Diaspora community focussed on those elements of Yahwistic piety that did not involve the Temple (circumcision, Sabbath, fasting). This led to the formation of a Torah-community.151 Unity is thus achieved by adherence to common practice.152 In the absence of a national state as well with the disappearance of traditional forms of social organization sects or voluntary associations started to play an important role in the religious development.153 The focus on ethical relationship rather than on the old bond of consanguinity allowed Judaism to open up and to attract new members. At the same time individualism is taken a step further: the cult is no longer a vehicle by which the primitive group confirmed its unity but rather a spiritual exercise that will lead the individual soul closer to God. Meditation on Torah, however, is a purely individual process, which becomes the truest expression of individual religion.154 As a result of A. Causse’s move beyond a mere descriptive approach of Israelite society and its myths and institutions his work offers a well structured (closed) model of interpretation. It is here where problems emerge. Since ancient Israel’s historical and social development is seen in purely linear terms there is little room for emerging conflicts or set-backs. Where these conflicts cannot be negated, A. Causse is forced to explain them as conflicts between different developmental stages of different mentalities. Such an approach, however, excludes the historical dimension and cannot explain the often complex social development of ancient Israel.155

149

Ibid. 204. A. Causse observes that despite retaining such rites like the Jubilee Year, Passah or even the observance of the weekly Sabbath, the priestly writer had, nevertheless, forgotten the significance of primitive magic (Du groupe ethnique, 1937, 227). 151 Ibid. 233–235. 152 “Les conventicules de la diaspora tendent à se grouper autour de la pratique commune” (ibid. 235). 153 A. Causse, Du groupe ethnique (1937), 237. 154 A Causse, ibid. 276. 155 C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, Stadt und Eidgenossenschaft (1983), 6, rightly states: “Methodisch bietet Causse nur ein systemimmanentes Vorgehen an, das zudem gegen eine Revision seines Ansatzes im Laufe der Untersuchung gefeit ist. Man kann nicht umhin, diesem soziologischen Vorgehen eine gewisse historische Naivität und Blindheit zu attestieren”. 150

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

81

2.5. Roland de Vaux (1903–1971) Though not working from a sociological background,156 the detailed work Ancient Israel. Its Life and Institutions157 by the French scholar R. de Vaux158 offers the most extensive treatment of the social life and of the institutions of biblical Israel. He understands society as whole as a grand system which can be divided into several smaller sub-systems. R. de Vaux’s monograph is the first to attempt to write a study of Israelite institutions that is not part of a larger enterprise such as a history of Israel or an archaeological description of the biblical land.159 In the first paragraph of the Preface he defines what is implied, when he will speak of institutions: Institutions are the various forms in which the social life of a people finds expression. Some will take it for granted as a matter of custom; others will adopt it of its own choice; and yet others will be imposed upon it by an authority. Individuals are subject to the nation’s institutions, but the institutions themselves exist, ultimately, for the sake of the society whose welfare they promote, whether the society be small as a family, or large as a state or religious community.160

Several things are interesting about this methodological statement. First of all R. de Vaux regards every expression of social life as an institution and thus uses a fairly broad definition of the word.161 This allows him to group custom as well as official state administration under the heading of ‘institution’. Secondly, he acknowledges that individuals are subject to the institutions of a nation but he stresses that it is not the institutions that govern the people regardless of their welfare. Rather, institutions promote welfare. Thirdly, institutions are not a monolithic block made unchangeable in eternity. Instead, R. de Vaux observes that they are subject to change in time and place. This, of course, implies that institutions evolve and develop. Finally, institutions, according to de Vaux, are always the product of human will. Due to his focus on institutions, R. de Vaux’s study often lacks a historical framework and it is probably not an exaggeration when one observes that the description of Israelite social life according to its in156 This lack of explicit sociological analysis prompts C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, Stadt und Eidgenossenschaft (1983), 2, n. 2, to exclude R. de Vaux’s work (together with the studies by A. Alt and J. Pedersen) from her overview of previous scholarship; see also the critique in F. S. Frick, Reconstructing Ancient Israel’s Social World (1999), 236–237. 157 First published in two volumes in French as Les institutions de l’Ancien Testament, I–II (Paris 1958, 1960); ET: Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (by J. McHugh; London 1961). 158 On R. de Vaux see J. Briend, Art. “Vaux, Roland de (1903–1971)”, TRE 34 (Berlin/New York 2002), 555–556; R. J. Tournay, “In Memoriam Le Père Roland de Vaux”, RB 79 (1972), 4–6, and B. T. Viviano, Art. “Vaux, Roland Etienne Guérin de”, Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation K-Z, Nashville 1999, 606–607. 159 In the Preface to his work he mentions the works of I. Benzinger, A. Bertholet and J. Pedersen as predecessors to his own study and adds the treatments by J. Pirenne, A. G. Barrois and F. Nötscher. He states: “Because or these various relations with other sciences, the institutions of Israel have usually been studied as part of a larger whole” (vii). 160 R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel (1961), vii. 161 The German translation of de Vaux’s work tries to do justice to this and translates Lebensordnungen. R.Kessler, Sozialgeschichte, 23 n9 critiques the use of the term, because he feels that it contains a normative element that introduces theological categories into the sociological concept of an institution.

82

Anselm C. Hagedorn

stitutions contains a certain static element.162 True, already in his methodological preface he acknowledges that institutions evolve and change over time, but when changes occur and are noted, they appear oddly detached from any historical reality.163 It has, however, been noted that a form of presentation as chosen by R. de Vaux has the intrinsic advantage that it allows taking the different rhythms of the development of social institutions into account.164 History, nevertheless, is not entirely absent from de Vaux’s study.165 Here he is guided by the vivid portrait painted by the Hebrew Bible itself when he starts his work with a section on “Nomadism and Its Survival”.166 The influence of earlier anthropological work such as W. Robertson Smith’s study on Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia is apparent here. R. de Vaux traces several ancient customs back to the nomadic ideal or pre-history of Israel.167 Here he mentions the tribal organization of Israel, the law of hospitality and asylum as well as the blood-vengeance.168 After these prolegomena, de Vaux turns his attention to those institutions, which manifest themselves in an Israel firmly established in the land. His “study is perhaps the most comprehensive to date in terms of its survey of biblical material, and is still particularly useful as a source for identifying those passages in the Hebrew Bible that relate in some way to the social and religious institutions of ancient Israel.”169 R. de Vaux separates his study of the institutions into four main parts: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Family Institutions Civil Institutions Military Institutions Religious Institutions.

Like scholars before him, he starts with the (extended) family that manifests the smallest social unit.170

162

Cf. P. McNutt, Reconstructing the Society, 18. See e.g. R. de Vaux’s remarks on Deuteronomy: “This code seems designed to replace the old code by taking account of a whole social and religious evolution; it also reveals a change of spirit by its appeals to the heart and by the tone of exhortation in which its prescriptions are often couched” (ibid., 144). 164 R. Kessler, Sozialgeschichte (2006), 15. 165 In general, the biblical textual tradition is regarded as historically reliable and, just like W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. A Historical analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths (London 1968), 95, he never questions the historicity of the Patriarchs; see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel (London 1961), 289–294 and idem, Die Patriarchenerzählungen und ihre Geschichte (SBS 3; Stuttgart 1965). 166 R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel (1961), 3–15. Though the portrait of the nomad is here quite similar to the one M. Weber paints of the Bedouin (MWS I/21, 22–24 = MWG I/21251–254 = RS III, 13–16); Weber, however maintains that Israelite law does not reflect any archaic Bedouin tradition, MWS I/21, 24. 167 Again, R. de Vaux follows the argument by J. Pedersen, that nomadic elements were preserved in Israelite culture (see e.g. Israel II, 466) 168 “Blood-vengeance is a desert law, but it became a permanent institution, and the solidarity of the clan never disappeared”, R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel (1961), 13. 169 P. McNutt, Reconstructing the Society (1999), 18. 170 In contrast to earlier studies in the wake of W. Robertson Smith, the Israelite family is seen as patriarchal, but R. de Vaux does not distinguish between nuclear and extended family and defines as follows: “The family consists of those who are united by common blood and common dwelling place … The family included the servants, the resident aliens or gêrim and the ‘stateless persons’, widows and orphans, who lived under the protection of the head of the family” (R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 20). 163

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

83

Despite its richness in detail it remains a major weakness of R. de Vaux’s study that it tends to treat socio-cultural data as a sideshow.171 Also the complete lack of the economic factor, i.e. the role played by economic processes leaves out a vast area of institutional and social life. As such R. de Vaux’s work remains a valuable compilation of social data but this data needs to be analyzed. Most of the things he presents as facts have to be scrutinized in synchronic and diachronic perspectives and then often a different picture of the social life and the institutions emerges.

3. Beyond Roland de Vaux In many ways R. de Vaux’s synthesis represents the last attempt to reconstruct Israelite social life and the role of its institutions without any references to insights from sociology and cultural/social anthropology. Also, the rise of (biblical) archaeology that is no longer tied to the Hebrew Bible and the notion that many biblical texts are simply creations from a much later period and probably historically rather unreliable make it henceforth impossible to approach the social life and structure of Israelite society simply by using the Hebrew Bible alone.

3.1. Anthropologists Discover the Hebrew Bible A first impulse to integrate new approaches, however, came from outside the field of Hebrew Bible. From the 1960s onwards several anthropologists began explicitly to apply their methods to the Hebrew Bible.172 Here we have to mention Mary Douglas (1921–2007),173 Edmund Leach (1910–1989)174 and Julien Pitt-Rivers (1919–2001).175

171

F. S. Frick, Reconstructing Ancient Israel’s Social World (1999), 237. A similar move can be observed for the field of Classics. See e.g. A. W. Gouldner, Enter Plato. Classcial Greece and the Origins of Social Theory (London 1965); C. Kluckhon, Anthropology and the Classics. The Clover Lectures at Brown University 1960 (Providence 1961); P. Walcot, Greek Peasants Ancient and Modern. A Comparison of Social and Moral Values (Manchester 1970) and the overview in S. C. Humphreys, Anthropology and the Greeks (International Library of Anthropology; London 1978) and J. Redfield, “Classics and Anthropology”, Arion III/1.2 (1991), 5–23. 173 Relevant works: Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London/New York 1966); “Deciphering a Meal” in: Implicit Meanings: Selected Essays in Anthropology (London 21999), 249–275; In the Wilderness. The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers (JSOTSup 158; Sheffield 1993); Leviticus as Literature (Oxford 1999); “Responding to Ezra. The Priests and the Foreign Wives”, BibInt 10 (2002) 1–23; Jacob’s Tears. The Priestly Work of Reconciliation (Oxford 2004); Thinking in Circles. An Essay on Ring-Composition (Terry Lecture Series; New Haven/London 2007). 174 Relevant works: Genesis as Myth and Other Essays (London 1969); “The Logic of Sacrifice”, in: Anthropological Approaches to the Old Testament (ed. B. Lang; Issues in Religion and Theology 8; London 1985), 136–150; E. R. Leach/D. A. Aycock, Structuralist Interpretations of Biblical Myth (Cambridge 1983). 175 Relevant works: The Fate of Shechem and the Politics of Sex. Essays in the Anthropology of the Mediterranean (Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology; Cambridge 1977); Anthropologie de 172

84

Anselm C. Hagedorn

In her classic study Purity and Danger, first published in 1966, M. Douglas uses material from the Hebrew Bible (especially Leviticus) to clarify her theory of purity and pollution.176 Her system of classification – clearly indebted to A. A. Radcliffe-Brown’s version of functionalism – that defined “pollution” as something being out of place or being on the wrong side of a boundary as well as her grid and group model have been used frequently to illustrate biblical texts.177 The Hebrew Bible for her provides an interesting set of ethnographical data and this implies that we have to study the religion of the Bible like one studies any other religion.178 This then leads to a second step, namely to the critique of our Western and modernist assumptions or preconceptions of religion “in order to transcend the reductive dichotomies of revealed versus false religion or reason versus superstition.”179 Additionally, Douglas is aware of the complete otherness of biblical religion and postulates the need to approach the Bible and the world it portrays like an exotic entity which is new and unfamiliar to us. The impact of functionalism with its focus on social phenomena and how they shape or create a coherent social system allows Douglas to shift from grand overarching narratives to a focus on everyday custom and practice.180 Rather Douglas introduces the concept of “implicit meanings”, which can be seen as a further development of the emic/etic dichotomy because she argues that human thoughts, habits and categories are so deeply connected to the social environment that members of society are largely unaware of them. This means that “deciphering a meal” yields as much information about the social structures and the social life of the society studied as an analysis of a sacrificial system. The results of such analysis, however, always have to be seen in the larger social context. She strongly argues against “piecemeal interpretations” of isolated events: Defilement is never an isolated event. It cannot occur except in view of a systematic ordering of ideas. Hence any piecemeal interpretation of the pollution rules of another culture is bound to fail. For the only way in which pollution ideas make sense is in reference to a total structure of thought.181

What we learn from Douglas’ analysis of the various biblical texts is that details such as sexual or food taboos, matters of purity (and impurity) point us to a multivalent system of implicit meanings. The details create a symbolic system, which is l’honneur. Le mésaventure de Sichem (Pluriel; Paris 1997). On J. Pitt-Rivers see S. T. Freeman, “J. A. Pitt-Rivers (1919–2001)”, American Anthropologist 106 (2004) 216–218. 176 On M. Douglas see the biography by R. Fardon, Mary Douglas: An Intellectual Biography (London 1999), who states that her work can be seen as “a classic expression of British anthropological modernism” (260). 177 M. Douglas herself describes grid and group as “a method for sorting out the dramatis personae of any social situation”, C. Gosden, “Grid and Group: An Interview with Mary Douglas”, Journal of Social Archaeology 4 (2004), 275–287, 280). 178 Nevertheless there is an acute awareness on M. Douglas’ part about the limitations of her enterprise, since she is not a specialist in the field of biblical studies, see M. Douglas, Jacob’s Tears (2004), 2. 179 R. Hendel, “Mary Douglas and Anthropological Modernism”, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8 (2008) Article 8, 1–11 (2). 180 Already in 1946 E. Auerbach observes a similar trend in literature, see E. Auerbach, Mimesis. Dargestellte Wirklichkeit in der abendländischen Literatur (Bern 91994), 488. 181 M. Douglas, Purity and Danger (1966), 41.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

85

based on rules of behaviour as well as actions and meanings. All this, in turn, constitutes society as a whole. The presence of rules forms the bed-rock of society.182 M. Douglas’ focus on conceptual categories as well as on the correlation between social institutions and religious practice made her work an ideal mine for biblical scholars.183 And despite several criticisms in regard to detail her models continue to be employed.184 E. Leach’s interest in the Bible was triggered by his reading of C. Lévi-Strauss, who exercised a tremendous influence on him, even though he seems to reject all of C. Lévi-Strauss’ conclusions. He remarks at the outset of the study Structuralist Interpretations of Biblical Myth: None of the essays in this volume could have been written if they had not been preceded by LéviStrauss’ two seminal essays, ‘The Structural Study of Myth’ and ‘The Story of Asdiwal’, but the discrepancies between the methodology developed here and that employed by Lévi-Strauss are numerous and fundamental.185

The Hebrew Bible as well as the New Testament formed a gold mine of narratives for E. Leach.186 Since he regarded these narratives as being of a mythical nature they were uniquely suitable for this way of structuralist analysis. This conviction has important bearings for his view of the Bible. The mythological nature of the narratives does not allow him to see the Bible as a historical document.187 In a way, he voices opinions here that will resurface in the debate about the historical value of the Hebrew Bible in the 1980s and 1990s.188 Leach does not negate the

182 See M. Douglas, “Critique and Commentary”, in: The Idea of Purity in Ancient Judaism. The Haskell Lectures 1972–1974 (by J. Neusner; SJLA 1; Leiden 1973, 137–142), 138 183 It is to the great credit of M. Douglas that she revised her work in the light of critical biblical scholarship as well as in the light of insights from classical Antiquity; see e.g. her engagement with R. Parker, Miasma. Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion (Oxford 1982) in Jacob’s Tears, 159–163. 184 Out of the plethora of studies referring to M. Douglas’ work see – next to J. Milgrom’s magisterial commentary on Leviticus – P. J. Budd, “Holiness and Cult”, in: The World of Ancient Israel. Sociological, Anthropological and Political Perspectives (ed. R. E. Clements; Cambridge 1989), 275–298; J. Duhaime, “Lois alimentaires et pureté corporelle dans le Lévitique. L’approche de Mary Douglas et sa reception par Jacob Milgrom”, Religiologiques 17 (1998) 19–35; E. Firmage, “The biblical dietary laws and the concept of holiness”, in: Studies in the Pentateuch (ed. J. A. Emerton; VT.S 41; Leiden 1990), 177–208; R. Hendel, “Table and Altar: An Anthropology of Food in the Priestly Torah”, in: To Break Every Yoke: Essays in Honor of Marvin L. Chaney (ed. R. B. Coote/N. K. Gottwald; Sheffield 2007), 131–148; S. M. Olyan, “Mary Douglas’s Holiness/Wholeness Paradigm: Its Potential For Insight and Its Limitations”, The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8 (2008) Article 10, 2–9; J. F. Sawyer (ed.), Reading Leviticus. A Conversation with Mary Douglas (JSOT.S 227; Sheffield 1996); D. P. Wright, “Deciphering a Definition: The Syntagmatic Structural Analysis of Ritual in the Hebrew Bible”, The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8 (2008) Article 12, 2–9 185 E. R. Leach/D. A. Aycock, Structuralist Interpretations (1983), 1; see also E. Leach, Genesis as Myth (1969), 25, where he states that he feels “reasonable safe with Lévi-Strauss’ concept of structure” and continues to state that his essay on “The Legitimacy of Solomon” is a “limited exercise in certain of Lévi-Strauss’ methods”. 186 On E. Leach’s analysis of the Bible see the excellent biography of his former Cambridge colleague S. J. Tambiah, Edmund Leach. An Anthropological Life (Cambridge 2002), esp. 290–317. Much of the following is indebted to Tambiah’s careful analysis and presentation. 187 D. A. Aycock/E. Leach, Structuralist Interpretations (1983), 35. 188 See also his 1980 statement: “I hold that anthropologists first need to make a case for saying that no part of the Bible is a record of history as it actually happened. Then, on the positive

86

Anselm C. Hagedorn

literary growth of the Hebrew Bible.189 He postulates, however, that the canon was fixed in about 100 bce and since then the same structures were retained despite changes in the historical and theological environment. As a result, “this record has been substantially unchanged over a very long period. To asses these structures we do not need to know how particular stories came to assume their present form nor the dates at which they were written”.190 In a way E. Leach does final form exegesis when he treats the biblical text as a unity and analyzes its structures “regardless of the varying historical origins of its component parts”.191 This methodology makes it possible for him to compare narratives and stories that share little content and argue that even such texts share similarities and differences in regard to structure. In contrast to C. Lévi-Strauss for whom “myth increasingly became a domain insulated from its connections with ritual action and social organizational context”.192 E. Leach was always aware that myth cannot be detached from social life and organization. Without the ethnographic context any analysis of myth has to remain descriptive. In their own way, myths reflect the social structure of a society behind them and can only be properly understood by a close study of the social life behind them.193 Here E. Leach detects a set of binary opposites that seem to govern society: Israelite/Foreigner; Tent Dweller/City Dweller; Endogamy/Exogamy; Virtue/Sin.194 He is able to argue that a taboo against incest coupled with a rule of exogamy can provide the basis for the formations of matrimonial alliances between antagonistic groups within a single political community.195 For E. Leach it is natural that a political community consists of (social) groups that can be in alliance or mutually antagonistic. In contrast, rules of endogamy tend to provide the basis for the unitary solidarity of a religious community.196 How myth can function with the social life of a community is especially apparent in his study “The Legitimacy of Solomon”.197 As side, they can show that the whole of the Bible has the characteristics of mytho-history of the sort that anthropologists regularly encounter when they engage in present-day field research” (E. Leach, “Anthropological Approaches to the Study of the Bible during the Twentieth Century”, quoted in J. W. Rogerson, “Anthropology and The Old Testament”, in: The World of Ancient Israel. Sociological, Anthropological and Political Perspectives (ed. R. E. Clements; Cambridge 1989, 17–38 [19]). 189 “All scholarly opinion recognizes that the present recension of the books of the Old Testament is an assemblage of very varied writings which was finally edited and made fully canonical only around 100 bc. Likewise all agree that the purportedly ‘early’ works in the collection contain numerous interpolations which have been inserted from time to time by later editors in the interests of consistency or with a view to providing traditional support for a disputed point of political or religious doctrine”, E. Leach, Genesis as Myth (1969), 34. 190 Ibid., 33. 191 Ibid., 80. 192 S. J. Tambiah, Edmund Leach, 295. 193 This view echoes B. Malinowski’s concept of myth. Here, myths are seen not as isolated episodes or pieces of literature but as texts that merged with contexts. Additionally, myths serve a legitimating function in the present; see B. Malinowski, “Myth in Primitive Psychology”, in Malinowski and the Work of Myth (ed. I. Strenski; Princeton 1992), 77–116. 194 Leach uses texts like Jud 11:30–40 and Gen 22:1–8 which he sees as opposites (ibid., 35) and the narratives in Gen 34; Jud 9; 11:1–11; 13–14 to highlight these opposites. 195 Cf. S.J. Tambiah, Edmund Leach, 298. 196 Ibid. 197 The essay was first published in the European Journal of Sociology 7 (1966), 58–101 and is reprinted in Genesis as Myth Genesis as Myth, 25–83.

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

87

far as the social life of ancient Israel is concerned he showed in this investigation that the succession of Solomon was a myth that mediated a major contradiction between the Israelite injunction in favour of endogamy, to preserve the identity of the Israelite people amidst numerous other ethnic groups in Palestine and the fact that exogamy was often necessary between Israelite kings and foreign women as a way to forge political alliances.198 In contrast to M. Douglas and E. Leach, J. Pitt-Rivers approaches the biblical text from the perspective of Mediterranean Anthropology.199 In contrast to Leach, Pitt-Rivers explicitly aims at taking the problem of history into account, a problem that Leach seems to evade.200 Furthermore, Pitt-Rivers is concerned with origins but does not succumb to the Tylorian proposal of ‘survival’ – a concept that he labels a “confession of defeat before the challenge to find a contemporary sense in anything”.201 Instead he sees societies as being always in transition between a former and a future state and, in turn, “their structure is always a 198 See P.F. Esler and A.C. Hagedorn, “Social-Scientific Analysis of the Old Testament. A Brief History and Overview”, in: Ancient Israel. The Old Testament in its Social Context (ed. P.F. Esler, Minneapolis 2006, 15–32), 20. 199 The field of Mediterranean Anthropology has been a hotly debated topic in Social and Cultural Anthropology since its beginnings. From the plethora of contributions see the following: D. Albera, “Anthropology of the Mediterranean: Between Crisis and Renewal”, History and Anthropology 17 (2006), 109–133. V. Argyou, “The Mediterranean? Need One Ask or Reply?”, Anthropological Journal on European Cultures 10 (2001), 25–38. J. Boissevain, “Towards a Social Anthropology of the Mediterranean”, Current Anthropology 20 (1979), 81–93. V. Bonifaçic, “Ethnology, Anthropology and Cultural History of the Mediterranean: Inside and Outside Perspectives”, Narodna umjetnost 36 (1999), 269–282. C. Bromberger, “Towards and Anthropology of the Mediterranean”, History and Anthropology 17 (2006), 91–107. J. De Pina-Cabral, “The Mediterranean as a Category of Regional Comparison: a Critical View”, Current Anthropology 30 (1989), 399–406. H. Driessen, “People, Boundaries and the Anthropologist”s Mediterranean”, Anthropological Journal on European Cultures 10 (2001), 11–23. H. Driessen, “Pre- and Post-Braudelian Conceptions of the Mediterranean Area. The Puzzle of Boundaries”, Narodna umjetnost 36 (1999), 53–63. T. Fabre, “Face to Face, Side by Side: Between Europe and the Mediterranean”, History and Anthropology 18 (2007), 353–356. D.D. Gilmore, “Anthropology of the Mediterranean Area”, Annual Review of Anthropology 11 (1982), 175–205. C. Giordano, “Is There a Mediterranean Anthropology? The Point of View of an Outsider”, Anthropological Journal on European Cultures 1 (1990), 109–124. M. Herzfeld, “On Mediterraneanist Performances”, Journal of Mediterranean Studies 1 (1991), 141–147. M. Herzfeld, “Practical Mediterraneanism: Excuses for Everything, from Epistomology to Eating”, in: Rethinking the Mediterranean (ed. V.W. Harris; Oxford 2005, 45–63). M. Herzfeld, “Taking Stereotypes Seriously; “Mediterraneanism” Reconsidered”, in: The Mediterranean Reconsidered. Representations, Emergences, Recompositions (ed. M. Peressini and R. Hadj-Moussa; Mercury Series. Cultural Studies Papers 79; Gatineau 2005, 25–37). P. Horden and N. Purcell, “The Mediterranean and ‘the New Thalassology’“, American Historical Review 111 (2006), 722–740. R. Just, “Some Problems for Mediterranean Anthropology”, Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 9 (1978), 81–97. P.J. Magnarella, “Conceptualizing the Circum-Mediterranean for Purposes of Social Scientific Research”, Journal of Mediterranean Studies 2 (1992), 18–24. I. Morris, “Mediterranization”, Mediterranean Historical Review 18 (2003), 30–55. J. Portugali, “The Mediterranean as a Cognitive Map”, Mediterranean Historical Review 19 (2004), 16–24. N. Purcell, “The Boundless Sea of Unlikeness? On Defining the Mediterranean”, Mediterranean Historical Review 18 (2003), 9–29. P. Sant Cassia and I. Schäfer, “‘Mediterranean Conundrums’: Pluridisciplinary Perspectives for Research in the Social Science”, History and Anthropology 16 (2005), 1–23. C. Shore, “Anthropology, Literature, and the Problem of Mediterranean Identity”, Journal of Mediterranean Studies 5 (1995), 1–13. S. Stoddart, “Towards a Historical Ethnography of the Mediterranean”, Current Anthropology 33 (1992), 599–600. 332–348. 200 J. Pitt-Rivers, Fate of Shechem, 131. 201 Ibid., vii–viii.

88

Anselm C. Hagedorn

transformation of what went before”.202 J. Pitt-Rivers’ focus on the value system and more explicitly on the moral values of Honour and Shame203 within a geographical defined area (i.e. the Mediterranean) has been hugely influential in European anthropology204 and several insights of the model have been readily accepted by biblical scholars. Here the unifying tendencies of the values of Honour and Shame as well as of the Mediterranean basin have been stressed, neglecting the fact, highlighted by J. Pitt-Rivers himself that these values have to be seen within the framework of the above mentioned transformation.205 Despite the fact that the notion of Mediterranean honour as well as the concept of a Mediterranean206 unity has been rightly critiqued in anthropological circles,207 J. Pitt-Rivers is the first to elaborate in detail on the underlying value system of social life as well as of the (family) institutions described in the text. This enabled him as well as the biblical scholars using his models to decode the messages behind the texts. Texts are now seen to convey social meanings and to affirm social structures that are embedded in the language of the text but not always detectable on the surface by readers who are not part of the culture in which the text emerged.208 This allows J. Pitt-Rivers to place the Book of Genesis “at the point of transition where the age of myth begins to give way to the age of philosophy”.209 He takes the mythological character of many of the stories in Genesis seriously but realizes that the text progresses towards “the practical style of empirical reality and clear imperatives which take pride of place later in Leviticus”.210 His 202

Ibid., viii. His well known definition of honour states: “Honour is the value of a person in his own eyes, but also in the eyes of his society. It is his estimation of his own worth, his claim to pride, but it is also the acknowledgement of that claim recognised by society, his right to pride” (Ibid,. 1). See also L. Abu-Lughod, Veiled Sentiments. Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Village (Berkeley 1986); J.K. Campbell, Honour, Family and Patronage. A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community (Oxford 1964). 204 Since the beginning of systematic anthropological research in the mediterranean lands, the terms ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ have been used to represent an enormous variety of local social, sexual, economic, and other standards” (M. Herzfeld, “Honour and Shame: Problems in the Comparative Analysis of Moral Systems”, Man n.s. 15 (1980), 339–51 [339]). While 19th century researchers often used the so called ‘honour-complex’ to describe lower stages of civilization (C. Giordano, “Mediterranean Honour Reconsidered. Anthropological Fiction or Actual Action Strategy?”, Anthropological Journal on European Cultures 10 (2001), 39–58 [39]), 20th century anthropologists employed the notion to identify a so-called circum-Mediterranean value system that, since it appears to be homogenous, seems to ignore the traditional division in Muslim and Christian cultures. 205 J. Pitt-Rivers, Fate of Shechem, viii. 206 M. Herzfeld, Anthropology through the looking glass. Critical ethnography in the margins of Europe (Cambridge 31993), 6) and also M. Herzfeld, “On Mediterraneanist Performances”, Journal of Mediterranean Studies 1 (1991), 141–147. 207 Since 1980 the theory of a circum-Mediterranean value system based on the notion of honor and shame has been repeatedly attacked and several modifications have been proposed; cf. M. Herzfeld, “Honour and Shame: Problems in the Comparative Analysis of Moral Systems”, Man n.s. 15 (1980), 339–51; C. Giordano, “Mediterranean Honour Reconsidered. Anthropological Fiction or Actual Action Strategy?”, Anthropological Journal on European Cultures 10 (2001), 39–58 ; R. Just, “On the ontological status of honour”, in: An Anthropology of Indirect Communication (ed. Joy Hendry and C.W. Watson; ASA Monographs 37, London/New York 2001, 34–50). 208 “To understand the past is like understanding another culture” (J. Pitt-Rivers, The Fate of Shechem, 169). 209 Ibid., 145. 210 Ibid., 146. 203

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

89

test-case in Genesis 34, a text which he does not simply treat as history, i.e. an unfortunate event from the time of the patriarchs, but as a story of the transition of sexual honour in conjunction with Israel’s “first attempt to abandon the nomadic way of life.”211 In contrast to pure myth, the stories of the Hebrew Bible are the attempt by a society (or some of its members) to derive rules and guidelines for reshaping social life from the past for the present. Within his interpretation it implies that Genesis 34 expresses a change in sexual and social relations. On a wider level J. Pitt-Rivers shows that sex and the regulation of sexual relationships “is a political matter, a function of a system of status and power manifest in the idiom of honour”.212 Within a theory of transition, advocated by Pitt-Rivers, Genesis 34 further marks the transition from an elementary to a complex kinship system as well as from a closed kinship system to a system of marriage strategy that is dominated by political values. Within this process the Israelites also adopt the Mediterranean values of honour and shame which form the basis of a more complex society. Despite the obvious weaknesses of J. Pitt-Rivers’ treatment of the Hebrew Bible,213 his focus on social/moral values as well as the awareness that such values can be transformed while at the same time remaining remarkably stable made his contribution an ideal starting point for an anthropological investigation of the Hebrew Bible. Here, especially his notion of honour and shame has proven a very useful interpretative parameter for an analysis of the social structures as well as the social life behind the biblical texts. As such honour and shame can be described as reciprocal moral values that represent the integration of an individual into a group.214 Both reflect the conferral of public esteem upon a person and the sensitivity to public opinion on which the person is totally dependent.215 Therefore they are critical in societies in which all relationships are viewed mainly as dyadic.216 Obviously honour has a hierarchical aspect and is thus tied to the kinship system. Therefore it is hardly surprising that honour and blood are closely related.217 This hierarchy in turn means that only members of (perceived) equal social standing are able to challenge each other’s honour. It is hardly surprising that honour is neither a gender specific nor individual phenomenon but at the same time affects the family, kinship group or society. Therefore it was possible to talk about the so-called ‘moral division of labor’, i.e. that male and female members are responsible for the preservation of their collective hon-

211

Ibid., 161. Ibid., 170. 213 There is only limited engagement with critical biblical scholarship (he only refers to G. v. Rad; R.R. Wilson, E. Speiser, R. de Vaux and A.S. Herbert) and classic source criticism such as the existence of an Elohist is very much alive; this can be explained by Pitt-Rivers own admission that he does not know Hebrew and the fact that he deliberately approaches the Hebrew Bible from the perspective of an anthropologist. He further tends to see the stories of the patriarchs as historical events and follows the chronology outlined by the Bible itself. 214 See D.D. Gilmore (ed)., Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean, Washington 1987, 3. 215 J. Pitt-Rivers, “Honour and Social Status”, in Honour and Shame. The Values of Mediterranean Society (ed. J.G. Peristiany; The Nature of Human Society Series, Chicago 1965, 21–77), 42. 216 See J.G. Peristiany (ed.), Honour and Shame. The Values of Mediterranean Society (The Nature of Human Society Series) Chicago 1965), 10; J.K. Campbell, Honour, 270. 217 See J.K. Campbell, Honour, 185. 212

90

Anselm C. Hagedorn

our and it has rightly been pointed out that the division of honour into a male and female realm tends to correspond to the division of roles in the family. Honour and shame are social evaluations and thus participate in the nature of social sanctions … Honour and shame are two poles of an evaluation. They are the reflection of the social personality in the mirror of social ideals. What is particular to these evaluations is that they use as standard of measurement the type of personality considered as representative and exemplary of a certain society.218

If one is bound to see at least some historical value in the biblical texts the models offered by M. Douglas and J. Pitt-Rivers provide a much better starting point for interpretation than the purely mythological ventures of E. Leach. We shall see in the following how social-scientific approaches to biblical social life have benefited from these anthropological insights.

3.2. The Study of Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel since 1970 It is a truth universally acknowledged that a biblical scholar in possession of a social scientific agenda will be in want of his senses. L. L. Grabbe

The stimuli from anthropology as well as the integration of further insights from a wide variety of social sciences prompted a revival of the sociological/anthropological study of the Hebrew Bible. This movement beginning in the 1970s has been termed “second wave” social science criticism.219 Despite the frequent use of the label ‘new’,220 many of the anthropological and sociological problems already outlined by W. Robertson Smith; M. Weber and others remain the starting point for this new mode of interpretation.221 They are, however, supplemented by a variety of interpretative models that bear witness to the increase in methodological proposals as well as to a shift away from a dominant interpretative perspective.222 In the second wave of anthropological/ sociological approaches to the Hebrew Bible characterized by methodological pluriformity equally there can be observed a distinct lack of agreement which social-scientific models are particular relevant for the study of the social life of ancient Israel.223 Further, these recent social studies

218

See J.G. Peristiany (ed.), Honour and Shame, 9–10. See the overviews in S.L. Cook/R.A. Simkins, “Introduction”, 1–14; F.S. Frick, “Reconstructing Ancient Israel’s Social World”, 233–254 and J.M. Halligan, “Where Angels”, 202–218. According to F.S. Frick, the transitional point is the publication of G.E. Mendenhall, “The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine”, BA 25 (1962), 66–87. Mendenhall proposes “not to give dogmatic answers to historical problems, but rather to suggest further fruitful lines of inquiry, and to suggest relationships between seemingly unrelated bits of information” (67). 220 R. Albertz, “Social History”, 348–352 rightly critiques the ever widening gap between American and European scholarship and notes several instances of blatant ignorance of important works. 221 Thus it is hardly surprising that J. Berlinerblau, “The Present Crisis”, 117 urges his readers to return to the classics. 222 J.W. Flanagan, David’s Social Drama, 72–73. 223 See P. McNutt, Reconstructing the Society, 26. 219

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

91

share the methodological presupposition that the historical reliability of a biblical text has to be carefully questioned. In other words, they realize that the Bible is shaped and re-shaped by theological and ideological viewpoints and opinions that often obscure the simple historical description.224 This is not to say that the biblical text cannot serve as a historical source but it is a source that needs to be carefully evaluated and supplemented by material and other sources.225 Despite this wide variety of approaches two strands of interpretation can be observed: a) Studies that employ models derived from the social sciences as heuristic tools to describe and to interpret a society or parts thereof from the past whose set of values are entirely different from the values of the society of the interpreter.226 The social system of a group of humans can be called a model, which contains categories of knowledge and behaviour that serve to control and understand human interaction.227 Such models or social concepts that emerge from human interaction are called social science models: “The understanding and interpretation of human behavior is always based on models of how the social world works whether the person understanding and interpreting is aware of the model (explicit models) or unaware (implicit models) since human beings chunk in order to understand”.228 Moving beyond the traditional historical-critical approach, social science models try to grasp human behaviour with certain typologies229 that attempt to explain the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of a certain type of behaviour.230 b) Approaches that claim to offer a social history (Sozialgeschichte). These tend to avoid the use of social-scientific models and are mainly concerned with the applicability of the biblical text for modern times.231 Their method is dominantly descriptive without any (critical) classification of the sources.232

224 Comp. P.R. Davies, In Search of ‘Ancient Israel’ (JSOTSup 148; Sheffield 1992) 22–48 and the statement in L.L. Grabbe, Priests, 5–11. 225 P. McNutt, Reconstructing the Society, 214 rightly states that ‘history’ has been transformed into an “ongoeing conversation between past and present”. In this respect it is unfortunate that there is a tendency to reconstruct ancient Israel’s social world without any references to the Hebrew Bible; see the discussion in R. Albertz, “Social History”, 352. Equally unfortunate, however, is a tendency to use the biblical text without any investigation of its literary formation (Literarkritik) to develop a picture of the daily, i.e. social life of ancient Israel. 226 See B.J. Malina, “The Social Sciences”, 231–233 and J.H. Elliott, What is Social Scientific Criticism, 36–59. 227 B.J. Malina, “The Social Sciences”, 232 and J.H. Elliott, What is Social Scientific Criticism, 42. 228 B.J. Malina, “The Social Sciences”, 232. 229 T.F. Carney, The Shape of the Past. Models and Antiquity (Lawrence 1975), 11. 230 B.J. Malina, “The Social Sciences”, 233: “The social sciences indicate how and why meanings get imposed on and in the present.” 231 W. Schottroff, Gerechtigkeit Lernen, 23. See also the remarks in F.S. Frick, „Sociological Criticism and Its Relation to Political and Social Hermeneutics. With a Special Look at Biblical Hermeneutics in South African Liberation Theology“, in: The Bible and the Politics of Exegesis: Essays in Honour of Norman K. Gottwald on His Sixty-Fifth Birthday (ed. D. Jobling, P.L. Day and G.T. Sheppard; Cleveland 1991, 225–238). 232 This approach is prevalent in the Sozialgeschichtliches Wörterbuch zur Bibel (ed. F. Crüsemann, K. Hungar, C. Janssen, R. Kessler, L. Schottroff; Gütersloh 2009). In the editorial statement, its authors acknowledge the difference between the biblical and the modern world but then proceed to outline three hermeneutical discourses that will determine the entries: 1. liberation-theology; 2.

92

Anselm C. Hagedorn

The biblical narrative still determines the focus of the investigation and a variety of sociological and anthropological studies are done on the early history of Israel but recent years have seen an increase in works dealing with the second Temple period.233 We have to note further that several recent works on the history of Israel tend to incorporate sociological observations in the presentation.234 This development goes hand in hand with the re-evaluation of the archaeological data and with a serious re-thinking about the role of archaeology in the reconstruction of a particular society.235 As a result it is often very difficult to distinguish sharply between traditional literary critical studies and social scientific enterprises and even classic historical critical studies tend to include considerations of the social location of the different authors that transcend the traditional Sitz-im-Leben approach advocated first by H. Gunkel. The collection The World of Ancient Israel, edited by R. E. Clements, lists under the heading Fundamental Institutions the following: 1. Law and legal administration; 2. prophecy and society; 3. the social world of the wisdom writers; 4. the social world of the apocalyptic writings. The collection of essays then employs a wide variety of approaches that successfully fuse literary critical and sociological advances. In a way the current volume of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament project bears witness to this interpretative change: classic institutions such as biblical law, the world of the sages and prophecy are treated in individual chapters and will reflect the change in methodology. As far as the study of biblical institutions is concerned prophecy has been one of the main subjects of focus of social-scientific investigation.236 Here we have to distinguish between two approaches: 1) Cross-cultural comparisons that aim feminist theology and 3. the changed relationship between Jews and Christians. This shows that the guiding principle – despite the introductory statement – is not a better understanding of the biblical world but an interpretation of the biblical world as represented in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament in the light of a political and ideological agenda. 233 E.g. J.L. Berquist, Judaism in Persia’s Shadow. A Social and Historical Approach (Minneapolis 1995); S.L. Cook, Prophecy and Apocalypticism. The Post-Exilic Social Setting (Minneapolis 1995); D. Janzen, Witch-hunts, Purity and Social Boundaries. The Expulsion of the Foreign Women in Ezra 9–10 (JSOTSup 350; Sheffield 2002). 234 See e.g. R. Albertz, Die Exilszeit. 6. Jahrhundert v. Chr. (Biblische Enzyklopädie 7; Stuttgart 2001), 112–116 and the observations by L.L. Grabbe, “Some Recent Issues in the Study of the History of Israel”, PBA 143 (2007), 57–70. But see the critical remarks about social theory in I.W. Provan, V.P. Long and T. Longman III, A Biblical History of Israel (Louisville 2003), 75. 235 See e.g. I. Finkelstein, “Bible Archaeology or Archaeology of Palestine in the Iron age? A Rejoinder”, Levant 30 (1998), 167–174; C. Uehlinger, “Neither Eyewitnesses, Nor Windows to the Past, but Valuable Testimony in its own right: Remarks on Iconography, Source Criticism and Ancient Data-processing”, PBA 143 (2007), 173–228. 236 The interest was sparked by a paper by P.L. Berger, “Charisma and religious innovation: the social location of Israelite Prophecy”, American Sociological Review 28 (1963), 940–950. The literature is legion; for a distinct social-science focus see the useful overview by R.P. Carroll, “Prophecy and society”, in: The world of Ancient Israel. Sociological, Anthropological and Political Perspectives (ed. R.E. Clements; Cambridge 1989, 203–225) and the studies by J. Blenkinsopp, Sage, Priest, Prophet. Religious and Intellectual Leadership in Ancient Israel (Library of Ancient Israel; Louisville 1995); R.P. Carroll, When Prophecy Failed. Responeses to Failure in the Old Testament Prophetic Tradition (London 1979), and L.L. Grabbe, Priests, 64–118. The groundbreaking works by T.W. Overholt and R.R. Wilson will be discussed below; cf. also the cautionary remarks about a too narrow focus on comparative material in L.L. Grabbe, “Joseph Smith and the Gestalt of the Israelite Prophet”, in: Ancient Israel. The Old Testament in its Social Context (ed. P.F. Esler; Minneapolis 2006, 111–127); for a first attempt to iluminate ancient Near Eastern prophecy with help of social-science methods see L.L. Grabbe, “Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy from an Anthropological Perspective,” in: Prophecy

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

93

at addressing the social psychology of biblical prophets and their interconnectedness with other members or institutions of society (T. W. Overholt) and 2) Studies that focus on the social function of prophetic activity (R. R. Wilson). All studies work with the assumption that the prophetic figure described in the texts is indeed a historical person and that we can learn something about his personality.237 The pioneer of the social-scientific study of prophecy was T. W. Overholt. True to the ethnographic interest that had been a feature of the work of W. Robertson Smith, he began to investigate examples of prophecy from other cultures. He notes the ambiguity of the term ‘prophet’ since various other roles of such diviner fit the broader category of intermediary and describes his methodology as follows:238 In my view a key requirement is a basis for comparison that focuses on intermediaries themselves but remains relatively free from culturally conditioned content of what they said … My main concern is neither the normative aspects of prophecy nor the revitalization process as a whole, but rather the social dynamics of the prophetic act itself.239

Overholt recognized the social dimension of prophecy but at the same time postulated that it is possible to discern certain general patterns in all prophetic activity. Although a cross-cultural interest was not new in itself, Overholt was innovative in two respects. Firstly, he rejected the study of prophetic movements in other cultures not so much in themselves, but merely for the light they might throw on Israelite prophets.240 Secondly, he insisted that the prophecy in question, whether from ancient Israel or elsewhere, should be studied for its own sake and not merely as an adjunct to some other interest – as for example when Israelite prophecy was considered as a trailer to some larger performance focused on the relationship between Yahweh and his people.241 He called for and practised a comparative methodology where both the cross-cultural and biblical prophetic in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context: Mesopotamian, Biblical, and Arabian Perspectives (ed. M. Nissinen; SBLSymS 13; Atlanta 2000, 13–32). 237 This has recenlty been questioned and we can observe a shift away from the ipsissima verba of a concrete prophetic person to a focus on the written book of the prophet; see e.g. U. Becker, “Die Wiederentdeckung des Prophetenbuches. Tendenzen und Aufgaben der gegenwärtigen Prophetenforschung”, BTZ 21 (2004), 30–60; J. Jeremias, “Neuere Tendenzen der Forschung an den kleinen Propheten”, in: Perspectives in the Study of the Old Testament and Early Judaism. A Symposium in Honour of Adam S. van der Woude on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday (ed. F.G. Martínez and E. Noort; VTSup 73, Leiden 1998, 122–136); R.G. Kratz, “Die Redaktion der Prophetenbücher”, in: Rezeption und Auslegung im Alten Testament und in seinem Umfeld. Ein Symposium aus Anlass des 60. Geburtstages von Odil Hannes Steck (ed. R.G. Kratz and T. Krüger; OBO 153, Fribourg/Göttingen 1997, 9–27). 238 A similar terminological move has been proposed by R.R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society, 21–28. 239 T. W. Overholt, Channels of Prophecy, 15. 240 See T. W. Overholt, “Prophecy: The Problem of Cross-Cultural Comparison”, in: Anthropological Perspectives on Old Testament Prophecy (ed. R.C. Culley and T.W Overholt; Semeia 21; Atlanta 1982, 55–78); cf. also the remarks in H.M. Barstad, “Comparare necesse est? Ancient Israelite and Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy in a Comparative Perspective”, in: Prophecy in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context: Mesopotamian, Biblical, and Arabian Perspectives (ed. M. Nissinen; SBLSymS 13; Atlanta 2000, 3–11). 241 T.W. Overholt, “Prophecy”, 58.

94

Anselm C. Hagedorn

phenomena were examined properly in themselves prior to comparison being attempted.242 On the basis of his comparative work, T. Overholt developed a useful model of the prophetic process that integrates the prophet, the deity and the people to whom the prophet speaks. In the 1970s R. R. Wilson started to use cross-cultural approaches to Israelite prophecy.243 Two aspects of his work merit particular attention. First, while insisting (like T. Overholt) that a prophet’s social location be taken into account, he helpfully distinguished between “peripheral intermediaries”, who were active in groups within a society and tended to advance the interests of those groups and the spirits who bestowed the message on the intermediaries and “central intermediaries”, who were concerned with maintaining the established social order and with regulating the pace of change.244 R. Wilson argues that these two ‘ideal types’ are not isolated from each other and that the prophetic figure can – in the course of his life – function in both categories.245 Secondly, Wilson used the extensive social-scientific research into trances and ecstatic states to shed light on similar phenomena among Israelite prophets, from 1 Samuel 10 onwards. It is worth noting, however, that interest in the ecstatic dimensions of prophecy goes back to a monograph by G. Hölscher admittedly from a history-of-religions and not a social-scientific approach.246 Contemporary to T. Overholt, R. P. Carroll was applying a different set of social-scientific theory to a different aspect of Israelite prophecy. In a brilliant leap of social-scientific imagination, Carroll introduced the theory of cognitive dissonance first developed in the 1950s by psychologist L. Festinger to understand what happened when a prophesied event failed to occur.247 Dissonance refers to the gap between expectation and belief; yet dissonance does not necessarily mean the dropping of the belief, but in many cases simply drives its often powerful reformulation. One of Carroll’s important findings was that the disconfirmation of a prophecy (for example, as to the return of a Davidic king) led to a reinterpretation of traditions to sidestep the problem.248 It is one of the advantages of R. Carroll’s methodology that it allows for an integration of the literary development of the prophetic tradition. The conflict approach is used in P. D. Hanson’s study of the rise of apocalypticism during the second Temple period.249 He adopts and modifies an older thesis by O. Plöger,250 arguing that the social life of the post-exilic Israelite community was marked by a strong antagonism between hierocratic circles and visionaries 242 T.W.Overholt, “The Ghost Dance of 1890 and the Nature of the Prophetic Process,” Ethnohistory 21 (1974), 37–63; see alsi id., “Prophecy”, 64–66 with reference to the prophecy of Jeremiah. 243 See R.R. Wilson, “Prophecy and Ecstasy: A Reexamination”, JBL 98 (1979), 321–337. 244 See R.R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society, 38–40.83–88 245 According to R.R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society, 205 Elisha functioned in both categories. For a slighlty different anthropological view of Elisha see T.W. Overholt, Cultural Anthropology, 24–68. 246 G. Hölscher, Die Propheten: Untersuchungen zur Religionsgeschichte Israels (Leipzig 1914). 247 See L. Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford 1957) and the application of it in R. P. Carroll, When Prophecy Failed. 248 Carroll 1979: 215. 249 P.D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic. The Historical and Sociological Roots of Jewish Apocalyptic Eschatology (Philadelphia 21979). 250 O. Plöger, Theokratie und Eschatologie (WMANT 2; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1962).

Institutions and Social Life in Ancient Israel: Sociological Aspects

95

who were responsible for the authorship of Trito-Isaiah. This group resembles a Gemeinschaft as defined by F. Tönnies (1855–1935) that rejects the values of the dominant society and strives to maintain a pure form of faith.251 From here it is a small step towards the emergence of sects.252 More recently, L. L. Grabbe has usefully sought to compare findings by social anthropologists into contemporary or recent prophetic phenomena with ancient Near Eastern prophecy.253 While this is an area where recently re-presented and edited prophetic texts from Mari and Neo-Assyria offer considerable material for comparison with Israelite prophecy,254 L. L. Grabbe is right to examine it from a social-scientific perspective on its own terms. He is well aware that social-scientific models are heuristic tools, allowing us to interrogate data in new ways and should not be used as a substitute for data.255

251 F. Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. Abhandlung des Communismus und des Socialismus als empirischer Kulturform (Darmstadt 32005 [originally published in 1857]). 252 On the problem and for a critique of P. Hanson’s proposals see J. Blenkinsopp, “Interpretation and the Tendency to Sectarianism: An Aspect of Second Temple History”, in: Jewish and Christian Self-Definition II (ed. E.P. Sanders, A.I. Baumgarten and A. Mendelson; Philadelphia 1981, 1–26) and id., “A Jewish Sect of the Persian Period”, CBQ 52 (1990), 5–20; see also P.R. Davies, “Sect Formation in Early Judaism” in: Sectarianism in Ancient Judaism. Sociological Advances (ed. D.J. Chalcraft; BibleWorld; London 2007; 133–155) and L.L. Grabbe, “When Is a Sect a Sect – or Not? Groups and Movements in the Second Temple Period”, in: Sectarianism in Ancient Judaism. Sociological Advances (ed. D.J. Chalcraft; BibleWorld; London 2007; 114–132). 253 See L.L. Grabbe, “Sup-Urbs or only Hyp-Urbs? Prophets and Populations in Ancient Israel and Socio-Historical Method,” in: ‘Every City shall be Forsaken’: Urbanism and Prophecy in Ancient Israel and the Near East (ed. L.L. Grabbe and R.D. Haak; JSOTSup 330; Sheffield 2001, 95–123) and id., “Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy”, 13–32 254 See Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East. (ed. M. Nissinen with contributions from C.L. Seow and K. Ritner, Robert; SBLWAW 12; Atlanta 2003) for texts from Mari, Assyria and other sites, including the ostraca from Lachish referring to (Yahwist) prophets. 255 L. Grabbe, “Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy”.

Chapter Twenty-nine

The Legacy of the Literary-critical School and the Growing Opposition to Historico-critical Bible Studies. The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History By John Barton, Oxford Sources and studies (in alphabetical order): W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity. Monotheism and the Historical Process (sec. edn. with a new introduction; Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press 1957). – R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (London: George Allen and Unwin 1981). – R. Alter/F. Kermode, The Literary Guide to the Bible (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard UP 1985). – K. Barth, Die Kirchliche Dogmatik, I: Die Lehre vom Worte Gottes, 2 (ZollikonZurich: Evangelischer Verlag) 545–546; ET: Church Dogmatics, I/2 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark 1956); Das Wort Gottes und die Theologie (Munich: Kaiser Verlag 1925). – J. Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (London: Oxford UP 1961). – J. Barton, The Nature of Biblical Criticism (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox 2007). – Bible and Culture Collective, The Postmodern Bible (New Haven/ London: Yale UP 1995). – C. E. Braaten/R. Jenson, Reclaiming the Bible for the Church (Edinburgh: T & T Clark 1995). – J. Bright, Early Israel in Recent History Writing: A Study in Method (London: SCM 1956). – R. P. Carroll, “Poststructuralist Approaches: New Historicism and Postmodernism”, in: J. Barton (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1998), 50–66. – B. S. Childs, The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster 1974); Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia/ London: Fortress/SCM 1979); Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context (London: SCM 1985); Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (London: SCM 1992). – D. J. A. Clines, Interested Parties: The Ideology of Writers and Readers of the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1995). – M. Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (London: Women’s Press 1973). – J. Derrida, L’écriture et la différance (Paris: Editions du seuil 1967). – J. Ebach, Ursprung und Ziel: Erinnerte Zukunft und erhoffte Vergangenheit. Exegesen, Relexionen, Geschichten (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 1986). – U. Eco, The Limits of Interpretation (Bloomington / Indianapolis: Indiana UP 1990); idem, with R. Rorty/ J. Culler/C. BrookeRose, Interpretation and Overinterpretation (ed. S. Collini; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1992). – W. Eichrodt, Theologie des Alten Testaments, 1–3 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1933, 1935, 1939); ET: Theology of the Old Testament (London: SCM, vol. 1, 1960 [from sixth edition of the German, 1959], vol. 2, 1967 [vols. 2 and 3 in one volume, from fifth edition of the German]). – S. Fish, Is there a Text in this Class? The authority of Interpretive Communities (Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard UP 1980. – Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1982). – S. Greenblatt, Shakespearian Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1988). – W. Iser, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1978). – H. R. Jauss, Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1982). – G. Josipovici, The Book of God: A Response to the Bible (New Haven/London: Yale UP 1988. – M. Kegel, Los von Wellhausen! (Gütersloh 1923). – F. Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard UP 1979. – G. Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1964). – H.-J. Kraus, Geschichte der historisch-kritischen

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

97

Erforschung des Alten Testaments von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart (Neukirchen, Kr. Moers: Neukirchener Verlag 1956, 31982). – C. S. Lewis, The Literary Impact of The Authorised Version. The Ethel M. Wood Lecture delivered before the University of London on 20 March 1950 (London: The Athlone Press 1950). – G. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Philadelphia: Westminster 1984). – U. Luz, Matthew in History: Interpretation, Influence, and Effects (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1994). – P. S. Minear, The Bible and the Historian: Breaking the Silence about God in Biblical Studies (Nashville: Abingdon Press 2002). – R. W. L. Moberly, The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2000). – M. Noth, Überleferungsgeschichte des Pentateuch (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1948). – M. Oeming, Gesamtbiblische Theologien der Gegenwart. Das Verhältnis von AT und NT in der hermeneutischen Diskussion seit Gerhard von Rad (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1985; sec. rev. edn. 1987). – L. Perlitt, Vatke und Wellhausen (BZAW 94; Berlin: de Gruyter 1965). – V. Propp, Morphology of the Folktale (sec. edn.; Austin, TX: University of Texas Press 1968; from Morfologija skazki, Leningrad 1928). – R. Rendtorff, “How to Read the Book of the Twelve as a Theological Unity”, SBL Seminar Papers (1997), 420–432; The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament (Leiden: Deo Publishing 2005). – P. Ricoeur, Essays on Biblical Interpretation (ed. with an Introduction by Lewis S. Mudge; London: SPCK 1981); The Symbolism of Evil (Boston: Beacon Press 1969, 349; transl. of La Symbolique du mal, Paris: Aubier 1960). – J. F. A. Sawyer, The Fifth Gospel: Isaiah in the History of Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1996). – C. R. Seitz, Word without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1998). – Y. Sherwood, The Prostitute and the Prophet: Hosea’s Marriage in Literary-Theoretical Perspective (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996); A Biblical Text and its Afterlives: The Survival of Jonah in Western Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2000); idem (ed.), Derrida’s Bible: Reading a Page of Scripture with a Little Help from Derrida (New York/Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2004). – L. Silberman, “Wellhausen and Judaism”, Semeia 25 (1983) 75–82. – R. Smend, “Nachkritische Schriftauslegung”, Parrhesia. Karl Barth zum 80. Geburtstag (ed. E. Busch/J. Fangmeier/M. Geiger; Zurich: EVZ-Verlag 1966), 215–237; also in Smend, Die Mitte des Alten Testaments (Munich: Kaiser Verlag, 1986), 212–232; and in Smend, Bibel und Wissenschaft (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2004), 230–250. – W. R. Smith, “Wellhausen and his Position”, The Christian Church 2 (1882) 366–369. – K. Stendahl, “The Bible as a Classic and the Bible as Holy Scripture”, JBL 103 (1984) 3–10. – M. Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP 1985). – F. Watson, Text, Church and World: Biblical Interpretation in Theological Perspective (Edinburgh: T & T Clark 1994).

1. Early Opposition to Historical Criticism At the beginning of the twentieth century ‘higher criticism’ (Literarkritik) was in the ascendant in Old Testament studies. Through the work of Julius Wellhausen it had been established that the study of the Bible should be historical in character, and that this end was best achieved by the painstaking analysis of the sources in the Old Testament, arranging them in their correct chronological sequence. By this means a history of Israel could be written that corresponded to what had really happened, rather than being simply a retelling of the Old Testament’s own story; and the religion of Israel – its practice, and the theological ideas behind it – could be reconstructed. There had been opposition to Wellhausen’s methods and concerns, but as the new century dawned it increasingly appeared that this opposition came from conservatives who thought that ‘historical’ criticism, as it came to be known, was driven by hostility to the divine inspiration of Scripture. In England the historical-critical approach was retarded through the work of E. B. Pusey, the Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford from 1828–1882, who (though in his youth he

98

John Barton

had studied in Germany) came to think of German criticism as rationalistic and anti-religious. His successor, S. R. Driver, was responsible for establishing the higher criticism in English scholarship. In Germany the critical approach was strongly opposed by many. Here too some opponents were conservatives who (correctly) saw that a literal and traditional reading of the Old Testament was undermined by critical theories: such was E. W. Hengstenberg, who shared Pusey’s suspicion of rationalism. Wellhausen was subject to three other lines of attack. One, put forward by F. Delitzsch, argued that he was a Hegelian: that he saw the history of Israelite institutions as passing through a number of phases on its way to a goal, that being how human history in general developed. This allegation was repeated by W. F. Albright in the 1950s,1 and accepted by H. J. Kraus in his history of the historical-critical investigation of the Old Testament.2 It gained an impression of strength through Wellhausen’s own avowed indebtedness to Wilhelm Vatke, who certainly was a Hegelian: as M. Kegel put it in the 1920s, ‘Hegel begat Vatke, Vatke begat Wellhausen’.3 Gerhard von Rad also accepted this criticism of Wellhausen and had, as we shall see, his own theological objections to historical criticism, even though he also practised it. Already in 1835 Vatke had published his belief that P was the latest of the Pentateuchal sources, and Wellhausen of course was to make this the keystone of his own theory about the development of the religion of ancient Israel. Wellhausen claimed to have arrived at his own conclusions through the influence of Karl-Heinz Graf, but his acknowledgement of standing in the line of Vatke on this issue made it easy for critics to tar him with the Hegelian brush. Lothar Perlitt has shown convincingly that Wellhausen was in fact far from being a Hegelian,4 but the accusation undermined confidence in the Wellhausen scheme, since Hegelianism was no longer a live option by the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, so that it was possible to argue that the very radical Wellhausen was in reality nothing more than a throwback to an outmoded philosophical stance. The second criticism of Wellhausen’s conclusions was that they were a kind of Darwinism applied to the Bible. In 1882 Delitzsch claimed that ‘Wellhausen’s speculations’ were “merely applications of Darwinism to the sphere of theology and criticism”.5 History was presented as an orderly development towards higher and higher forms of religion. This way of understanding Wellhausen has persisted in Anglo-American scholarship, where JEDP is often seen as a way of registering the people of Israel’s gradual ascent to a pure monotheism. This is a travesty of Wellhausen, for whom the development from JE to P via D was indeed marked by an advancing monotheism but also – and more crucially – by a descent from the spontaneity of the religion of ancient Israel into the empty formalism he believed to have characterized the post-exilic establishment represented by P. Nev-

1

Albright, From the Stone Age (1957), 88. Kraus, Geschichte (1956/1982), 257–259, 264. 3 Kegel, Los von Wellhausen! (1923), 10. 4 Perlitt, Vatke und Wellhausen (1965). 5 A comment made by Delitzsch to a Scottish visitor in Leipzig in 1882, reported in Smith, Wellhausen and his Position (1882), 366–369. 2

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

99

ertheless the idea that Wellhausen’s criticism was evolutionary in its inner drive can still be heard on conservative lips today. Thirdly, Wellhausen came under the suspicion of being anti-semitic, not only because of the occasional anti-Jewish comment, but because the whole thrust of his work was seen as implying that Judaism as a religion did not really have an ancient pedigree (it certainly did not go back to Moses) but was invented in the post-exilic age. The higher-critical judgement that P was late, it was felt, was no innocent and harmless technical detail, but part of a sustained attempt to undermine the foundations of Judaism. Thus Wellhausen contributed to the anti-semitism that would overwhelm Germany and the whole of Europe in the twentieth century – a grave charge indeed (and one, it may be noted, that is incompatible with the charge of religious Darwinism, which would imply that later Judaism was an improvement on what went before, so that Wellhausen cannot be guilty on both counts at the same time). This accusation persists, and was argued by Lou Silberman on the occasion of the centenary of the Prolegomena, though as he points out, what Wellhausen had in his sights was probably more the institutionalization to be seen in the Christian church than anything in contemporary Judaism.6 It may underlie continuing opposition in some branches of Judaism to the higher criticism and all its works, and even the tendency of Jewish scholars to defend an early date for P, which is one of the very few areas of biblical scholarship today in which there is a characteristic difference between Jewish and Christian critics. On the whole, however, all these objections to Wellhausen and his legacy rest on misreadings of his work; and certainly those who followed him were seldom guilty on any of the three counts. Few twentieth-century critics were Hegelians, Darwinians, or anti-semites in their handling of the scriptural texts: most saw their role as much less far-reaching in its implications than had been the case with Wellhausen, who was aiming at a total explanation of “Judaism and ancient Israel in their opposition”. The historical-critical school soon moved into a concentration on the detail of the sources, and seldom lifted its eyes to the far horizon, as Wellhausen had done. Opposition during most of the twentieth century continued, but during the first two or three decades of the century it came principally from religious conservatives; and indeed there is still a conservative/fundamentalist opposition to higher criticism, though represented little in the world of academic biblical studies, where most scholars now accept the validity of the ‘higher’ criticism at least within its own limited sphere. The more characteristic complaint within theology and biblical study has been that this sphere is indeed very limited, and leaves out most of what is interesting and important about the Bible.

6

Silberman, Wellhausen and Judaism (1983).

100

John Barton

2. Biblical Archaeology Wellhausen’s stated aim was to reconstruct the history of Israel through his work on the biblical sources. In the middle of the twentieth century an influential movement in North America argued that this was indeed a laudable aim, but that the higher criticism was a wholly inadequate way of achieving it: what was needed was archaeology. We saw above that W. F. Albright, the creator of the American ‘biblical archaeology’ movement, suspected Wellhausen of Hegelianism. What lay behind this accusation was the sense that Wellhausen was fixated on theory in matters historical, on a general hypothesis about how human affairs develop, in detachment from attention to the actual data on the ground. If to Albright Wellhausen looked like a Hegelian, to the heirs of Wellhausen Albright and his collaborators and followers, John Bright and G. Ernest Wright, looked like positivists. They believed in ‘hard facts’, the artefacts and buildings that could be excavated from archaeological sites in Syria-Palestine. While German biblical scholars insisted, as Wellhausen had done, that one cannot reconstruct Israelite history without first untangling and dating the relevant literary sources, the biblical archaeologists tended to argue that if what could be found by digging supported the texts as they stood, then the need for higher criticism ceased to exist. This was never a fundamentalist attachment to the letter of the biblical text, for biblical archaeologists often argued that details needed adjusting in the light of their finds. But it was opposed procedurally to any insistence on getting the written record sorted out first. There were – and this can often be forgotten – many German archaeologists working in Syria-Palestine, including Martin Noth, who was one of the sharpest critics of the biblical archaeologists and engaged in controversy with John Bright in particular.7 But they saw archaeological and textual work as two separate disciplines, to be pursued each independently of the other and brought together only in a final synthesis. Certainly archaeology had no power to rewrite the conclusions of historical critics of the text. If, as Gunkel had argued, the stories of the patriarchs are legends, then no amount of archaeology can establish their veracity. And the question whether they are legends or not involves a literary judgement about genre, to which archaeology has nothing to contribute. Albright and his school were not in principle opposed to historical criticism of the Old Testament text, but they thought it carried us much less far than Wellhausen had believed. What was needed was a good dose of empirical evidence, and only archaeology was in a position to deliver that. Recent archaeology in Israel-Palestine has been less concerned than was the Albright School to argue that the Old Testament contains ‘fact’, and has certainly not followed it in proposing earlier datings for the literary sources than classical historical criticism had done. It has no opinion on the date of P, and where the pre-exilic sources J and E are concerned its tendency to argue that the society of early Israel was far too rudimentary for a large literary deposit has tended to make even Wellhausen’s datings of the text look too early. The general tendency nowadays is to regard the age 7

See Bright, Early Israel (1956).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

101

of Hezekiah as the earliest period from which it makes sense to look for written sources, with some thinking even that too early. This has not however affected the relative datings of J, E, D, and P. Archaeologists now tend not to follow Albright in thinking higher criticism superfluous, but see themselves as simply operating in a different sphere from textual scholars. Thus the strong opposition historical criticism evinced by Albright has softened since the demise of ‘biblical archaeology’ and its replacement by a more neutrally conceived ‘Syro-Palestinian archaeology’ which is far less interested in ‘vindicating’ the biblical text against its ‘critics’.

3. Karl Barth and the Canonical Approach The opposition of ‘biblical archaeologists’ to the higher criticism was not in the main religiously motivated. They were no fundamentalists: they simply thought that biblical critics were excessively sceptical, and that ancient texts such as we find in the Old Testament might very well prove, in the light of archaeology, to be more reliable than modern scholars believed. After all, the authors of these texts stood far nearer to the underlying events than we do! There was a kind of no-nonsense air about biblical archaeology, setting the solid evidence unearthed with trowels against the nitpicking niceties of much textual study in the higher-critical mode. And there is no doubt that some historical criticism of the Pentateuch did result in conclusions that look counter-intuitive: one thinks, for example, of Martin Noth’s contention that Moses had been added to each of the five main blocks of material that can be discerned in the Pentateuch and so was original in none of them, but a late arrival in the literature of Israel.8 All we can say about Moses is that he was the subject of a grave-tradition, which reports that the site of his grave was unknown. The kind of traditio-historical criticism that lay behind such a conclusion struck the biblical archaeologists as slightly absurd. This was not a religious so much as a commonsense reaction, felt to come from an Anglo-Saxon pragmatism opposed to continental European theorizing. But another strain of opposition to historical criticism was by contrast highly theological. Many currents feed into it, but there can be little doubt that the main influence was Karl Barth. Barth was sceptical about historical criticism of the Bible. He saw it as an attempt to go behind the text to some more important reality (what actually happened), and he believed that this was an evasion of the claim on the believer of the text as it stands: The idea we have to set our face against is one which has become very much at home in theology in connection with modern historicism. It is the idea that our concern in reading, understanding, and expounding the Bible can and indeed should be to pass over the biblical texts and attain to some facts lying behind the texts. Then, it is believed, we should recognize revelation as lying in these facts – whose factuality is now firmly established independently of the texts themselves!9 8

Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichte des Pentateuch (1948). Die Vorstellung, gegen die wir uns abzugrenzen haben, ist die im Zusammenhang mit dem modernen Historismus in der Theologie weithin heimisch gewordene, als könne und müsse es beim Lesen, 9

102

John Barton

The mistake, Barth argues, lies in “reading the biblical canon differently from how it wishes to be read and, indeed – this is a point of convergence – can be read”.10 What biblical interpreters should have done is as follows: Theology, at least, and particularly a historical theology, one specially addressed to the biblical texts, should (let us be open about this) have had the tact and the taste to acknowledge how inextricable is the link between form and content in biblical texts, which cannot fail to be clear to it. Then it should have shrunk from the temptation to pose the inquisitive question about what may stand behind the text, and have turned with that much more attention, exactitude, and love to the texts as such.11

Barth foresaw, or at least hoped to see, a day when biblical scholars would turn from fragments to the interpretation of the whole once more: If only … the exegesis of the canonical Scriptures as such – a connected exposition of Genesis, of the book of Isaiah, of the Gospel of Matthew, and so on, in the form and extent in which they now exist – could be recognized and freshly engaged with as in the end the only possible goal of biblical studies.12

Perhaps the earliest Old Testament critic to try to work out the consequences of this, and to move beyond the historical criticism that he none the less practised, was Barth’s fellow Swiss scholar, Walter Eichrodt. In his great Theology of the Old Testament he argued that the time had come to move on beyond historical criticism and to synthesize the theological vision of the Old Testament as it stood. The historical treatment of ancient Israelite thought and practice, he wrote, reaches its high-water mark with Wellhausen and his school, and for decades diverted work on OT theology into historical channels … Of what avail was it that a Beck or a Hofmann should attempt, about the middle of the last [i.e. the nineteenth] century, to develop a system of biblical doctrine? By making use of the OT for this purpose they were indeed standing up for its vital importance for the Christian faith, but they made no headway against the rising stream of historical investigation.13

Verstehen und Auslegen der Bibel darum gehen, über die biblischen Texte hinaus zu den irgendwo hinter den Texten stehenden Tatsachen vorzustoßen, um dann in diesen (in ihrer Tatsächlichkeit nun auch abhängig von den Texten feststehenden!) Tatsachen als solchen die Offenbarung zu erkennen, Barth, Kirchliche Dogmatik, I: Die Lehre vom Worte Gottes, 2, = Church Dogmatics I/2 (1956). 10 den biblischen Kanon anders zu lesen, als er selber gelesen sein will und als er – denn das fällt hier zusammen – gelesen werden kann; ibid. 546. 11 Mindestens die Theologie, und zwar auch und gerade die historische, die speziell den biblischen Texten zugewandte Theologie hätte – sagen wir einmal: den Takt und Geschmack haben müssen, angesichts der Verklammerung von Form und Inhalt der biblischen Texte, um die sie doch wissen mußte, vor jener Versuchung zurückzuweichen, die neugierige Frage nach dem, was hinter dem Text stehen möchte, zu unterlassen und sich dafür mit so mehr Aufmerksamkeit, Genauigkeit und Liebe den Texten als solchen zuzuwenden; ibid. 547. 12 ob … die Exegese der kanonischen Schrift als solcher, also die zusammenhängende Auslegung des Genesis, des Jesaja-Buches, des Matthausevangeliums usw. in ihren nun einmal vorliegenden Bestand und Umfang als das schließlich allein mögliche Ziel der biblischen Wissenschaft wieder anerkannt und neu in Angriff genommen werden wird; ibid. 13 Eichrodt, Theology, I (1960), 79.

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

103

Eichrodt goes on to argue that, though a historical approach is needed and cannot be ignored, it overlooked the need for a more systematizing and consciously theological approach: the method had a particularly fatal influence both on OT theology and on the understanding of the OT in every other aspect, because it fostered the idea that once the historical problems were clarified everything had been done. The essential inner coherence of the Old and New Testaments was reduced, so to speak, to a thin thread of historical connection and causal sequence between the two … There was no longer any unity to be found in the OT, only a collection of detached periods which were simply the reflections of as many different religions.14

Wellhausen would have said, it may be guessed, that this is precisely what the Old Testament is, and that the attempt to systematize it theologically was therefore doomed to failure. But Eichrodt sees this as part of Wellhausen’s excessive attachment to the historical at the expense of the theological. It is high time that the tyranny of historicism in OT studies was broken and the proper approach to our task re-discovered. This is no new problem, certainly, but it is one that needs to be solved anew in every epoch of knowledge – the problem of how to understand the realm of OT belief in its structural unity and how, by examining on the one hand its religious environment and on the other its essential coherence with the NT, to illuminate its profoundest meaning.15

For Eichrodt the answer to this problem was to be found in the covenant-concept. But for our present purposes what matters is not so much the solution as the posing of the problem, which at once relativizes historical criticism, dethroning it from its dominant position in Old Testament study. Similar sentiments can be found in Gerhard von Rad, also much influenced by Barth despite standing in a Lutheran rather than a Reformed tradition. Like Eichrodt, von Rad was a fully convinced biblical critic, who assumed the results of previous criticism (sources of the Pentateuch, and so on) in his own work. But he tried to move biblical study on into areas he thought more productive, that is, theological areas. How far-reaching his criticism of biblical criticism was is well summed up by Manfred Oeming, who draws close parallels with von Rad’s Heidelberg contemporary Hans-Georg Gadamer. Oeming draws out seven points on which von Rad, like Gadamer, criticised ‘historical criticism’, and of which the first six are:16 1. The historical-critical method is significant and necessary, but no more than preliminary to a full understanding of texts: “An approach to the texts through method should, it may be conceded, not be abolished or bypassed; but a grasp of the full truth of the tradition transcends any merely methodical approach”.17 14

Ibid. 30–31. Ibid. 31. Oeming, Gesamtbiblische Theologien der Gegenwart (1985), 42–44. A seventh point of contact with Gadamer – a shared Humboldtian philosophy of language, according to which language determines thought – is important but not relevant in the present context. 17 Der methodische Zugang zu den Texten soll zwar nicht abgeschafft oder übersprungen werden, aber eine Erfassung der vollen Wahrheit der Tradition transzendiert bloß methodischen Zugriff; ibid. 42. 15 16

104

John Barton

2. The interpreter’s assumptions (which for von Rad means his or her Christian beliefs) are a perfectly proper, indeed necessary part of the interpretation of the text. 3. The meaning of a text is linked strongly to how it has been read in the past (its Wirkungsgeschichte).18 4. Interpretation, “im Nacherzählen”, needs to focus on the tradition within which the text stands, not treating it as an isolated entity. 5. The process of the transmission of texts across time acts as a filter, allowing the best elements to persist: thus the final form of a text has a special status as against earlier stages in its growth. 6. Historical reconstruction on the basis of the text is always somewhat dubious: “Establishing historically what happened misses the point of the claim of truth which tradition poses to the reader’s present”.19 This reminds one of Barth’s opinion, cited above, that we should not always be striving to get behind the text, but should read it as it is. The ‘reconstructive’ side of historical criticism may produce historically interesting results, but it does not contribute to theological Ergiebigkeit. None of this prevented von Rad from being himself a biblical critic, who often delved beneath the text’s surface and who was quite prepared to talk of sources and of historical development underlying the text. But it does indicate a certain distancing from biblical criticism, at least as he understood it. The first readers of his great Genesis commentary felt that here was a breath of fresh air, in which the older arguments about the exact delineation of sources gave way to a theological evaluation of the finished text. The English-speaking world also had a period of ‘criticism of criticism’ in the 1940s and 1950s, in the tendencies now usually referred to as the ‘Biblical Theology Movement’: representative figures are George Ernest Wright in the USA and Alan Richardson in Britain, and a major monument was the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel. Biblical theologians (in this technical sense – many other people have been and still are interested in the theology of the Bible – argued that the time for analysis had passed, and the time had come for synthesis. They looked for concepts that united the biblical message, and tended to find an underlying biblical style of thinking which, they argued, could be found in both Testaments. Often this was referred to as ‘Hebrew thought’, and it was believed that the New Testament, despite being written in Greek, had a Hebrew way of thinking. A popular series of books called The Bible Concept of … sums up this way of thinking. Historical criticism became more or less redundant, replaced by what would nowadays be called a synchronic style of reading in which all the texts are treated as contemporary with each other, because they share in a common thought-world.

