The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 February 2023) | Viewed by 15873

Special Issue Editors

School of Divinity, The University of Edinburgh, Mound Place, Edinburgh EH1 2LX, UK
Interests: history of literature and theology of the Hebrew Bible; prophetic literature; Book of Psalms; bib-lical interpretation; resilience studies; Qumran literature

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Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Interests: history of literature and theology of the Hebrew Bible; Pentateuch; former prophets; Book of Exodus; Jewish literature of the Second Temple period

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research in the last two decades has consolidated the insight that the formation of the Hebrew Bible has a complex history extending across centuries. Despite the recent differentiation among synchronic approaches to the texts, the historical-critical perspective has proved indispensable for scholarship intending to employ the biblical texts for the study of the theology and literature of Ancient Israel and early Judaism. The Special Issue reviews the current state of research and explores the connections between the history of theology and history of literature in the Hebrew Bible. You are invited to submit both methodological contributions and case studies from all parts of the biblical writings. Additionally, we welcome studies offering insights from neighbouring disciplines, such as Qumran studies and the study of Second Temple Judaism.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially offer a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send these to the guest editors: (Dr Anja Klein: [email protected]; Prof. Dr Christoph Berner:[email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring their proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Dr. Anja Klein
Prof. Dr. Christoph Berner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • history of theology
  • history of literature
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Old Testament
  • historical-critical perspective

