Studiu nou despre profeţii Israelului antic

Cu această recenzie încep publicarea unei serii de recenzii pe lucrări de specialitate în VT apărute în cursul acestui an în spaţiul anglo-saxon. Recenziile sunt pregătite pentru a fi tipărite în jurnalul de publicaţii al SOTS, al cărei membru sunt. Aici vă ofer o versiune mai lungă, pentru că versiunea finală a recenziilor nu va putea să depăşească 250 de cuvinte. Nădăjduiesc ca recenziile acestea să se dovedească folositoare într-o măsură oricât de mică.

Meier, Samuel A., Themes and Transformations in Old Testament Prophecy (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), pp. 240, $23.00, ISBN: 978-0-8308-1768-9.

In this book Meier launches himself in a „quest for the continuity of prominent prophetic themes” (p. 13). He prefers to use the term literary prophets when referring to Latter prophets including Daniel. Such an option is rather awkward from a writer with a high estimation of the Hebrew Bible such as Meier. The main thesis of this work is that preexilic prophets differ from their postexilic counterparts in many ways. In this last category the books of Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Daniel are included, whereas the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are at the transition point.

Meier identifies fifteen characteristics of Hebrew prophecy, investigation of which detail the distinction between preexilic and postexilic prophecy. The first five of them relate to the means revelation is mediated to the prophet. Before the exile the prophets appear (1) to have had the right to participate in the council of God and gain first hand insight in the dealings of God with humanity. (2) Therein lays the perception that early prophets were not sure how the future unfolds.  From this reality derives (3) the visual nature of their experiences of God, (4) the reciprocal nature of their communication (5) without the mediation of the angels.

Other three characteristics refer to the literary product itself. Preexilic prophecy displays a lack of interest in (6) using markers for divine speech, (7) mentioning the proceedings of preserving the writing, (8) reference to chronology. The last three items capture the prophetic social involvement. Before the exile (9) writing prophets are not pictured either in miraculous events, (10) or in annointing kings, (11) or even less so in supporting the militaristic endeavours of the Hebrew kings.

Nonetheless, Meier is fair in noticing that authentic prophets in the Hebrew kingdoms shared four characteristics: (1) since prophets held a vocational office, they were cared for through public donations, (2) if not requested by the public, prophets tended to bring bad news, only to expose themselves to (3) public discontent and official dismay, (4) but their oracles came to fulfilment.

Overall, I found Meier’s argument convincing. Something indeed happened during the Babilonian-Persian exile, more precise during the sixth century B.C., to fuel a change into the Jewish prophecy. Unfortunately, the changed triggered by the exilic experience aliented later Hebrew prophecy from its main stream only to reach a final halt after the ministries of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Nevertheless, this reality begs the important question that is not here answered: what happened during the exile to alter so much the manifestation of Jewish prophecy?

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