Tag Archives: prophecy

Prophecy and Apocalyptic Annotated Bibliography

IBR bibliography

As any student can attest, research can be a difficult but rewarding venture. My research generally follows a common pattern: after my own exegetical work, I begin the task of gathering “conversation partners” (ie. sources). This step can often be daunting for those new to a particular field or even new to the research process itself. Questions like “what if I leave out some authoritative source?” or “has my topic been exhaustively covered in some old monograph somewhere?” can often plague the minds of a careful researcher. For this reason it is good to have some “go-to” resources handy.

One such resource for me is the IBR (Institute of Biblical Research) bibliography series. The purpose of these works is to compile and evaluate works in a particular field of biblical studies (Pentateuch, Jesus, Old Testament Introduction, New Testament Theology, ect.) in an easily accessible format for the student or researcher.

I have greatly benefitted particularly from the volume on Prophecy and Apocalyptic, compiled by D. Brent Sandy and Daniel M. O’Hare. This book is a wealth of information on the background, literary features, and interpretive issues in prophetic/apocalyptic literature.

The bibliography is divided into two sections (Prophecy and Apocalyptic), with each section further arranged by resources on: 1) Information and Orientation; 2) Definition and Identification; 3) Conception and Communication; 4) Composition and Compilation (Prophetic section only); and 5) Transmission and Interpretation. Each segment contains lists of important works, summarized by the authors with the major contribution of the work identified.

One additional benefit for most students will be the emphasis on literature in English. While many significant works on prophecy have originated in German and French, the authors focus on books published , or at least translated, into English. For those who have not brushed on their research languages, this feature can save time while simultaneously sparing you the guilt of omitting works that appear important but are not accessible. We all know that Google Translate can only take you so far.

Of course, as with any work of this nature, the book can be outdated before it was even released. Since its publication in 2007, more research has been done in each area addressed by the volume. Regardless, the resources included in this bibliography provide a good starting point for a researcher. Gaining a handle of the standard works on a particular topic is always a good starting place. There is no doubt that, in some cases, this work can save students and researchers alike a significant amount of time performing complex database searches and shelf browsing. As I once read in a review of another monograph, “if this resource is not on your shelf, it is in the wrong place.”

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Did Amos See a Plumbline?

plumbline

I read  a recent post making some notes on Amos 7:7-17. Although there is much I would care to comment on, one issue in particular caught my attention. As with the author of this particular post, most Bible translations render the Amos 7:7 something like the NASB: “Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand” (An exception appears in the NET Bible). While the idea of a “plumbline,” appearing four times in vv. 7-8, has become a cherished image (not to mention a controlling feature of many sermons!), I want to join those who raise a red flag on this translation.

As many commentators note, the Hebrew noun אֲנָךְ is woefully ambiguous. A host of interpretive renditions and emendations have been put forward, but no degree of consensus has emerged. The widely adopted “plumbline” has its roots in the Akkadian cognate annaku “tin,” which some view as interchangeable with the metal lead. The latter became the standard interpretation following Medieval exegesis. The logic of this interpretation is that the metal lead by metonymy represents a lead weight ie. a plumbline. The idea that this noun represented some type of metallic object is supported by several ancient versions such as the Old Greek and Symmachus (ἀδάμας “steel”?), Theodotion (τηκόμενον “molten”), as well as the Peshitta and Vulgate.

Yet is “plumbline” really what Amos envisioned? Granted, it does fit the context. Yet against this view is the analysis of Landsberger (“Tin and Lead: The Adventures of Two Vocables.” JNES 24 [1965]: 285-96″) and others, who have shown that אֲנָךְ cannot be understood as “lead,” and thus cannot mean plumbline. While one need not except Landsberger’s conclusions that “tin” is the preferred translation, we can agree that the Medieval interpretation itself stands on shaky ground.

I do not in anyway want to overly simply the text-critical problem in this passage, but I do want to voice a caution. Whether a clear alternative will win the votes of scholars is not likely. Indeed, plumbline may be here to stay. Yet, I would be hesitant to make too much of this point.

The focus of the vision is the inevitability of judgment for Israel. Yahweh will no longer pass by the people as he did for the exodus generation (v. 8b). Their guilt was self evident even without a plumbline. The idolatries of the high places and foreign sanctuaries were ripe for judgment and were destined for the same end as their chief patron, the king. Whatever Amos saw, he recognized it as an means of retribution. One that would do its work until Yahweh saw fit to rebuild fallen the booth of David (9:11).

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Prophets, Prophecy, and Ancient Israelite Historiography

BODPROPHE

I was just alerted to a forthcoming book entitled, Prophets, Prophecy, and Ancient Israelite Historiography, published by Eisenbrauns. This book  purports to explore the relationship of the prophetic phenomenon in ancient Israel as it intersects with Jewish historiography.  

The book includes contributions by 18 members of the Canadian Society for Biblical Studies, exploring a wide range of texts and issues. Though the primary focus of the work is on biblical literature, one of the chapters investigates the animal apocalypse (1 Enoch 83-90).

The chapter addressing the Book of the Twelve is authored by Grace Ko. I am otherwise unfamiliar with Ko’s work, but as the title seems to indicate (“The Ordering of the Twelve as Israel’s Historiography”), the order of the Twelve will be brought to bear on the issue of Jewish historiography.

This book intrigues me for a couples of reasons, the first of which is its contributors. Any monograph edited by Mark J. Boda can quickly be found towards the top of my wish list. His work on the Twelve, particularly Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, has been of the upmost help to my own research. I was able to briefly dialogue with Dr. Boda at ETS this year, and he proved himself to be a gracious and humble man. He has since pointed me to several monographs that he thought would be helpful in the study of the Twelve.

Another point of interest in this work is the question of prophecy and historiography itself, an area that is certainly in need of further work. Hopefully, this book will further our understanding in this field.

You can find the table of contents here.

 

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Did Isaiah Directly Predict the Virgin Birth?

The Christmas season is filled with many holiday traditions and religious celebrations, including the visit of many to churches for annual Christmas Eve services. In the mix of homilies and seasonal sermons, one text that often is cited is the prophecy of Isaiah 7, said to be fulfilled by the virgin birth in Matthew 1:23. Yet when reading the original context of Isaiah 7, many have had trouble with Matthew’s claim that it was indeed a prophecy, as the birth of the child originally functions to reassure the king in his particular state of distress over the threat of invasion.

While there are staunch defenders of the view that Matthew is claiming a direct fulfillment of Isaiah’s predictive prophecy, others have understood the passage differently. What is in question is not the virgin birth, which is a necessary component of the Christian gospel, but rather Matthew’s hermeneutical appropriation of the Old Testament.

Jim Hamilton, professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has argued that what Matthew envisioned in employing a fulfillment formula is not a “direct” fulfillment, but rather a typological fulfillment. I have found this article to be largely persuasive, and in the spirit of Christmas have linked to it below.

http://www.swbts.edu/resources//SWBTS/Resources/FacultyDocuments/Hamilton/TheVirginWillConceive.7_19_05.pdf

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