The School Tradition of the Old Testament: The Bampton Lectures for 1994

By E. W. Heaton | Go to book overview

VIII Belief and Behaviour

1 Elihu

The schoolmen of the Old Testament were never tempted to engage in the academic pursuit of systematic theology, but, as we have seen, they did worry about the goodness of God. Although this problem arose from their everyday experience and not from theoretical speculation, they did their best to think it through and make a rational response. We have a particularly good example of their efforts in the discourse of Elihu in the book of Job. 1 These six chapters were a late addition to the Job material made by an angry young man—a teacher who (as a prefatory note tells the reader) 'became . . . angry because Job had made himself out to be more righteous than God, and angry with his three friends because they had found no answer to Job and so let God appear wrong'. 2

The young Elihu's pert self-confidence in lecturing his elders and betters has not, on the whole, commended him to professors of the Old Testament. In consequence, they have been inclined to overlook the representative significance of his exposition, as illustrating an enlightened version of the current orthodoxy of the schools. Even if distinctly humourless, his approach is that of a thoughtful man:

Let us then examine for ourselves what is right;
let us together establish the true good. 3
I shall search far and wide to support my conclusions,
as I ascribe justice to my Maker.
There are, I claim, no flaws in my reasoning;
before you stands one whose conclusions are sound. 4

-159-

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The School Tradition of the Old Testament: The Bampton Lectures for 1994
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The School Tradition of the Old Testament iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgement ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • I- a Jerusalem School Inspected 1
  • II- Schools and Libraries 24
  • III- School-Books from Egypt 45
  • IV- Education in Wisdom 65
  • V- Prophets and Teachers 93
  • VI- Story-Writers 115
  • VII- Honest Doubters 137
  • VIII- Belief and Behaviour 159
  • IX- Retrospect 183
  • Chronological Tables 191
  • Index of Biblical References 195
  • Index of Subjects 204
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