18

‘Wirkungsgeschichte’ will concern us later. Die historische Konstatierung dessen, was gewesen ist, verfehlt den Wahrheitsanspruch, den die Tradition an die jeweilige Gegenwart stellt; ibid. 19

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

105

The Biblical Theology Movement largely collapsed in the 1960s after a body blow from James Barr in his The Semantics of Biblical Criticism,20 which showed that the whole idea of a ‘Hebrew world-view’ rested on very outdated linguistics or, in many cases, no knowledge of linguistics at all. The interest in theological themes in the Bible, by no means dependent on shaky linguistics, lived on in a rather chastened form, but the vast systematizing attempts came to an end. One of the people who accepted but also mourned the demise of the Movement was Brevard S. Childs, then teaching at Yale Divinity School, who noted that there was a risk of a return to pure historical criticism with no attempt at theological synthesis, and who tried to establish a new basis for a theological approach to Scripture. The Biblical Theology Movement, for all its faults, had at least tried to respond to Barth’s call for a theologically sensitive reading of the Bible, and Childs believed this call was still relevant and urgent. He set about constructing a new way of doing biblical theology.21 Childs’s project is known as the canonical approach – sometimes, by others but never by himself, as canonical criticism. Despite this title it is not exactly about the canon in the narrower, technical sense of the official list of books but rather, as in the title of his first book on the subject, about the Old Testament ‘as Scripture’. In a Barthian vein, the aim is to read the Old Testament not simply as a collection of ancient religious texts but as the Church’s (and the Synagogue’s) Holy Scriptures. These books are, within the community of faith, authoritative. They are also to be understood as coherent, rather than at odds with each other; and they speak to us in their final form, not through hypothetical earlier strata or sources reconstructed by critics. Childs fully accepted the procedures of historical criticism for the purposes for which they were intended (discovering the history and thought-world lying behind the text); but he argued that for faith the texts must speak to us as they stand. Otherwise, just as Barth argued, we are reading these books against the grain, not as they themselves wish to be read. To ignore the canonical claim of the biblical texts is to deprive oneself deliberately of the only context within which they can possibly make sense. The subsequent career of Childs’s schema has been complex. There are not so very many disciples, in the sense of scholars who have adopted the approach wholesale, though there are those who think it one of the most productive ideas of modern times: in Britain one may name Walter Moberly22 and Francis Watson,23 in Canada Christopher Seitz,24 and in Germany Rolf Rendtorff25 (but few others). But at a more diffuse level it has been enormously influential in placing a fresh question on the agenda of biblical studies. In late twentieth- and early twenty-first century Old Testament scholarship it has become common to ask not only about the original sense of texts or of their component parts but also about their meaning at a canonical level. Childs is not the only modern scholar to have

20 21 22 23 24 25

Barr, Semantics (1961). See Childs, Introduction (1979); Old Testament Theology (1985); and Biblical Theology (1992). Moberly, The Bible, Theology, and Faith (2000). Watson, Text, Church and World (1994). Seitz, Word without End (1998). Rendtorff, Canonical Hebrew Bible (2005).

106

John Barton

favoured ‘final form’ exegesis – as we shall see, there are also literary movements that have the same interest. But he has given a theological rationale for attending to the texts just as they are, and asking not about underlying sources but about the final product. One has only to look at studies of Isaiah to see how the ground has shifted: it is now quite common to ask about the meaning of the book of Isaiah, rather than the meaning of First, Second, and Third Isaiah, and to treat the book – without in the least denying its complex history of composition – as a finished whole. Childs’s location at Yale is perhaps not an accident in all this, since he worked there alongside Hans Frei and George Lindbeck, both of them interested in what may be called a ‘post-critical’ and ‘post-liberal’ attention to Christian sources (biblical and doctrinal). By analogy with Lindbeck’s theories about doctrine,26 one may say that for Childs the Bible forms part of the ‘grammar’ of the Christian faith. Though one can go behind it, that is not the proper procedure in a theological context. Rather it should form the parameters within which Christian theological discourse takes place. The Bible, like the Creed, is a given. Whether or not to accord it authority is a meaningless question within Christian faith, since its authority is analytically part of what it means to believe. I do not say that Childs borrowed his ideas from Lindbeck, but rather that both belong within a common approach to Christian faith. The sense that ‘liberal’ criticism has taken the Church’s foundation documents away from the Church and handed them over to the academy is strong in both. This probably explains the considerable appeal that the canonical approach has had for rather conservative Christians, who feel that it is giving the Bible back to its proper owners; hence the title of a recent book on this subject, Reclaiming the Bible for the Church.27 Even apart from the specific programme of the canonical approach there are many biblical scholars, especially in the English-speaking world, who have called for a revival of a ‘theological’ interpretation of the Bible, perceiving traditional historical criticism as too secular and as insufficiently attentive to the religious claims of the biblical texts. Usually this takes the form of asking critics to move on from historical criticism, rather than to abandon it, but it does entail the belief that the historical-critical method is not enough, even if it is valid ‘as far as it goes’. Biblical criticism may have been needed in the past to challenge interpretations that had hardened under the dead hand of ecclesiastical authority. But to insist on it as the one valid approach now that the threat comes instead from the excessive secularism of the modern world is misguided. Indeed, historical criticism has by now itself hardened into a form of domination from which we need emancipating once again – a point we shall take up further in the next section. This is argued very neatly by Jürgen Ebach: The historical-critical method of exegesis originally came in to destroy illegitimate relationships of dominance whose claim to legitimacy rested on an ahistorical (or suprahistorical) and uncritical interpretation of texts – biblical texts above all. Historical-critical exegesis pursued the reconstruction of the originally intended sense of a (biblical) text, and this sprang from a critical interest in

26 27

Linbeck, Nature of Doctrine (1984). Braaten/Jenson, Reclaiming the Bible (1994).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

107

examining a meaning that was currently alleged to have been intended all along … The historical-critical method owes its rise and its triumph to the Enlightenment, and to the Enlightenment’s interest in criticising ideology and furthering emancipation. But thereby it participates in the ‘dialectic of the Enlightenment’ – the conversion of emancipation into a fresh ideology, of freedom into domination, of illumination into obfuscation. A method that when left unexamined proved to be more pernickety than critical came to be concerned with its own self-affirmation. The historical-critical method arose in order to criticise rigorously the plausibility-system of ecclesiastical domination that existed in the Middle Ages and lasted well into modern times, but it became itself the theological sport of a dominant academic system, contributing to that system’s cleansing of itself from subjective forms of appropriation and modes of living. The historical-critical method arose in order to deploy historical reconstruction against the tendency of ecclesiastical hermeneutics to use biblical texts to construct stable systems, but it proved able to turn into an instrument for removing the basis of a critical-constructive appropriation of biblical texts through the very means of historical reconstruction.28

In short, historical criticism is no longer critical but simply a new form of authority – a passport into the guild of biblical studies rather than a tool for questioning authority, as it originally was. Many scholars today share Childs’s belief that it is time to move on. Or perhaps to move back. One of the salient features of the canonical approach has been its revalorizing of ‘pre-critical’ exegesis, the types of interpretation found in the Fathers, the Reformers, the Rabbis. Childs already signalled his interest in this, before he announced his canonical approach, in his large commentary on Exodus,29 where he pays close attention to the exegesis of all three groups in a 28 Die historisch-kritische Methode der Exegese trat einst an, illegitime Herrschaftsverhältnisse zu destruieren, deren Geltungsanspruch auf einer un- bzw. übergeschichtlichen und unkritischen Interpretation von – vor allem biblischen – Texten basierte. Historisch-kritische Exegese verfolgte die Rekonstruktion des einst gemeinten Sinnes eines (biblischen) Textes aus dem kritischen Interesse an der Überprüfung eines gegenwärtig für immer schon gemeinte ausgegebenen Sinnes  Die historisch-kritische Methode verdankt ihre Entstehung und ihren Siegeszug der Aufklärung und ihrem ideologiekritischen, emanzipatorischen Interesse. Doch hat sie damit teil an der ‘Dialektik der Aufklärung’, dem Umschlag von Emanzipation in Ideologie, von Befreiung in Herrschaft, von Erhellung in Verdunkelung. Selbst affirmativ wurde eine Methode, die sich unhinterfragt weiter verdrossen als kritisch bezeichnet. Angetreten, das mittelalterliche und weit in die Neuzeit reichende Plausibilitätssystem kirchlicher Herrschaft wissenschaftlich zu kritisieren, ist die historisch-kritische Methode selbst zur theologischen Spielart eines herrschenden Wissenschaftssystem geworden, an dessen Selbstreinigung von subjektiven Aneignungsformen, von Lebenspraxis sie Anteil hat. Angetreten, historische Rekonstruktion gegen systemstabilisierende kirchliche Hermeneutik biblischer Texte zu wenden, konnte historisch-kritische Exegese selbst zu einem Instrument werden, mit dem vermittels historischer Rekonstruktion kritisch-konstruktiven Aneignungswesen biblischer Texte der Boden entzogen werden soll; Ebach, Ursprung und Ziel: Erinnerte Zukunft (1986), 49–50. Cf. the comments of Minear, The Bible and the Historian (2002), 35: he argues that the publication of Ernesti’s Institutio Interpretis ‘was a new weapon in ‘the battle with stark orthodoxy’, a battle that had to be won before other advances could be made. This weapon effectively liberated scholars, widened the areas open to research, and produced vast alterations in the reconception of biblical history. Today, however, that rebellion has become a new ‘establishment’, with its own restrictive axioms. A ‘union card’ is now virtually limited to scholars who have been professionally trained to apply objective methods and to restrict their conclusions to data which can be verified by those methods”. Barth made a similar point: the historical-critical approach to the Bible is now a given for all scholars, he argued, and there is no need to keep on pushing at an open door; it is time to move on – see the comments in Smend, Nachkritische Schriftauslegung (1966), 232–233. This was in Barth, Das Wort Gottes und die Theologie (1925), 76. My own perception is that, eighty years later, the door is still not open for all who study the Bible, and biblical criticism is now by no means accepted so unproblematically as Barth was able to assume then. 29 Childs, Exodus (1974).

108

John Barton

way that was then novel but is becoming much more common in the twenty-first century (see below on Wirkungsgeschichte). In the heyday of historical criticism it was usual to discount ‘pre-critical’ readings of the text, or at best to set them out in order to show how we could now see them to have been mistaken. Under the influence of Childs, many biblical scholars have come to think that we can still learn from such exegesis, which may not reveal the ‘original’ sense of the text but does in many cases show much more clearly than a critical reading what it has to offer the community of faith.

4. Advocacy Readings One defence of historical criticism against its detractors has been its claim to objectivity. Whereas traditional Bible reading tends to read its own concerns into the text (what is sometimes called eisegesis), critical method ensures that the objective meaning of the text is able to emerge. Wellhausen even spoke of ‘presuppositionless’ exegesis. In the modern world there has been a certain loss of hermeneutical innocence, and few believe any longer that objectivity is attainable in the humanities (or even, some think, in the natural sciences). All interpreters bring presuppositions to the text, and the danger of striving for objectivity is that one will be blind to one’s own presuppositions rather than aware of them and so at least able to some degree to allow for them. In embracing our own subjectivity in interpretation, we can also become aware of the subjectivity of other interpreters, and so be able to see through their often specious claims to be delivering the one true meaning of the text. This line of thought has been a further important factor in leading many to question historical criticism. One sees it especially in what are sometimes lumped together as ‘advocacy’ readings of the Bible, a term which embraces primarily liberationist and feminist hermeneutics. Both begin by asking not what the text mean, but in whose interests it has been read. Liberation theologians argued that, under a claim of objectivity, the Bible was in practice read in the interests of white ruling classes, and consequently its potential to deliver a subversive and anti-colonial message was systematically blunted. Just as the poor and downtrodden needed liberation, so did the Bible itself need to be set free from its colonization by those in power and returned to the people – non-white, non-powerful, non-imperialist people. Feminists added: non-male. Advocacy readings pointed out how much biblical study had become the professional occupation of a dominant group of men with a stranglehold on the universities and other theological institutes in the affluent West and North, and how much it needed to be restored to ordinary people, including women, with no hold on the levers of power, precisely to empower them. Criticism of the historical-critical approach by advocacy readers takes a variety of forms, which one can see most clearly by looking at feminist interpretation. One possibility is to argue that the Bible is irredeemably sexist and that historical critics have either failed to be aware of this (primarily through simply not being sensitive to the issue) or have connived with it, as men will. This position often

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

109

leads feminist scholars to abandon the study of the Bible or to treat it as a highly alien document.30 Another possibility is to hold that the Bible is indeed sexist and androcentric, but quite mildly so when read against its historical background: women in the Bible are not treated as equal with men, but there are not so unequal as their counterparts in other ancient cultures. A third option is to say that, whatever may have been the case historically, a modern reader has a duty to read the text in such a way as to accentuate any potential for the empowerment of women it may offer: hence many feminists have written works concentrating on biblical women and the more positive aspects of how they are treated in the text, or have deliberately read the Bible ‘against the grain’, producing what are sometimes called ‘resistant readings’.31 There is perhaps a certain tension in advocacy readings on the question of objectivity. Certainly there is often a rhetoric which opposes the ideal of objectivity, seeing it as a smokescreen erected by the mainstream (or what Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza calls the ‘malestream’) of biblical scholars to conceal the fact that their interpretations in fact work to their own advantage. To say that my reading is objective while yours is just subjective is the ultimate put-down, capturing the high ground and making disagreement illicit. On the other hand, feminist and liberationist readings often claim to point to features that really are in the text but which male/imperialist readers have (deliberately) overlooked. For a liberationist, the biblical emphasis on God’s ‘preferential option’ for the poor is far from being something imported into the text through a ‘subjective’ reading: it is the natural drift of the Old Testament taken as a whole, and in failing to see it non-liberationist scholars have been blind to the text’s true nature, not simply politically culpable themselves. For at least the first two types of feminist reading outlined above, attention is being paid to what is supposed to be really present in the text: its alleged ingrained sexism is not supposed to be merely in the eye of the beholder, but to be a real fact about the text and the culture that produced it. This may make us wonder whether attacks on the very notion of objectivity may not be a hostage to fortune. Advocacy readings claim to be supported by the text of the Bible, not simply to be one among other equally valid ways of reading it. This may mean that they would be wiser to support historical criticism, but to claim that it has been misused, rather than to attack it head-on. It remains the case that advocacy readers generally do express hostility to historical criticism. This is sometimes not on the basis of its claimed objectivity (a claim regarded as made in bad faith), but because of its distancing effect. Historical criticism is regarded as a way of making the biblical text irrelevant to modern concerns, especially socio-economic ones. Historical criticism, it is felt, locates the biblical texts firmly in the past and removes them from having anything to say to us today. This is perhaps another thing that is sometimes meant by ‘objectivity’ – the sense that the text is not engaged with us, but exists in a sphere far removed from our concerns, which is where critics have located it. The result is an alienation from the Bible, a loss of the belief of ‘pre-critical’ interpreters that

30 31

Daly, Beyond God the Father (1973). Sherwood, Prostitute and Prophet (1996).

110

John Barton

it has something immediate to say to us, not just to its original readers or hearers. The point is put eloquently by Christopher Rowland: I believe that so damaging has been a one-sided preoccupation with original meaning, as given us by historical-critical ‘experts’, that a real question arises about the proper place of historical criticism. In many circles in modern times it has been at least implicitly assumed that interpreting the Bible was about recovering its original meaning, hence the misleading idea arose that those with skills in recovering the original meaning have the key to biblical interpretation as a whole. It is vital to distinguish between the study of the Bible in the ‘Academy’ and the interpretation of scripture within the faith community. The two are related but they are not the same. Historical criticism has had some seriously undermining effects on the functioning of the Bible as scripture. Through being placed within its original setting, the Bible for many loses its immediate religious impact, and is in danger of becoming just another ancient text … The focus on analysis and on the parts at the expense of the whole erodes a sense of the coherence of scripture. Within ministerial training biblical studies can become a process of alienation rather than integration, threatening to rob ordinands of the very scripture which nurtured their faith and their sense of vocation. In these and similar ways, the functioning of scripture can be undermined and stultified.32

Thus historical criticism is felt to be about the Bible ‘back then’ rather than as a living text in the present. There can be little doubt that it is sometimes practised in a way that lends itself to such an interpretation, and advocacy readings are one way in which modern biblical scholars and others have tried to redress the balance, moving away from seeing the biblical texts in a purely historical setting and arguing for their relevance today. They have also evinced respect for the Bible reading of ordinary people who are not ‘experts’ in the technical (and sometimes arcane) discipline of biblical studies, but who wish to see the application of biblical texts to their own circumstances. The world of the Bible study and the world of biblical studies have often drifted apart, and these approaches try to reconnect them.

5. Literary Study of the Bible While advocacy readers believe that the study of the Bible has become too secular, too divorced from the living world in which believers try to live out their faith, there are others who believe it is too much part of theology, and reads the Bible in a way unlike that found in other branches of literature. Benjamin Jowett spoke of reading the Bible ‘like any other book’, but neither he nor most of his successors in the world of biblical studies have in fact done so: they have operated with a special biblical hermeneutic that ignores what the Bible has in common with other great works of world literature. Such, at least, is the belief of some modern literary critics. The last few decades of the twentieth century saw a sustained growth in the development of ‘the Bible as literature’. This idea was dismissed by the influential C. S. Lewis as ignoring the sacred character of the Bible: 32

Chr. Rowland, “Criteria in Using the Bible?”, in a study pack for a course on The Bible: Its Use and Influence in the Oxford Theology Faculty.

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

111

There is a certain sense in which ‘the Bible as literature’ does not exist. It is a collection of books so widely different in period, kind, language, and aesthetic value, that no common criticism can be passed on them. In uniting these heterogeneous texts the Church was not guided by literary principles, and the literary critic might regard their inclusion between the same boards as a theological and historical accident irrelevant to his own branch of study … Unless the religious claims of the Bible are again acknowledged, its literary claims will, I think, be given only ‘mouth honour’ and that decreasingly. For it is, through and through, a sacred book. Most of its component parts were written, and all of them were brought together, for a purely religious purpose … in most parts of the Bible everything is implicitly or explicitly introduced with ‘Thus saith the Lord’. It is, if you like to put it that way, not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite, it excludes or repels, the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force. You are cutting the wood against the grain, using the tool for a purpose it was not intended to serve. It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long except to those who go to it for something quite different. I predict that it will in the future be read, as it always has been read, almost exclusively by Christians.33

– but it has gained in attraction none the less, and among readers who are in fact religious believers as well as among some who are not. Writers who may be mentioned are Robert Alter34 (perhaps the leading light in this field), Frank Kermode,35 Gabriel Josipovici36, and – in a more distinctive mode – Meir Sternberg.37 An interesting feature of this movement is that it overlaps in significant ways with the canonical approach, while resting on an entirely different, indeed diametrically opposed, foundation. Where the canonical approach is avowedly theological, with a Barthian pedigree, the ‘Bible as literature’ movement is unabashedly secular. Its antecedents lie in the Anglo-American ‘New Criticism’ of the early twentieth century, whose main proponents were W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., M. C. Beardsley, Cleanth Brooks, R. Wellek, A. Warren, and Allen Tate, and which was aligned in many ways also with T. S. Eliot. In the form of ‘practical criticism’ pioneered by I. A. Richards it was influential even in school curricula, encouraging a purely aesthetic reading of poetic texts just as they stood, without attention to the historical circumstances of the poet: any such interest was thought to be an example of the ‘intentional fallacy’, according to which poetry was a form of autobiography. Against this the New Critics encouraged ‘close reading’, in which a poem is seen as an artefact that can be dissected rather than as the expression of emotions that can be reconstructed. This has an obvious resemblance to the ‘canonical’ interest in the ‘final form’ of texts detached from the circumstances of their composition, even though the motivation in the two cases is entirely different. Modern literary reading of the Bible has inherited this lack of concern for the genesis of the texts. It aims to study the texts just as they are, and to detect patterns and intertextualities within them irrespective of their historical origin. A major monument to this kind of reading is the Literary Guide to the Bible, edited 33 34 35 36 37

C. S. Lewis, Literary Impact (1950). Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative (1981). Kermode, Genesis of Secrecy (1979). Josipovici, Book of God (1988). Sternberg, Poetics (1985).

112

John Barton

by Alter and Kermode.38 Though the various commentaries on the biblical books here are by different authors who do not necessarily see eye-to-eye on every point, the general tone is markedly anti-historical. The biblical books are on the whole read synchronically. The book of the twelve Minor Prophets, for example, is treated as a single book, not as a collection, with themes detected running throughout. Rolf Rendtorff, one of the few German biblical critics to have shown an interest in this movement, likewise reads the book of the Twelve as a unity, arguing for example that the ‘day of the LORD’ in Amos is to be interpreted in the light of its treatment in Joel, which ‘precedes’ Amos in canonical order even though the prophet after whom it is named probably lived several centuries later than Amos himself.39 The book of Isaiah is similarly treated as a finished whole, not as the amalgamation of diverse traditions and earlier collections of prophetic oracles. (This again is very similar in style to what we observed in the case of the canonical approach.) Alter pioneered the study of ‘type-scenes’ in the biblical narrative books: such narratives as the story of the meeting with a woman at a well, which are told of several biblical heroes (Abraham’s servant, Jacob, Moses: see Gen 24:10–27; 29:1– 12; Exod 2:15–22). These are literary devices that tell us nothing about history, and they can be observed without any regard to the alleged sources to which the stories belong. A type scene in a late book can be compared with one in an early book, without our needing to bother about the respective dates: this is a literary reading, not a historical one. In so far as historical criticism would rule out reading in this way, it shows itself bankrupt, since it inhibits an aesthetic reading of the text. Not only can a literary reading find patterns and parallels across many texts, it can even attempt to read the Bible as a whole. Examples of this are Josipovici’s The Book of God and Northrop Frye’s The Great Code,40 both completely synchronic in flavour and treating the Bible as a single book. One of the first things that students are taught in traditional courses on biblical criticism tends to be that the Bible ‘is not a book, but a library of books’. In literary interpretations this dictum is reversed, and the Bible is once again treated as one book, all its parts interrelated, with common themes and styles and a unified ‘message’. Such an approach renders historical criticism otiose.

6. Postmodernism Opposition to historical criticism among the newer literary critics such as Alter tends to be quiet and understated: they see no real role for the traditional kind of ‘higher criticism’, but they do not spend much time polemicizing against it. There are, however, other voices in the literary world for whom the irrelevance of historical criticism is more important. Here we are thinking of the various descendants of structuralism and formalism, who belong not to the Anglo-American but 38 39 40

Alter and Kermode, Literary Guide (1985). Rendtorff, How to Read (1997). Frye, Great Code (1982).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

113

to the continental European and especially to the French intellectual tradition. For those in this tradition, the authorship or date of a piece of writing is a matter of utter indifference, since texts have a life of their own quite independent of the circumstances of their production. The Russian version of formalism, influential during the first half of the twentieth century in the world of secular criticism but arriving in biblical studies in the 1960s and 1970s, in fact began by studying ‘authorless’ texts – such things as folktales and other traditional literature. Very influential here was Vladimir Propp. His work on the morphology of the folktale was mediated in the West through the structuralist school in France, which began when the anthropological insights of Claude Lévi-Strauss were applied to literature – Lévi-Strauss in turn had been influenced by the linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure. One of the concerns of formalism was ‘narratology’. Narratology, as the art or science of understanding how written narratives work, is by general consent a product of the structuralism of the 1970s, associated with such names as Algirdas Greimas, Gérard Genette, and Roland Barthes; but its ultimate inspiration was certainly Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale (published in 1928 but not translated into English until 1958).41 Propp’s work was a study of oral forms, traditional stories transmitted by word of mouth, and argued that each character in a folktale belongs to one of a restricted number of classes, such as the originator of a quest, the hero, the helper, and so on, and that one can work out a set of algorithms which determine how these characters can be combined into a finite set of basic plots, which can then be set out using symbols – from an Anglo-Saxon perspective, a very ‘unliterary’ thing to do. Narratology began when it occurred to critics, mostly in France, that such an analysis could also be applied to written narratives. It was all part of the attempt by structuralists to move away from a more humanistic analysis of literature as the expression of profound thoughts and towards a quasi-scientific approach in which, in a sense, literature writes itself, given certain conditions. As can be seen, this has some affinities with the New Critical belief in texts as independently-existing entities divorced from their authors, but in its actual interpretation of such texts it moved into territory that seems strange to Anglo-Saxon readers, where everything is formal and diagrammatic and there is no place for the kind of empathy that is involved in ‘close reading’. Structuralism did not last long, and by the late 1980s was being replaced by post-structuralism and by the diffuse movement that is normally called postmodernism. Postmodernism is hard to sum up in definitions. It is characterized by relativism, scepticism, and irony. Where texts are concerned, a postmodernist reading represents a desire to debunk and ‘deconstruct’, refusing ever to take what a text says at face value but believing that beneath the surface some interest is being served which contradicts what appears on the surface. In the realm of history postmodernists do not believe in what they call ‘master narratives’, overarching schemes of interpretation that claim universal validity: on the contrary, they say, what can pass for truth is always piecemeal and particular, and relative to the stance of the interpreter. Objectivity is a complete chimaera: nothing can

41

Propp, Morphology of the Folktale (1928).

114

John Barton

ever be known for certain, and where texts are concerned there is no one meaning, only a diversity of ‘readings’. My reading and yours can be compared to see which if either is more valuable, but there can be no question of one or other being more ‘true’. Some postmodernists follow the earlier writings of Jacques Derrida,42 who can perhaps be called the founder of the movement, in stressing the playful aspects of reading texts from this perspective. Derrida himself was heavily indebted to Jewish midrash, which likewise often plays with texts rather than looking in them for objective truth. Others see reading as a much more earnest pursuit, and that is typical, for example, of the collective that produced The Postmodern Bible – a collective, obviously, to subvert the idea of individual ‘authorship’.43 For them it is historical criticism that is rather flippant in its attitudes, since it believes in certain simple ideas such as the importance of the individual author, the centrality of historical setting, and language as the straightforward communication of thoughts, all of which postmodernism calls in question (‘problematizes’ is the preferred term). Overall postmodernists regard historical critics as naïve. It should be stressed that there is seldom any attempt to convince others of the ‘truth’ of postmodernist attitudes, for that would imply common ground, the rationality of a shared discourse, and an ability to change one’s mindset, and all those things are regarded in postmodernism as non-viable. Indeed, strictly speaking postmodernism is not a movement that can be compared or contrasted with others; it is, rather, the assertion that we live in a postmodern world, whether we know or like it or not. The quest for objective truth, which belongs to modernity – the supposedly rational world-view that has prevailed in the West since the Enlightenment – has simply disappeared, and there is no way of charming it back into life. That’s simply the way things are. Not very many biblical scholars are fully-fledged postmodernists, but the movement has had a big influence in undermining traditional historical criticism. Positively, it has pointed to many aspects of texts that historical criticism has overlooked. One important characteristic is its sensitivity to subtexts, to the games that are being played with the reader, and also to the games that readers themselves play to get texts to mean what they want them to mean. Consequently some postmodernist works have taken the form of ‘metacommentary’, a term pioneered by David Clines, who provides an example in the form of a commentary on commentaries on Amos, showing how commentators have simply assumed that Amos is right in whatever he asserts and have failed – for all their claims to be ‘critical’! – to criticise the prophet himself.44 So, for example, they have bought into the text’s assertions that eighth-century Israel was the scene of extraordinary luxury on the part of the few and oppression experienced by the many, without reflecting that this may be what the text wants us to think even though it was, perhaps, not really the case. Whether or not it was indeed the case is unknowable, but that means we should not, as commentators, write as though it were. 42 43 44

See Derrida, L’écriture (1967). Bible and Culture Collective, Postmodern Bible (1995). Clines, Interested Parties (1995).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

115

One of the features of postmodern writing that irritates traditional biblical critics is a tendency to very ‘difficult’ writing, full of puns and strange punctuation, with slashes and brackets in the titles of articles. Why cannot they simply say what they mean? traditionalists ask. This however somewhat misses the point. The idea that one can ‘simply say what one means’ is, from a postmodernist standpoint, one of the illusions of modernity. The provisionality of all human communication needs to be constantly before our eyes: and this is best conveyed by a tricky, elusive style of writing. In trying to write a clearly expressed section on postmodernism I betray at once that I am not a postmodernist myself, and if I succeed, then I fail, which is at least a good ironic postmodern experience. Postmodernism is perhaps the first movement to affect biblical studies that produces not so much disagreement as exasperation in the minds of historical critics, and is in its turn contemptuous of them. Mutual charity is not much in evidence. Postmodernists think (in this rather like advocacy readers) that traditional historical criticism serves the interests of a ruling clique which holds the keys to jobs and honours while not having the faintest idea how texts should really be read. Historical critics for their part tend to think postmodernists are simply playing mindless games with the text, and have abandoned the quest for truth. There are thus moral judgements being made on both sides of the divide, so that more is at stake than simple academic disagreement. Postmodernist biblical criticism has taken root mainly in the English-speaking world, despite its French origins; German scholars are rarely to be found practising it. There is a whole series of biblical commentaries now called, in a tell-tale way, Readings, and an excellent set of examples of postmodern interpretation can be found in Derrida’s Bible.45

7. Reader-response Criticism and Wirkungsgeschichte One of the characteristic moves in postmodernism is to acknowledge the role of the reader in interpretation. Traditional biblical criticism is written in the third person, reporting on what the text means in the tone of a report on a scientific experiment, as though neither the scholar nor his readers had any role but the passive one of registering what the text is saying. But at least since Schleiermacher interpreters of texts have known that this wholly ‘objective’ presentation of what is happening in exegesis is an oversimplification. Interpretation is an activity, not a mere receptiveness, and the role of the reader cannot be entirely ignored. Against the idea that the reader is neutral and that the text is allowed by exegesis to speak for itself, the late twentieth century saw the rise of ‘reader-response criticism’, in which the reader is accorded an active role in bringing the text – which after all is in itself inert – to expression in the present. Perhaps the best analogy is the performance of music. Traditional historical criticism is rather like musicology – the investigation of the circumstances of the composer and the attempt

45

Sherwood, Derrida’s Bible (2004).

116

John Barton

to establish exactly what he or she actually wrote. Reader-response criticism is more like the art of performance, activating the text today. Just as there can be many different performances of the same work, so there can be many different ‘readings’ of a text. In this respect reader-response criticism is at least partly an expression of some attitudes similar to those in postmodernism, but by no means all reader-response critics are committed to the full postmodernist programme – any more than are those who value different performances of music or drama. What unites all reader-response critics is a belief that reading is an active process, not simply the passive registration of meaning. In fact reader-response criticism exists in two forms, one of which may be called strong and the other weak. The strong form is exemplified by the work of Stanley Fish,46 and is definitely postmodernist in its affinities. Against historical criticism, it argues that the meaning of a text has no existence whatever apart from its appropriation or activation by a reader. For Fish, the much-quoted dictum applies that ‘a text is like a picnic to which the author brings the words and the reader the meaning’. Meaning is never discovered in texts, it is imputed or attributed to them by the reader; and not simply by the individual reader, but by a group of readers, by what Fish calls ‘interpretive communities’. In the case of the Bible (in which Fish himself is not interested) we might want to claim that the principal interpretive community is the community of faith: thus the Bible means what Christians or Jews collectively take it to mean. Such a line of thought has been quite attractive to some religious believers, and there is some potential overlap here with the canonical approach, which also argues (though on theological rather than literary grounds) that the meaning of the biblical text depends on its being read in the right context, that is, in the life of the church (or synagogue). The danger, as with all readings of a postmodernist kind, is arbitrariness: the community of readers can simply choose what the text is to mean, and there are no constraints upon them except the logic of their own position – the text itself offers no controls. In the last resort this would seem to mean that it hardly matters which text one takes as one’s Scripture: a Christian reading of Buddhist scripture would serve the Church just as well as a reading of the biblical text (and, equally, there could presumably be a Buddhist reading of the New Testament). This strong form of reader-response criticism probably strikes most biblical critics as a step too far in the direction of elevating the role of the reader. More influential has been the ‘soft’ reader-response criticism pioneered by Wolfgang Iser at the University of Konstanz.47 To pursue the analogy with music a little further, Iser recognizes the validity of many different performances, but thinks that it matters exactly which work is being performed. There are many possible interpretations – as many as there are conductors – of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, but none of them is the same as an interpretation of Bach’s B-minor Mass: the notes are simply different notes. Similarly with literature, there can be many Hamlets, but none of them is Macbeth or ever could be. It is simply not true that the interpreter is one hundred per cent responsible for the meaning of 46 47

Fish, Is there a Text? (1980). Iser, Act of Reading (1978).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

117

a work, and in that historical criticism is correct. But for Iser the contribution of the reader is the interesting part of interpretation. He has developed a theory that texts contain ‘blanks’ and ‘stars’. No text, after all, makes everything explicit – that would be impossible. Always there are lacunae in the text, where the reader has to make connections that are not spelled out by the author. But the text also contains ‘stars’, indications of the main plot or the overall drift of what is being communicated and attention to these is what makes it possible to understand and grasp the text as a whole – not unlike joining up the dots in a child’s puzzle. Only the reader can do this: the author, after all, is no longer there to do it. Iser’s model strikes many critics as a sensible version of reader-response criticism, and it has been developed by another pioneer of paying attention to the reader, Umberto Eco.48 Eco argues that a text can mean many things, but not absolutely anything. Activating one or more of its conceivable meanings, however, is certainly a ‘readerly’ task: texts do not read themselves any more than music plays itself. The act of reading does not necessarily involve realizing how it works. Reader-response critics are in a sense not promoting a programme about how texts ought to be read, but a theory about how they are in fact read, whether we realize it or not. Reader-response criticism is not a method, in which one begins by identifying stars and gaps and seeks to connect the stars across the gaps, as a conscious process. Rather, Iser is saying, if we analyse a good piece of textual interpretation after it is complete we can see that talk of stars and gaps makes sense of it. In this reader-response criticism is not unlike traditional historical criticism, which similarly is not a matter of applying overt methods to the text, but of reading it critically with certain questions in mind. Describing what is actually going on in such reading is a metacritical activity. An interest in how readers now interpret texts is likely to go hand-in-hand with some attention to how they have done so in the past, and reader-response criticism thus connects with what is variously called reception history or Wirkungsgeschichte (sometimes unsatisfactorily translated as ‘effective history’). Here another literary critic from Konstanz is a major name: Hans Robert Jauss,49 who laid the theoretical foundations of the discipline. Like reader-response theory, reception history exists in both a hard and a soft form, but here it is probably the harder one that has had more influence in biblical studies. ‘Soft’ reception history is simply an addition to the concerns of traditional biblical criticism. Studying how old texts were interpreted in the past is as valid and unproblematic as studying what they mean against their own historical background. In the case of the Bible, we are not dealing with texts that were lost for centuries and have only just come to light, but with material that has been known and interpreted continuously for two thousand years or more, and what interpreters in the past made of it is a fascinating question. Since the rise of historical criticism it is a question that has been rather lost sight of, since critics were often concerned to show that texts did not mean what they had traditionally been taken to mean – so the history of the text’s past interpretation tended to be seen as a 48 See esp. Eco, Limits of Interpretation (1990), and his Interpretation and Overinterpretation (1992). 49 Jauss, Aesthetic Experience (1982).

118

John Barton

history of error. Since the work of Jauss became known in the world of biblical studies, however, many critics have found a renewed interest is how the biblical books have been ‘received’ in the Jewish and Christian communities over the centuries. In New Testament studies a pioneer has been Ulrich Luz in Switzerland,50 but in Old Testament, though there is no one name that stands out, a good many scholars have begun to practise reception history, and there is now a British commentary series, The Bible through the Centuries, of which a number of volumes have appeared so far – particularly noteworthy is that receptions critics have not restricted themselves to textual commentary on biblical books but have also begun to study reception in art and music. An outstanding contribution is Yvonne Sherwood’s study of Jonah.51 One of the first Old Testament scholars to embrace reception history was probably John Sawyer in The Fifth Gospel, a study of the reception of the book of Isaiah throughout Christian history.52 This kind of reception history seems likely to bear much fruit in years to come, and, on the face of it, it raises no theoretical issues that take us outside historical criticism: it is, in effect, the historical criticism of interpretations of texts rather than of the texts themselves. But many reception historians do have a theoretical agenda, which constitutes what I would call a ‘hard’ form of reception history. This is the belief that texts have no meaning apart from how they have been received: they mean what they have been taken to mean. In this version of reception history, which seems closer to the beliefs of Jauss himself, it becomes a kind of historically orientated type of reader-response theory. Rather than a text meaning what I (or my community) takes it to mean, it means or can mean the entire range of what those who have received it have thought it meant. Thus, by contrast with historical criticism, there can be no getting back to an ‘original’ meaning – or if we could establish such a meaning, it would have no higher status than any subsequent meaning that has been identified during the course of the text’s reception. This harder version of reception history is again easily compatible with a postmodern understanding of texts, and can indeed be seen as a subset of a postmodern approach. It also has attractive possibilities for advocacy readings, since it means (for example) that ‘resistant’ readings are just as valid as readings ‘with the grain’ of the text – indeed, it becomes impossible to say that there is such a thing as the grain of a text, texts having no determinate meaning anyway. There is no longer any distinction to be drawn between the meaning and the use of a text, and certainly a phrase such as ‘real meaning’ becomes an empty one. The text becomes a vehicle, a tool to use in putting forward one’s own point of view – many reception historians would claim that it has always been that, but that the language of objectivity has concealed the fact from readers of commentaries and, indeed, from the commentators themselves. A problem that arises with this understanding of reception is that it is hard to know how to distinguish between readings: if we cannot say that one reading is more ‘correct’ than another, can we at least say that one is ‘better’ than anoth50 51 52

See Luz, Matthew in History (1994). Sherwood, A Biblical Text (2000). Sawyer, Fifth Gospel (1996).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

119

er? Only, it seems, on moral grounds: some readings have used the text for bad purposes (as when theologians in South Africa used the Old Testament to justify apartheid), other for good ones (as in liberation theology). A judgement about what makes one reading bad and another good cannot be made by biblical scholars as such, but belongs to the wider world of systematic theology and ethics. I have raised a possible objection to this: why should one not promote a resistant reading of Mein Kampf, which would use that text to argue in favour of Judaism? If that is unacceptable, as most people would probably think it was, then there must be something wrong with the reception-historical theory. As with hard reader-response criticism, there seems to be a difficulty as soon as we abandon any sense that the text itself exercises a control on the interpreter. But if it is to exercise a control, there must be some way of determining what it means – and we are back with some form of historical criticism. But this is not necessarily to lose all the real insights that both reader-response criticism and reception history afford. Paul Ricoeur is a thinker who has championed the needs of the reader without abandoning historical criticism. He has developed a ‘post-critical’ theory that does not make criticism superfluous but seeks to move on from it to something more. Ricoeur adopted Karl Barth’s idea of a ‘second naïveté’, which follows biblical criticism just as the ‘first naïveté’ is found in people who have not yet faced the critical challenge. At first glance it looks as though Ricoeur, like Barth, is using the expression in order to call biblical criticism into question: he writes, “Beyond the desert of criticism, we wish to be called again” – as though criticism were a wholly sterile operation which we need to leave behind us if we are to be ‘called’, that is, confronted and challenged, by the Bible and its message.53 But in fact for Ricoeur criticism is a ‘desert’ not in a negative sense, but in the sense that it is the wilderness that is the necessary preparation for entry into the Promised Land. As Lewis Mudge puts it, “To participate in the history of testimony we must [according to Ricoeur] convert our naïve faith through criticism into the register of hope”.54 The true, second naïveté is available only to those who have passed through the “desert of criticism”, and it is not a matter of simply reverting to a pre-critical naïveté. It depends on a critical interpretation of the text: [In The Symbolism of Evil Ricoeur] proposes a philosophical analysis of symbolic and metaphoric language intended to help us reach a ‘second naïveté’ before such texts. The latter phrase, which Ricoeur has made famous, suggests that the ‘first naïveté’, an unquestioned dwelling in a world of symbol, which presumably came naturally to men and women in one-possibility cultures to which the symbols in question were indigenous, is no longer possible for us. But we may approximate that state – of course with a difference. For the second immediacy that we seek and the second naïveté that we await are no longer accessible to us anywhere else than in a hermeneutics; we can believe only by interpreting. It is the ‘modern’ mode of belief in symbols, an expression of the distress of modernity and a remedy for that distress.55

53

The maxim is taken from Symbolism of Evil (1969), 349. Lewis Mudge, “Paul Ricoeur on Biblical Interpretation”, in Ricoeur, Essays on Biblical Interpretation (1981), 28. 55 Ibid. 6. The indented paragraph is from Ricoeur, Symbolism of Evil (1969), 352. Italics throughout are mine. 54

120

John Barton

And most clearly of all: Thus, as Ricoeur develops the importance of critical explanation of the text, it is not to destroy faith but to open the way for it. If one of the motives of the nineteenth-century historical-critical scholars was to free the Bible from dogmatic ecclesiastical interpretations, Ricoeur in turn seeks to free the Bible from culture-bound, subjectivizing interpretations as well as from fundamentalist, objectivizing interpretations by asking us to listen carefully to what biblical discourse testifies. We have no alternative to working through criticism toward a second naïveté because the first naïveté available to us in our culture is deeply idolatrous.56

Criticism is here seen not the enemy of a contemporary appropriation of the biblical text but as its necessary precondition. Attempts to put back the clock and act as though criticism had never been are in vain: this Promised Land cannot be reached except through the desert, in which we learn to read not what we should like to be in the Bible, but what is actually there. This clearly is not compatible with a hard form of either reader-response criticism or reception history, but accords perfectly well with the softer version of either. In Ricoeur we have, not opposition to historical criticism, but a desire to move on from it to engage with what he calls ‘the world in front of the text’ – that is, to make the text come alive for the modern reader. This again has certain affinities with the canonical approach, though its evaluation of historical criticism is perhaps more positive.

8. New Historicism One of the movements that seeks to challenge traditional historical criticism has ‘history’ as part of its own name: New Historicism. This has developed since the 1980s, and is the brainchild of one person, Stephen Greenblatt,57 who first used it in studies of the Early Modern period in England., though there are affinities with the work of Michel Foucault. At first sight New Historicism looks like historical criticism. Against other postmodern tendencies, it is concerned with the detailed historical context of literature, and it believes that works can be understood only against the background of their own times. But one of its distinctive moves is to relativize the idea of ‘great works’. If we study Shakespeare, we should also study his ‘non-canonical’ contemporaries, and we should extend our concerns to cover ‘non-literary’ texts as well – pamphlets, discursive works, and legal and political records. The aim is to build up a picture of the entire social matrix of ‘literary’ works, an entrée to which may be provided as much by some physical artefact or cultural icon as by literature. Furthermore, we need to suspend our sense of literary appreciation so as not to privilege so-called great works, but to see the canonical authors as existing not in splendid isolation but as part of a wider continuum of culture. New Historicism has affinities in the world of history with the Annales school associated with Fernand Braudel, which deflects attention from 56 57

Mudge, ibid. 23. See for example Greenblatt, Shakespearian Negotiations (1988).

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

121

the traditional concerns of historiography (great men and their political actions) and on to the lives of ordinary people in their continuity over time (“la longue durée”).58 The Annales movement has been deeply influential in recent study of the history of Israel and especially its study by archaeologists. They have abandoned the search for the major works of named kings (‘King Solomon’s Mines’, for example) and have turned their attention to the social history of Syria-Palestine, writing history without much attention to the biblical text and far more in relation to archaeological surveys. We are now about as far as could be imagined from the ‘biblical archaeology’ of Albright and his followers. But in the study of biblical literature New Historicism has yet to make a big impact. Perhaps its most important contribution so far has been less in the study of the historical matrix of ancient Israel and more in reminding us of the historical situatedness of ourselves, the interpreters. We too are part of a criss-crossing system of historical and social forces. As biblical scholars we are not immune from the pressures of our circumstances: we are no more ‘great men and women’ than are the people we study. As postmodernists of every stripe (and New Historicism can also be called postmodern) remind us, interpretation of texts is not a neutral and detached pursuit, and when we describe our findings as if they did proceed from a position of detachment we are guilty of bad faith. Everyone starts from somewhere; everyone has ‘an axe to grind’. The question for historical criticism is perhaps whether it can come to terms with that fact and yet still practise in a way recognizably continuous with its past, or whether it must be seen as simply bankrupt. The reader will have detected that I hope for the former outcome, but the challenge of such movements as New Historicism will not go away.

9. The Term ‘Historical Criticism’ Throughout this article we have been assuming that there is a phenomenon known as ‘the historical-critical method’ or ‘historical criticism’. There is not much doubt what is being referred to by these terms: the whole conglomeration of types of ‘higher criticism’, including at least source, form, redaction, and traditio-historical criticism, that dominated biblical study throughout the twentieth century, and in which all serious biblical scholars were expected to be proficient. The approaches outlined above are clearly conceived either as the next step from these or, more often, as alternatives to them, and their practitioners generally regard ‘historical criticism’ as erroneous or outmoded. There is a question, however, about how far the term ‘historical-critical method’ is the right term to describe these now threatened approaches to the biblical text. As I have argued elsewhere,59 ‘method’ gives a misleading impression, suggesting a procedure or set of procedures to be applied to the text. In practice the kind of enquiry involves is not a method, more a set of questions or concerns – 58 59

See the discussion in Carroll, Poststructuralist Approaches (1998). See my discussion in Barton, Nature of Biblical Criticism (2007).

122

John Barton

for the unity, genre, coherence, or historical development of the text and the traditions underlying it. Historical criticism may at time use various methods, but it is not itself a method. But even more important, perhaps, is the appropriateness of the term ‘historical’. This may be used to point to either of two tendencies in traditional biblical criticism, and they need to be distinguished. First, criticism may be called historical because it seeks to reconstruct history: the history of Israel, or the history of the texts themselves. It is clear after only brief thought that reconstructing the history of Israel has been a concern of only a subset of ‘historical critics’. Wellhausen, of course, was the prime example, and it is perhaps because of his position as a paradigm of historical criticism that it has been regarded as linked to an interest in the political or social history of Israel. But biblical critics have not in fact typically been historians in this sense. Overwhelmingly the background of biblical scholars has always lain in the study of language and literature rather than in history, and they have often been vulnerable to attack from professional historians on the grounds that they are not very good at history anyway. Certainly the genre ‘History of Israel’ has sometimes looked suspiciously like a paraphrase of the Old Testament narrative, to an extent that would have dismayed Wellhausen or, indeed, de Wette. There have certainly been sophisticated treatments of Israelite history, and the current wave of archaeological study has placed this on a far sounder footing. Nevertheless history is probably not the characteristic mode of Old Testament study, which is represented more typically by the textual commentary. This may suggest that criticism is to be called historical because it is concerned with the history of the text, and there is certainly something in this. Criticism has often been interested in genetic factors, and this is one of the things that more literary critics have questioned, arguing that there is a ‘genetic fallacy’ which wrongly supposes that explaining a text’s origins is the crucial matter, when in fact it has little to do with literary merit or importance. The whole area called in German Einleitungswissenschaft, which seeks out the historical background, authorship, and origins of a biblical book, has certainly been important, and again may be thought to have occupied too much attention as compared with weightier matters about the content and theology of the texts. Even so, this can also be exaggerated. ‘Historical’ critics have always been interested in far more than these technical questions, and a typical commentary, though it begins with issues of ‘Introduction’, typically moves on from them to ask about the meaning and interpretation of the text in question at much more length.Nor have systematizing Theologies of the Old Testament been very interested in the history of the text, and indeed they have sometimes been criticised for precisely that reason, as attempts to bypass historical issues. At least one of the classic ‘methods’ of historical criticism, form criticism, is focused on literary genre and hardly at all on historical development. So there are reasons to wonder how appropriate the term ‘historical criticism’ really is. There is a second sense in which the term can be used, and this is probably what people more often have in mind. Biblical criticism is always concerned with the meaning a text was capable of bearing in its temporal (that is: historical) context. As against some kinds of literary criticism, or even the canonical approach, ‘historical’ criticism tends to resist what it sees as an atemporal reading of texts,

The Concept of ‘History’ Revisited – Wirkungsgeschichte and Reception History

123

and to insist that the meaning we find in a text must be a meaning that was conceivable in the historical circumstances, including the thought-world, of its time of writing. The only one of the approaches surveyed above that really embraces this is the New Historicism, and that in a very idiosyncratic way. This implies that meaning cannot be beliebig, that is, at the whim of the reader: it must always be rooted in the time of the text’s production. If we cannot know at least roughly what that time is (that is, if the questions of Einleitungswissenschaft cannot be answered), then to that extent our knowledge of what the text means will be limited. The detailed knowledge of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages belong to historical criticism because they alone provide evidence for what the words of which the texts are composed can mean. Consequently historical critics will always need good linguistic ability. Advocacy readers will continue to stress that ordinary people with no expertise in the languages can still understand the texts profoundly, and this is both true and important: the Old Testament fares better in translation than some other ancient texts, and there is a long tradition of translations that seek to do justice to its profundity. Nevertheless, from a critical point of view there is a limit to how far the text can be understood fully without the ability to read it in the original languages (which, on the other hand, of course does not guarantee good comprehension!). Sometimes this point about the need for historical criticism is put in the terms developed by Krister Stendahl: the critic establishes what the text meant, and the modern interpreter/literary critic/preacher/theologian sets out what it means.60 Obviously an important point is being made through this vocabulary. To put it in traditional terms (which would be rejected by many today, especially perhaps by canonical critics), exegesis is separate from application, the subtilitas intelligendi from the subtilitas applicandi. But the language of meant/means can also mislead, suggesting that what the text means against its temporal background has now ceased to be its meaning for us. Stendahl used his contrast mainly to stress that the historical meaning of the text need not always constrain the use we make of it today, but it is easily misunderstood to imply that the text’s ‘original’ meaning is now no longer its meaning. This makes the word ‘meaning’ work too hard, to cover not only the text’s sense but also its wider implications, and it probably confuses as much as it clarifies. Historical criticism has always been concerned with the meaning of the text, and meaning is not ‘tensed’: application may be. To talk of ‘what the text originally meant’ is a comprehensible and sensible usage, but if applied strictly, it can suggest that texts can change their meaning over time, and this was perhaps not intended in Stendahl’s formulation. Biblical criticism is concerned to establish the meaning texts have by investigating their background, setting, and genre. To that extent it can rightly be called historical, because it sees a text as rooted in the circumstances of its composition and development. Most of the newer approaches we have surveyed here reject this, and may fairly be described as non- or anti-historical in outlook. From time to time it is asked whether historical criticism is likely to survive. On the whole,

60

See Stendahl, The Bible as a Classic (1984).

124

John Barton

as I write in 2013, it seems to me likely that the present pluralism in Old Testament studies will continue, and consequently that both historical and non-historical modes of criticism will all continue to be practised for the foreseeable future. The atmosphere of debate about the correct ‘methods’ for biblical studies is quite cantankerous, however, and this too I expect to continue to be the case.

Chapter Thirty

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches By Antony F. Campbell, Parkville, Victoria, Australia Sources (in chronological order): H. Gunkel, “Die Grundprobleme der israelitischen Literaturgeschichte”, Deutsche Literaturzeitung 27 (1906) 1797–1800.1861–1866 (repr. Reden und Aufsätze [s. below], 29–38; it was intended as a brief report on the fundamental positions of Gunkel’s piece on Israelite Literature in: Kultur der Gegenwart 1/7 (1906), 51–102, now available in a 1925 and a 1963 printing [s. below]); ET: “Fundamental Problems of Hebrew Literary History”, in: What Remains of the Old Testament and Other Essays (London: Allen & Unwin 1928), 57–68; Genesis (HKAT I/1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 31910, ND 91977; ET: Macon, GA: Mercer UP 1997); Reden und Aufsätze (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1913); “Was haben wir am Alten Testament?”, Deutsche Rundschau 41 (1914) 215–241; ET: “What is Left of the Old Testament?”, in: What Remains of the Old Testament and Other Essays (London: Allen & Unwin 1928), 13–55; “Jakob”, Preussische Jahrbücher 176 (1919) 339–362; ET: Water for a Thirsty Land: Israelite Literature and Religion (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress 2001), 42–67; Das Märchen im Alten Testament (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1921; repr. Frankfurt a.M.: Athenaum 1987); ET: The Folktale in the Old Testament (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1987); Die israelitische Literatur, in: Die Orientalischen Literaturen. Kultur der Gegenwart I/7 (ed. P. Hinneberg; Berlin / Leipzig 1906, sec. print. 1925, repr. 1963); Die Psalmen (HKAT II/2; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 41929, 51968); Einleitung in die Psalmen. Die Gattungen der religiösen Lyrik Israels, zu Ende geführt von J. Begrich (HKAT II, Ergänzungsband; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1933; repr. 1966); ET: Introduction to Psalms (Macon, GA: Mercer UP 1998). – H. Gressmann, Mose und seine Zeit (FRLANT 18; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1913); “Die literarische Analyse Deuterojesajas”, ZAW 34 (1914) 254– 297; “Die Aufgaben der alttestamentlichen Forschung”, ZAW 42 (1924) 1–33; contributions to Die Schriften des Alten Testaments in Auswahl (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1910–14; sec. rev. edn. 1920–25). – J. Hempel, Die althebräische Literatur (Wildpark-Potsdam: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion 1930). – A. Alt, “Die Ursprünge des israelitischen Rechts” (1934), in: idem, Kleine Schriften I (Munich: Beck 1953), 278–332; ET: “The Origins of Israelite Law”, in: idem, Essays on Old Testament History and Religion (Oxford: Blackwell 1966), 81–132. – S. Mowinckel, Psalmenstudium, I–VI (Kristiania [Oslo] 1921–24; repr. in 2 vols., Amsterdam: Schippers 1961); Offersang og sangoffer (1951; repr. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget 21971); ET: The Psalms in Israel’s Worship, 1–2 (tr. D. R. Ap-Thomas; Oxford: Blackwell 1962); Prophecy and Tradition (ANVAO II.1946/3; Oslo: Dybwad 1946); repr. as Chs. 1–9 in: Mowinckel, The Spirit and the Word: Prophecy and Tradition in Ancient Israel (K. C. Hanson [ed.], Minneapolis, MN: Fortress 2002). – G. von Rad, Das formgeschichtliche Problem des Hexateuch (BWANT 4/26; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1938; repr. in: idem, Gesammelte Studien zum Alten Testament [ThB 8; Munich: Kaiser 1958], 9–86); ET: “The Form-Critical Problem of the Hexateuch”, in: The Problem of the Hexateuch, and Other Essays (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill 1966), 1–78; repr. in: From Genesis to Chronicles: Explorations in Old Testament Theology [Minneapolis, MN: Fortress 2005], 1–58 and 243–249 [notes]); Das erste Buch Mose. Genesis (ATD 2–4; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1949, 121987); ET: Genesis (OTL; Philadelphia, PA: Westminster 1961). – M. Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien. Die sammelnden und bearbeitenden Geschichtswerke im Alten Testament (1943, Tübingen: M. Niemeyer 1957); ET: The Deuteronomistic History (JSOT.S 15; Sheffield: JSOT, first edn. 1981, second and corr. edn. 1991), and The Chronicler’s History (JSOT.S 50; Sheffield: JSOT 1987); Überlieferungsgeschichte des

126

Antony F. Campbell

Pentateuch (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1948); ET: A History of Pentateuchal Traditions (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall 1972). – C. Westermann, Das Loben Gottes in den Psalmen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1954, 41968); ET: The Praise of God in the Psalms (Richmond, VI: John Knox 1965); Grundformen prophetischer Rede (BEvTh 31; Munich: Kaiser 1960, 51978); ET: Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster 1967); Lob und Klage in den Psalmen (fifth and expand. edn. of Das Loben Gottes in den Psalmen; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1977); ET: Praise and Lament in the Psalms (Atlanta, GA: John Knox 1981). – K. Koch, Was ist Formgeschichte? Methoden der Bibelexegese (Neukirchen-Vluyn 1964, 31974); ET: The Growth of the Biblical Tradition (New York, NY: Scribner 1969). – J. Muilenburg, “Form Criticism and Beyond”, JBL 88 (1969) 1–18. – R. Knierim (ed.), Forms of the Old Testament Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1981–). Studies: W. Baumgartner, “Zum 100. Geburtstag von Hermann Gunkel”, Congress Volume Bonn 1962 (VT.S 9; Leiden: Brill 1963), 1–18 (repr. in: Gunkel, Genesis, 91977, 1*-18*). – A. F. Campbell, “Form Criticism’s Future”, in: The Changing Face of Form Criticism for the Twenty-First Century (ed. M. Sweeney/ E. Ben-Zvi; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2003), 15–31. – J. L. Crenshaw, Gerhard von Rad (Waco, TX: Word Books 1978; Germ. tr. Munich 1979). – Eucharisterion. Hermann Gunkel zum 60. Geburtstag (FRLANT 36; ed. H. Schmidt; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1923). – C. Hardmeier, Texttheorie und biblische Exegese: Zur rhetorischen Funktion der Trauermetaphorik in der Prophetie (Munich: Kaiser 1978). – J. P. Hyatt, “Were There an Ancient Historical Credo in Israel and an Independent Sinai Tradition?”, in: Translating & Understanding the Old Testament (ed. H. T. Frank/ W. L. Reed; Nashville, TN: Abingdon 1970), 152–170. – R. Kittel, “Die Zukunft der alttestamentlichen Wissenschaft”, ZAW 39 (1921) 84–99. – W. Klatt, Hermann Gunkel. Zu seiner Theologie der Religionsgeschichte und zur Entstehung der formgeschichtlichen Methode (FRLANT 100; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1969). – R. Knierim, “Old Testament Form Criticism Reconsidered”, Int. 27 (1973) 435–468; “Criticism of Literary Features, Form, Tradition, and Redaction”, in: The Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters (ed. D. A. Knight/ G. M. Tucker; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress 1985), 123–165; Text and Concept in Leviticus 1:1–9: A Case in Exegetical Method (FAT 2; Tübingen: Mohr 1992). – G. von Rad, “Gerhard von Rad über Gerhard von Rad”, in: Probleme biblischer Theologie. Gerhard von Rad zum 70. Geburtstag (ed. H. W. Wolff; Munich: Kaiser 1971), 659–661. – W. Richter, “Beobachtungen zur theologischen Systembildung in der alttestamentlichen Literatur anhand des ‘kleinen geschichtlichen Credo’”, in: Wahrheit und Verkündigung, 1 (Munich: Ferdinand Schöningh 1967), 175–212. – M. A. Sweeney, “Form Criticism”, in: To Each Its Own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application (rev. and expand.; ed. S. L. McKenzie / S. R. Haynes; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox 1999), 58–89. – M. A. Sweeney / E. Ben-Zvi (eds.), The Changing Face of Form Criticism for the Twenty-First Century (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2003). – H. W. Wolff, “Gespräch mit Gerhard von Rad”, in: Probleme biblischer Theologie (1971, s. above), 648–658.

1. Introductory Before we examine the emergence of what is now called ‘form criticism’ (German: Formgeschichte; “criticism” in English and “history” in German – not an insignificant difference), a preliminary observation may be important. As a general rule, reflection on movements in human awareness (correlatively, religious awareness) is usually more appropriate a century or two after the movements have ended rather than a mere century or so after they have begun. In the present case, however, it may be necessary to hazard some preliminary thoughts related to moves in the world of Older Testament study over the last century or so. Primary among these moves may be the beginnings of a slow, almost imperceptible transition, consisting in a movement from what was traditionally faith in a God who, in the biblical text, spoke through people so that one might speak of the biblical text as God’s word (with varying levels of complexity or transpar-

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

127

ency) associated with a corresponding movement toward a possible emergence of faith in a God who, in the biblical text, was spoken of by people, articulating their experience of their God, so that one might speak of the biblical text as word of God’s people (again with varying levels of complexity or transparency). Traditionally, God “owns” this process of articulation. Through it, God’s word becomes heard. To put this in a slightly different language: a move in religious awareness may have been stirring for a century or so, and may be likely to extend for at least another century or so, that among other things involves a transition from seeing the biblical text as in some way being God’s vehicle for proclaiming to people toward seeing the biblical text as in some way being people’s vehicle for proclaiming God. Couched in simpler terms, it is not so much the biblical text emanating from God but God emanating from the biblical text; not so much the word that God proclaims as the word that proclaims God. In the bluntest and simplest of terms, these moves might be characterized as a highly sophisticated and complex modulation away from the potentially naïve notion of “a God speaking” in the direction of “a God spoken of”.1 The catch phrases are simple; the reality, in any of its detail and in the development of its implications, is massively complex. The process as a whole is subtle in the extreme and highly uneven; far advanced in some pockets, while in others it is far from begun. The parallel moves toward an increasingly widespread secularization in the Western world have probably been associated with the process. To say so is simple; to look at any aspects of detail is similarly of massive complexity. Alongside this but more recently, the world of OT scholarship has experienced the deterioration of the Documentary Hypothesis as a sure foundation for the understanding of the Pentateuch. No consensus has yet formed as to what might eventually take its place. At this point, it is important to go back to the beginnings of both form criticism and tradition history, to explore what they emerged from, what their defects were, and what insights of value they embodied. That means looking at the early twentieth century before biblical scholarship ventures too far into the twenty-first century. From an observation point some one hundred years later, the unavoidable question that must inevitably be addressed is: what captured the attention of figures such as Gunkel, Gressmann, and von Rad (and so many others) that led in their research and writing to form criticism? The question leads less to a catalogue of what they did (we have their works) but rather more to an enquiry into why they did it and how they envisioned the task. Certain questions emerge from within the texts themselves; for example, the reliability of the text (text criticism), the issue of the unity of the text, its sources, etc. (source criticism), and so on. From this point of view, form criticism is a somewhat nebulous approach to the interpretation of text, involving a concern for the recognition and classification of literary types in various texts. It is not a new set of methodical steps to be taken in the task of interpreting a text. It does not respond to questions such as the texts themselves pose directly.

1

These concerns are adumbrated in Gunkel, What Is Left, in: What Remains (1928), 13–56.

128

Antony F. Campbell

As we shall see, form criticism emerged from a combination of at least two factors: first, frustration with current practice; second, the perception of possibilities opening up for the interpretation of biblical text, despite conservative resistance. “Current practice” in pentateuchal studies at the start of the twentieth century was dominated by literary or source criticism (German: Literarkritik; not to be confused with the criticism appropriate to literary study). The discomfort felt with it presaged more than a mere shift in academic disciplines.2

2. Hermann Gunkel Hermann Gunkel (1862–1932) is the acknowledged pioneer of the form-critical approach to Older Testament text. Within the complexity of human motivation, a major factor motivating the approach he advocated was dissatisfaction not with the achievements but with the limitations of source criticism (Literarkritik, above all in the Pentateuch). Legitimating that dissatisfaction, and prophetic for what was to come, is the realization that those limitations of the then Literarkritik have in no small measure contributed to today’s current unease with the Documentary Hypothesis. From early in the piece, it would appear that the motivation driving Gunkel included a desire to give their full worth to biblical texts and not to stop short at the dryly technical. The beauty of the legendary stories (Sagen) in Genesis has always been the delight of sensitive readers. It is not a matter of chance that artists have so gladly taken the subjects of their paintings from Genesis. Scholars have been much more backward in showing themselves touched by the beauty of these stories, probably often on personal grounds but often because aesthetic dispositions did not seem to them compatible with the seriousness of scholarship.3

Academic acceptability, compatibility with the seriousness of scholarship, was clearly an issue. In 1906, between the second and third editions of Gunkel’s Genesis commentary, biblical form criticism first emerged as an essential element of biblical interpretation with his observation that “the prime task of a history of Israelite literature must consequently be to determine the genres represented in the Old 2 I am greatly indebted to Claremont’s emeritus professor Rolf P. Knierim for long conversations about form criticism and its beginnings. At Heidelberg, he was Assistent with C. Westermann in 1958/59 and with G. von Rad in 59/60–62/63 – ‘Assistent’ in German universities was an academic post, roughly equivalent to the US assistant professor. 3 Die Schönheit der Sagen der Genesis ist von jeher das Entzücken feinfühliger Leser gewesen; nicht zufällig ist es, dass die Maler die Stoffe für ihre Bilder so gern aus der Genesis genommen haben. Viel seltener haben die Gelehrten sich von der Schönheit dieser Erzählungen berührt gezeigt, vielfach wol [modern: wohl] aus persönlichen Gründen, vielfach wol [modern: wohl] deshalb, weil ihnen ästhetische Stimmungen mit dem Ernst der Wissenschaft nicht vereinbar schienen, Genesis (1901, 1st edn.) xvii [cf. 3rd edn. xxvii]. As for the passage: “vielfach wol aus persönlichen Gründen”, Gunkel dropped this from later editions; perhaps he felt it inappropriate to intimate that colleagues may have been aesthetically challenged. The importance of going beyond disparate details to grapple with the whole echoes throughout Gunkel’s Ziele und Methoden (in: Reden [1913], 11–29), along with concern for ensuring exegetical technicity (Nüchternheit).

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

129

Testament”.4 In his summary of his extensive and more discursive text, he mentions briefly some of the main genres, with a first division into prose and poetry. Within prose: narrative, myth, folktale, saga (Sage, better: legendary story), novella, spiritual legend (Legende), and lastly historical narrative; within poetry: wisdom saying, prophetic saying, and lyric poem (both secular and spiritual). Secular lyrics include: dirge, love song, ridiculing song, drinking song, wedding song, victory song, and royal song. Spiritual lyrics include: hymn, thanksgiving song, complaint song (individual and community), and eschatological song. Prophetic writings include numerous genres: narrative of vision, prophetic word, and discourse (including threat or promise, invective, exhortation, and many others).5 In this paper, Gunkel provides a programme for further work in Older Testament.6 In 1901, Gunkel himself had begun with the assertion of the presence in Genesis of legendary stories (Sagen; recent ET: “legends”), rather than history; in 1921 his Märchen appeared; in 1929 his Die Psalmen, followed posthumously in 1933 by his Einleitung in die Psalmen (completed by J. Begrich). Unshackled from the tyranny of history as dominant literary genre, he pointed to a future in terms of valuing the beauty and meaning of OT texts; he pointed to a past in terms of the oral world in which such traditions had flourished; and he pointed to the need for levels of classification and systematization so that research could proceed on a scholarly basis. More than that he could not do; further development had to be left to those who followed. What brings form criticism formally into the academic realm is the assertion: “Most of these types (Gattungen) have long been recognized, and it is the task of Literary History to study them systematically and scientifically. Each type (Gattung) must be studied in order to show the materials (Stoffe) with which it deals and the forms (Formen) that it necessarily assumes”.7 The work is not done, but it is called for. We note that content and form are both involved; form is not independent of content. The impetus toward these form-critical and traditio-historical approaches appears to have been rooted in Gunkel’s recognition of the limited appeal of pentateuchal source criticism (Literarkritik) to non-specialist Bible readers and the value of an aesthetic approach, which was where he believed his own particular skills predominated. In 1910, the year of the third edition of his Genesis commentary, he wrote to his publisher, Ruprecht, in connection with a more popular Genesis edition in Schriften des Alten Testaments regarding non-specialist readers: the way to the content (Inhalt, understood as involving the totality of what is there [subject, topic, plot, beauty, style, rhetoric, etc.]) lies through pleasure in the aesthetic form. It is quite different

4 Grundprobleme, Reden (1913), 31 (ET: 59). See Gunkel, Die israelitische Literatur (1906, sec. pr. 1925), 2 [54], summarized in Gunkel, Grundprobleme der israelitischen Literaturgeschichte. A 1919 comment puts Gunkel’s position in perspective: “The lengthy task of separating the documentary sources of this book [Genesis] pushed all the other problems connected with Genesis into the background”, Jakob, ET: 42. 5 Grundprobleme, Reden (1913), 31–32 (ET: 59–60). 6 S. his comment in Einleitung (1933), 20 (ET: 14). 7 Gunkel, Problems of Hebrew Literary History (1928), 60 (Reden, 1913, 32).

130

Antony F. Campbell

with source criticism (Literarkritik) … Now it is my particular gift to have a feeling for the aesthetic, and to bring it to the fore.8

More than a decade earlier, he had written to the same publisher, “in the commentary, I will lay full worth on the unfortunately much neglected interpretation of content (Sacherklärung), while in my view up till now source criticism (Literarkritik) has been one-sidedly in the foreground”.9 We need to notice Gunkel’s insistence on “full worth”; the biblical text is not to be sold short because of academic timidity. As any reader of his Genesis commentary will know, Gunkel was no slouch when it came to the contemporary practice of source criticism (Literarkritik). In the German original, seven fonts are used to reflect the source analysis of the biblical text. (Unfortunately, this immediate visual effect has not been reproduced in the English translation, opting to omit Gunkel’s own translation.) Gunkel speaks highly and with pride of the achievements of such source criticism. An amazing expenditure of industry, of discernment, of brilliant powers of comprehension has been applied to this work. The result is a product of which future generations may be proud. It is currently possible in many cases to determine the source documents to the verse, in a few cases to the word, although, of course, much will always remain uncertain. The final decisive turn in the history of Genesis criticism was the work of Wellhausen, who taught us in his masterpiece Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels to determine the sources of Genesis chronologically and to locate them in the total course of the history of Israel’s religion.10

As the 1910 Introduction to Genesis makes clear (his “final position” on such matters – his words), Gunkel’s primary interest was in legendary story (Sage), not history (Geschichte). For Gunkel, such legendary story was from circles unaccustomed to writing, discussed personal and private matters, and was by nature poetry, seeking to gladden, elevate, inspire, and touch. (In terms of German intellectual history, the echoes of Herder, Goethe, etc. are clear.) History, on the other hand, presumed the practice of writing, had as its subject great public events, and was by nature prose, seeking to instruct concerning actual events.11 It was important to Gunkel that such legend be seen as respectable. The burden of contemporary church society weighed on the scholar: “The evangelical church and its commissioned representatives would do well not to be closed – as has so often been the case to this point – to this awareness that Genesis contains legends (Sagen), but to recognize that only this awareness makes a historical understanding of Genesis possible”.12 A brief detour is appropriate here. Biblical narrative is usually about the presentation of the past. History, in Gunkel’s sense, has its preoccupation with the past, as to what actually happened. Literature has its preoccupation with the presentation, allowing an intellectual distancing from what

8

Cf. Klatt, Hermann Gunkel (1969), 118. Cf. Klatt, Hermann Gunkel (1969), 117. 10 Gunkel, Genesis (1910/1969), LXXXI (ET: lxx). 11 Gunkel, ibid. IX–XIII (ET: viii–xi). 12 Gunkel, ibid. XII–XIII (ET: xi). As late as 1964, the issue of what might be thought shocking still surfaced frequently in Koch, Formgeschichte, ET: Growth (1969). 9

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

131

actually happened. Two examples will help. First, the question in the biblical text: “Why has the LORD put us to rout today” (1 Sam 4:3). Why is it in the text? History answers: because of the past – the question was asked. Literature answers: because of the presentation – the question is theologically significant (and the answer is withheld until 2 Sam 6). Second, in the biblical text David has Uriah murdered not Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11–12). Why is it in the text? History: because that is what happened. Why did David do it? – good question! Literature: because it has significance in the presentation of the episode. What does the narrator mean by telling it? – good question! Gunkel’s identification of Genesis texts as “legendary stories” (Sagen) opened the way to the presentation: what is the significance of telling what is told? The presentation can be explored in ways that the past cannot.

Legend (Sage) took various forms, largely determined by content. There were ethnological legends, giving reasons for the status of peoples; etymological ones, offering the beginnings of linguistics, cultic ones, explaining the institution of worship; geological ones, explaining the origins of a locality; and more besides, left undescribed.13 Gunkel’s underlying concern is clear. It is the question, “What is the nature of these texts, what sort of texts are these?” This question is central to the form-critical approach. For Gunkel, of course, the focus was on the typical narrative (genre) of a distant past considerably removed from the individual stories (form) found in the present biblical text. Latent here are tensions that will bedevil form-critical scholarship in generations to come. There is the tension between genre and form: genre, the typical narrative often discussed in relation to the past; form, the individual story found in the present text. There is tension as regards the role played by content in the characterization of a genre. Further tension lurks in Gunkel’s prejudiced portrayal of the “poverty” of both narrator and audience in past generations and his recognition of the “extraordinary feats” and “artistic power” of those responsible for the present text. Finally, there is the practice of highlighting what are isolated elements from the past while needing to reckon with complete texts in the present. Any exposition of the past narratives, beyond the isolated elements, is necessarily speculative and subjective. The traditio-historical approach has its first stirrings with Gunkel’s affirmation of transmission from these traces of the past to the texts of the present. Above all else, Gunkel insisted on the recognition of what much of the Genesis text was not; it was not history (in Gunkel’s time: what actually happened). By this simple assertion, Gunkel grounded the query: then, what sort of a text is this? The need for form criticism emerged. Similarly, he sought to trace the transmission of material from a distant past to a present text. Although it may prove dubious, the space for tradition history was created. The noting of categories among the legendary stories was a bare beginning. Some two decades later, classification burgeoned with the publication of Gunkel’s Die Psalmen (1929), followed posthumously by his Einleitung in die Psalmen (1933). Preceding Die Psalmen was, of course, Gunkel’s early study of Israelite literature.14 It is important to note that, even at this stage, Gunkel’s emphasis is on genres. Of its essence, the genre (Gattung) lies behind the present text; the genre is the typical that, in each case, finds expression in the individual form of 13 14

Gunkel, ibid. XXI–XXV (ET: xviii–xxi). Die israelitische Literatur (1906/1963).

132

Antony F. Campbell

the present text. A major aspect of Gunkel’s interest, at least overtly, was with the (often ancient) past from which the present text had developed. By its nature, source criticism (Literarkritik) engaged with the present text. By his predilection, Gunkel turned to the aesthetic that he claimed to find predominantly in the freedom of the past. This involvement with the ancient past necessarily brought into play the subjective and the speculative. The tension, as noted above, has long bedeviled form-critical scholarship. Gunkel’s 1921 study of Märchen (accepted English equivalent for OT: folktale) in the Older Testament is less a study of the folktale genre and more concerned with the occurrences of folkloristic qualities in passages of the OT. The comment in his Introduction is to be noted: “The elevated and rigorous spirit of biblical religion tolerated the folktale as such at almost no point and this near total eradication from the holy tradition is one of the great acts of biblical religion. It is, however, quite a different matter whether the people of whom the Bible speaks still preserved such stories”.15 Rather than a systematic study of the genre, the book’s aim is “to collate the material which comes into consideration for the folktale scholar in the Old Testament”.16 At the same time, a wide range of content categories emerges. Gunkel’s principal aim would appear to be to distance much of the Bible’s storytelling from confusion with a concern for history. The Psalms commentary opens with Gunkel’s lament that some of the most reliable and scholarly Psalms commentaries of the time were not always able to overcome a certain aridity (Trockenheit) and stolidity (Unempfänglichkeit). As he summed it up: “Criticism and linguistics are to the fore in this area; the religious and the poetic take a back seat”.17 The confusion of genre and form remained: “one of the most important tasks of genre research (Gattungsforschung) is to recognize the language of form (Formensprache)”.18 His dearest wish would be that the dam might finally break which held so many contemporaries back from a recognition of the forms (Erkenntnis der Formen) and therefore from genre research (Gattungsforschung).19 The Introduction to his Psalm commentary makes clear Gunkel’s conviction of the absolute necessity of genre research for understanding the Psalms (“genre research in the Psalms is nonnegotiable [nicht eine Liebhaberei] … the foundational work without which there can be no certainty in the remainder”).20 That needs to be coupled with his strenuous repudiation of accusations of undue subjectivity. He lays down three criteria for genre research where the Psalms are concerned: (1) setting (Sitz im Leben): belonging to a typical occasion in the worship service, or at least deriving from one; (2) content: indicating a common

15

Folktale (1987) 33 (Märchen, repr. 1987, 23). Ibid. 35 (Märchen, 24). 17 Kritik und Sprachwissenschaft stand auf diesem Gebiet im Vordergrunde, Religion aber und Dichtung traten zurück, Gunkel, Psalmen (1929) V. 18 So ist es eine der wichtigsten Aufgaben der Gattungsforschung, diese ‘Formensprache’ zu erkennen, Gunkel, ibid. IX. 19 Von Herzen möchte ich wünschen, daß der Damm, der so manche der Mitlebenden von der Erkenntnis der Formen und darum auch von der Gattungsforschung ferngehalten hat, jetzt endlich zerrisse!, Gunkel, ibid. IX. 20 Einleitung (1933) 8 (ET: 5). 16

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

133

treasury of thoughts and moods/emotions; (3) language: a common “language related to the form”.21 The interplay of form and content is unavoidable. Form is indubitably related to the particularity of individual text, but it is not closely defined; the potential for the confusion of genre and form is not eliminated. The reality of the new directions being taken may be judged by Gunkel’s reference to the conspiracy of silent refusal on the part of representatives of the older school.22 Comparison with his predecessors shows clearly how Gunkel’s classification of the Psalms has stood the test of time. W. Baumgartner’s insight in his centenary address is central; he notes the quotation “Research is as much about art as science” and adds that, for Gunkel, “art” included instinct or intuition, sensitivity or feeling, as well as imagination.23 After a century or so, reflection is regrettably restricted to people’s publications and the relatively rare reminiscence. We know Gunkel was a man of powerful personal influence with a remarkable gift for friendship; alas, print seldom catches these qualities. Prescinding from his commentaries on Genesis and Psalms, as well as his treatment of folktale in the OT – where the broader ideas are put to the detailed test – Gunkel’s legacy revolves around two pillars: first, a programme for form-critical research (laid out in 1906 and reprinted in 1925); second, a further focus to OT research beyond the pentateuchal source criticism of the time. The future will see that focus sometimes relaxed, sometimes exaggerated. Whatever its fate, thanks to Gunkel, it is an integral part of the task of biblical interpretation. Gunkel’s legacy was not in terms of an advance in method, if method is understood as a procedure or process to attain a purpose, as so many steps to be taken to achieve a goal. On the other hand, if method is understood in more general terms, as a body of skills or techniques flowing from insight, then the form-critical approach would come under the term. First and foremost was the question: what sort of a text is this? Beyond the tyranny of history (so often assumed as genre automatically, frequently unawares), the extensive list of genres showed the need for this question. The question needed to be asked about whether pointers were available to the oral background of the text. The question was there to be asked whether patterns within a genre might serve as pointers to the meaning of a particular text. These observations and questions led beyond the scope of pentateuchal source criticism (Literarkritik). A significant shift, a sea change, had occurred in the understanding of the discipline of biblical exegesis.

