Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel

By Michael Fishbane | Go to book overview

Deals with conclusions to this part, taking up such matters as genre and mantic type; and esoteric and exoteric exegesis. The bearing of mantological exegesis on the issue of revelation is considered, along with broad considerations of the topic of traditum and traditio. Such matters as the socio-historical context of mantological exegesis, as well as the literary context and mental matrix of this phenomenon are all dealt with.

Epilogue:

Returns to several topics considered in the opening introduction, such as the nature of an exegetical culture, or ongoing chains of native ancient Israelite tradition, and the emergence of classes and techniques to interpret the received traditions of various types. Some final considerations are added on the following topics: innovative and continuous revelations; pseudonymous and pseudepigraphic exegesis; attributive; pseudo-attributive, and non-attributive exegesis; and revealed or inspired exegesis. Final remarks are made about textual and religious authority.


19 Conclusions

A. The foregoing analysis of mantology in ancient Israel was sub-divided into two categories: the interpretation of dreams, omens, and visions, on the one hand; and the interpretation and reinterpretation of oracles, on the other. Significantly, both of these categories showed a remarkable degree of formal and procedural coherence — internally, with respect to the biblical materials themselves, and externally, with respect to the broader Near Eastern Tradentenkreis and its forms and technical procedures.

Among the most salient features of the biblical mantology of dreams, omens, and visions is their symbolic and esoteric character. Accordingly, the variously envisaged phenomena required decoding for their ominous meaning to become clear. This was achieved in several ways. On the one hand, particularly with respect to dreams and omens, the mediating interpreter was a wise man, like Joseph and Daniel, who was brought to the receiver of the imagery and then provided the solution. But even within this type there is an expressed acknowledgement by the interpreter, or his clientele, that the solution benefited from divine inspiration (cf. Gen. 41: 25, 32-3; Dan. 2: 28, 4: 5-6, 5: 11-12, 14). Human wisdom is thus not solely a characteristic achieved through experience and insight, but a divine gift as well. In these cases the wise man does not receive the divine revelation directly, but once contacted he knows what to make of it. 1

The pivotal position of a mediating interpreter is also to be found in connection with the mantology of visions — although here a clear distinction can be observed between the pre-exilic and post-exilic data. In the former, as exemplified by shared patterns in the Books of Amos and Jeremiah, the prophet-receiver of the vision or imagery is directly informed of its meaning by the addressing divine voice. Here, then,

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