The Burden of Prophecy: Poetic Utterance in the Prophets of the Old Testament

By Albert Cook | Go to book overview

Notes

1. Introduction
1. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, eds., A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Based on the Lexicon of William Gesenius, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955, ad voc.
2. For an elaboration of the contrast between the prophets and poets of other traditions, see Albert Cook, "Prophecy and the Preconditions of Poetry," in Soundings, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991, 44-56.
3. As Roland de Vaux says, "The Israelites worshipped a personal God who intervened in history: Yahweh was the God of the Covenant. Their cult was not the re-enacting of myths about the origin of the world, as in Mesopotamia, nor of nature-myths, as in Canaan. It commemorated, strengthened or restored that Covenant which Yahweh had made with his people at a certain moment in history....It is important to stress that the Israelite cult was connected with history, not with myth" ( Ancient Israel, vol. 2, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965, 272).
4. George E. Mendenhall, "Ancient Oriental and Biblical Law," in The Biblical Archeological Reader 3, ed. Edward E Campbell and David Noel Freedman, New York: Anchor, 1970, 21, 6-8. He also explains that

Religious and legal obligations were not so closely identified in Israelite religion. This is to say that an act contrary to the will of the deity will be punished in ways which vary, of course, depending upon the concepts of divine action held by the community. Since the punitive acts of a god tend to be natural calamities such as plague, drought, and famine which strike the entire community, religious sanctions tend at least to reinforce, if not to produce, the concept of corporate responsibility which is a characteristic of the early stages of legal thought in the ancient world. Religious obligations tend then to become legal obligations, for the community will feel compelled to punish in order to protect itself from the divine wrath which does not single out the culprit alone for punishment. (4-5)

5. Mendenhall, "Ancient Oriental,"16.
6. George E. Mendenhall, "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine," in Campbell and Freedman, eds., Biblical Archeological Reader 3, 109-10. Mendenhall continues:

But the state could not create the biblical norms of personal relationships by power alone, and when the preservation of the state became the primary concern of official political and religious leaders, the exercise of power, unrestrained except by opposing power, became dominant, and the prophets had to predict its destruction.... Early Israel thus cannot be understood within the framework of traditional academic ideas about a primitive society gradually becoming urbanized, and therefore civilized. Its very beginnings involved a radical rejection of Canaanite religious and political ideology, especially the divine authority underlying the political institutions, and the Canaanite concept of religion as essentially a phenological cultic celebration

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