3. Hugo Gressmann R. Kittel’s address to the first congress of German orientalists (Deutscher Orientalistentag) in Leipzig in 1921 is a most helpful context in which to set form criticism itself and to understand the contribution of Hugo Gressmann (1877–1927).24 21

Ibid. 22–23 (ET: 15–16). Ibid. 21 (ET: 15), evidenced by Kittel in 1921 (s. below). 23 “Forschung ist ebensoviel Kunst wie Wissen”. Und Kunst schloss für ihn das Mitwirken von Instinkt, Gefühl, Phantasie ein, Baumgartner, Zum 100. Geburtstag (1963) 14 (Genesis, 1977, 14*). 24 Zukunft der atl. Wissenschaft (1921) 84–99. 22

134

Antony F. Campbell

The topic of R. Kittel (1853–1929) was the future of Old Testament scholarship. The timing is important to note. It is between Gunkel’s commentary on Genesis and his commentary on Psalms as well as his Introduction to the Psalms. It is several years after Gressmann’s form-critical work on the Moses material (Mose-Sagen) and his lengthy article analyzing Second Isaiah form-critically. With Kittel, the old guard is making a stand. There is much to be said about this address but perhaps these telling figures are enough: mention is made of Wellhausen’s name some twenty times; there is no mention at all of Gunkel’s name nor that of Gressmann and others – not a word (perhaps because they were among the living [cf. p. 84], but it could scarcely be that alone). For Kittel, and those of similar cast of mind, the recent contribution of the comparative religion school (religionsgeschichtliche Schule) and the genre research people (ästhetisch-folkloristische Schule) might be conceded – but without apparent emphasis or enthusiasm. The significance and achievements of genre research are not mentioned; on the other hand, the limitation of literary history is emphasized. According to Kittel, what is needed is the intellectual history of Israel (die Geistesgeschichte Israels); life before literature. For Kittel, then, it is life (the setting) that leads to understanding the literature; for Gunkel, on the other hand, it is the genre of the literature that leads to the setting in life. For Kittel, the essential source-critical work had been done – regarding the Hexateuch, the historical books, and the prophets. Nevertheless, three directions would mark the near future for Kittel, and source criticism was one of them – Literarkritik, associated above all with the name of Wellhausen.25 The decision to launch a new series of the figurehead journal, Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, sent a highly symbolic and contrary signal: a stage had been achieved at which fresh directions were required to build on the new foundations that had been laid. In an article celebrating this signal, Gressmann, the new editor, referred to the past as the period of source criticism (Literarkritik); new vistas were opened up for present and future generations by what he termed the Near Eastern period – in which, following the source-critical period and now in the Near Eastern context, OT scholarship might look for fresh understandings (neue Erkenntnisse).26 After highlighting the unquestionable achievements of source-critical work, as well as a number of associated failings, Gressmann concludes: “What we need in our scholarship are not more but rather less source-critical studies”.27 Source-critical work is essential; it cannot be neglected. However, it should not be overrated; it is an aid to scholarship (Hilfswissenschaft, a loaded term), not its end.28 As Gressmann perceived the present and future, source criticism (Literarkritik) designated the past, while remaining an essential subsidiary. It had been replaced by a period to be designated by the context of the ancient Near East. Emphasis had moved from concern with language to concern with culture. Israel 25

Ibid. 90–91. Aufgaben der alttestamentlichen Forschung, ZAW 42 (1924) 1–33. 27 Wir brauchen darum in unserer Wissenschaft nicht mehr, sondern weniger literarkritische Untersuchungen, Aufgaben (1924), 8. 28 Ibid. 4. 26

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

135

had become a part of the ancient Near East – with confidence that the Older Testament and its religion would not lose but could only benefit from this.29 What was needed was the spiritual story of the ancient Near East – not of Israel alone, but of Israel as part of its surrounding world. Looking to the present and future, Gressmann emphasized the importance of developments in areas including text criticism (with cautions), metre, grammar, syntax, lexicography, geography, and history. Source criticism (Literarkritik) escaped mention; perhaps because the needed advances in source criticism had been achieved and further progress was not needed. Conflict may not be explicit; but it is clear. Kittel subsumed genre research and associated material under the themes of aesthetics and folklore (ästhetisch-folkloristische Schule). When he comes to the area, Gressmann comments: “Genre research has nothing whatever to do with folklore and only a little to do with aesthetics”.30 The conflict is clear. The tasks of genre research are spelled out: to investigate narrative and history, song and prophecy, law and wisdom for their nature or essence (Wesen), their setting, form, content, mood (Stimmung), and history.31 Reduced to a single question: what sort of a text is this? Gressmann was coming out of substantial experience in the form-critical arena. Already in 1913, he had published a full study of the legendary Moses stories (Mose-Sagen), discussing the songs, individual stories (with the possibilities of their oral background), the collections, and the cycles.32 In 1914, his major study of Second Isaiah had appeared, with a panoply of form-critical observations.33 In these years, he was lead editor and a contributor to Die Schriften des Alten Testaments in Auswahl.34 It is not necessary here to go into Gressmann’s use of form criticism, whether in the Moses material, Second Isaiah, or elsewhere. It is enough to see that he evaluated the form-critical approach as a new way into biblical interpretation, situated within the ancient Near Eastern context. The past (source criticism) had taken giant steps; the future lay open to be explored, employing new understandings and new insights. What appears clear is that the early advocates of genre research / form criticism saw in it the potential for a new way of generating meaning from the biblical text, a way that had previously been blocked by a culturally constrained scholarship with valid but now subsidiary concerns. Form criticism was an escape into wholeness. It was not so much a stage along the path toward interpretation of the text as an opening to a wider and deeper understanding of the task of interpretation. At the end of this quarter-of-a-century or so, two activities were on the scene as absolutely necessary to any biblical interpretation: source criticism and form criticism (however the latter is named). Much more will emerge; these two re29

Ibid. 8–10. Die Gattungsgeschichte hat mit der Folkloristik gar nichts und mit der Äesthetik nur wenig zu tun, ibid. 26. 31 Ibid. 26. 32 Mose und seine Zeit (1913). 33 Analyse Deuterojesajas (1914). 34 For his personal contribution, see especially his “Die älteste Geschichtsschreibung und Prophetie Israels”, in: Schriften des Alten Testaments in Auswahl, 2. Abt., 1. Band. 30

136

Antony F. Campbell

main. The issue of the unity or composite nature of a text must be assessed. This is the task of source criticism; but the task of interpreting a text cannot stop there. Each unit, whether of the text itself or within the text itself, must be assessed for its identity and its meaning. This is the task of form criticism. Small wonder forward-looking scholars embraced it. Romanticism, as a major movement of the human spirit, sought beauty, truth, and meaning. Idealism placed its emphasis on logic, thought, and critical analysis. Both streams are essential to the fullness of human flowering. Neither can be neglected without cost. The initial moves of the form-critical approach, spearheaded by scholars such as Gunkel and Gressmann, was to break free of the constraints of the past and seek out ways in which the human genius could be given a fuller role in the appreciation of biblical text. What others did for art and architecture, music and literature, these scholars did for biblical interpretation, emphasizing appropriate procedures such as close observation, accurate identification, and painstaking classification. As for the New Testament, a discussion of the emergence of form criticism in the New Testament would be out of place in this series on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. It is enough to note that three of the pioneers studied with Gunkel in Berlin: Martin Dibelius, Karl Ludwig Schmidt, and Rudolf Bultmann.35

4. In the Wake of Hermann Gunkel 4.1. Johannes Hempel In 1930 (still within the Weimar Republic, and before the publication of Gunkel’s Einleitung in die Psalmen), Johannes Hempel (1891–1964) sketching the history of biblical criticism in Europe, in his Althebräische Literatur, wrote: The heritage of Herder, whose recognition of the aesthetic values of Israelite literature remained with Eichhorn and later Reuss but otherwise almost immediately had little influence (sonst aber zunächst unmittelbar nur wenig nachwirkt), should not be lost. Alongside the scholarly task (Wissenschaft) of essentially analytic research into the literary composition of individual books and groups of books came, programmatically formulated at its sharpest by Hermann Gunkel, the scholarly study (Wissenschaft) of Israelite literary history – which can never survive without the results of analysis but which sought to bind these results into a new unity … .36

It is clear that in Hempel’s book the careful identification of literary forms goes hand in hand with the exploration of the meaning of each text and the issues of religious values – insight into a rich life (in ein reiches Leben hineinsehen).37

35 36 37

S. Campbell, Form Criticism’s Future (2003) 17. Althebräische Literatur (1930) 5. Ibid. 30.

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

137

4.2. Albrecht Alt G. W. Anderson, a careful and distinguished scholar, writes: “The work of Albrecht Alt [1853–1956] must be reckoned among the most far-reaching and fruitful influences in European Old Testament scholarship in the twentieth century”.38 It is therefore informative and confirming to find Alt, in his Die Ursprünge des israelitischen Rechts, “The Origins of Israelite Law” (1934), sketching much the same picture of the emergence of the form-critical approach as has been presented here. Reflecting on the need for scholarly research to look at the origins of Israelite law, he remarks: Work carried out in other branches of Old Testament literature, and in particular those of lyric poetry and epic narrative, has shown that the most appropriate method of research into the pre-literary origins of the material embedded in written works is the study of their formal characteristics as related to the circumstances in which they were produced (Gattungs- or Formgeschichte).39

As Alt saw it, source-critical work seemed in the main complete; a further step was needed. He writes of “reliable methods”; I find “responsible scholarship” preferable language. Academic respectability appears to have been a bone of contention. Is “method” a largely unconscious code or shorthand for “methodical”? If so, it may be misleading but acceptable. Method can be repeated, as in the scientific validation of a procedure or experiment. Responsible scholarship can be observed and absorbed; it cannot be replicated like so many steps in a procedure. In this regard, Alt writes: Considerable use has been made of the method in these fields. It depends on the observation that in each individual literary form … the ideas it contains are always connected with certain fixed forms of expression. … The inseparable connection between form and content goes back behind the written records to the period of popular oral composition and tradition, where each form of expression was appropriate to some particular circumstance among the regularly recurring events and necessities of life.40

Rather than “the method” used “in these fields”, what is described here is a matter of observation combined with intuition. The observation: the presence of certain fixed forms of expression. The intuition: a hypothesis to explain how this presence might be accounted for. Alt was a careful and meticulous scholar, with the capacity to fascinate others. Two elements are present in his famous essay, The Origins of Israelite Law, that will be evident in later scholarship. One is the conviction that Israel’s present can only be understood from consideration of its oral past, embedded in the secular of the ancient Near East (casuistic law). The emphasis on the past will recur in the work of Martin Noth. The other is the emphasis on what is peculiarly and reli38

Essays on Old Testament (1966), biographical note. Ursprünge (1934, 11/1953, 284); Origins of Israelite Law (1966), 86–87. Here, in a footnote, he comments that “H. Gunkel, who introduced the investigation of stylistic forms (Gattungsgeschichte) to the study of the Old Testament, has left only a brief discussion of the forms of Israelite legal material”. 40 Ibid. 11/284; Origins (1966) 87. 39

138

Antony F. Campbell

giously Israelite – the place of YHWH in apodictic law. This emphasis on the distinctive in Israel will recur equally powerfully in the work of Gerhard von Rad.41

4.3. Sigmund Mowinckel Chronologically, we have run ahead of ourselves. It is time to backtrack a little. Sigmund Mowinckel (1884–1965) studied with Gunkel in Giessen (1911/12). He returned to Oslo − then called Kristiania − becoming an associate professor in 1922; a full professorship was not available until 1933. His Psalmenstudien, I–VI date to 1921–24. Leaving aside the sorcery issue, his primary interest in the Psalms was not so much in their classification as in their role in organized worship, with a setting for many in a seldom noticed enthronement-of-YHWH aspect of the Succoth harvest festival. His work clearly assumed form criticism, acknowledged Gunkel of course and sought to go beyond him, emphasizing the “cult functional” approach and preferring the name “traditio-historical method”.42 While it attracted the eager attention of the myth and ritual school, uncertainty about hypothetical aspects of festivals relegated much of it to a position outside the mainstream development of form criticism.

4.4. Gerhard von Rad To return now to the course of events in Germany, a brief resumé is in order. Gunkel used as a key to further understanding of the biblical text the perception that often what in the Genesis text appeared to be history was better classed as legendary story (Sage). His close observation of the text led him to identify different types of legendary stories and to classify them, with attention to their mood, language, and setting. In theory, such legendary stories extended into a distant oral and poetic past. In his publications, this aspect is not to the fore in his interpretation. For Gressmann, this further understanding of the biblical text led, among other things, to an insistence on situating the biblical text within its context in the ancient Near East. Israel had become a part of the ancient Near East and the OT and its religion could only benefit from this. For Alt, the key to a further understanding of the text was provided by the study of the formal characteristics of written works correlated with the circum-

41 Alongside the work of Noth and von Rad, mention must also be made of Claus Westermann. Three works of his stand out: Das Loben Gottes in den Psalmen (1954), ET: The Praise of God in the Psalms (1965); Grundformen prophetischer Rede (1960), ET: Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech (1967); and the later Lob und Klage in den Psalmen (1977), ET: Praise and Lament in the Psalms (1981). Of Basic Forms (1967), the translator writes: “a clear example of how the form-critical method may be thoroughly and consistently applied to the study of prophecy” (9). Mutatis mutandis, the comment holds good for all three works. 42 See his Offersang og sangoffer (1951), especially the “Author’s Preface to the English Edition” in: Psalms in Israel’s Worship (1962) and passim in his Prophecy and Tradition (1946). For the preferred name, see Prophecy and Tradition, in: Spirit and the Word (2002), 20.

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

139

stances in which they were produced, i.e. Gattungs- or Formgeschichte. “The inseparable connection between form and content goes behind the written records to the period of popular oral composition and tradition”, as cited above. In the specific instance, painstaking observation of syntax and content led to the identification of casuistic law with its secular and Canaanite associations and of apodictic law with its religious and Israelite associations. In OT circles in post-war Germany, from 1945 onward, Gerhard von Rad (1901–1971) was a major figure and a prominent promoter of form criticism. His pre-war assessment of the OT scene, however, was blunt; dissatisfaction with the resistance of past approaches to a further understanding of the text was evident. The need was felt for something more. Referring to the analysis of source documents, he wrote of: signs that the road has come to a dead end. … It may be said without exaggeration that scholars, especially the younger ones, are weary of research in hexateuchal studies. … Indeed even those who are fully prepared to recognize that it was both necessary and important to traverse these paths [of source analysis] cannot ignore the profoundly disintegrating effect that has been one result of this method in hexateuchal criticism.43

He also noted that, on almost all sides, the final form of the text was considered “barely worthy of discussion”, to be moved away from as rapidly as possible.44 A decade or so later, the pain was still evident in the foreword to the first edition of his Genesis commentary (1949): “Precisely this commentary may make one perceive that source analysis is not the final conclusion of wisdom”.45 A decade later still, Koch could write: “For centuries the dogma that the Bible is the Word of God has been understood in far too rigid a sense. A form-critical approach permits us to discover afresh the vitality of God’s word”.46 The tension between church and academe was still felt. Form criticism was seen as moving beyond the tension. Gerhard von Rad was enthusiastic for form criticism and generated great enthusiasm in its favour. Looked at from some distance, it would appear to have been less a matter of steps in an interpretative procedure and more an openness to suppositions about an ancient faith and life. The major pre-war monograph by von Rad is rightly entitled Das formgeschichtliche Problem des Hexateuch, “The Form-Critical Problem of the Hexateuch”, because it is a study of the form of the Hexateuch. It seeks out small units, sees them taking shape in larger forms (Exodus, Balaam, Settlement), and traces their shaping into the final form of the Hexateuch. Gunkel in Genesis and Psalms sought to focus on shapes (genres); von Rad goes beyond shapes to their combination in the shaping of Israel’s faith. Alas, the books is also form-critical in 43 Das formgeschichtliche Problem (1938), 1 (repr. Ges. Studien [1958], 9). The classic English translation by Trueman Dicken is in: Problem of the Hexateuch (1966; repr. in: K. C. Hanson’s From Genesis to Chronicles 1, 2005); in both cases the reference is p. 1. 44 Ibid. 45 Genesis (ET 1961), 11. The sequence of the final canonical text is followed, of course, by von Rad in his Genesis commentary. Even Gunkel, at the start of the century, had privileged source criticism over canon, treating P first in each section and then J. 46 Growth of the Biblical Tradition (1969), 13; s. further sect. 4.5 below.

140

Antony F. Campbell

another, less laudatory sense. The adjective “form-critical” is used a number of times to bolster procedures that can hardly be defended as form-critical. This is possibly no more than a pointer to a trend, but nevertheless the pointer is there. The monograph of 1938 was widely influential. It is brilliant: insightful, imaginative, and strikingly comprehensive. Unfortunately, in the light of today’s knowledge, it is wrong. Assumptions that now we would not dream of making are made so confidently so many years ago. What was so persuasive at the time seems so ingenuous now. Beyond letters on a page, von Rad reached out, not to some distant oral past, but to the faith of the ancient people expressed in the final OT text. His Form-Critical Problem of the Hexateuch was an imaginative masterpiece, with many significant insights. However, many of its assumptions that allowed for an attractive portrayal of salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) – with its inbuilt tension between faith and fact – could not be sustained over time. The starting point in the ancient “Credo” was reversed by Richter (but not till almost three decades later); the credo was not at the beginning of a process of faith, but emerged as the end result of that process.47 From Noth to Finkelstein, via Mendenhall and Gottwald, the settlement tradition (Landnahme) could not play the validating role claimed for it by von Rad (“the historical truth that Yahweh had continued to care for Israel on the basis established in the Settlement”).48 Among other things, today’s knowledge of the books of Joshua and Samuel does not allow for that. Insight and imagination can be risky and von Rad was aware of it – “with all the certainty that is ever attainable in such matters”.49 Little of worth does not run risks. As is so often the case with human civilizations, faith and history can be at odds. “Salvation history” (Heilsgeschichte) has an inbuilt ambiguity that can allow for illusion. Faith is not grounded in knowledge, but knowledge can sometimes remove the ground from under aspects of faith. Form criticism was to the fore in many studies in the mid-twentieth century. Whether explicitly or implicitly, the dominant question may be claimed to have been: what sort of a text are we dealing with? The approaches to an answer involved issues of form and genre, patterns of structure and language, settings whether social or literary, and so on. For many, it might be said that form criticism was the flag under which they sailed for the open sea of fuller and livelier OT interpretation. In 1943, Divino Afflante Spiritu, “Inspired by the Divine Spirit”, an encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII (believed ghostwritten by Cardinal Bea), with its “discovering and expounding the genuine meaning” of biblical text, was widely regarded as official acceptance of Roman Catholic involvement in critical biblical scholarship. The wave of form-critical studies may have been an endorsement of imaginative promise that was not matched by the satisfaction of procedural progress. In 47 Beobachtungen zur theologischen Systembildung (1967), 210–212; see also the studies noted by Hyatt, Ancient Historical Credo (1970); the Sinai issue is far from resolved. 48 Das formgeschichtliche Problem (1938/1958) 79; Problem of the Hexateuch (1966) 72; From Genesis to Chronicles (2005) 53. 49 Ibid. 58; Problem (1966) 64; From Genesis (2005) 48.

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

141

time, the absence of procedural progress gave rise to doubt; what was felt to be real was too often found to be beyond professional reach. The language of form criticism lost much of its appeal. In all of this, von Rad was an influential figure. Yet, in his brief reflection on his scholarly life, form criticism is not mentioned.50 In Wolff’s respectful comments on von Rad’s life and role, form criticism is not mentioned.51 For both men, clearly, form criticism was not a new method, an essential discovery to be excited about and proud of. It was an attitude of mind, a readiness to interpret text that should be taken for granted. Gunkel and Gressmann felt the need to fight for it, especially in terms of academic acceptability; later OT scholars could take it for granted.

4.5. Martin Noth Leaving aside the now discarded amphictyony proposal and the still unresolved issues associated with Israel’s twelve-tribe system, the legacy of Martin Noth (1902–1968) to OT studies stands unquestionably among the foremost. Those familiar with his work in Pentateuch or Deuteronomistic History and abundantly elsewhere know him for a thorough and discerning scholar, gifted with insight and imaginative power, marshalling a wealth of knowledge, and endowed with the moderation and mature judgment essential to groundbreaking scholarship. Early in the twentieth century, present certainly in Gunkel and reaching back perhaps to Herder or beyond, we have observed a wistfulness and yearning for the distant oral past – a “lionization” of the oral.52 Hints in the text were allowed to form the basis for major hypotheses, all too often built on the sand of scholarly speculation. Noth did little of this in his work on the Deuteronomistic History (1943). He did rather too much of it in his Überlieferungsgeschichte des Pentateuch, “History of Pentateuchal Traditions” (1948). Too many of Noth’s insights there are richly imaginative but regrettably speculative. In his History of Pentateuchal Traditions, Noth rightly insisted that the Pentateuch had as its theme “all Israel”, even if the emergence of that reality (all Israel) lay beyond the scope of his book.53 In its final sections, Noth was painfully aware of the negative impact of his conclusion on the inflexibility of much traditional belief. He goes out of his way, therefore, to emphasize the pre-state solidity of Israel’s twelve-tribe system and the early entry of various tribes into the arable land of Canaan. Significant elements in the process for Noth were “the sacral covenant league” (associated with the amphictyony and the ark) and “the divine guidance into the possession of the arable land of Palestine”.54 At the end of the twentieth century, both these elements were shrouded in uncertainty, on bibli50 This is the brief 1964 reflection in which he describes his professional vocation as lesen zu lernen und lesen zu lehren – “to learn to read and to teach to read”. 51 Both may be found in Probleme biblischer Theologie (1971) 648–661. 52 See Sweeney/Ben-Zvi, Changing Face of Form Criticism (2003) 2–3. 53 Überlieferungsgeschichte (1948) 46, 277 f; History of Pentateuchal Traditions (1972) 43, 259. The difficulty of accounting for “the emergence of that reality” remains today. 54 Überlieferungsgeschichte (1948) 272 f; History of Pentateuchal Traditions (1972) 252 f.

142

Antony F. Campbell

cal and archaeological grounds. Any reflections (even if advanced with Noth’s remarkable prudence), which took these for granted, to say nothing of other elements, could only be viewed as overshadowed by speculation and hypothesis. For Noth, the creative stage of the pentateuchal traditions lay “between the time of the occupation of the land and the beginning of the formation of the state”.55 A more complicated alternative might extend this period until considerably later. There has been no substantial follow-up to Noth in this area. One might say that tradition history ground to a halt with the failure of this major effort. History is both important and elusive. The pursuit of traditions into Israel’s past can be suspect of indulgence in speculation. In theory, transmission history – understood as attention to the history of particular literary types – may appear to have a firmer base in existing texts.56 In practice, this is often far from the case. Both approaches are desirable; regrettably, neither is trouble-free. The “remarkable terminological confusion” noted by R. Knierim may well have reflected the confusion as to what was genuinely possible.57

4.6. Klaus Koch In 1954, von Rad asked Klaus Koch (b. 1926) to write “a small guide to form criticism for our students”.58 Regretfully, as a guide for students Koch’s book, Was ist Formgeschichte?, “What is Form Criticism?” (1964), has to be judged a hindrance rather than a help. It opens with the question: “What is form criticism?”.59 Alas, the question is never directly answered. After a brief discussion of literary forms, the closest Koch came to an answer to his question is too general to be genuinely helpful, at least to the beginner: historical research has proved that the Bible is not a unit with a single literary form. Indeed the book [the Bible] contains a most remarkable assortment of literature. … The use of words, the style and construction follow correspondingly varied principles and all these must be considered before a text can be accurately interpreted. This is form criticism.60

55

Überlieferungsgeschichte (1948) 46 f; History of Pentateuchal Traditions (1972) 45. It is not surprising that, in the English-speaking world at least, Noth’s History of Pentateuchal Traditions has been highly valued for its presentation of a once widely accepted consensus regarding pentateuchal source division (JEDP) and largely ignored with regard to the core of the book, its thesis on the themes leading up to the Pentateuch. 56 See Growth of the Biblical Tradition (1969) 53. 57 Criticism of Literary Features (1985) 147. Noth’s own recognition, formulated late in his life (Könige, I. Teilband [1 Kgs 1–16]; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 1968, 246), that “a literary-critical possibility is not a literary critical necessity” (Eine literarkritische Möglichkeit ist jedoch noch keine literarkritische Notwendigkeit) – what can be envisioned need not have been done – provides an insight that contributes to the uncertainty. 58 Growth of the Biblical Tradition (1969) ix. The English main title of Koch’s book (Growth of the Biblical Tradition) reflects more accurately the contents of the book; the German title does not (Was ist Formgeschichte, What is Form Criticism? – reduced in the English publication to a sub-title, The Form-Critical Method). 59 Growth of the Biblical Tradition (1969) 3. 60 Ibid. 6.

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

143

The value of the form-critical approach is discussed and illustrated by a number of studies. Unfortunately, the approach itself is not analyzed, abstracted from the illustrative studies, and described for the benefit of students and others. The elements of the approach can be dug out; they are not laid out. The end product tends as a result to challenge or worse to mystify – not helpful to students. The discussions can be illuminating to the advanced; they may not help the beginner with the question, “What is form criticism?” and what is involved with it? There can be no doubt that, in the mid-years of the twentieth century, form criticism generated great interest and excitement, which waned with the waning of the century. Writing in 1964, Koch could say: “So much has been written under the name of form criticism that the reader sometimes feels that this field of exegesis should be kept within some sort of bounds. … Many exegetes tread with caution”.61 We are left with the questions: What caused the excitement? What caused the caution? What caused the waning of it all? He added: “Many readers will ask … What with literary criticism (Literarkritik) and its emphasis on accuracy, and the more attractive aspects of the ‘positivist’ tendency of the last century, haven’t we enough?”.62 From the beginning of the century, we have heard dissatisfied voices with the clear answer: No, we haven’t enough; we need something more. Five years later, introducing the English edition of his book, Koch wrote that “form criticism is an attempt to discover the principles underlying the language of the Bible”.63 Honesty even more than modesty demands that this claim be characterized as grandiose. The emphasis shifts slightly when Koch’s discussion moves beyond the sentence to “the larger unit of the literary type of speech, which has a definite sociological function. This applies not only to the human word, but also to the Word of God as it is found in the Bible. Thus we come to the underlying purpose of this book: to try to discover what lies behind the speech of God in the Bible”.64 Dissatisfaction with past approaches was not the whole story. Dissatisfaction with the understanding of “what lies behind the speech of God in the Bible” may have been part of it. What was the “something more” that was wanted and why has interest in it waned? Koch spoke of the “many problems of method”.65 It would seem that the promise of method (offering a degree of certainty regarding outcome) outweighed the caution suggested by the “many problems”. As the century progressed, awareness of unresolved problems predominated, coupled with inadequate generalities about method. What form criticism did, beginning with Gunkel, was pay close attention in the biblical text to more emphatically human aspects of structure and pattern, of language, content, and mood, of social and literary setting. This led to the identification of literary types and their classification. It went further in the exploration of text. All this called for imagination and insight on the part of the interpreter, as well as meticulous scholarship. Furthermore, all this drew attention to the human 61 62 63 64 65

Ibid. ix. Ibid. x. Ibid. xiii. Ibid. xiii. Ibid. ix.

144

Antony F. Campbell

qualities evident in the biblical text. Form criticism may often have functioned as a label legitimating the moves to scrutinize the text in new and different ways, rethinking “what lies behind the speech of God in the Bible”, the Word of God.

4.7. Rolf Knierim In the latter part of the twentieth century, the standard-bearer for form criticism in North America was Rolf Knierim (b. 1928). Almost three-quarters of the way into the century, the complexity inherent in any theoretical consideration of the interpretation of literature, including biblical literature of course, was explored through a form-critical lens by Knierim with insight and depth in “Old Testament Form Criticism Reconsidered” – including the potential shake-up that form criticism must face.66 A few selections will highlight form criticism, its core, its fragility, and its outreach. Core: Concentrating on the texts of the biblical literature as literary entities, form criticism has attempted to interpret these individual entities by discovering the matrices to which they owe their existence and which they reflect. And since a matrix is assumed to be typical in nature, individual texts emerging from it can be explained as specifications of a distinct typicality. … The linguistic types underlying the individual texts are genres that arise out of a typical societal or life setting. Fragility: We are no longer so clear as to what exactly a genre is. More pointedly: It is doubtful whether this has ever been clear. Outreach: The centrality of this problem [genre] is indicated by its high visibility in different fields of research such as literature, folklore, myth and symbol, phenomenology of religion, linguistics and, most vocally, structuralism. Recent progress in the methods for interpretation of language and literature does shed new light on the problems which form criticism has faced with its own texts.67

At the end of the century, Knierim’s legacy is a multi-volume series, Forms of the Old Testament Literature. The project, complementing Koch, began with a small group – editors Knierim and Tucker, with seven other leading scholars – who met annually envisaging a one-volume encyclopedia covering the form-critical work already done on each book of the OT. The plan had to be changed when it was clear that there was not enough form-critical work on the books of the OT to make it viable. The change ended up with the present series. As a small group, meeting annually, working together on a single volume, focus could be maintained with an agreed coherence as to how form-critical issues were to be presented. The change to a multi-volume series involved greater va66 Following this 1973 article, reference is appropriate to C. Hardmeier, Texttheorie und biblische Exegese (1978) esp. 258–269; more recently, for the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible as ancient literature, see Knierim, Criticism of Literary Features (1985) and, for the interpenetration of methodology and exegesis, Knierim, Text and Concept (1992). 67 Form Criticism Reconsidered (1973), respectively to the paragraphs, 435, 436, 438, 467.

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

145

riety and greater authorial freedom; focus and coherence was maintained by the structure required of each volume in the series. The analytical structure of each unit of text guaranteed the close observation of a text, essential to form criticism. Such an analysis could easily deteriorate into a list of contents, but ideally it was intended to be based on form (what sort of a text does this sub-unit constitute?) and relationship (how do the parts relate to form a whole?). This observation of the text must, clearly, concentrate on the present text, reversing the earlier priority given to orality; only then might study move to anything earlier. Beyond observation is the question of identity. What sort of a text is the whole that forms this unit? If observation was central to the analysis of structure and its discussion, identification was the task of the “genre” section. Along with that goes “setting”. The final section, “intention/meaning of the text”, looked at how one scholar (the modern author) saw the meaning best derived from this particular form-critical unit. The aspect of classification was left to the listing of genres, and their descriptions, at the end of each volume. As the twentieth century ended, the series was a work in progress, with Knierim and Sweeney as editors and seventeen volumes completed of twenty-seven planned. An enlightening and detailed study by Marvin Sweeney, with model interpretation of Genesis 15, closed out the century.68 What the twenty-first century will make of form criticism lies ahead.

5. Conclusion The Bible is a foundational religious text and such texts are almost always deeply intertwined and enmeshed with their culture. Interpretation never wholly escapes the cultural. The cultural has many manifestations. Among them, clearly, are academy, church, and social structure. Apart from factors of personal identity – faith, heritage, experience, and so on – constraints will come from academy (perhaps eminence or career), church (perhaps respect or esteem), and social structure (perhaps influence or standing) that may have their influence on a scholar’s interpretation of biblical text. Gunkel resisted the dominant acceptance of history as automatic literary genre in Genesis, bringing observation, identification, and classification to bear against it. In full agreement, Gressmann further resisted constraining the Bible to a single local culture, instead studying it within the wider ancient Near Eastern context. In the two studies discussed here, von Rad and Noth reached back into the past of the literature; subsequent study, however, has found the convictions that were central to both works to be speculative (often faith-based) and untenable. Knierim focused on observation, identification, and classification in relation to the patterns of the present text and “let the chips fall where they may” (a Knierim mantra).

68

Form Criticism (1999).

146

Antony F. Campbell

Scientific method and procedure are essential for progress in many areas of knowledge. These do not and cannot replace sensitivity, intuition, and flair, backed up by meticulous observation, extensive knowledge, and careful scholarship. Top physicists know this; modern biblical scholars need to be comfortable with it. A significant conclusion coming from this brief survey of the major players in the emergence of the form-critical and traditio-historical approaches to the interpretation of OT text in the twentieth century is clear beyond doubt. Form criticism is not and never was a method, in the sense of a tool in the biblical interpreter’s kit, in the exegete’s tool box, along with transmission history, redaction history, and the like – which in turn are themselves not tools but insights and approaches that may, on occasion, be valuable for unfolding and further interpreting a text. Professionals have a variety of tools available to them; well-trained workers only use the few that apply to the job in hand. The traditional approaches to biblical interpretation (or methods for interpreting biblical texts) are questions to be asked of a text, certainly not a sequence to be slavishly followed. The form-critical question, “What sort of a text is this?” – with associated decisions – helps determine what tools to use. The claim, all too frequently made, that form criticism is a method, implying a series of methodical steps to be taken in order to unlock the interpretation of a text, can place an unfair burden on form criticism by creating unreal expectations that cannot be fulfilled. Also emerging from this brief survey is clear evidence of tension between social and religious attitudes of the time and the new approaches and their consequences for biblical interpretation. It is evident with Gunkel, less explicit in Gressmann, present in von Rad’s remark about his own commentary, and still there as late as Koch’s book in the 1960s. It is important for those outside the German university system to be aware of the procedure for appointment to prestigious academic posts. Candidates did not, at the time, submit their applications for such posts; they were invited to apply. The relevant authorities within a university prepared the triad (or terna), the ranked list of three names of those considered suitable to be invited. This triad was then submitted to the appropriate government authority responsible for the university. The invitation to the favored candidate was issued by this government authority. Social, ecclesiastical, and political influence make themselves felt in almost any system. The conjunction of university and government in the process of invitation means that such influence cannot be underestimated and should not be discounted. Form criticism may have on occasion functioned as a legitimation for an activity as academic that might have been frowned upon in certain circles. The subtle shift in religious attitudes, touched on at the start of this chapter, presumably played its role.

Above all, OT form criticism was (and should be) the outcome of an attitude of mind on the part of the interpreter. It was an attitude that allowed and allows for openness to the nature of any given text. It was an attitude of mind that embraced the reality of patterns in human expression and of settings in human living and that hoped/aspired/yearned to reach these in ancient Israel through attention to the structures and language of OT text. What sort of a text is this? What meaningfully can be said about it? What flows from it that contributes to meaning? This is the stuff of form criticism. Biblical study cannot be restricted to a central focus on the analysis of composite text (Literarkritik) or on the history of ideas in the past (Geistesgeschichte),

The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches

147

and not even to a central focus on the history of the past itself (Geschichte); it will always examine literature for its insights, its beauty, its religious value, and its witness to the power of thought or the play of creativity and imagination. Assuring this has been, at its best, the achievement of OT form criticism in the twentieth century. At the end of the twentieth century, OT form criticism needed: – first, to be reintegrated into the task of biblical interpretation; – second, to recover its role in assessing the nature of a text and its function; – third, alongside these, to confront issues common to all biblical interpretation and, indeed, common to any interpretation of literature.69 Among such issues were: awareness of literary genre in all its complexity; the equal complexity of the concept of setting or matrix; the interplay of structure and content in the understanding of genre; the potential interaction of both typical and individual in literature.70 The future will not lack for work.

69 See Knierim, Form Criticism Reconsidered (1973), reinforced by his Criticism of Literary Features (1985). 70 This last issue is shared by James Muilenburg early in his Form Criticism and Beyond (1969), esp. 5.

Chapter Thirty-one

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism By David J. A. Clines, Sheffield General bibliography: D. J. A. Clines, “Historical Criticism: Are its Days Numbered?”, Teologinen Aikakauskirja 6 (2009) 542–558; “Methods in Old Testament Study”, in: Beginning Old Testament Study (ed. J. W. Rogerson; Philadelphia: Westminster 1982 / London: SPCK 1983), 26–43 (rev. edn., [1998] 25–48); “Psalm 23 and Method: Reading a David Psalm”, in: The Fate of King David: The Past and Present of a Biblical Icon. Essays in Honor of David M. Gunn (ed. T. Linafelt / C. V. Camp / T. Beal; Library of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies 500; London: T. & T. Clark International 2009), 175–184; “Reading Esther from Left to Right: Contemporary Strategies for Reading a Biblical Text”, in: The Bible in Three Dimensions: Essays in Celebration of Forty Years of Biblical Studies in the University of Sheffield (ed. D. J. A. Clines / S. E. Fowl / S. E. Porter; JSOT.S 87; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1990), 22–42. – J. C. Exum (ed.), Signs and Wonders: Biblical Texts in Literary Focus (Semeia Studies; Decatur, GA: Scholars Press 1989). – J. C. Exum / D. J. A. Clines (eds.), The New Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 143; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1993). – D. Jasper, “Literary Readings of the Bible”, in: The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation (ed. J. Barton; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1998), 21–34. – S. L. McKenzie / S. R. Haynes (eds.), To Each its Own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and their Application (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 1993). – D. A. Robertson, The Old Testament and the Literary Critic (Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1977). – G. A. Yee (ed.), Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (2nd edn.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2007).

In the last half century, the most important feature of Hebrew Bible criticism has been the development of a wide range of critical methods and new approaches. While none of them has been designed to supplant the traditional historical-critical methods their effect has been, to some extent, to divert attention from them. In most cases, the methods and approaches have not originated from biblical scholars, but have been adaptations of methods developed in other fields, especially literary studies. The use of the new critical methods reviewed here is characteristically not confined to specialist exemplifications – such as are noted in the bibliographies in this chapter – but is much more pervasive throughout current scholarship as a confluence of methods. The hegemonic discourse of traditional biblical criticism, in the mode of historical criticism, has proved very resistant to the “new methods” (as they are commonly referred to), and has attempted to marginalize them in various ways: by judging them less scholarly or less serious than traditional methods, by regarding them – because they are relatively new – as merely fashionable or trendy, by giving them inadequate space in collective volumes, and by insisting on evaluating and treating together many very different methods that may have no more in common than the fact that they have entered the field in the last 50 years.

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

149

In this survey there are identified three main groupings of methods that may be called “contemporary”: (1) methods related to literary criticism, (2) methods related to structuralism, and (3) methods related to ideological criticism. An assignment of a particular method to one or other of these groupings will no doubt be contentious in some cases; however, not a lot hangs on the classification, which is largely heuristic. Among the trends that may be marked out as especially promising or influential or currently favoured are: reception criticism, feminist and gender criticism, and the various ideological criticisms.

1. Literary Criticism R. Alter / F. Kermode (eds.), The Literary Guide to the Bible (London: Fontana 1987). – M. Minor (ed.), Literary-Critical Approaches to the Bible: An Annotated Bibliography (West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press 1992). – M. A. Powell, The Bible and Modern Literary Criticism: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography (New York: Greenwood Press 1992). – R. Schwartz (ed.), The Book and the Text: The Bible and Literary Theory (Oxford: Blackwell 1990).

The term “literary criticism”, and its German equivalent, Literarkritik, have in the past referred to historical criticism as directed toward texts; such literary criticism dealt with questions of authorship, sources and the like. Sometimes the term “literary-historical criticism” is used to distinguish the traditional literary criticism from what is commonly understood by “literary criticism” today. “Literary criticism” now refers to the kinds of criticism that scholars of literature – biblical and otherwise – undertake when they are considering texts as works of literature. An historical dimension is usually absent from such criticism. Such criticism sees texts as works of art in their own right. Texts are conceived of as coherent intelligible wholes more or less independent of their authors, creating meaning through the integration of their elements. Typically, literary critics approach texts as unified wholes rather than as the amalgam of sources, and study structure, themes, character, and the like. They call their approach “synchronic” rather than “diachronic”, dealing with the text as it stands rather than with its (presumed) prehistory. Sometimes this literary criticism is called a “text-immanent” approach, but that term would not easily accommodate reader-response criticism, where the focus is on the reader rather than on the text. Among the types of literary criticism that are practised we may distinguish:

1.1. Genre Criticism General: R. Boer (ed.), Bakhtin and Genre Theory in Biblical Studies (Semeia Studies 63; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2007). – N. Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1982). – J. Kee / A. Reinhartz (eds.), Northrop Frye and the Afterlife of the Word (Semeia 89; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2002). – F. Landy, “Ruth and the Romance of Realism, or Deconstructing History”, JAAR 62 (1994) 285–318 (= idem, Beauty and the Enigma: and Other Essays on the Hebrew Bible [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2001], 218–251). – K. L. Sparks, “Genre Criticism”, in: Methods for Exodus (ed. T. B. Dozeman; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2010), 55–94.

150

David J. A. Clines

Special works, on Tragedy and Comedy: J. C. Exum/J. W. Whedbee, “Isaac, Samson, and Saul: Reflections on the Comic and Tragic Visions”, in: On Humour and the Comic in the Hebrew Bible (ed. Y. T. Radday/A. Brenner; Bible and Literature Series 23; JSOT.S 92; Sheffield: Almond Press 1990), 117–159. – J. C. Exum (ed.), Tragedy and Comedy in the Bible (Semeia 32; Decatur, GA: Scholars Press 1984). Tragedy: Z. Abou Absi, “Esther as a Greek Tragedy”, ThRev 24 (2003) 32–40. – M. A. Beek, “David and Absalom: A Hebrew Tragedy in Prose?”, in: Voices from Amsterdam: A Modern Tradition of Reading Biblical Narrative (ed. M. Kessler; Semeia Studies; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1994), 155–168. – P. R. Davies, “Tragedy and Ethics: Revisiting Athens and Jerusalem”, in: Reading from Right to Left: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honour of David J. A. Clines (ed. J. C. Exum / H. G. M. Williamson; JSOT.S 373; London: Sheffield Academic Press 2003), 107–120. – F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, “Tragedy, Tradition, and Theology in the Book of Lamentations”, JSOT 74 (1997) 29–60. – J. C. Exum, “The Tragic Vision and Biblical Narrative: The Case of Jephthah”, in: Signs and Wonders: Biblical Texts in Literary Focus (ed. J. C. Exum; Semeia Studies; Decatur, GA: Scholars Press 1989), 59–84; Tragedy and Biblical Narrative: Arrows of the Almighty (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1992). – M. I. Gruber, “The Tragedy of Cain and Abel: A Case of Depression”, in his The Motherhood of God and Other Studies (South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism 57; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1992), 121–131. – D. M. Gunn, The Fate of King Saul: An Interpretation of a Biblical Story (JSOT.S 14; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1980). – S. Halperin, “Tragedy in the Bible”, Semitics 7 (1980) 28–49. – L. D. Hawk, “Saul as Sacrifice: The Tragedy of Israel’s First Monarch”, BibRev 12 (1996) 20–25, 56; “Violent Grace; Tragedy and Transformation in the Oresteia and the Deuteronomistic History”, JSOT 28 (2003) 73–88. – W. J. Houston, “Tragedy in the Courts of the Lord: A Socio-literary Reading of the Death of Nadab and Abihu”, JSOT 90 (2000) 31–39. – W. L. Humphreys, The Tragic Vision and the Hebraic Tradition (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1985). – S. Nicholson, Three Faces of Saul: An Intertextual Approach to Biblical Tragedy (JSOT.S 339; London: Sheffield Academic Press 2002). – S. B. Reid, “Violence and Vengeance: Ingredients for Tragedy”, in: Encounter with the Text. Form and History in the Hebrew Bible (ed. M. J. Buss; Semeia Supplements; Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1979). – J. W. Whedbee, “On Divine and Human Bonds: The Tragedy of the House of David”, in: Canon, Theology, and Old Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Brevard S. Childs (ed. G. M. Tucker / D. L. Petersen / R. R. Wilson; Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1988) 147–165. Comedy: J. R. C. Cousland, “Tobit: A Comedy in Error?”, CBQ 65 (2003) 535–553. – R.J. Frontain, “Dinah and the Comedy of Castration in Sterne’s Tristram Shandy”, in: Old Testament Women in Western Literature (Conway, AR: UCA Press 1991), 174–203. – E. M. Good, “Apocalyptic as Comedy: The Book of Daniel”, in: Tragedy and Comedy in the Bible (ed. J. C. Exum; Semeia 32; Decatur, GA: Scholars Press 1984), 41–70. – D. McCracken, “Narration and Comedy in the Book of Tobit”, JBL 114 (1995) 401–418. – A. Portier-Young, “Alleviation of Suffering in the Book of Tobit: Comedy, Community, and Happy Endings”, CBQ 63 (2001) 35–54. – J. W. Whedbee, The Bible and the Comic Vision (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1998); “The Comedy of Job”, in: On Humour and the Comic in the Hebrew Bible (ed. Y. T. Radday / A. Brenner; Bible and Literature Series 23; JSOT.S 92; Sheffield: Almond Press 1990), 217–249. Irony: W. H. Anderson, “Ironic Correlations and Scepticism in the Joy Statements of Qoheleth?”, SJOT 14 (2000) 67–100. – J. A. Beck, “Geography as Irony. The Narrative-Geographical Shaping of Elijah’s Duel with the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)”, SJOT 17 (2003) 291–302. – S. H. Blank, “Irony by Way of Attribution”, Semitics 1 (1970) 1–6. – A. R. Ceresko, “A Poetic Analysis of Ps 105, with Attention to its Use of Irony”, Bib. 64 (1983) 20–46 (= his Psalmists and Sages: Studies in Old Testament Poetry and Religion [Bangalore: St Peter’s Pontifical Institute 1994], 75–102). – A. R. P. Diamond, “Deceiving Hope. The Ironies of Metaphorical Beauty and Ideological Terror in Jeremiah”, SJOT 17 (2003) 34–48. – E. Gass, “Achisch von Gat als politische Witzfigur”, ThQ 189 (2009) 210–242. – S. Goldman, “Narrative and Ethical Ironies in Esther”, JSOT 47 (1990) 15–31. – E. M. Good, Irony in the Old Testament (London: SPCK 1965; 2nd edn.; Sheffield: Almond Press 1981). – J. Jobling, “The Right to Write: Power, Irony, and Identity in the Book of Esther”, in: Sacred Tropes: Tanakh, New Testament, and Qur’an as Literature and Culture (ed. R. S. Sabbath; Biblical Interpretation Series 98; Leiden: Brill 2009), 317–333. – B. C. Jones, Howling over Moab: Irony and Rhetoric in Isaiah 15–16 (SBLDS 157; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1996). – L. R. Klein, The Triumph of Irony in the Book of Judges (Bible and Literature Series 14; JSOT.S 68; Sheffield; Almond Press 1988). – D. Luciani, “L’ironie vétéro-testamentaire. De Good à Sharp”, ETL 85 (2009) 385–410. – R. H. O’Connell, “Isaiah xiv 4b–23: Ironic Reversal through Concentric Structure and Mythic

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

151

Allusion”, VT 38 (1988) 407–418. – C. J. Sharp, “Ironic Representation, Authorial Voice, and Meaning in Qohelet”, BibInt 12 (2004) 37–68; Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature; Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP 2009). – J.-L. Ska, “L’ironie de Tamar (Gen 38)”, ZAW 100 (1988) 261–266. – I. J. J. Spangenberg, “Irony in the Book of Qohelet”, JSOT 72 (1996) 57–69; “Jonah and Qohelet: Satire versus Irony”, OTEss 9 (1996) 495–511. – D. M. Valeta, Lions and Ovens and Visions: A Satirical Reading of Daniel 1–6 (Hebrew Bible Monographs 12; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008). – R. Vignolo, “La poetica ironica di Qohelet. Contributo allo svilupo di un orientamento critico”, Teologia (Milan) 25 (2000) 217–240. – W. L. Holladay, “Text, Structure, and Irony in the Poem on the Fall of the Tyrant, Isaiah 14”, CBQ 61 (1999) 633–645.

In the older literary criticism, the genres of the Hebrew Bible literature were analysed, for example, as speeches, sermons, prayers, narratives, prophetic sayings, and cultic songs – that is, according to their “forms” (Gattungen). Such form-critical analyses are by no means superseded in contemporary literary criticism, but the scope of genre criticism has become rather the genres of the biblical literature from the perspective of general literature, enquiring about the larger literary forms that may be found in it, such as tragedy, the comic, irony, romance and so on. Tragedy in the Hebrew Bible, for example, as in the story of Saul, may be viewed as an example of tragedy in world literature, recognizing the common theme of hostile transcendence and human guilt as its essence. Another example of genre criticism would be to ask to what extent the Book of Job should be called a “comic” work, with its plot-line swinging upwards and its hero becoming re-integrated into his society at the end of the book. Some scholars are stressing that genres should not be regarded as ready-made categories into which literary works should be fitted, but that readers create genre categories as they read and interpret. Genre is thus a function of the reader’s activity, and a text may be perceived as belonging to several different genres.

1.2. Rhetorical Criticism L. Alonso Schökel, “The Poetic Structure of Psalm 42–43”, JSOT 1 (1976) 4–11 (orig. ‘Estructura poética del Salmo 42–43’, in: Wort, Lied und Gottesspruch: Festschrift für Joseph Ziegler, 2 [Würzburg: Echter Verlag 1972], 11–16). – D. J. A. Clines / D. M. Gunn / A. J. Hauser (eds.), Art and Meaning: Rhetoric in Biblical Literature (JSOT.S 19; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1982). – T. B. Dozeman, “OT Rhetorical Criticism”, ABD 5: 712–715. – R. L. Foster / D. M. Howard (eds.), My Words Are Lovely: Studies in the Rhetoric of the Psalms (LHB / OTS 467; New York / London: T. & T. Clark 2008). – D. Greenwood, “Rhetorical Criticism and Formgeschichte: Some Methodological Considerations”, JBL 89 (1970) 418–426. – J. C. Exum, “A Literary and Structural Analysis of the Song of Songs”, ZAW 85 (1973) 47–79; “Aspects of Symmetry and Balance in the Samson Saga”, JSOT 19 (1981) 3–29 (errata in JSOT 20 [1981] 90); “Promise and Fulfillment: Narrative Art in Judges 13”, JBL 99 (1980) 43–59. – J. J. Jackson / M. Kessler (eds.), Rhetorical Criticism: Essays in Honor of James Muilenburg (Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series 1; Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press 1974). – M. Kessler, “A Methodological Setting for Rhetorical Criticism”, Semitics 4 (1974) 22–36. – R. F. Melugin, “Muilenburg, Form Criticism, and Theological Exegesis”, in: M. J. Buss (ed.), Encounter with the Text: Form and History in the Hebrew Bible (Semeia Supplements 8; Philadelphia: Fortress Press / Missoula, MT: Scholars Press 1979), 91–100. – J. Muilenburg, “Form Criticism and Beyond”, JBL 88 (1969) 1–18. – T. H. Olbricht, “Rhetorical Criticism in Biblical Commentaries”, Currents in Biblical Research 7 (2008) 11–36. – The Bible and Culture Collective, “Rhetorical Criticism”, in: The Postmodern Bible (New Haven: Yale UP 1995), 149–186. – P. Trible, Rhetorical Criticism: Context, Method, and the Book of Jonah (Guides to Biblical Scholarship; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1994). – P. K. Tull, “Rhetorical Criticism and Intertextuality”, in: To Each its Own

152

David J. A. Clines

Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and their Applications (ed. S. L. McKenzie / S. R. Haynes; Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 1999), 156–180. – M. Warner (ed.), The Bible as Rhetoric: Studies in Biblical Persuasion and Credibility (Warwick Studies in Philosophy and Literature; London: Routledge 1990). – D. F. Watson / A. J. Hauser, Rhetorical Criticism of the Bible: A Comprehensive Bibliography, with Notes on History and Method (Leiden: Brill 1994).

Rhetorical criticism, often operating under the banner of “the final form of the text”, concerns itself with the way the language of texts is deployed to convey meaning. Its interests are in the devices of writing, in metaphor and parallelism, in narrative and poetic structures, in stylistic figures. In New Testament studies it has sometimes had regard to the ancient rhetorical situation of the composition, and in that respect has had a historical interest. But, in the absence of source material from the ancient Near East about the practice of rhetoric, in Hebrew Bible studies rhetorical criticism has necessarily focussed upon the texts and their own internal articulation. Rhetorical criticism, which has become firmly embedded in many areas of Hebrew Bible criticism, has usually been rather descriptive and has lacked critical edge. It may be revived if the function of stylistic features in texts is brought within its scope, that is, if it begins to examine how style serves the persuasive intentions of texts (cf. Foster and Howard, My Words Are Lovely) – or if it moves in the direction of pragmatics, the study of how contexts contribute to meaning.

1.3. New Criticism / Formalism / Close Reading / Narratology R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books 1981). – Y. Amit, Reading Biblical Narratives: Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2001). – S. BarEfrat, Narrative Art in the Bible (JSOT.S 70; Bible and Literature Series 17; Sheffield: Almond Press 1989). – R. C. Culley (ed.), Classical Hebrew Narrative (Semeia 3; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press 1975); Perspectives on Old Testament Narrative (Semeia 15; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press 1979). – T. C. Eskenazi, In an Age of Prose: A Literary Approach to Ezra–Nehemiah (SBLMS 36; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 1988). – J. C. Exum, “Of Broken Pots, Fluttering Birds and Visions in the Night: Extended Simile and Poetic Technique in Isaiah”, CBQ 43 (1981) 331–352 (= Beyond Form Criticism: Essays in Old Testament Literary Criticism [ed. P. R. House; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 1992], 349–372). – J. P. Fokkelman, Major Poems of the Hebrew Bible: At the Interface of Hermeneutics and Structural Analysis, 1–2 (SSN 37, 41; Assen: Van Gorcum 1998–2000); Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel: A Full Interpretation Based on Stylistic and Structural Analyses, 1–4 (SSN 20, 23, 27, 31; Assen: Van Gorcum 1981–1993). – D. M. Gunn / D. N. Fewell, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford UP 1993). – R. Schwartz (ed.), The Book and the Text: The Bible and Literary Theory (Oxford: Blackwell 1990). – M. Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP 1985). – J. T. Walsh, Old Testament Narrative: A Guide to Interpretation (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 2010).

New Criticism was especially an Anglo-American movement in general literary criticism, regarding texts as unitary works of art, paying close attention to the internal characteristics of the text itself and abjuring the use of data extrinsic to a text in its interpretation (it was thus the polar opposite of historical criticism). Formalism is essentially equivalent to “New Criticism”, but was originally the term for the somewhat parallel Russian movement that explored the nature of “literariness”, affirming that the form and structure of literary works

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

153

are not merely decorative elements, but part of their content. “Close reading” is a term for the method of New Criticism; it refers to a paying of special attention to theme, imagery, metaphor, paradox, irony, ambiguity, key words, motifs and the like. Narratology, on the other hand, is a systematic analysis of narrative: its interests are in plot and plot devices, in identifying and distinguishing narrators from implied, ideal and actual authors and readers, and in distinguishing the “story” (or, “fabula”, the sequence of events) from the “discourse” (the manifestation of the story in a text).

1.4. Reader-response Criticism D. J. A. Clines, What Does Eve Do to Help? and Other Readerly Questions to the Old Testament (JSOT.S 94; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1990). – J. S. Croatto, Biblical Hermeneutics: Toward a Theory of Reading as the Production of Meaning (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1987). – R. Detweiler (ed.), Reader Response Approaches to Biblical and Secular Texts (Semeia 31; Decatur, GA: Society of Biblical Literature 1985). – R. M. Fowler, “Mapping the Varieties of Reader-Response Critical Theory”, BibInt l (1993) 1–28. – B. C. Lategan, “Reader Response Theory”, ABD, 5: 825–828. – E. V. McKnight,, Post-Modern Use of the Bible: The Emergence of Reader-Oriented Criticism (Nashville: Abingdon Press 1988). – P. Quinn-Miscall, 1 Samuel: A Literary Reading (Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature; Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP 1986); Reading Isaiah: Poetry and Vision (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 2001); The Workings of Old Testament Narrative (Semeia Studies; Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1983). – Z. Schwáb, “Mind the Gap: The Impact of Wolfgang Iser’s Reader-Response Criticism on Biblical Studies – A Critical Assessment”, LitTheol 17 (2003) 170–181. – The Bible and Culture Collective (ed.), “Reader Response Criticism”, in: The Postmodern Bible (New Haven: Yale UP 1995).

In this criticism, the focus is on the reader as the creator of, or at the very least, an important contributor to, the meaning of texts. Rather than seeing “meaning” as a property inherent in texts, whether put there by an author (as in traditional historical criticism) or somehow existing intrinsically in the shape, structure and wording of the texts (as in general literary criticism and rhetorical criticism), reader-response criticism regards meaning as coming into being at the meeting point of text and reader – or, in a more extreme form, as being created by readers in the act of reading. An obvious implication of a reader-response position is that any quest for determinate meanings is invalidated; the idea of a definitive meaning of a text disappears and meaning becomes understood as relative to the various readers who develop their own meanings. A text, in that case, means whatever it means to its readers, no matter how strange or unacceptable some meanings may seem to other readers. Reader-response criticism further raises the question of validity in interpretation. If there are no determinate meanings, no intrinsically right or wrong interpretations, if the author or the text cannot give validation to meanings, the only source for validity in interpretation has to lie in “interpretative communities” – groups that authorize certain meanings and disallow others. Validity in interpretation is then recognized as relative to the group that authorizes it, whether it is an academic or a confessional group. Of all the contemporary criticisms reviewed in this chapter, reader-response criticism is perhaps the most antithetic to traditional historical criticism. It is

154

David J. A. Clines

de-historicizing since the historical circumstances of the text’s composition make no difference to the meanings that readers will find in the texts, and it is postmodernist in that it countenances a plurality of meanings in the biblical texts. – See also § 1.5 Reception Criticism.

1.5. Reception Criticism General: B. Becking / S. Hennecke, Out of Paradise: Eve and Adam and their Interpreters (Hebrew Bible Monographs 30; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – J. Carruthers, Esther through the Centuries (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 2007). – B. S. Childs, Exodus: A Commentary (London: SCM Press 1974). – E. S. Christianson, Ecclesiastes through the Centuries (Oxford: Blackwell 2007). – D. J. A. Clines / T. C. Eskenazi (eds.), Telling Queen Michal’s Story: An Experiment in Comparative Interpretation (JSOT.S 119; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1991). – J. C. Exum, Plotted, Shot, and Painted: Cultural Representations of Biblical Women (JSOT.S 215; Gender, Culture, Theory 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996). – S. Gillingham, Psalms through the Centuries, 1 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 2008). – D. L. Jeffrey (ed.), A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1992). – H.-J. Klauck e.a. (eds.), Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2009–). – D. M. Gunn, Judges (Oxford: Blackwell 2005). – S. M. Langston, Exodus through the Centuries (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 2006). – R. Lemon e.a. (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature (Chichester: Blackwell– Wiley 2009). – T. C. Oden (ed.), Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press 1998–). – J. F. A. Sawyer, A Concise Dictionary of the Bible and its Reception (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 2009); The Fifth Gospel: Isaiah in the History of Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1996). – J. F. A. Sawyer (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 2006). Special studies: In the Arts: G. Aichele (ed.), Culture, Entertainment and the Bible (JSOT.S 309; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2000). – G. A. Anderson, The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination (Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 2001). – A. Bach, Women, Seduction, and Betrayal in Biblical Narrative (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1997). – B. Britt, Rewriting Moses: The Narrative Eclipse of the Text (JSOT.S 402; Gender, Culture, Theory 14; London: T. & T. Clark International 2004). – J. C. Exum (ed.), Beyond the Biblical Horizon: The Bible and the Arts (Biblical Interpretation Series 6; Leiden: Brill 1999); Retellings: The Bible in Literature, Music, Art and Film (Leiden: Brill 2007). – P. S. Hawkins / L. Cushing Stahlberg (eds.), From the Margins, 1: Women of the Hebrew Bible and their Afterlives (Bible in the Modern World 18; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2009). – C. A. Kirk-Duggan / T. Pippin (eds.), Mother Goose, Mother Jones, Mommie Dearest: Biblical Mothers and their Children (Semeia Studies 61; Leiden: Brill 2010). – L. J. Kreitzer, The Old Testament in Fiction and Film: On Reversing the Hermeneutical Flow (The Biblical Seminar 24; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1994). – Y. Sherwood, A Biblical Text and its Afterlives: The Survival of Jonah in Western Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2000). In Art: M. Bal, Reading “Rembrandt”: Beyond the Word–Image Opposition (Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP 2006). – F. C. Black / J. C. Exum, “Semiotics in Stained Glass: Edward Burne-Jones’s Song of Songs”, in: Biblical Studies/Cultural Studies: The Third Sheffield Colloquium (ed. J. C. Exum / S. D. Moore; JSOT.S 266; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998), 315–342. – M. Brion, The Bible in Art: Miniatures, Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures Inspired by the Old Testament (London: Phaidon Press 1956). – J. C. Exum, “Lovis Corinth’s Blinded Samson”, BibInt 6 (1998) 410–425; Plotted, Shot, and Painted: Cultural Representations of Biblical Women (JSOT.S 215; Gender, Culture, Theory 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996); “Seeing” the Song of Songs: Some Artistic Visions of the Bible’s Love Lyrics”, in: Das Alte Testament und die Kunst. Beiträge des Symposiums “Das Alte Testament und die Kultur der Moderne” anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags Gerhard von Rads (1901– 1971), Heidelberg, 18.-21. Oktober 2001 (ed. J. Barton / J. C. Exum / M. Oeming; Altes Testament und Moderne 15; Münster: Lit 2005), 91–127; “The Accusing Look: The Abjection of Hagar in Art”, Religion and the Arts 11 (2007) 143–175; “Toward a Genuine Dialogue between the Bible and Art”, in: Congress Volume, Helsinki 2010 (ed. M. Nissinen; Leiden: E. J. Brill 2012). – J. C. Exum / Ela Nutu

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

155

(eds.), Between the Text and the Canvas: The Bible and Art in Dialogue (Bible in the Modern World 13; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2007). – M. O’Kane, Painting the Text: The Artist as Biblical Interpreter (Bible in the Modern World 8; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2007); idem (ed.), Bible, Art, Gallery (Bible in the Modern World 21; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – M. O’Kane / J. Morgan-Guy (eds.), Biblical Art from Wales (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – L. Réau, Iconographie de l’art chrétien, 1–3 (Paris: Presses universitaires de France 1956–1959). In literature: P.-M. Beaude (ed.), La Bible en littérature: Actes du colloque international de Metz (septembre 1994) (Paris: Editions du Cerf 1997). – S. Frieling (ed.), Der rebellische Prophet: Jona in der modernen Literatur (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1999). – R.-J. Frontain / J. Wojcik (eds.), Old Testament Women in Western Literature (Conway, AR: UCA Press 1991). – C. Gellner, Schriftsteller lesen die Bibel. Die Heilige Schrift in der Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts (Darmstadt: Primus 2004). – A. Hess / D. Jasper / E. Jay (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology (Oxford: Oxford UP 2007). – D. H. Hirsch / N. Aschkenasy (eds.), Biblical Patterns in Modern Literature (Brown Judaic Studies 77; Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1984). – D. Jasper / S. Prickett (eds.), The Bible and Literature: A Reader (Oxford: Blackwell 1999). – D. L. Jeffrey (ed.), A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1992). – Sarah Nicholson, “Catching the Poetic Eye: Saul Reconceived in Modern Literature”, in: Saul in Story and Tradition (ed. C. S. Ehrlich; FAT 47; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2006), 309–33. – D. Norton, A History of the Bible as Literature (2 vols.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993). – G. del Olmo Lete, “The Hebrew Bible and its Influence on Modern Literature”, JNWSL 26 (2000) 1–17. – E. Osborn (ed.), The Bible and European Literature: History and Hermeneutics. Proceedings of a Conference Held at Queen’s College, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 15–18 May, 1987 (Melbourne: Academia Press 1987). – S. Prickett, “The Bible in Literature and Art”, in: The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation (ed. J. Barton; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998), 160–180. – Y. M. Sherwood, “‘Darke texts needs notes’. On Prophetic Prophecy, John Donne and the Baroque”, JSOT 27 (2003) 47–74; “The Baroque Prophets: An Encounter between the Hebrew Prophets and John Donne”, in: Sacred Tropes: Tanakh, New Testament, and Qur’an as Literature and Culture (ed. R. S. Sabbath; Biblical Interpretation Series 98; Leiden: Brill 2009), 115–140. – H. Schmidinger (ed.), Die Bibel in der deutschsprachigen Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts, 1–2 (Mainz: Matthias-GrünewaldVerlag 2000). – M. Sjöberg, Wrestling with Textual Violence: The Jephthah Narrative in Antiquity and Modernity (Bible in the Modern World 4; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2006). – A. C. Swindell, Reworking the Bible: The Literary Reception-History of Fourteen Biblical Stories (Bible in the Modern World 30; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – E. Zenger, “Das Alte Testament in der Kunst und Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts”, in: Lebendige Welt der Bibel. Entdeckungsreise in das Alte Testament (ed. E. Zenger; Freiburg i.Br.: Herder 1997), 57–65. In music: R. Bartelmus, “Handel and Jennens’ Oratorio ‘Saul’. A Late Musical and Dramatic Rehabilitation of the Figure of Saul”, in Saul in Story and Tradition (ed. C. S. Ehrlich; FAT 47; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2006), 284–307. – A. Davies, “Oratorio as Exegesis: The Use of the Book of Isaiah in Handel’s Messiah”, BibInt 15 (2007) 464–484. – C. Dohmen, “Das Alte Testament in Oratorien und Opern”, in: Lebendige Welt der Bibel. Entdeckungsreise in das Alte Testament (ed. E. Zenger; Freiburg i.Br.: Herder 1997), 45–56. – U. Jung-Kaiser (ed.), Das Hohelied. Liebeslyrik als Kultur(en) erschliessendes Medium? 4. Interdisziplinäres Symposium der Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt a.M. 2006 (Berne: Peter Lang 2007). – H. Leneman, Love, Lust, and Lunacy: The Stories of Saul and David in Music (Bible in the Modern World 29; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010); The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio (Bible in the Modern World 11; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2007). – P. McGrail, “Eroticism, Death, and Redemption: The Operatic Construct of the Biblical Femme Fatale”, in: Retellings: The Bible in Literature, Music, Art and Film (ed. J. C. Exum; BibInt 15; Leiden: Brill 2007), 405–427. – J.O. Müller, “Das Alte Testament in Bildender Kunst, Musik und Film des 20. Jahrhunderts. Eine Werkauswahl mit bibliographischen Hinweisen”, in: Das Alte Testament und die Kunst. Beiträge des Symposiums “Das Alte Testament und die Kultur der Moderne” anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags Gerhard von Rads (1901–1971), Heidelberg, 18.–21. Oktober 2001 (ed. J. Barton / J. C. Exum / M. Oeming; Altes Testament und Moderne 15; Münster: Lit 2005), 227–252. – J. W. Rogerson, “The Use of the Song of Songs in J. S. Bach’s Church Cantatas”, in: Biblical Studies / Cultural Studies: The Third Sheffield Colloquium (ed. J. C. Exum / S. D. Moore; JSOT.S 266; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998), 343–351. – O. H. Steck, Moses und Aron. Die Oper Arnold Schönbergs und ihr biblischer Stoff (Kaiser-Traktate 56; München: Kaiser 1981).

156

David J. A. Clines

In film: G. Aichele / R. Walsh (eds.), Screening Scripture: Intertextual Connections between Scripture and Film (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International 2002). – B. Babington / P. W. Evans, Biblical Epics: Sacred Narrative in the Hollywood Cinema (Manchester: Manchester UP 1993). – A. Bach, “Cracking the Production Code: Watching Biblical Scholars Read Films”, Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 7 (1999) 11–34. – A. Bach (ed.). Biblical Glamour and Hollywood Glitz (Semeia 74; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1996). – E .S. Christianson, “The Big Sleep: Strategic Ambiguity in Judges 4–5 and in Classic Film Noir”, BibInt 15 (2007) 519–48. – J. C. Exum, “Desire Distorted and Exhibited: Lot and his Daughters in Psychoanalysis, Painting, and Film”, in: “A wise and discerning mind”: Essays in Honor of Burke O. Long (ed. S. M. Olyan / R. C. Culley; Brown Judaic Studies 325; Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies 2000), 83–108; “Lethal Woman 2: Reflections on Delilah and her Incarnation as Liz Hurley”, in Borders, Boundaries and the Bible (ed. M. O’Kane; JSOT.S 313; London: Sheffield Academic Press 2002), 254–273; “Michal at the Movies”, in: The Bible in Human Society: Essays in Honour of John Rogerson (ed. M. D. Carroll / D. J. A. Clines / P. R. Davies; JSOT.S 200; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1995), 273–292; Plotted, Shot, and Painted: Cultural Representations of Biblical Women (JSOT.S 215; Gender, Culture, Theory 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996). – J. C. Exum (ed.), The Bible in Film, the Bible and Film (BibInt 14/1–2; Leiden: Brill 2006). – G. Hallbäck / A. Hvithamer (eds.), Recent Releases: The Bible in Contemporary Cinema (Bible in the Modern World 15; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008). – B. Hertzberg, “Samson’s Moment of Truth”, BibInt 18 (2010) 226–50. – M. M. Homan, “The Good Book and the Bad Movies: Moses and the Failure of Biblical Cinema”, in: Milk and Honey: Essays on Ancient Israel and the Bible in Appreciation of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego (ed. S. Malena; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 2007), 87–112. – R. K. Johnston, Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2005). – J. L. Koosed / T. Linafelt, “How the West Was Not One: Delilah Deconstructs the Western”, in: Biblical Glamour and Hollywood Glitz (ed. A. Bach; Semeia 74; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1996), 167–181. – T. Linafelt, “The Wizard of Uz: Job, Dorothy, and the Limits of the Sublime”, in: The Bible in Film, the Bible and Film (ed. J. C. Exum; BibInt 14/1–2; Leiden: Brill 2006 [= BibInt 14]), 94–109. – M. O’Kane, “The Biblical King David and his Artistic and Literary Afterlives”, BibInt 6 (1998) 313–347. – E. Runions, How Hysterical: Identification and Resistance in the Bible and Film (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2003). – D. Shepherd (ed.), Images of the Word: Hollywood’s Bible and Beyond (Semeia Studies 54; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2008).

Reception criticism has more commonly been known as “reception history” (Rezeptionsgeschichte), or as “the history of interpretation”, but research into how the biblical text has been interpreted over the centuries does not need to be structured historically, and it is preferable to treat the reception of the Bible as a form of literary criticism. Reception criticism explores the reaction to biblical texts – and the re-use of them – by readers from the very earliest times down to the present; their responses are enshrined not only in commentaries and other theological works but also in the arts, such as music and painting and literature. It is thus an extended example of reader-response criticism, the readers in this case being not only readers of the present but also readers of the past. In its most simple sense it reports and analyses how readers have interpreted the texts, and, indeed, most current examples of reception criticism are largely descriptive. In a more critical sense it brings the interpretation of past interpreters into the current interpretational conversation, and so relativizes to some extent the norms and conclusions of our contemporary scholarly interpretation. The term “reception criticism” names an area of research activity rather than a critical methodology. It would appear to be one of the most productive areas of Hebrew Bible research at the present time. Large-scale recent projects include the multi-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series (ed. T. C. Oden), of which 14 volumes on the Hebrew Bible have appeared, the Blackwell

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

157

Bible Commentary series (ed. J. F. A. Sawyer), of which 5 volumes on the Hebrew Bible have appeared, and the planned 30–volume Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (ed. H.-J. Klauck e.a.). The project of reception criticism is as yet imperfectly theorized. While the gathering of data is both needful and laudable, the question of how the data may be able to affect the business of interpretation is rarely discussed. It is self-evident that not all interpretations of the biblical text are of equal value, and the practical effect of reception criticism upon biblical interpretation remains an important area for further elaboration. –See further, Cultural Criticism, below.

1.6. Intertextuality G. Aichele and G. A. Phillips (eds.), Intertextuality and the Bible (Semeia 69–70; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1995). – R. P. Carroll, “Intertextuality and the Book of Jeremiah: Animadversions on Text and Theory”, in: The New Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible (ed. J. C. Exum / D. J. A. Clines; JSOT.S 143; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1993), 55–78. – D. J. A. Clines, “Esther and the Future of the Commentary”, in: The Book of Esther in Modern Research (ed. S. W. Crawford / L. J. Greenspoon; JSOT.S 380; London: T. & T. Clark 2003), 17–30. – C. A. Evans / S. Talmon (eds.), The Quest for Context and Meaning: Studies in Biblical Intertextuality in Honor of James A. Sanders (Biblical Interpretation Series 28; Leiden: Brill 1997). – D. N. Fewell, Reading between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible (Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation; Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press 1992). – M. Fishbane, “Types of Biblical Intertextuality”, in Congress Volume: Oslo 1998 (ed. A. Lemaire / M. Sæbø; VT.S 80; Leiden: Brill 2000), 39–44. – S. GillmayrBucher, “Intertextualität. Zwischen Literaturtheorie und Methodik”, PzB 8 (1999) 5–20. – T. N. D. Mettinger, “Intertextuality: Allusion and Vertical Context Systems in Some Job Passages”, in: Of Prophets’ Visions and the Wisdom of Sages: Essays in Honour of R. N. Whybray on his Seventieth Birthday (ed. H. A. McKay / D. J. A. Clines; JSOT.S 162; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1993), 257–280. – K. Nielsen, “Intertextuality and Hebrew Bible”, in: Congress Volume, Oslo 1998 (ed. A. Lemaire /M. Sæbø; Leiden: Brill 2000), 17–31. – B. D. Sommer, A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40–66 (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP 1998). – E. van Wolde, “From Text via Text to Meaning. Intertextuality and its Implications”, in her Words Become Worlds: Semantic Studies of Genesis 1–11 (Leiden: Brill 1994), 160–199; “Intertextuality: Ruth in Dialogue with Tamar”, in: A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible: Approaches, Methods and Strategies (ed. A. Brenner / C. Fontaine; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1997), 426–451; “Texts in Dialogue with Texts: Intertextuality in the Ruth and Tamar Narratives”, BibInt 5 (1997) 1–28.

The term “intertextuality” denotes the use of one text by another. It is sometimes used to include biblical citations of and allusions to other biblical texts, but that is a feature of biblical texts that has been remarked upon in all periods of biblical criticism. The new term “intertextuality” is best reserved for the study of relations between texts when that relation is not conceived of in terms of literary dependence but of similarity or dissimilarity. Biblical intertextuality is a contemporary approach when it brings two (or more) biblical texts into relation to each other, seeking to discern the light that one text can shed on the other. More rarely, it is used of the relation that may be suggested between a biblical text and other literary texts of any period or milieu; such a field of enquiry is especially promising, especially in connection with reception criticism (see § 1.5).

158

David J. A. Clines

2. Structuralism and Poststructuralism 2.1. Structuralism P. Beauchamp, “L’analyse structurale et l’exégèse biblique”, VTSup 22 (1971) 113–128. – B. Green, Mikhail Bakhtin and Biblical Scholarship: An Introduction (Semeia Studies 38; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2000). – D. Greenwood, Structuralism and the Biblical Text (Berlin: Mouton 1985). – D. Jobling, “Structuralist Criticism: The Text’s World of Meaning”, in: Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (ed. G. A. Yee; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 22007), 90–114; The Sense of Biblical Narrative, I. Three Structural Analyses in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 13–31, Numbers 11– 12, 1 Kings 17–18) (JSOT.S 7; Sheffield: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 1978); The Sense of Biblical Narrative, II. Structural Analyses in the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 39; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1986). – P. J. Milne, Vladimir Propp and the Study of Structure in Hebrew Biblical Narrative (Bible and Literature 13; Sheffield: Almond Press 1988). – D. Patte, “Structural Criticism”, in: To Each its Own Meaning. An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and their Applications (ed. S. R. Haynes / S. L. McKenzie; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press 1999), 183–200; The Religious Dimensions of Biblical Texts: Greimas’s Structural Semiotics and Biblical Exegesis (Semeia Studies; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1990); What Is Structural Exegesis? (Guides to Biblical Scholarship; Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1976). – D. Patte (ed.), Genesis 2 and 3: Kaleidoscopic Structural Readings (Semeia 18; Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1980); Thinking in Signs: Semiotics and Biblical Studies – Thirty Years After (Semeia 81; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1998). – R. M. Polzin, Biblical Structuralism: Method and Subjectivity in the Study of Ancient Texts (Semeia Supplements 5; Philadelphia : Fortress Press 1977). – D. M. Sharon, “Some Results of a Structural Semiotic Analysis of the Story of Judah and Tamar”, JSOT 29 (2005) 259–287; The Bible and Culture Collective (eds.), “Structuralist and Narratological Criticism”, in: The Postmodern Bible (New Haven: Yale UP 1995), 70–118.

