Bie Ungeduld des Papiers: Studien zum alttestamentlichen Verstandnis des Schreibens anhand des Verbums katab im Kontext administrativer Vorgange, by Thomas Schaack. BZAW 262. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter,1998. Pp. x + 382. DM 198.00.
This volume is a 1997 dissertation completed at Christian-Albrechts-Universitat, Kiel, under the direction of Herbert Dormer. The major concern of the study is the levels of contextual meaning implied by the use of writing in a restricted selection of biblical texts. The understanding of the production of written texts in the general populace of the writer, the writers' immediate circles, the (various) readers, the understood characters of the narratives as both written actors and traditional figures, as well as the assorted Jewish and Christian traditions that take up the texts as sacred (or early on, not even as sacred) revelation, provides numerous contexts from which to consider "writing." The book is therefore clearly not a word study of the verb ktb, but a study of the purposes of writing itself as it appears as a constituent of biblical narrative. In this, numerous parallel and related words in Hebrew and cognate words in Aramaic (and other languages) are also investigated.
Intensive consideration is given to the composition, contents, and use of written documents in 2 Sam 11; 1 Kgs 21; 2 Kgs 10; 2 Chr 30; Ezra 1; 2; 4; and Dan 6:26-28, in addition to the major section of the work devoted to the book of Esther. Two excursuses deal with signet seals (meaning and authority) and Second Testament era texts (Gospels, Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.). For all biblical passages attention is paid to the variant wording (and its possible significance) appearing in manuscript traditions and in early translations, including Greek, Aramaic, and Syriac.
Generally, it is noted that writing distinguishes characters in the narratives. While dividing those who are literate from those who are not would be obvious, the production of texts reflects positions of power over against positions of duty, service, and powerlessness. This use of writing allows for the narrative presentation of documents to illustrate the manipulation of text for corrupt governance and self promotion. The use of written documents (letters, proclamations, laws) not only shows the use/abuse of authority but itself displays the very position of authority claimed by the writer for particular characters (as in the literary Persian decrees instigated by first Haman and then Mordecai). The self-identification of written material (both within a given narrative and by the author of any given narrative) also plays a part in the use of narrative-provided/produced documents to define "others" and entire groups of assorted collections of people.
The passages in Samuel and Kings have a particular interest in the division between the oral world and the written. It is primarily in the display of this division that the power of the ruling monarch for good and evil is played out, revealing what these ruling characters write or have written for them that the characters living in an oral world cannot know. …