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

10 pages, 811 KiB  
Article
Balaam’s God(s): Divine Designations in Num 22–24
by Anna Elise Zernecke
Religions 2023, 14(8), 967; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14080967 - 26 Jul 2023
Viewed by 956
Abstract
The biblical figure of Balaam is ambivalent in many ways, including his religious affiliation. In the attestations of the Balaam tradition within the Hebrew Bible, different conceptions of this literary character are sometimes blended, sometimes unconnected. In the prose of Num 22–24, he [...] Read more.
The biblical figure of Balaam is ambivalent in many ways, including his religious affiliation. In the attestations of the Balaam tradition within the Hebrew Bible, different conceptions of this literary character are sometimes blended, sometimes unconnected. In the prose of Num 22–24, he is portrayed as a worshipper of YHWH and even confers with him nightly, albeit being a stranger from far away. In the oracles, a variety of divine designations is used without apparent reason, while the prose alternates between YHWH and Elohim only. The article focuses on the third and fourth oracles (Num 24:3–9, 15–19) and explores their use of divine designations against the backdrop of Num 22–24. The variation can be interpreted as a stylistic feature, literary conception, spoil from different religious traditions, and/or theological statement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
14 pages, 2536 KiB  
Article
How Pesaḥ and Maṣṣot Became Connected with the Exodus: The Development of the Festival Etiologies in Exod. 12:1–13:16
by Christoph Berner
Religions 2023, 14(5), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14050605 - 5 May 2023
Viewed by 1854
Abstract
The connection between the festival of Pesaḥ-Maṣṣot and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt is a cornerstone of Jewish identity and religious practice which has its roots in the festival calendars of the Pentateuch (Exod. 12–13; Exod. 23; Lev. 23; Deut. 16). However, a [...] Read more.
The connection between the festival of Pesaḥ-Maṣṣot and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt is a cornerstone of Jewish identity and religious practice which has its roots in the festival calendars of the Pentateuch (Exod. 12–13; Exod. 23; Lev. 23; Deut. 16). However, a closer investigation shows that the texts in question differ considerably both with respect to the characteristics of the festival and its etiological connection with the exodus. The present paper focuses particularly on the complex, and in parts contradictory, festival ordinances in Exod. 12:1–13:16 and argues that the present form of the passage results from a multi-step process of supplementation and revision. In this process, the once separate festivals of Pesaḥ and Maṣṣot were gradually merged to a single celebration which, in turn, led to various adjustments of their etiological connection to the events of the exodus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
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10 pages, 785 KiB  
Article
Between History and Theology—Zerubbabel and Nehemiah as Governors of Judah from the Perspective of Literary History
by Sarah Schulz
Religions 2023, 14(4), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040531 - 14 Apr 2023
Viewed by 4494
Abstract
Hag/Zech 1–8 and Ezr/Neh have in common that they are often rated as primary sources when it comes to the development of Second Temple Judaism(s). Consequently, it is mostly assumed that the Persian governors of Judah (like the Persian kings) significantly contributed to [...] Read more.
Hag/Zech 1–8 and Ezr/Neh have in common that they are often rated as primary sources when it comes to the development of Second Temple Judaism(s). Consequently, it is mostly assumed that the Persian governors of Judah (like the Persian kings) significantly contributed to the (re-)formation of the Jewish community in Jerusalem after the exile: Zerubbabel built the temple, Nehemiah the wall of Jerusalem. As a rule of thumb, literary analysis within these books, if applied at all, is less critical than elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. However, a literary critical approach gives rise to serious doubts about the historic reliability of these accounts. Based on a literary critical analysis of the relevant texts from Hag/Zech 1–8 and Neh, this article aims to show that it is only in the course of redaction history that the office of governor of Judah is ascribed to both individuals. Thus, the attribution of the office of governor to them reflects theological interests and concerns in the early Second Temple Period rather than the historical reality. As the texts not only attribute aspects of royal leadership to Zerubbabel and Nehemiah as governors of Judah, but also present the holders of a Persian office as custodians of Jewish interests (temple and Torah), it will be argued that the texts contribute to the political and religious reorganization of Judaism and, thus, to the formation of a collective Jewish identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
16 pages, 831 KiB  
Article
The Titles of the High Priest of Jerusalem in the Pre-Hasmonean Period
by Christophe Nihan
Religions 2023, 14(4), 529; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040529 - 14 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1320
Abstract
This article studies the main titles documented for the high priest of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible as well as in a few other sources from the Persian and Hellenistic periods. In dialogue with recent scholarship on the topic, particularly an important article [...] Read more.
This article studies the main titles documented for the high priest of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible as well as in a few other sources from the Persian and Hellenistic periods. In dialogue with recent scholarship on the topic, particularly an important article by Noam Mizrahi it argues that the title הכהן הגדול (ha-kohēn ha-gādôl), “high” or “great priest” probably originates in the late monarchic period (seventh century BCE), but only became the standard designation for the high priest during the fifth century BCE. An alternative title, כהן הראש (kohēn ha-ro’š), “head” or “chief” priest, was introduced in Chronicles and other writings in order to designate the high priests of the preexilic period specifically. Finally, a third title, המשיח (ha-kohēn ha-māšîaḥ), “the anointed priest”, was used for some time in priestly circles as part of a bid to transfer a key royal attribute (anointment) to the high priest of Jerusalem, but was eventually replaced with the more standard designation הכהן הגדול. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
11 pages, 802 KiB  
Article
Mesopotamian Synchronistic Chronography and the Book of Kings
by Kristin Weingart
Religions 2023, 14(4), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040448 - 27 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1359
Abstract
The Book of Kings uses a particular synchronistic framework to present the parallel histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in 1 Kings 14–2 Kings 17. Some Ancient Near Eastern chronographic compositions (synchronistic king lists, the Neo-Babylonian chronicle, the so-called Synchronistic History) [...] Read more.