Structuralism was the first methodological innovation used within biblical criticism that ignored the historical-critical method on principle. Its foundation was F. de Saussure’s exploration of the synchronic in language, itself a departure from the traditional historical-critical philology that interested itself in the origins of words and the laws of historical linguistic change. For de Saussure, language was a system existing at a given time, rather than a sequence of events occurring over time. And meaning was not inherent in the word itself, but was determined by difference – the difference between the item in question and other similar or contrasting items. It is easy to see how applying that perspective to biblical texts challenged historical criticism. (We are still waiting for the application of de Saussure’s principle of difference to the interpretation of the Bible: if we suppose that each text has its meaning not in some intrinsic sense it itself possesses but solely in its difference from other biblical texts; the ramifications could be fascinating; cf. § 1.6 Intertextuality.) Literary structuralism concerns itself with structures deeper than the level of the text. It is not interested, for example, in the formal surface structure of a narrative (which many older critics have examined), but in what may be thought of as the grammar of narrative. The actantial analysis of A. J. Greimas is a case in point: any narrative, he claims, can be analysed in terms of a Sender transmitting an Object to a Receiver, and being helped or hindered in so doing by a Helper and/or an Opponent (these figures being the ‘actants’). Identification of such a structure can have significant interpretational value; but the method is not commonly used by biblical critics.

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

159

2.2. Poststructuralism A. K. M. Adam, What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism? (Guides to Biblical Scholarship; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1995). – R. P. Carroll, “Poststructuralist Approaches: New Historicism and Postmodernism”, in: The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation (ed. J. Barton; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1998), 50–66. – D. J. A. Clines, “Varieties of Indeterminacy”, in: Textual Indeterminacy, Part Two (ed. R. C. Culley / R. B. Robinson; Semeia 63; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1995), 17–27. – R. C. Culley / R. B. Robinson (eds.), Textual Determinacy, 1–2 (Semeia 62, 71; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1995). – R. Detweiler (ed.), Derrida and Biblical Studies (Semeia 23; Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature 1982). – D. Jobling / S. D. Moore (eds.), Poststructuralism as Exegesis (Semeia 54; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1992). – D. Jobling / T. Pippin / R. Schleifer (eds.), The Postmodern Bible Reader (Oxford: Blackwell 2001). – G. A. Phillips (ed.), Poststructural Criticism and the Bible: Text/History/Discourse (Semeia 51; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1990). – H. C. Pyper, David as Reader: 2 Samuel 12:1–15 and the Poetics of Fatherhood (Biblical Interpretation Series 23; Leiden: Brill 1996). – E. Runions, Changing Subjects: Gender, Nation and Future in Micah (Playing the Texts 7; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2001). – D. Rutledge, Reading Marginally: Feminism, Deconstruction and the Bible (Biblical Interpretation Series 21; Leiden: Brill 1996). – Y. Sherwood, The Prostitute and the Prophet: Hosea’s Marriage in Literary-Theological Perspective (JSOT.S 212; Gender, Culture, Theory 2; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996). – The Bible and Culture Collective (eds.), “Poststructuralist Criticism”, in: The Postmodern Bible (New Haven: Yale UP 1995), 119–48. – H. C. White, Narration and Discourse in the Book of Genesis (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1991).

Perhaps the most important aspect of poststructuralism, a movement that entered biblical scholarship from the 1960s onward, has been its contributions to our understanding of the nature of language and of meaning. A key concept in poststructuralism is indeterminacy, i.e. the idea that texts do not contain a definite meaning resident within them, as a wallet contains money. It may not be that texts themselves are indeterminate; it may simply be that the process of reading leads to multiple meanings on the part of the various readers. It matters little whether it is some property of the text that engenders the multiplicity, that is, something in the text that different readers are responding to differently, or whether it is merely a matter of different readers reading the one text differently. Other characteristics of poststructuralism are typically postmodern concerns, such as a focus on readers and the practice of textual deconstruction.

2.3. Deconstruction D. J. A. Clines, “A World Founded on Water (Psalm 24): Reader Response, Deconstruction and Bespoke Interpretation”, in: The New Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible (ed. J. C. Exum / D. J. A. Clines; JSOT.S 143; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1993), 79–90; “Deconstructing the Book of Job”, in: The Bible as Rhetoric: Studies in Biblical Persuasion and Credibility (ed. M. Warner; Warwick Studies in Philosophy and Literature; London: Routledge 1990), 65–80 (= his What Does Eve Do to Help? and Other Readerly Questions to the Old Testament [JSOT.S 94; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1990], 106–123; “Ethics as Deconstruction, and, The Ethics of Deconstruction”, in: The Bible in Ethics: The Second Sheffield Colloquium (ed. J. W. Rogerson / M. Davies / M. D. Carroll; JSOT.S 207; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1995), 77–106; “Haggai’s Temple, Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed”, in: Second Temple Studies (ed. T. C. Eskenazi / K. H. Richards; JSOT.S 175; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1993), 51–78 (= SJOT 7 [1993] 9–30). – J. C. Exum, “Samson’s Women”, in: Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives (Sheffield: JSOT Press / Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International 1993), 61–93. – E. L. Greenstein, “Deconstruction and Biblical Narrative”, Prooftexts

160

David J. A. Clines

9 (1989) 43–71. – D. Jobling, “Deconstruction and the Political Analysis of Biblical Texts: A Jamesonian Reading of Psalm 72”, Semeia 59 (1992) 95–127; “Writing the Wrongs of the World: The Deconstruction of the Biblical Text in the Context of Liberation Theologies”, Semeia 51 (1990) 81– 118. – P. Miscall, The Workings of Old Testament Narrative (Semeia Studies; Philadelphia: Fortress Press / Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1983). – Y. Sherwood (ed.), Derrida’s Bible: Reading a Page of Scripture with a Little Help from Derrida (Basingstoke, Hants.: Palgrave Macmillan 2004). – D. M. Slivniak, “The Garden of Double Messages: Deconstructing Hierarchical Oppositions in the Garden Story” JSOT 27 (2004) 439–60. – H. C. White, “The Joseph Story: A Narrative which ‘Consumes’ its Content”, Semeia 31 (1985) 49–69.

As against the “common sense” assumption that texts have more or less clear meanings and manage more or less successfully to convey those meanings to readers, deconstruction is an enterprise that exposes the inadequacies of texts, and shows how inexorably they undermine themselves. A text typically has a thesis to defend or a point of view to espouse; but inevitably texts falter and let slip evidence against their own cause. A text typically sets forth or takes for granted some set of oppositions, one term being privileged over its partner; but in so doing it cannot help allowing glimpses of the impossibility of sustaining those oppositions. In deconstruction it is not a matter of reversing the oppositions, of privileging the unprivileged and vice versa, but rather of recognizing the often unexamined structures of thought that texts have promulgated. The deconstruction of texts relativizes the authority attributed to them, and makes it evident that much of the power that is felt to lie in texts is really the power of their sanctioning community.

3. Ideological Criticisms R. P. Carroll, “An Infinity of Traces: On Making an Inventory of our Ideological Holdings. An Introduction to Ideologiekritik in Biblical Studies”, JNWSL 21 (1955) 25–43. – D. J. A. Clines, Interested Parties: The Ideology of Writers and Readers of the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 205; Gender, Culture, Theory 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1995). – D. Jobling / T. Pippin (eds.), Ideological Criticism of Biblical Texts (Semeia 59; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1992). – T. Pippin, “Ideology, Ideological Criticism, and the Bible”, Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 4 (1996) 51–78.

The methods in this group have in common a concern not with texts themselves but with texts in relation to some other intellectual or political issue. In this respect they are unlike both literary criticism and structuralist criticism, whose concern was rather with the texts (or, as in the case of reader-response criticism, with the effect of the texts upon readers).

3.1. Feminist Criticism A. Bach, “Reading Allowed: Feminist Biblical Criticism at the Millennium”, Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 1 (1993) 191–215; “The Pleasure of her Text”, in: The Pleasure of her Text: Feminist Readings of Biblical and Historical Texts (ed. A. Bach; Philadelphia: Trinity Press International 1990), 25–44. – M. Bal, Death and Dissymmetry: The Politics of Coherence in Judges (Chicago : University of Chicago Press 1988); Lethal Love: Feminist Literary Readings of Biblical Love Stories (Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP 1987); Murder and Difference: Gender, Genre, and Scholarship on Sisera’s Death

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

161

(Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press 1988). – M. Bal (ed.), Anti-Covenant: Counter-Reading Women’s Lives in the Hebrew Bible (Bible and Literature Series 22; JSOT.S 81; Sheffield: Almond Press 1989). – R. Bauckham, “The Book of Ruth and the Possibility of a Feminist Canonical Hermeneutic”, BibInt 5 (1997) 29–45. – P. Bird, “Israelite Religion and the Faith of Israel’s Daughters: Reflections on Gender and Religious Definition”, in: The Bible and the Politics of Exegesis: Essays in Honor of N. K. Gottwald on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (ed. D. Jobling / P. Day / G. T. Sheppard; Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press 1991), 97–108; Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities: Women and Gender in Ancient Israel (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1997); “The Harlot as Heroine: Narrative Art and Social Presupposition in Three Old Testament Texts”, in: Narrative Research on the Hebrew Bible (ed. M. Amihai / G. W. Coats / A. M. Solomon; Semeia 46; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1989), 119–139. – P. A. Bird (ed.), Reading the Bible as Women: Perspectives from Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Semeia 78; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1997). – R. Boer / J. Økland (eds.), Marxist Feminist Criticism of the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008). – A. Brenner, The Israelite Woman: Social Role and Literary Type in Biblical Narrative (The Biblical Seminar 2; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1985). – A. Brenner (ed.), The Feminist Companion to the Bible, 1–10 (Sheffield: JSOT Press and Sheffield Academic Press 1992–1996); The Feminist Companion to the Bible,1–8 (Second Series; Sheffield: JSOT Press and Sheffield Academic Press 1998–2001). – A. Brenner / C. Fontaine (eds.), A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible: Approaches, Methods and Strategies (Sheffield: Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1997). – A. Brenner / F. van Dijk-Hemmes, On Gendering Texts: Female and Male Voices in the Hebrew Bible (Biblical Interpretation Series 1; Leiden: Brill 1993). – C. V. Camp / C.R. Fontaine (eds.), Women, War, and Metaphor: Language and Society in the Study of the Hebrew Bible (Semeia 61; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1993). – E. W. Davies, The Dissenting Reader: Feminist Approaches to the Hebrew Bible (Aldershot, Hants.: Ashgate Publishing 2003). – P. L. Day (ed.), Gender and Difference in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1989). – J. C. Exum, “Feminist Study of the Old Testament”, in: Text in Context: Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study (ed. A. D. H. Mayes; Oxford: Oxford UP 2000), 86–116; “Feminist Criticism: Whose Interests Are Being Served?”, in: Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (ed. G. A. Yee; 2nd edn.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2007), 65–90; Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives (JSOT.S 163; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1993); “Murder They Wrote: Ideology and the Manipulation of Female Presence in Biblical Narrative”, USQR 43 (1989) 19–40 (= The Pleasure of her Text: Feminist Readings of Biblical and Historical Texts [ed. A. Bach; Philadelphia: Trinity Press International 1990], 45–67; = Telling Queen Michal’s Story: An Experiment in Comparative Interpretation [ed. D. J. A. Clines / T. C. Eskenazi; JSOT.S 119; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1991], 176–198; Plotted, Shot, and Painted: Cultural Representations of Biblical Women (JSOT.S 215; Gender, Culture, Theory 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996); “Ten Things Every Feminist Should Know about the Song of Songs”, in: A Feminist Companion to the Song of Songs (Second Series; ed. A. Brenner / C. Fontaine; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2000), 22–33; Was sagt das Richterbuch den Frauen? (Stuttgarter Bibelstudien 169; Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk 1997). – J. C. Exum (ed.), Reasoning with the Foxes: Female Wit in a World of Male Power (Semeia 42; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1998). – D. N. Fewell / D. M. Gunn, “Controlling Perspectives: Women, Men, and the Authority of Violence in Judges 4 and 5”, JAAR 58 (1990) 101–123. – E. Fuchs, “Biblical Feminisms: Knowledge, Theory and Politics in the Study of Women in the Hebrew Bible”, BibInt 16 (2008) 205–226; “The Literary Characterization of Mothers and Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible”, in: Narrative Research on the Hebrew Bible (ed. M. Amihai / G. W. Coats / A. M. Solomon; Semeia 46; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1989), 151–166 (also in Feminist Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship [ed. A. Y. Collins; Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1984] 117–136); “Contemporary Biblical Literary Criticism: The Objective Phallacy”, in: Mappings of the Biblical Terrain: The Bible as Text (ed. V. L. Tollers / J. R. Maier; Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UP 1990), 134–142; ”Marginalization, Ambiguity, Silencing: The Story of Jephthah’s Daughter”, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 5 (1989) 35–45; Sexual Politics in the Biblical Narrative: Reading the Bible as a Woman (JSOT.S 310; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2000). – H. Jahnow (ed.), Feministische Hermeneutik und Erstes Testament: Analysen und Interpretationen (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1994). – C. Kirk-Duggan (ed.), Pregnant Passion: Gender, Sex, and Violence in the Bible (Semeia Studies 44; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2004). – H. Lipka, Sexual Transgression in the Hebrew Bible (Hebrew Bible Monographs 7; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2006). – J. McKinlay, Reframing Her: Biblical Women in Postcolonial Focus (Bible in the Modern World 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2004). – J. M. O’Brien, Challenging Prophetic Metaphor: Theology and Ideology in the Prophets (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press 2008). –

162

David J. A. Clines

I. Pardes, Countertraditions in the Bible: A Feminist Approach (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1992). – K. M. Park / K. S. Lee, Korean Feminists in Conversation with the Bible, the Church and Society (Bible in the Modern World 24; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – D. C. Polaski, “What Will Ye See in the Shulammite? Women, Power and Panopticism in the Song of Songs”, BibInt 5 (1997) 64–81. – L. M. Russell (ed.), Feminist Interpretation of the Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster Press 1985). – S. Shectman, Women in the Pentateuch: A Feminist and Source-Critical Analysis (Hebrew Bible Monographs 23; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2009). – S. Scholz, Introducing the Women’s Hebrew Bible (Introductions in Feminist Theology 13; London: T. & T. Clark 2007). – L. Schottroff M.-T. Wacker (eds.), Kompendium: Feministische Bibelauslegung (Gütersloh: Chr. Kaiser 1998; 3rd edn., Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus 2007). – L. Schottroff / S. Schroer / M.-T. Wacker (eds.), Feministische Exegese: Forschungserträge zur Bibel aus der Perspektive von Frauen (Darmstadt: Primus 1997 [et: Feminist Interpretation: The Bible in Women’s Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1998)]). – N. Steinberg, “Feminist Criticism”, in: Methods for Exodus (ed. T. B. Dozeman; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2010), 163–192. – M. A. Tolbert (ed.), The Bible and Feminist Hermeneutics (Semeia 28; Chico, CA: Society of Biblical Literature 1983). – P. Trible, “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation”, JAAR 41 (1973) 30–48; God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1978); Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (Overtures to Biblical Theology 13; Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1984).

Pride of place among ideological criticisms should be given to feminist criticism, for it was the first form of biblical criticism to take its stand outside the biblical texts and interrogate them from a perspective other than the Bible. Feminists came to recognize that in the history of civilization women have been marginalized by men and have been denied access both to social positions of authority and influence and to symbolic production (the creation of symbol systems, such as the making of texts); it followed that a feminist literary criticism would be concerned with exposing the strategies by which women’s subordination is inscribed in and justified by texts. The starting point of feminist biblical criticism was thus not the biblical texts and their concerns but the issues and concerns of feminism as a world view and as a political enterprise. In its practice, feminist biblical criticism uses a variety of approaches and encourages multiple readings, rejecting the notion that there is a “proper” way to read a text as no more than another expression of male control of texts and male control of reading. It may concentrate on analysing and detailing the evidence contained in literary texts for the ways in which women’s lives and voices have in fact been suppressed by texts. Or it may ask how, if at all, a woman’s voice can be discovered in, or read into, an androcentric text. Or it may deploy those texts, with their evidence of the marginalization of women, in the service of a feminist agenda, with the hope that the exposing of male control of literature will in itself tend to subvert the hierarchy that has dominated not only readers but also culture itself.

3.2. Gender Criticism M. Bal, Murder and Difference: Gender, Genre, and Scholarship on Sisera’s Death (Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press 1988). – A. Bauer, Gender in the Book of Jeremiah. A Feminist-Literary Reading (Studies in Biblical Literature 5; New York: P. Lang 1999). – B. Becking / M. Dijkstra, On Reading Prophetic Texts: Gender-Specific and Related Studies in Memory of Fokkelien van DijkHemmes (Biblical Interpretation Series 18; Leiden: Brill 1996). – A. Brenner, The Intercourse of Knowledge: On Gendering Desire and “Sexuality” in the Hebrew Bible (Biblical Interpretation Series

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

163

26; Leiden: Brill 1997). – A. Brenner / F. van Dijk-Hemmes, On Gendering Texts: Female and Male Voices in the Hebrew Bible (Biblical Interpretation Series 1; Leiden: Brill 1993). – D. Carr, “Gender and the Shaping of Desire in the Song of Songs and its Interpretation”, JBL 119 (2000) 233–248. – D. J. A. Clines, “Being a Man in the Book of the Covenant”, in: Reading the Law: Studies in Honour of Gordon J. Wenham (ed. J. G. McConville / K. Möller; LHB/OTS 461; London: T. & T. Clark International 2007), 3–9; “Dancing and Shining at Sinai: Playing the Man in Exodus 32–34”, in: Men and Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond (ed. O. Creanga˘; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010), 54–63; “David the Man: The Construction of Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible”, in his: Interested Parties: The Ideology of Writers and Readers of the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 205; Gender, Culture, Theory 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1995), 212–244; “He-Prophets: Masculinity as a Problem for the Hebrew Prophets and their Interpreters”, in: Sense and Sensitivity: Essays on Reading the Bible in Memory of Robert Carroll (ed. A. G. Hunter / P. R. Davies; JSOT.S 348; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2002), 311–328. – O. Creanga˘ (ed.), Men and Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – I. Fischer, Gender-faire Exegese. Gesammelte Beiträge zur Reflexion des Genderbias und seiner Auswirkungen in der Übersetzung und Auslegung von biblischen Texten (Exegese in unserer Zeit: kontextuelle Bibelinterpretation aus lateinamerikanischer und feministischer Sicht 14; Münster: Lit 2004). – C. A. Fontaine, With Eyes of Flesh: The Bible, Gender and Human Rights (Bible in the Modern World 10; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008). – J. I. Gellman, “Gender and Sexuality in the Garden of Eden”, Theology and Sexuality 12 (2006) 319–335. – D. Guest, “Looking Lesbian at the Bathing Bathsheba”, BibInt 16 (2008) 227– 262. – A. Heacock, Jonathan Loved David: Manly Love in the Bible and the Hermeneutics of Sex (Bible in the Modern World 22; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – R. Jost, Gender, Sexualität und Macht in der Anthropologie des Richterbuches (BWANT 164; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2006). – S. T. Kamionkowski, Gender Reversal and Cosmic Chaos: A Study on the Book of Ezekiel (JSOT.S 368; London: Sheffield Academic Press 2003). – C. A. Kirk-Duggan (ed.), Pregnant Passion: Gender, Sex, and Violence in the Bible (SBL Semeia Studies 44; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2003). – S. Macwilliam, “Ideologies of Male Beauty and the Hebrew Bible”, BibInt 17 (2009) 265–287. – V. H. Matthews / B. M. Levinson T. Frymer-Kensky (eds.), Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (JSOT.S 262; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998). – S. Olyan, “‘And with a Male You Shall Not Lie the Lying Down of a Woman’: On the Meaning and Significance of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13”, Journal of the History of Sexuality 5 (1994) 179–206. – A. Pazeraite, “‘Zåkhår and neqebåh he created them.’ Sexual and Gender Identities in the Bible”, Feminist Theology 17 (2008) 92–110. – Y. Peleg, “Love at First Sight? David, Jonathan, and the Biblical Politics of Gender”, JSOT 30 (2005) 171–189. – H. Pyper, “Speaking Silence: Male Readers, Women’s Readings and the Biblical Text”, JLT 8 (1994) 296–310. – D. W. Rooke (ed.), A Question of Sex? Gender and Difference in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond (Hebrew Bible Monographs 17; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2007); Embroidered Garments: Priests and Gender in Biblical Israel (Hebrew Bible Monographs 25; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2009). – D. F. Sawyer, “Disputed Questions in Biblical Studies. 3. A Male Bible?”, ET 112 (2001) 366–369. – J. J. Schmitt, “The Gender of Ancient Israel”, JSOT 26 (1983) 115–125. – D. Seeman, “‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ Cultural Poetics of Gender and Nationhood in the Hebrew Bible”, HTR 91 (1998) 103–125. – K. Stone, “Biblical Interpretation as a Technology of the Self: Gay Men and the Ethics of Reading”, Semeia 77 (1997) 139–155; Sex, Honor and Power in the Deuteronomistic History: A Narratological and Anthropological Analysis (JSOT.S 234; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996). – K. Stone (ed.), Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 334; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2001); Practicing Safer Texts: Food, Sex and Bible in Queer Perspective (London: T. & T. Clark International 2005). – H. C. Washington, “Violence and the Construction of Gender in the Hebrew Bible: A New Historicist Approach”, Biblical Interpretation 5 (1997) 324–363.

Feminist criticism gave rise to a broader concern with the construction of sexuality, both masculine and feminine. Gender is now understood to be a social construction rather than a biological given, and therefore the analysis of gender in the biblical texts is a way of uncovering implicit assumptions of the biblical writers as well of challenging some modern-day assumptions about the roles of men and women in the world. An important form of current gender criticism is

164

David J. A. Clines

queer theory, which explores the theoretical implications of “homosexuality” as an “other” form of sexuality and therewith brings into challenge what is otherwise conceived of as the “normal” or the “normative”.

3.3. Materialist / Political Criticism R. Boer, Marxist Criticism of the Bible (London: T. & T. Clark International 2003); “Twenty-Five Years of Marxist Biblical Criticism”, Currents in Biblical Research 5 (2007) 298–321. – R. Boer / J. Økland (eds.), Marxist Feminist Criticism of the Bible (Bible in the Modern World 14; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008). – R. P. Carroll, “The Myth of the Empty Land”, Semeia 59 (1992) 79–93. – M. Clevenot, Materialist Approaches to the Bible (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1985). – K. Füssel, “Materialist Readings of the Bible: Report on an Alternative Approach to Biblical Texts”, in: God of the Lowly: Socio-Historical Interpretations of the Bible (ed. W. Schottroff / W. Stegemann; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1984), 13–25; “The Materialist Reading of the Bible: Report on an Alternative Approach to Biblical Texts”, in: The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics (ed. N. K. Gottwald; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1983), 116–27. – T. Gorringe, “Political Readings of Scripture”, in: The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation (ed. J. Barton; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1998), 67–80. – N. K. Gottwald, “Literary Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: Retrospect and Prospect”, in: Mappings of the Biblical Terrain: The Bible as Text (ed. V. L. Tollers / J. R. Maier; Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1990), 27–44; “Social Class as an Analytic and Hermeneutical Category in Biblical Studies”, JBL 112 (1993) 3–22; “Social Class and Ideology in Isaiah 40–55: An Eagletonian Reading”, Semeia 59 (1992) 43–57; “The Theological Task after The Tribes of Yahweh”, in: The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics (ed. N. K. Gottwald / R. A. Horsley; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1983), 190–200; The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of Liberated Israel 1050–1250 bc (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1979; repr. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1999). – D. Jobling, “Deconstruction and the Political Analysis of Biblical Texts”, Semeia 59 (1992) 95–127; “Feminism and ‘Mode of Production’ in Ancient Israel: Search for a Method”, in: The Bible and the Politics of Exegesis: Essays in Honor of N. K. Gottwald on his SixtyFifth Birthday (ed. D. Jobling / P. Day / G. T. Sheppard; Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press 1991), 239– 251; “‘Forced Labor’: Solomon’s Golden Age and the Question of Literary Representation”, Semeia 54 (1992) 57–76. – J. M. Kennedy, “Peasants in Revolt: Political Allegory in Genesis 2–3”, JSOT 47 (1990) 3–14. – I. J. Mosala, “A Materialist Reading of Micah”, in: The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics (ed. N. K. Gottwald; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1983), 264–295. – M. R. Sneed (ed.), Concepts of Class in Ancient Israel (South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism 201; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1999), 71–86. – G. H. Wittenberg, “The Ideological/Materialist Approach to the Old Testament”, OTE 7 (1994), 167–172. – G. A. Yee, “‘She is not my wife and I am not her husband’: A Materialist Analysis of Hosea 1–2”, BibInt 9 (2001) 345–383.

As another form of ideological criticism, materialist or political criticism views texts principally as productions, as objects created, like other physical products, at a certain historical juncture within a social and economic matrix. Their literary quality is not the point here, nor is their integration of their material into a meaningful whole. The starting point of this criticism is the belief that texts exist in order to sustain the ideological world in which they are created. More narrowly, materialist criticism analyses texts in terms of their representation of power, especially as they represent, allude to or repress the conflicts of different social classes that stand behind their composition and reception.

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

165

3.4. Postcolonial Criticism R. Boer, Last Stop before Antarctica: The Bible and Postcolonialism in Australia (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2001; 2nd edn., Semeia Studies 64; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2008). – R. Boer / G. West (eds.), A Vanishing Mediator? The Presence/Absence of the Bible in Postcolonialism (Semeia 88; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2001). – M. G. Brett, Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tides of Empire (Bible in the Modern World 16; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008); “The Ethics of Postcolonial Criticism”, Semeia 75 (1996) 219–228. – P. Chia, “Postcolonization and Recolonization. A Response to Archie Lee’s ‘Biblical Interpretation in Postcolonial Hong Kong”, BibInt 7 (1999) 174–181. – B. L. Crowell, “Postcolonial Studies and the Hebrew Bible”, Currents in Biblical Research 7 (2008) 217–244. – L. E. Donaldson / R. S. Sugirtharajah (eds.), Postcolonialism and Scriptural Reading (Semeia 75; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1996). – M. W. Dube, Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible (St Louis: Chalice Press 2000). – W. Johnson, The Holy Seed Has Been Defiled: The Interethnic Marriage Dilemma in Ezra 9–10 (Hebrew Bible Monographs 33; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2011). – U. Y. Kim, Decolonizing Josiah: Toward a Postcolonial Reading of the Deuteronomistic History (Bible in the Modern World 5; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2005); Identity and Loyalty in the David Story: A Postcolonial Reading (Hebrew Bible Monographs 22; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008). – A. C. C. Lee, “Returning to China: Biblical Interpretation in Postcolonial Hong Kong”, BibInt 7 (1999) 156–173. – T.-S. B. Liew (ed.), Postcolonial Interventions: Essays in Honor of R. S. Sugirtharajah (Bible in the Modern World 23; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2009). – T.-S. B. Liew / G. A. Yee (eds.), The Bible in Asian America (Semeia 90–91; Atlanta; Society of Biblical Literature 2002). – J. McKinlay, Reframing Her: Biblical Women in Postcolonial Focus (The Bible in the Modern World 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2004). – J. Miles, Neighbours as the Other in Ancient Israel and the USA (Bible in the Modern World 32; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – S. D. Moore / F. F. Segovia (eds.), Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: Interdisciplinary Intersections (New York: T. & T. Clark International 2005). – M. Prior, The Bible and Colonialism: A Moral Critique (The Biblical Seminar 48; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998). – K. Pui-Lan, Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (London: SCM Press 2004). – S. Scholz, “Hagar, Ruth, and Jezebel as ‘Other’ Women: Integrating Postcolonial Perspectives”, in her: Introducing the Women’s Hebrew Bible (Introductions in Feminist Theology 13; London: T. & T. Clark 2007). – F. F. Segovia, Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 2000). – R. S. Sugirtharajah, Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford UP 2002); Troublesome Texts: The Bible in Colonial and Contemporary Culture (Bible in the Modern World 17; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2008); idem (ed.), The Bible and the Third World: Precolonial, Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2001); idem, The Postcolonial Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998). – C. Vander Stichele / T. Penner (eds.), Her Master’s Tools? Feminist and Postcolonial Engagements of Historical-Critical Discourse (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2005), 159–177. – G. O. West, “Doing Postcolonial Biblical Interpretation @home: Ten Years of (South) African Ambivalence”, Neotestamentica 42 (2008) 147–164 (= “What Difference Does Postcolonial Biblical Criticism Make? Reflections from a (South) African Perspective”, in: Liew [ed.], Postcolonial Interventions [2009], 256–273). – G. O. West (ed.), Reading Other-wise: Socially Engaged Biblical Scholars Reading with their Local Communities (Semeia Studies 62; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2007). – G. A. Yee, “Postcolonial Criticism”, in: Methods for Exodus (ed. T. B. Dozeman; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2010), 193–234. – G. West / M. W. Dube (eds.), “Reading with”: An Exploration of the Interface between Critical and Ordinary Readings of the Bible: African Overtures (Semeia 73; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1996).

Postcolonial theory is the critical scrutiny of the colonial experience from the standpoints both of the formerly colonized and of the former colonizers. By the early twentieth century, 85% of the earth had been dominated by the imperial powers of Europe, and postcolonial theory attempts to theorize the impact of that reality. There is no agreement whether the postcolonial should refer primarily to texts or to practices, to psychological states or to concrete historical processes. What is clear is that imperial ideology has imposed itself upon many

166

David J. A. Clines

diverse cultures, suppressing the indigenous or identifying it as the “other”, that is, as deviance from the imperial norm. Thinking and reading from the postcolonial position uncovers the assumptions of imperial ideology. In biblical studies, postcolonialism is currently focusing upon the ways in which imperial thought is embodied both in the biblical texts and in their traditional interpretations (rendering not only Eurocentric interpretation of the Bible problematic but also the Bible itself), on recovering the suppressed voices of the colonized in the Bible (e.g. the Canaanites), on reading the Bible from the perspective of postcolonial readers with all the unease that reading position engenders, on recovering the Bible’s emancipatory potential when read from a postcolonial perspective, and on probing the experience of “diasporic” interpreters, who are attempting to negotiate between the world of their origin and the alien world in which they now move.

3.5. Minority Criticism H. Avalos / S. J. Melcher / J. Schipper (eds.), This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies (Semeia Studies 55; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2007). – R. C. Bailey (ed.), Yet with a Steady Beat: Contemporary U.S. Afrocentric Biblical Interpretation (Semeia Studies 42; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2003). – R. C. Bailey / T.-S. B. Liew / F. F. Segovia (eds.), They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism (Semeia Studies 57; Leiden: Brill / Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2009). – C. H. Felder (ed.), Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1991). – J. Miles, Constructing the Other in Ancient Israel and the USA (The Bible in the Modern World 32; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – J. Pixley, “Liberation Criticism”, in: Methods for Exodus (ed. T. B. Dozeman; Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2010), 131–162.

Among the latest methods offered to biblical scholars is that of minority criticism, which, in its initial formulations, has taken the perspective of certain minority groups in the USA – African American, Asian American and Latino/a American. Its concerns have been how questions of race and ethnicity, which are never fixed and given but always in process of formation, intersect with notions of class, gender, sexuality, nation, colonialism and empire. There is no reason why this approach should not be applied in many other situations worldwide, as minority groups reach the same level of conscientization or critical consciousness. The recent interest in disability criticism, that is, criticism from the perspective of disabled persons, might be usefully considered another form of minority criticism.

3.6. Cultural Criticism G. Aichele / T. Pippin (eds.), Fantasy and the Bible (Semeia 60; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1992). – A. Bach, Religion, Politics, Media in the Broadband Era (Bible in the Modern World 2; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2004). – B. Britt, Biblical Curses and the Displacement of Tradition (Bible in the Modern World 34; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – J. C. Exum / S. D. Moore (eds.), Biblical Studies / Cultural Studies: The Third Sheffield Colloquium (JSOT.S 266; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998). – L. Jonker (ed.), Global Hermeneutics? Reflections and Consequences (International Voices in Biblical Studies; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2010). – T.-S. B. Liew

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

167

/ G. A. Yee (eds.), The Bible in Asian America (Semeia, 90/91; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2002). – S. D. Moore (ed.), In Search of the Present: The Bible through Cultural Studies (Semeia 82; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 1998). – I. J. Mosala, Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1999). – H. S. Pyper, An Unsuitable Book: The Bible as Scandalous Text (Bible in the Modern World 7; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2005). – H. Räisänen e.a. (eds.), Reading the Bible in the Global Village: Helsinki (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2000). – F. F. Segovia / M. A. Tolbert (eds.), Reading from This Place, I. Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in the United States; II. Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in Global Perspective (2 vols.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1995). – R. S. Sugirtharajah, Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1991). – J. S. Ukpong e.a. (eds.), Reading the Bible in the Global Village: Cape Town (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2002). – V. L. Wimbush, African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures (New York: Continuum 2000).

Cultural criticism of the Bible addresses the Bible’s status as cultural icon and cultural commodity. In biblical studies, cultural criticism seeks to make us aware of the kinds of interaction that take place between the contemporary interpreter and the Bible as the product of a culture quite alien to our own modern or postmodern one, in spite of the manifold ways it has been naturalized. The symbiotic relationship of the Bible and Western culture and the fact that biblical concepts are entering the culture all the time with various meanings being attached to them (a process variously described as hybridization and negotiation) is an important concern of the cultural studies project in biblical studies. One of the emphases of biblical cultural criticism is the establishment of a mutually critical dialogue between the Bible and its cultural appropriations. Such a project could be understood as lending a critical edge to reception criticism when it focusses on contemporary culture. Another important emphasis is on the political, especially the appropriation of the Bible by various groups to serve their purposes (political, social, religious, etc.) – an appropriation made forceful by virtue of the authority granted to the Bible by so many different groups.

3.7. Autobiographical Criticism J. C. Anderson / J. L. Staley (eds.), Taking It Personally: Autobiographical Biblical Criticism (Semeia 72; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1995). – F. C. Black (ed.), The Recycled Bible: Autobiography, Culture, and the Space Between (Semeia Studies 51; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2006). – I. R. Kitzberger, The Personal Voice in Biblical Interpretation (New York: Routledge 1998). – I. R. Kitzberger (ed.), Autobiographical Biblical Criticism: Between Text and Self (Leiden: Deo 2002).

This criticism is the ultimate consequence of the perception that all criticism reflects to some extent at least the situation of the interpreter. Rather than speaking of readers in general (as in reader-response criticism) or identifying the social or scholarly groups to which interpreters belong (as in minority criticism, for example), this criticism consists in tracing the special interpretational perspectives of the individual scholar, as well interpreting the personal situation of the critic in the light of the texts studied. It is of greatest value when the scholar writing autobiographical criticism has an especially distinctive experience that has had a decisive impact on the interpretation offered.

168

David J. A. Clines

3.8. Psychoanalytic Criticism A. Cunningham, “Psychoanalytical Approaches to Biblical Narrative (Genesis 1–4)”, in: A Traditional Quest: Essays in Honour of Louis Jacobs (ed. D. Cohn-Sherbok; JSOT.S 114; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1991), 115–136; “Type and Archetype in the Eden Story”, in: A Walk in the Garden (ed. P. Morris / D. Sawyer; JSOT.S 136; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1992), 290–309. – H. EfthimiadisKeith, The Enemy is Within: A Jungian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Book of Judith (Biblical Interpretation Series 67; Leiden: Brill 2004. – J. H. Ellens / W. G. Rollins (eds.), Psychology and the Bible: A New Way to Read the Scriptures, 1–4 (Westport, CT: Praeger 2004). – J. C. Exum, “Desire Distorted and Exhibited: Lot and his Daughters in Psychoanalysis, Painting, and Film”, in: “A wise and discerning mind”: Essays in Honor of Burke O. Long (ed. S. M. Olyan / R. C. Culley; Brown Judaic Studies 325; Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies 2000), 83–108; “Hagar en procès: The Abject in Search of Subjectivity”, in: From the Margins, 1: Women of the Hebrew Bible and their Afterlives (ed. P. S. Hawkins / L. C. Stahlberg; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2009), 1–16; “Samson’s Women”, in her: Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives (Sheffield: JSOT Press / Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International 1993), 61–93; “Who’s Afraid of the Endangered Ancestress?”, in: her Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives (Sheffield: JSOT Press / Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International 1993), 148–169 (= The New Literary Criticism and the Hebrew Bible [ed. J. C. Exum / D. J. A. Clines; JSOT.S 143; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1993], 91–113). – D. J. Halperin, Seeking Ezekiel: Text and Psychology (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP 1993). – W. van Heerden, “Psychological Interpretations of the Book of Jonah”, OTE 16 (2003), 718–730. – P. Joyce, “Lamentations and the Grief Process: A Psychological Reading”, BibInt 1 (1993) 304–320. – J. Kelso, O Mother, Where Art Thou? An Irigarayan Reading of the Book of Chronicles (London: Equinox 2008). – F. Landy, Beauty and the Enigma: And Other Essays on the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 312; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2001); Paradoxes of Paradise: Identity and Difference in the Song of Songs (Bible and Literature 7; Sheffield: Almond Press 1983; 2nd edn., Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press 2010). – B. Lang, “Lady Wisdom: A Polytheistic and Psychological Interpretation of a Biblical Goddess”, in: A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible: Approaches, Methods and Strategies (ed. A. Brenner; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1997) 400–423. – A. Piskorowski, “In Search of her Father: A Lacanian Approach to Genesis 2–3”, in: A Walk in the Garden (ed. P. Morris / D. Sawyer; JSOT.S 136; Sheffield: JSOT Press 1992), 310–318. – I. Rashkow, Taboo or Not Taboo: Sexuality and Family in the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 2000); The Phallacy of Genesis: A Feminist-Psychoanalytic Approach (Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation; Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox 1993). – D. Reimer, “Good Grief? A Psychological Reading of Lamentations”, ZAW 114 (2002) 542–559. – E. Scheffler, “The Psychological Approach to the (Hebrew) Bible”, OTE 7 (1994) 148–159. – W. Vogels, “The Spiritual Growth of Job: A Psychological Approach”, BTB 11 (1981) 77–80.

A psychoanalytic criticism can take as its focus the authors of texts, the texts themselves, or the readers of the texts. Since authors serve their own psychological needs and drives in writing texts, their own psyches are legitimate subjects of study. It is not often we have access to the psyche of a dead author, but even if little can be said about the interior life of real authors, there is plenty to be inferred about the psyches of the authors implied by the texts. Alternatively, we can uncover the psychology of characters and their relationships within the texts, and ask what it is about the human condition in general that these texts reflect, psychologically speaking. Or we can turn our focus upon empirical readers, and examine the non-cognitive effects that reading our texts have upon them, and construct theoretical models of the nature of the reading process. Just as psychoanalytic theory has shown the power of the unconscious in human beings, so psychoanalytic criticism enables us to search for the unconscious drives embedded within texts and to make the text itself the object of our analysis, putting it in the position of the analyse and in the psychoanalytic process. We can

Contemporary Methods in Hebrew Bible Criticism

169

view texts as symptoms of narrative neuroses, treat them as overdetermined, and speak of their repressions, displacements, conflicts and desires. Psychoanalytic criticism thus offers a valuable tool for dealing with motivation in texts and for explaining textual contradictions, aporias, inconsistencies and incongruities as inevitable results of the complex drives of a conflicted, non-unified textual subject. Important though it may be to analyse discretely the various methods and approaches in contemporary Hebrew Bible scholarship (as has been done in this chapter), it should be stressed finally that the quiet revolution in Hebrew Bible studies they have been bringing about is being effected less by any rigorous methodological precision than by their piecemeal and unsystematic adoption by scholars who find their texts illuminated by them in ways that could hardly have been imagined.

Chapter Thirty-two

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology By Manfred Oeming, Heidelberg General works: I. Fischer/B. Janowski (eds.), Wie biblisch ist die Theologie?, JBTh 25 (2011) [herein especially H. Kessler, “Wie biblisch ist die Systematische Theologie? Kritisch-kreative Traditionsvermittlung in heutigen Kontexten”, 221–240; J. Lauster, “Erfahrungserhellung. Zur Bedeutung der Bibel für die Systematische Theologie”, 207–220; D. Sattler, “Einführung: Wie biblisch ist die Systematische Theologie?”, 203–205; K. Schmid, “Sind die Historisch-kritischen kritischer geworden? Überlegungen zu Stellung und Potenzial der Bibelwissenschaften in der Theologie”, 63–78; J. Schröter, “Wie theologisch ist die Bibelwissenschaft? Reflexionen über den Beitrag der Exegese zur Theologie”, 85–104; Ch. Schwöbel, “Wie biblisch ist die Theologie? Systematisch-theologische Bemerkungen zur Themafrage”, 7–18; H. Weder, “Biblische Theologie. Konturen und Anforderungen aus hermeneutischer Perspektive”, 19–40]. – J. B. Green/M. Turner (eds.), Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids 2000). – F.-L. Hossfeld (ed.), Wieviel Systematik erlaubt die Schrift? Auf der Suche nach einer gesamtbiblischen Theologie (QD 185; Freiburg i.Br. e.a. 2001). – J. Lauster, Prinzip und Methode. Die Transformation des protestantischen Schriftprinzips durch die historische Kritik von Schleiermacher bis zur Gegenwart (HUTh 46; Tübingen 2004). – W. Schlichting, Biblische Denkform in der Dogmatik: Die Vorbildlichkeit des biblischen Denkens für die Methode der Kirchlichen Dogmatik Karl Barths (Zürich 1972). – R. Voderholzer, Die Einheit der Schrift und ihr geistiger Sinn. Der Beitrag Henri de Lubacs zur Erforschung von Geschichte und Systematik christlicher Bibelhermeneutik (Einsiedeln / Freiburg 1998). On Karl Barth (primary sources are not listed): R. Arrandale, “ ‘We are tied to these texts’: Scripture in the work of Karl Barth”, in: J. M. Court (ed.), Biblical Interpretation. The Meanings of Scripture – Past and Present (London: T & T Clark 2003), 233–249. – G. Baumbach, “Was ich bei Karl Barth gelernt habe. Anmerkungen eines Exegeten zu Barths Umgang mit der Heiligen Schrift”, in: idem, Josephus – Jesusbewegung – Judentum. Gesammelte Aufsätze (Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Theologie und Zeitgeschichte, 9; Berlin: Institut Kirche und Judentum 2005 [first:published 1987]), 221–232. – D. Bosworth, “Revisiting Karl Barth’s Exegesis of 1 Kings 13”, Biblical Interpretation 10 (2002) 360–383. – B. Brock, “On Generating Categories in Theological Ethics. Barth, Genesis and the ‘Ständelehre’”, TynB 61 (2010) 45–67. – P. E. Capetz, “The Old Testament as a Witness to Jesus Christ. Historical Criticism and Theological Exegesis of the Bible according to Karl Barth”, JR 90 (2010) 475–506. – P. Chung, “Karl Barth regarding Election and Israel. For Jewish-Christian Mutuality in Interreligious Context”, JRefTh 4,1 (2010) 23–41. – P. Gruson, “La rencontre de Gershom Scholem et de Karl Barth. Une hypothèse impossible? ”, RSR 84 (1996) 373–391. – D. Harink, “Barth’s Apocalyptic Exegesis and the Question of Israel in ‘Römerbrief’, Chapters 9–11”, TJT 125,1 (2009) 5–18. – R. R. Keller, “Karl Barth’s Treatment of the Old Testament as Expectation”, AUSS (1997) 165–179. – B. Klappert, Israel und die Kirche. Erwägungen zur Israellehre bei Karl Barth (TEh 207; Zürich 1980); “‘Daß Jesus ein geborener Jude ist’. Das Judesein Jesu und die Israelwerdung Gottes nach Karl Barth”, in: idem, Miterben der Verheißung. Beiträge zum jüdisch-christlichen Dialog (Neukirchener Beiträge zur systematischen Theologie, 25; Neukirchen-Vluyn 2000), 148–182 [Erstveröffentlichung:1986]. – H. Köckert/W. Krötke (eds.), Theologie als Christologie. Zum Werk und Leben Karl Barths. Ein Symposion (Berlin 1988). – Ch. Landmesser, “Christus und Adam oder Adam und Christus. Anmerkungen zur Auseinandersetzung zwischen Karl Barth und Rudolf

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

171

Bultmann im Anschluss an Röm 5”, ZDT 23 (2007) 153–171. – D. S. Long, “From the Hidden God to the God of Glory. Barth, Balthasar, and Nominalism”, Pro Ecclesia 20 (2011) 167–184. – D. L. Migliore, “Barth and Bloch on Job: A Conflict of Interpretations”, in: J. T. Butler/ E. W. Conrad (eds.) Understanding the Word. Essays in honour of Bernhard Word Anderson (FS B. W. Anderson; JSOT.S 37; Sheffield 1985), 265–280. – P. D. Molnar, “‘Thy Word is Truth’: The Role of Faith in Reading Scripture Theologically with Karl Barth”, SJTh 63 (2010) 70–92. – D. Novak, “Karl Barth on Divine Command: A Jewish Response”, SJTh 54 (2001) 463–483. – J. M. Owen, “Karl Barth and his Advent sermon, 1933”, Colloquium 37 (2005) 3–25. – A. Paddison, “Karl Barth’s Theological Exegesis of Romans 9–11 in the Light of Jewish-Christian Understanding”, JSNT 28 (2006) 469–488. – B. Pottier, “‘La Lettre aux Romains’ de K. Barth et les quatre sens de l’Écriture”, NRTh 108 (1986) 823–844. – K. Schmid, “Karl Barths Schriftauslegung und die Bibelwissenschaft”, ThZ 66 (2010) 332–343. – R. J. Sherman, “Reclaiming a Theological Reading of the Bible. Barth’s Interpretation of Job as a Case Study”, IJST 2 (2000) 175–188. – R. Smend, “Der Exeget und der Dogmatiker – anhand des Briefwechsels zwischen W. Baumgartner und K. Barth”, in: M. Trowitzsch (ed.): Karl Barths Schriftauslegung (Tübingen 1996), 53–72; “Karl Barth als Ausleger der Heiligen Schrift”, Bibel und Wissenschaft. Historische Aufsätze (Tübingen 2004), 199–229 [first publication 1988]. – E. W. Stegemann, “ ‘Kritischer müssen mir die Historisch-Kritischen sein!’ Karl Barth als Exeget in der zweiten Auflage des Römerbriefs”, KuI 27,1 (2012) 3–17. – L. Steiger, “Die Theologie vor der Judenfrage – Karl Barth als Beispiel”, in: R. Rendtorff/E. Stegemann (eds.), Auschwitz – Krise der christlichen Theologie. Eine Vortragsreihe (Abhandlungen zum christlich-jüdischen Dialog, 10; München 1980), 82–98. – J. Thompson, “Holy Scripture and Holy Spirit in the Theology of Karl Barth”, IBSt 2,4 (1980) 193–202. – M. Trowitzsch (ed.), Karl Barths Schriftauslegung (Tübingen 1996). – J. Webster, “In the Shadow of Biblical Work. Barth and Bonhoeffer on Reading the Bible”, TJT 17 (2001) 75–91. – D. Wood, “‘Ich sah mit Staunen’. Reflections on the Theological Substance of Barth’s Early Hermeneutics”, SJTh 58 (2005) 184–198. On Dietrich Bonhoeffer (primary sources are not listed): E. Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (rev. and ed. V. J. Barnett; tr. E. Mosbacher e.a.; Minneapolis 2000), 175–186. – B. Brock, “Bonhoeffer and the Bible in Christian Ethics. Psalm 119, the Mandates, and Ethics as a ‘Way’”, SCE 18 (2005) 7–29. – F. Crüsemann, Das Alte Testament als Wahrheitsraum des Neuen. Die neue Sicht der christlichen Bibel (Gütersloh 2011). – S. Dramm, “Wo die Kirche hätte schreien müssen. Dietrich Bonhoeffer und die Juden”, Orien. 65 (2001) 148–153. – B. Klappert, “Alles menschliche Leben ist durch Stellvertretung bestimmt (D. Bonhoeffer). Oder: Siehe, das Lamm GOTTes, das die Sünde der Welt (er-)trägt (Joh 1,29)”, EvTh 72 (2012) 39–63. – W. Klausnitzer, “Discovering the Presence of Christ in the World. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Contribution to the Discussion on the Authority of the Bible in the Church”, Ecclesiology 2 (2006) 155–166. – A. Klein/M. Geist (eds.), “Bonhoeffer weiterdenken. Zur theologischen Relevanz Dietrich Bonhoeffers (1906–1945) für die Gegenwart, Theologie” (Forschung und Wissenschaft, 21, Münster 2006). – M. Kriessler, “Barmens fehlende These. Mit Bonhoeffer auf dem Weg zu einer Kirche und Theologie nach dem Holocaust”, DtPfrBl 109 (2009) 421–424. – P. D. Miller, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Psalms”, in: idem, Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology. Collected Essays (JSOT.S 267; Sheffield 2000), 345–354 [first publication 1994]. – B. Schroven, Theologie des Alten Testaments zwischen Anpassung und Widerspruch. Christologische Auslegung zwischen den Weltkriegen (Neukirchen 1995). – G. N. Paulson, “The Use of Qoheleth in Bonhoeffer’s ‘Ethics’”, Word and World 18 (1998) 307–313. – H. Süselbeck, “‘Es gehen mir täglich mehr Rätsel auf’. Dietrich Bonhoeffer und die Bibel”, DtPfrBl 104 (2004) 344–348 (= G. Brakelmann/ T. Jähnichen [eds.], Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Stationen und Motive auf dem Weg in den politischen Widerstand, [Zeitansage, 2; Münster 2005], 75–88). – J. Webster, “‘In the Shadow of Biblical Work’: Barth and Bonhoeffer on Reading the Bible”, TJT 17 (2001) 75–91. – E. G. Wendel, Studien zur Homiletik Dietrich Bonhoeffers (HUTh 21, Tübingen 1985). – S. Winter, “Word and world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Biblical Interpretation today”, Pacifica 25 (2012) 161–175. – R. K. Wüstenberg, “Glauben als Leben. Dietrich Bonhoeffer und die nichtreligiöse Interpretation biblischer Begriffe”, FZPhTh 42 (1995) 367– 381. On Hans Urs von Balthasar (primary sources are not listed): H. H. Henrix, “Israel ist seinem Wesen nach formale Christologie. Die Bedeutung von H. U. v. Balthasar für F.-W. Marquardts Christologie”, BThZ 10 (1993) 135–153. – K.-J. Kuschel, “Theologen und ihre Dichter. Analysen zur Funktion der Literatur bei Rudolf Bultmann und Hans Urs von Baltasar”, ThQ 172 (1992) 98– 116. – D. S. Long, “From the Hidden God to the God of Glory. Barth, Balthasar, and Nominalism”,

172

Manfred Oeming

in: Pro ecclesia 20 (2011) 167–184. – J. Schelhas, Christozentrische Schriftauslegung: Hans Urs von Balthasar und Karl Barth im Vergleich (Freiburg 2012), 75–248. – V. Spangenberg, Herrlichkeit des Neuen Bundes. Die Bestimmung des biblischen Begriffs der „Herrlichkeit“ bei Hans Urs von Balthasar (Tübingen 1993).

1. Preliminary Remarks According to my theory of understanding1 four factors are involved in every process of interpretation: 1. The author, who aims to communicate an insight or experience from his world; 2. the text, which at least partially contains what the author intended to communicate; 3. the reader, who initiates contact to the author and his world by dealing with the text and its world (it remains to be seen whether modern readers of an ancient text are even capable of re-actualising the intention of the author, or whether they are doomed by the “abyss of history” to mistake the written intention within the context of their own interests); 4. the subject matter to which the author, text and reader are related to. Graphically, we can portray this situation as follows: Subject Matter as the Reality behind the text

Authors and their Words

Readers and their Worlds

Texts and their Worlds Whenever Systematic Theology turns its attention towards the interpretation of the Old Testament, she does not expound historic questions about the authors or their worlds. Rather, she develops insights on the text as text or on the reception of texts in the course of church history. Primarily and above all, her topic is “appropriateness”: Orientation towards the matter, i.e. the word of God, is more important than the individual character of the biblical author, their recipients, or the texts themselves. That is the reason why theological bible interpretation explicitly poses the question of general truth, or, more precisely: What is true for the present? The influence of the Old Testament on such a theology, which

1

M. Oeming, Contemporary Biblical Hermeneutics. An Introduction (Aldershot 2006), 7 f.

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

173

is oriented towards a present validity, was enormous during the entire history of Christianity, since the Old Testament-Jewish heritage presented each dogmatics with substantial problems: How can the relationship between Israel and the Church be defined? What is the new salvation that was bestowed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? In other words: What is the central and relevant theme of the faith in Christ when faced with the revelation of God that is testified in the Old Testament? On which hermeneutical premises is a legitimate Christian understanding of Scripture that does not talk about Jesus Christ based? Pointed, A. H. J. Gunneweg described the “hermeneutical problem of the Old Testament not only as one, but as the problem of Christian theology”.2 What is the relevance of the Old Testament in the twentieth century Systematic Theology? It is not enough to determine how often the Old Testament is cited in Christian dogmatics of the last century. Such a statistic of citations is a very superficial indicator. One also has to take the breadth of the diversification into account. Further, it is necessary to examine to what extent the Old Testament is able to state its own message, instead of ‘only’ being used as decorative illustration of Christian dogmatics. Also, one has to observe diligently, if and where the Old Testament is playing a negative role within the scope of dogmatics (even if the authors try to conceal it) and serves only as a horizon or dark background for the respective author, from which he tries to distance himself and seeks to depict the Christian as a “higher” level. To really speak of a ‘significance’ of the Old Testament for dogmatic thought, the dogmatics must be shaped positively by the Old Testament in its core. In light of the vast amount of twentieth century dogmatic concepts, this article cannot aspire to be an encyclopedia of the use of Scripture in all these portrayals of Christian belief in the twentieth century. It is meant to be a selection, by means of which the significance of the Old Testament is discussed in an exemplary fashion. To meet the selection criteria, the following attributes had to be fulfilled: First, the theologian to be analyzed had to be a systematic theologian, not a ‘systematizing’ exegete like Rudolf Bultmann, who was primarily a biblical scholar. Second, a complete oeuvre of the eligible person should be able to be assessed, whereby systematic theologians that are still alive, e.g. Michael Welker or Wolfhardt Pannenberg, who both have rendered outstanding services to biblical theology, were inapplicable. And finally, the theologians should have had a broad impact on theological thinking, which is why so important figures like Carl Heinz Ratschow3 or Kornelis H. Miskotte4 cannot be considered in more detail. If one also wishes to take account a balanced confessional plurality, then it is at least necessary to choose representative Reformed, Lutheran and Roman-Catholic authors for analysis. After assessing the frequency and breadth of diversification of the use, the rootedness of the authors in the Old Testament and their reception history, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans Urs von Balthasar were chosen as adequate examples. 2

A. H. J. Gunneweg, Understanding the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster Press 1978),

5 2. 3 4

C. H. Ratschow, Von den Wandlungen Gottes (BSTh; Berlin 1986), esp. 117–139. K. H. Miskotte, When the Gods are Silent (London 1967).

174

Manfred Oeming

2. Karl Barth Through the course of his life, Karl Barth (1886–1968) made many and varied efforts in his theological reflections to convey a sense of the reality of and truth about God in the face of all forms of human distortion, abuse, and instrumentalization. Depending on historical circumstances and his diverse dialogue partners, Barth continually rethought his position on the Old Testament, which led to various restatements over time.5 During his studies in Basel, Berlin, Tübingen, and Marburg he was engaged in battles with liberal theology and its at times intense denigration of the Old Testament (as in the work of Adolf von Harnack, for example), while his approach changed clearly when he began to wrestle with the ‘social question’ as a pastor-in-training in Geneva and as pastor in Safenwil (1909–1921). As the leader of the new theological movement of ‘Dialectical Theology’, from the second edition of his Commentary on Romans (1922) onwards, he developed new lines of argument. This was especially true in his fight against the Deutsche Christen, the church party that tolerated or supported National Socialism and made rigorous attempts to rid the Church of anything Jewish. As a professor in Göttingen, Münster, and Bonn (1921–1935), and then Basel as of 1935, Barth defended the Old Testament vigorously with christological arguments. In dialogue with communist thought after World War II, he emphasized the transformative power of the prophetic writings, and his late work even led to a rapprochement with the natural knowledge of God in OT wisdom traditions. Barth’s interaction with the Old Testament took quite different forms. He rarely preached on OT texts, except in his later years, but there is a continuous and multi-faceted interaction with it in his academic writings, especially in the small print excursuses of his Church Dogmatics (CD, 1932–1967, unfinished). That the truth of God is revealed exclusively in Jesus Christ emerged as the main theme. In other words, the Old Testament was supposed to unfold its meaning and truth within the framework of a christological, Christ-centered interpretation of Scripture. His reading of the Old and New Testaments [treats the Biblical texts] as a canonically interconnected whole. The Bible is read as a single text, theologically interdependent, which bears the communication of the Holy One. For Barth, this is a theological reality to be confessed, not a historical judgment to be tested in the fires of criticism.6

Thus two theological methods merge in Barth: Theology is exegesis, and exegesis is doctrinal theology. His modus operandi is a doctrinal interpretation of Scripture, with exegesis as the guiding discipline, at least in theory. But exegesis needs to do justice to its subject matter, which rules out a one-sided historical exegesis. R. Smend speaks of a “post-critical interpretation of Scripture”,

5 This even includes corrections of previous positions, as Klappert demonstrates with regard to Barth’s views on Israel (B. Klappert 1986/2000). 6 K. Green-McCreight, “‘A Type of the One to Come’: Leviticus 14 and 16 in Barth’s Church Dogmatics”, in: Thy Word is Truth: Barth on Scripture (ed. G. Hunsinger; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2012), 67–85, 67.

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

175

although perhaps a “truly critical interpretation of Scripture” would be an even more appropriate description. A certain degree of eisegesis cannot be avoided, if interpretation is to be appropriate to its referent. Unlike Rudolf Bultmann, Barth did not seek demythologization, but remained faithful to biblical modes of thought. He also ignored the Jewish character of the Old Testament and saw its extensive literary spectrum exclusively in close correlation with the witness to Christ.

There are several studies of Barth’s hermeneutics,7 including monographs,8 which vary in their evaluation of his exegesis. Among others, Krötke9 and Klappert10 bring the positive meaning of the Old Testament for Barth to the fore, while many specialized exegetes have been especially critical of his work, as have some theologians.11 Against the critique of historical specialists, Barth asserts, “The critical historian needs to be more critical”.12 One can understand only that to which one adheres! Hermeneutics cannot be limited to the aspects of author, text, and recipient, but need to include the subject matter. The truth question is part of the task of understanding. At this place the extensive analysis of Otto Bächli entitled Das Alte Testament in der Kirchlichen Dogmatik von Karl Barth will be presented as a classic overview. According to Bächli, Barth cannot be claimed by any particular school of thought as his only principle of interpretation is scriptura scripturae interpres, Scripture is its own interpreter. This principle commits him to the “biblical mode of thought”, causing him to refer also to similar passages both in the Old and the New Testament in interpreting a particular passage. Accordingly, the excursuses in CD offer multi-thematic overviews of single books, presentations of several books looking at individual issues, as well as larger sections of thematic continuity. This led to the accusation that he only presents a broad sweep “concordance and summary exegesis”.13 As the biblical texts are not in anyone’s possession, Barth is often labeled biblicistic or even “fundamentalist” (Schoch) or “almost fundamentalist” (Gloege).14 This although Barth is at pains to bring to the fore the specific message of the text under discussion, even if he often attributes too much weight to one individual aspect within a text. He repeatedly interrogates a text or several texts from the perspective of theology or ethics. At the same time he cannot conceal the problems inherent in such subsumption, and the texts continues to resist such attempts at least a little. For example, exemplifying “The Falsehood … of Man” (CD IV.3, Sect. 70), or the lie characteristic of the human person, with reference to Job, of all books, makes sense only if

7 Lauster, Prinzip und Methode (2004), Ch. 5: Prinzip statt Methode: Karl Barths Erneuerung des reformatorischen Schriftprinzips (“Principle Replacing Method: Karl Barth’s Renewal of the Scriptural Principle of the Reformers”), 258–76; Schmid, Karl Barths Schriftauslegung (2010). 8 The study Christozentrische Schriftauslegung: Hans Urs von Balthasar und Karl Barth im Vergleich by J. Schelhas is in particular worthy of mention (Freiburg e.a.: Herder 2012), 249–405 (also for further literature). 9 W. Krötke, “Karl Barth als Ausleger der Heiligen Schrift”, in: Köckert/Krötke, Theologie als Christologie (1988), 9–37. 10 Klappert, Israel und die Kirche (1980). 11 According to Lauster, the method of biblical prooftexting is in fact a variation of the allegoric interpretation. 12 K. Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (Oxford e.a.: Oxford UP 1968), 8. 13 O. Bächli, Das Alte Testament in der Kirchlichen Dogmatik von Karl Barth (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 1987), 101. 14 Bächli, ibid. 109.

176

Manfred Oeming

other prominent themes of the book are not eclipsed. Bächli observes that Barth found the biblical archeology of W. F. Albright, A. Alt, K. Galling, M. Noth, and E. Sellin unimportant. In a similar vein, comparative religious history was of only minor interest to Barth. While the historical-critical method, in contrast to the non-academic Patristic exegesis, sees a primary achievement in establishing parallels between biblical texts and their non-biblical environment, with the latter providing an invaluable commentary, Barth disagreed: relying on such parallels would not allow the Biblical texts their own say. As he addressed the Church and its theologians as his primary audience rather than the academy, the work of W. Vischer, W. Eichrodt, and G. von Rad meant much more to him than that of other exegetical specialists (CD I.2, 79 f). Barth was not interested in history for its own sake, but in faith within history. He also reacted sharply against a historical-psychological interpretation that made what he saw as futile attempts to peer into the hearts of the biblical authors. Neither did he see it as appropriate to draw on biblical texts for an exercise in textual criticism, nor for the task of historical reconstruction or for analyses based on depth-psychology. Instead, biblical texts bear testimony to God’s truth. Thus, exegesis must be theological exegesis. For that reason the true task of biblical exegesis only becomes clear at that point when most strict interpreters consider their work done. Barth’s theological exegesis assigns central importance to the concept of canon.15 The decision for or against the Old Testament canon in its entirety was at the same time a decision about the true or the false Church (CD I.2, 597 f). Barth considers recognition or rejection of the canon a status confessionis, a crucial decision about something non-negotiable. As the Church acknowledges that the New Testament holds fast to the Old, by the same token it refuses all docetism (CD IV.1, 168). Any time the theological authority of the Old Testament is under attack, docetism is an acute threat.16 “The church honors the Old Testament and the New Testament as its canon and Holy Scripture and by the same token proves to be a knowledgeable, conscientious, courageous, obedient, and believing church”.17 Barth’s understanding of history is fundamental: With reference to Deut 32 he seeks to portray Israel’s history as a history of suffering (CD IV.1, 174). For Barth, this perspective on Israel’s history results from its telos – it is interpreted christologically.18 He sees Jesus Christ as the subject of history (Bächli, ibid. 133). In the sphere of the Old Testament, the question of the goal of Israel’s history, of the ultimate purpose behind the prophetic message remains unanswered. Israel’s history – see especially the overviews in Ezekiel – is “the consistent effect of Yahweh’s work … Yahweh speaks in the events of this history and thus in his acts … Israel’s history is … the effect of Yahweh’s work”. It is revelation and nonetheless it is “inscrutable” in that “what transpired and what happened [i.e., in the sphere of the Old Testament] points to somewhere beyond itself” (ibid. 122). Barth sub15

Bächli, ibid. 84. Bächli, ibid. 114 f. 17 Ibid. 90. 18 W. Dantine criticizes this as ambiguous. Moreover, according to Dantine, the intellectual underpinnings of Barth’s concept of history lack clarification, and Barth’s characterization of history as salvation history is a Christian encroachment on other concepts of history; see Bächli, ibid. 117 f (with numerous references to various critiques of Barth’s concept of history). 16

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

177

divides Israel’s history from Adam to Christ into four periods, thus straddling the boundary between a philosophy of history and a theology of salvation history (ibid. 126). Israel’s history is an exemplary event of universal significance (ibid. 180, n. 23). Like Vischer, also Barth argues that it is not about individual messianic passages. Instead, in its entirety, Israel’s history tends towards the consummation taking place in Jesus Christ: Even if we are not dealing with a “proper type, an adequate prefiguration of Jesus Christ’s prophecy”, even if the prophets are nothing but “messengers running ahead of the divine act of reconciliation which perfects the covenant” – “we would miss the forest for the trees if we were to negate that … we do have to take quite seriously the Old Testament witness as an authentic anticipation of the prophecy of Jesus Christ” (ibid. 128). The Spirit of prophecy is continually at work in the Church, according to Barth, but it also testifies continually that the commission of the congregation is to be carried out by facing towards society. This would be the “prophetic existence of the church”. The individual Christian and the entire Church mediate true understanding; they are messengers of the word of God for society and the world. There can be no arcane disciplines as the Word, through the sermon, calls for concrete practical application through the Church’s acts and in its political responsibility. The Psalms take place within a “Messianic setting” and convey “the witness to God’s kingdom so powerfully given in the life and acts of David” (CD IV.3, 579). Taken together, the prophets are of universal significance, in contrast to each one individually (Bächli, ibid. 129). Barth’s understanding of Wisdom literature is rooted in canonical exegesis, i.e., his interpretation is based on a synchronic reading (on Job, see below). Barth struggles with this as he suspects the dangers of natural theology (ibid. 238). According to F. W. Marquart, the fact that Barth’s theology is thoroughly political results from his deeper, more intimate understanding of the Old Testament. Apart from his encompassing concepts in the interpretation of history, the prophets, the Psalms, and Wisdom literature, Barth’s exegesis can more appropriately be called “local exegesis”, i.e., he selects texts that relate to a particular doctrinal tenet.19 Bächli highlights several of these topics, such as the problem of death. According to Barth, the Old Testament describes death in negative terms throughout, as a sign of divine judgment, a consequence of the human confrontation with God (ibid. 159). This also indicates the limitations of the Old Testament: “In Barth’s judgment it cannot provide exhaustive information about the reality of ending time” (ibid. 160). Scriptural proof supporting the hope of resurrection can only be found in the younger parts of the Old Testament. The texts do not speak of a renewal and continuation of life. Death is discussed along with Satan and the forces of chaos. The Old Testament is characterized by the absence

19 This is the reason for the criticism of “summary exegesis” (Bächli, ibid. 154), which G. Gloege (ibid. 161 f) interprets as an expression of a biblicism postulating a unified Scriptural codex free of contradictions. Konrad objects that Barth does not interpret the Scripture reference in context; instead he merely lists Scriptures uncritically and fails to do justice to tensions within the Bible. However, this is in contradiction to Barth’s own hermeneutics, according to which proper exegesis must be determined by its subject matter (ibid. 162). H. Gollwitzer views Barth’s Biblical interpretation positively as a “listening to Scripture in a concordant manner” (ibid.).

178

Manfred Oeming

of an independent deity of death that would compete with Yahweh for power. No one other than God is to be feared from first to last. Barth’s last statements on the subject of ‘ending time’ [CD III.2, Sect. 47.5] especially make clear that his remark about the ‘the fringe’ of the Old Testament witness [CD III.2, 619] is not a historical but a theological statement that is then supplemented in excursuses on the New Testament that transcend the Old Testament (Bächli, ibid. 161).

Another relevant example is the typological and christological interpretation of the temple cult in Lev 14 and 16 (CD II.2). The elect individual in the Old Testament … is always a witness to Jesus Christ, and is indeed a type of Christ Himself. It is He, Jesus Christ, who is originally and properly the elect individual. All others can be this only as types of Him, only as His prototypes or copies … In this sense, Jesus Christ is each of the four creatures in Lev 14 and 16.20

“The final word of all exegesis” is “indeed also here the name Jesus Christ” (Bächli, 172 f).21 Bächli summarizes Barth’s critique of Neoprotestantism: We will have to say that the congregation woke up first, before the Old Testament exegesis. Only after the church found its footing again did the theologians. Old Testament scholars such as Eichrodt, von Rad, Vischer, and others saw the indications of change and changed course, each in his own way, from which Barth profited as well (ibid. 323 f). Without tremendous external pressure this understanding of the central importance of the Old Testament for the Christian faith would not have come to be. Transcending Bächli, Johannes Schelhas analyzed Karl Barth’s understanding of the Old Testament in exemplary fashion from the perspective of doctrinal and fundamental theology. In a comprehensive approach, he expounds: According to Karl Barth, the christocentric interpretation of the Old Testament is a test case of faith. Foregoing such interpretation in any way would do great harm to the Christian recognition of revelation in the church and in academic theology. Any formally non-christocentric interpretation – whether it be non-doctrinal, Jewish, or from a history of religions perspective – would no longer be Christian, for it has fundamentally left behind the principle that its understanding was and is strictly due to revelation … The Old Testament is witness to Christ, both in formal regard due to its transcendent source and temporally since its perceptible beginnings.22

The Example of Job23 A particular example can illustrate with greater precision what has been said so far in the general overview. Barth discusses the entire book of Job in surprising detail, offering an exegesis of each of passage, even if presented in four subsections of different length in CD IV.3 − Helmut Gollwitzer appropriately edited this commentary on Job in an independent volume.24 Barth introduces Job within 20

CD II.2, 364. See also Green-McCreight, “A Type of the One to Come”. W. Baumgartner asked Barth not to expect him to support this exegesis. Indeed Barth did not insist on Baumgartner’s loyalty (Baumgartner’s letter to Barth from July 16, 1942; Barth’s reply July 18, 1942). 22 Schelhas, Christozentrische Schriftauslegung (2012), 404 f. 23 Migliore, Barth and Bloch on Job (1985), 265–280; Sherman, Reclaiming a theological reading of the Bible (2000), 175–188. 24 Karl Barth, Hiob (ed. H. Gollwitzer; Biblische Studien 49; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1964). References to this volume are indicated with Gollwitzer’s name. Embarrassingly, Gollwitzer omits the entire section on Job 42:7 ff (CD IV.3, 453–461) that discusses God’s condemnation of Job’s 21

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

179

the theological locus of the doctrine of reconciliation, a striking and unconventional decision. Barth complements soteriology by elaborating on its counterpart, hamartiology, or the doctrine of sin. Sect. 70, “The Falsehood and Condemnation of Man”, comprises an interpretation of Job. Barth considers the human person Jesus Christ as the true witness. Barth sees in the book of Job “testimony to the reconciliation between God and humanity as it endures, and finally even overcomes, the most radical contrast and the deepest hiddenness.” (Gollwitzer, 23) On the one hand, Job is not a historical figure, but a legendary didactic personification, as it were, which serves as an example of God’s free election and sovereign disposal: Job is the free servant of the free God. On the other hand, Job is “witness to Jesus Christ.” Vischer’s influence is clearly visible at this point. The intention of the christological interpretation of the Old Testament is to secure an abiding role for it; this strategy means to affirm the value of Israel’s Bible by bringing it into close connection with God’s word, i.e., Jesus Christ. Barth argues that he chose Job for this theological aspect and not another figure – James or Peter would have been likely candidates, for example – because he was reluctant to draw again and again on the same biblical texts when “indicating the actual sources” of his theology. Barth subdivides the book into three parts: 1. The story of the “good-pleasure” (CD IV.3, 382) between God and the human person (framework narrative Job 1, 2; Gollwitzer, 31–40): Job is not an Israelite but is from the land of Uz. In other words, God elects whoever God wills, even outside of Israel. God blesses those whom God elects. That is the reason for Job’s wealth. Job is the “type of Jesus Christ” due to his relationship to God and God’s relationship to him. The suffering righteous one is not illustrated with Moses, Jeremiah, or the Suffering Servant, but with Job! 2. The hiddenness of the good pleasure (Job 3–37; Gollwitzer, 41–46): The main issue is not Job, but God, more specifically: the hidden God (deus absconditus). “Without being unfaithful to Job, God has exercised His freedom towards him by reducing to the cheerless minimum of actual preservation the blessing” (CD IV.3, 405). 3. The overcoming of God’s hiddenness (Job 38–42; Gollwitzer, 65–93): The goal of the divine speeches is Job’s recognition and embrace of Yahweh’s freedom. According to Barth, the book of Job reveals the essence of sin, which consists in the wrong human response to God’s gift of grace, more specifically in the denial, the misunderstanding of, and the more or less direct hostility towards God’s promise. The most important variety of sin is the human lie. By contrast, Jesus Christ is the mediator and the witness of truth. Barth’s commentary on Job is theological rather than strictly historical-critical in nature. While keeping in mind theories from literary criticism, his interest lies primarily with the canonical shape of the book. From the very start Barth understands Job as “the true witness”, just as Jesus Christ is the true witness par excellence. Thus, Barth ties Job closely to Christ. Job is aware that in everything that happens to him he is facing God, even if deep down he does not know in what sense he is facing God. Barth bases his interpretation of profound knowlfriends. There are three varieties of sin: pride, sloth, and falsehood (Hochmut, Trägheit, Lüge). In Barth’s eyes, the discourses of Job’s friends illustrate the sin of falsehood, or lie. Their lies consist of setting up “a theoretical and practical system of truth” (CD IV.3, 436).

180

Manfred Oeming

edge accompanied by simultaneous ignorance on linguistic observations: That Job knows he faces God in all suffering becomes clear from the fact that he always turns directly to the personal God rather than drawing any intermediate metaphysical conclusions about Satan or a theological determinism. Significantly, Job curses the day of his birth, but not God. He suffers terribly from the fact that he does not understand God. Yet this suffering does not terminate the relationship, but accounts for its dynamic transformation. According to Barth, Job’s fault is not that he laments and argues with God, but rather that he demands that God return to God’s former friendly, trustworthy attitude, as if God were at Job’s disposal, as if God were Job’s own God. Here the human freedom to speak comes into sharp conflict with God’s freedom to evade human speech. Barth quotes Goethe, comparing Job with the boatman who, about to crash against a rock, finds safety precisely by holding on tight to the very same rock. By contrast, Job’s restitution in 42:7 ff is of secondary interest to Barth. The mere fact that God speaks is decisive instead; that is God’s proper activity. In God’s answer to Job, the point is that God claims freedom from Job. Thus the circle closes as it opened, namely, with man’s liberation by and for the free God: by the free God, since it is He who is the Witness speaking against Job yet [even more so] for him; and for the free God, since Job, set in the wrong by Him yet [even more so] in the right, proves to be the faithful witness of this God (CD IV.3, 434).

Barth considers Job’s friends “agents of Satan” (CD IV.3, 454) since they follow an ideology in trying to impose limits on God’s freedom and capture God by means of a system. Although their role is to be Job’s friends, their speeches are based on lies. Barth casts his judgment over the friends in a dialectical framework: While right in a peculiar sense, they are ultimately wrong; while Job is wrong in a peculiar sense, but ultimately right. In isolation, the legalistic opinions of the friends are not wrong, as they point to God’s omnipotence, human guilt, as well as God’s right to judge, and insist on the sinner’s repentance. Their speeches emulate the good example of the prophets. Nonetheless, Job feels ignored and mocked by their doctrines of wisdom. Job refuses all discussion and answers with sneer and ridicule, even though their pronouncements may potentially be quite right. Barth accounts for this with the idea that, in this encounter, two different systems of orientation clash. “They speak the truth in their situation, but he in his can only treat it as falsehood and therefore reject it” (CD IV.3, 456). The friends’ argument amounts to an encroachment as they claim God’s authority: “those who imagine that they can think and speak from the standpoint of God, may be very right in what they say, as the friends of Job were right, but they are also grossly wrong. They think and speak in the garb of truth, but in this garb they think and speak untruth” (CD IV.3, 457). God’s truth can only be spoken when God and the human person meet in freedom. By contrast, the friends cage God in a rigid system of order, which knows nothing of God’s freedom. That is their lie. In this respect, Barth’s exegesis of Job is a classic piece of theological biblical interpretation as he pursues the question of truth not simply as an idle piece of literary history in an ivory tower. Yahweh has the cosmos itself give testimony,

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

181

which remains a mystery in its details to Job, even though it is nothing less than his home. However, only Job himself is supposed to draw the ultimate conclusion that infers God’s freedom from the particular properties of the world. That is the decisive factor, as Job does not become a free person other than through this mature, independent conclusion. The open-ended character of God’s speech is the condition for Job’s liberation to embrace the freedom of God. As God turns to Job and decides to get involved with him, God chooses to be Yahweh for Job, as it were. Thus the particular achievement of Barth as a theologian of Dialectical Theology is precisely in the dialectic development in which the human person ultimately faces a God who, rather than having to reciprocate human deeds with their appropriate consequences, is open to a new beginning and freely loves the human person. The question must be raised, however, if Barth’s interpretation is indeed right. That God is free to do what God wants, rather than being compelled by a moral straightjacket to reciprocate good with good and evil with evil, also implies many problems. Can I even trust a God who is “free” in this sense? How do we tell the difference between God’s freedom and God’s caprice? If God is free to kill Job’s children indiscriminately, bring sickness and misery on him and expose him to persecution, are we then still facing a loving God? In Barth’s interpretation, Job’s pain and anger do not cease as if Job is at peace; instead, they appear justified. Barth – as is the case with many specialists in exegesis – simply ignores the aspect that Job was put to a test and that he proved himself in the ordeal. Implicitly, Job 42 is often edited out of the book.

