According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reviews of Konrad Schmid's "A Literary History of the Old Testament" - How the OT was Compiled

 
 
When did the Old Testament become the Old Testament?
(a crash course in the form of a chart)
Author: Konrad Schmid
* * * * * * * * * *
 
 
A Review of:
The Old Testament: A Literary History
Written by Konrad Schmid
Translated by Linda M. Maloney
 
 
by Trent C. Butler
Gallatin, Tennessee
 
RBL 08/2013
 
Schmid is professor of Old Testament Studies and Jewish History at the University of Zurich. Fortress Press has served Old Testament studies a great favor by issuing this translation of a book that should be in every theological library and on the reading list of every person doing research in the field of Hebrew Bible. Schmid’s literary-history approach builds on only a few predecessors, as he shows in his history of research section.
 
Schmid sets out his task and purpose quite clearly. “Literary history is an attempt to present and interpret literary works not simply in themselves but in their various contexts, linkages, and historical development” (1). He “deals with the presuppositions, backgrounds, processes, and intertextualities making up the literary history of the Old Testament.” (xi) To do so, he sets himself an even more arduous task, working with whatever consensus recent scholarship, at least European scholarship, has reached in dealing with pentateuchal origins, the unifying elements of the Book of the Twelve, the nature of scribal or literary prophecy, and the questioning of the Deuteronomistic History, to name a few.
 
Literary history explores the linkages among texts both as contemporary dialogue partners and as tradents interpreting the diachronic interpretations of tradition. Following the literary history rather than the canonical order differentiates literary history from introduction to the Old Testament.
 
Methodologically, Schmid isolates three layers of work: (1) literary-historical epochs (pre-Assyrian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Ptolemaic, and Seleucid); (2) literary types (cultic\wisdom, narrative, prophetic, legal); and (3) concrete literary works. Much of the literary material has both oral and written prehistories as well as posthistories, since the material is basically “traditional literature.” No longer does one point to a JEPD Pentateuch but rather to limited sources dealing with Abraham and Lot, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. These limited narrative horizons were joined together into the larger theological narratives only in the exilic or early postexilic period. Similarly, prophetic studies have turned to a literary posthistory of the sayings, with redactors seen as writing prophets whose work needs to be studied in its own right. Finally, Psalms study has also turned to the written book whose arrangement shows theological emphases in “a carefully structured literary whole” (29).
 
Corollary to this for Schmid is that “not a single book of the Bible has come down to us in its pre-exilic form.”(12) Beyond this, the Old Testament preserves only a portion of Israel’s literary output, limiting one’s material for comparison and conversation. In reality, “the literary history of the Old Testament  treats those texts that survived as texts available for use in the Jerusalem Temple school that later were recognized as sacred Scripture.” (15)
 
Schmid’s literary history begins, then, with a quite different piece of literature than either evangelicalism or classic critical scholarship has advocated. The Old Testament books have (1) no salvation history frame, (2) no “early source,” (3) a new understanding of Deuteronomism, (4) a new convergence between Israel’s monarchic religion(s) and that of their neighbors, (5) new importance of literary shaping in the exilic and postexilic eras, and (6) roots in scribal interpretation rather than in individual religious geniuses (29–30). With this understanding of the available text, Schmid chooses to deal with a text in the period of its first literary formation.
 
Texts were products of ninth-century and later writers who belonged to a narrow circle able to write, the majority of the population being illiterate. Very few copies of a book were produced, with the Jerusalem library being important in production and preservation. Scribes wrote the Old Testament literature for scribes: “the audience was essentially identical with the authors themselves.” (38)
 
Schmid begins the actual literary history by looking at Israelite literature’s beginning at the time of the Syro-Palestinian city-states in the tenth to eighth centuries. Schmid erases the Davidic/Solomonic empire and its great literary creations. That the historical David and Solomon produced written documents is no more than probable. Israel began “extensive literary production” in the ninth century and Judah in the eighth (51).
 
A history of biblical literature begins under the Assyrians, giving Israel its own cultural and religious identity. The reign of Manasseh (696–642) becomes the flowering of Old Testament literature. Josiah (639–609) apparently gave Judah control of the Bethel traditions. (68) Four theological streams emerged:

(1) accusing king and people, not God, for defeats (prophets and kings);
(2) literary legends of origins without a king (Moses/exodus, judges);
(3) upholding the ideal of the monarchy (Psalms, wisdom); and,
(4) anti-Assyrian concepts transferred loyalty against Assyria and to God (Deuteronomy covenant).

Written law as in the Book of the Covenant was differentiated from ethics and gave rise to written wisdom. Narrative literature in Samuel and Kings focused on individual figures. God’s intervention becomes dependent on the right action of kings. This is expressed in language akin to Deuteronomy, a linguistic style reaching down to Daniel and Baruch. Israel’s ongoing written prophecies stand without parallel and appear under the monarchy whose messenger forms they use.
 
We are stimulated and challenged to new study by this approach to study of the Hebrew Bible. If only the work could incorporate and enter into conversation with a wider range of scholars outside Europe and outside those so totally devoted to Europe’s form of redaction criticism. We look forward to updated forms of this literature pioneer.
 
Schmid organizes by chapters, each one after the opening introductions and historical reviews follows the same pattern. The chapter title is a time period each with historical backgrounds and theological characteristics followed by a classification of the literature first developing in that time period. The literature is divided by types: cult and wisdom, narrative, prophetic, and legal. The following table attempts to summarize his analysis.
 
 
 

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