1.1 (2012)

Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 1.1 (2012)

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“Does Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible Demonstrate an Evolution from Polytheism to Monotheism in Israelite Religion?” by MICHAEL S. HEISER

ABSTRACT: The title of this essay raises a question that is quite current, though the question it raises might sound strange to evangelicals who specialize in fields other than the ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible. The present currency of the question derives not only from nineteenth century critical scholarship that many evangelicals consider methodologically suspect, but from the text of the Hebrew Bible and archaeological discoveries in ancient Syria and Canaan. The focus of this contribution is on the former. Certain sets of assumptions brought to the biblical text that contribute significantly to manufacturing interpretive problems that allegedly compel the idea that Israelite religious evolved toward monotheism. The first set of assumptions concerns the phenomenon of divine plurality in the Hebrew text; the second involves an argument for divine plurality that is imported into the text. I will address both in order.

Key Words: Monotheism, Evolution, Divine Names

“Deuteronomy and de Wette: A Fresh Look at a Fallacious Premise” by EUGENE H. MERRILL

ABSTRACT: The premise to be re-evaluated here is that Deuteronomy, in part or in its entirety, was the product of pious scribes of the Divided Monarchy period, who, recipients of certain oral and perhaps fragmentary written traditions, were intent on delivering Israel from political, social, and religious disintegration. They therefore integrated their sources and composed the book, attributing it to Moses and thus investing it with authority necessary to address in most specific terms the circumstances that threatened the existence of the covenant community.

Keywords: Deuteronomy, W. M. L. de Wette, Divided Monarchy, Moses, Authorship

“A Narrative Reading of Solomon’s Execution of Joab in 1 Kings 1 – 2: Letting Story Interpret Story” by JOEL E. ANDERSON

The morally problematic story in 1 Kings 1–2 of Solomon’s rise to power—particularly his execution of Joab—has troubled scholars for years. Such questionable brutality seems to fly in the face of the commonly held picture of young king Solomon as a wise and godly ruler. This problem reflects not so much a problem with the text or history itself, but rather with our reading and understanding of both Solomon and the text itself. Perhaps the most significant contribution narrative criticism has had on the field of biblical studies is its stress on allowing the story itself to shape our understanding of the people and events in question. The events of 1 Kings 1–2, in actuality, serve both as the conclusion to David’s reign and the introduction to Solomon’s reign. Therefore, given the fact that Solomon’s stated reasons for killing Joab hearken back to earlier episodes concerning Abner and Amasa, the story itself impels us to interpret the circumstances surrounding Joab’s death in the light of those of Abner and Amasa. When we do that, we find numerous literary clues in the text that help shape our understanding of both Solomon’s actions and the state of the kingdom itself.

Key Words: Narrative, Literary Reading, Solomon, Joab

“Divorce and Remarriage in Deuteronomy 24:1 – 4″ by TODD SCACEWATER

Deuteronomy 24:1–4 records the only law in Deuteronomy on remarriage and has generated much discussion on the enigmatic phrase “nakedness of a thing” (24:1) as well as the purpose for the creation of the law. Yet, the long discussion on the purpose for the creation of the law seems to have been misguided. Scholars have confused the rationale behind the law with the purpose for the creation of the law. In seeking the purpose of the law, interpreters have sought the meaning of “nakedness of a thing” and the rationale behind labeling the woman’s actions an “abomination” (24:4). They have ignored the explicitly stated purpose of the law in verse 4. The primary concern of this law on divorce and remarriage is to protect the covenant relationship between Israel and Yahweh, thereby protecting Israel’s position in their inherited land of Canaan. While the rationale behind the law is important for biblical ethics, the purpose for the law contributes to the Deuteronomic theme of blessing and curse as it relates to Israel’s covenantal obedience.

Key Words: Divorce, Remarriage, Adultery, Law, Covenant, Deuteronomy

“Critical Biblical Theology in a New Key A Review Article by JOHN F. HOBBINS

Der Gott der Lebendigen/God of the Living, co-authored by Hermann Spieckermann and Reinhard Feldmeier, succeeds in its attempt to demonstrate the value of writing a theology in which God’s attributes as described in biblical literature are the point of departure. The volume pays attention to commonalities and differences across the components of the canon. The authors conclude that the New Testament does not correct or relativize the witness to God of the Old Testament but “thickens” and particularizes it. The God who constantly gives life anew in the OT finds a congenial interpretation in the word and deed and cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The review essay nonetheless points out that this biblical theology fails to come to grips with biblical descriptions of God’s interaction with other beings of immense power, and fails to present a systematic exposition of the remedies God pursues to put an end to spirals of human violence. Three topics are singled out for extended discussion: vicarious suffering, forensic justification, and atonement. The shortcomings of the English edition of Der Gott der Lebendigen are judged significant enough to warrant a reissue in a corrected and more user-friendly version.

Keywords: biblical theology, God’s attributes (middot), transcendent evil, wrath, mercy, vicarious suffering, forensic justification, atonement

Book Reviews

Basics of Biblical Aramaic: Complete Grammar, Lexicon, and Annotated Text by Miles Van Pelt (Reviewed by D. R. Watson)

A Brief Guide to the Hebrew Bible by Hans M. Barstad (Reviewed by J. West)

The Character of Christian Scripture by Christopher R. Seitz (Reviewed by K. Capps)

A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Lamentations by R. B. Salters (Reviewed by S. J. Park)

David and His Theologian: Literary, Social, and Theological Investigations of the Early Monarchy by Walter Brueggemann (Reviewed by M. Rogland)

Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets edited by Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville (Reviewed by D. Wu)

Disempowered King: Monarchy in Classical Jewish Literature by Yair Lorberbaum (Reviewed by D. Diffey)

Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary by Victor P. Hamilton (Reviewed by D. Stuart)

Festive Meals in Ancient Israel: Deuteronomy’s Identity Politics in their Ancient Near Eastern Context by Peter Altmann (Reviewed by M. Hamilton)

Key Questions about Biblical Interpretation: Old Testament Answers by John Goldingay (Reviewed by I. German)

Laws in Early Rabbinic Collections: The Legal Legacy of the Ancient Near East by Samuel Greengus (Reviewed by S. J. Andrews)

The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls edited by Timothy H. Lim and John J. Collins (Reviewed by K. S. Baek)

Psalms as Torah: Reading the Biblical Song Ethically by Gordon J. Wenham (Reviewed by R. J. Cook)

Presence, Power and Promise: The Role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament edited by David G. Firth and Paul D. Wegner (Reviewed by J. Spencer)

The World of Achaemenid Persia: History, Art and Society in Iran and the Ancient Near East edited by John Curtis and St John Simpson (Reviewed by R. M. Fox)