3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) did not hold a significant position, neither a renowned chair nor an important church capacity. During his lifetime, he rather stood in the background – and still he rose to one of the most famous and influential contemporary theologians after World War II. The main reason for this was his personal witness as a martyr: He took on the ultimate consequence for his positions and died for his cause. Many of his last utterances in the death cell have the character of charismatic visions, particularly as they are often enigmatic and in need of interpretation. If one tries to name his basic theological intention, one can say that Bonhoeffer’s theological effort was mainly focused on the relationship between Christianity and worldliness – in constant retrospective dependence to the Bible. While he, during his early phase (Sanctorum communion, 1930; Act and Being, 1931), initially as a Christian wanted to be a pacifist, his theological emphasis shifted during his middle phase (Discipleship, 1937; Life Together, 1939) and he strove more towards highlighting in general what it means to take the Bible seriously in this world. He tried, again and again,25 to connect the reality of this world with the images of the Bible and to “fill” the reality with ethical suggestions from 25 Maybe this is a reflection of practices that already the young Bonhoeffer execises as a child together with his twin sister Sabine. Accordingly „war es für die jungen Geschwister bedeutsam, die ihnen überkommenen Begriffe christlicher Glaubenstradition mit eigenen und konkreten Vorstellungen zu füllen“, Süselbeck, Es gehen mir… (2004), 78.

182

Manfred Oeming

Scripture. The person that wants to meet the full force of biblical texts needs to have inner and outer discipline. Scripture fosters the ability to permit and endure those traumas that are a result of their comprehension, and not to ignore them. The one who withdraws oneself from their practical exercise and implementation, is at risk to merely functionalize biblical testimony in an affirmative way or virtually eliminate through narrow-mindedness. Bonhoeffer raised this problem self-critically on a youth conference, when he reproached the participants and himself: “We no longer read the Bible seriously. We read it no longer against ourselves, but for ourselves“ (DBWE 11, 377 f ). He countered this improper handling of Scripture with a praxis similar to spiritual exercises, which he outlined for his students in the Winter term of 1931/32 with the following key points: “Receiving it, allowing oneself to be addressed. To be silent in the domain of the church. Letting go of oneself […] practiced by reading the Bible, by meditation, by prayer”.26 In comparison with the chaos that reigned in the Weimar Republic, and above all the decline of values under the Nazi regime, he advocated the regulative force of the Old Testament, which he took as a model for commandment, law, and criterion for discipline and love in families, as well as for order, obedience, and justice in the state. It is fair to say that Bonhoeffer’s understanding had a lot more in common with Bucer and Calvin – even if he was a Lutheran: The Old Testament was equivalent to the New and is, as word of God, the decisive moral principle for the present age.27 In the question of the right, or even the obligation for political resistance, Bonhoeffer’s position is more characteristic for a Reformed than Lutheran theology. Beginning in 1939, he went deliberately and joined the armed resistance against Hitler, was consequently imprisoned, and on April 9th 1945 assassinated in the Flossenbürg concentration camp. In his later writings which were published posthumously (Ethics, 194928; Letters and Papers from Prison, 195129, both in the original German version edited by E. Bethge) he discovered the unity of God’s reality and the reality of the world, which is realized in Jesus Christ. Foundational is the experience “that one only learns to have faith by living in the full this-worldliness of life[”.]30 His program that religion and Christianity are not identical led to sometimes enigmatic sketch-

26

In a speech to students 1932, DBWE 12, 232. Concerning a reformed understanding of Scripture cf. Gunneweg, Understanding the Old Testament (1978), 109: “Contributory factors were Calvin’s understanding of scripture, Melanchthon’s view that, in principle, for Christians the Old and New Testaments had equal status, and finally the orthodox doctrine of inspiration which was applied to Old and New Testaments alike: Of course, the law no longer found fulfilment in the church as an institution for salvation organized along the lines of the law – this was the understanding of the Roman Catholic church (and the Eastern church, while differing, nevertheless saw itself in much the same light). It was now fulfilled in daily life and in practical sanctification, works which were well-pleasing to God. Granted, these works did not make a man righteous before God; justification was the force which made sanctifying action possible for him”. 28 Bonhoeffer, Ethik (ed. I. Tödt/H. E. Tödt/E. Feil/C. Green; DBW 6; München 1992; ET: Fortress 2008; here: DBWE 6). 29 Edited and commented by Ch. Gremmels, Gesamtausgabe (abbr. DBW), Vol. 8 (Gütersloh 1998; ET: Fortress 2010; here: DBWE 8). 30 Brief vom 21. 7. 1944 (DBWE 8, 486). 27

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

183

es over a non-religious Christianity and the non-religious interpretation of biblical notions.31 A generic example can be found in his interpretation of the Decalogue in Bonhoeffer’s Ethics: He employed the Ten Commandments in the sense of a Usus elenchticus legis. The Decalogue calls all believers into the realization of sins and the communal confession of sin. When faced with God’s claims the debt of the individual becomes apparent:32 “The church confesses that it has not professed openly and clearly enough its message of the one God, revealed for all times in Jesus Christ and tolerating no other gods besides. […] The church was mute, when it should have cried out, because the blood of the innocent cried out to heaven. […] It did not resist to the death the falling away from faith[…]” (138). “The church confesses that it has misused the name of Christ. […] The church has looked on while injustice and violence have been done, under the cover of the name of Christ” (138). “The church confesses it is guilty of the loss of holidays, […] as well as for their [the workers’] exploitation above and beyond the workweek” (139). “The church confesses that it is guilty of the breakdown of parental authority. […] It has not dared to proclaim the God-given dignity of parents against revolutionary youth. […] Thus it is guilty of destroying countless families […,] of the self-divinizing of youth, and therefore of abandoning them to fall away from Christ” (139). “The church confesses that it has witnessed […] the suffering in body and soul of countless innocent people, that it has witnessed oppression, hatred, and murder without raising ist[its] voice for the victims and without finding ways of rushing to help them. It has become guilty of the lives of the weakest and most defenseless brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ” (139). “It has found no strong or authentic message to set against the disdain for chastity and the proclamation of sexual licentiousness” (140). “The church confesses that it has looked on silently as the poor were exploited and robbed, while the strong were enriched and corrupted” (140). “The church confesses its guilt toward the countless people whose lives have been destroyed by slander, denunciation and defamation” (140). “The church confesses that it has coveted security, tranquility, peace, property […] and therefore has not bridled human covetousness, but promoted it” (140). “The church confesses itself guilty of violating all of the Ten Commandments. It confesses thereby its apostasy from Christ“ (140). “By falling silent the church became guilty for the loss of responsible action in society, courageous intervention, and the readiness to suffer for what is acknowledged as right. It is guilty of the government’s falling away from Christ” (141). The Old Testament plays a significant role in Bonhoeffer’s theology during all phases of his work, as already his theological exegesis of the first chapters of Genesis in Creation and Fall (1934) conveys. It is absolutely clear for him that the Old Testament can only be read from a perspective within the Church, i.e. that it can only be understood from Christ alone.

31 Cf. M. Welker, “Bonhoeffers theologisches Vermächtnis in Widerstand und Ergebung”, in: idem, Theologische Profile. Schleiermacher – Barth – Bonhoeffer – Moltmann (Frankfurt a.M. 2009), 103–119. 32 Bonhoeffer, Ethik (1992).

184

Manfred Oeming

Yet a remarkable change takes place in his thinking – at least how many Bonhoeffer scholars see it:33 It seems, as if there is no other systematic-theological work that holds the Old Testament in such high esteem as the theology of the late Bonhoeffer. Originally, Bonhoeffer was factually very close to Das Christuszeugnis des Alten Testaments, 1–2, by W. Vischer (Munich/Zurich 1934/42), and there also was a more intense co-operation with Vischer during the Kirchenkampf years, because Bonhoeffer read the Old Testament the same way as him, as a “book of Christ”. As evidence for this theological stance, one can refer e.g. to his Bible studies on David (1935),34 Ezra and Nehemiah (1936),35 or the Psalms (The Prayerbook of the Bible: An Introduction to the Psalms, 1940).36 Jesus “appropriated this prayer, and for the first time it acquired its full meaning. We can pray this psalm only in community with Jesus Christ as those who have participated in the suffering of Christ. We pray this psalm not out of our random personal suffering, but out of the suffering of Christ that has also come upon us. But we always hear Jesus Christ praying with us”.37 During his imprisonment a completely new tone arises: Now it is no longer important to read the Old Testament as a book that is oriented towards Christ, but to recognize the value of the Old Testament as a book that stands for itself, with its own meaning. He writes after six months in prison: “I have read the Old Testament two and a half times through”,38 and he attests: By the way, I notice more and more how much I am thinking and perceiving things in line with the Old Testament; thus in recent months I have been reading much more the Old than the New Testament. Only when one knows that the name of God may not be uttered may one sometimes speak the name of Jesus Christ. Only when one loves life and the earth so much that with it everything seems to be lost and at its end may one believe in the resurrection of the dead and a new world. Only when one accepts the law of God as binding for oneself may one perhaps sometimes speak of grace. And only when the wrath and vengeance of God against God’s enemies are allowed to stand can something of forgiveness and the love of enemies touch our heart. Whoever wishes to be and perceive things too quickly and too directly in New Testament ways is to my mind no Christian.39

33 Cf. M. Kuske, Das Alte Testament als Buch von Christus. Dietrich Bonhoeffers Wertung und Auslegung des Alten Testaments (Göttingen 1963). He puts the second phase under the heading “The understanding of the New Testament from the perspective of the Old” (das Verstehen des Neuen Testaments vom Alten her), 83 ff. More articulate, is B. Klappert, “Weg und Wende Dietrich Bonhoeffers in der Israelfrage – Bonhoeffer und die theologischen Grundentscheidungen des rheinischen Synodalbeschlusses”, in: W. Huber/I. Tödt (eds.), Ethik im Ernstfall. Dietrich Bonhoeffers Stellung zu den Juden und ihre Aktualität (München 1992), 77–135; E. Feil, Die Theologie Dietrich Bonhoeffers. Hermeneutik – Christologie – Weltverständnis (München 41991), 219 ff; F. Crüsemann, Das Alte Testament als Wahrheitsraum des Neuen. Die neue Sicht der christlichen Bibel (Gütersloh 2011), 56–60. 34 DBW 14 (Gütersloh 1996), 878–904. 35 DBW 14, (1996), 930–945. 36 DBWE 5 (1996), 141–177. 37 DBWE 5, 166. Cf. Miller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Psalms (2000), who works out explicitly who much the concept of incarnation has shaped Bonhoeffers understanding of the Psalms, „It’s the incarnate son of God, who has borne every human weakness in his own flesh, who here pours out the heart of all humanity before God and who stands in our place and prays for us. He has known torment and pain, guilt and death more deeply than we” (Bonhoeffer, Psalmen, 192013, 20 f). It is just the incarnational sense about the Psalms that led the New Testament writers so often to see in them a chief clue for understanding. 38 DBWE 8, 181. 39 DBWE 8, 213.

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

185

Bonhoeffer’s entire theological work increasingly appears to be fundamentally shaped by this new view of the Old Testament. Christianity remains dependent on the things specifically pertaining to the Old Testament. Only under the condition of validity and recognition of the Old Testament as the word of God can it be appropriately Christian. Phrases like this have not been heard before, not in Barth or even Bonhoeffer himself. The crucial formulation is not easy to understand: “Whoever wishes to be and perceive things too quickly and too directly in New Testament ways is to my mind no Christian”.40 Those are statements in prison, drafted in the face of mortal danger. They are scant and wide open to many diverse interpretations, it is necessary to protect oneself from the projections of one’s own thoughts. “Bonhoeffer is well aware of the novelty, the objectionability and the far reaching consequences – inter alia for the catholic problem, the concept of ministry, use of the Bible, but especially for Ethics”.41 Bonhoeffer probably did not have any knowledge of the anti-Jewish late Luther,42 but with these letters he caused an enormous appreciation with Jewish readers. The one who possibly portrayed this “change” of Bonhoeffer in the most dramatic way, was P. Lapide: he even talks about a “conversion to Jewish thinking”, which took away from him “the peelings of Hellenism like the scales from the eyes of the proper knowledge of God” and made it possible for him to advocate “the freedom of the will for the believers of all three Abrahmitic religions” in the following of the Rabbis. By doing so, he has become “the pioneer” and “forerunner of a gradual Re-Hebraicization of the Church in our days”.43 In my opinion though, it is necessary to judge more carefully. It is not plausible that Bonhoeffer got a chance to deal in depth with Judaism in prison. What also does he mean with the term “Old Testament way of thinking”? He did not engage himself with studying the books of the Old Testament in their original intention, he did not work his way through commentaries and he did not conduct exegetical studies. It seems, as if by using the term “Old Testament way of thinking” he refers to a “material way of thinking”, a “mundane way of thinking”, maybe simply “thinking and acting pragmatically. If that is correct, then it does not imply that he wanted to rate Old Testament theologies higher in every detail, rather it would mean that through this phrase he issues a call for acting vigorously in the here and now. The term “old testament way of thinking” does not refer to the more intense effort of trying to do justice to the multiple theologies that are found in the Old Testament. It rather is a cipher with a wide interpretational range. “Old Testament way of thinking” may also mean: Bonhoeffer did no longer refer God to the hereafter, but into this world, no longer to the margins, but into the middle; he beholds God not in the harmony, but in the conflicts of this world and this life. The Old 40

See above. Bonhoeffer ist sich der Neuheit, der Anstößigkeit und der weitreichenden Folgen – ‘u. a. für das katholische Problem, für den Amtsbegriff, für den Gebrauch der Bibel, aber vor allem eben für die Ethik’ – sehr bewusst“ Crüsemann, Das Alte Testament als Wahrheitsraum (2011), 58. 42 So E. Bethge, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer und die Juden”, in: H. Kremers (ed.), Die Juden und Martin Luther (Neukirchen-Vluyn 1983), 211–248. 43 P. Lapide, “Bonhoeffer und das Judentum”, in: E. Feil (ed.): Verspieltes Erbe – Dietrich Bonhoeffer und der deutsche Nachkriegsprotestantismus, Internationales Bonhoeffer Forum, 2 (München 1979), 116 –130, here 121, 125, 129. 41

186

Manfred Oeming

Testament plays the crucial role in this: “Only when one knows that the name of God may not be uttered […]; only when one loves life and the earth so much […]; only when one accepts the law of God as binding for oneself […] and only when the wrath and vengeance of God against God’s enemies are allowed to stand […]”.44 The doctrine of incarnation is a prominent feature in this train of thought. The Old Testament mode of thinking and living virtually becomes the sine qua non for of the possibility for acting and believing according to the New Testament. “One can and must not speak the ultimate word prior to the penultimate. We are living in the penultimate and believe the ultimate.45 Even „the Christian hope of resurrection” – in contrast to the myths of the religions of redemption in the surrounding world – is understood in the way that she recommits the human back to his life on earth. Admittedly, in the New Testament this is understood to happen “in a completely new and, compared with the Old Testament rather intensified fashion”; at the same time New and Old Testament remain connected with each other, as is stated explicitly. The pattern of increase, in which the “underdeveloped” Old Testament culminates in the fully developed New, is here turned in a way that something typical for the Old Testament is validated entirely and even accentuated in the New. The New Testament is a radicalization of the Old, which remains unchanged in its fundamental structure though. In that case, it is impossible to allocate the difference between the second-to-last and the last things clearly between the two Testaments. This phenomenon has rightly been called “interconnection of the two Testaments”46 It seems that the Old Testament receives the highest possible esteem. Old Testament theology literally becomes the leading discipline of theology. Yet, critical queries remain: F. Crüsemann fears that even if stating differently, the last and second-to-last things are allocated between the two Testaments. Even if Bonhoeffer did achieve something extremely worthwhile for the re-evaluation of the Old Testament, an implicit devaluation remains under the surface. “When one combines this antithesis with the question concerning the two Testaments, – despite the new approach and right in the middle of it – old patterns of higher and lower, temporary and actual gain new force. How much old patterns take effect even and right in the formulation of a new approach, is shown – if one looks closely – by the sentences cited above, with which Bonhoeffer justified the necessity of the Old Testament way of thinking for the Christian faith. After all, the antitheses to the – supposedly specifically Old Testament characteristics – are pertaining to the Old Testament”.47

44

DBWE 8, 213. DBWE 8, 213. 46 Feil, Theologie Bonhoeffers (1991), 211. 47 „Wird dieser Gegensatz dann verbunden mit der Frage nach den beiden Testamenten, gewinnen trotz des Neuansatzes und mitten in ihm alte Muster von Niedrigerem und Höherem, Vorläufigem und Eigentlichem unvermeidlich neue Kraft. Wie sehr selbst und gerade in der Formulierung eines neuen Zugangs alte Muster durchschlagen, zeigen, sieht man genauer hin, gerade auch die oben zitierten Sätze, mit denen Bonhoeffer die Notwendigkeit alttestamentlichen Denkens für den christlichen Glauben begründet hat. Sind doch die Gegensätze zu den angeblich spezifisch alttestamentlichen Zügen – alttestamentlich.” Crüsemann, Das Alte Testament als Wahrheitsraum (2011), 60. 45

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

187

4. Hans Urs von Balthasar Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905 in Luzern – 1988 in Basel) is rightly regarded as one of the most important catholic theologians and philosophers of the 20th century, even though he – like Bonhoeffer – never made a career in academics48 or the Church49. He became prominent for his role as a mediator between literature, philosophy and theology, as well as a critical observer of interdenominational and interreligious dialogue. His vast opus (about 85 books, more than 500 essays, about 100 translations from the Greek, Latin, French, Spanish and Italian plus the supervision of 13 series) classifies him as an extremely sophisticated expert and mediator between many classical and modern intellectual approaches. Starting out his career with a PhD in German literature (1928), he joined the Jesuits in 1929, studied theology and worked as university chaplain in Basel. After leaving the Jesuit Order in 1950, he officially became a diocesan priest in Chur, but actually made his living as a reader for a publishing house and as head of the “Community of John”, a Secular Institute (lay form of consecrated life that seeks to work for the sanctification of the world especially from within). His so called “Triptych” of “Glory”, “TheoLogic” and “Theo-Drama”, in other words the beauty of God, the word of God and the ceremony of God (published between 1961 and 1983 in 15 volumes plus Epilogue),50 can be regarded as an outstanding effort in cultural studies, which synthesizes a huge amount of aspects.

He was less thinking in systems, but tried to fathom the relationship between God and human beings in always new attempts with different discussion partners. He wanted to give an intellectual, faithful response to Western modernism, which has brought the world to no longer being well-disposed towards Christianity. At the same time Balthasar was continuously concerned with spiritual and practical issues. He insisted that his theology never be divorced from the mystical experiences of his long-time friend Adrienne von Speyr, a Swiss medical doctor.

48 He refused the offer for the chair for fundamental theology at the faculty for catholic theology at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen as successor of Heinrich Fries in 1960. In his stead the chair was then offered to Hans Küng. 49 His reputation rose to the extent that John Paul II asked him to be a cardinal in 1988. But he died in his home in Basel two days before the ceremony. 50 The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetic: – Vol. I: Seeing the Form – Vol. II: Clerical Styles – Vol. III: Lay Styles – Vol. IV: The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity – Vol. V: The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern Age – Vol. VI: Theology: The Old Covenant – Vol. VII: Theology: The New Covenant Theo-Logic: – Vol. I: The Truth of the World – Vol. II: Truth of God – Vol. III: The Spirit of the Truth Theo-Drama: – Vol. I: Prolegomena – Vol. II: Dramatis Personae – Vol. III: Dramatis Personae – Vol. IV: The Action – Vol. V: The Last Act – Epilogue.

188

Manfred Oeming

Hans Urs von Balthasar did not much reflect over hermeneutical methods, but implemented his thinking directly and concretely; he dared do something highly uncommon for systematic theologians: He wrote a kind of “Theology of the Old Testament” with over 400 pages.51 The Glory of the Lord. A theological Aesthetic, Vol. III/2: Theology. 1. Old Testament (followed by a volume „New Testament“ respectively). The foundational question of the book is: “what path must have been taken by the concept of the kabod of Yahweh in order for it to be able to appear in the new covenant, in Paul and in John, as doxa Christou and doxa Theou?” (415). The monograph, which centers around the idea of „the Glory of God in the Old Covenant”, is therefore arranged chronologically and takes a route from Genesis to the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon. In addition to this temporal grid of organization, which leads in an exemplary fashion on the basis of multiple lines through the whole canon of the Septuagint, von Balthasar has also built in a systematic grid: The term “Glory” is meant to play the leading role in the treatment of all the Old Testament theological topoi and every other topic should be examined from it; kabod constitutes the substantial center; the Glory of God in its multidimensional plenty reveals itself step-by-step through completely different concepts in the partial aspects of itself. The line of thought is arranged in three main parts: 1. the Glory of God and Man (31–211), 2. the Stairway of Obedience (215–298); 3. the long Twilight (301–416). Even if it is not recognizable by the choice of these artificial titles, the three segments deal with the three parts of the Old Testament Canon, not necessarily in every detail, but at large: 1. Pentateuch and historical books, 2. Prophecy, and 3. Deuterocanonical books. This structure constitutes a biblical survey of higher order, which is supposed to reveal the plenty of the Glory of God. “The transformation in the idea of divine glory, which runs from the Pentateuch right through the Johannine writings, is remarkably great, and yet the intermediate steps are so interconnected and they so clearly point to one another that in their very variety these phases constitute a whole, the parts of which support and substantiate one another” (17). “The Old Testament itself will ever anew receive the final rank that belongs to it” from the New (23). The amount of attempts to grasp the “Glory of God” in the Old Covenant cannot be reduced to one single aspect, but they find a “final form” in the incarnation of the Word (John 1:14). From the many ideas that he deals with, and which are in part very unconventional and poetic, one can only stress a few: Most of the time, the term kabod is unfolded dialectically, with respective passages from the Torah as evidence: God’s glory ranges between knowledge and lack of knowledge, visibility and invisibility, shape and shapelessness, in “bright darkness”, in the tension between tenement and event, in the dialectic of fire. Like a pearl necklace, he strings together classic Old Testament terms in view of the divine “I”: power, word, brightness 51 Authors that are often cited, include: K. Barth; M. Buber; W. Eichrodt; W. Hertzberg; K. Koch; L. Köhler; H.-J. Kraus; M. Noth and, by far the most: G. von Rad. Von Balthasar talks about the pentateuch sources P, J and E; yet one can get the impression that he is somewhat uncritical with respect to the historical horizon. On the other hand, he often refers to extra-canonical sources like Enuma elish or other classical authors like Homer.

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

189

and name, countenance. Broadly, he depicts the problem of the image, spanning the mental horizon for dealing with it from the creation of the human after Genesis 1 right up to the eroticism of the Song of Songs and to Ecclesiastes. Under the key word “Concrete Glory” von Balthasar illuminates the horizons of berith: covenant, sedek, sedaka: right conduct in faithfulness, mishpat: right which comes into effect as salvation, emeth, emuna: proved excellence, shalom: pacified realm of salvation. He uses the philosophical term “contemporaneity” to portray Deuteronomy as the center of the Old Testament: All is presentist: „the ‚historical’ today is only the unfolding of the primal historical ‘today’” (187): “From Deuteronomy onwards, the true kernel of glory emerges the kebod Yahweh: absolute love. And the single ones who stand their ground under this love are the ones who communicate with it” (188). Under the heading “The Stairway of Obedience” he presents the history of prophetic preaching from Abraham, via Saul, the early prophets, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Liturgies of Lament, Job (!) up until Deutero-Isaiah. Here, the prophets are read primarily from the perspective of the broken covenant and the righteousness of God, which punishes sin. This prophecy descends step by step to sheol. “The Israel of the millenia represents the side of God’s salvific activity in which he rejects; this is the inexorable inner consequence and logic of the grace which had entered into history” (219). “Where man has utterly failed, the history of the covenant of God becomes a history of God with himself… God will construct for himself a stairway in the men whom he has chosen, a stairway that is to lead him down into the god-less darkness. A stairway constructed of obedience” (222 f) from the obedience of the prophets. The last section “The long Twilight” is devoted to the Theologia gloriae which counter-intuitively also originates from sheol, once the prophetic voice suddenly stops in the Persian period. The End of the twilight is Christ. “The three undertakings of Judaism [that] can be understood from the starting-point of the theme of glory as attempts to force the glory of God into the open, despite its elusive hiddenness” (303), are meant to fail (whereby von Balthasar borrows a term from Bultmann’s theological classification of the Old Testament): 1. “The proclamation of a messianic-historical glory of God […;] it was for this reason that prophecy broke down”(303). 2. Apocalypticism fails, because it tries to see the glory of God in an ahistorical way mystically “in Heaven ‘above’ or in the anticipation of the (second) heavenly aeon” (303). 3. Hellenistic theology of wisdom, which “does not seek to get hold of glory either in a purely futuristic sense or in a purely mystical-eschatological sense, but seeks rather to see and experience it contemplatively out of the totality of creation and salvation-history” (303). This attempt also fails, because it loses “its feeling for the sharp distinctiveness of what Israel had experienced as the event of the glory of God” (303). “Without messianism, apocalyptic and wisdom theology, there would be no New Testament: all three are indispensable mediators, because they permit the historical form of Israel to become transcendent in three directions. But where they propose themselves as solutions with their function of broadening, they at once

190

Manfred Oeming

obstruct the place for God’s solution and become its opponents – the same is true precisely within Christianity too. It is only by accepting the providential mediation of Judaic theology with its inherent oscillation that one can link ancient Israel’s experience of glory with the Christians’ experience of glory” (303). Von Balthasar differentiates in this theologia gloriae 1. The “Glory Ahead”, which encompasses the theology of Zion, messianic hope and a theology of the poor; 2. The “Glory Above”, which adds a dimension that was missing in the hope of glory for the purely temporal future: “This newly-opened space that takes its life from the tremendous tensions of the heavenly action, that is filled with transcendental powers of history and catches up what happens in the world into the transcendence, in a way that serves only to intensify yet further the impact of the temporal-eschatological pressure as the gaze is directed vertically on high” (321). The apocalyptic visions of Daniel (Dan 7 ff) describe the experiences of glory of a mystic in the heavenly world to come. “Since the glory from on high does not shine through” the “darker sides” of humanity, “the latter imperceptibly become more important than the former” (334). “This superior glory does not penetrate the final judgment. The dualism is posited in a definitive and absolute way” (339). Many are dammed. Only a few belong to the ‘rest’. The concept of predestination takes on greater significance in the late years, but is stiffened similar to the concept of judgment. 3. The “Glory Anticipated”, this third form of reaching out, signifies the end of the old covenant in the form of wisdom, because it implies a world-historical broadening of the constricted Israel towards the encompassing global culture of Hellenism in language and patterns of thought. The broadening was necessary, “because the drama of the history of the people, played between God and Israel, had come to a standstill since the exile, and this seemed to permit a contemplative distance to the historical covenant relationship” (345). The even later scriptures Ben Sira and Book of Wisdom “stand for their part in a difficult and exposed situation within salvation history which makes it virtually impossible for them to speak of the entire glory of God otherwise than in a (formal) anticipation of what is to come, although the materials at their disposal cannot suffice to give an account of this: for how were they to sense anything of the cross of Christ? Their contemplation, therefore, brings to a close what is not in fact brought to a close: and in this, they inevitably practice a theologia gloriae in a manner that can be criticised on the basis of the new covenant” (346). They are lacking the dimensions of the glory ahead and above. Instead, they recognize the glory everywhere. “They are amazed at the ever greater wisdom of God, just as the Greek philosopher is astounded at the marvels of being; but they do not know the depths of wisdom on which Job’s Sibylline gaze was fixed (Job 28)” (347). Towards the end, the Old Testament – in the eyes of von Balthasar – gradually grows into the testimony of great misery: The present day without glory (365–401) shows how the urgent want of glory grew immensely during a time of emptiness. The remnant, which returns from exile, thought very little of itself, no longer as “the embodiment of the chosen people; rather, in order to give itself such a consciousness, it must first fashion an entire ideology for itself. (Chronicles)” (365). With Ezra and Nehemiah they tried once more, to construe the present as the sequel to the sacred history. The Book of Chronicles covers past material. “The Books of Maccabees do not succeed in portraying anything other

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

191

than the secular history of a religious war carried out with pious enthusiasm and heroic idealism” (370). They belong to the canon, but are situated on a lower level of salvation history. “Sacred history in the ancient sense begins again only with John the Baptist” (370). Von Balthasar links the distress and misery to two motifs of the late years: First, the Priestly Source (advocated in its extreme form through the Essenes from Qumran according to von Balthasar); texts like Ex 35–40, Lev 1–10, Num 28–29 e.a. want the empty time to have a stake in God’s time. The Qumran-texts have the same tendency! “But then it is logical also to follow P in the Pentateuch by treating the kabod of Yahweh only as one arbitrarily applicable seal of the attestation of a king among the diverse cultic institutions – something that means that the true glory has passed from God to the institution” (372). The second motif is the imminent eschatological expectation together with the attempts to calculate its exact moment (Qumran; also Daniel). “The empty time is always on the point of going over into fulfilled time” (372). However, two factors remained to be important (appealing to bygone times would certainly not have been enough to preserve the knowledge of God’s salvific action in the people of Israel): First, the word of God, a speech event, and second, the blood of man and animal, the blood event, which is unfolded in a theology of sacrifice and its internalization. “When blood and word stand together, then the blood certainly stands in the place of the last word, which perhaps can no longer be uttered, and can only be whispered or shouted […]. The blood events of the old covenant, taken together, form a gallery of larger-than-life parables, which together fail to produce a form that can be interpreted definitively, because their centre seems as if held in reserve. […] The centre, which is the aim of all this, is released only in the new covenant” (392 f). The work is concluded by considerations on the significance of the Old Testament for the Christian faith (402–416). On the whole, von Balthasar’s book on the theology of the Old Testament is a vast homage to Gerhard von Rad; it mostly follows his concept of theology as a diachronic analysis of transmission history via the unfolding of different traditions (historic, prophetic-apocalyptic, psalmistic, sapiental) and adopts also von Rad’s patterns of the entire Bible, whereupon fulfillment and conclusion are not reached within the Old Testament itself, but rather in the New, through Jesus Christ.52 Von Balthasar’s understanding of the Old Testament and Israel, as just portrayed based on his theology of the Old Testament, was newly analyzed in a detailed, fundamental-theological habilitation dissertation by Johannes Schelhas published in 2012.53 In his widely read analyses, Schelhas puts forward the following theses: von Balthasar obtains his understanding of Scripture primarily 52 Von Balthasar often spoke on the question of the relationship between Church and Judaism: “Mysterium Judaicum”, in: Schweizerische Rundschau 43 (1943/44) 211–221; “Martin Buber und das Christentum”, in: Wort und Wahrheit 12 (1957) 653–665; “Die Wurzel Jesse, in: Sponsa Verbi. Skizzen zur Theologie, II (Einsiedeln 1961), 306–316; “Aktualität des Themas ‘Kirche aus Juden und Heiden’”, IkaZ 5 (1976) 239–245; “Theodramatik”, II/2 – Die Personen in Christus (Einsiedeln 1978), 340–368 (“Israel”);“Die Einheit des Alt- und Neutestamentlichen Bundes”, in: IkaZ 16 (1987) 9–11. Monographies: Einsame Zwiesprache. Martin Buber und das Christentum (Köln/Olten 1958; Freiburg 21993). 53 Schelhas, Christozentrische Schriftauslegung (2012), 75–248.

192

Manfred Oeming

through studying Henri de Lubac.54 For Lubac, the historical-critical method of interpretation is destined to fail in its very approach, because it does not presuppose Jesus Christ as the very core and substance of all of Scripture. It is certainly possible to read the Old Testament in its original historical context, but one cannot play off this reading “remoto Christi”, against the christological point of view. The initial, natural meaning must not overrule the christocentric, supernatural meaning. With Romano Guardini, von Balthasar picks up the Kierkegaard’s concept of concurrence, but does not understand it as an individual experience, but rather as a sacramental event, an incarnation of the history of Jesus that comes to pass in the history of each individual. For von Balthasar, the oneness of Scripture under the guidance of the analogizing principle is decisive. The reading of the individual text onto the whole and from the whole is identical to a christocentric interpretation of Scripture. The Jesuit Erich Przywarra imprints the concept of the analogia entis on von Balthasar, equivalent to the Greek prepositions ana (=”up”) and kata (=”down”): the descent of God to humankind and the ascent of humankind towards God have to correspond. Especially by examining the church fathers Augustine, Origin and Irenaeus, von Balthasar comes to a form of Christocentric exegisis, which interleaves the Kata-logy (allegorical interpretation) and the Ana-logy (literal sense) with each other. That begins already, when one understands individual Old Testament narratives as paradigms, i.e. when one ascribes an overarching, symbolic depth to these narratives, e.g. Israel’s Exodus narrative. Von Balthasar calls this pneumatic sense. Accordingly, von Balthasar assumes the oneness of Old and New Testament, which is effected through Christ. In the first part of his trilogy, he describes the aesthetic Gestalt character of all of reality (Glory), which becomes accessible in the second part (Theo-Drama) like a reflection of the Son became flesh. In the second part von Balthasar pursues the entire history of salvation from Abraham via Moses and Joshua up to the prophets, to prove the oneness of Scripture in the one, who is identical to the “Servant of God” (promised in Deutero-Isaiah), the unsurpassable “figure of glory”, who reveals the meaning and reason of all reality in the finitude of a singular, human existence. Jesus Christ is not any construct, not a Weltanschauung or a world-shaking doctrine, but rather a historical event. Especially on Holy Saturday, when God descends into the contrary of God’s self, into sin and the reign of death, God is manifest. That is the reason why – so von Balthasar – the often autocratic “reaching out into the future [messianism], into the heaven above [apocalypticism], and into the surrounding cosmos [wisdom literature]” (365) are not the significant factors, but rather, as a precursor of the figure of glory, the rites of atonement in the post-exilic temple cult. From here, von Balthasar criticizes exegetes, especially Bultmann, who consider the historical Jesus only necessary insofar as he is either seen as a vehicle of the kerygma or on the level of each individual believer, who is existentially affected by him. He also criticizes catholic theologians like Karl Rahner or Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. For von Balthasar, history can not only be an addition or an attachment to the interpretation of 54 Henri de Lubac, Glauben aus der Liebe (Catholicisme 1938); Die Deutung der Heiligen Schrift (tr. H. U. von Balthasar; Einsiedeln 1970). This book is regarded as the foundation for von Balthasar’s entire theology. Cf. R. Voderholzer, Die Einheit der Schrift (1998).

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

193

form, but an integral feature. Mere historical facts are still historical facts, even if one tries to transcend them symbolically. Would the exegetes’ researching reason emancipate itself from the faith in Christ and the faith of the Church, it would have degraded its subject to a death object of the past. Protestant tradition calls Christ and the Bible “Word of God”. For von Balthasar, the word of God is solely the inner-Trinitarian logos or the logos which became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Von Balthasar emphasizes the sole efficacy of the Spirit: Solely the Holy Spirit creates comprehension; solely the Holy Spirit bestows faith in justification through grace alone. Like Karl Barth, von Balthasar makes the Bible itself to a subject, which has authority and acts of its own accord; the Bible renders itself into the canon and imposes itself onto the Church. The emergence of the canon and of the Church is the result of the work of the Spirit alone. Even the comprehension and the appropriation of the biblical texts are totally dependent on the Spirit’s work. Many protestant exegetes, who comprehend themselves as being anti-Barthian, stress the fact that God wanted the conflict of interpretation, that the plurality of Christianity is not the consequence of schisms, but characteristic for the earliest forms of Christianity. They talk about an, on principle interminable process of interpretation, which must not be shortened or channeled by any church. Von Balthasar thinks that these fundamental principles of Protestantism are incompatible with the sacramental form of life in Catholicism. It is not possible to gain comprehension of Jesus Christ outside the Church. His main argument is the reality of the Church in Protestantism: The uncountable number of denominations, free churches, movements and orientations of Protestantism are a single history of the falsification of the protestant scriptural principle. Obviously, right from the beginning protestant exegetes were unable to perform the expected task of clarifying the foundations of the Church through the exegesis of Scripture. The Spirit manifests itself – so von Balthasar over and over – not in an invisible gospel, which brings about the canon of the Church and that is to be comprehended in ever new events of interpretation. Rather, the Bible is a product of tradition, i.e. the written codification of tradition. It is impossible, if it is to be foundational for the Church and not for a sect, to interpret the Bible apart from the tradition of the Church. According to the analysis of Johannes Schelhas, this hermeneutic is normative already for the authors of the New Testament books: “Master form of Christocentric scriptural interpretation is the way, how the disciples understand the resurrected one throughout the forty days, how they – through this timespan – understand the acts and the words of the resurrected one in light of the acts and words of Jesus during his life on earth”.55 The Sitz im Leben of the Christian exegesis is first and foremost the Eucharist! Von Balthasar recognizes in Jesus Christ not only the reiteration of the history of Israel, but also its destiny. He is convinced that Jesus Christ is the one through whom the sonship of the holy people arises. Jesus did obey and fulfill the commandments that God had assigned Moses for his people. 55 Urmodell christozentrischer Schriftauslegung ist die Weise, wie die Jünger den Auferstandenen vierzig Tage hindurch verstehen, wie sie während dieser Zeitspanne die Taten und Worte des Auferstandenen im Blick auf die Taten und Worte des Jesus der irdischen Lebenszeit verstehen, Schelhas, 216.

194

Manfred Oeming

Thus, Jesus Christ is the destiny – not the substitution! – of Israel’s election. God’s will in Jesus Christ is so specific that one can no longer mistake him with one’s own ideas or projections. But that also means for each Jew, who does not recognize the expected Messiah in Jesus: in the same way that he follows the Torah, is he on the way to Christ, even when he denies that fact on the reflexive level. Christ, the one who wanted nothing else than being totally determined by the will of God, is a Jew. But that does not exhaust his significance. To a greater degree he is the savior for all people at all times.

5. Conclusion “Systematic theology needs a biblical theology which is historical-critical without any restrictions and, at the same time, devotional-interpretative, taking account of the fact that it deals with matters of ultimate concern.”56 The Old Testament indeed appears at the three chosen systematic theologians as something that is of ultimate concern! All three, especially Bonhoeffer, emphasize the necessity, to think more intensely in categories pertaining to the Old Testament. Correspondingly, one can find theological interpretations of Old Testament texts in great numbers; von Balthasar even provides a completely developed theology of the Old Testament. Ever anew and with always changing terms, the Old Testament is taken consideration for all the topoi of the Christian dogma. But one can justifiably doubt the real significance of the Old Testament in all three examples. The decisive normative statements are taken either from the New Testament or from the doctrinal tradition of the Church. The Old Testament is only taken seriously insofar as it points to Jesus Christ – or as it serves him; its role is that of a witness for Christ. That is why one must ask, if they nevertheless all lack the last piece of appreciation for the Old Testament. Especially problematic is the relationship with Israel and Judaism. As long as Israel is seen as the prequel, the penultimate or the precursor, the feeling of equality and deep respect cannot be very strong. Admittedly, the oneness of salvation history, i.e. the indissoluble continuity of “Old” and “New” Covenant and therefore the affiliation of Jesus Christ and the church to the history of the election of Israel and the lasting closeness to Judaism, is affirmed and emphasized. But, the Old Testament only contains narrations of sin and rupture of the covenant, of guiltiness and failure, and it ultimately ends in an extreme longing that refers to something outside itself. In its despair, Israel knows nothing of the resurrection. The Law is something that is imposed only outwardly; post-biblical Judaism is only an utopistic-apocalyptic element of the unrest and the messianic expectation without knowledge of fulfillment. It is important to reflect the legacy of the Old Testament in its foundational function for the Christian faith. As a result, the systematic reflection of the Christian images of God, world and humanity are substantially enriched. The

56

P. Tillich, Systematic Theology, I (Chicago 1973), 36.

The Significance of the Old Testament in Twentieth Century Systematic Theology

195

Old Testament contains an asset that is only and exclusively found there and that would otherwise be missing in Christianity. In opposition to the New Testament belief in devils and demons, the Old Testament is the monotheistic conscience, it contains the book of prayer for Christians (Psalms), it is the source of Wisdom, i.e. a developed theology of creation and society (Proverbs, Psalms) and almost philosophical theological skepticism (Job, Ecclesiastes). It opens up a positive theological approach towards eroticism or enables the appreciation of religious experiences of others.57 What I myself – as a systematizing Old Testament scholar – expect is a real equality of the Testaments. We eventually have to learn to recognize the intrinsic value of the Old Testament without having to “renounce Christological ownership”! The Old Testament is in many ways a witness to different paths towards God, which have a high value in addition to and in dialogue with the Christological testimony of God in the New Testament.58 For Christian systematic theology the intrinsic value of the Old Testament is still to be found!

57 Cf. to the intrinsic value of the Old Testament: Haag, “Vom Eigenwert des Alten Testaments”, ThQ 160 (1980) 2–16; M. Oeming, Das Alte Testament als Teil des christlichen Kanons (Zürich 32001), 240–245; G. Theissen, “Der Eigenwert des Alten Testaments. Überlegungen eines Neutestamentlers aus reformierter Tradition”, in: M. Oeming/W. Böes (eds.), Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft und kirchliche Praxis (FS Jürgen Kegler; BVB 18; Münster 2009), 15–27. 58 Cf. the programmatic essay by M. Oeming, “Viele Wege zu dem Einen. Die ‘transzendente Mitte’ einer Theologie des Alten Testaments im Spannungsfeld von Vielfalt und Einheit”, in: St. Beyerle/A. Graupner/U. Rüterswörden (eds.), Viele Wege zu dem Einen. Historische Bibelkritik – Die Vitalität der Glaubensüberlieferung in der Moderne (BThSt 121; Neukirchen-Vluyn 2012, 83–108.

Chapter Thirty-three

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’ By Dennis Olson, Princeton, NJ Bibliography: G. Aichele, The Control of Biblical Meaning: Canon as Semiotic Mechanism (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity 2001). – I. Baldermann e.a. (eds.), Zum Problem des biblischen Kanons (JBT 3; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 1988). – E. Ballhorn/ G. Steins (eds.), Der Bibelkanon in der Bibelauslegung: Methoden-reflexionen und Beispielexegesen (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2007). – J. Barr, “Childs’ Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture”, JSOT 16 (1980) 12–23; Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism (Oxford: Oxford UP 1983); “The Theological Case Against Biblical Theology”, Canon, Theology, and Old Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Brevard S. Childs (ed. G. M. Tucker e.a.; Philadelphia: Fortress 1988), 3–19; “The Literal, the Allegorical, and Modern Biblical Scholarship”, JSOT 44 (1989) 3–17; “Allegory and Historicism”, JSOT 69 (1996) 105–120; The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress 1999). – J. Barthel, “Die kanonhermeneutische Debatte seit Gerhard von Rad: Anmerkungen zu neueren Entwurfen”, Kanonhermeneutik: Vom Lesen und Verstehen der christlichen Bibel (ed. B. Janowski; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 2007), 1–26. – C. Bartholomew e. a. (eds.), Canon and Biblical Interpretation (Biblical Scripture and Hermeneutics Series, 7; Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2004). – J. Barton, Reading the Old Testament: Method in Biblical Study (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox 1997; 1st edn. 1984); “Canon and Old Testament Interpretation”, In Search of True Wisdom: Essays in Old Testament Interpretation in Honour of Ronald Clements (ed. E. Ball; JSOT.S 300; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 2000), 37–52; “Intertextuality and the ‘Final Form’ of the Text”, VT.S 80 (2000), 33–37; “Canonical Approaches Ancient and Modern”, The Biblical Canons (ed. J.M. Auwers/ H. J. De Jonge; BETL 163; Leuven: Leuven UP 2003), 199–209. – J. Blenkinsopp, Prophecy and Canon: A Contribution to the Study of Jewish Origins. – E. BLUM, “Formgeschichte – A Misleading Category? Some Critical Remarks”, The Changing Face of Form Criticism for the Twenty-First Century (ed. M. Sweeney/ E. B. Zvi (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2003), 3–45. – P. Brandt, Endgestalten des Kanons: Das Arrangement der Schriften Israels in der jüdischen und christlichen Bibel (BBB 131; Berlin: Philo 2001). – M. Brett, Biblical Criticism in Crisis? The Impact of the Canonical Approach on Old Testament Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1991); “The Future of Old Testament Theology”, VT.S 80 (2000), 465–488. – W. Brueggemann, “Against the Stream: Brevard Childs’s Biblical Theology”, ThTo 50 (1993) 279–284; Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress 1997). – A. Budde, “Der Abschluss des alttestamentlichen Kanons und seine Bedeutung für die kanonische Schriftauslegung”, BN 87 (1997) 39–55. – H. von Campenhausen, Die Enstehung der christlichen Bibel (Tübingen: Mohr 1968). – R. Carroll, “Canonical Criticism: A Recent Trend in Biblical Studies?”, ET 92 (1980) 73–78. – S. Chapman, The Law and the Prophets: A Study in Old Testament Canon Formation (FAT 27; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck 2000); “A Canonical Approach to Old Testament Theology? Deuteronomy 34:10–12 and Malachi 3:22–24 as Programmatic Conclusions”, HBT 25 (2003) 121–145; “Reading the Bible as Witness: Divine Retribution in the Old Testament”, PRSt 31 (2004) 171–190; “Reclaiming Inspiration for the Bible”, Canon and Biblical Interpretation (ed. C. Bartholomew e.a.; Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderman 2006). – B. S. Childs, “Jonah: A Study in Old Testament Hermeneutics”, SJTh 11 (1958) 53–61; Myth and Reality in the Old Testament (SBTh 27; 2nd edn.; London: SCM 1960); “Prophecy and Fulfillment: A Study of Contemporary Hermeneutics”, Int. 12 (1958) 257–271; Memory and Tradition in Israel (SBTh 37; London: SCM 1962); “A Study of the Formula, ‘Until This Day’”, JBL 82 (1963) 279–292; “Interpretation in Faith: The Theological Responsibility of an

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

197

Old Testament Commentary”, Int. 18 (1964) 432–449; “The Birth of Moses”, JBL 84 (1965) 109–122; “Deuteronomic Formulae of the Exodus Traditions”, Hebräische Wortforschung (FS W. Baumgartner; ed. G. W. Anderson e.a.; Leiden: Brill 1967), 30–39; Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis (SBTh II/3; London: SCM 1967); “Psalm 8 in the Context of the Christian Canon”, Int. 23 (1969) 20–31; Biblical Theology in Crisis (Philadelphia: Westminster 1970); “A Traditio-historical Study of the Reed Sea Tradition”, VT 20 (1970) 406–418; “Psalm Titles and Midrashic Exegesis”, JSS 16 (1971) 137–150; “Midrash and the Old Testament”, Understanding the Sacred Text (ed. J. Reumann; Valley Forge, PA: Judson 1972), 45–59; “The Old Testament as Scripture of the Church”, CThM 43 (1972) 709– 722; “A Tale of Two Testaments”, Int. 26 (1972) 20–29; The Book of Exodus: A Critical Theological Commentary (Louisville: Westminster 1974); “The Etiological Tale Re-examined”, VT 24 (1974) 387–397; “Reflections on the Modern Study of the Psalms”, Magnalia Dei: The Mighty Acts of God: Essays on Bible and Archaeology in Memory of G. E. Wright (ed. F. M. Cross e.a.; New York: Doubleday 1976), 377–388; “The Sensus Literalis of Scripture: An Ancient and Modern Problem”, Beiträge zur alttestamentlichen Theologie (FS W. Zimmerli; ed. H. Donner e.a.; Göttingen: Vandenhock & Ruprecht 1977), 80–93; “The Canonical Shape of the Book of Jonah”, Biblical and Near Eastern Studies: Essays in Honor of William Sanford LaSor (ed. G. Tutde; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1978), 122–128; “The Canonical Shape of the Prophetic Literature”, Int. 32/1 (1978) 46–55; “The Exegetical Significance of the Canon for the Study of the Old Testament”, VT.S 29 (1978) 66–80; Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress 1979); “On Reading the Elijah Narratives”, Int. 34 (1980) 128–137; “A Response [to James Mays et al.]”, HBT 2 (1980) 199–211; “Response to Reviewers of Introduction to the OT as Scripture”, JSOT 16 (1980) 52–60; “Differenzen in der Exegese: Biblische Theologie in Amerika”, Evangelische Kommentare 14 (1981) 405–406; “Some Reflections on the Search for a Biblical Theology”, HBT 4 (1982) 1–12; “Wellhausen in English”, Semeia 25 (1982) 83–88; The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction. (Philadelphia: Fortress 1984); Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context (Philadelphia: Fortress 1985); “Gerhard von Rad in American Dress”, The Hermeneutical Quest: Essays in Honor of James Luther Mays on his 65th Birthday (ed. D. G. Miller; Allison Park, PA: Pickwick 1986), 77–86; “Die Bedeutung des Jüdischen Kanons in der Alttestamentlichen Theologie”, Mitte der Schrift: ein jüdisch-christliches Gespräch – Texte des Berner Symposions vom 6.-12. Januar 1985 (ed. M. Klopfenstein e.a.; Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang 1987), 269–281; “Die theologische Bedeutung der Endform eines Textes”, ThQ 167 (1987) 242–251; “Biblische Theologie und christlicher Kanon”, Zum Problem des biblischen Kanons (JBTh 3; ed. I. Baldermann e.a.; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 1988), 13–27; “Analysis of a Canonical Formula: ‘It Shall be Recorded for a Future Generation’”, Die hebräische Bibel und ihre zweifache Nachgeschichte (ed. E. Blum e.a.; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 1990), 357–364; “Critical Reflections on James Barr’s Understanding of the Literal and the Allegorical”, JSOT 46 (1990) 3–9; Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress 1992; tr. Die Theologie der einen Bibel, 1: Grundstrukturen; 2: Hauptthemen; Freiburg: Herder 1994–1996); “Die Bedeutung der hebräischen Bibel für die biblische Theologie”, ThZ 48 (1992) 382–390; “Die Beziehung von Altem und Neuem Testament aus kanonischer Sicht”, Eine Bibel – zwei Testamente: Positionen biblischer Theologie (ed. C. Dohmen/T. Söding; Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh 1995), 29–34; “Old Testament Theology”, Old Testament Interpretation: Past, Present and Future: FS Gene M. Tucker (ed. J. L. Mays e.a.; Edinburgh: T & T Clark 1995), 29–34; “On Reclaiming the Bible for Christian Theology”, Reclaiming the Bible for the Church (ed. C. Braaten/R. Jenson; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1995), 1–17; “Retrospective Reading of the Old Testament Prophets”, ZAW 108 (1996) 362–377; “Does the Old Testament Witness to Jesus Christ?”, Evangelium, Schriftauslegung, Kirche: FS Peter Stuhlmacher (ed. J. Aadna e.a.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1997), 57–64; “Toward Recovering Theological Exegesis”, ProEccl 6 (1997) 16–26; “Jesus Christ the Lord and the Scriptures of the Church”, The Rule of Faith: Scripture, Canon, and Creed in a Critical Age (ed. E. Radner/G. Sumner; Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse 1998), 1–12; “The Nature of the Christian Bible: One Book, Two Testaments”, The Rule of Faith (1998), 115–125; “The One Gospel in Four Witnesses”, The Rule of Faith (1998), 51–62; “Toward Recovering Theological Exegesis”, ExAud 16 (2000) 121–129; Isaiah: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox 2001); “Critique of Recent Intertextual Canonical Interpretation”, ZAW 115 (2003) 173–184; The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2004); “The Canon in Recent Biblical Studies: Reflections on an Era”, ProEccl 14 (2005) 26–45; “Speech-act Theory and Biblical Interpretation”, SJTh 58 (2005) 375–392; The Church’s Guide for Reading Paul: The Canonical Shaping of the Pauline Corpus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2008). – J. J. Collins, “Is a Critical

198

Dennis Olson

Biblical Theology Possible?”, The Hebrew Bible and its Interpreters (ed. W. Propp e.a.; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 1990), 1–17; Encounters with Biblical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress 2005). – E. Davis, “Critical Traditioning: Seeking an Inner Biblical Hermeneutic”, AThR 82 (2000) 733–751; “Teaching the Bible Confessionally in the Church”, The Art of Reading Scripture (ed. E. Davis/ R. Hays; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2003), 9–26. – C. Dohmen, “Der Kanon des Alten Testaments: Eine westliche hermeneutische Perspektive”, Das Alte Testament als christliche Bibel in orthodoxer und westlicher Sicht (ed. I. Z. Dimitrov e.a.; WUNT 174; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2004), 277–297. – C. Dohmen/ F. Mussner (eds.), Nur die halbe Warheit? Für die Einheit der ganzen Bibel (Freiburg: Herder 1993). – C. Dohmen/M. Oeming, Biblischer Kanon – warum und wozu? Eine Kanontheologie (QD 137; Freiburg: Herder 1992). – C. Dohmen/ T. Söding (eds.), Eine Bibel – zwei Testamente: Positionen biblischer Theologie (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh 1995). – C. Dohmen/G. Stemberger, Hermeneutik der Jüdischen Bibel und des Alten Testaments (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1996) . – D. Driver, Brevard Childs: Biblical Theologian for the Church’’ s One Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2010). – R. Feldmeier/H.Spiekermann, God of the Living: A Biblical Theology (Waco, TX: Baylor UP 2011; tr. of Der lebendige Gott. Eine Einführung in die biblische Gotteslehre; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2011). – S. Fowl, “The Canonical Approach of Brevard Childs”. ET 96 (1985) 173–176. – H. Frei, The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics (New Haven: Yale UP 1974); The Identity of Jesus Christ: The Hermeneutical Bases of Dogmatic Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress 1975). − N. Gottwald, “Social Matrix and Canonical Shape”, ThTo 42 (1985) 307–321. – J. Groves, Actualization and Interpretation in the Old Testament (SBLDS 86; Atlanta: Scholars 1987). – B. Hägglund, “Die Bedeutung der ‘regula fidei’ als Grundlage theologischer Aussagen”, StTh 12 (1958) 1–44. – R. Harrisville/ W. Sundberg, The Bible in Modern Culture: Baruch Spinoza to Brevard Childs (2nd edn.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2002). – C. Helmer/C. Landmesser (eds.), One Scripture Or Many? Canon from Biblical, Theological and Philosophical Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford UP 2004). –H. Hübner, “Vetus Testamentum und Vetus Testamentum in Novo Receptum: die Frage nach dem Kanon des Alten Testaments aus neutestamendicher Sicht”, JBTh 3 (1988) 147–162. – B. Janowski (ed.), Kanonhermeneutik: Vom Lesen und Verstehen der christlichen Bibel (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 2007). – S. Krauter, “Brevard S. Childs’ Programm einer Biblischen Theologie: Eine Untersuchung seiner systematisch-theologischen und methodologischen Fundamente”, ZThK 96 (1999) 21–48. – J. Kugel/R. Greer, Early Biblical Interpretation (Philadelphia: Westminster 1986). – W. Lyons, Canon and Exegesis: Canonical Praxis and the Sodom Narrative (JSOT.S 352; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 2002). – N. Macdonald, “Israel and the Old Testament Story in Irenaeus’s Presentation of the Rule of Faith”, JThI 3 (2009) 281–298. – Idem, Metaphysics and the God of Israel: Systematic Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2007). – J. G. Mcconville, “Biblical Theology: Canon and Plain Sense”, SBET 19 (2001) 134–157. – P. D. Miller, “Der Kanon in der gegenwärtigen amerikanischen Diskussion”, Zum Problem des biblischen Kanons (ed. I. Baldermann e.a.; JBTh 3; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1988) 13–27. – R. W. L. Moberly, “The Church’s Use of the Bible: The Work of Brevard Childs”, ET 99 (1988) 104–109; The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2000); “The Canon of the Old Testament: Some Historical and Hermeneutical Reflections from a Western Perspective”, Das Alte Testament als christliche Bibel in orthodoxer und westlicher Sicht (ed. I. Dimitrov e.a.; WUNT 174; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2004), 239–257; The Theology of the Book of Genesis (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2009); Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2013). – D. F. Morgan, “Canon and Criticism: Method Or Madness?”, AThR 68 (1986) 83–94. – J. Neusner, Midrash in Context (Philadelphia: Fortress 1983). – P. R. Noble, “The Sensus Literalis: Jowett, Childs, and Barr”, JTS 44 (1993) 1–23; The Canonical Approach: A Critical Reconstruction of the Hermeneutics of Brevard S. Childs (BIntS 16; Leiden: Brill 1995). – M. Oeming, Gesamtbiblische Theologien der Gegenwart: Das Verhältnis von AT und NT in der hermeneutischen Diskussion seit Gerhard von Rad (2nd edn.; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1987); “Text – Kontext – Kanon: ein neuer Weg alttestamentlicher Theologie? Zu einem Buch von Brevard S. Childs”, JBTh 3 (1988) 241–251; Das Alte Testament als Teil des christlichen Kanons? Studien zu gesamtbiblischen Theologien der Gegenwart (3rd edn.; Zürich: Pano 2001); “Canonical Interpretation of Scripture”, Contemporary Biblical Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Burlington, VT: Ashgate 2006), 65–70. – D. Olson, “Biblical Theology as Provisional Monologization: A Dialogue with Childs, Brueggemann and Bakhtin”, BibInt 6 (1998) 162–180; “Zigzagging through Deep Waters: A Guide to Brevard Childs’s Canonical Exegesis of Scripture”, WW 29 (2009) 348–356. – L. Per-

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

199

due, “Old Testament Theology Since Barth’s Epistle to the Romans”, Biblical Theology: Introducing the Conversation (ed. L. Perdue e.a.; Nashville, TN: Abingdon 2009), 55–136. – I. Provan, “Canons to the Left of Him: Brevard Childs, His Critics, and the Future of Old Testament Theology”, SJTh 50 (1997) 1–38. – R. Rendtorff, Das überlieferungsgeschichtliche Problem des Pentateuch (BZAW 147; Berlin: de Gruyter 1977; tr. The Problem of the Process of Transmission in the Pentateuch; JSOT.S 89; Sheffield 1990); “Zur Bedeutung des Kanons für eine Theologie des Alten Testaments”, Wenn nicht jetzt, wann dann? Aufsätze für Hans-Joachim Kraus zum 65. Geburtstag (ed. H.-G. Geyer; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 1983), 3–11; Canon and Theology: Overtures to an Old Testament Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress 1993); “Canonical Interpretation: A New Approach to Biblical Texts”, ProEccl 3 (1994) 141–151; “Review of Brevard Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments”, JBTh 9 (1994) 359–369; “How to Read the Book of the Twelve as a Theological Unity”, Reading and Hearing the Book of the Twelve (ed. J. Nogalski/M. Sweeney; Atlanta, GA: SBL 2000), 75–87; Theologie des Alten Testaments: ein kanonischer Entwurf, 1–2 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 1998–2001; tr. The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament (Leiderdorp: Deo Publishing 2005). – K. Rowe, “Biblical Pressure and Trinitarian Hermeneutics”, ProEccl 11 (2002) 295–312; “For Future Generations: Worshipping Jesus and the Integration of the Theological Disciplines”, ProEccl 17 (2008) 186–209. – J. Sanders, The Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11 (11QPsa) (DJD 4; Oxford: Clarendon 1965); “Cave 11 Surprises and the Question of Canon”, New Directions in Biblical Archaeology (ed. D. N. Freedman/J. C. Greenfield; Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1969), 101–116; Torah and Canon (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972; 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2005; “Adaptable for Life: The Nature and Function of Canon”, Magnalia Dei: The Mighty Acts of God: Essays on Bible and Archaeology in Memory of G. E. Wright (New York: Doubleday 1976), 531–560; Canon and Community: A Guide to Canonical Criticism (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock 1984); From Sacred Story to Sacred Text: Canon as Paradigm (Philadelphia: Fortress 1987); “Stability and Fluidity in Text and Canon”, Tradition of the Text (ed. G. J. Norton/S. Pisano; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1991), 203–217; “The Hermeneutics of Text Criticism”, Textus 18 (1995) 1–26; “The Exile and Canon Formation”, Exile: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Conceptions (ed. J. M. Scott; Leiden: Brill 1997), 37–61; “The Task of Text Criticism”, Problems in Biblical Theology: Essays in Honor of Rolf Knierim (ed. H. Sun/K. Eades; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1997), 315–327; “Intertextuality and Canon”, On the Way to Nineveh: Studies in Honor of George M. Landes (ed. S. Cook/S. Winter; Atlanta, GA: Scholars 1999), 316–333; “The Scrolls and the Canonical Process”, Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment, 2 (ed. P. Flint/J. VanderKam; Leiden: Brill 1999), 1–23; “Canon as Dialogue”, The Bible at Qumran: Text, Shape, and Interpretation (ed. P. W. Flint/T. H. Kim; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 2001), 7–26; “The Issue of Closure in the Canonical Process”, The Canon Debate (ed. L. McDonald/J. Sanders; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson 2002), 252–263; “The Modern History of the Qumran Psalms Scroll and Canonical Criticism”, Emanuel: Studies in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov (ed. S. Paul e.a.; Leiden: Brill 2003), 393–411. – C. Scalise, “Canonical Hermeneutics: Childs and Barth”, SJTh 47 (1994) 61–88; Hermeneutics as Theological Prolegomena: A Canonical Approach. (StABH 8; Macon, GA: Mercer UP 1994); From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity 1996). – J. Scheetz, The Concept of Canonical Intertextuality and the Book of Daniel (Cambridge: James Clarke 2012). – E. Schnabel, “Die Entwürfe von B. S. Childs und H. Gese bezüglich des Kanons”, Der Kanon der Bibel (ed. G. Maier; Giesen/Basel: Brunnen 1990), 102–152. – M. Seckler, “Über die Problematik des biblischen Kanons und die Bedeutung seiner Wiederentdeckung”, ThQ 180 (2000) 30–53. – I. L. Seeligmann, “Voraussetzungen der Midraschexegese”, VT.S 1 (1953) 150–181. – C. Seitz, Word Without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1998); Figured Out: Typology and Providence in Christian Scripture (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox 2001); Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2007); The Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets: The Achievement of Association in Canon Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2009); The Character of Christian Scripture: The Significance of a Two-Testament Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic 2011). – C. Seitz/K. Greene-Mccreight (eds.), Theological Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Brevard S. Childs (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1999). – J. Scheetz, The Concept of Canonical Intertextuality and the Book of Daniel (Cambridge: James Clarke 2012). – G. T. Sheppard, “Canon Criticism: The Proposal of Brevard Childs and an Assessment for Evangelical Hermeneutics”, Studia Biblica et Theologica 4 (1974) 3–17; Wisdom as a Hermeneutical Construct: A Study of the Sapientializing of the Old Testament

200

Dennis Olson

(BZAW 151; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1980); “Canonization: Hearing the Voice of the Same God Through Historically Dissimilar Traditions”, Int. 36 (1982) 21–33; “The’Scope’ of Isaiah as a Book of Jewish and Christian Scriptures”, New Visions of Isaiah (ed. R. Melugin/M. Sweeney; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 1996) 257–281; “Biblical Wisdom Literature and the End of the Modern Age”, VT.S 80 (2000) 575–584. – F. Spina, “Canonical Criticism: Childs versus Sanders”, Interpreting God’ s Word for Today: An Inquiry into Hermeneutics from a Biblical Theological Perspective (ed. W. McCown/J.E. Massey; Anderson, Ind.: Warner 1982), 165–194. – G. Steins, Die Chronik als kanonisches Abschlussphänomen: Studien zur Entstehung und Theologie von 1/2 Chronik (BBB 93; Weinheim: Beltz Athenaum 1995); “Torabindung und Kanonabschluß: zur Entstehung und kanonischen Funktion der Chronikbücher”, Die Tora als Kanon für Juden und Christen (ed. E. Zenger; HBSt 10; Freiburg: Herder 1996), 231–256; Die “Bindung Isaaks” im Kanon (Gen 22): Grundlagen und Programm einer Kanonisch-Intertextuellen Lektüre (HBSt 20; Freiburg: Herder 1999); “Das Lesewesen Mensch und das Buch der Bücher”, StZ 221/10 (2003), 689–699; “Der Bibelkanon als Denkmal und Text: Zu einigen methodologischen Aspekten kanonischer Schriftauslegung”, The Biblical Canons (ed. J.-M. Auwers/H. J. De Jonge; BETL 163; Leuven: Leuven UP 2003), 177–198; “Kanonisch lesen”, Lesarten der Bibel: Beiträge zur Theorie der Exegese des Alten Testaments (ed. H. Utzschneider/E. Blum; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2006), 45–64; “Der Kanon ist der erste Kontext: Oder, Zurück an den Anfang!”, BK 62 (2007) 116–121; “Kanon und Anamnese: Auf dem Weg zu einer Neuen Biblischen Theologie”, Der Bibelkanon in der Bibelauslegung: Methodenreflexionen und Beispielexegesen (ed. E. Ballhorn/G. Steins; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2007), 110–129; “Kanonisch-intertextuelle Bibellektüre – My Way”, Intertextualität: Perspektiven auf ein interdisziplinäres Arbeitsfeld (ed. K. Herrmann/S. Hubenthal; Aachen: Shaker 2007), 55–68. – P. Stuhlmacher, “Der Kanon und seine Auslegung”, Jesus Christus als die Mitte der Schrift: Studien zur Hermeneutik des Evangeliums (ed. C. Landmesser e.a.; ZNW 86; Berlin: de Gruyter 1997), 263–290. – J. Taschner, Die Mosereden im Deuteronomium: Eine kanonorientierte Untersuchung (FAT 59; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2008). – G. Tucker e.a. (eds.), Canon, Theology, and Old Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Brevard S. Childs (Philadelphia: Fortress 1988). – L. B. Wolfenson, “Implications of the Place of the Book of Ruth”, HUCA 1 (1924) 151–178. – C. Xun, Theological Exegesis in the Canonical Context: Brevard Childs’s Methodology of Biblical Theology (StBL 137; New York: Peter Lang 2010).

1. Canonical Aspects in Modern Biblical Studies The terms “canonical approach”, “canonical method”, or “canonical criticism” refer to a variety of methods or orientations to the scholarly study of Scripture that emphasize the density of theological reflection evident in latter stages of shaping, composition and formation of biblical traditions and biblical books. Topics include adaptation and reshaping of old traditions in new contexts, arranging and editing books, categorizing and redefining the place of biblical books within larger canonical collections (Daniel among the Prophets versus the Writings, Old Testament alongside the New). Canonical interpreters tend to be explicitly Christian in their orientation. A persistent and challenging issue for Christian canonical scholars is defining the nature of the proper relationship and interaction between the Hebrew Bible (the canon of the living Jewish community of faith) and the Old and New Testament (the canon of a living Christian community of faith). A primary concern for many canonical interpreters is how to use wisely the valuable tools of historical-critical exegesis in such a way that honors the ancient voice of biblical texts while also honoring Scripture as an ongoing theological voice for contemporary communities of faith. Canonical approaches were born out of frustration that earlier forms of biblical theology had tended to

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

201

align with historical criticism and its preference for the earlier layers and forms of biblical traditions as most generative of meaning while discounting later stages of editing, shaping, selecting and arranging of biblical texts, books and canons as not having significant theological import. Canonical approaches, in contrast, view the latest stages of editing as the most fruitful arenas for theological interpretation of biblical texts. The two primary scholars starting in the 1970’s who promoted an explicitly “canonical” agenda in biblical exegesis and hermeneutics were Brevard Childs and James Sanders.1 Although markedly different in their approaches, Childs and Sanders were both reacting to a number of developments in the last quarter of the twentieth century: the collapse of the so-called Biblical Theology movement in the U.S., new discoveries in the Dead Sea Scrolls that impacted the understanding of canon, new insights on Jewish midrashic and inner-biblical interpretation, the struggle to discern the true unity of Scripture in face of its enormous diversity, the lack of conversation between biblical scholars and systematic theologians, and a perceived gulf between professional biblical scholarship and the use of Scripture in living communities of faith. Increased interests in literary methods, reader-response approaches, and hermeneutics in biblical interpretation also encouraged scholarly engagement with the final form of biblical texts and the hermeneutical interplay of biblical traditions and communities of interpretation. A good number of scholars in North America, Europe and elsewhere have continued to extend and adapt the canonical perspectives of Childs and Sanders. One important example is the German scholar Rolf Rendtorff who, under the influence of Childs and Gerhard von Rad, developed his own distinctive program of theological interpretation with a focus on the later stages of the “canonical composition” of Old Testament books.2 Robust critiques of the canonical program have also been offered from a number of vantage points since the 1970’s to the present (see below). One recurring critique stems from a misunderstanding of what “canon” means for Childs, Sanders and others. The word “canon” has been used in two senses in biblical scholarship, one narrow and one broad. The narrow definition of “canon” involves a faith community’s final, definitive decision about an authoritative list of books – which books are in and which are out for a given community. In this sense, “canonical” refers to an external human decision imposed upon the biblical literature. A general scholarly consensus agrees that the earliest formal Christian canon understood narrowly as a list of Old and New Testament books approximating its current form dates back to the Alexandrian bishop Athanasius and other authorities in the fourth century C.E. Some critiques of the canonical approach to biblical interpretation assume this narrow definition of canon and thus criticize as anachronistic any application of the term “canon” or “canonical” to anything before the fourth century C.E.3 Moreover, critics claim that a canonical interpreter like Childs simply assumes the Protestant Christian canon

1 2 3

Childs, Biblical Theology (1970); Sanders, Torah (1972). Rendtorff, Canonical (2005). See selected essays in L. McDonald and J. Sanders, Canon (2002).

202

Dennis Olson

as the norm and ignores the quite different canons or lists of books in the Bibles of other traditions (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish).4 However, Childs and Sanders consistently employ a second and broader historical understanding of the term “canon” which is explicitly present in the second century C.E. and, they argue, was present implicitly much earlier in the Old Testament itself. This broader notion of “canon” came to be intertwined with the Christian “rule of faith”, an normative summary of the content of the faith that emerged as a consensus in the early church. This “rule of faith” functioned as a guide to how the Old and New Testaments could be read together as one witness to one divine reality who was both the God of Israel and the God of Jesus Christ as revealed through Scripture through the witness of the Holy Spirit.5 The word “canonical” as used by Childs, Sanders and others does include the narrow sense of canon as a list of authoritative books which has a degree of fluidity depending on the given tradition (Protestant, Jewish, Roman Catholic and the like). For Childs and Sanders, however, the term “canonical” also involves a much broader theological framework for a community’s reading of its scriptures as traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. Childs and Sanders understand this “canonizing” or “canon consciousness” to have occurred throughout much of the long history and many stages of the collecting, shaping, editing, and ordering of biblical traditions and biblical books up until the final form of the canon.6

2. The ‘Canonical Approach’ of Brevard S. Childs Brevard Childs sought to reinvigorate the theological interpretation of the Bible through a broad and complex program that he called a “canonical approach” to interpreting the Bible as Scripture for the Christian Church. He endeavored to build bridges between historical-critical and theological study of Scripture, between biblical studies and systematic theology, between North American and European biblical scholarship, between Jewish and Christian traditions of interpreting the Bible, between ancient and modern interpreters, and between the academy and contemporary communities of faith.

4 Thus, L. Perdue observes that “Childs’s theology comes under criticism in many circles for his confusing definition of canon, canonical approach, and believing community and for his failure to include Judaism and history in his theological work” along with a failure “to adjudicate between the three major canons of Catholicism, Judaism, and Protestantism, which hold differences in the collection of books and in the order of their arrangement”; Perdue, Old Testament (2009), 114. 5 See Hägglund, Bedeutung (1958), 39, and further discussion below. 6 On “canon consciousness” early in the growth of biblical literature, see Seeligmann, Voraussetzungen (1953), 150–81, and discussion below. See also Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 70–71, and Sanders, Sacred (1987), 83. In some of his later work, Childs acknowledged that the term “canonical” had “engendered confusion” and that he could conceivably have called his approach “kerygmatic” or “post-critical”: “Whether one calls a new approach ‘canonical’ or ‘kerygmatic’ or ‘post-critical’ is largely irrelevant”; see Childs, Isaiah (2001), xii; Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 99.

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

203

Childs (b. 1923) spent most of his career as an Old Testament professor at Yale University in New Haven, CT from 1958 until 1999, serving in both the divinity school and the university. He remained a prolific scholar until his death in 2007 at the age of 83. Baptized as an Episcopalian and raised as a Presbyterian, Childs first studied at the University of Michigan and then Princeton Theological Seminary, while also taking some course work at Yeshiva University in New York City. He did his doctoral studies at the University of Basel in Switzerland under W. Eichrodt and W. Baumgartner with primary training as a biblical form critic in the tradition of Hermann Gunkel.7 His Basel dissertation on myth in Genesis 1–11 became the basis for his first book and already showed his interest in exploring the challenges of modern historical criticism in relating “history” to revealed divine reality as mediated through the Scriptures of the Jewish and Christian traditions.8

Childs published a number of form-critical and tradition-historical studies in the 1960’s, but it was his 1970 monograph entitled Biblical Theology in Crisis? that began in earnest his exploration of a new way forward in the theological interpretation of Scripture.9 Childs chronicled the slow dissolution of the American Biblical Theology movement in the 1950’s, a movement based on untenable arguments for a distinctive biblical mentality (Hebraic versus Greek) and other contrasts between the Bible and its larger cultural environment. Leaning on Karl Barth’s model of close biblical exegesis in his Church Dogmatics, Childs offered the shape of a new biblical theology that centered on its context within the canon of Christian Scripture. This Christian canon was composed of a distinctive Old Testament witness and a distinctive New Testament witness, both of which in dialogue provide the arena for the ongoing encounter with the living God of Jesus Christ through the witness of the Holy Spirit as guided by the Church’s “rule of faith”. Childs continued to develop his canonical approach by writing commentaries on the books of Exodus and Isaiah, historical-critical and theological introductions to every book of the Old Testament and the New Testament in two separate volumes, an Old Testament theology, a full biblical theology of both Old and New Testaments, a history of the Christian interpretation of the book of Isaiah, and a theological reading of the New Testament letters and narratives of the apostle Paul which was published posthumously.10

2.1. Childs: Three Underlying Convictions Three core convictions stand out in Childs’s canonical framework of interpretation. The first conviction is that the final form of biblical texts and books is the end result of theological and religious shaping and editing of texts that often obscured earlier social and political conflicts or perspectives. Vestiges of earlier 7 In various prefaces to his books, Childs listed alongside Eichrodt and Baumgartner other “unforgettable teachers” from the intense post-World War II European context such as Gerhard von Rad, Walther Zimmerli, Oscar Cullmann, Günther Bornkam, and Karl Barth. See Driver, Childs (2010), 37. 8 Childs, Myth and Reality (1960). 9 Childs, Biblical Theology (1970). Earlier studies included Memory and Tradition (1962) and Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis (1967). 10 Childs, Exodus (1974); further: Isaiah (2001); OT Introduction (1979); NT Introduction (1984); OT Theology (1985); Biblical Theology (1992); Struggle (2004); Paul (2008).

204

Dennis Olson

divisive social and political dynamics may certainly be detectable in the text, but in most cases they have been rendered mute. In regard to the Old Testament, Childs argues, Beginning in the pre-exilic period, but increasing in significance in the post-exilic era, a force was unleashed by Israel’s religious use of her traditions which exerted an influence on the shaping of the literature as it was selected, collected and ordered. It is clear from the sketch of the process that particular editors, religious groups, and even political parties were involved… . But basic to the canonical process is that those responsible for the actual editing of the text did their best to obscure their own identity… . Increasingly the original sociological and historical differences within the nation of Israel – Northern and Southern kingdom, pro- and anti-monarchical parties, apocalyptic versus theocratic circles – were lost, and a religious community emerged which found its identity in terms of sacred scripture. Israel defined itself in terms of a book! The canon formed the decisive Sitz im Leben for the Jewish community’s life, thus blurring the sociological evidence most sought after by the modern historian.11

While Childs’s earlier form-critical training had focused on the “life setting” (Sitz im Leben) of the earliest stages of a given biblical tradition, Childs came to fix his attention on the life-setting of the later and final stages of biblical texts and books as being the most fruitful site for theological interpretations. This late pre-exilic and post-exilic religious “textualization of the tradition … transmitted by scribal schools” increasingly claimed the spotlight for Childs.12 In this, Childs was influenced early on by Isac Seeligmann’s argument for proto-midrashic exegesis within the Hebrew Bible itself as, for example, in the Chronicler’s reinterpretation of 1–2 Kings and elsewhere. Seeligmann understood these inner biblical interpretations as evidence of an internal and vibrant “canon consciousness” (Kanonbewußtsein) already evident in the post-exilic period, centuries before the emergence of a full Jewish canon (understood in a narrow sense as a list of authoritative books).13 A second core conviction undergirding Childs’s canonical program is that biblical texts and traditions originally aimed at particular audiences in a given historical situation were intentionally re-shaped and edited so that they would continue to address future generations in new times and places as a word of the living God and a continuing guide for faithful living in the world. This re-shaping toward accessibility for future generations across boundaries of time and space could occur at various stages of the tradition’s development and through a host of different strategies. Thus, for example, the original cultic setting of ancient Israel’s worship gave rise to many of the individual psalms in the book of Psalms.