The Book of Kings uses a particular synchronistic framework to present the parallel histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in 1 Kings 14–2 Kings 17. Some Ancient Near Eastern chronographic compositions (synchronistic king lists, the Neo-Babylonian chronicle, the so-called Synchronistic History) also record chronological relationships between ruler sequences in neighboring kingdoms. This paper distinguishes between synchronized dating and synchronistic compositions, offers a comparison between these compositions and the Book of Kings, and discusses aspects of the latter’s characteristics and pragmatics. The extant Mesopotamian synchronistic compositions presuppose and express a special connection between Assyria and Babylonia. It seems that a similar idea—applied to Israel and Judah—also stands behind the synchronistic composition in 1 Kings 14–2 Kings 17. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
9 pages, 761 KiB  
Article
The Literary and Theological Function of the Philistines and Arameans in Chronicles
by Stephen Germany
Religions 2023, 14(4), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040446 - 25 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1310
Abstract
The book of Chronicles is a well-known example of how theological developments in Judah during the Persian and Hellenistic periods played a role in reshaping the received literary traditions of the Hebrew Bible. This study focuses specifically on Chronicles’ narratives of violent conflicts [...] Read more.
The book of Chronicles is a well-known example of how theological developments in Judah during the Persian and Hellenistic periods played a role in reshaping the received literary traditions of the Hebrew Bible. This study focuses specifically on Chronicles’ narratives of violent conflicts between Israel/Judah and the Philistines and Arameans and their relationship to the portrayal of the Philistines and Arameans in Samuel–Kings. It discusses five case studies pertaining to violent encounters between Israelite/Judahite kings and the Philistines (Saul in 1 Chr 10; Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr 17; Jehoram in 2 Chr 21; Uzziah in 2 Chr 26; Ahaz in 2 Chr 28) and five pertaining to the Arameans (Asa in 2 Chr 16; Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr 18–19; Ahaziah in 2 Chr 22; Joash in 2 Chr 24; Ahaz in 2 Chr 28). Among other new findings, the study highlights how Chronicles repeatedly depicts the Philistine threat in tandem with conflicts with the Edomites (a phenomenon not found in Samuel–Kings) and, furthermore, casts the Arameans as an instrument of divine punishment not only against northern Israelite kings but also against Judahite kings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
10 pages, 1250 KiB  
Article
The Constellation of Agents: An Often Overlooked Aspect in the Comparison of Deuteronomy and Ancient Near Eastern Treaties
by Joachim J. Krause
Religions 2023, 14(3), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030339 - 3 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1532
Abstract
Ever since the pioneering studies of George Mendenhall, Klaus Baltzer, Dennis McCarthy, and Moshe Weinfeld, the structural analogies between Deuteronomy and ancient Near Eastern treaties have been a key issue in the scholarly study of the book. More recently, the hypothesis that Deuteronomy [...] Read more.
Ever since the pioneering studies of George Mendenhall, Klaus Baltzer, Dennis McCarthy, and Moshe Weinfeld, the structural analogies between Deuteronomy and ancient Near Eastern treaties have been a key issue in the scholarly study of the book. More recently, the hypothesis that Deuteronomy 13* and 28* could even represent a Hebrew rendering of the Neo-Assyrian Succession Treaties of Esarhaddon has prompted a yet intensified investigation of the matter. Yielding nuanced models to account for the traditio-historical pluriformity of features in Deuteronomy vis-à-vis the various strands of tradition found in late Hittite and Neo-Assyrian, as well as Aramaic comparative evidence, this latter discussion has arguably once again broadened the horizon. In any case, it only emphasizes that reading Deuteronomy against the background of the ancient Near Eastern treaty tradition more broadly provides an indispensable perspective when it comes to the literary genesis of Deuteronomy as we have it. What is more, it also opens a window on its interpretation. At the same time, however, it can also lead to certain misconceptions, for as much as major parts of Deuteronomy are modeled on a treaty, Deuteronomy is no treaty. The comparative perspective thus requires one to heed both commonalities and differences. This article focuses on one such difference, namely the constellation of agents. It is typical of ancient Near Eastern treaties that the contracting parties agree to delegate the task of safeguarding the treaty to a third party constituted by deities. It is these gods who figure as “witnesses” of the curses that the contracting parties call upon themselves if they should act contrary to the treaty, the term “witness” also denoting, according to the semantics of ancient Near Eastern treaty discourse, “agent of the sanctions.” Hence, the agreed upon sanctions are conceived of as coming into effect without the further involvement of the contracting parties. In fact, this particular feature is the operating principle which makes an ancient Near Eastern treaty work. In Deuteronomy, however, it does not apply. While intriguingly enough there are certain entities in the close context of the curse sections which are called “witnesses,” none of them can truly figure as a witness in the sense described above, for none of them is a deity; neither is there an attempt made to charge these “witnesses” with putting into effect the curse sanctions. Often overlooked, this aspect has significant ramifications for the understanding of the curses in Deuteronomy and the treaty style structure in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
12 pages, 820 KiB  
Article
Resilience and Return in Isaiah—Using Resilience Theory in Hebrew Scripture Theology
by Anja Klein
Religions 2023, 14(3), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030318 - 27 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1843
Abstract
The article analyses the theology of homecoming in the book of Isaiah and makes a case for using resilience theory as a hermeneutical frame for the task of Hebrew Scripture theology. Defined as “positive adaptation despite adversity”, resilience builds on the crisis setting [...] Read more.
The article analyses the theology of homecoming in the book of Isaiah and makes a case for using resilience theory as a hermeneutical frame for the task of Hebrew Scripture theology. Defined as “positive adaptation despite adversity”, resilience builds on the crisis setting of wide parts of the Hebrew Scriptures and demonstrates that the formation of theology represents a resilience discourse. In the case of the Isaianic prophecies of return, three concepts of return are distinguished (return, gathering and homecoming, a second Exodus) that respond to the adversities of exile and diaspora. Thus, the prophecies offer a literary home that the different religious communities through time can inhabit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
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