11

Childs, Introduction (1979) 78. Childs, Future Generation (1990), 360. This move from form to final form makes one of two major turns in Childs’ career. See Driver, Childs (2010), 15, 136. Nevertheless, Childs also saw some methodological continuity in his career in that his focus on the final or canonical form of the biblical text remained an exploration of genre or form and its proper setting and expectations: “In one sense, I have simply extended the insights of the form critical method which called for an exact description of the material’s literary genre”; see Childs, Response (1980), 52. The second major move was from a focus on midrash to a focus on the distinctively Christian mode of figural, spiritual or allegorical interpretation in moving from ancient text to contemporary appropriation (see below). 13 Seeligmann, Midraschexegese (1953), 150–81. See an extended discussion regarding Seeligmann and Childs’ evolving understanding of the relationship of midrash, inner-biblical interpretation and canonical interpretation in Driver, Childs (2010), 160–205. 12

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

205

This early cultic setting, however gradually gave way and was left behind as the psalms were selected, arranged, written down, and collected into a written book with a new introduction (the Torah Psalm of Psalm 1) urging readers to study and meditate on this book of Psalms as the Torah of the living God: “These prayers now function as the divine word itself. The original cultic role of the psalms has been subsumed under a larger category of the canon. In an analogy to Israel’s wisdom collection the study of the Psalter serves as a guidebook along the path of blessing”.14 The entire 688–page Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (1979) was dedicated to two primary tasks. First of all, the Introduction summarized the key historical-critical issues of the day for each of the 66 books of the Old Testament, demonstrating Childs’s consistent commitment to never leave the discerning use of fruitful modern historical-critical methods behind. The second task was to provide abundant and specific illustrations of the wide diversity of different “canon-conscious” strategies used by later editors to re-shape each of the biblical books (once anchored in the historical past) so as to make them accessible to future generations as written Scripture.15 A third core conviction underlying the canonical approach of Childs is the confessional affirmation of the reality of the living God of Jesus Christ who continues to speak to the Church and the world in and through the bounded but creative arena of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, as testimony to the one gospel of the one God of Jesus Christ through the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit. This confessional affirmation makes a truth claim within a deep and broader understanding of real “history” that includes the affirmation of an historically-active divine reality in the world. Such a confessional affirmation of the truth of a divine reality is ruled out of bounds in some modern Enlightenment-bound definitions of history or historical criticism. In the canonical approach, the role of the Bible is not being understood simply as a cultural expression of ancient peoples, but as a testimony pointing beyond itself to a divine reality to which it bears witness. To speak of the Bible now as scripture further extends this insight because it implies its continuing role for the church as a vehicle of God’s will. Such an approach to the Bible is obviously confessional. Yet the Enlightenment’s alternative proposal which was to confine the Bible solely to the arena of human experience is just as much a philosophical commitment. In sum, the paradox of much of Biblical Theology [in the past] was its attempt to pursue a theological discipline within a framework of Enlightenment’s assumptions which necessarily resulted in its frustration and dissolution.16 14 Childs, Introduction (1979), 513. Many other hermeneutical moves are evident in the canonical shaping of the psalms beyond the addition of Psalm 1: the division of the Psalter into five sections mirroring the five-fold Torah, the dense anthologizing of earlier biblical traditions together into one psalm now rendered in the form of an interpretive poem (Psalm 86), the shift in referent in the royal psalms from their origins during a time of historical monarchy in ancient Israel to the post-exilic hope for a future royal messiah, or the later addition of titles to many of the psalms and offering a new framework for interpreting the psalms (for example, the confessional Psalm 51 being placed into the mouth of a humanized, flawed and repentant King David with whom the reader could relate). See Childs, Introduction (1979), 514–523; Childs, Psalm Titles (1971), 137–50. 15 In order to sample some of the diversity of “canon-conscious” strategies detected by Childs, a reader could compare his treatments of Deuteronomy, Amos, Haggai and Daniel. See Childs, Introduction (1979) 211–24, 399–410, 467–71, 613–22. 16 Childs, Biblical Theology (1979), 9. Childs’ diagnosis of the negative impact of the Enlightenment’s views of history on modern attempts to interpret the Bible theologically was informed by the work of his Yale colleague, Hans Frei; see Frei, Eclipse (1974). At the same time, it should be

206

Dennis Olson

A related issue concerns Childs’s view of the relationship of the one God of the Jewish Scriptures and, in Childs’ view, the same Christian God of Jesus Christ revealed through the Christian Bible. Childs was interested in and respectful of the ongoing life of Jewish faith communities and Judaism’s venerable tradition of biblical interpretation. Childs argued that Christianity ought to use the Hebrew Bible in its Jewish canonical form (rather than the Greek Septuagint) in order to emphasize “the ontological relationship between Christianity and Judaism” and in order that the distinctive witness of the Old Testament as ancient Israel’s Scripture not be drowned out by the New Testament witness but placed in a proper theological dialectic.17 In Childs’s judgment, Rashi and Ibn Ezra were included among the “giants” of biblical interpreters. He diligently sought out opportunities to deepen his knowledge of Jewish interpretation. Childs spent “two summers at the Jewish Theological Seminary, four years of attending Judah Goldin’s midrash seminars, and a year at the Hebrew University studying midrash” along with interactions with the work of James Kugel and Jacob Neusner on Jewish midrash and interpretation.18 Early on, Childs assumed a rough correlation between Jewish and Christian views on the nature of the entire Old Testament as Scripture, the preference for the “plain sense” or sensus literalis over later interpretive tradition, and Jewish midrash as a rough equivalent to Christian figural, spiritual or allegorical interpretation. D. Driver’s insightful study of Childs’ canonical program argues that one of the two major turns in Childs’ career was his growing realization of the significant differences in Jewish and Christian views of the relationship of the Bible and tradition. For Jews, the written Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) has a higher authority than other parts of the Hebrew Bible; for Christians, the whole Old Testament is deemed equally authoritative, including the Prophets. For Jews, the tradition of interpretation embodied in the Oral Torah (post-biblical ethical traditions of halakhah and other rabbinic midrashic traditions) functions alongside the written Torah as an essential authority. For most Christian expressions (especially among Protestants), Scripture (including the entire Old and New Testaments) is the primary authority and the Church’s tradition is secondary. Thus, Childs moved away from the use of “midrash” as a corollary to Christian interpretive traditions and focused more on exploring the dynamics of the distinctive Christian use of figural, spiritual or allegorical interpretations of Scripture.19 These core differences between Jew and Christian heightened for Childs the “mystery of Israel” (Romans 9–11) and the question of how best to describe the relationship revealed in Scripture of the one God of ancient Israel, contemporary Judaism, and the Church while still holding on to a strongly Christological view as a confessional Christian: emphasized that Childs affirmed the necessity and judicious use of historical-critical tools in biblical exegesis that could be valuable in a number of ways in discerning more clearly the canonical meaning of the text; see Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 104–105. But Childs also sought to “’complexify’ what counts for history in the first place. After the final form, there is the long history of effects in ‘the community of faith’ – synagogue as well as church”; see Driver, Childs (2010), 17. 17 Childs, Introduction (1979), 659–71. 18 Childs, New Testament (1984), xv. 19 Driver, Childs (2010), 160–205. Two important sources that contributed to Childs’s re-thinking were Neusner, Midrash (1983), and Wolfenson, Implications (1924), 151–78.

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

207

A major point to emphasize is that Christianity can make no proper theological claim to be superior to Judaism, nor that the New Testament is of a higher moral quality than the Old Testament. Human blindness envelops the one as much as the other. Rather, the claim being made is that the divine reality made know in Jesus Christ stands as judge of both religions. This assertion means that Judaism through God’s h. esed has indeed grasped truth from the Torah, even when failing to recognize therein the manifestation of God in Jesus Christ. Conversely, Christianity, which seeks to lay claim on divine truth in the name of Christ, repeatedly fails to grasp the very reality which it confesses to name. In a word, two millennia of history have demonstrated that Jews have often been seized by the divine reality testified to by their Scriptures, but without recognizing its true name, while Christians have evoked the name, but failed to understand the reality itself.20

So whether from a Jewish or Christian faith perspective, Childs would affirm a shared core conviction that the divine reality and divine truth are mediated through an authoritative written Scripture (the Torah – both Written and Oral – for Jews, the two-testament Bible – both Old and New – for Christians).

2.2. Childs: Three Touchstones in the Practice of a Canonical Interpretation Childs’ exegetical and hermeneutical program of Christian canonical interpretation is intended to be more of an interactive set of orientations rather than a step-by-step method or “criticism” alongside other criticisms (form, source, redaction).21 As an illustration of his canonical approach, Childs once offered three dialectically-related touchstones that might orient a biblical interpreter working in a canonical mode with whatever methods or theories might be brought to the exegetical and interpretive task. These three touchstones are not sequential steps but interactive and dialectical guides to the complex process of exegesis and theological interpretation in response to the following exegetical question: “How does one read the scriptures in respect to its chief referent who is God?”22 The first touchstone is the foundational and continuing normative role of the “plain sense” (sensus literalis) of the text throughout the exegetical process. It is “absolutely necessary to interpret each passage within its historical, literary and canonical context” in order “to hear the voice of each biblical witness in its own right” and with its own integrity.23 Childs contends that this first orienting element reflects “a wide consensus within the church and academy” through the centuries, even among those who use allegory or other figural modes of interpretation, that the “plain sense” of a text was the necessary launching point for interpretation and the touchstone for subsequently evaluating any figural or other creative readings of the scriptural text.24 The “plain sense” of the text includes

20

Childs, Witness (1997), 63–64. Childs, NT Introduction (1984), xvii: “In the end I would rather speak of a new vision of the text rather than in terms of method”. See also Childs, OT Introduction (1979), 82. 22 Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 379–383. Childs also offers a helpful guide to canonical exegesis as applied specifically to New Testament texts in Childs, NT Introduction (1984), 48–53. 23 Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 379. 24 Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 379. See also the formative early essay by Childs, Sensus Literalis (1976), 80–93. 21

208

Dennis Olson

understanding the ancient text in its ancient Near Eastern or Greco-Roman environment and its history of development and editing in so far as the evidence allows, but the focus will be the text’s diverse forms of distinctive theological shaping in ways that made it accessible to future generations, a shaping which most often occurs at a later stage of the text’s development within a given biblical book of one testament or another, either Old or New.25 What is involved is careful cross-cultural listening and honoring of the voice of the “other”, in this case, the ancient biblical “other” through whom the voice of the living God may be heard in ways that follow the grain of the text’s own ancient theological and hermeneutical shaping. Recognizing that all exegesis will be provisional, contested, and in need of ongoing critique and correction, Childs nevertheless held on to an exegetical goal of some rough approximation of “canonical intentionality” or “authorial intent” as one element of interpretation.26 This commitment to use the best available tools of scholarship to study the Bible as fully human and historically contextualized in a given time and place is grounded for Childs in the Christian doctrine of the incarnation (Jesus as fully human and fully divine). The Bible in its human, fully time-conditioned form, functions theologically for the church as a witness to God’s divine revelation in Jesus Christ. The church confesses that in this human form, the Holy Spirit unlocks its truthful message to its hearers in the mystery of faith. This theological reading cannot be simply fused with a historical reconstruction of the biblical text, nor conversely, neither can it be separated… . In a word, the divine and human dimensions remain inseparably intertwined, but in a highly profound, theological manner. Its ontological relation finds its closest analogy in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, truly man and truly God.27

A second touchstone in Childs’s canonical approach incorporates an intertextual dialogue between the Old and New Testament witnesses. “This reading”, Childs observes, “proceeds from the fact of a two part canon, and seeks to analyze structural similarities and dissimilarities between the witness of both testaments”.28 This is not a matter of tracing a history of ideas or development of traditions in a linear way from Old to New Testaments. Childs envisions an open-ended and dialogical analysis of the distinctive similarities or differences evident in comparing diverse Old and New Testament witnesses as related to a given referent (in this case, God) or a given topic, motif or theological claim. “Specifically in terms of an understanding of God, what features do the two testaments hold in common respecting the mode, intention, and goal of God’s self-manifestation? A comparison is being made, but neither witness [OT or NT] is absorbed by the other, nor their contexts fused”.29 The diverse witnesses may agree, disagree, create a dialectical tension, complement one another, fill a gap left by the other, or overwhelm and render mute another witness. A key concern is that both the Old and New Testaments are allowed their full and distinctive voices as Scripture and as witnesses to the God of Jesus Christ.

25 26 27 28 29

Childs, OT Introduction (1979), 78. Childs, Critique (2003), 177. Childs, Canon (2005), 44–45. Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 380. Ibid.

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

209

The Church has always confessed that the Old Testament is an integral part of the Christian Bible because of its witness to Jesus Christ. Of course, just how this confession has been understood has varied in the history of the church. Yet the newness of the New Testament is its witness to Jesus Christ is of a different order from that of the Old Testament. The gospel is neither simply an extension of the old covenant, nor is it to be interpreted merely as a commentary on the Jewish Scriptures, but it is an explosion of God’s good news. The theological paradox is that the radically new has already been testified to by the Old (cf. Mk 1:12; Heb 1:1).30

A third touchstone in a canonical approach involves the constructive theological reflection on Old and New Testaments that moves “from the dual witness of scripture to the reality of God to which the witnesses point”.31 The exegete combines the detailed study of particular written texts of the Church’s Scripture with hearing the text’s distinctive voice and role within the larger chorus of Scripture in its canonical context. This collection of scriptural testimonies forms the primary arena for encountering the living God within ongoing communities of faith. Unlike biblical prophets and apostles who claimed to have received revelations from God apart from the mediation of a written Scripture, post-biblical communities of faith encounter the revealed God primarily within the arena of the Church’s Scripture.32 This encounter with a divine reality is facilitated by a creative but disciplined shift or extension of the plain or literal sense of the biblical text to some kind of “figural” or analogical interpretive move that enables the biblical text to address contemporary hearers and communities across boundaries of time, space, cultures, and testaments.33 What guides this move from the plain sense to a figural interpretation to test its faithfulness and truth? For Childs, the “rule of faith” (regula fidei) or “rule of truth” provides an indispensable norm and is an essential element of what Childs means by the word “canon”.34 In line with the church father Irenaeus, Childs understood the “rule of faith” as a summary of the apostolic faith that was held as central to the church’s confession. It provided the grounds of the church’s faith and worship over against deviant Gnostic speculation. The rule was not identical with scripture, but was that sacred apostolic tradition, both in oral and written form, that comprised the church’s story … [The rule of faith was] a holistic rendering of the apostolic faith according to its proper order.35

The rule of faith is the church’s shared framework of how the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament may be understood as a coherent and interlocking unity with the New Testament witness to Christ. The framework seeks to preserve both the

30

Childs, Canon (2005), 45. See also Childs, Witness to Jesus (1997), 57–64. Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 380. 32 Ibid. 381. 33 Driver, Childs (2010), 155–57. On figural reading from a canonical perspective, see Seitz, Figured (2001). 34 For a helpful discussion of this broad understanding of canon not just as a list of authoritative books but as inclusive of the norming “rule of faith” of the early church, see Driver, Childs (2010), 249–54. Driver notes that alongside Karl Barth, other scholars on which Childs relied for his insights on the relationship of canon and the rule of faith include von Campenhausen, Entstehung (1968), and Hägglund, Bedeutung (1958), 1–44. 35 Childs, Struggle (2004), 47. 31

210

Dennis Olson

distinctiveness of the two different testamental witnesses while also preserving their interlocking testimony to one and the same subject matter, the God of Jesus Christ.36 On one hand, canon and the rule of faith play a negative role in preventing heretical readings of texts. On the other hand, canon and the regula fidei work positively to provide the necessary boundaries and framework within which the freedom and creativity of the Spirit can work.37 Childs reflected on this dialectic of canonical boundaries and creativity in light of the recent shifts in the gravitational pull of global Christianity toward the Southern Hemisphere and the explosion of Pentecostal and Spirit-based churches: From the perspective of many of the Third World churches there is a renewed interest in the creative role of the Spirit in bringing forth new forms of the church’s life and mission. In this context one is reminded of the resistance of the early Jewish Christians to Paul’s new ministry to the Gentiles and how acceptance of his case only came when it was argued that God had given the Gentiles “the Holy Spirit just as he did to us” (Acts 15:8). “Why then do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?” (v. 10). One of the great concerns of the modern ecumenical Church is to respond to a growing awareness that the future life of the Church cannot be any longer identified with its dominant Western shape, but to welcome and encourage indigenous forms of Christian response. Perhaps the major contribution of Biblical Theology to this complex issue [of the identity and mission of the Church] is to illuminate the full diversity of the biblical witness regarding the church. Clearly no one form of polity has the sole claim to biblical warrants. Yet at the same time to make clear the fixed parameters which are drawn by Scripture outside of which the same threats of Gnosticism, Judaizers, and paganism are ever present in new forms. No Christian theologian should question the decisive role of the Holy Spirit in revitalizing older forms and creating new. However, the basic contribution of dogmatic theology will lie in insisting that the role of the Holy Spirit be understood as the Spirit of Jesus Christ and that the Spirit not be assigned an independent role in the service of private groups, racial or sexual identity, or national ideology.38

2.3. Critiques of Childs’s Canonical Approach Two British scholars, J. Barr and J. Barton, leveled some of the harshest criticisms of Childs’s canonical approach.39 In spite of Childs’s clear comments to the contrary, Barr and Barton repeatedly characterized Childs’ canonical program as merely literary formalism, New Criticism or structuralism applied to the Bible. Childs, they argued, read the text in a purely literary mode without substantive attention to historical critical issues and in effect returned to a pre-critical mode of studying the Bible. Such a method, they argued, would give support to 36

Kugel and Greer, Early (1986), 151. Childs, OT Introduction (1979), 83: “In one sense the canonical method sets limits on the exegetical task by taking seriously the traditional parameters. In another sense, … the canon establishes a platform from which exegesis is launched rather than a barrier by which creative activity is restrained”. 38 Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 448–49. 39 Barr, Introduction (1980), 12–23; Barr, Holy Scripture (1983), 132–71; Barr, Concept (1999), 48–49, 393–434; Barton, Reading (1997), 77–103, 140–79; Barton, Canon (2000), 37–52; Barton, Intertextuality (2000), 33–37; Barton, Canonical (2003), 199–209. 37

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

211

fundamentalist readings of Scripture, a claim that Childs repeatedly found baffling since it ignored his explicit and frequent attention to historical-critical issues throughout his commentaries and biblical-theological publications.40 Some proponents of ideological criticism and semiotics have raised concerns about the canonical approach’s commitment to an authoritative canon which, they argue, may function in some ancient contexts as a hegemonic tool to preserve the position of elite power-brokers (e.g., priests, scribes, political groups). Thus, Gottwald proposed that semiotics or sociolinguistics will be increasingly vital both to a proper social criticism and a proper canonical criticism. How do the special interests of groups get articulated and how are they given compelling currency in particular genres and aggregations of texts? What is the social status of texts that seek to give large-scale interpretations of the origins, meanings, and obligations of communities? … What are the different kinds of socially perceived texts signifying, really signifying: that one should do or not do certain things, think or not think certain thoughts, obey or not obey certain leadership claims, side with or oppose this or that interest group, social tendency, or governmental act or regime?41

Childs acknowledged that many ancient biblical texts arose within a matrix of competing social, religious and political interests and conflicts. Vestiges of such conflicts, he readily admitted, are detectable in the final canonical form of texts. Such vestiges require a “multi-layered reading of a biblical text” in which “the exegete is thus given the challenge by the form of the text itself neither to flatten its voice into a monotone, nor to claim such signs of dissonance within the levels of the text as to call into question any coherent meaning or authoritative role within a community of faith”.42 The competing and often self-critical witnesses across the entire canon of Scripture offer resources that mitigate against the potentially oppressive tyranny of any one ideological position. Studies by M. Brett, P. Noble, W. Lyons, and G. Steins have all offered suggestions for reconstructing Childs’s program in one direction or the other to overcome what they discern is a divided or schizophrenic Childs: on one hand, Childs as an “authoritarian hermeneutical monist” who argues for definitive historical-critical positions and authorial intent in biblical texts versus, on the other hand, a pluralist Childs who is open to reader response and appreciates the diverse interpretations evident in the history of biblical interpretation.43 These

40 Barton, Reading (1984), 98–99. Barr also complained about Childs’s imprecision and “incoherence” in his use of the term “canon” to define his method of biblical exegesis. In doing so, however, Barr ignored Childs’s repeated arguments for his broad use of “canon” and Childs’s reminder that he was not offering a specific exegetical method but an orientation or approach within which one could use a variety of methods. For a concise set of responses to his critics, see Childs, NT Introduction (1984), 37–47. 41 Gottwald, Social Matrix (1985), 316; see also Aichele, Control (2001). 42 Childs, Biblical Theology (2010), 105. Moreover, for Childs, “the theological resources of the whole Christian canon serves as a major check against ideologies which often have some biblical rootage, but are made to function in such a way as to obviate large parts” of the Bible’s message; Childs, NT Introduction (1984), 42. 43 Brett, Biblical Criticism (1991), 11, 52–57, 68–71, 133; Noble, Canonical Approach (1995), 328– 370; W. Lyons, Canon (2002), 28–42, 82–85, 266–75; G. Steins, Bindung (1999), 27–36, 45–83, 130, 214–17. See an analysis of these proposals by Driver, Brevard Childs (2010), 49–58.

212

Dennis Olson

suggested reconstructions attempt to push Childs’s canonical approach either toward a more “objectivist” or “author-intentioned” position or toward a more open “reader response” perspective (using Gadamer, Fish, Iser, Bakhtin or Kristeva). These proposed adaptations, however, miss the balanced dialectic at play in the canonical approach of Childs: I do not wish to suggest that the canonical shaping provides a full-blown hermeneutic as if there were only one correct interpretation built into every text which a proper canonical reading could always recover. The canonical shaping provided larger contexts for interpretation, established the semantic level, and left important structural and material keys for understanding. Nevertheless, exegesis also involves the activity of the interpreter who from his [or her] modern context must also construe the material. There is an important dimension of “reader competence” which reacts to the coercion exercised by the text itself.44

Nevertheless, it is true that Childs, a gracious human being in person, did often assume a heavily authoritative tone in his writing which may give the impression that he alone offered the one proper and objective theological interpretation of a given book or text. It is also true that Childs’s arguments against a wide range of biblical interpreters likely engendered resistance to his proposals from scholars who might otherwise have been more sympathetic to his overall goals.

3. The ‘Canonical-critical’ Position of James A. Sanders James Sanders was born in 1927 and attended Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Divinity School in Memphis, Tennessee. He spent a year (1950–51) on a Fulbright grant studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament in Paris with A. Dupont-Sommer and O. Cullmann. Sanders returned to the U.S., was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor, and earned a doctorate from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, in Hebrew Bible and post-biblical Judaism. While teaching at Colgate Rochester Divinity School (1954–65), he was commissioned to publish the important Psalms scroll from cave 11 at Qumran.45 His work on the Psalms scroll offered new insights into the shape of the Jewish biblical canon in the late Second Temple period and solidified his interests in issues of canon and textual criticism. Sanders discovered that the collection of Psalms at Qumran contained a number of significant differences in arrangement, deletions and additions when compared with the book of Psalms in the standard Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible that had become normative for later Judaism. At the same time, considerable overlap and similarity existed between the Qumran Psalms scroll and the Masoretic textual version of the Hebrew Bible. This led Sanders 44 Childs vs. Barr (1984), 69. Childs recognized the need for different interpreters to bring their own conception frameworks or theoretical perspectives to the exegetical task; his concern was that they not overwhelm and mute the text’s own voice within its canonical context. See Childs, Biblical Theology (1992), 42, 78 where he discusses Aquinas and his skillful use of Aristotle’s philosophical framework in exegeting Scripture. On the balance of creativity and discipline in biblical exegesis, see Chapman, Reclaiming Inspiration (2006), 167–206. 45 Sanders, Cave (1969), 101–16.

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

213

to ponder what would become one of the central themes in his development of what he called “canonical criticism”, namely, the interplay of stability and fluidity among the different canons evident in varied ancient Jewish communities in the Second Temple period and the ways in which biblical canons continued to hold together remarkable stability with equally remarkable creativity and fluidity in later transmission and interpretation in both Jewish and Christian communities. “The concept of canon is located in the tension between two poles: stability and adaptability… . Hermeneutics must be viewed as the midterm of the axis that lies between stability and adaptability”.46 Sanders’ insights offered a new vision that challenged earlier assumptions of canon and interpretation in the Second Temple period and beyond. Sanders moved to a teaching position at Union Theological Seminary in New York City (1965–77) and there published his programmatic work, Torah and Canon, and several individual essays on canon, the meaning of Torah, hermeneutics and textual criticism later collected in a volume entitled From Sacred Story to Sacred Text: Canon as Paradigm.47 Sanders then took a teaching post at Claremont School of Theology from 1977 until his retirement in 1997 where he helped establish the Ancient Biblical Manuscripts Center. He published a practical guide to what he called “canonical criticism” in 1984.48 Childs resisted calling his program “canonical criticism”, but Sanders embraced the phrase as a particular method alongside other helpful “criticisms” that could be applied to biblical texts. “Tradition criticism, redaction criticism, canonical criticism, and comparative midrash must operate together in dialogue and must operate in that order of priority”.49 Sanders complained that biblical scholarship had tended in the past to focus on reconstructed earlier layers and traditions of biblical material in ways that put distance between lay people and professional biblical scholars. Earlier historical-critical scholars tended to privilege earlier and original forms of biblical texts (a kind of “primitivism) while ignoring the more important and more accessible shaping and process of interpretation evident in the later canonizing stages of scripture. In particular, Sanders focused on the hermeneutical processes and dynamics associated with the later stages of the formation of biblical texts in their interaction with communities of faith in contexts of crisis and identity. Moreover, Sanders extended these processes as useful and ongoing hermeneutical guides for biblical interpretation to the present day alongside other critical methodologies (tradition, form and redaction criticism).50 Sanders shared many concerns with Childs including attention to the diversity of traditions within the one canon of Scripture, the focus on the formation of biblical books and blocks within the Bible including the final canonical stages, and the interpretive interaction of canon and community from generation to generation with a theological focus. However, while Childs was primarily focused on the final written form and shape of biblical books as the definitive guide to 46 47 48 49 50

Sanders, Sacred (1987), 11. Sanders, Torah (1972); Sanders, Sacred (1987). Sanders, Canon (1984). Sanders, Torah (1972), xx. Sanders, Stability (1991), 203–17.

214

Dennis Olson

their interpretation, Sanders was primarily focused on reclaiming his reconstruction of the ancient hermeneutical process of canonical interpretation as a model for contemporary communities of faith and their use of Scripture.51 The key to the canonical process for Sanders involved the dynamics both of making prior traditions normative (stability) and at the same time adapting prior traditions (fluidity) for new contexts. Canonization was a historical process that took place in the early believing communities over a period of time between the sixth century B.C.E. and the second century B.C… .The primary character of canon or authoritative tradition, whatever its quantity or extent, is its adaptability; its secondary character is its stability. This is the reason I hesitate to focus as much on the “final literary text” as does Childs”.52

Sanders lifted up this interplay of the adaptability and stability of canonical traditions as a model for contemporary canonical hermeneutics as communities continued to interpret their Scripture for new contemporary contexts.

3.1. Sanders’ Canonical Hermeneutics: Steps in the Process Sanders’ model of “canonical hermeneutics” or what he also called “comparative midrash” has several clearly defined steps. The first step is the recognition of the dense pluralism of voices in the biblical canon that correct one another. The true shape of the Bible as canon consists of its unrecorded hermeneutics which lie between the lines of most of its literature. Quests for canonical shape in the text itself or in its forms result repeatedly in observations about canonical pluralism. For almost every assertion one can find its contra-positive. The richness of the canon in this regard needs to be celebrated rather than ignored… Actually, it is one of the canon’s most precious gifts that it contains its own self-corrective apparatus. No theological construct imposed on the Bible as canon escapes the scrutiny and critique of something else in it.53

Sanders notes several examples of this dialogical pluralism in the Bible. The exclusion and condemnation of the self-righteous in Luke 14 is balanced by the inclusion and welcoming of the self-righteous in the story of the prodigal in Luke 15. Isa 2:4 promises that swords will be turned into plowshares, but Joel 3:10 commands the opposite. Isa 43:18 urges, “Remember not the former things, but Isa 46:9 urges the reader to in fact “Remember the former things”. Qoheleth’s pessimism (“all is vanity”) puts into question the optimism of the human ability to manipulate reality and achieve success embodied in the book of Proverbs. Sanders observes, “There are many contradictions within the Bible; it is a highly pluralistic document. Hence, no tyranny can be established on its basis, for there

51 See Sanders’ extended review of similarities and differences with Childs’ program in Sanders, Sacred (1987), 153–74. 52 Ibid. 83. 53 Sanders, Canon (1984), 46.

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

215

is always something in it to challenge whatever is constructed on it. Its full context is very broad and very wide and sponsors serious dialogue”.54 A second distinctive step in Sanders’ canonical hermeneutics is to identify in any given biblical text “two types of precursor’ material: homegrown, native traditions, on one hand, and borrowed, international traditions (wisdom, legal, narrative, parables), on the other. Once identified, “the next step is to discern the hermeneutics by which those identified traditions function in the passage, how they were adapted, represented, and resignified”.55 This double affirmation is grounded in the double theological claim that God is both Creator of all peoples (affirming international traditions), as well as Redeemer in Israel and in Christ (affirming native traditions). A third step in Sanders’ canonical criticism is to discern if and how five recurring elements have often been interwoven into the canonical hermeneutics of many biblical texts: One, the Bible is a monotheizing literature. Two, it betrays a broad theocentric hermeneutic. Three, much of it celebrates the theologem errore hominum providential divina (God’s grace works in and through human sinfulness). Four, in it God betrays a divine bias for the weak and dispossessed. Five, there is a fourfold hermeneutic process by which [the Bible] adapted international wisdom.56

The Bible’s fourfold hermeneutical process of adapting international wisdom involved the following: “the ancient biblical thinkers depolytheized what they learned from others, monotheized it, Yahwized it, and then Israelitized it”.57

3.2. Sanders: Torah, Pentateuch, and Monotheizing The three most significant insights advanced by Sanders include the meaning of Torah, the canonical shape of the Pentateuch, and the centrality of “monotheizing”. The first insight involves the meaning of Torah. The Hebrew word “Torah” is commonly translated as Law, but Sanders notes that the Torah of Genesis-Deuteronomy is primarily not law but an extended story with law embedded within it, a combination of mythos that defines the identity of the faith community and ethos that defines how the community is to live. “Torah may mean simply the Pentateuch; or it may have the extended meaning of divine revelation generally” in which case it extends to the whole of the Bible, whether the Hebrew Bible for Jews or the First and Second Testaments which constitute the “Torah-Christ story” for Christians.58 Torah always retains both story and ethics, law and gospel, as essential components for both Jewish and Christian communities. A second canonical insight by Sanders was his account of how the present shape of the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) arose. Sanders argued that an 54 55 56 57 58

Sanders, Sacred (1987), 30; Sanders, Canon (2001), 7–26. Sanders, Canon (1984), 47. Ibid. 51. Ibid. 56. Sanders, Sacred (1987) 43, 58.

216

Dennis Olson

earlier pre-exilic version of Israel’s national story led from the exodus out of Egypt to the wilderness wandering and culminated in the conquest of the land of Canaan (Genesis-Joshua). In the final canonical version of the Pentateuch, this longer story was truncated in response to the crisis of the Babylonian exile in 587 BCE. The truncated Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) no longer included the conquest of the land of Canaan; at the end of Deuteronomy, Israel stands at the edge of but still outside the boundary of Canaan. In response to the crisis of the exile, Sanders argued that the final form of the Pentateuch was altered in order to offer to the Jewish community an identity-creating Torah that no longer included or required possession of the land, a temple or a king as constitutive of God’s people, Israel. Adapted to the exile, the Torah story and its laws became the center of Israel’s identity, not the land, the king or the temple. Similarly, with the Roman destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, rabbinic Judaism emerged with a renewed Torah-centered identity which replaced the physical temple, allowing it to survive again through a second major tragedy.59 A third insight important to Sanders is what he called the Bible’s consistent concern to monotheize which runs counter to humans’ pervasive temptation to be polytheists. To monotheize is a context of polytheism, whether it was Iron Age types of polytheism, Persian dualism, or Hellenistic polytheism, is the principle paradigm the Bible as canon exercises and recites. To monotheize is not just to believe that there is only one God of all creation and of all peoples. On the contrary, the canonical commandment to monotheize is not only the first of the Ten Commandments, it is first in terms of the challenge it presents to the modern mind. For truly we are polytheists in our modes of thinking every bit as much as cluding most Israelites. Our situation is perhaps worse in that because of the Judeo-Christian roots of Western civilization we think we are monotheists whereas we fragmentize truth in most of our modes of thinking. To pursue the oneness of God or the Integrity of Reality is perhaps the greatest challenge the human mind and spirit have ever encountered.60

4. Recent Discussions of the ‘Canonical Approach’ The influence of the canonical approaches of Childs and Sanders has continued to resonate and develop in new directions among a number of scholars in North America, Europe and beyond. The following survey does not pretend to be exhaustive but only illustrative. Building on Childs and von Rad, R. Rendtorff has provided a number of important contributions to “canonical” interpretation: proposals for the theological significance of the final stage of editing and unifying of the Pentateuch, the unity of the book of Isaiah, the canonical shaping of the book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, robust engagement as a Christian biblical theologian with Jewish interpreters (both ancient and modern), the unifying role of recurring cross-canonical formulae (covenant formula, grace formula, prophetic speech formula and the like), and a major theology of the canonical

59 60

Sanders, Torah (1972) 1–30. Sanders, Sacred (1987) 187.

Types of a Recent ‘Canonical Approach’

217

Hebrew Bible.61 One of Rendtorff’s major disagreements with Childs was with the latter’s claim that the Old Testament contained, from a canonical perspective, a distinctive witness to Christ alongside the New Testament. Rendtorff thought it proper only to make theological claims from the Old Testament with which a faithful Jew would agree, thus excluding any understanding of the Old Testament’s function as a witness to Christ.62 A number of American scholars have taken up the canonical project in several directions. E. Davis. C. Scalise and C. Seitz have extended the discussions on theological exegesis in alignment with Childs’s canonical perspective.63 Seitz has also built upon Childs’s approach to figural interpretation of the Bible along with the canonical hermeneutics of interpreting the Prophets (Isaiah and the Book of the Twelve).64 S. Chapman has explored the deeply embedded canonical interplay between the Law and the Prophets along with J. Blenkinsopp.65 G. Sheppard studied the editing of Qohelet as the canonical interplay of wisdom and Torah as well as the canonical shape of Isaiah.66 Scheetz borrowed from both Sanders and Childs as he studied the book of Daniel through what he called a lens of “canonical intertextuality”.67 K. Rowe, D. Nienhuis and R. Wall have done theological readings of New Testament texts within a canonical interpretive framework.68 D. Driver has written a wide-ranging analysis of Childs’s canonical approach, his critics, and the ways in which Childs’ work continues to influence theological interpretation of Scripture.69 The European reception has been mixed with strong critiques but also a number of scholars who have embraced significant dimensions of the canonical approach of Childs or Sanders. From Great Britain, Nathan MacDonald, R.W. L. Moberly, and Neil MacDonald are among those who have engaged Childs’s work with appreciation and some modification.70 A number of German scholars have carried on robust conversations on canonical hermeneutics and theological interpretation. Along with R. Rendtorff, scholars such M. Oeming, C. Dohmen, T. Söding, G. Steins, and J. Barthel have engaged in significant ways with Childs’s canonical approach.71 On the other hand, the redaction-critical studies of the 61

Rendtorff, Pentateuch (1977); Canon (1993); How to Read (2000); Canonical (2005). Rendtorff, Review (1994) 359–69. W. Brueggemann joined Rendtorff in critiquing Childs for reading Christ into the Old Testament. See Brueggemann, Theology (1997) 89–93. 63 Davis, Critical Traditioning (2000) 733–51; Teaching (2003) 9–26; Scalise, Hermeneutics (1994); From Scripture (1996); Seitz, Word (1998); Character (2011); Seitz and Green-McCreight, Theological Exegesis (1999). 64 Seitz, Figured Out (2001); Prophecy (2007); Goodly Fellowship (2009). 65 Blenkinsopp, Prophecy; Chapman, Law (2000); Reclaiming (2006). 66 Sheppard, Wisdom (1980); Scope (1996) 257–281; Biblical Wisdom (2000) 369–98. 67 Scheetz, Concept (2012). 68 Nienhuis and Wall, Reading (2013); Rowe, Biblical Pressure (2002) 295–312; Future Generations (2008) 186–209. 69 Driver, Brevard Childs (2010). 70 Nathan MacDonald, Israel (2009) 281–98; Moberly, Church’s Use (1988), 104–09; The Bible (2000); Canon (2004); Theology of Genesis (2009); Old Testament Theology (2013); Neil MacDonald, Metaphysics (2007). 71 Oeming was highly critical of Childs in his published dissertation: Oeming, Gesamtbiblische Theologien (1987) 195–96, 208. Later, Oeming and his wife Christiane Childs’s Biblical Theology (1992) of sufficient worth to translate it into German in two volumes: Die Theologie der einen Bibel (1994,1996). See also Dohmen and Oeming, Biblischer Kanon (1992); Dohmen and Söding, Eine 62

218

Dennis Olson

Psalms and other books by E. Zenger, F. Hossfeld, O. H. Steck, K. Koenen, N. Lohfink and others have more affinities with Sanders’s canonical criticism as a late stage redaction-critical method than with the approach of Childs.72 A recent biblical theology by R. Feldmeier and H. Spiekermann integrates historical-critical exegesis, cross-testamental theological interpretation, and a theo-centric focus; its content and method are in many ways compatible with a canonical approach.73 In addition, recent publications in biblical studies have included increased interest in the history of the Bible’s reception and interpretation across the centuries, a field of inquiry that resonates with canonical interpreters.74 As is clear, the work of Childs and Sanders has continued to influence and stimulate research in a number of directions among new generations of scholars who continue to combine rigorous critical scholarship with lively theological interpretations of Scripture in the context of Christian communities of faith.

Bibel (1992); Dohmen and Stemberger, Hermeneutik (1995); Dohmen, Der Kanon (2004) 277–97; Söding, Einheit (2005); Steins, Die Chronik (1995); Torabindung (213–56); Die “Bindung Isaaks” (1999). See the survey of canon discussion in Germany in Barthel, Die kanonhermeneutische Debatte (2007) 1–26. See also Childs’s own survey and assessment in Childs, Canon (2005) 26–45. 72 See survey by Oemig, Biblical Hermeneutics (2006) 66–67. See also the essays in Ballhorn and Steins, Bibelkanon (2007) and in Janowski, Kanonhermeneutik (2007). 73 Feldmeier and Spiekermann, God of the Living (2011). 74 See recent and emerging volumes of the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception project (de Gruyter), the Blackwell Bible Commentary series (Blackwell), the Ancient Christian Commentary series (IVP Academic), and others.

Chapter Thirty-four

Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in the Americas of the Twentieth Century By Douglas A. Knight, Nashville, TN Sources and studies: M. I. Aguilar, The History and Politics of Latin American Theology, 1–3 (London: SCM 2007–2008). – G. Aichele e.a., The Postmodern Bible (The Bible and Culture Collective; New Haven/London: Yale University 1995). – B. Albrektson, History and the Gods: An Essay on the Idea of Historical Events as Divine Manifestations in the Ancient Near East and in Israel (ConBOT 1; Lund: Gleerup 1967). – R. Alter/F. Kermode (eds.), The Literary Guide to the Bible (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard UP 1987). – W. F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books 1949); The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, AASOR 12 (1930–1931); 13 (1931–1932) 55–127; From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 1940; 2nd edn., Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1957); “New Light on Early Recensions of the Hebrew Bible”, BASOR 140 (1955) 27–33. – F. R. Ames/C. W. Miller (eds.), Foster Biblical Scholarship: Essays in Honor of Kent Harold Richards (SBLBSNA 24; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature/Leiden: Brill 2010). – P. R. Andiñach, “Liberation in Latin American Biblical Hermeneutics”, in: Boer/Segovia (eds.), The Future of the Biblical Past (2012), 137–147. – H. Avalos/S. J. Melcher/J. Schipper (eds.), This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies (SBLSS 55; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2007). – A. Bach, Women, Seduction, and Betrayal in Biblical Narrative (Cambridge: Cambridge University 1997). – R. C. Bailey, “Academic Biblical Interpretation among African Americans in the United States”, in: Wimbush (ed.), African Americans and the Bible (2000), 696–711. – R. C. Bailey (ed.), Yet with a Steady Beat: Contemporary U.S. Afrocentric Biblical Interpretation (SBLSS 42; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2003). – R. C. Bailey/T. B. Liew/F. F. Segovia (eds.), They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism (SBLSS 57; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2009). – J. Barr, The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress 1999); Old and New in Interpretation: A Study of the Two Testaments (London: SCM 1966); The Semantics of Biblical Language (London: Oxford University 1961). – F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference (Bergen: Universitetsforlaget 1969). – R. N. Bellah, “Civil Religion in America”, Daedalus 96 (1967) 1–21. – F. C. Black, “Reading the Bible in ‘Our Home and Native Land’”, in: Boer/Segovia (eds.), The Future of the Biblical Past (2012), 239–262. – R. Boer (ed.), Tracking “The Tribes of Yahweh”: On the Trail of a Classic (JSOT.S 351; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2002). – R. Boer/F. F. Segovia (eds.), The Future of the Biblical Past: Envisioning Biblical Studies on a Global Key (SBLSS 66; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2012). – A. F. Botta/P. R. Andiñach (eds.), The Bible and the Hermeneutics of Liberation (SBLSS 59; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2009). – J. Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament (Nashville/New York: Abingdon 1967); Early Israel in Recent History Writing: A Study in Method (SBTh 19; London: SCM 1956); A History of Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster 1959; 4th edn., with introduction and appendix by W. P. Brown (Louisville: Westminster John Knox 2000). – M. J. Brown, Blackening of the Bible: The Aims of African American Biblical Scholarship (Harrisburg, PA/London/New York: Trinity Press International 2004). – J. P. Byrd, “The ‘New World’ of North America and Canada – and the Globalization of Critical Biblical Scholarship”, in: HBOT, III/1 (2013), 171–202; Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution (Oxford/New York: Oxford University 2013). – A. D. Callahan, The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible (New Haven/London: Yale University 2006). – B. S. Childs, Biblical

222

Douglas A. Knight

Theology in Crisis (Philadelphia: Westminster 1970); Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress 1992); Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress 1979). – D. R. Clark/V. H. Matthews (eds.), One Hundred Years of American Archaeology in the Middle East: Proceedings of the American Schools of Oriental Research Centennial Celebration, Washington, DC, April 2000 (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research 2003). – J. S. Croatto, Liberación y libertad: Pautas hermenéuticas (Buenos Aires: Mundo Nuevo 1973; rev. edn., Lima: CEP 1978); ET: Exodus: A Hermeneutics of Freedom (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis1981). – F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University 1973); “The Contribution of the Qumrân Discoveries to the Study of the Biblical Text”, IEJ 16 (1966) 81–95. – F. M. Cross, Jr./D. N. Freedman, Early Hebrew Orthography (American Oriental Series 36; New Haven: American Oriental Society 1952); Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (SBLDS 21; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1975; submitted in 1950 as a dissertation at The Johns Hopkins University). – F. M. Cross/S. Talmon (eds.), Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text (Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University 1975). – R. C. Culley, “Exploring New Directions”, in: Knight/Tucker (eds.), The Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters (1985), 167–200; Oral Formulaic Language in the Biblical Psalms (Toronto: University of Toronto 1967); Studies in the Structure of Hebrew Narrative (Semeia Supplements; Philadelphia: Fortress/Missoula, MT: Scholars Press 1976). – W. G. Dever, “SyroPalestinian and Biblical Archaeology,” in: Knight/Tucker (eds.), The Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters (1985), 31–74. – C. H. Felder (ed.), Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation (Minneapolis: Fortress 1991). – D. N. Freedman, Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: Studies in Early Hebrew Poetry (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 1980). – F. S. Frick/N. K. Gottwald, “The Social World of Ancient Israel”, in: The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics (ed. N. K. Gottwald/A. C. Wire; Berkeley: Community for Religious Research and Education [Radical Religion] 1976), 110–119. – R. W. Funk, “The Watershed of the American Biblical Tradition: The Chicago School, First Phase, 1892–1920”, JBL 95 (1976) 4–22. – C. H. Gordon, The Pennsylvania Tradition of Semitics: A Century of Near Eastern and Biblical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (SBLBSNA 13; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1986). – N. K. Gottwald, The Hebrew Bible in Its Social World and in Ours (SBLSS; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1993); The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 B.C.E. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis 1979); idem (ed.), The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis 1983). – G. Gutiérrez, Hablar de Dios desde el sufrimiento del inocente: Una reflexión el libro de Job (Lima: Instituto Bartolomé de Las Casas and Centro de Estudios y Publicaciones 1986); ET: On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis 1987); Teología de la liberación: Perspectivas (Lima: CEP 1971); ET: A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis 1973). – T. J. Hornsby/K. Stone (eds.), Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship (SBLSS 67; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2011). – W. J. Hynes, Shirley Jackson Case and the Chicago School: The Socio-Historical Method (SBLBSNA 5; Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1981). – P. J. King, American Archaeology in the Mideast: A History of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Philadelphia: American Schools of Oriental Research 1983). – D. A. Knight, “Politics and Biblical Scholarship in the United States”, in: Ames/Miller (eds.), Foster Biblical Scholarship (2010), 83–100; Rediscovering the Traditions of Israel (3rd edn.; SBLSBL 16; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2006). – D. A. Knight/G. M. Tucker (eds.), The Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters (Philadelphia: Fortress/Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1985). – G. N. Knoppers, 1 Chronicles 1–9 and 1 Chronicles 10–29 (Anchor Bible 12/12A; New York: Doubleday 2003–2004); Two Nations under God, 1–2 (Atlanta: Scholars Press 1993–1994). – T. B. Liew (ed.), The Bible in Asian America (Semeia 90/91; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2002). – G. Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (New York/Oxford: Oxford University 1986); The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-Seventy (New York/Oxford: Oxford University 1993). – B. M. Levinson, “The Right Chorale”: Studies in Biblical Law and Interpretation (FAT 54; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2008). – J. Macpherson, “A History of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies”, in: Canadian Biblical Studies (ed. N. E. Wagner; Waterloo, Ontario: Canadian Society of Biblical Studies 1967; updated version of the 1962 CSBS Presidential Address), 1–16. – G. E. Mendenhall, “The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine”, BA 25 (1962) 66–87. – C. L. Meyers, Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context (New York/Oxford: Oxford University 1988). – J. P. Miranda, Marx y la biblia: Crítica a la filosofía de la opresión (Mexico: Río Hondo 1971); ET: Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis 1974). – P. D.

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

223

Miller, Jr./P. D. Hanson/S. D. McBride (eds.), Ancient Israelite Religion: Essays in Honor of Frank Moore Cross (Philadelphia: Fortress 1987). – J. S. Moir, A History of Biblical Studies in Canada: A Sense of Proportion (SBLBSNA 7; Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1982). – J. Morgenstern, “The Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis”, JBL 61 (1942) 1–10. – J. Muilenburg, “Form Criticism and Beyond”, JBL 88 (1969) 1–18. – C. A. Newsom/S. H. Ringe (eds.), The Women’s Bible Commentary (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox 1992; 3rd edn., co-edited with J. E. Lapsley, 2012). – M. Noth, “As One Historian to Another”, Int. 15 (1961) 61–66; “Der Beitrag der Archäologie zur Geschichte Israels”, VT.S 7 (1960) 262–282. – S. M. Olyan, Social Inequality in the World of the Text: The Significance of Ritual and Social Distinctions in the Hebrew Bible (JAJ.S 4; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2011). – H. R. Page, Jr. (ed.), The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora (Minneapolis: Fortress 2010). – P. J. Paris, “The Bible and the Black Churches”, in: The Bible and Social Reform (ed. E. R. Sandeen; Philadelphia: Fortress/Chico, CA: Scholars Press 1982), 133–154. – D. Patte (ed.), Global Bible Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon 2004). – W. C. Peden/J. A. Stone, The Chicago School of Theology: Pioneers in Religious Inquiry, 1–2 (Studies in American Religion 66; Lewiston/Queensto/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen 1996). – J. Pixley, Éxodo: Una lectura evangélica y popular (Mexico: CUPSA 1983); ET: On Exodus: A Liberation Perspective (New York: Orbis 1987); “Liberating the Bible: Popular Bible Study and Its Academia Allies”, in: Boer/Segovia (eds.), The Future of the Biblical Past (2012), 167–178. – G. von Rad, Das formgeschichtliche Problem des Hexateuch (BWANT, IV/26; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1938; ET, 1966); Theologie des Alten Testaments, 1–2 (Munich: Kaiser 1957/60). – J. M. Sasson, “Albright as an Orientalist”, BA 56 (1993) 3–7. – E. W. Saunders, Searching the Scriptures: A History of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1880–1980 (SBLBSNA 8; Chico CA: Scholars Press 1982); “On Choosing Models for Recreating Israelite Pre-monarchic History”, JSOT 21 (1981) 3–24. – S. Scholz (ed.), Biblical Studies Alternatively: An Introductory Reader (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall 2003). – M. Schwantes, Das Recht der Armen (BBET 4; Frankfurt a.M.: P. Lang 1977). – J. D. Seger (ed.), An ASOR Mosaic: A Centennial History of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1900–2000 (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research 2001). – F. F. Segovia/M. A. Tolbert (eds.), Reading from This Place, 1: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in the United States; 2: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in Global Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress 1995). – E. C. Stanton, The Woman’s Bible (New York: European Pub. Co. 1895 and 1898; reprinted frequently). – K. Stone (ed.), Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible (JSOT.S 334; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 20001). – M. A. Taylor/H. E. Weir (eds.), Let Her Speak for Herself: NineteenthCentury Women Writing on Women in Genesis (Waco, TX: Baylor University 2006). – T. L. Thompson, The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives: The Quest for the Historical Abraham (BZAW 133; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1974). – P. Trible, “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation”, JAAR 41 (1973) 30–48; God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress 1978); Rhetorical Criticism: Context, Method, and the Book of Jonah (Minneapolis: Fortress 1994). – G. M. Tucker, “Ecological Approaches: The Bible and the Land”, in: Method Matters: Essays on the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David L. Petersen (ed. J. M. LeMon/K. H. Richards; SBLRBS 56; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2009), 349–367; “Rain on a Land Where No One Lives: The Hebrew Bible on the Environment”, JBL 116 (1997) 3–17; “The Modern (and Postmodern?) Society of Biblical Literature: Institutions and Scholarship”, in: Ames/Miller (eds.), Foster Biblical Scholarship (2010), 31–52. – J. Van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition (New Haven/London: Yale University 1975); In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of Biblical History (New Haven: Yale University 1983). – L. Wallis, Sociological Study of the Bible (Chicago: University of Chicago 1912). – R. J. Weems, Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets (Minneapolis: Fortress 1995). – L. White, Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”, Science 155/3767 (10 March 1967) 1203–1207. – J. G. Williams, The Times and Life of Edward Robinson: Connecticut Yankee in King Solomon’s Court (SBLBSNA 19; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 1999). – V. L. Wimbush (ed.), African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures (New York/London: Continuum 2000). – F. V. Winnett, The Mosaic Tradition (Toronto: University of Toronto 1949); “Re-Examining the Foundations”, JBL 84 (1965) 1–19. – G. E. Wright, God Who Acts: Biblical Theology as Recital (SBTh 8; London: SCM 1952). – G. E. Wright/R. H. Fuller, The Book of the Acts of God: Contemporary Scholarship Interprets the Bible (Anchor Book A222; Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1960). – G. A. Yee, Poor Banished Children of Eve: Woman as Evil in the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress 2003).

224

Douglas A. Knight

1. Introduction Twentieth-century scholarship on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in the Americas has proceeded, for the most, in the larger context of international scholarship, but in certain settings more provincial or parochial dimensions have also been evident. Most academic journals and books in the field have been available without respect to national borders, although the language in which each is written can limit some persons’ access to it. For the first two thirds of the century North American scholars generally read German and French and sometimes another modern language or two. Still to the present day, graduate students in Hebrew Bible / Old Testament are widely required to read at least two modern research languages beyond English, although there are indications that proficiency may have waned in some circles during recent decades. Throughout the twentieth century vastly more scholarly works have been translated into English than have English publications been translated into other languages, especially European languages. In some cases this circumstance reflects the more widespread ability of non-English speakers to work with English than of native-English-speakers to read other languages comfortably, but another factor may also be in play. North Americans have readily consumed learning from overseas, and until ca. 1970 books from Germany, France, England, and Scandinavia belonged to the core curriculum of North American biblical students to a much greater extent than was the reverse the case. North Americans tended during the period 1900–1970 to look to Europe for their scholarly heritage. However, the last third of the century witnessed a dramatic shift in this respect, as we will discuss shortly. Yet, while embedded in international scholarly discussions, Americans have often approached the academic undertaking in distinctive ways, and this essay aims to identify those characteristic elements in American biblical scholarship from ca. 1900 forward. To be sure, their contributions to historiography, philology, exegesis, archaeology, religious history, social history, cultural studies, and more belong to the larger international discussions in these areas. Yet in what respects does the scholarship of the Americas – North America and Latin America – differ noticeably from the approaches and results of research elsewhere? An obvious obstacle to answering this question lies in the very diversity present in American biblical scholarship, which in turn reflects the demographic variety of the individual scholars’ origins. In fact this lack of homogeneity – in starting points, in goals, in working methods, in identities – constitutes a major feature of the cultures of the Americas, and its effect on scholarship should not be surprising.

2. Location and Culture 2.1. Ethnicity and Location The great ethnic diversity found in the Americas accounts for many of the differences in perspective and agenda among the peoples, which in turn is reflected in their cultures, including the interpretation of classic and canonical texts such

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

225

as the Bible. First, however, the relatively recent shift in the understanding of “ethnicity” must be noted since it is especially evident among Americans. While Herodotus famously considered three factors essential to a people’s or nation’s identity – common blood or ancestor, common language, and common religion – Norwegian anthropologist F. Barth’s seminal essay in 1969 led to a fundamental rethinking of the category of ethnicity, which he describes as a far more complex and ambiguous category than Herodotus and others had thought. Social groups are fluid, dynamic, and unstable, and stereotypical or essentialist classifications of actual people rarely survive scrutiny. In addition, how a group understands itself can vary substantially from how they are described by others, whether by their neighbors or by scholars; such a distinction is expressed in the emic/etic division in anthropology. Complicating the analysis even further is the recent research into DNA, which can reveal ties among distant ancestors that may no longer be evident or operative in today’s social groups. The Americas display such complexities as much as any region on the globe, and it has had a wide-ranging effect on the political and economic lives of people as well as on the intellectual pursuits of scholars. Until ca. 1500 the northern and southern continents of America were inhabited by indigenous peoples, but beginning in the sixteenth century they became overrun by conquerors and immigrants from Europe. The Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores invaded South America, while the early colonizers and explorers of North America stemmed mainly from Spain, England, and France. Other European immigrants have come in waves from colonial times until the present. The large numbers of Africans in the Americas entered for the most part by force as enslaved persons. Aside from the Filipinos who came starting in the sixteenth century, most of the Asian immigrants to the Western Hemisphere arrived in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And the process continues to unfold, not only from other parts of the world to the Americas but also internally within the Americas as well. In the United States alone during 2010, over one million legal immigrants arrived, and many others entered the country without official visas – which has in itself become a major legal and political issue for many in the country. The result of these five centuries of immigration from all directions is an ethnically diverse, multicultural, multilingual, and often conflictual accumulation of peoples. Dividing simply between the immigrants and the indigenous is now inadequate because of the considerable intermarriage and intermixing that have occurred over the generations. Individuals tend to associate themselves with some specific group or groups, which in turn lends them personal and social identity. From this circumstance springs the methodological concept of situated reading, that is, that persons read and interpret texts informed by perspectives and principles basic to the group(s) in which they are situated and with which they identify.1 Diversities of many sorts have played a key role throughout the history 1 A good example is Segovia/Tolbert, Reading from This Place (1995), which discusses and exhibits the variations in biblical interpretations possible among groups within the United States (vol. 1) and among groups within the international community (vol. 2). The situation changed even further as the end of the twentieth century approached and North America’s influence in the world needed to yield to the increased prominence, both economically and politically, of countries in east and south

226

Douglas A. Knight

of the Americas, accounting for the varied readings as well as many of the new methods in biblical criticism that appeared from the 1970s until the present, as will be discussed below.

2.2. Religiosity As is evident in Byrd’s descriptions of biblical scholarship in North America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,2 religiosity has been a defining part of American cultures not only during those centuries but in fact from the pilgrim period forward. Religious convictions, coupled with cultural and personal propensities, appear in the controversies over slavery, over science, and over critical scholarship at various points during this history. Such religious sentiments continue with full vigor throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries as well, not only in private expressions of faith but also in public debates and political controversies. This picture of religiosity is significant for our purposes because biblical scholarship, especially in North America, has been conducted within the context of cultural attitudes that range from suspicion, hostility, and anti-intellectualism to curiosity, support, and affirmation. While the public has an appetite for the findings and opinions of biblical scholars, the media feed this taste with at times sensationalist news reports – archaeological discoveries, contentious issues among researchers, and scholarly positions that many in the wider public find objectionable if not even scandalous. More so than is probably the case in any other country, biblical scholars in the United States are frequently approached by journalists to comment on such contemporary issues as race, poverty, environmentalism, economic practices, voting rights, medical ethics, biomedical research, labor rights, health-care access, and many more topics. The effect on scholarship takes several forms: Scholars have the chance to affect public discussion and even legislative action; at the same time they are also held accountable for their opinions, as many who have lost their employment over contentious issues know well, especially in more conservative religious institutions; and contemporary social issues, such as the status of women, sexual orientation, the racial divides, immigration, and poverty, have also emerged as topics that can be investigated in biblical antiquity as well.3 Statistics from surveys in the early twenty-first century provide a comparative picture of religiosity in the Americas and other international contexts. In a Gallup survey of 114 countries in 2009, interviewees were asked the question, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” Of the respondents in the United States, 65 percent said that religion was important to them. In Canada, however, only 42 percent responded Yes to this question. At 73 percent Mexi-

Asia; for the effects on biblical studies see Boer/Segovia, The Future of the Biblical Past (2012). Patte, Global Bible Commentary (2004), shows the effects of ethnicity and social location on the reading of a range of biblical texts. 2 Byrd, The ‘New World’ of North America and Canada (2013); and Sacred Scripture, Sacred War (2013). 3 For more discussion, see Knight, Politics and Biblical Scholarship in the United States (2010).

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

227

cans indicated a higher level of religiosity than United States residents, and between both of these countries were the Chileans and Argentinians. Most of the rest of South and Central America showed percentages in the 80s; for example, Panama and Guatemala are both at 88 percent. In contrast, responses in many of the European countries, the breeding ground of most biblical scholarship through the nineteenth century, approximated levels closer to that of Canada, a number of them considerably lower.4 Two other surveys investigated the extent to which respondents believed in the existence of a God or a spirit or life force. One sponsored by the European Commission reports the findings of a survey conducted in 2005 among Europeans: 52 percent believed there is a God, and 27 percent envisaged some type of spirit or life force; a greater proportion of the countries in Eastern Europe have a lower-than-average percentage than do Western European nations.5 In the United States, 92 percent of those interviewed in a 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center responded that they “believe in God or a universal spirit”.6 Two changes in the overall religious picture have recently emerged, according to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center: For the first time in modern United States history the proportion of the number of Protestants has declined to less than half the population – 48 percent; the drop occurred among white adults, mainstream and evangelical alike, but not among minorities.7 Second, the number of persons in the United States not affiliated with traditional religious groups increased from 15.3 percent to 19.6 percent during the period 2007–2012.8 The twentieth century, on the whole, showed a markedly higher level of religiosity than is evident after the beginning of the twenty-first century. Of the numerous other questions in such surveys, one in particular has direct bearing on the place of the Bible in United States culture. Recognizing that the interviewees belonged to a variety of different faith traditions, the Pew Research Center asked for each person’s view of Scripture, be it the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or another “Holy Scripture” venerated in one’s religion. It is noteworthy that the responses from the general population were almost evenly divided in three categories: 33 percent held their Scripture to be literally the word of God, another 27 percent considered it the word of God but not literally so, and 28 percent thought it was written not by God but by humans. In addition, 35 per-

4 Gallup, “Religiosity Highest in World’s Poorest Nations”, (10 Nov. 2012). Quite similar findings appear in other polls, e.g. that of the Pew Research Center, “The American – Western European Values Gap”, Complete Report (released 17 Nov. 2011 and updated 29 Feb. 2012), (16 Oct. 2012). 5 Special Eurobarometer 225 (June 2005), “Social Values, Science, and Technology”, (16 Oct. 2012), 9–11. 6 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Religious Beliefs and Practices: Diverse and Politically Relevant”, Report 2 (June 2008), (27 Sept. 2012), 26–30. 7 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, “‘Nones’ on the Rise: One-inFive Adults Have No Religious Affiliation”, Full Report (Oct. 2012), (25 Oct. 2012), 13–15, 41–63. 8 Ibid. 9–15.

228

Douglas A. Knight

cent indicated they read their Scripture at least once a week outside of religious services, while 45 percent said they read it seldom or never.9 Different surveys may, for a variety of reasons, report different numbers on these issues, but the picture is largely the same: the Americas have long been among the most religious areas in the world, even though the significance of religion for many in North America seems to be declining in recent years. The nature of United States religiosity may, though, be rather distinctive. Adopting a phrase from Jean-Jacques Rousseau10 and drawing on statements by the country’s founders and former presidents, sociologist R. Bellah characterized the form of religion in the United States as a type of “civil religion”, according to which religious symbols and expressions have become incorporated into the rhetoric of politicians and legislators while, at the same time, religious persons often express their beliefs with a patriotic fervor. In Bellah’s words: Behind the civil religion at every point lie Biblical archetypes: Exodus, Chosen People, Promised Land, New Jerusalem, Sacrificial Death and Rebirth. But it is also genuinely American and genuinely new. It has its own prophets and its own martyrs, its own sacred events and sacred places, its own solemn rituals and symbols. It is concerned that America be a society as perfectly in accord with the will of God as men can make it, and a light to all the nations.11

Civil religion does not denote an established or state religion, which is forbidden by the United States Constitution and by court cases, but it represents the often intricate and subtle, though sometimes also blatant and contentious, manner in which religion and politics are intertwined in popular culture as well as in electoral politics. Nowhere do researchers and teachers in biblical studies work in a vacuum, disconnected from social, political, and religious forces around them. Not all scholars will share their culture’s sentiments, but they cannot be unaffected by them even if they themselves are not affiliated with religious groups. During the twentieth century, religiosity in the United States has promoted scholarly work on the Hebrew Bible just as it has at times also challenged it by questioning its aims and legitimacy, especially when the positions of biblical scholars seem to run counter – for example, on issues of evolution, civil rights, poverty, abortion, sexual orientation, and environment – to the opinions held by certain religious believers. Conservative issues such as biblical inerrancy and authority appear in the press as they do also in the home and the classroom, and scholars have to be prepared to deal with the polemics. Two distinctively North American movements that we will discuss shortly, Biblical Theology and Biblical Archaeology, also bear the marks of this religiosity, just as their demise was effected in part by an appeal to a broader, more inclusive approach to both Bible and archaeology.

9 Pew Research Center, “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Religious Beliefs and Practices” (2008), 30–31, 49. 10 J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book 4, Chapter 8. 11 Bellah, Civil Religion (1967), 18. Sasson, On Choosing Models for Recreating Israelite Pre-monarchic History (1981), 12–13, draws attention to the influential nineteenth-century American historian G. Bancroft, whose ten-volume History of the United States (1854–1882) was crafted in line with key moments in Israel’s history.

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

229

3. Sociology of Knowledge and Scholarship Several learned societies have emerged in the Americas to advance biblical scholarship. The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) is currently the world’s largest association of scholars devoted to biblical and cognate studies. It was founded in 1880 as the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis (the name was shortened to its present form in 1962), and by the end of that first year there were 44 members in total, virtually all from the northeastern region of the United States. By its centennial in 1980 the number of members had increased to approximately 5,000, and even further to more than 8,700 in 2012. Another radical change is the makeup along lines of race and gender (the following percentages are based on the profiles completed by members): starting as an all-male, all-white organization, the SBL membership in 2012 was 23 percent women and, in terms of ethnicity or race, 7 percent Asian, 4 percent African American, 3 percent Hispanic or Latino/a, 82 percent white, and 5 percent other. The membership in 2012 represented all regions of North America, and approximately 30 percent of the members stemmed from some 60 countries other than the United States; 60 members were from Latin America. The SBL originally held its meetings in the northeastern states, normally in New York City. It first convened in June 1880 with 18 persons in attendance to hear and discuss six papers.12 By comparison, the 2010 annual meeting in Atlanta had 4,795 members in attendance, of whom 1,878 (not unique but total) made presentations. This staggering increase in 130 years is due not only to the role of religion in American life but – just as significantly – also to the support shown by universities, colleges, private foundations, donors, and governmental programs for the academic study of antiquity and the history of the Bible’s reception to the present.13 Other professional societies have complemented the work of the SBL. Established in 1842 as one of the oldest learned societies in the United States, the American Oriental Society (AOS) encompasses a much broader region of study, from western to eastern Asia. Some of its membership overlaps with that of the SBL, especially among those who focus on ancient Near Eastern studies and archaeology. In 1900, the SBL together with the AOS and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) founded the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), which has become the foremost American professional society of archaeologists and historians of the Levant. Membership by 2012 totaled 1,600, of whom roughly one quarter came from outside the United States and approximately 10 percent of them from Canada. About 90 universities, colleges, and seminaries counted as institutional members. Attendance at the annual meetings of ASOR grew to almost 1,000 by 2012, with almost one third from outside North America; ca. 450 separate (unique) presenters delivered papers. The ASOR and SBL have a long history of cooperation in projects, publications, and meetings. Another sister so12 Information about the first two meetings in 1880 derives from the proceedings first published in the Fiftieth Anniversary Number of the JBL 50 (1931) xxiv, xlviii–xlix. 13 For further description of the history of the SBL, see Saunders, Searching the Scriptures (1982); and especially for the period since ca. 1970, see Tucker, The Modern (and Postmodern?) Society of Biblical Literature (2010).

230

Douglas A. Knight

ciety, the Association of Biblical Instructors in American Colleges and Secondary Schools, originated in 1909; its name was changed in 1922 to the National Association of Biblical Instructors, with its acronym (NABI, Hebrew for “prophet”) carrying special significance for biblical scholars. A more radical change occurred in 1963 when NABI was renamed the American Academy of Religion to reflect its expansion to all fields in the study of religion, not only biblical studies. With a membership approaching 10,000 in 2010, the AAR complements the SBL with methodological and substantive discussions and research of mutual interest. Yet another organization with overlapping membership and purpose is the Catholic Biblical Association of America, founded in 1936. In 1969, the SBL joined six other professional societies to organize the Council on the Study of Religion, which publishes Religious Studies Review. There are a number of additional groups reflecting various interests or regional identities, and some of them plan their annual meetings to coincide with those of the SBL. Also indicative of SBL’s range of involvement, since 1929 the Society has been a member of the American Council of Learned Societies, the prestigious assemblage of learned societies in the humanities and related social sciences. In Canada, a professional society was formed in 1933 to “stimulate the critical investigation of the classical biblical literatures, together with other related literature, by the exchange of scholarly research both in published form and in public forum”, as stated in the constitution of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies / Société canadienne des Études bibliques. At the time not many Canadian scholars could travel to SBL meetings, especially due to financial constraints from the Depression. CSBS members have resided predominately in Canada, in addition to some Canadian scholars dwelling elsewhere. The founding membership of 46 in 1933 expanded to some 330 by the end of 2012, and they stem now from across Canada rather than just mainly from Ontario and Québec. At the start there was a significant difference between the generations, as John Macpherson noted in his presidential retrospective in 1966: “although most of the older members of 1933 had been trained abroad, several of their younger colleagues were representatives of the first generation of Canadian-trained Biblical scholars. Another stimulus doubtless derived from the pioneer nature of the project itself. This was the first Canadian interconfessional scholarly society concerned with the religious sciences, deliberately aiming from the outset to be national in scope”.14 The Society began publishing The Bulletin in 1935 with a few scholarly papers often included, but a “lack of outlets for Canadian scholarly work” persisted through the War years and for some time thereafter.15 In 1939 a Canadian section of the SBL was inaugurated at the instigation of thirty-three CSBS members, and the two groups continued co-existence if not co-operation until the Canadian section in SBL was closed in 1977. A sign of the close linkage among North American scholars, several Canadians served as presidents of SBL: Shirley Jackson Case (1926), T. J. Meek (1944), William A. Irwin (1958), R. B. Y. Scott (1960), Frederick V. Winnett (1964), Frank W. Beare (1969), and Harry M. Orlinsky (1970). Canadians were thus in leadership positions at the time of the Society’s reform and the consti14 15

Macpherson, A History of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (1967), 2–3. Moir, A History of Biblical Studies in Canada (1982), 69–70.

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

231

tutional revision in 1969. Also of significance was the formation in 1943 of the Association catholique des études bibliques au Canada, which has since then held annual conferences on a variety of biblical subjects and has encouraged the rise of a new generation of Roman Catholic biblical scholars.16 The role and impact of these learned societies are not to be underestimated. They have fostered biblical studies in the Americas and beyond through their meetings, projects, and publications, both journals and books. For example, the SBL’s flagship journal, the Journal of Biblical Literature,17 has been published since 1881, increasing its size from eleven articles and 212 pages in that first year to 47 articles and 832 pages in 2010. The essays are peer-reviewed through a blind process by an editorial board. While book reviews have long been included in the printed issues, many of the more recent reviews and bibliographical essays have appeared in supplementary volumes in the series Critical Review of Books in Religion (1988–1998) and in Review of Biblical Literature (since 1999), the latter also available in digital form on the SBL website. This remarkable increase in participation and activity within SBL circles did not occur as a steady and gradual process. Rather, a radical turn taken in the late 1960s redefined the Society and, with it, the nature of biblical studies in North America, which in turn has had an impact on international scholarship. The leadup to this shift is chronicled by E. W. Saunders under the rubric “Shaking the Foundations”,18 in which he points to several influential factors: the Holocaust and post-Holocaust scrutiny; geopolitical engagements and realignments following World War II; social and political developments, especially the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; the discovery of documents at Qumran, Nag Hammadi, and elsewhere; and the contributions and debates involving a whole generation of biblical scholars. Saunders’s characterization of the SBL during the decades from 1945 to 1967 is relevant, in fact, for all of the preceding decades as well: “It was essentially an east coast establishment based in New York City consisting of a small staff of officers and a regional attendance at the meetings”.19 In his Presidential Address to the SBL on 29 December 1941, three weeks after the United States entered the War, Julian Morgenstern had issued a stern rebuke to the Society for its staid structure and ways, and he urged it to “arouse itself from its long lethargy and become once again alert and progressive”.20 Some significant steps in reorganization were taken after the conclusion of the War, but the most radical shift away from traditional ways occurred in 1968 – a challenge somewhat akin to the assault in the society at large on cultural and political authority in response to both the Vietnam war and systemic racism. Dissatisfaction with the SBL’s seeming indifference to newer research methods and issues instigated a group of younger scholars to act, among them Robert W. Funk, Robert A. Kraft, Norman E. Wagner, James M. Robinson, Brevard

16

Ibid. 79–90, for more details about the two Canadian societies. From 1881 through 1888 the periodical bore the title Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis. 18 Saunders, Searching the Scriptures (1982), 41–55. 19 Ibid. 41. 20 Morgenstern, The Society of Biblical Literature (1942), 9. 17

232

Douglas A. Knight

S. Childs, Walter Harrelson, Kendrick Grobel, Helmut Koester, and George W. MacRae, with support from a number of more senior scholars. Having secured appointment to key SBL committees or tasks, they proceeded to reorganize the Society in its structure, meetings, publications, and research groups. As a consequence, vitality and participation began a dramatic leap forward, as did also membership – from 2,679 in 1967 to nearly twice that size by the time of the Centennial Meeting in 1980. No longer would the meetings take on “the club atmosphere where each knew the other on a personal basis”.21 Several of Morgenstern’s criticisms in 1941 were addressed directly: that the SBL had “mired itself in a steadily deepening rut”, was not “an altogether efficient organization”, and held annual meetings that “fail to stimulate as they should and to not a few of our members seem even empty and boring”.22 The radical reforms Morgenstern had desired came in 1968. As the SBL continued to expand over the following years, one would eventually hear individual members complain about the oversized, excessively complex character of later plenary meetings, but there is little disagreement that the Society has greatly enhanced the field of biblical studies through all the activities it has organized and sponsored during the last third of the twentieth century. The reorganization initiated after 1968 focused heavily on SBL’s publishing program. The founding of Scholars Press in 1974 through the actions of SBL and AAR and under the leadership of Robert W. Funk, New Testament scholar and director of the press until 1980, followed the principle of “scholars publishing for scholars”. Members were recruited or volunteered to edit series, review manuscripts, serve on publications committees, and assist in the production process. Many of the books at the outset were printed from “camera-ready copy” and sold for surprisingly low prices at the time, such as US$2.00 or $3.00 each. The SBL Dissertation Series was among the first new endeavors, complementing the SBL Monograph Series, which then became an outlet for more senior scholars. It was said that the Dissertation Series served to make the careers of more junior biblical scholars than was accomplished by any other publishing vehicle, and at the same time this series put into wide circulation many studies that otherwise may have had little chance to contribute to scholarly discussions. By 2010 over twenty distinct series were actively producing monographs in the areas of ancient Near Eastern studies, archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, history of research, Septuagint, Philo, textual criticism, literature of the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, women’s studies, and global perspectives. In conjunction with SBL’s 1980 Centennial, four series on the role of the Bible and the history of biblical scholarship were initiated: Biblical Scholarship in North America (ed. K. H. Richards), The Bible and Its Modern Interpreters (ed. D. A. Knight), Biblical Scholarship in Confessional Perspectives (eds. A. Y. Collins, K. H. Richards, and G. M. Tucker), and the Bible in American Culture (eds. E. S. Gaustad and W. Harrelson). Semeia, “an experimental journal devoted to the exploration of new and emergent areas and methods of biblical criticism”,23 was 21 22 23

Saunders, Searching the Scriptures (1982), 46. Morgenstern, The Society of Biblical Literature (1942), 6–8. This self-description is included on the inside front cover of Semeia issues.

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

233

founded by Funk in 1974 and continued until its ninety-first issue in 2002, and over the course of those three decades it became the primary organ in the Americas for introducing and exploring a wide range of new methods and issues in biblical studies. The total number of books published by SBL until 1970 was slight; from ca. 1970 to 2010, however, approximately 950 books appeared in print. In addition, a total of 625 journal issues were published from the founding of SBL in 1880 until 2010. In 2010 the annual publication budget exceeded one million United States dollars, and the revenues were nearly that high as well. Yet numbers do not tell the whole story, though they are indicative of an unprecedented level of activity. More importantly, the SBL fostered a new surge in enthusiasm and vitality within biblical studies that many colleagues attending from outside North America found to be exceptional. The takeover of leadership in the late 1960s led to an explosion of interest as more and more members participated in the meetings through delivering papers. In particular, the decision by SBL to form regional groups – at present a total of eleven – throughout the United States had an enormous impact on the Society’s vitality because their annual meetings offered more intimate settings for members, from graduate students to seasoned scholars, to present and discuss their work. In the process younger scholars found a convenient entrée to the much larger world of national and international collegial connections, and many also moved into leadership roles in the general SBL.24 The Society also looked beyond its traditional North American habitat. In 1983 it instituted the SBL International Meetings with its first gathering in Salamanca, Spain. Each year since then it has reconvened in different cities, usually in Europe but also in Australia, South Africa, Israel, New Zealand, and Singapore. The 2011 meeting in London had 972 attendees. These conferences were especially effective in drawing those residing in the respective areas to the international meeting to meet with others from around the globe, which in turn provided the opportunity for attendees to broaden their perspectives and collegial range. The SBL was also instrumental in the formation of research groups focusing on various literary corpora. The International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) came into existence in 1968 with a journal and annual meetings for specialists in Septuagintal and related research. In 1972 the International Organization for Masoretic Studies was initiated at the instigation of Harry M. Orlinsky. The text-critical seminars for both Hebrew and Greek texts augmented the work of international groups, especially in the wake of the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library. A research section on the apocryphal and pseudepigraphic literature has long been studying texts outside the Jewish and Protestant canons. And in a project that would prove to be essential to virtually all who study biblical and extrabiblical antiquity, the SBL was instrumental, beginning in the late 1970s, in fostering computer-assisted research capabilities – from the development of Hebrew and Greek computer fonts to the building of digital libraries of ancient resources often inaccessible and 24 Saunders, Searching the Scriptures (1982), 73–76, details the initial resistance to expanding the Society’s activities beyond the northeastern area of the United States, and he shows the gradual and then, after 1968, rapid move toward regional inclusivity.

234

Douglas A. Knight

difficult to search and manipulate. Such ground-breaking work has changed the ways in which scholars work, teach, and publish. One further consequence of the reorganization that began in 1968 has considerable significance for the nature of biblical scholarship in the Americas, especially in North America. While several joint projects had appeared earlier, the reorganized SBL intentionally established and supported collaborative research among its members, setting aside times at the annual meetings of the Society for these groups to convene and advance their joint research. Scholars in the humanities, including biblical studies, have traditionally conducted their work separately from each other and then reported their results in published form or in conferences, but now the new leaders of SBL encouraged specialists to join with each other in developing working-groups on specific subjects or methods. As stated in James M. Robinson’s initial announcement in 1970, the Committee on Research and Publications aimed “to concentrate its activity upon long-range, basic team research which can be better organized through a learned society than through individual initiative alone”.25 A structure featuring three types of program units emerged and remains to this day roughly similar in form and purpose: 1) consultations with a term of only a few years to give parties a chance to explore the viability of and interest in a subject; 2) sections, of longer duration, also focused on a specific subject but usually with one session open for unsolicited papers and another session organized by the group to deal with a selected aspect of the subject; and 3) seminars, also with a multi-year term, requiring active participation by members working on a well-defined research project or topic. These groups must apply to the SBL for approval to meet at the Society’s annual meetings, and the Program Committee also approves the groups’ leaders. Auditors who are not ongoing members of the groups can attend, and usually these program units conclude with one or more collaborative publications. By way of example of the vitality of these collaborative sessions, the annual SBL meeting in 2010 included a total of 162 such program units, up from 92 in 2001, on topics in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, early Judaism, and cognate studies.26 Several reasons stand out to explain this level of activity in biblical studies, especially in the United States since 1968. First, as described above, religion in general and the Bible in particular have long played leading roles in American life, and this public and political interest feeds scholarly efforts to increase the understanding of biblical antiquity. Second, the constraints set by the United States Constitution and courts against state establishment of religion have not inhibited but actually freed religious inquiry as well as religious expression. At the same time, the secular and humanistic study of history and culture, including the Bible’s influences for both good and ill, has flourished. Third, the remarkable diversity – racial, ethnic, ideological, cultural – among the American population has given voice to a wide range of perspectives and interpretations on biblical traditions. And fourth, institutions of higher education have readily incorporated biblical studies in their curricula. Seminaries and private universities and colleges 25

Cited in Saunders, Searching the Scriptures (1982), 60 n. 1. Two successive executive directors of the SBL, Kent Harold Richards and John F. Kutsko, together with their staff kindly provided most of the statistics cited above. 26

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

235

have long offered courses on the Bible, and state universities since the 1960s have been legally permitted to support such teaching and research so long as it is not confessional in character or intent. In the United States alone there are approximately 4,500 institutions of postsecondary education, very many of them small colleges scattered throughout the country, and in all likelihood most of them offer at least one course on the Bible. American biblical scholars in SBL and related learned societies stem primarily from these institutions of higher education.

4. History of Biblical Scholarship in the Americas since 1900 Due to the multiplicity of its contexts and approaches, the history of scholarship of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in the Americas does not lend itself to easy or clear periodization for the first two thirds of the twentieth century, although it does so for the final stage, 1968–2000. Several new critical methods emerged in this latter period, even while the traditional approaches from earlier in the century continued to hold sway among certain groups to the present. On the other hand, the first two thirds of the twentieth century witnessed more continuity than change in comparison to the last third. Still, enough distinctiveness is evident to warrant a division into three periods of biblical scholarship: 1900–1940, 1940–1968, and 1968–2000 and beyond.

4.1. The Period from 1900 to 1940 The study of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in North America in the early twentieth century proceeded under two strong influences – European scholarship on the one hand and conservative religious traditions on the other. Three controversies during this period, all rooted in the nineteenth century, provide insight into the biblical scholarship of the time. The first involved conservative Christian beliefs, a continuation of cultural proclivities reaching back to early colonial times, as described by Byrd. It had reached a climax of sorts in the controversy between Charles A. Briggs on the one side and Archibald Alexander Hodge, Benjamin Warfield, and other conservative apologists on the other over the place of biblical scholarship in the Christian church, in particular the question of whether the critical approach stemming especially from Europe undermined religious belief in the sanctity and authority of the Bible. Briggs, the Edward Robinson Professor of Biblical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, had tried to walk a fine line between practicing higher criticism of the Bible and affirming the divine authority of Scripture. But because he allowed for certain critical positions (e.g., attributing authorship of biblical books to others than those traditionally associated with them, such as Moses or Isaiah), he was investigated, tried, and convicted of “heresy” in 1893 in a Presbyterian Church court. Other scholars of the Hebrew Bible faced similar opposition and distrust. The controversy did not abate in the course the twentieth century – on the one side antagonism toward critical scholarship, on the other side skepticism or dismissal

236

Douglas A. Knight

of conservative and fundamentalist religion, and thus insufficient conversations between the two camps. To be sure, the situation is much more complex than this picture of polar opposites suggests; scholars and non-specialists position themselves all along the spectrum between two extremes, or form some distinctive combination of elements not easily placed on the spectrum. The point, at any rate, is that no consensus prevails about the place of critical scholarship and the role of religious belief in the United States. As described by Moir, Canada during the early twentieth century underwent a similar though not identical conflict between modernism and fundamentalism.27 A second controversy became even more widely known than the Briggs-affair. In 1925 John T. Scopes, a public school teacher, was tried and convicted of violating a state law that forbade teachers “to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals”. The case, popularly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, drew national attention to the small community of Dayton, Tennessee, and in 1960 it eventuated in the well-known movie Inherit the Wind. The controversy was less between critical scholarship and conservative religion and more a cultural rebuke of the theory of evolution advanced by Charles Darwin. Not until 1968 did the United States Supreme Court rule that such state laws were unconstitutional, yet other cases have continued until present times to appear in other states. Surprisingly, a poll taken in 2010 showed that 40 percent of the United States population believed that God created humans in their present form, while another 38 percent could accept some form of the notion of evolution if God was regarded as guiding the process.28 Without explicitly opposing biblical scholarship, this climate of opinion has posed obstacles to the efforts of academics to increase understanding of the Hebrew Bible. In fact, the evolution vs. creationism conflict has, if anything, become considerably more political in the course of the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. The third controversy goes even more explicitly to the heart of biblical interpretation. In 1895 and 1898 a group of some two dozen women, headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, published The Woman’s Bible, in which they took issue with a wide range of texts in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament that in their view denigrated women – texts that dealt explicitly with women or in which “women are made prominent by exclusion”. A few in the group were familiar with Hebrew or Greek; others focused on historical and textual evidence; and others contributed in varying ways to writing the commentary. Reference was made occasionally to the writings of biblical scholars. The result was a set of observations and interpretations that were poignant, passionate, radical, often scathing, and sometimes humorous. On the whole the book amounted to an indictment both of specific biblical texts and of biblical interpreters, including the ancient and modern societies that fostered the disparagement of women.29 The Woman’s 27

Moir, A History of Biblical Studies in Canada (1982), 7–66. Gallup, “Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design,” (4 Dec. 2012). 29 There was considerable precedent for women commenting on biblical passages, as is evident in Taylor/Weir, Let Her Speak for Herself (2006), which compiles excerpts of numerous nineteenth-cen28

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

237

Bible elicited a storm of protest from religious circles, although many individuals also spoke out in support of it. The National American Woman Suffrage Association, meeting in 1896, even passed a resolution distancing itself from the book, apparently on the grounds that it might retard the process of gaining suffrage for women. Despite – or perhaps because of – the public debate, virtually no biblical scholars at that time engaged its provocative interpretations of individual texts or its overall critique of the bias against women found in the Bible and in its reception history. The Woman’s Bible lay virtually dormant for some seventy-five years until it reemerged in the feminist biblical scholarship of the final decades of the twentieth century. The number of women in the profession during that intervening period was also very low. In 1992, almost a century after the 1895 publication, a comparable volume by a new group of women scholars, the Women’s Bible Commentary, edited by C. A. Newsom and S. H. Ringe, appeared, marking further contributions by feminists to the kinds of issues engaged by Stanton and her colleagues. Biblical scholarship in the period 1900–1940 played out against the social, political, and religious background that fostered these controversies. Other factors, especially World War I and the Great Depression, weighed heavily during this period as well. But to what extent did the study of the Hebrew Bible in North America take a distinctive direction, different from the research found elsewhere? To a great extent, the answer is: only minimally. European biblical scholarship, in particular that from Germany and England, was imported and incorporated into the research and publications of North American scholars, a number of whom had studied at European universities or spent research leaves in connection with colleagues there. Briggs himself, the controversial proponent of biblical criticism until his death in 1918, had studied for three years in Berlin under Isaak A. Dorner and Ernst W. Hengstenberg. This indebtedness to German scholarship persisted despite the widespread popular repudiation of most things German during the time of World War I, just as would later be the case during World War II as well. North American scholars, parallel to their counterparts in Europe, pursued historical, comparative, text-critical, philological, and exegetical questions. Their ranks included both established specialists as well as newcomers whose influence would continue for several more decades: Henry Preserved Smith, German-born Paul Haupt, Morris Jastrow, Jr., George Barton, William H. P. Hatch, Charles A. Briggs, J. M. Powis Smith, Hinckley G. Mitchell, C. C. Torrey, A. T. E. Olmstead, Charles Foster Kent, George Foot Moore, Theophile James Meek, Frederick V. Winnett, R. B. Y. Scott, William Ewart Staples, W. G. Jordan, William Andrew Irwin, James A. Montgomery, Max L. Margolis, Theodor H. Gaster, J. Coert Rylaarsdam, George E. Mendenhall, Samuel L. Terrien, and Cyrus H. Gordon – to name just some of the prominent scholars. Most were located at universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, founded in the eighteenth century at the instigation of Benjamin Franklin, which has one of the oldest and most distinguished programs in Semitic studies, including biblical studies, in the Americas. Gordon tury women authors. Lerner, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness (1993), 138–166, traces centuries of biblical criticism by women, including the nineteenth-century writings of Sarah Moore Grimké, her sister Angelina, Stanton, and others.

238

Douglas A. Knight

has provided an overview of its personnel and contributions, based heavily on his own first-hand experiences after becoming a student there in 1924. In Canada, research during this early part of the twentieth century centered mainly at the University of Toronto, especially in its Department of Orientals in University College under the leadership of James Frederick McCurdy, sometimes called “the father of biblical studies in Canada”.30 The early decades of the twentieth century saw the appearance of the Social Gospel movement in North America, led by Walter Rauschenbusch and others and rooted in part in the British movement of Christian Socialism from the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Social Gospel movement, combined with the [University of] “Chicago School” of sociology from that period, prompted an interest in the social contexts of biblical religion, signaling a turn from the typical historical-critical, exegetical style inherited from European researchers. R. W. Funk in fact considered it the “watershed” of American biblical scholarship, although it was pursued then more in New Testament studies than in scholarship on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.31 Drawing on the American pragmatism of William James and the analysis of social processes by the early sociologists, biblical scholars sought to understand the communities of ancient Israel as well as first-century Christianity. One was Louis Wallis, whose 1912 study represented – in his words – the “pure science” of the new field of sociology, which led him to engage in comparative study of kinship, economics, religion, and the prophetic attention to justice. He noted that the Chicago scholar Shailer Mathews, writing in 1895, was apparently the first to use the term “biblical sociology”, and Wallis drew attention to a handful of other publications prior to his own, several by American scholars, devoted to the social history of ancient Israel.32 Wallis operated under notions current in his time regarding nomadism, social groups, and religious history. His work was followed by several other surveys of Israelite society, all of which were more descriptive than analytical and thus fell short of the systematic sociological study of Israel undertaken later in the twentieth century. Archaeology of the Southern Levant piqued interest in the Americas ever since Edward Robinson conducted his surveys of that region in 1838 and 1852, identifying more than one hundred biblical sites.33 While archaeologists usually launched their excavations from bases in various universities or religious entities, in 1900 there was a move in North America to formalize the discipline with the creation of a learned society devoted to the archaeological investigation of the Middle East – the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR). As noted above, the SBL, AOS, and AIA collaborated to bring the ASOR into existence, and throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century it has been the 30

Moir, A History of Biblical Studies in Canada (1982), 25. Funk, Watershed (1976); see also Pedan/Stone, Chicago School (1996); and Hynes, Shirley Jackson Case and the Chicago School (1981). In addition, Funk (7) ventured that “the organization and development of the early biblical faculty at Chicago is paradigmatic for that remapping of the contours of biblical study which has affected the shape and course of that scholarship down to the present day”. 32 Wallis, Sociological Study (1912), ix, 299. 33 See Byrd, The ‘New World’ of North America and Canada (2013), 180–181; and for a biography, Williams, The Times and Life of Edward Robinson (1999), especially 207–261. 31

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

239

premier North American society to promote and publish archaeological work in the larger region, with special focus on the Southern Levant. In founding this society North Americans joined other national groups devoted to archaeology of the Levant and the wider region – British, German, French, and others including, of course, local Jordanian, Syrian, Cypriot, Egyptian, and similar centers. ASOR expanded its operations by opening archaeological schools or institutes in various settings: Jerusalem (1900), Baghdad (1923), Amman (1968), Nicosia (1978), and Carthage (1970s), as well as affiliating with the American Research Center in Egypt. Complementing the United States-based ASOR, the American Schools of Oriental Research in Canada was established in 1990 to support Canadian archaeological projects and researchers in the Near East. Throughout its existence ASOR has not only sponsored a wide variety of field projects in the region but has also promoted archaeological literacy among biblical scholars and the wider public. The Jerusalem School, in particular, was a hub of archaeological excavations and innovations during the 1920s and 1930s, in large part because of its collegial associations with leaders of expeditions based in European institutions. Much of its impact owes to the work of William Foxwell Albright, director of the Jerusalem School in 1920–29 and again in 1933–36. He organized educational programs and working field trips for residents at the School as a means of promoting knowledge of historical geography, and he also became intimately involved in digs as well. Perhaps his greatest achievement, one that had an enormous impact on the field, came during his years as director of the excavation at Tell Beit Mirsim in 1926–32. Drawing on the work of Clarence S. Fisher and others, Albright classified the site’s pottery remains and organized them into a chronological sequence, dating them relative to each other if not with respect to absolute dates. His finds ranged from the Early Bronze period to the Iron Age.34 The result of this painstaking effort was a ceramic typology and chronology that became a standard resource for generations of archaeologists of the land of Israel, which in turn influenced the efforts to date many of the biblical texts.

4.2. The Period from 1940 to 1968 American biblical criticism of the first four decades of the twentieth century had largely carried forward the conventional methods of historical criticism derived from European scholarship, even despite differences in the intellectual and cultural climates. In his Presidential Address to the SBL in December 1941, however, J. Morgenstern saw a different present and future because of the war that had by then fully engulfed the region. Germany, in his view, was “the cradle of biblical science. There it was born and tenderly nourished for over one hundred years”. But by 1941, he noted, both the Old and New Testaments were “discredited and spiritually proscribed”, which meant that “in Germany biblical science is doomed”. In this “atmosphere of hostility toward the Bible” and 34

Albright, The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, AASOR, 12 (1930–1931) and 13 (1931–1932), 55–127.

240

Douglas A. Knight

… with the consequent disorganization of academic life, biblical science must soon be stifled and must inevitably succumb. Our friends and fellow-workers, not only in Germany but also in the occupied countries, will be, of this we may be sadly certain, for the present stage of biblical science at least, the last generation of Bible scholars…. It follows from all this that, for the present and the immediate future, America, i.e. the United States and Canada, must become the major center of biblical research, and that here Bible studies must be fostered wisely and devotedly, if biblical science is to endure and progress despite the present world-cataclysm. How prepared are we for this responsibility?35

This ominous prediction, as legitimate as it may have seemed from outside Europe at that moment, was eventually found to have been miscalculated since scholarship on the Hebrew Bible continued in Europe during the 1940s and recovered substantially during the 1950s and 1960s, both in Germany and in other European countries. It is, nonetheless, a revealing indication of the North American ethos that one of its foremost scholars felt that the weight of biblical scholarship had shifted to North American shoulders. Morgenstern also set the problem in more intellectual terms. According to him, the “techniques of documentary analysis of the OT are being increasingly outmoded”, and the tenets of the Documentary Hypothesis as well as those of form criticism were “becoming more and more subject to question”.36 This observation is reminiscent of the assessment rendered by G. von Rad only three years prior when, speaking of Hexateuchal research at the time, he asserted: “Man wird nicht sagen können, daß die theologische Erforschung des Hexateuchs sich in unseren Tagen in einer Krise befinde. Viel eher ließe sich behaupten, daß ein Stillstand eingetreten ist, den mancher mit einer gewissen Sorge wahrnimmt. Was ist nun zu tun?”.37 Morgenstern did not call for a traditio-historical study of the literature as did von Rad, but rather for more attention to the “ideas, institutions and movements which [the biblical documents] mirror, especially when coordinated with the unfolding historical picture”. He perceived the tension to lie primarily between “biblical science” (his term) and archaeology, the latter having met with such exceptional results in the preceding decades that it threatened to overwhelm the valid and significant work of biblical criticism. What was instead needed was “a friendly and constructive synthesis of biblical science and archaeology”.38 To a considerable extent this challenge became the central focus for numerous American scholars during the next quarter century in the movements known as “Biblical Archaeology” and its cousin, “Biblical Theology”.39 The previous year had seen the publication of a book that laid out the rudiments of this movement, Albright’s From the Stone Age to Christianity. Expressing more theological conservatism than he had displayed in his earlier archaeological writings, this son of Methodist missionaries to Chile sought to develop what he called an “organismic philosophy of history”, by which he meant that cultures can be viewed as wholes that assume distinctive characteristics, evolve 35

Morgenstern, The Society of Biblical Literature (1942), 4–5. Ibid. 1–2. 37 von Rad, Das formgeschichtliche Problem des Hexateuch (1938), 1. 38 Morgenstern, The Society of Biblical Literature (1942), 2–3. 39 The two are not identical but are intertwined, the one emphasizing more archaeological evidence and the other focusing more on theological interpretations. 36

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

241

over long spans of time, and can come to a conclusion and be replaced by new cultural forms. Focusing on the southern Levant, he described six distinct stages throughout the sweep of history from the Paleolithic to modern times, the pinnacle for him being the period from 400 BCE to 700 CE: “the Graeco-Roman civilization of the time of Christ represented the closest approach to a rational unified culture that the world has yet seen and may justly be taken as the culmination of a long period of relatively steady evolution”.40 Albright displayed a confidence that his data, much of it from archaeology, gave him license to make grand judgments about cultures and periods, as in this tendentious pronouncement about the “charismatic age” of early Israel: “Thus the Canaanites, with their orgiastic nature-worship, their cult of fertility in the form of serpent symbols and sensuous nudity, and their gross mythology, were replaced by Israel, with its pastoral simplicity and purity of life, its lofty monotheism, and its severe code of ethics”.41 He found ethical monotheism in the time of Moses, threats to the “pristine purity” of Yahwism during the monarchic period, necessary interventions by the prophets to sustain Yahwistic morality until the “pure ethical monotheism of Deutero-Isaiah”, and finally the coming of Jesus and the “integrated organismic pattern” of Christianity.42 A prolific writer, Albright was not an advocate of biblical literalism or inerrancy, both of which have long been amply evident among Christian apologists in America. He was convinced, however, that the biblical account of much of Israel’s history, e.g. the periods of the ancestors, the exodus, and Joshua’s conquest, is historically reliable and that archaeology has delivered the material proof. In a later book he spoke of a “dovetailing between archaeological and literary evidence” leading to the possibility of fixing dates with considerable certainty. For example, he paired the statement that the battle between Barak and Sisera was fought “at Taanach by Megiddo’s waters” (Judg 5:19) with the archaeological evidence about the occupation of the two sites and their pottery remains, and he then concluded that the battle and the Song of Deborah should be dated to ca. 1125 BCE.43 As suggested by J. M. Sasson, Albright’s confidence in such historicity “feeds on the centrality of the Bible in the American vision, a vision that cuts across creed, color, and gender. Albright himself puts it bluntly in his writing. ‘In the center of history’, he wrote in his autobiographical notes, ‘stands the Bible’”.44 This certainty about archaeological findings and their capacity to corroborate biblical details became typical of the Biblical Archaeology Movement, and with it the more confessionally inclined Biblical Theology Movement. J. Bright, student of Albright at The Johns Hopkins University, emphasized the historical side through his widely used A History of Israel, which he intended as a resource not just for students of the Bible but also for the church. He engaged the issue of historicity in a shorter publication, Early Israel in Recent History Writing, focusing his critique especially on M. Noth’s analyses of the books of Genesis through 40 41 42 43 44

Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (1940), 121. Ibid. 281. Ibid. 301, 329, 401. Albright, Archaeology of Palestine (1949), 117–118. Sasson, Albright as an Orientalist (1993), 6.

242

Douglas A. Knight

Joshua. For Bright, archaeology may fall short of being able to provide irrefragable proof of details in the biblical narrative, but external evidence can tip the “balance of probability” in favor of the veracity of the biblical stories. He occasionally used popular oral traditions from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century North America to advocate that oral traditions in ancient Israel could similarly preserve memories of real events and processes. Noth, as might be expected, responded firmly: “what is scientifically at stake is not whether we use ‘external evidence’ but whether we have ‘external evidence’”, which he doubted to be much the case.45 Another prominent member of the “Albright School” was the accomplished archaeologist G. E. Wright. While Bright was especially interested in the historical side of Biblical Archaeology, Wright turned to religion and theology. In both God Who Acts and The Book of the Acts of God, Wright argued that the Hebrew Bible relates grand actions by the divine on behalf of the Israelites, such as the call of Abraham, the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, the giving of the law, the conquest of the land, and the establishment of the monarchy. To his mind, these actions not only indicate the nature of the biblical God but also reveal the character of the biblical literature – as narrative traditions that the Israelites recited in cultic settings and retold among themselves. These divine acts are so central to the Hebrew Bible, in his view, that he had trouble fitting the wisdom tradition into the picture, and he consequently charged that there was a “pagan source of wisdom in which society and the Divine work in history played no real role”. Bright’s position was similar: wisdom material was “only peripherally” related to and even questioned the historically oriented core of the Old Testament.46 Wright’s notions seem on the surface extremely close to von Rad’s idea of Heilsgeschichte, which was being developed during this same period.47 The difference, though, is notable: Wright seemed to be treating these divine “acts” as actual events that the ancient Israelites were remembering, whereas von Rad regarded them more as traditions believed and continuously retold by the Israelites but not necessarily as empirical, provable occurrences. The Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Theology Movements found great appeal among scholars as well as the interested public in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, especially in Christian circles. However, both were for many effectively laid to rest by the end of the 1960s and early 1970s because of responses and new developments on several fronts, much of it from other North American scholars. Biblical Archaeology came under severe attack for its historicity claims, for example by T. L. Thompson and J. Van Seters, both focused on the so-called ancestral period, and later by others dealing with other periods. Furthermore, its celebration of monumental archaeology as a sign of ancient Israel’s preeminence in the region became undercut by the introduction of the methods of “New Archaeology”, which employed interdisciplinary means to uncover all

45 Noth, Der Beitrag der Archäologie zur Geschichte Israels (1960), 271 n. 1; see also his As One Historian to Another (1961), as well as the discussion in Knight, Rediscovering the Traditions of Israel (2006), 148–151. 46 Wright, God Who Acts (1952), 104; Bright, Authority (1967), 136. 47 See especially von Rad, Theologie des Alten Testaments, 1–2 (1957/60).

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

243

possible evidence of the past, most of it not products of Israel’s powerful and elite leaders.48 Biblical Theology, for its part, took a devastating blow first with J. Barr’s seminal linguistic study, The Semantics of Biblical Language, which demonstrated the illegitimacy of attributing too much theological weight to specific words and concepts as was typical in the Movement, and he also challenged the effort to synthesize a theological “unity” in the Bible, the Old and New Testaments.49 Then B. Albrektson pointed out the obvious – that, contrary to the thesis of Biblical Theology’s advocates, there was nothing distinctive or unique about Israel’s belief in a “God who acts”, for many if not most other ancient Near Eastern cultures also envisioned their gods acting in history on behalf of their adherents. And finally, in his 1970 book B. S. Childs shifted the agenda – at least for himself and some others – when he assessed the causes of the Movement’s erosion and then proposed that biblical theology should instead be conducted from within the context of the canon of the Christian church. Childs thereafter produced several studies developing a theological structure that pointedly took both Testaments into consideration, shifting the emphasis from historical criticism of the biblical text to a canon criticism that attends both to the process of canonization and also to the postbiblical history of the Bible’s interpretation and significance as canonized scripture. In a much later volume, The Concept of Biblical Theology, Barr evaluated this and other efforts to devise a biblical theology, which he found to have been used in confusingly divergent ways over the years, and he concluded that the subject may continue to be useful if it remains open to the history of religion, to Jewish interpretations and thought, and to social and cultural settings during the biblical periods. Albright also made an impact on epigraphy, orthography, and paleography, not the least though his influence on two other doctoral students, F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, who together authored two joint dissertations, Early Hebrew Orthography and Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry. Drawing on their reconstruction of early orthographic patterns they identified in Northwest Semitic languages, they analyzed specific poetic texts (Exod 15:1–18; Gen 49:1–27; Deut 33:2–29; and 2 Sam 22:5–51 = Ps 18) and declared them to be dated, respectively, in the twelfth-tenth centuries BCE, the late period of the Judges, the eleventh-tenth centuries, and the ninth-eighth centuries. The confidence with which they pronounced these dates, much like Albright’s dating of the Song of Deborah to ca. 1125 BCE as noted above, is not untypical of this period in American scholarship when biblical texts were readily connected with specific early points in time. In contrast, many recent scholars, inclining toward the Persian or Hellenistic periods for the finalization if not even the composition of the biblical texts, have become more reluctant to venture specific dates and definitive interpretations due to the paucity and indeterminacy of the “evidence”. Both Cross and Freedman built on their early work in different ways – Cross in his investigations

48 See Dever, Syro-Palestinian and Biblical Archaeology (1985), especially 36–53. He indicates that the excavation at Gezer in 1966 was the first to use an interdisciplinary team in the Southern Levant. 49 See also Barr, Old and New in Interpretation (1966).

244

Douglas A. Knight

of the early epics and myths as windows on Canaanite and Israelite religions,50 and Freedman in his further studies of early poetry.51 Cross’s theory of local texts is another distinctive American biblical contribution to the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible. Following a lead from Albright, he proposed three different locales where the various text traditions developed – Babylon, Palestine, and Egypt. The Qumran and the Samaritan texts arose in the Palestinian context, while Egypt was the provenance of the Septuagint. The Proto-Massoretic text, on the other hand, stemmed from the Jewish community in Babylon. These three text families emerged slowly during the period from the fifth to the first centuries BCE, and only later did they come into contact with each other.52 This theory has proved useful in explaining some of the textual differences, but it has also been subjected to refinement and criticism by other textual historians. Biblical research in Canada during this period ran somewhat parallel to that in the United States. However, it also bears distinctive features due on the one hand to the presence of the two dominant cultures, one Anglophone and the other Francophone, each with a different origin and history, and on the other hand to the ongoing existence of the “First Nations”, the indigenous peoples in the country. This diversity has affected Canadians in ways that are not always acknowledged or appreciated outside Canada; they make of the country not a “melting pot”, as is typically claimed for the United States, but a population that is pronouncedly multicultural.53 Even in this situation, many Canadian scholars have functioned in ways comparable to their counterparts in the United States, for example by studying at similar institutions in North America as well as in Europe. They published in the same venues and attended SBL and ASOR meetings in common. But Canadians also aligned with each other, as evident especially in the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, in existence since 1933. The quarter century after 1940 saw another momentous change following the issuance in 1943 of the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu by Pope Pius XII. It encouraged Roman Catholic scholars to engage more in the study of the Bible, and critical work began to take hold among them in both French- and English-speaking sections of Canada. Universities supported this research, and the Université du Québec à Montréal opened a Ph.D. program in biblical studies. Throughout this period and later, the study of ancient languages became a trademark of much of Canadian scholarship. During the 1960s, the rise of numerous university departments of religious studies with more of a secular than religious approach to the study of religion marked a crucial shift quite similar to that which was occurring at the same time in the United States.54 Canadian scholars during these years and to the present have made distinctive contributions, such as F. V. Winnett’s SBL 50

See also the wide-ranging essays in Miller/Hanson/McBride, Ancient Israelite Religion (1987). For example, Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1973); and Freedman, Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy (1980). 52 Albright, New Light on Early Recensions of the Hebrew Bible (1955); Cross, The Contribution of the Qumrân Discoveries to the Study of the Biblical Text (1966); and essays in Cross/Talmon, Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text (1975). 53 Black, Reading the Bible in “Our Home and Native Land” (2012). 54 Moir, A History of Biblical Studies in Canada (1982), 79–97. 51

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

245

presidential address in 1964, in which he proposed dating much of the J source of Genesis to the postexilic period, thus presaging the work of later critics who argued for late dates of Pentateuchal sources; R. C. Culley’s focus on narrative and poetic literary style; and P. C. Craigie’s studies on Ugarit, the prophets, and war. In addition, a number of Canadians have made their contributions to the study of the Hebrew Bible while residing in the United States, such as J. Van Seters who has written on comparative historiography and the Pentateuch; G. N. Knoppers who has researched both the Deuteronomistic History and the books of Chronicles; S. M. Olyan who has studied the cult and social inequality; and B. M. Levinson who has contributed to the understanding of biblical law. The quarter century of North American biblical scholarship from 1940 to c. 1968 thus saw considerable activity and innovation, and much of its results continued to thrive in the following period as well – so much so that its later echoes seem at times to be connected more to the later developments then to this period prior to 1968. Nonetheless, the year 1968 marked a dividing line, and the distinctive innovations that followed could scarcely have been anticipated in preceding periods.

4.3. The Period from 1968 to the Beginning of the Twenty-first Century As noted above in the discussion of the sociology of knowledge and scholarship in the Americas, momentous changes occurred in the 1960s and, particularly and symbolically, in 1968. Against the background of assassinations, the Civil Rights Movement, the war in Vietnam, student unrest, new musical forms, and progressive literary publications, scholarship in the humanities experienced a sea change, and biblical scholarship followed when it did not in fact lead some of these transformations. The Society of Biblical Literature altered its very way of functioning as it opened its doors to new ideas and new populations, resulting in a resurgent interest that was felt throughout the membership and the institution itself. Historical-critical methods gave way to a variety of novel methods, and underrepresented groups were encouraged to become scholars and contribute their own perspectives to the growing stock of critical approaches to the Bible. To be sure, many of the earlier methods and notions continued to be present, but the addition of new ways of thinking inevitably changed the landscape of scholarship.55 Most of these innovations did not stem exclusively from American scholars, as other chapters in the present volume indicate; here we call attention primarily to contributions that are, if not unique, then at least prominently advocated by scholars in the Western Hemisphere. One of the first new methods to draw on the cultural unrest was feminist hermeneutics. The women’s suffragette movement had begun in the mid-nineteenth century, and Stanton’s The Women’s Bible (1895–98) sought to promote the rights of women by drawing attention to the parts of the Bible that were especially problematic in their portrayal of women. In the early 1970s issues regarding the

55

The Postmodern Bible (G. Aichele e.a.; 1995) exhibits as well as advances these developments.

246

Douglas A. Knight

views and status of women in the Hebrew Bible again came to the fore, as they did in disciplines such as literary studies, philosophy, sociology, legal studies, and political studies. One of the very first biblical scholars to publish on the subject was P. Trible, in her essay “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation”, and its programmatic statement anticipates issues that subsequent feminist scholars were to pursue, albeit often with different starting-points and conclusions: Let me not be misunderstood: I know that Hebrew literature comes from a male dominated society. I know that biblical religion is patriarchal, and I understand the adverse effects of that religion for women. I know also the dangers of eisegesis. Nevertheless, I affirm that the intentionality of biblical faith, as distinguished from a general description of biblical religion, is neither to create nor to perpetuate patriarchy but rather to function as salvation for both women and men. The Women’s Movement errs when it dismisses the Bible as inconsequential or condemns it as enslaving. In rejecting Scripture women ironically accept male chauvinistic interpretations and thereby capitulate to the very view they are protesting. But there is another way: to reread (not rewrite) the Bible without the blinders of Israelite men or of Paul, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and a host of others. The hermeneutical challenge is to translate biblical faith without sexism.56

In her article Trible calls special attention to the feminine imagery of YHWH in the Hebrew Bible, and comments on several key elements in Genesis 2–3, such as the generic rather than only a gender-exclusive meaning of ’aˉ daˉ m, the equality intended by the word “helper” (‘eˉzer), the independence and intelligence of the woman in the conversation with the snake in Genesis 3 in contrast with the man who is “belly-oriented”, … “passive, brutish, and inept”, and the nature of the curses not as mandates but as descriptions of an alienated and discordant state of being.57 She then comments on the liberating and affirming aspects in the Song of Songs, which depicts a strong woman and mutuality between the partners. Trible subsequently expanded this article to a widely read book, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, in which she examines several other examples: reh. em (“womb”) as metaphor, feminine images and YHWH, again on Genesis 2–3 and the Song of Songs, and finally the story of Ruth. Not all later feminist interpreters followed Trible in her effort to reinterpret the biblical text or find in it liberating dimensions for women; others took an approach closer to Stanton’s forceful repudiation of texts regarded as unacceptable or brutal depictions of women. On the whole, the years since the early 1970s have witnessed a wide array of feminist studies of biblical materials, an effort pursued in many different cultures now and not just by North American scholars. The historian G. Lerner sought the roots of patriarchy in early ancient Near Eastern times and maintained that it was socially constructed and that it should, therefore, be possible for “women and men to free their minds from patriarchal thought and practice and at last to build a world free of dominance and hierarchy, a world that is truly human”.58 Drawing on her archaeological work, C. L. Meyers directed attention away from the biblical text and to the everyday lives of ancient Israelite women, whom she found to be much more crucial contribu-

56 57 58

Trible, Depatriarchalizing (1973), 31. Ibid. 35–42. Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (1986), 229.

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

247

tors to society than the male-dominated and elite-oriented texts of the Hebrew Bible would have us believe. R. J. Weems focused on the prophets’ use of specific metaphors, especially that of marriage, to argue that violence used in punishment in the Hebrew Bible can have severe after-effects: “Not only does the image of the promiscuous wife have the potential to reinforce violence against women. It also has the potential to exclude whole segments of the population from hearing and responding to the biblical message”, especially when as in Hosea 2 the husband rages brutally against his faithless wife, parallel to God’s punishing actions against Israel.59 And G. A. Yee includes other “wicked women” – Eve, the two sisters in Ezekiel 16 and 23, the foreign woman in Proverbs 7, as well as Gomer in Hosea – in her argument that “the focus on gender and the sexism embedded in the symbolizations of woman as evil masked sexism’s complex interlinkages with classism, racism, colonialism, heterosexism, and so forth”.60 Such studies of the status of women in ancient Israel as well as the portrayal of women in the Hebrew Bible and its ongoing effect on later readers will only proliferate in coming years. As the feminist movement was getting underway, a second distinctive method and emphasis emerged from Latin America. Until this point, biblical scholarship in this vast region received little notice as the Bible served mainly the spiritual needs of the wider population, and most written material about the Bible was largely didactic or devotional in nature. In 1971 G. Gutiérrez published Teología de la liberación (English translation in 1973, A Theology of Liberation). A Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest, Gutiérrez joined the wave of protest throughout the Latin American continent aimed at the gross inequality of wealth and power, and he along with numerous “revolutionary priests” targeted especially the long-running complicity of the Roman Catholic Church with the system backed by the political and economic elites. During the 1960s many bishops took a stand of resistance to the injustices, advocating publicly on behalf of the masses of poor and often risking personal harm to themselves. The 1968 conference of bishops at Medellín resulted in a statement expressing solidarity with the oppressed, criticism of the basis of the capitalistic system, affirmation of a more socialistic arrangement to reconcile justice with private ownership, and encouragement of grass-roots organizations of believers and justice workers. Liberation, thus, could assume a radical, revolutionary form, and Gutiérrez stressed the absolute necessity of the Church’s support of reform. He based his argument distinctly on traditions from the Hebrew Bible, in particular creation, exodus, covenant, and eschatological promises, but for him “the Exodus experience is paradigmatic”,61 a point elaborated later in the studies of Exodus by J. Pixley and J. S. Croatto. In a compelling interpretation of Job, Gutiérrez read the book in terms of the suffering of the poor, who constituted the majority of the Latin American population. Another significant study came from Mexican J. P. Miranda, who studied in Germany and Rome before returning to his home country to 59 60 61

Bible.

Weems, Battered Love (1995), 115–16, 45–52. Yee, Poor Banished Children of Eve (2003), 164. Gutiérrez, Theology of Liberation (1973), 159; see 153–168 for his discussion of the Hebrew

248

Douglas A. Knight

teach and work with the poor. His book Marx y la biblia: Crítica a la filosofía de la opresión (1971; English translation in 1974, Marx and the Bible) appeared the same year as that of Gutiérrez and drew much more heavily than the latter on the Hebrew Bible to make the point that to know Yahweh is to do justice. Other Latin American scholars have continued this direction in their own work.62 Liberation theology and liberation ethics have been appropriated from this context and inserted deliberately, though not always with full appreciation of its Latin American roots, in other justice movements and methods, including feminism, race and minority studies, critique of poverty, and ecology.63 The third method to emerge in the 1970s is the analysis of society, whether in the form of historical sociology, social history, historical anthropology, Marxist analysis, or other approaches. One of the first studies to appear was the article co-authored in 1976 by F. S. Frick and N. K. Gottwald, “The Social World of Ancient Israel”. After sketching the pedigree of the social studies of biblical materials – W. R. Smith, J. Wellhausen, M. Weber, the Social Gospel movement and the “Chicago School” (discussed above), form criticism, M. Noth, A. Causse, J. Pedersen, A. Alt, and W. F. Albright – they note the paucity of current work in this field and the general disregard for sociological analysis until just prior to their article.64 In this same period, in 1975, a continuing, collaborative group called The Social World of Ancient Israel began to meet in the Society of Biblical Literature, followed later by various other groups devoted to such analysis. This early call for new work on Israel’s society was answered in 1979 with the publication of Gottwald’s magnum opus, The Tribes of Yahweh. Focusing on the period 1250–1050 BCE, Gottwald scrutinized the textual records, Israel’s social units, the question of pastoral nomadism, socioeconomic morphemes, and the notion of tribe. Based in part on a proposal raised by G. E. Mendenhall, he argued that Israel arose as a peasant uprising against Canaanite city-states and that the peasants who then settled in the highland areas formed an egalitarian society to cope with their environmental, political, and economic circumstances. The Yahwistic religion, in his view, was a “societal ‘feedback’ servomechanism”. As much as the book was later criticized in certain circles, it more than any other single effort initiated a still-ongoing study of society through all of Israel’s history, not just during its early phase.65 Few studies now disregard the social context and social history, and they generally take into consideration the larger societal structure, not just an isolated setting. Two monograph series attending greatly to social history began in the 1990s, one primarily in the United States and the other in Europe: the Library of Ancient Israel (ed. D. A. Knight, published at Westminster John

62 See Aguilar, The History and Politics of Latin American Theology (2007/08); Andiñach, Liberation in Latin American Biblical Hermeneutics (2012); Pixley, Liberating the Bible (2012); and Schwantes, Das Recht der Armen (1977). A bibliography of Latin American and Caribbean publications on the Bible is now available online: Bibliografia Bíblica Latino-Americana. 63 For compilations of examples showing the influence of liberation theology, see Gottwald, The Bible and Liberation (1983); and Botta/Andiñach, The Bible and the Hermeneutics of Liberation (2009). 64 Gottwald’s The Hebrew Bible in Its Social World and in Ours (1993) contains multiple additional sociological and sociohistorical studies by him. 65 For several review essays, see Boer, Tracking “The Tribes of Yahweh” (2002).

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

249

Knox Press) and Biblische Enzyklopädie (ed. W. Dietrich and W. Stegemann, published at Verlag W. Kohlhammer and, in English translation, by the Society of Biblical Literature). The former is organized according to areas of study (e.g., societal organization, politics, religion, literacy, law, ethnicity, economics, material culture, leadership, canon formation), and the latter follows a chronological structure with each volume treating a separate period and juxtaposing the literary texts with the material, historical, and social evidence. The fourth method from this decade has its roots in the Presidential Address delivered by James Muilenburg at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in 1968 and published in 1969, “Form Criticism and Beyond”. Muilenburg acknowledged both the benefits and inadequacies of Hermann Gunkel’s form-critical method and then proposed a new turn to stylistics or aesthetic criticism or, to use his term, “rhetorical criticism”. His “canon”, as he called it, was this: “a responsible and proper articulation of the words in their linguistic patterns and in their precise formulations will reveal to us the texture and fabric of the writer’s thought, not only what it is that he thinks, but as he thinks it”.66 He then drew attention to a variety of compositional techniques in Hebrew narratives and poetry: repetitions, strophes, particles, rhetorical questions, keywords, and more. Yet as he stressed at the end of the article, his point was not to abandon or replace form criticism but to supplement it with more attention to a piece’s literary features. A flood of literary studies followed over the following years, many of them disregarding Muilenburg’s admonition that form criticism not be ignored. Often this new literary criticism (not to be confused with source criticism) was presented as an alternative to historical criticism, which was judged to be over-confident of its findings and distracting from the reader’s experience with the text. But in general this new appreciation of stylistic details led to a focus on not just what the text means but how it means. A student of Muilenburg, P. Trible laid out the methodological details in her Rhetorical Criticism, using the book of Jonah to illustrate her points. Canadian scholar R. C. Culley was especially influential with his various studies of narrative and oral traditions.67 An overview of all the books of the Bible in terms of their literary character, with articles by many scholars, is found in The Literary Guide to the Bible (1987), edited by R. Alter and F. Kermode. Discrimination and oppression along ethnic and racial lines have been a blight on the history of the Americas, and their impact has also reached biblical scholarship. Broadly, African American experience in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas began with forced relocation from Africa and centuries of enslavement. Later in the United States, Jim Crow laws inscribed a second-class status on African Americans along with Asian and Latino/a Americans by largely barring them from access to economic advancement, adequate education, and proper health care, and often even targeting them for incarceration. Each of these groups resisted repressive measures over the course of their histories; among the better known are the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the resistance ef66

Muilenburg, Form Criticism and Beyond (1969), 7. Culley, Oral Formulaic Language in the Biblical Psalms (1967); Studies in the Structure of Hebrew Narrative (1976); and Exploring New Directions (1985), 168–180. 67

250

Douglas A. Knight

forts led by Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Latin America and Cesar Chavez in California. The Bible has been an important influence in some of these struggles. As the biblical academy gradually lowered barriers to training, these groups brought distinctive interpretive modes to the guild. The importance of the Bible in African American religion and culture has been widely acknowledged but until recent times little studied.68 African American biblical scholars, however, have been scarcely present; by one count there were only nine holding doctorates in Hebrew Bible in 1991, and of them only two were women.69 The number of African Americans (i.e., those who self-identified as African Americans) has now increased to 4 percent of the total membership of the Society of Biblical Literature. In the years since the 1970s African American interpretation has also developed into both a critical method and a subject of study in its own rights. Growing out of the larger context of African American religious studies, a number of biblical scholars found common ground at conferences and meetings where they could collaborate in ways not possible when isolated in separate universities without a critical mass of similar colleagues, and they produced both anthologies and monographs on the basic task and method of the distinctive field of African American biblical interpretation, deliberately pursuing its own path apart from the course set by European antecedents. Stony the Road We Trod, edited by C. H. Felder, includes articles identifying the hermeneutical problems that African American scholars seek to address, including the presence of race and Africans in the Hebrew Bible. In Yet with a Steady Beat, edited by R. C. Bailey, eleven more authors continued the discussions with further treatments of specific texts as well as larger issues. In 2004 M. J. Brown devoted a monograph, Blackening of the Bible, to tracing the history of African American biblical scholarship, in the process helping to define the key subjects and approaches. The work of womanist scholars, R. J. Weems among them, has focused especially on the situation and perspectives of African American women. Finally, The Africana Bible, edited by H. R. Page, Jr., treats in separate chapters all the books of the Hebrew Bible and Apocrypha as well as selected pseudepigraphic writings. The volume does not intend to be a typical commentary on the Bible; instead, each chapter highlights some critical issues in the respective biblical book and identifies parts that have been especially problematic for the African diaspora. This inclusion of the worldwide African diaspora, not just of African Americans, makes its contribution all the more significant. Biblical criticism by other marginalized groups has also resulted from the changes that occurred during the final third of the twentieth century. Beyond the African American criticism just mentioned, there has been interest in studying Asian American interpretations of the Bible, and an increasing number of Asian American scholars have published on the topic; one example is The Bible

68 For overviews, see Paris, The Bible and the Black Churches (1982); Callahan, The Talking Book (2006); and the extensive resource book edited by Wimbush, African Americans and the Bible (2000). 69 Bailey, Yet with a Steady Beat (2003), 1; Felder, Stony the Road We Trod (1991), 1; see also Bailey, Academic Biblical Interpretation (2000), including on p. 707 a list of 21 Hebrew Bible specialists as of the date of writing (ca. 2000). The number of African American scholars of the New Testament was only slightly higher.

Studies in the HBOT in the Americas of the Twentieth Century

251

in Asian America, edited by T. B. Liew. Latino/a biblical criticism has also continued, rooted in the early liberation thought described above. Queer readings of the Bible have taken their place alongside other approaches, as evidenced in Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible, edited by K. Stone, and Bible Trouble, edited by T. J. Hornsby and K. Stone. Also in the discussion now are disability studies, which views physical disabilities in light of social and political and not just biological conditions; This Abled Body, edited by H. Avalos, S. J. Melcher, and J. Schipper, is one of several studies now bringing these considerations to biblical texts and methodological discussions. Other underrepresented groups have similarly emerged and claimed a place in the enterprise of biblical interpretation. It should not surprise, therefore, that the very subjects of “minorities”, “otherness”, and “marginalization” have acquired the status of problematics of their own, as is evident in the volumes Biblical Studies Alternatively: An Introductory Reader, edited by S. Scholz; and They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism, edited by R. C. Bailey, T. B. Liew, and F. F. Segovia. A further subject of interest is the study of ecology and the Bible. In a widely read article published in 1967, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”, L. White, Jr., addressed the question of humanity’s impact on the natural environment. He found the roots of the current ecologic crisis to be largely religious, in particular what he called the “orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature”, a posture he attributed not directly to the Bible but to the centuries of misinterpreting biblical traditions about creation and the world.70 Referencing White’s essay, G. M. Tucker delivered his Presidential Address to the SBL in 1996 (published in JBL in 1997) on the topic, calling upon biblical scholars to attend more to the question of the Bible’s understanding of the environment. The command in Gen 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” can easily be misconstrued as legitimizing the exploitation of the earth, and Tucker demonstrated the problems with such a reading. For him, texts such as Job 38–39 and Psalm 104 underscore the limits of human power and knowledge as well as the wonders of nature and the distinctive place of humans in it.71 In the face of ongoing stress on the environment and further exploitation of natural resources, studies of this kind will likely increase in the future and should link with similar interests elsewhere in the world. Most of these new methods and approaches from the final third of the twentieth century in the Americas represent a shift away from the historical-critical methods basic to the long history of biblical scholarship. To a substantial extent they issue, whether directly or indirectly, from the cultural upheavals and challenges to authority during the 1960s and later, but just as important a factor has been the spread and upsurge of minorities and other underrepresented populations, including women. Such groups have, with good reason, been dissatisfied with the critical methods they inherited, and their response has taken two general forms: either an ideological-critical suspicion of past biblical studies and the biblical tradition itself or an effort to recover unheard voices in the text and in the cultural context. These two directions – the hermeneutic of suspicion and the 70 71

White, The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis (1967), 1207. See also Tucker, Ecological Approaches (2009).

252

Douglas A. Knight

hermeneutic of recovery – are not discreet alternatives, and whether singly or combined they have provided biblical scholars in the Americas with the means to venture into previously uncharted terrain. They also represent the close ties American scholars have had with scholars elsewhere on the globe who apply the methods of postmodernism, ideological criticism, postcolonialism, cultural studies, and related approaches. The distinctive experiences of those living or rooted in the Americas has led to the distinctive contributions from these two continents to the ongoing course of international biblical scholarship.72

72 I express my gratitude to several colleagues who kindly read sections in this essay with which they had special familiarity: Annalisa Azzoni, James P. Byrd, Robert C. Culley, Gary N. Knoppers, Robert A. Kraft, John F. Kutsko, Herbert R. Marbury, Patrick D. Miller, Kent Harold Richards, Jack M. Sasson, Fernando F. Segovia, and Andrew G. Vaughn.

Chapter Thirty-five

Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in Africa, Australia / New Zealand and Asia 35.1. The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa By Hendrik Bosman, Stellenbosch Bibliographies: K. Holter, Tropical Africa and the Old Testament: A Select and Annotated Bibliography (University of Oslo / Faculty of Theology: Bibliography Series 6; Oslo 1996). – G. LeMarquand, “A Bibliography of the Bible in Africa”, The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends (eds. G. O. West/M. W. Dube; Leiden: Brill 2000), 639–800. Studies: S. O. Abegunde, A Philosophy and Method of Translating the Old Testament into Yoruba (PhD Diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville 1985). – S. O. Abogundrin, “Biblical Research in Africa: The Task ahead”, African Journal of Biblical Studies 1 (1986) 7–24. – D. T. Adamo, Explorations in African Biblical Studies (Eugene: Wipf & Stock 2001); Africa and Africans in the Old Testament. (Benin City: Justice Jeco Press 2005); idem (ed.), Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective (New York: UP of America 2006). – J. O. Akao, “Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies”, Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 8 (2000) 5–7. – C. G. Baeta (ed.), Christianity in Tropical Africa: Studies Presented and Discussed at the Seventh International Seminar, University of Ghana, April 1965 (Oxford: Oxford UP 1968). – H. L. Bosman, “Cartographers, Canons and Cuckoos – Historiography of the Study of the Old Testament”, Skrif en Kerk 14 No 2 (1993)134–145. – J. J. Burden, “Are Shem and Ham Blood Brothers? The Relevance of the Old Testament to Africa”, Old Testament Essays 1 (1983), 49–72. – D. Chidester, “Dreaming in the Contact Zone: Zulu Dreams, Visions and Religion in Nineteenth Century South Africa”, JAAR 76 (2008) 27–53. – R. W. Cowley, Ethiopian Biblical Interpretation: A Study in Exegetical Tradition and Hermeneutics (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1988). – K. A. Dickson, “The Old Testament and African Theology”, Ghana Bulletin of Theology 4 (1973) 31–41; “Continuity and discontinuity between the Old Testament and African life and thought”, in: K. Appiah-Kubi / S. Torres (eds.), African Theology en route (New York: Orbis 1979), 95–108. – K. A. Dickson / P. Ellingworth, Biblical Revelation and African Beliefs (London: Lutterworth Press 1969). – J. A. Draper, “The Bible as Poison Onion, Icon and Oracle: Reception of the Printed Sacred Text in Oral and Residual-oral South Africa”, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 112 (2002) 39–56. – M. Dube, “Post-Colonial Interpretations”, DBI K-Z (ed. J. H. Hayes; Nashville: Abingdon Press 1999), 299–309. – J.-M. Ela, “A Black African Perspective: An African Reading of Exodus”, Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World (ed. R. S. Sugirtharajah; Maryknoll: Orbis 1991), 256–266. – E. M. Ezeogu, “Bible and Culture in African Christianity”, International Review of Mission 87 (1998) 25–38. – E. Farisani, “The Ideologically Biased Used of Ezra-Nehemiah in a Quest for an African Theology of Reconstruction”, Old Testament Essays 15 (2002) 628–646. – D. Fiensy, “Using the Nuer culture of Africa in Understanding the Old Testament”, JSOT 38 (1987) 73–83. – P. Gifford, “The Bible in Africa: A Novel Use in Africa’s New Churches”, Bulletin of SOAS 71 (2008) 203–219. – C. T. Gilkes, “Colonialism and the Biblical Revolution in Africa”, The Journal of Religious Thought 41 (1985) 59–75. – F. W. Golka, The Leopard’s Spots: Biblical and African Wisdom in Proverbs (Edinburgh: T&T Clark 1993). – Paulos Mar Gregorios, “Coptic Orthodox Church”, EncChr 1, A – D (ed. E. Fahlbusch e.a., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1999). – I. Himbaza, Transmettre la Bible: Une Critique exegetique de la traduction de l’AT: Le cas du Rwanda (Rome: Urbaniana UP 2001); “La recherche

Chapter Thirty-five

Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in Africa, Australia / New Zealand and Asia 35.1. The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa By Hendrik Bosman, Stellenbosch Bibliographies: K. Holter, Tropical Africa and the Old Testament: A Select and Annotated Bibliography (University of Oslo / Faculty of Theology: Bibliography Series 6; Oslo 1996). – G. LeMarquand, “A Bibliography of the Bible in Africa”, The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends (eds. G. O. West/M. W. Dube; Leiden: Brill 2000), 639–800. Studies: S. O. Abegunde, A Philosophy and Method of Translating the Old Testament into Yoruba (PhD Diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville 1985). – S. O. Abogundrin, “Biblical Research in Africa: The Task ahead”, African Journal of Biblical Studies 1 (1986) 7–24. – D. T. Adamo, Explorations in African Biblical Studies (Eugene: Wipf & Stock 2001); Africa and Africans in the Old Testament. (Benin City: Justice Jeco Press 2005); idem (ed.), Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective (New York: UP of America 2006). – J. O. Akao, “Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies”, Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 8 (2000) 5–7. – C. G. Baeta (ed.), Christianity in Tropical Africa: Studies Presented and Discussed at the Seventh International Seminar, University of Ghana, April 1965 (Oxford: Oxford UP 1968). – H. L. Bosman, “Cartographers, Canons and Cuckoos – Historiography of the Study of the Old Testament”, Skrif en Kerk 14 No 2 (1993)134–145. – J. J. Burden, “Are Shem and Ham Blood Brothers? The Relevance of the Old Testament to Africa”, Old Testament Essays 1 (1983), 49–72. – D. Chidester, “Dreaming in the Contact Zone: Zulu Dreams, Visions and Religion in Nineteenth Century South Africa”, JAAR 76 (2008) 27–53. – R. W. Cowley, Ethiopian Biblical Interpretation: A Study in Exegetical Tradition and Hermeneutics (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1988). – K. A. Dickson, “The Old Testament and African Theology”, Ghana Bulletin of Theology 4 (1973) 31–41; “Continuity and discontinuity between the Old Testament and African life and thought”, in: K. Appiah-Kubi / S. Torres (eds.), African Theology en route (New York: Orbis 1979), 95–108. – K. A. Dickson / P. Ellingworth, Biblical Revelation and African Beliefs (London: Lutterworth Press 1969). – J. A. Draper, “The Bible as Poison Onion, Icon and Oracle: Reception of the Printed Sacred Text in Oral and Residual-oral South Africa”, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 112 (2002) 39–56. – M. Dube, “Post-Colonial Interpretations”, DBI K-Z (ed. J. H. Hayes; Nashville: Abingdon Press 1999), 299–309. – J.-M. Ela, “A Black African Perspective: An African Reading of Exodus”, Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World (ed. R. S. Sugirtharajah; Maryknoll: Orbis 1991), 256–266. – E. M. Ezeogu, “Bible and Culture in African Christianity”, International Review of Mission 87 (1998) 25–38. – E. Farisani, “The Ideologically Biased Used of Ezra-Nehemiah in a Quest for an African Theology of Reconstruction”, Old Testament Essays 15 (2002) 628–646. – D. Fiensy, “Using the Nuer culture of Africa in Understanding the Old Testament”, JSOT 38 (1987) 73–83. – P. Gifford, “The Bible in Africa: A Novel Use in Africa’s New Churches”, Bulletin of SOAS 71 (2008) 203–219. – C. T. Gilkes, “Colonialism and the Biblical Revolution in Africa”, The Journal of Religious Thought 41 (1985) 59–75. – F. W. Golka, The Leopard’s Spots: Biblical and African Wisdom in Proverbs (Edinburgh: T&T Clark 1993). – Paulos Mar Gregorios, “Coptic Orthodox Church”, EncChr 1, A – D (ed. E. Fahlbusch e.a., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1999). – I. Himbaza, Transmettre la Bible: Une Critique exegetique de la traduction de l’AT: Le cas du Rwanda (Rome: Urbaniana UP 2001); “La recherche

254

Hendrik Bosman

scientifique et la contextualization de la Bible”, Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 13 (2002) 2–7. – K. Holter, Contextualized Old Testament Scholarship in Africa (Nairobi: Acton Publishers 2008). – P. Jenkins, The New Faces of Christianity. Believing the Bible in the Global South (Oxford: Oxford UP 2006). – A. Kabasele Mukenge, “Association Panafricaine de Exegetes Catholiques”, Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 8 (2000) 3– 5. – O. Kalu, African Pentacostalism. An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford UP 2008). – L. Kalugila, The Wise King: Studies in Royal Wisdom as Divine Revelation in the Old Testament and its Environment (CB.OT 15; Lund: Gleerup 1980). – L. P. Kimilike, Poverty in the Book of Proverbs: An African Transformational Hermeneutic of Proverbs on Poverty (Bible and Theology in Africa, 7; New York: Peter Lang 2007). – H. W. Kimoti / J. M. Waliggo, The Bible in African Christianity: Essays in Biblical Theology (Nairobi: Acton Publishers). – J. H. Le Roux, A Story of Two Ways. Thirty years of Old Testament Scholarship in South Africa (Pretoria: Verba Vitae 1993). – T. S. Maluleke, “African Culture, African Intellectuals and the White Academy in South Africa – Some Implications for Christian Theology in Africa”, Religion and Theology 3 (1996) 19–42. – E. Martey, African Theology. Inculturation and Liberation (Maryknoll: Orbis 1993). – M. Masenya, How Worthy Is the Woman of Worth? Rereading Proverbs 31:10–31 in Africa – South Africa (Bible and Theology in Africa, 4; New York: Peter Lang (2004)). – M. Masoga, “How Indigenous Is the Bible? Challenges Facing 21st Century South African Biblical Scholarship”, Journal for Semitics 13 (2004) 139–158. – J. S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (Nairobi: Heineman 1969); Bible and Theology in African Christianity (Nairobi: Oxford UP 1992). – Mikre-Sellassie Gebre-Amanuel, “The Bible and its Canon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church”, BiTr 44/1 (1993) 111–123. – A. O. Mojola, “The Social Sciences and the Study of the Old Testament: Some Methodological Considerations”, Interpreting the Old Testament in Africa (ed. M. N. Getui e.a.; Nairobi: Acton Publishers 2001), 89–99; “Bible Translation in Africa. What Implications does the New UBS Perspective Have on Africa?”, Bible Translation in Africa (ed. J. Naude e.a.; Bloemfontein: Acta Theologica Supplementum 2, 2002), 202–213. – I. J. Mosala, Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1989). – J. N. K. Mugambi, African Christian Theology: An Introduction (Nairobi: Heineman 1989). – N. A. Mundele, Bildsprache und mündliche Tradition in Deuterojesaja: Zur Exegese von Jes 42:6–7 aus afrikanischer Perspektive (EHS 23, 764; Frankfurt: Peter Lang (2003)). – E. Mveng / R. Z. Werblowsky (eds.), The Jerusalem Congress on Black Africa and the Bible (Jerusalem: Anti-Defamation Leugue of B’nai B’rit 1972). – N. I. Ndiokwere, Prophecy and Revolution: The Role of Prophets in the Independent African Churches and in Biblical Tradition (London: Acton Publishers 1981). – E. G. Newing, “A study of Old and New Testament Curricula in Eastern and Central Africa”, Africa Theological Journal 3 (1970) 80–98. – B. A. Ntreh, “Ghana Association of Biblical Exegetes”, Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 11 (2001) 21–22. – P. Nyende, “Institutional and Popular Interpretations of the Bible in Africa: Towards an Integration”, ET 119 (2007) 59–66. – T. C. Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind. Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity (Downer’s Grove: IVP Books 2007). – M. Oduyoye, The Sons of the Gods and the Daughters of Men: An Afro-Asiatic interpretation of Genesis 1–11 (Ibadan: Daystar Press/Maryknoll: Orbis 1984). – K. Owan, “The Fundamentalist’s Interpretation of the Bible: A Challenge to Biblical Exegetes in West Africa”, West African Journal of Ecclesial Studies 5 (1993) 1–15. – J. Parrat, Reinventing Christianity. African Theology Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1995). – J. Platvoet / H. J. van Rinsum, “Is Africa Incurably Religious?: Confessing and Contesting an Invention”, Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research 32/2 (2003) 123–153. – J. Punt, “Reading the Bible in Africa: Accounting for Some Trends. Further Prolegomena for a Discussion”, Scriptura 71 (1999) 313–329. – R. Rorty, “The historiography of philosophy: four genres”, in: R. Rorty / J. B. Schneewind / Q. Skinner (eds.), Philosophy in History. Essays on the Historiography of Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1984), 49–75. – F. F. Segovia, “Biblical Criticism and Postcolonial Studies: Toward a Postcolonial Optic”, in: R. S. Sugirtharajah (ed.), The Bible and Postcolonialism (Sheffield: Academic Press 1998), 49–65. – S. S. Simbandumwe, A Socio-religious and Political Analysis of the Judeo-Christian Concept of Prophetism and Modern Bakongo and Zulu African Prophet Movements (African Studies, 28; Lewiston/New York: Edwin Mellen Press (1992)). – P. Tempels, Bantu Philosophy (Paris: Presence Africaine 1959). – J. S. Ukpong, “Developments in Biblical Interpretation in Modern Africa”, Missionalia 27 (1999) 313–319. – F. von Hammerstein (ed.), Christian-Jewish Relations in Ecumenical Perspective, with Special Emphasis on Africa (Geneva: World Council of Churches 1978). – H. W. Waweru, “Reading the Bible Contrapuntally: A Theory and Methodology for a Contextual Bible Interpretation in Africa”, Swedish Missiological Themes 94 (2006) 333–348. – G. O. West, Biblical Hermeneutics of

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

255

Liberation: Modes of Reading the Bible in the South African Context (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications 1991). – G. O. West / M. W. Dube, The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories and Trends (Leiden: Brill 2000). – G. O. West, “Doing Postcolonial Biblical Intepretation @Home: Ten Years of (South) African Ambivalence”, Neotestamentica 42.1 (2008) 147–164. – J. J. Williams, Hebrewisms of West Africa: From Nile to Niger with the Jews (London: Allen & Unwin 1930). – H. De Wit e.a., African and European Readers of the Bible in Dialogue: in Quest of a Shared Meaning (Leiden: Brill 2008). – E. M. Yamauchi, Africa and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic 2004). – G. L. Yorke, “Biblical Hermeneutics: An Afrocentric Perspective”, Religion and Theology 2 (1995) 145–158. – V. Zinkuratire, “Association for Biblical Scholarship in Eastern Africa”, Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 8 (2000) 9–10. – E. Zulu, An Ngoni Assessment of the Roles of Ancestors within Israelite Wordviews and Religion in Genesis 11–50. (Unpublished DTh dissertation, University of Stellenbosch, 1998).

1. Introduction The historiographer of the study of the Bible in Africa must not fall into the trap of functioning as a cartographer of the “progress” of Biblical interpretation from the “dark ages” of colonialism to the “enlightenment” of the postcolonial era during the past century; or to use a historical survey of Biblical scholarship to establish a reputable canon of predecessors that undergird his / her position; nor to become an academic cuckoo who is unable to produce anything original and therefore uses other colleagues to hatch a survey of scholarship.1 Any historiography of an academic discipline must do without honorific hagiographies of illustrious scholarly ancestors and rather aim to establish different and competing canons of scholarship that inculcate a sense of historical contingency and critical self-awareness.2 A survey of Biblical scholarship in Africa must realize that with about one billion people living on more than 30 million sq km and subdivided into 54 states, this continent is the second most populous and second largest continent after Asia. Though generalizations are inevitable, the sheer size of Africa cautions one not to use terms like “African” without giving it proper thought.3 Without resorting to fanciful etymological word games, “Africa” can be traced back to the Roman province of which Carthage was the capital. In this contribution “Africa” is a geographical concept that refers to a landmass stretching for 8000 km from Ras ben Sakka in the North (Tunisia) to Cape Agulhas in the South (South Africa); from Ras Hafun in the East (Somalia) to Cape Verde in the West (a distance of about 7400 km).4 Besides it huge size Africa is also known for its diversity – according to UNESCO around 2000 languages are spoken in this most multilingual continent of all.

1

Bosman, Cartographers, canons and cuckoos, 134–145. Rorty, The historiography of philosophy (1984), 49–75. 3 Mugambi, African Christian Theology (1989), 3 f. 4 When one reflects on Africa, the adjacent large island of Madagascar (Malagasy Republic) must also be taken into account – not only due to its geographical proximity but also because of its cultural and historical continuity with the continent of Africa. 2

256

Hendrik Bosman

The history of Africa is pockmarked by slave trade and colonialism: for the past 1300 years the Arab slave trade was responsible for taking about 18 million African slaves, while the European slave trade took about 12 million from the fifteenth century onwards. Besides slavery one should also consider colonialism as the main cause that Africa is today the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent with 80% of its population living on less than $2.50 per day resulting in endemic poverty. Africans and Native Americans share a popular saying that reflects on the impact of colonialism: “When the white man came, he had the Bible and we had the land; now we have the Bible and they have the land”.5 Africa is a continent of stark contrasts which makes the interpretation of the Bible a daunting challenge. Despite its mind numbing poverty and rampant HIV / AIDS, Africa is also widely regarded as the cradle of humanity with the discovery of hominid remains dating back millions of years. Africa is also the continent on which Christianity has grown the fastest during the past century.

2. Contexts of Biblical Interpretation in Africa 2.1. Bible Translation Over many centuries Africa has been the site of many important Bible translations, to mention but a few: the Septuagint, the Old Latin translation, as well as the Coptic (Sahidic and Bohairic versions) and Ethiopian (Ge’ez) versions of the Old Testament. This contribution will focus on the last two centuries. On the one hand Christian mission was closely linked with colonialism and imperialism, but on the other hand the history of Christian mission in Africa is intimately intertwined with the history of Bible translation. For more than 700 African languages at least one book of the Bible has been translated and there are complete translations in about 160 languages. Currently there are no less than 170 Bible translation projects in African languages that indicate that many new African readers will soon have access to the Old Testament in their own language.6 As Ph. Jenkins remarked: “Once the Bible is in a vernacular, it becomes the property of that people. It becomes a Yoruba Bible…a Zulu Bible…”.7 Since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s an era of interconfessional Bible translation was introduced with Bible translation teams comprising of Catholic and Protestant members – by and large done by native speakers with limited non-native participation.8 In the past many translators worked from English or French Bibles, but a growing number of African translators are now making use of the Hebrew and Greek source texts.9 The presence of native speakers in translation teams across the continent has addressed the problem of so many older 5 6 7 8 9

Gilkes, Colonialism and Biblical Revolution in Africa (1985), 62. http://www.ubs-translations.org/about_us/ Jenkins, The new faces of Christianity (2006), 24–25. Mojola, Bible translation in Africa (2002), 204–205. Ibid. 207.

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

257

African Bible translations that are literal in nature. These older translations are revered by the readers but reflect the grammatical and syntactical structures of the English and French or only in a few cases the Hebrew and Greek source texts. Idiomatic vernacular translations based on the Hebrew and Greek source texts are high on the agenda for the twenty-first century. Several Old Testament scholars have made valuable contributions with regard to Bible translation in African languages: Solomon Abegunde criticized the existing Yoruba translation of the Old Testament (a literal translation of the English King James version) and has suggested a new dynamic equivalent translation in which the cultural and linguistic parallels between Biblical Hebrew and Yoruba are made use of.10 Innocent Himbaza focused on the relationship between biblical text and translation context by making use of two Rwandan translations. In a fascinating monograph he points out the influence of English and French translations on the Rwandan translations and how the target translations convey the Hebrew source text in a way sensitive to Rwandan traditional culture.11

2.2. Theological Colleges, Seminaries and Faculties The oldest centre for theological training in sub-Saharan Africa is Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone that was founded in 1826 to train African assistants for missionaries from Britain.12 As far as theological seminaries are concerned, the Stellenbosch theological seminary started by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1859 can be considered to be first in sub-Saharan Africa. During the colonization of Africa south of the Sahara very few institutions of tertiary education were established and this inhibited the scientific study of the Old Testament. In 1960, just before many African colonies became independent, only fifteen universities were in existence – a mere six north of South Africa. Since political independence swept across the African continent, scores of universities were established, many with departments of Religious studies that focused on religion in general and not on the Bible in particular. In a survey of Old Testament studies in East and Central Africa during the late nineteen sixties E. Newing established that higher criticism was used in most institutions; that the vast minority offered modules in Biblical Hebrew and that the tuition of Old Testament was not all that relevant for Theology as a whole or for the cultural, political, and socio-economical context of a country in particular.13 Almost forty years later P. Nyende attempted to examine how the Bible was interpreted in African theological institutions, churches and homes and his conclusions echo to a remarkable degree what Newing had already established: “institutional interpretations of the Bible in Africa are done historical-critically but with the aim of relating the outcome of the interpretation to some African context or reality. As a

10 11 12 13

Abegunde, A philosophy and method of translating the Old Testament in Yoruba. Himbaza, Transmettre la Bible (2001). Holter, Contextualized Old Testament Scholarship in Africa (2008), 90. Newing, A study of Old Testament curricula in Eastern and Central Africa (1970), 80–98.

258

Hendrik Bosman

result, we could say that what guides the study of the Bible in these institutions is the relevancy, applicability or usefulness of the text in Africa today”.14 Most African Old Testament scholars are not allowed the same extent of disciplinary specialization that their colleagues in the Northern hemisphere have. In departments of Religion and Theology across Africa scholars with doctorates in Old Testament are held responsible for many other teaching responsibilities – ranging from Biblical Hebrew to Science of Religion.

2.3. Theological Journals Initially African academic articles on the Old Testament were published in journals of religious studies, like Orita in Nigeria as well as the Journal of Religion in Africa published in the Netherlands – both from 1967. There are also journals of a more general theological focus, like the African Ecclesial Review (1959) the Catholic journal from East Africa, the Lutheran African Theological Journal from 1968 in Tanzania and the Ghana Bulletin of Theology from 1969, as well as African Christian Studies from 1984. One should also take note of the first journal for biblical studies published in Tropical Africa, the African Journal for Biblical Studies from 1986 by the Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies.15 In South Africa several journals publish research from all theological disciplines, including the Old Testament: Hervormde Teologiese Studies (1943); Nederduitse Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif (1959); In die Skriflig (1966); Journal of Theology for Southern Africa (1972); Scriptura (1980); Acta Theologica (1980); Religion and Theology (it started in 1967 as Theologia Evangelica and changed title in 1994); Journal for Contextual Theology (1998); Verbum et Ecclesia (initially as Skrif en Kerk from 1980 and with its current name from 2001). In 1995 the Journal of Constructive Theology started and eventually focused on Gender, Religion, Theology and the interpretation of the Bible. The only South African journal concentrating on Old Testament research is Old Testament Essays from 1983; while the Journal for Northwest Semitic Languages (1971) and Semitica (2000) have a more general focus on Semitic languages. Special mention must be made of the remarkable networking done amongst Africa Old Testament scholars by K. Holter from Stavanger, Norway, who took the initiative to establish at first a Newsletter on African Old Testament Scholarship that eventually became Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa (currently an online journal).

2.4. Academic Organizations and Societies The first academic organization established for the study of the Old Testament on the African continent was the “Old Testament Society of South Africa” that

14 15

Nyende, Institutional and popular interpretations of the Bible in Africa (2007), 61. Holter, Contextualized Old Testament Scholarship (2008), 98, 106.

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

259

was founded in December of 1957.16 Historical criticism took several decades before it became common practice by scholars like Ferdinand Deist and his students who did not shy away from acknowledging the historical divide between ancient text and current reader, but who also grappled with the realities embedded in the present-day African context in a diachronic manner. From the 1970’s a more immanent or synchronic approach to the Old Testament was developed by W. Prinsloo, J. Loader and their students. These scholars focused on the rigorous reading of the final form of the Old Testament’s Hebrew text and this exegetical methodology became acceptable to many theological students who entered the ministry because it did not lead to the critical alienation of the biblical text.17 To the north of South Africa the organization of the academic study of the Old Testament was initiated by several academic conferences in the 1960’s: “Christianity in Tropical Africa” in 1965 in Ghana and “Biblical revelation and African beliefs” in Nigeria in 1966.18 Although the focus of both conferences was on the development of “a theology that was related to African thought, ideas and life”, specific mention was made of the need to stimulate “Africanized biblical scholarship”.19 This was followed in the 1970’s by two international conferences in Jerusalem that focused on biblical scholarship and the African context: “The Jerusalem Congress on Black Africa and the Bible” in 1972 and “Christian-Jewish relations in Ecumenical Perspective with Special Emphasis on Africa” in 1977.20 Academic networking with regard to the study of the Old Testament in Africa took a significant step forward with the establishment of organizations focused on biblical studies. The first and thus far only pan-African organization for biblical scholarship was established in 1984 as the “Pan-African Association of Catholic Exegetes” (PACE) with the explicit aim of promoting contextual biblical scholarship in the African Roman Catholic Church by means of conferences every two years as well as the publication of its conference papers.21 On a more regional level the Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies (NABIS) was founded in 1985 and it set out to promote contextual biblical research in Africa by holding annual conferences that stimulated the study of the Bible from an African perspective. S. Abogunrin, J. Akao and D. Adamo have played a leading and constructive role to provide a scholarly platform for Old Testament studies relevant to Africa.22 In 2000 the Association for Biblical Scholarship in Eastern Africa was established as well as the Ghana Association for Biblical Exegetes.23

16

Le Roux, A Story of two Ways (1993), 11. Ibid. 350–353. Baeta (ed.), Christianity in Tropical Africa (1968); Dickson/Ellingworth (eds.), Biblical Revelation and African Beliefs (1969). 19 Holter, Contextualized Old Testament Scholarship (2008), 95. 20 Mveng/Werblowsky (eds.), The Jerusalem Congress on Black Africa and the Bible (1972); von Hammerstein (ed.), Christian – Jewish Relations in Ecumenical Perspective (1978). 21 Kabasele Mukenge, Association Panafricaine des Exegetes Catholiques (2000), 3–5. 22 Abogunrin, Biblical research in Africa (1986), 7–24; Akao, Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies (2000), 5–7; Adamo, Explorations in African Biblical Studies (2001). 23 Zinkuratire, Association for Biblical Scholarship in Eastern Africa (2000), 9–10; Ntreh, Ghana Association of Biblical Exegetes (2001), 21–22. 17 18

260

Hendrik Bosman

2.5. Ecclesial Contexts The interpretation of the Old Testament in Africa seldom strives to understand the biblical text for its own sake or due to idle scholarly curiosity. In most instances African Old Testament scholarship is explicitly contextual and even confessional in nature and thus the ecclesial contexts are important for the comprehension of biblical scholarship on the African continent. One of the oldest but also most neglected ecclesial contexts in Africa is the Coptic Church in Egypt that preserves biblical interpretation in its rich hymnody that is rooted in the Patristic period. As a minority religion in Egypt (ca. 10m out of 80m) the Coptic Church has a long history of martyrdom and suffering and this has caused that the hymn about the suffering of the friends of Daniel in the fiery furnace became the most beloved item in their modern hymn book.24 Biblical interpretation is nurtured in several institutions in Egypt: two seminaries in Alexandria and Cairo, as well as the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies that was established in 1954.25 The many references to Egypt in the Old Testament play an important role in the Coptic tradition and current experiences of oppression are related to texts with judgment on the politics and religion of the pharaohs (e.g. Ezekiel 29–30).26 Related to the Coptic Church is another of the few pre-colonial churches in Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Although the church was established in the fourth century it only gained autonomy from the Coptic Church in 1948 and in contrast to the Coptic Church constitutes the majority religion in Ethiopia. The biblical canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church consists of no less than 81 books, including Enoch, Jubilees and the three books of the Meqabyan (Ethiopic Maccabees).27 When an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian experiences problems or afflictions, a whole hierarchy of angelic messengers and saints is available to convey the prayers to God resembling the apocalyptic sections of their larger than usual Old Testament. The Old Testament also influenced the architecture of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church since in the inner sanctum of any church the “tabot” or ark dedicated to the patron saint of that particular church can be found.28 Besides the reading of Scripture during the weekly services, the commemoration of several holy days entail prolonged singing, dancing and feasting reminiscent of Old Testament festivals. In contrast to the religious feasts much emphasis is placed on fasting, as part of the commemoration of significant past events mentioned in Scripture – one of the more interesting Old Testament examples is the “fast of Nineveh” during the third week before Lent in remembrance of the preaching of Jonah. To summarize: the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has much in common with Orthodox Judaism by following dietary laws similar to 24

Jenkins, New Faces of Christianity (2006), 32. Paulos Mar Gregorios, Coptic Orthodox Church, EncChr 1 (1999), 687. 26 Holter, Contextualized Old Testament Scholarship (2008), 89. Information about Coptic Old Testament interpretation has been difficult to access, but in many ways overlaps with the following discussion of Ethiopian Orthodox hermeneutics. 27 Mikre-Sellassie Gebre-Amanuel, The Bible and its Canon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (1993), 111–123. 28 The presence of a “tabot” or ark in every church is related to the claim of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that the original Ark of the Covenant is kept in Church of the Lady Mary of Zion. 25

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

261

Jewish Kashrut (prohibition of pork and strict rules with regard to the slaughter of animals); separating the seating of men and women in church and all worshippers are required to remove their shoes when entering the church (in view of Exod 3:5 when Moses had remove his shoes while viewing the burning bush). There are obvious similarities between exegesis in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the ancient Antiochene tradition that accepted the literal historicity of the Bible with no questions posed with regard to the historicity of events in the Bible. Teachers of the Bible recite the traditional interpretation (andemm) from memory and expect their students to memorize the recited interpretation and therefore little is committed to paper with an obvious dependence on oral tradition.29 One must not loose sight of one of the fastest growing ecclesial contexts in Africa, i.e. African Pentecostalism that is often linked with prosperity theology. According to Ogbu Kalu prosperity theology emphasizes “that God’s promised generosity, as demonstrated with Abraham, is available for every believing Christian…As the covenant was a legal contract, so is the promise part of a spiritual contract”.30 The Old Testament also plays a major role in the Pentecostalistic explanation of poverty: religious apostasy tops the list and is illustrated by not keeping the Sabbath; the neglect of cultic requirements in the Old Testament and the failure to tithe; but poverty is seen as the direct result of laziness, drunkenness and a wasteful life style – in many ways echoing the Old Testament perspectives in this regard.31 P. Gifford has found that the Bible in the fast-growing Pentecostal sector of African Christianity is not perceived as a historical text but is accepted as a contemporary document of God’s commitment to the present with the emphasis on achievement, hope and success. This performative and declarative use of the Bible should not be considered to be “fundamentalist” because although the Bible is assumed to be “inerrant” it focuses on the promises to individuals and not on historical or scientific claims like the exodus or evolution.32 Besides considering the contexts provided by so-called mainline churches, one must also take into account the African Independent Churches (also referred to as African Initiated Churches) where the interpretation of the Bible is closely interwoven with healing ministries.

3. Approaches to Biblical Interpretation in Africa 3.1. Surveys of Existing Approaches Ch. Townsend Gilkes distinguishes three phases in what she considers to be the biblical revolution as a response to colonialism in Africa: (a) The reception and

29

Cowley, Ethiopian Biblical Interpretation (1988), 373–382. Kalu, African Pentecostalism (2008), 255. 31 Kalu, ibid. 257–266, summarizes African Pentacostalism’s hermeneutics as developing from an initial rigid literalism to emphasizing the immediacy of the Old Testament text as well as the freedom to interpret according the experiential, relational and emotional aspects of the interpreter. 32 Gifford, The Bible in Africa: A novel use in Africa’s new churches (2008), 203, 214. 30

262

Hendrik Bosman

appropriation of the Bible without any significant critique of colonialism; (b) the questioning of colonialism by African communities due to the contradictions between missionary preaching and the stark realities of colonialism; (c) the impact of African hermeneutics combined with the appropriation of biblical criticism to work towards an authentic African Theology.33 J. Mbiti identified three areas in which African theology and its interpretation of the Bible can be subdivided: (a) A written theology which is the result of the educated elite who articulate their interpretation of the Bible not in a local vernacular but in English, French or German – it entails the primary focus of this contribution; (b) an oral theology which is produced in African languages and that can be discerned in prayers, sermons and songs – this is probably the seedbed of written theology and deserves much more academic attention; (c) symbolic theology that manifests in art, dance, rituals and symbols – an area that invites creative interdisciplinary research.34 The influential Nigerian scholar, J. Ukpong, has made a useful distinction between three phases in African Old Testament scholarship: (a) In an early reactive phase (1930’s – 1970’s) comparative studies legitimized African culture and religion in relation to western scholarship; (b) in the following reactive – proactive phase (1970’s – 1990’s) African contexts were used as resources for the interpretation of the Bible; (c) subse-quently a third pro-active phase emerged that made the African context the explicit subject and focus of biblical interpretation.35 Another well known Nigerian scholar, D. Adamo, also divides the historical development of Old Testament interpretation in Africa in three periods: (a) From 1930–1969 colonialism was the pervasive presence on the African continent during which so-called Western exegetical methodology became the norm and little attention was given to the research and teaching of African indigenous religion and culture; (b) in the period 1970–1989 African biblical studies emerged that gave much more appreciative attention to the influence exerted by African culture and experience on the process of the interpretation of the Bible; (c) from 1990 onwards African biblical scholarship became characterized by the use of comparative approaches to the interpretation of the Bible as well as appreciation for the contribution of so-called “ordinary readers” for the understanding of the biblical text.36 The following threefold division between pre-modern, modern and post-modern approaches to the interpretation of the Old Testament in Africa must not be seen as three consecutive stages in chronological order, since they can co-exist within the same period of time and within the same cultural or geographical setting. (i) Pre-modern approaches are closely linked with the pre-critical interpretation of the Old Testament that constituted an almost seamless continuation of the initial missionary biblical interpretation that was characterized by a theologically

33

Gilkes, Colonialism and Biblical Revolution (1985), 63. Mbiti, Bible and Theology in African Christianity (1986), 46–47. 35 Ukpong, Developments in biblical interpretation in modern Africa (1999), 313–329. This important article was published with minor variations in other journals (Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 2000, 3–18) and collected essays (West/Dube, The Bible in Africa, 2000, 11–28). 36 Adamo, Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective (2006). 34

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

263

conservative and evangelical approach. At the same time a pre-critical (which is not synonymous with uncritical) continuity develops between traditional African religions and the seemingly familiar Old Testament. (ii) Modern approaches resonate with the more critical interpretation of the Old Testament that resulted in the quest for an African Theology undergirded by critical biblical exegetical strategies. Reading strategies for the Old Testament now became based on critical interpretive models like historical criticism. Readers of the Old Testament who were trained in the Northern Hemisphere were expected to be objective, decontextualized and impartial readers of texts, toeing the methodological line determined by the guild of Old Testament scholars. (iii) Post-modern approaches are slowly emerging where the cultural diversity of the African continent is taken seriously and therefore attempting to articulate authentic African interpretations of the Old Testament that make sense in local contexts and that do not aspire to be equally valid in all cultural contexts on the African continent. Therefore the reception of flesh-and-blood African readers of the Old Testament entail taking serious cognizance of their local social locations without aspiring to be relevant for the African continent as a whole.37 These local readings of the Old Testament are usually liberative in nature striving towards constructive theological discourse that allows diversity and pluralism, emphasizing human dignity for those in the centre and in the margins of society, allowing critical dialogue for those in asymmetrical power relations.

3.2. Pre-modern and Pre-critical Approaches Although the Old Testament has been studied in North Africa for two millennia, the focus of this survey is on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The scholarly engagement of the Old Testament by ancient scholars from Africa like Origen and Augustine has already been discussed in previous volumes of the HBOT. Several scholars have detected a remarkable resonance between African Christians and the Old Testament and the reasons suggested for this phenomenon are: (a) a common appreciation of life as a whole and that religion and the Bible addresses life as an indivisible entity;38 (b) the Old Testament focus on the widow, the orphan and the poor is very attractive for African societies suffering economic hardship during both the colonial and postcolonial periods;39 (c) the emphasis on legal instruction (torah) in the Old Testament was encouraged by the theologically conservative missionaries and according to some scholars Africans seemed to have “a natural penchant” for this attitude.40 37

Segovia, Biblical Criticism and Postcolonial Studies (1998), 49–51. Tempels, Bantu philosophy (1959), influenced many subsequent studies with his view that for the Bantu people of Africa everything is focused on a so-called principle of life force that permeates the whole of a human being. 39 Burden, Are Shem and Ham Blood Brothers? (1983), 57–59, links the solidarity with the afflicted with the sense of community in both Africa and the Old Testament. Mbiti, African Religion and Philosophy (1969), 108, summarized the importance of community as follows: “I am because we are”. 40 Dickson, Continuity and discontinuity between the Old Testament and African life and thought (1979), 97–98. One of the earliest studies done in this regard was by Williams, Hebrewisms of West 38

264

Hendrik Bosman

During the colonial period in Africa several issues were at stake in the interpretation of the Old Testament.41 Some of these issues were: Can indigenous perceptions of a Supreme Being (like uNkulunkulu or the “Great-Great-One” for the Zulu) be related to Yahweh or Elohim in the Old Testament?42 The role of ancestors were also controversial because it is often difficult to distinguish between worship and adoration as well as to appreciate a more extensive understanding of family – a deceased family member maintains a presence that has to be respected and questions arose as to what implications the Old Testament references to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (all venerable ancestors) have for the appreciation of ancestors?43 During the past century world views prevalent in many African cultures still accept the presence of benevolent spirits and malevolent demons similar to what is considered to be pre-modern in Europe or North America. Against this background the interpretation of the Old Testament is often combined with a concern for healing, both physical and spiritual. In close conjunction with the African worldviews one must also keep in mind that colonialism contributed to a “decline in standards of living, health and mortality” and this made biblical promises of healing and wholeness of being all the more appealing.44 The Bible is also used as a sacred object that requires no interpretation but whose physical presence is enough to ward off evil spirits, sorcery and witchcraft. Thus the Bible is kept under pillows at night or taken in handbags when travelling to provide protection and ensure safety.45 Any reflection on the role of the Old Testament in Africa should not presuppose a literate majority. In most cases, up the present, the Old Testament is more “heard” than “read” in Africa and thus the influence of the Old Testament as oral tradition must also be taken into account. The Old Testament does not function primarily as a printed text in Africa because the biblical text is the starting point for the oral performance of the Bible when it is read as part of a sermon, or sang aloud (often while dancing) or prayed during healing ceremonies. In oral format the Old Testament is related to the everyday realities of African communities by means of repetition and elaborative additions.46 According to Jenkins the most popular passages in the Old Testament “are those that most closely recall their or-

Africa (1930), who claimed to have found parallels (based on questionable comparative methodology) between the Ashanti in Ghana and the so-called Hebraic culture with regard to language, religious customs like circumcision and blood sacrifice, as well as jurisprudence in matters related to marriage and purification. These similarities were identified after a highly speculative reconstruction of Jewish migration into Africa. 41 In this regard one is reminded by the generalizations about African cultures that they are pervasively religious and that they were not introduced to religion and the experience of supreme beings by missionaries or colonial administrators. Platvoet/van Rinsum, Is Africa Incurably Religious? (2003), 123–153. 42 Chidester, Dreaming in the Contact Zone (2008), 41–44. 43 Zulu, An Ngoni assessment of the role of ancestors (1998). 44 Gilkes, Colonialism and Biblical Revolution (1985), 65. 45 Jenkins, New Faces of Christianity (2006), 37. 46 J. A. Draper, “Confessional Western Text-Centered Biblical Interpretation and an Oral or Residual – Oral context”, Semeia 59–77.

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

265

igins in oral transmission, the stories and parables, hymns and wisdom literature, psalms and proverbs”.47 One should, however, also be very circumspect in the way that pre-modern approaches to biblical interpretation are related to pre-critical interpretations of the Old Testament. One example will have to suffice to illustrate that pre-critical does not imply uncritical: during the writing of John W. Colenso’s critical work on The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua Critically Examined in 1862, he was challenged by critical questions posed by his assistant William Ngidi when reading about the unlikely co-existence of animals (antelopes and carnivores) in Noah’s ark.48 In his analyses of popular interpretations of the Bible in Africa P. Nyende argues that these interpretations are conducted for the sake of the appropriation of the Bible in the lives of the readers. He suggests that there are at least three different ways of effecting this appropriation of the Bible: a) by means of allegory, typology and symbolism biblical texts are understood to represent something else; b) themes are commonly picked out of a text of the Bible and applied to the life of the audience after some amplification and illustration; c) a passage of the Bible is read in a literal manner with scant regard for the literary and historical context of the text in question, but drawing on the religious convictions and cultural assumptions of the interpreter.49

3.3. Modern and Critical Approaches When describing modern approaches to the study of the Old Testament in Africa, one is confronted with the thorny and sensitive issue whether South African scholarship can be incorporated in the survey. Up to the 1980’s influential scholars like John Mbiti (1986) was of the opinion that white South African biblical scholarship was “still European” and “closed to the realities of African presence”; therefore he did not include “this strand of Christianity” in his discussion of the Bible in African Christianity.50 Itumeleng Mosala is a good example of a critical approach to Biblical Studies as an academic discipline and to the Bible itself. He critiques the exegetical point of departure found in most Black Theology – the Bible as the revealed Word of God. The Bible provides glimpses of the liberation of the oppressed despite the fact that it was written by the oppressor. Therefore Black Theology must be informed by both the Bible and African history and culture to the extent that it provides an indication of class struggle and resistance against oppression.51

47

Jenkins, New Faces of Christianity (2006), 30. Ibid. 178–179. Nyende, Interpretations of the Bible in Africa (2007), 61–62. 50 Mbiti, Bible and Theology (1992), 17–18. Maluleke and Nadar (2004), 16, argue that studies by white male scholars of black scholarship amount to “fake” academic discourse that serves as a “pretext for the exoneration of White and male guilt”. 51 Mosala, Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology (1989). G. O. West, Biblical Hermeneutics of Liberation: Modes of Reading the Bible in the South African Context (Pietermaritzburg, Cluster 48 49

266

Hendrik Bosman

In the first decade of the twenty-first century some tension is still experienced between a compliance with northern hemisphere biblical scholarship (diachronic historical criticism from Germany and the Netherlands as well as more synchronic literary criticism from North America) and a growing willingness to be held accountable by social, economical and political realities of communities across Africa. Despite legitimate concerns in the past the presence of an emerging concerned Old Testament scholarship in South Africa led to the decision to include it in the current survey.52 It is very difficult to pigeon hole African scholarship in different categories or periods of time because in some instances contributions overlap – one example will be given where the article incorporates critical as well as post-critical elements. In a short but stimulating contribution Humphrey Mwangi Waweru draws upon the work of Edward Said who used the musical metaphor of “contrapuntalism” to describe the connection of disparate practices of culture, empire, history and the present. According to Waweru a contrapuntal reading of the Bible must give priority to the context of the reader; establish a critical distance between the reader and the situational context of the reader as well as the context of the Bible, while maintaining an “emic” position as reader within the community of faith.53

3.4. Post-modern and Post-critical Approaches Musa Dube succeeded in developing an impressive postcolonial feminist interpretation of the Bible that was firmly embedded in liberation hermeneutics due to her observation that a certain interpretation of the Bible facilitated imperialism and therefore require postcolonial critique.54 A word of caution came from Gerald West who does not dismiss Postcolonial discourse but argues for cautious appropriation that forms part of a “countermovement” or a “new gospel of the future”.55 It is ironical that the modern emphasis on the Old Testament as a written text has been transformed by pervasive oral cultures all over Africa. The cultural appropriation or inculturation of the Bible in Africa has predominantly been oral in nature and might yet prove to be the most significant development for the future influence and importance of the Old Testament in Africa.56 In the ongoing debate about the relationship between African culture and the Bible, it has been suggested that the real Old Testament in Africa is the traditional religion (myths, legends and stories) and folk wisdom (idioms, proverbs and wise Publications 1991) also made a creative and critical contribution by rooting his biblical interpretation in the struggle for liberation. 52 Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind (2007), 69, suggests that “if a text was written in Africa it will be treated as African. That is a simple and straightforward criterion, much clearer than speculations about ethnicity or pigment as decisive criterion for Africanness”. 53 Waweru, Reading the Bible contrapuntally (2006), 334–348. 54 Dube, Post-Colonial Interpretations (1999), 299–309. 55 West, Doing Postcolonial Biblical Intepretation (2008), 147–164. 56 Draper, The Bible as Poison Onion, Icon and Oracle (2002), 39–56.

The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Africa

267

sayings) that has prepared African communities to embrace Christianity and the Bible.57 The impact of “modernity, individualism, privatization and the rise of a scientific worldview” has been taken into account in theories about secularization that anticipate a decline in the influence of the Bible and the religion in general.58 These secularization models have been successful in Western Europe but inadequate in the United States – the jury is still out on how it will explain the emerging post-modern trends in the African interpretation of the Old Testament. Perhaps one should also take into account what effect the massive process of urbanization across Africa will have on the interpretation of the Old Testament with its current abundance of rural and agricultural metaphors that will become increasingly incomprehensible for the well educated urban elite.

4. Prospects of Biblical Interpretation in Africa Despite the risk prophets have to run making predictions about the future, the following tentative prospects for Biblical interpretation in Africa are suggested: The interface between academic and popular interpretations of the Old Testament will remain an important concern for most African members of the guild of Biblical scholarship. This inevitable emphasis on reception, however valid, cannot afford any blanket disdain for matters related to the critical investigation of the text as a literary and as a historical phenomenon. There is much room for the critical engagement by biblical scholars who want to explore the contested spaces created by diverging modes of scholarship. Old Testament scholarship in Africa should not aspire to establish one common method in biblical interpretation but rather to develop models of interpretation that reflect cultural and religious diversity and make sense to local interpretive communities. Political correctness should not lull African biblical scholarship into a complacent rejection of any dissenting voices. Many a disastrous socio-economical and political experiment was allowed to come into fruition in Africa with little significant challenges forthcoming from critically engaged biblical scholarship. In the past cultural concerns dominated biblical scholarship in East and West Africa, while socio-economic problems were of prime concern in Southern Africa. One dangerous form of political correctness in the interpretation of the Old Testament is “Afrocentric exaggeration” that claims that African Theology “became normative for all aspects of ancient ecumenical Christianity” without engaging with these sources in a critical and constructive manner.59 Except for the

57 Jenkins, New Faces of Christianity (2006), 58–59. Gifford, The Bible in Africa (2008), 203, contends that African theology revolve around two poles: the rehabilitation of African culture and religion and the critique of the western impact on Africa. 58 Jenkins, New Faces of Christianity (2006), 187–188. 59 Oden, How Africa shaped the Christian Mind (2007), 76–77. Yamauchi, Africa and the Bible (2004), rejects any Eurocentric approach that disallows an African presence in the Bible and he also

268

Hendrik Bosman

Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches the majority of African Christians have very little knowledge or interest in the “early African patristic intellectual heritage” and the best way to access this heritage is “through their profound understandings of Scripture texts”.60 Amidst a diversity of societies in Africa, patriarchy in different shapes and sizes has disallowed a strong female voice in African Old Testament scholarship. This under-representation of women as students and scholars is in stark contrast to the overwhelming majority of women sitting in the pews of churches across the African continent. In conclusion: In various academic disciplines writing about Africa has been burdened with pessimistic and formulaic representations about a continent bogged down in a supposed quagmire of disease, poverty, superstition and an endemic lack of academic infrastructure and endeavor. Africa, however, is the continent where Christianity grows the fastest and where the Bible still has a special place in worship. Time will tell whether interpretive communities in Africa will succeed to create interpretations of Scripture that address the wholeness of live from the perspective of a wholeness of being – an ability that has been lost in many other parts of the globe where academic specialization and a fragmentation of being have taken its toll. May this contribution perform the function of a cuckoo – laying an egg in the nest of others, but reminding a global community that a spring is taking place across Africa where the Old Testament is read and lived.

rejects certain Afrocentric biblical interpretations that assume that all Africans were black and that everything of value originated in Africa. 60 Oden, ibid. 82.

Chapter Thirty-five

Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in Africa, Australia / New Zealand and Asia 35.2. The Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand By Mark A. O’Brien, Melbourne General works: R. Abba, The Nature and Authority of the Bible (Cambridge, James Clarke 1958). – V. Buckley, “Intellectuals”, Australian Civilisation (ed. P. Coleman; Melbourne: F. W. Chesire 1962), 89–104. – R. Banks, “Fifty Years of Theology in Australia, 1915–1965, Part Two”, Colloquium 9.2 (May 1977) 7–16. – I. Breward, A History of the Australian Churches (St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin 1993); Grace and Truth. A History of Theological Hall, Knox College, Dunedin, 1876–1975 (Theological Education Committee; Dunedin: Presbyterian Church of New Zealand 1975); A History of the Churches in Australasia (Oxford History of the Christian Church; ed. H. and O. Chadwick; Oxford: Oxford UP 2001). – B. Chant, “Wesleyan Revivalism and the Rise of Australian Pentecostalism”, Reviving Australia: Essays on the History and Experience of Revival and Revivalism in Australian Christianity (ed. M. Hutchinson / S. Piggin; Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity 1994), 97–122. – A. C. Dixon e.a. (eds.), The Fundamentals: a Testimony to the Truth (Chicago: Testimony Publishing Company 1910–1915). – B. R. Doyle, Biblical Studies in Australia. A Catholic Contribution. A Short Survey and Bibliography (Melbourne: David Lovell Publishing 1990). – J. England e.a. (eds.), Asian Christian Theologies: A Research Guide to Authors, Movements, Sources, 1. Asia Region 7th – 20th Centuries; South Asia; Austral Asia (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 2002–2004). – J. Harris, “Anglicanism and Indigenous Peoples”, Anglicanism in Australia. A History (ed. B. Kaye; Melbourne: Melbourne UP 2002), 223–246. – G. Hebert, Fundamentalism and the Church of God (London: SCM 1957). – H. Jackson, “Religious Ideas and Practice in Australian Congregationalism 1870–1930: Part I, Part II”, Journal of Religious History 12,1–4 (1982–83) 266–286, 438–444. – G. C. Jenks (ed.), Directory of Graduate Studies and Research in Theology and Religion. Australian and New Zealand Institutions, 6. (ed. ANZSTS; Brisbane 1996). – S. Liberman, A Bibliography of Australian Judaica (2nd rev. edn. by L. Gallou; Mandelbaum Trust and the University of Sydney Library 1991). – J. N. Molony, The Roman Mould of the Australian Catholic Church (Melbourne UP 1969). – S. Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia. Spirit, Word and World (Oxford UP 1996). – J. Stenhouse, “Science Versus Religion in Nineteenth Century New Zealand: Robert Stout and Social Darwinism”, Pacifica 2.1 (1989) 61–86. Special Studies: F. I. Andersen / D. N. Freedman, Hosea (AB 24; New York: Doubleday 1980); Amos (AB 24A; New York: Doubleday 1989); Micah (AB 24E; New York: Doubleday 2000). – M. E. Andrew / J. J. Stamm, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research (Studies in Biblical Theology, 2nd ser. 2; London: SCM 1967); M. E. Andrew, The Old Testament and New Zealand Theology (Dunedin: Faculty of Theology, Otago University 1982); Responding in Community: Reforming Religion in Aotearoa New Zealand (Dunedin: Faculty of Theology, Otago University 1990); The Old Testament in Aotearoa New Zealand (Wellington: Distance Education Formation and Training Unit [DEFT] 1999). – J. Binney, Redemption Songs. A Life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki (Auckland UP 1995). – R. Boer, Jameson and Jeroboam (Semeia Studies; Atlanta: Scholars Press 1996); Novel Histories. The Fiction of Biblical Criticism (Playing the Texts 2; Sheffield: Sheffield

270

Mark A. O’Brien

Academic Press 1997); Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Biblical Limits; London: Routledge 1999). – S. Boorer, The Promise of the Land as Oath: A Key to the Formation of the Pentateuch (BZAW 205; New York: de Gruyter 1992). – M. G. Brett, Biblical Criticism in Crisis? The Impact of the Canonical Approach on Old Testament Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1991); idem (ed.), Ethnicity and the Bible (Leiden: Brill 1996); Genesis: Procreation and the Politics of Identity (London: Routledge 2000). – A. F. Campbell, The Ark Narrative (1 Sam 4–6; 2 Sam 6): A Form-critical and Traditiohistorical Study (SBLDS 16; Missoula: Scholars 1975); Of Prophets and Kings: A Late Ninth-Century Document (1 Samuel 1–2 Kings 10) (CBQMS 17; Washington: The Catholic Biblical Association of America 1986); idem / M. A. O’Brien, Sources of the Pentateuch: Texts, Introductions, Annotations (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1993); Unfolding the Deuteronomistic History. Origins, Upgrades, Present Text (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000). – K. W. Carley, The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (CBC; London: Cambridge UP 1974); Ezekiel Among the Prophets: A Study of Ezekiel’s Place in Prophetic Tradition (London: SCM, 1975); “Prophets Old and New”, Prophets of Melanesia: Six Essays (ed. G. W. Trompf; Port Moresby: The Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies 1977), 238– 266. – E. W. Conrad, Reading Isaiah (Overtures to Biblical Theology 27; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1991); Zechariah (Readings, a new Biblical Commentary; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1999). – W. J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation: A Theology of Old Testament Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1984). – B. Elsmore, Like Them That Dream: The Maori and the Old Testament (Tauranga: Moana Press 1985); Mana from Heaven: A Century of Maori Prophets in New Zealand (Auckland: Reed 1999). – N. C. Habel, The Book of Job: A Commentary (OTL; London: SCM 1985); The Land is Mine – Six Biblical Land Ideologies (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1995). – A. Harper, The Book of Deuteronomy (The Expositor’s Bible; London: Hodder and Stoughton 1895). – J. Havea, “The future stands between here and there: towards islandic hermeneutics”, The Pacific Journal of Theology, Ser. II No. 13 (1995) 61–68; “Shifting the boundaries: house of God and the politics of reading”, The Pacific Journal of Theology, Ser. II No. 16 (1996) 55–71. – T. Hayden, “The Primitive History in Genesis”, ACR 12 [old series] (1906) 470–482. – J. Hill, Friend or Foe? The Figure of Babylon in the Book of Jeremiah MT (Biblical Interpretation Series 40; Leiden: Brill 1999). – G. A. F. Knight, A Christian Theology of the Old Testament (London: SCM 1959); Ruth and Jonah: Introduction and Commentary (London: SCM 1950); Deutero-Isaiah: A Theological Commentary on Isaiah 40–55 (Nashville: Abingdon 1965); idem (ed.), International Theological Commentary (Edinburgh / Grand Rapids: Handsell and Eerdmans). – J. J. Lewis, Koru and Covenant: Reflections on Hebrew and Maori Spirituality in Aotearoa (Orewa: Colcom Press 1995). – J. J. Lias, The Principles of Biblical Criticism (London: Eyre & Spottiswode 1893); “The Authorship of the Pentateuch”, The Churchman 11 (1897) 1–9, 177–184; 12 (1898) 68– 75, 169–175, 345–356; 13 (1898–99) 57–67, 292–298, 393–401, 513–522, 626–634. – J. E. McKinlay, Gendering Wisdom the Host: Biblical Invitations to Eat and Drink (JSOTSup 216; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996). – T. Muraoka, Emphatic Words and Structures in Biblical Hebrew (Hebrew University: Magnes Press 1985); Melbourne Symposium on Septuagint Lexicography (ed. T. Muraoka; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press 1990). – M. A. O’Brien, The Deuteronomistic History Hypothesis: A Reassessment (OBO 92; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1989). – Rainbow Spirit Elders, Rainbow Spirit Theology: Towards an Aboriginal Theology (Blackburn: Harper Collins 1998); The Rainbow Spirit in Creation: A Reading of Genesis 1 (J. Corowa, artist; N. Habel, translator and editor for the Rainbow Spirit Elders; Collegeville: The Liturgical Press 2000). – H. Ranston, The Old Testament Wisdom Books and their Teaching (London: Epworth 1930). – J. T. E. Renner, Hosea (Chi Rho Commentary; Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House 1979); Psalms (Chi Rho Commentary; Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House 1980); Genesis (Chi Rho Commentary; Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House 1984); Jeremiah (Chi Rho Commentary; Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House 1989). – J. J. Scullion, Genesis: A Commentary for Students, Teachers and Preachers (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press 1992); Isaiah 40–66 (Old Testament Message: Wilmington: M. Glazier 1982). – T. J. Smith, Studies in Criticism and Revelation (London: Epworth 1925). – J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; London: IVF 1974); The Book of Jeremiah (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1980). – R. J. Thompson, Penitence and Sacrifice in Early Israel (Leiden: Brill 1963); Moses and the Law in a Century of Criticism since Graf (Leiden: Brill 1970). – H. N. Wallace, The Eden Narrative (HSM 32; Atlanta GA: Scholars Press 1985). – D. J. Wynn-Williams, The State of the Pentateuch: A Comparison of the Approaches of M. Noth and E. Blum (BZAW 249; New York: Gruyter 1997).

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

271

1. Introduction The story of twentieth century Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Wirkungsgeschichte in Australia and New Zealand, as with other elements in their respective histories, revolves around three key factors. Both were colonies of the British Empire, both developed into independent multi-cultural societies, both have indigenous populations that posed and continue to pose considerable challenges. These factors contributed significantly to the environment in which a majority of Christian and a minority of Jewish settlers sought to plant their different Bibles – with their different canons, different translations and, it hardly needs to be said, different interpretations. As the immigrant population of each country grew, these denominations and their differences came into contact with each other, and at times conflict. They also came into contact with the indigenous population, bringing them their Bibles and their faiths. The traffic was not all one way; indigenous peoples, their cultures, languages and religions have had their own impact on the immigrant population and their understanding of the Bible. As these differing ingredients were stirred in the melting pot of history, one can discern in both countries three key stages vis-à-vis the proclamation and reception of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. The indigenous peoples were initially displaced and sometimes destroyed to make way for the newcomers. Various Christian churches carried out missionary work among the remainder who reacted to the Bible (as presented) with a mixture of curiosity, acceptance or resistance. In time the newcomers became established and began to think of themselves as ‘indigenous’, though of course in quite a different way to the original inhabitants. An integral part of their self-understanding was the Bible as it had been ‘planted’ in these new lands. When ‘higher criticism’ arrived on the scene as an outsider, the now well-established churches reacted with a mixture of curiosity, acceptance, resistance and even hostility. But in time they were ‘colonized’ by the outsider to a greater or lesser degree. As the century unfolded, theological colleges belonging to an increasing number of the churches taught and promoted the new methods of Bible study. This in turn had an impact on the churches. In the third and most recent stage, the indigenous peoples of both countries have returned from the fringes to which they had been banished or fled and are beginning to ‘colonize’ or have an impact on the rest of the population. Indigenous Bible study is challenging the churches to examine the history of Bible proclamation in both countries – how much was it mired in the empirical colonial agenda, how accurate or distorted was the understanding of the Bible presented to indigenous people, how can it be authentically presented in countries that are multi-cultural and in which a significant component of that multi-culturalism is a resurgent indigenous culture? This sketch may give the impression that the history of both countries is pretty much the same; a fortiori the history of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in both is also the same. Australians and New Zealanders would be quick to assert that this is not the case. They would also point to the following basic differences that have helped to shape the particular history of each country. To begin with, the countries are vastly different geographically. New Zealand comprises principally two geologically young, mountainous, well-watered and

272

Mark A. O’Brien

fertile islands whereas Australia is the oldest, smallest, flattest and driest inhabited continent on earth. They also have strikingly different indigenous peoples. It is estimated that at the time of British occupation Aborigines had been in Australia for up to 60,000 years; they were spread out over a continental land mass in relatively small tribes, each speaking versions of a family of languages that differ from each other as much as Indo-European languages. By comparison the Maori of New Zealand were themselves relative new comers (11–13th century), they were concentrated mainly in the north island, they were more closely united by language and, despite rivalries and differences, were able to mount an effective coalition against the British that resulted in the treaty of Waitangi (1840). No treaty was ever negotiated with Aborigines. A third notable difference is that Australia began as a penal colony with a significant proportion of its convicts being Irish Catholics. The Celts were also well represented in New Zealand but they were mainly Presbyterian settlers from Scotland – New Zealand was never a penal colony. Although Anglicanism was the major denomination in each country, the different Celtic mix has played a significant role in ecclesiastical, missionary and scholarly affairs. A fourth difference is that, partly because of its barren interior, Australia by the late nineteenth century was already a highly urbanised society, the two main cities being Melbourne and Sydney. In contrast, ‘New Zealand was a collection of isolated coastal towns and small cities’ and this shaped the development of church life and scholarship.1 The story of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in Australia and New Zealand falls into three recognisable periods. The first reaches from the turn of the nineteenth century to eve of the First World War. In many ways the early twentieth century was still part of the nineteenth century world. The second embraces the wars and post-war years: so from 1914 to around 1960. The third stage opens with the turbulent 1960’s and runs to the end of the century. An article length study cannot do justice to all the different factors that shaped twentieth century Hebrew Bible / Old Testament study in Australia and New Zealand; it can only examine the more significant ones.

2. Up to the First World War of 1914–1918 A snapshot of the Christian scene in Australia and New Zealand at the end of the nineteenth century shows the more dominant churches with well-established theological colleges, qualified staff, libraries, and a student body – a local version of the European original. The Protestant denominations provided the majority of these institutions. Within Australia, the main ones for the Anglican Church (the largest confessional body) were Moore Theological College in Sydney (founded in 1856 following the closure of an earlier St. James College), Trinity Theological College in Melbourne (1878), St Barnabas’ College in Adelaide (1881) and Brisbane Theological College (1897). For the evangelical or dissenting churches the

1

Cf. Breward, A History of the Churches in Australasia (2001), 97.

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

273

respective colleges were the College of Victoria, Melbourne (1862) and Camden College, Sydney (1864) being Congregationalist; Theological Hall, Melbourne (1865) and Sydney (1873) being Presbyterian; further, Queen’s College, Melbourne, 1888 (Methodist); Whitley College, Melbourne, 1891 and Morling College, Sydney, 1916 (Baptist); College of the Bible, Melbourne, 1897 (Churches of Christ); Avondale College, Sydney, 1898 (Seventh Day Adventist); Concordia College, Victoria 1892; Immanuel College, Adelaide 1923 (Lutheran); Officer Training College, Sydney, 1883 (Salvation Army). Unlike Europe and the United States, universities in Australia were secular by charter and so did not teach theology or religious studies; this was part of the separation of church and state. Nevertheless, churches were able to establish residential colleges for university students on or near university campuses. These became the sites for theological centres where ministers for the respective churches undertook their studies. Trinity Theological College became part of the already established Trinity College at Melbourne University, Moore College moved to Sydney University, the Presbyterian Theological Halls to Ormond College (Melbourne University) and St. Andrew’s College (Sydney University) respectively. Other cities experienced similar developments somewhat later. The ministerial candidates of these various churches could pursue secular courses at university but there were no theological degrees available. Partly for this reason the General Synod of the Anglican Church established the Australian Council of Theology (ACT) in 1891, an examining body that granted awards that were recognised within the international Anglican communion. A similar development took place in New Zealand. G. Selwyn, first Anglican bishop of Auckland, founded the college of St. John the Evangelist in 1843 for the training of clergy; this was well before Auckland University in 1883. The Presbyterians established Knox Theological Hall in 1876 in the southern city of Dunedin partly because the University of Otago did not provide theological education. In 1909 the hall relocated to the new Knox residential college on the university campus. Selwyn College opened in 1893 as an Anglican theological hall of residence and the first university hostel at Otago. These theological colleges are important for the course of Biblical studies in Australia and New Zealand on two counts. One is that they had staff (though few) that came from overseas or had been trained there and were well informed about current debates in the field of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.2 Prominent among these were historical critical analysis, exemplified in the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis for the composition of the Pentateuch, the impact of evolution and science on the biblical accounts of creation, and the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. The second is that the man in the pew tended to see his church as a chip off the old block, one of the more solid signs in a new land of continuity with the mother country. New ideas about the Bible could be unsettling for this sense of solidity and continuity. Although the ideas debated were imported, the nature of the debate in the colonies took on quite a local colour. 2 A notable exception to this traffic into Australia and New Zealand was the Australian Jewish scholar Joseph Jacobs who spent most of his academic life in the United Kingdom and from 1900 was revising editor of the Jewish Encylopedia.

274

Mark A. O’Brien

An illustrative example was the 1890’s dispute between T. J. Smith, A. Harper and J. L. Rentoul, all members of the faculty of Theological Hall, Ormond College, Melbourne. Smith attacked Harper and Rentoul over their support of the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis.3 Unlike the universities, Australia at that time did not have scholarly journals in theology or Biblical studies, or learned societies. This, plus the importance of the sermon or address in the Protestant tradition, may explain why debates in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia often found their way into newspapers, journals and pamphlets which were readily available to the wider public. Melbourne, the leading antipodean city of the day, had a vigorous print media and a well-read public. While Smith, Harper and Rentoul in Melbourne were generating quite a lively debate, it does not seem to have engaged colleagues in Sydney. J. J. Lias of Moore College, for example, was at this time publishing a series of scholarly articles against the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis in an English journal – The Churchman – presumably because there was no scholarly equivalent in Australia. Lias accepted the possibility of later additions to a text but he was adamant that the Pentateuch could not be divided among four late authors, “a Jehovist, an Elohist, a Deuteronomist and a priestly writer”.4 The respective stances of these scholars mark a line that runs through the history of Protestant Christianity in Australia and has at times caused considerable tension; the difference between a more ‘liberal’ view of the Bible and a more strictly evangelical view. Even though there are exceptions it would be true to say that Trinity and Ormond Colleges in Melbourne have tended to promote the more liberal approach whereas Sydney’s Moore College was and remains staunchly evangelical. In relation to this it is significant that Ridley College, a rival Anglican college to Trinity, was established in 1910 in Melbourne to provide some evangelical ‘balance’. Protestant scholars in New Zealand experienced similar debates and challenges to established views of the Bible. A particularly significant case is the one between R. Stout, who became Premier of the country, and scholars such as W. Salmond, first professor of Divinity at Knox Theological Hall. Stout championed a version of Darwinism to dismiss the Bible’s view of creation and humanity in favour of an evolutionary view in which the civilised and progressive Europeans were destined to displace and replace the Maori (and any others judged ‘unfit’ for progress). The real agenda was appropriation of Maori land (similar arguments were mounted in Australia). Salmond was in principle not against evolution but argued that Genesis taught the unity and equality of the human race. The Maori were just as capable of taking their place in the modern world as any other races.5

3 Harper gained international recognition for a critical commentary on The Book of Deuteronomy (1895). Smith later published his more conservative line of thought in: Studies in Criticism and Revelation (1925). 4 Lias, The Authorship of the Pentateuch, The Churchman 11 (1897), 1–9, 177–184; 12 (1898) 68–75, 169–175, 345–356; 13 (1898–99) 57–67, 292–298, 393–401, 513–522, 626–634. The quotation is from p. 75 of vol. 12. Lias had earlier published The Principles of Biblical Criticism (1893). 5 For a study of the debate see Stenhouse, Science Versus Religion in Nineteenth Century New Zealand (1989), 61–86.

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

275

An area in which New Zealand was significantly different to Australia was the way the Maori interpreted the story of Israel in relation to their own situation; their suffering at the hands of invaders, exile from their own land, the hope of a Messiah like king who would come and bring peace between themselves and the ‘Pakeha’ (white people).6 A number of Maori leaders cast themselves in the mould of biblical prophets and founded communities (churches) that combined traditional Maori and Christian symbols and rituals.7 Here we have clear examples of Wirkungsgeschichte, the Bible being received, studied and applied in ways that transformed elements of Maori society–not always in ways that pleased Pakeha Christians. In contrast, the missions among Aborigines struggled against distance, neglect, misunderstandings and the decimation of the population from European diseases. As a result a parallel experience to that of the Maori has only been possible for Aborigines in more recent times. The separation of church and state took a quite different turn within the Roman Catholic Church. Although St. John’s was established at Sydney University in 1857 as a residential college for Catholic students, it never took on the dual role of its Protestant equivalents, educating both university and theological students. Roman Catholic clergy received their formation and their legitimacy in the church by fulfilling Vatican requirements. Vatican policy sought to shape the clergy in new ‘missionary’ lands such as Australia and New Zealand firmly in the Roman mould. After some earlier attempts and considerable negotiation the policy bore enduring fruit with the opening of St. Patrick’s seminary in 1889 at Manly.8 It was about as far from the university as one could get in Sydney in those days. A Melbourne equivalent, Corpus Christi seminary, was founded in 1923 at Werribee, well away from the city and university. In New Zealand Holy Cross College was founded in 1900 at Mosgiel, again outside the city (Dunedin). The establishment of seminaries ‘outside’ cities says something about how the Catholic Church saw itself in relation to societies dominated, in its eyes, by Protestant Churches. It looked to Rome as its source and centre and not to the British Empire. In Australia, this Roman mould was combined with a predominantly Irish congregation that had its own issues with both Protestants and the empire. At the turn of the century, Sydney’s first cardinal, the Irishman Patrick Moran, could not resist a dig at the perceived divisions and discomfort that ‘higher criticism’ was causing Protestant Churches. [I]n the pursuits of higher criticism, gifted men who hold exalted positions in the Anglican church or are prominent for learning among the various Nonconformist sectaries, have practically undermined the popular reverence for the Bible, and sweptaway its authority, and further, that Protestantism admitted that the Bible, as a whole, could not be defended, but only selected passages of it.9

6

Cf. Breward, Churches in Australasia (2001), 144–154. One of the most fascinating was Te Kooti (died 1893) who compiled 2 diaries, numerous letters and hymns and employed three secretaries (cf. Binney, Redemption Songs [1995]). 8 For a study of Vatican policy in relation to Australia see Molony, The Roman Mould of the Australian Catholic Church (1969). 9 “Cardinal Moran and the Bible”, Southern Cross 19 (8) n.s. (23 Feb. 1900), 213. 7

276

Mark A. O’Brien

For a Catholic like Moran, the papal Syllabus of Errors (1864) and the subsequent anti-modernistic encyclical Lamentabili (1907) had exposed the erroneous nature of higher criticism. An early lecturer at St. Patrick’s seminary, Rev. T. Hayden, published an article on the book of Genesis utilising critical biblical analysis and was obliged to defend himself.10 The more strictly evangelical stream in the Protestant Churches shared something of the Catholic Church’s anxieties about the influence of Modernism. Australia became a federation of states in 1901 and New Zealand was granted dominion in the same year. The theological colleges of the various churches were no doubt keen to make their contribution to these new nations. In relation to Hebrew Bible / Old Testament studies, the Protestant Churches were clearly in the forefront. Critical analysis of the Bible was taking place and being debated. There were conflicts and divisions but, in the main, the churches in Australia avoided the deep divisions that occurred in America. Unlike America however, they lacked university status and recognition for their courses. Because of this and perhaps spurred on by federation momentum the Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist Churches sought a theological faculty at Melbourne University. The negotiations were presided over by the Anglican Archbishop Clarke. Instead, what the churches got in 1910 was the Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD), a degree granting body (rather like the ACT referred to above) established by a separate act of parliament. It had to be funded by the churches, but its awards enjoyed tertiary status in Australia and the United Kingdom. The MCD marked a stage in the cooperation of these three evangelical churches that would reach a high point in their eventually forming the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977.

3. War Years and Post-war Years: 1914–1960 Not surprisingly, the First World War diverted attention and resources away from pursuit of the theological disciplines. Enrolments in theological colleges in both countries dwindled and a number of staff went off to become military chaplains. One might have expected a post-war surge in scholarship but, in Australia at least, this does not appear to have been the case. I. Breward’s more general comment can be taken to include the situation in Hebrew Bible / Old Testament study: “Though a number of theological books were published in Australia between 1920 and 1945, they lacked depth, and added little to the churches’ message to the nation”.11 Within the Protestant Churches, pre-war fault lines between liberal and evangelical approaches to the Bible reappeared. These differences were no doubt a factor in the failure of church union in the 1920’s and the very public spat between the liberal New Testament professor at St. Andrew’s theological hall, Samuel Angus, and his adversaries. At the 1922 Victorian Methodist Conference there was a proposal to remove Peake’s Commentary on the Bible from the 10 11

See Hayden, The Primitive History in Genesis (1906), 470–482. Breward, Churches in Australasia (2001), 250.

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

277

reading list at Queen’s College because of its (moderate) use of critical methods. Professor A. Albiston at Queen’s College was able to convince the conference otherwise and the venerable commentary remained on the list. Nevertheless, in the judgement of Breward, the liberal-evangelical differences in Australia and New Zealand, though at times sharp, never experienced the bitter conflicts that occurred in America.12 In general, one could say that Melbourne continued to represent the more liberal wing of Biblical and theological scholarship, whereas Sydney maintained the evangelical stream. But there were notable exceptions, in particular the group of Harper (who had moved from Melbourne to Sydney), Angus, A. H. Garnsey, K. Edward, and G. W. Thatcher who formed what was known as the Heretics’ Club. Thatcher, principal of Camden College and an expert in Semitic languages, was involved in the compilation of what became the standard Hebrew-English Dictionary (Brown, Driver, Briggs). The post-war period saw cross fertilisation between Australia and New Zealand. The professor of Old Testament studies at Knox, S. F. Hunter, was Scottish by birth and an Australian citizen who studied at Glasgow. He edited the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia with J. Orr; he also contributed to the Transactions of the Glasgow University Oriental Society. At St. John’s in Auckland, H. Ranston published The Old Testament Wisdom Books and their Teaching.13 Another Old Testament professor at Knox during this period, J. Cumming, commenced studies in England but gained his doctorate from Melbourne (MCD). In a sense he marked the end of an era, being one of the last pupils of A. B. Davidson (1831–1902) under whom most Presbyterian Hebrew Bible / Old Testament scholars throughout the British Empire had studied.14 Within the Catholic Church the period from 1900 to 1942 is well summed up by B. R. Doyle as “the dark ages of biblical studies”.15 As already noted, the anti-modernist stance of the papacy had effectively ruled out critical biblical analysis for Catholic scholars. Some, such as Rev. F. Bennett of Holy Cross College turned to apologetics, engaging in a lengthy and lively newspaper debate with Hunter of Knox College over the status of the Bible. Perhaps the most significant development, in relation to Hebrew Bible / Old Testament studies in the post-war period, was the formation of Bible Colleges in the evangelical mould. Once again, this phenomenon reflected what was happening or had already happened overseas, particularly in America. In relation to liberal-evangelical debates within Protestant Churches, S. Piggin notes that these new colleges “took the heat out of theological disputation, by leaving the older theological colleges to liberals who were then in the ascendancy”.16 The reason for this, following Piggin, is that the colleges were not founded to counter liberal thought but to foster the missionary and revivalistic enthusiasms that began 12

Breward, A History of the Australian Churches (1993), 120–121. Ranston, The Old Testament Wisdom Books (1930). So Breward, Grace and Truth (1975), 34. Davidson’s Hebrew Grammar was the standard text book for generations. 15 Doyle, Biblical Studies in Australia (1990), 4. On the same page Doyle notes there was “a reluctance to write in the area of biblical studies; a tendency for articles, when written, to be geographical, philological or liturgical, rather than exegetical”. 16 Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia (1996), 91. 13 14

278

Mark A. O’Brien

around the turn of the century and gathered pace in the post-war period. The first one, Angas College, was established in Adelaide, South Australia in 1893. The Sydney Missionary and Bible College was founded in 1916, the Melbourne Bible Institute (now the Bible College of Victoria) in 1920, New Zealand Bible Training Institute (now the Bible College of New Zealand) in 1922, and the Perth Bible Institute in Western Australia in 1928. The ethos of these colleges vis-à-vis Bible study is well summed up in the following policy statement: The Melbourne Bible Institute stands four-square for the wholehearted acceptance of the entire sacred volume of the Old and New Testaments as from God. This is God’s book for the plain man, and to such He will interpret its full meaning progressively by His Holy Spirit.17

At first glance this statement would appear to obviate the need for a textbook or teacher, let alone a college, but the words “progressively” and “interpret” would seem to allow that the Holy Spirit may choose to illuminate a plain man’s understanding through the mediation of one or more of the above. A textbook that played a role in this progressive interpretation was the American sourced The Fundamentals, published in 12 volumes between 1910 and 1915 and distributed free to Protestant clergy around the world.18 Among other things these tomes targeted Darwinism, historical critical analysis and liberal theology as enemies of evangelicalism. Although The Fundamentals sought to present an authentic evangelicalism, there was a downside. Evangelicalism in the antipodes became “saddled with the negative overtones of fundamentalism: obscurantism, anti-intellectualism, intolerance, pietism and separatism”.19 Even though Bible Colleges did not conform to the reigning academic model, they produced missionaries for both domestic and overseas fields who transformed peoples’ lives – and both givers and receivers no doubt believed the change was for the better. The colleges therefore contributed in a significant and at times striking way to the Wirkungsgeschichte of the Bible. The way the Bible is presented is an influential factor in the way that it is received, the impact that it has. For example, the Baptist minister J. Kemp founded a Bible Training Institute in Auckland that “exerted a powerful influence in congregations, through young men and women who became local leaders, teachers in youth groups, and workers in Christian education. Many became missionaries overseas”.20 The lean years of the Great Depression meant that theological colleges, like the rest of society, had to struggle to stay afloat. Whatever resources were available went to needy causes. However, the latter part of this period was marked by the establishment of a graduate BD degree at Sydney University in 1937 and at Otago University in New Zealand a decade later. A significant development, these degrees gave the churches something they had been hankering for, university status for theological study. The theological colleges in Sydney (Moore, St. Andrews, 17

Quoted in Piggin, ibid. 92. The Fundamentals: a Testimony to the Truth (1910–1915). The American influence was also felt through the writings of Charles Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield at Princeton Theological Seminary. 19 Piggin, ibid. 80. 20 Breward, Churches in Australasia (2001), 255. 18

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

279

St. Pauls) responded by providing academic staff and students although most Moore students continued to obtain an English BD because of its more biblically oriented curriculum. Biblical studies were introduced into Queensland University in 1938, with a BD degree available in 1953. In 1936 at Oenpelli, a remote settlement far from Australia’s urban centres, for the first time in an Anglican church and almost 150 years after European colonization, the Bible readings for Christmas were in an Aboriginal language (Gunwinggu).21 By contrast, in New Zealand, the Bible was being translated and read in Maori as early as the 1840’s during the time of Selwyn, first Anglican bishop of Auckland. Australian intellectual life after World War II has been characterised by V. Buckley as “disappointingly unprolific of any work of substantial proportions”.22 Certainly, critical, creative work on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament during this period was not particularly significant, but there are reasons for this. One is that returned service men and women may have felt that academic opportunity had passed them by. The long war years had taken a considerable slice out of their lives. There was also the urgent need for post-war reconstruction. In contrast, those who had grown up during or after the war were able to go overseas for higher studies in a world (a western one at least) that gradually regained stability and wealth. These became the scholars whose careers belong to the last part of our survey, from the 1960’s to the turn of the century. Another factor is that historical critical approaches had, to some extent at least, been incorporated into the mainstream of Biblical studies in the major churches and their colleges. It was not so much that they were welcome, “it was more that ministers had learned to live with them”.23 The post-war period was marked principally by institutional developments. New theological and bible colleges were established such that, by 1963, Australia had 56 of them representing the various denominations. Standards at the key Protestant degree granting bodies, the MCD and the ACT, were improved and in the late 1940’s Melbourne University established a department of Semitic Studies under the Jewish scholar M. Goldman: it was later renamed the Department of Middle Eastern Studies under J. Bowman, who was followed by T. Muraoka from Japan.24 Although the differences between liberals and evangelicals continued in the post-war period, the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948 provided an example, once again from abroad, of different denominations in cooperation and dialogue. The Reformed Theological Review commenced publication in Melbourne in 1942 and in 1953, under the initiative of Goldman, the Fellowship for Biblical Studies was established with Jewish, Protestant and Catholic membership. Its Australian Biblical Review became a forum for pursuing and debating critical analysis. The major Catholic seminary of St. Patrick’s, Sydney,

21

Harris, Anglicanism and Indigenous Peoples (2002), 238. Buckley, Intellectuals (1962), 100. 23 Jackson, Religious Ideas and Practice (1982–83), 439. 24 Among Muraoka’s publications, two from his term at Melbourne University are: Emphatic Words and Structures in Biblical Hebrew (1985) and Melbourne Symposium on Septuagint Lexicography (1990). 22

280

Mark A. O’Brien

became a Pontifical Faculty of Theology in 1954, able to offer post-graduate Roman degrees. This, plus the 1943 encyclical of Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu, which allowed Catholic scholars to apply modern critical analysis to the Bible, provided the impetus for Catholic Biblical scholarship in Australia to emerge from the preceding ‘dark ages’. W. Leonard, long time lecturer at St. Patrick’s (1924 to 1959), was a key figure in advancing the cause. His writings on Hebrew Bible / Old Testament and New Testament appeared mainly in the Australasian Catholic Record between 1929 and 1961.25 America’s crucial role in the Pacific theatre of the war meant that it became a major influence on Australia and New Zealand in the post-war period. The biblical theology movement commenced in America in 1940 as a way of combining modern theology with critical study of the Bible. Its influence emerged in Australia in the publications of G. Hebert (Anglican) and R. Abba (Congregationalist) who “attempted to find some synthesis of the views of biblical-theology or neo-orthodoxy with the traditional position” (i.e., conservative evangelical).26 Though seeking to steer a moderate course, their works generated considerable debate in journals such as the Reformed Theological Review and the Australian Church Quarterly. As the titles of their books indicate, Hebert and Abba were writing about the Bible in general rather than the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in particular. This task was carried out very effectively by G. A. F. Knight at Knox Theological Hall in New Zealand: his A Christian Theology of the Old Testament “is one of the few attempts by an English scholar to write a comprehensive theological account of the Old Testament books”.27 This and a number of other publications established him as the leading exponent of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament biblical theology in Australasia.28 The highly successful crusade by Billy Graham in Australia took place in 1959. Its success no doubt built on the hard work of bible colleges, and of popular revivalist movements reaching back to the nineteenth century. One example of this that is still growing vigorously is the Pentecostal movement.29 From an evangelical perspective it would have been quite reasonable to think that the crusade, coupled with the growth in membership of the denominations, the number of theological institutes and the graduates emerging from them, signalled a bright future for Christianity in the antipodes. But, writing from the perspective of 1996 Piggin concludes that the crusade marked “a peak achievement of the evangelical synthesis in Australia, rather than the harbinger of a brilliant new period

25 For a full listing see Doyle, Biblical Studies in Australia (1990), 43–44. The Australasian Catholic Record (ACR) was launched in 1885 by Cardinal Moran, lapsed in 1913 and resumed in 1924. 26 Banks, Fifty Years of Theology in Australia, 1915–1965 (1977), 11. The relevant works are G. Hebert, Fundamentalism and the Church of God (1957), and R. Abba, The Nature and Authority of the Bible (1958), written shortly after Abba left Australia. 27 Breward, Grace and Truth (1975), 63. 28 Knight, A Christian Theology of the Old Testament (1959). Among his other publications are: Ruth and Jonah (1950), and Deutero-Isaiah (1965). He was also an editor of the International Theological Commentary (Edinburgh and Grand Rapids). W. J. Dumbrell, of Moore College, represents a somewhat later take on biblical theology in Australia; cf. his Covenant and Creation (1984). 29 See Chant, Wesleyan Revivalism and the Rise of Australian Pentecostalism (1994), 97.

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

281

of achievement for it”.30 Much the same could be said for other denominations. What eventuated during the period from the 1960’s to the turn of the century was often not what was expected. It was a period of at times frenetic change and, as in previous periods, much of the impetus driving change in Australia and New Zealand came from outside – but this time from two different directions. One was the familiar phenomenon of the import challenging the established local product. The other was a challenge from a different and rather unexpected quarter, the indigenous people whose views and concerns returned from their exile on the fringes of society’s awareness to take up a more central position.

4. From the 1960’s to the End of the Century The variety and rapid pace of change during this period is well documented and there is no need to rehearse it here. A few pertinent comments will suffice. On the international scene, significant developments were multiculturalism, women’s liberation, the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council which encouraged ecumenism and dialogue with other churches and other faiths, the enormous increase in international travel and the wealth that this reflected, an explosion in the number of books and journals debating existing and new theories about the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, and electronic forms of communication. Those who had grown up during and after the war were able to pursue higher studies within this environment (now women as well as men). They formed the vanguard of scientific, critical scholarship from the 1960’s on. On the Australian scene, the government report on higher education in 1964 (the Martin Report) had a significant impact on theological studies. These were now judged to be topics that could be pursued in a critical manner by those inside and outside the confessional domains. The prospect of jobs and some government funding for students encouraged universities besides Sydney and Queensland to employ staff and commence degrees in theology and related disciplines. As one might expect, research in the biblical arena ranged wider than Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. For example, A. Crown at Sydney University specialised in Samaritan studies, M. Lattke at Queensland in the Odes of Solomon. Nor did all ventures turn out as initially expected; some theological departments were later considerably reduced or absorbed into humanities. Overall however, biblical studies in Australia and New Zealand have benefited considerably from the contribution of the universities. This period was also marked by the foundation of a number of Ecumenical colleges of divinity which obtained their accreditation via affiliation with a university or via a special act of parliament, as had happened in 1910 with the Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD). In New Zealand an affiliation was established in 1972 in Dunedin involving Otago University, Knox Theological Hall, Holy Cross College, Selwyn College and Glenleith Church of Christ College, while in Auckland the Auckland Consortium for Theologi30

Piggin, Evangelical Christianity (1996), 171. As understood by Piggin, the three key ingredients of the synthesis are the Spirit, the Word (Bible) and the world.

282

Mark A. O’Brien

cal Education (ACTE) was formed in 1985 by St. John the Evangelist College, Trinity Methodist College and Carey Baptist College. In 1988 the University of Auckland approved in principle the establishment of a Bachelor of Theology administered by a Joint Board of Studies between the university and ACTE. Prompted by developments at the Vatican Council, Catholic seminaries began moving from the outskirts into the cities and a number became affiliated with the colleges of divinity. The Australian Catholic Biblical Association (ACBA) was founded in the 1960’s with the aim of promoting the best of modern Biblical scholarship; it welcomes scholars from other churches. The Council of Christians and Jews was established in 1985 in Melbourne and in 1988 in Sydney and publishes the journal Gesher (Bridge). The spirit of cooperation reached across the Tasman with the establishment in 1968 of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools (ANZATS) and its journal Colloquium. In addition to these developments a home-grown Bible commentary was launched by the Lutheran church in Adelaide, to which J. Renner contributed a number of volumes on the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.31 Within this period one can trace the development and interaction of a variety of new and ‘old’ approaches to the study of the Bible. That earlier troublesome import – historical critical analysis – had by this time succeeded, except for a few pockets of remaining resistance, in colonising both countries. Writing in 1970, The New Zealander R. J. Thompson judged that the majority in the field favoured the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis for the composition of the Pentateuch.32 Not surprisingly, considerable variation had developed in the way historical critical analysis was applied. The Baptist scholar J. A. Thompson favoured a more cautious and conservative approach, exemplified in his well-respected commentaries on Deuteronomy and Jeremiah.33 A more vigorous promotion of German historical critical scholarship was the work of the Jesuit J. J. Scullion in the MCD and M. E. Andrew at Knox Theological Hall. Of particular note are Scullion’s translations of Westermann’s three-volume commentary on Genesis and Rendtorff’s Das überlieferungsgeschichtliche Problem des Pentateuch.34 Andrew, who studied under von Rad, worked with J. J. Stamm to translate Der Dekalog im Lichte der neueren Forschung.35 Biblical studies in America became increasingly influential in the second half of the twentieth century. F. I. Andersen, a specialist in Hebrew language, collaborated with David Noel Freedman in a number of commentaries for the Anchor Bible series.36 Within the MCD, another Jesuit, A. F. Campbell, combined German and American scholarship with a doctorate under Rolf Knierim at Claremont Graduate School.37 Campbell subsequently joined Knierim’s Forms of Old Testament Literature project (FOTL) and undertook the 31

Renner, Hosea (1979), Psalms (1980), Genesis (1984) and Jeremiah (1989). Thompson, Moses and the Law (1970). Thompson had earlier published an historical analysis of Penitence and Sacrifice in Early Israel (1963). 33 J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy (1974), The Book of Jeremiah (1980). 34 Scullion published commentaries on Genesis and Second-Isaiah: Genesis (1992), Isaiah 40–66 (1982). 35 Andrew/Stamm, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research (1967). 36 See the Anchor Bible commentaries on Hosea (1980), Amos (1989), Micah (2000). 37 Campbell, The Ark Narrative (1975). 32

The HBOT Studies in Twentieth Century Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

283

commentary on the books of Samuel. His research resulted in a new hypothesis of a ninth century BCE Prophetic Record as the foundational document for the books of Samuel and Kings.38 H. N. Wallace, completed his doctoral studies at Harvard while S. Boorer graduated from Emory university.39 This pool of internationally trained scholars began to attract students to undertake doctorates in Australian and New Zealand institutes. For example, a number have successfully completed and published doctoral dissertations under the supervision of Campbell.40 All these publications utilise historical critical analysis in varying degrees. As is well known, intense debate developed in late twentieth century Hebrew Bible / Old Testament study about the value of historical critical analysis and some of its leading hypotheses.41 The focus of attention shifted to the present text rather than its stages of composition and on the role of the reader rather than the author. E. Conrad, at Queensland University, has applied reader response theory to the study of Isaiah and Zechariah.42 The role of the reader has been taken up by feminist and post-colonial analysis to critique established interpretations and applications of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, particularly in relation to the indigenous populations of both countries. Andrew has published a number of works that explore how the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament can best be read in the New Zealand context.43 More specifically in relation to the Maori context, there are the publications of J. J. Lewis and B. Elsmore.44 J. McKinlay applied a feminist critique to the way in which a particular image of Wisdom was used in both Old and New Testaments.45 K. W. Carley, a specialist in Ezekiel, has extended the indigenous focus to the surrounding Polynesian and Melanesian contexts.46 From the early colonial period, Australian and New Zealand missionaries operated in the Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian islands. The impact of the Bible on a Polynesian reader, and vice versa, has been explored by J. Havea, the first doctoral scholar from Tonga, now lecturing at the United Theological College in Sydney.47 Turning to Australia, a vigorous promoter of contextual analysis of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament has been the Lutheran scholar N. Habel, based at the Adelaide College of Divinity which is affiliated with Flinders University. Habel

38

Of Prophets and Kings: A Late Ninth-Century Document (1986). Wallace, The Eden Narrative (1985); Boorer, The Promise of the Land as Oath (1992). O’Brien, The Deuteronomistic History Hypothesis (1989); Wynn-Williams, The State of the Pentateuch (1997); Hill, Friend or Foe? The Figure of Babylon in the Book of Jeremiah MT (1999). 41 In relation to this debate, Campbell and O’Brien contributed: Sources of the Pentateuch (1993) and Unfolding the Deuteronomistic History (2000); Brett, of Whitley College, contributed: Biblical Criticism in Crisis? (1991). 42 Conrad, Reading Isaiah (1991), Zechariah (1999). 43 See The Old Testament and New Zealand Theology (1982), Responding in Community: Reforming Religion in Aotearoa New Zealand (1990), The Old Testament in Aotearoa New Zealand (1999). 44 Lewis, Koru and Covenant: Reflections on Hebrew and Maori Spirituality in Aotearoa (1995), Elsmore, Like Them That Dream: The Maori and the Old Testament (1985), and Mana from Heaven (1999). 45 McKinlay, Gendering Wisdom the Host: Biblical Invitations to Eat and Drink (1996). 46 Carley, The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (1974), Ezekiel Among the Prophets (1975), Prophets Old and New (1977), 238–266. 47 Havea, The future stands between here and there: towards islandic hermeneutics (1995), 61–68, and Shifting the boundaries: house of God and the politics of reading (1996), 55–71. 39 40

284

Mark A. O’Brien

showed his ability to wield historical critical analysis in a 1985 commentary on the book of Job.48 Subsequent work with Aborigines led him to explore biblical notions of land and their application to Australia. This resulted in The Land is Mine – Six Biblical Land Ideologies and participation in Rainbow Spirit Theology, a work in which indigenous elders reflected on how they interpret the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament from within their cultures.49 Habel has undertaken to edit five volumes of The Earth Bible to be published by Sheffield Press. Contributors will analyse biblical texts from the perspective of one or more six ‘ecojustice principles’ that Habel and The Earth Bible team have articulated: they are the principles of intrinsic worth, interconnectedness, voice, purpose, mutual custodianship and resistance. The principle of custodianship draws on the politics of Aboriginal presence and land rights. An Earth Bible Commentary series is also proposed. M. Brett at Whitley Baptist College has engaged post-colonial analysis to study the impact of culture on the presentation and reception of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.50 R. Boer at Monash University in Melbourne is more eclectic, utilising a variety of current/post-modern approaches to critique past analyses and point a way to the future.51 These contributions from a variety of contextual and reader oriented perspectives are of course not unique to Australia and New Zealand; they are part of a much broader movement. Except for Havea and the Aboriginal elders in Rainbow Spirit Theology the studies listed are by authors of European stock. As with the earlier gender imbalance, it is hoped that this imbalance will be corrected in years to come. As one might expect, there are some churches, colleges and Hebrew Bible / Old Testament scholars who resist these new approaches. Loyalty to customary ways of reading the Bible is maintained; the age-old debate goes on as indeed it should. But there have been some significant developments in what mainstream Hebrew Bible / Old Testament scholarship would regard as the conservative wing. A number of the Bible Colleges have joined the ecumenical Colleges of Divinity established towards the end of the century. A major example is the Assembly of God / Pentecostal Southern Cross College that now has the single largest enrolment of students within the Sydney College of Divinity (SCD). As with the mainstream Protestant churches a century ago, there is a desire to obtain state recognised accreditation for their study programmes, a readiness to mix it in the supermarket of contemporary theological education but without losing their distinctive identity and loyalty.

48

Habel, The Book of Job (1985). The Land is Mine (1995); Rainbow Spirit Elders, Rainbow Spirit Theology: Towards an Aboriginal Theology (1998); see also: The Rainbow Spirit in Creation: A Reading of Genesis 1 (2000). 50 Brett, Ethnicity and the Bible (1996), and Genesis: Procreation and the Politics of Identity (2000). 51 Boer, Jameson and Jeroboam (1996), Novel Histories. The Fiction of Biblical Criticism (1997), and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (1999). 49

Chapter Thirty-five

Studies in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in Africa, Australia / New Zealand and Asia 35.3. Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Asia By Seiko¯ Sekine, Tokyo This essay presents an overview of the history and prospects of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Japan, South Korea, and China. The section on Japan is my own original work. For the section on South Korea, I have relied primarily on the English research results of Hyung-Won Lee (Professor of Korea Baptist Theological University/Seminary), and I have also received helpful suggestions from Heon Wook Park (Professor of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary) and Sang-Kook Lim (Assistant Professor of Methodist Theological Seminary, Seoul, Korea). At my request, Liu Ping (Assistant Professor of Fudan University, P. R. China) wrote the section on biblical studies in China. I am reproducing his work here with my own editorial modifications. Finally, J. Randall Short (Assistant Professor of Tokyo Christian University) assisted me with the English wording of the whole. I am deeply grateful to these friends for their cooperation. I alone, however, assume final responsibility for the present work.

1. Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Japan. 1.1. The Society for Old Testament Study in Japan and the Japanese Biblical Institute Bibliography: Annual of the Japanese Biblical Institute (Tokyo: Japanese Biblical Institute 1975–). – T. Ishida, The Royal Dynasties in Ancient Israel: A Study on the Formation and Development of Royal-Dynastic Ideology (BZAW 142; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1977); History and Historical Writing in Ancient Israel: Studies in Biblical Historiography (Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East 16; Leiden/Boston: Brill 1999). – P. Joüon/T. Muraoka, Hebrew/Aramaic Index to the Septuagint: Keyed to the Hatch-Redpath Concordance (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books 1998). – T. Muraoka (ed.), Melbourne Symposium on Septuagint Lexicography (Septuagint and Cognate Studies Series 28; Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press 1990); A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Subsidia Biblica 27; Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1991, 2006). – K. Kida, Kyuˉyaku seisho no chuˉshin [The Heart of the Old Testament] (Tokyo: Shinkyoˉ Shuppansha 1989); Heiwa no mokushi: kyuˉyaku seisho no heiwa shisoˉ [Revelation of Peace: Peace in Old Testament Thought] (Tokyo: Shinkyoˉ Shuppansha 1991); Kyuˉyaku seisho no yogen to mokushi: sono honshitsu to keifu [Prophecy and Revelation in the Old Testament: Its Essence and Genealogy] (Tokyo: Shinkyoˉ Shuppansha 1996).

286

Seiko¯ Sekine

– F. Kohata, Jahwist und Priesterschrift in Exodus 3–14 (BZAW 166; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1986); Kyuˉyakugaku kenkyuˉ [Old Testament Studies] (Mitaka: Society for Old Testament Study in Japan 2004–). – H. Miyamoto, Junan no imi: Aburahamu, Iesu, Pauro [The Meaning of Suffering: Abraham, Jesus, Paul] (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press 2006). – K. Nakazawa, Daini Izaya kenkyuˉ [Deutero Isaiah Studies] (Tokyo: Yamamoto Shoten 1962, 4th edn. 1977). – K. Namiki, Kodai Isuraeru to sono shuˉhen [Ancient Israel and its Environs] (Tokyo: Shinchi Shoboˉ 1979); Heburaizumu no ningen kankaku: “ko” to “kyoˉdoˉsei” no benshoˉhoˉ [Sense of Humanity in Hebraic Thought: The Dialectic of the “Individual” and “Communality”] (Tokyo: Shinkyoˉ Shuppansha 1997); Yobu-ki-ron shuˉsei [Studies on the book of Job] (Tokyo: Kyoˉbunkan 2003). – T. Odashima, Heilsworte im Jeremiabuch: Untersuchungen zu ihrer vordeuteronomistischen Bearbeitung (BWAT 125; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer ˉ sumi, Die Kompositionsgeschichte des Bundesbuches Exodus 20,22b–23,33 (OBO 105; 1989). – Y. O Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag/Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1991). – Seisho gaiten giten (Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha) (Tokyo: Kyoˉbunkan 1975–1982). – Seishogaku ronshuˉ [Japanese Biblical Institute] (Tokyo: Japanese Biblical Institute 1962–). – M. Sekine, Isuraeru shuˉkyoˉ bunkashi [Religious Cultural History of Israel] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 1952); Sekine Masao chosakushuˉ [Collected Works of Masao Sekine], 1–20 (Tokyo: Shinchi Shoboˉ 1979–1989). – S. Sekine, Die Tritojesajanische Sammlung (Jes 56–66) redaktionsgeschichtlich untersucht (BZAW 175; Berlin/ New York: de Gruyter 1989); Transcendency and Symbols in the Old Testament: A Genealogy of the Hermeneutical Experiences (BZAW 275; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1999); transl. of idem: Kyuˉyaku ni okeru choˉetsu to shoˉchoˉ: kaishakugaku-teki keiken no keifu (Tokyo: Tokyo UP 1994); A Comparative Study of the Origins of Ethical Thought: Hellenism and Hebraism (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield 2005); transl. of idem, Rinri shisoˉ no genryuˉ: Girishia to Heburai no baai (Tokyo: Hoˉsoˉ Daigaku Kyoˉiku Shinkoˉkai 2001); Kyuˉyaku seisho to tetsugaku: gendai no toi no naka no isshinkyoˉ [The Old Testament and Philosophy: Questioning Monotheism in the Modern World] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 2008); Shikai monjo: tekisuto no hon’yaku to kaisetsu [The Dead Sea Scrolls: Translation and Commentary] (Tokyo: Yamamoto Shoten 1963). – Y. Suzuki, Shinmeiki no bunkengaku-teki kenkyuˉ [Philological Studies of Deuteronomy] (Tokyo: Nihon Kirisuto Kyoˉdan Shuppankyoku 1987). – A. Tsukimoto, Untersuchungen zur Totenpflege (kispum) im alten Mesopotamien (AOAT 216; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker / Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag 1985).

The Society for Old Testament Study in Japan was established in 1933. It is the oldest of Japan’s academic societies related to scholarship on Christianity, and it has been ecumenical from the beginning. The foundation of HBOT studies in Japan was built upon and through this academic society, which, at the time, was comprised of approximately twenty HBOT scholars who came together for monthly meetings. The society’s regular meetings were frequently interrupted during World War II, not only because many of the members were called to serve in the military, but also because many of them were engaged in the translation and editing of the Japanese Colloquial Bible (Koˉgo-yaku seisho), which eventually replaced the Classical Japanese Bible (Bungo-yaku seisho). Regular meetings resumed after the war, and the society continued its monthly meetings until 1965, when it began holding its regular meetings twice a year. The society has remained active up to the present day, with approximately 150 members and the regular publication of the society’s journal, Kyuˉyakugaku kenkyuˉ [Old Testament Studies], since 2004. The society’s presidents have included Zenta Watanabe, Jun’ichi Asano, Yoshishige Sakon, Masao Sekine, Koˉki Nakazawa, Kiyoshi Sakon, Ken’ichi Kida, Toshiaki Nishimura, Koˉichi Namiki, and Akio Tsukimoto. Kiyoshi Sakon divided the history of the Society for Old Testament Study in Japan into four periods: (1) the cradle period, 1933–1950; (2) the formative period, 1950–1967; (3) the developmental period, 1967–1979; and (4) the reconstitution period, 1979–1988. If we accept this periodization, then we must

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies in Asia

287

now add (5) the redevelopment period, 1988–2000; and (6) the stability period, 2000–. The Japanese Biblical Institute (JBI) was founded in 1950 and has held regular monthly meetings up to the present day. In the typical meeting of JBI, one HBOT scholar and one New Testament scholar present the results of their research. Whereas the Society for Old Testament Study in Japan provides forums for the sharing of research among people whose interest in the Old Testament is largely related to their regional pastoral work, JBI is centered in Tokyo with the chief aim of promoting biblical research of a more academic nature. JBI has published Seishogaku ronshuˉ [Anthology of Biblical Studies] annually since 1962 (with a few exceptions), and, with the aim of reporting the research results of Japanese biblical scholarship to a global audience, it has published the Annual of the Japanese Biblical Institute (AJBI) every year since 1975. Japanese biblical scholarship has received some level of international recognition as a result. JBI has also stimulated interest in the Bible domestically through its translation and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1963, first edition) and the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (1975–1982, 7 volumes and 2 supplemental editions).1 Tsutomu ˉ nuki have served Oshio, Masao Sekine, Sasagu Arai, Ken’ichi Kida, and Takashi O as JBI’s directors. Currently, JBI has approximately seventy fellows and ninety members. I reviewed approximately eighty articles from thirty-five accessible volumes of Seishogaku ronshuˉ’s forty volumes from 1962 to 2008. In doing so, I categorized all the articles according to their hermeneutical methods and theological interests, and I identified the various western hermeneutical methods that have been applied and introduced by Japanese Old Testament scholars. For instance, many articles employ diachronic methods such as redaction criticism (six), form criticism (three), tradition criticism (six), and source criticism (three). Some follow synchronic methods such as literary criticism (one), rhetorical criticism (four), canonical criticism (one), and structural criticism (five); and some follow sociological methods (four). Many scholars adopt more than one of the above methodologies in a single article, and many others follow none of them, choosing, instead, to engage in comparative linguistics, case studies, overviews of research history, reflections on the very question of methodology, or archaeological inquiries.

1.2. Overview of International Research Achievements Now, the contributions of numerous individuals can be introduced. Masao Sekine was among the first Japanese HBOT scholars to interact with other biblical scholars at the international level. After receiving his Th.D. from Halle University for his dissertation Die Einzigkeit Gottes im Alten Testament (1944), M. Sekine returned to Japan, where he helped to forge the direction of HBOT

1

Shikai monjo [The Dead Sea Scrolls] (1963); Seisho gaiten giten [Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha] (1975–1982).

288

Seiko¯ Sekine

studies among his countrymen, partly in his capacity as director of the Japanese Biblical Institute from 1958 to 1988, and as president of the Society for Old Testament Study in Japan from 1970 to 1979. He twice gave lectures by invitation to the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT).

His representative work is Isuraeru shuˉkyoˉ bunkashi [Religious Cultural History of Israel], published in 1952; unfortunately, it has not been translated into any European languages. This monograph comprises five chapters: “Covenant”, “Law”, “the Problem of Culture”, “Prophets”, and “the Establishment of Judaism”. M. Sekine discusses these five themes while incorporating the latest results of Western biblical scholarship and, in particular, drawing on the sociological perspectives of M. Weber’s Ancient Judaism.2 M. Sekine finds it highly significant that, within Israel’s earliest twelve-tribe alliance, the relationship between Yahweh and Israel was understood as a “covenant”. The Torah was the law of the community founded upon this covenant. Israel developed into a monarchy in the settled land, but this brought problems of a secularized culture. It was the prophets who stood firmly within the stream of covenant ideology and criticized these cultural problems. The Babylonian exile brought the kingdom to its end, but after the exile, Israel rebuilt a theocratic state based not upon covenant but upon the Law. M. Sekine saw in this the establishment of Judaism as a religion of law, and, at the same time, it looked forward to the emergence of Christianity with the promise of a “new covenant”. M. Sekine’s contribution to Japan’s world of ideas related to the HBOT was enormous. His writings have been collected and published in twenty volumes, including the fresh and succinct perspective on the Old Testament introduced above, which he wrote as a younger man; many articles and commentaries on the Old Testament as well as his writings in a monthly magazine that he privately published as a minister of the Mukyoˉkai (“non-church”) movement. H