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Altes Testament


The priestly code and seven other studies 1970


Eissfeldt, Otto

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Theologische Literaturzeitung 95. Jahrgang 1970 Nr. 3


Jordan by Elijah and Elisha is cited as a riposte to the victory
of Baal over zbl ym, tpt nhr, the last word of which should
probably be rendered 'Ocean-current' rather than 'River'. Dr.
Bronner's treatment by long citation of the enmity of Baal and
Sea in the Ras Shamra texts and the paraphrase of the journey
of Elijah and Elisha to Jericho and their passing of the Jordan
reads suspiciously like 'padding'. A more natural explanation
is surely that this, like most of the miracles concerning Elijah
and Elisha represents a tradition from the hagiology of the
prophets in this case at Jericho, and is influenced by the local
tradition of the ritual crossing of the Jordan, probably a sacra-
mental en-enactment of the passage of the Reed Sea in the
Covenat sacrament of-the scaral Community of Israel at Gilgal,
which also underlies Joshua 3. Though this view was advanced
by the reviewer in Iiis commentary on I and II Kings (Ist ed.,
1963, p.425) and the view of Joshua 3 by H. J. Kraus in 1951
('Gilgal, ein Beitrag zur Kultusgeschichte Israels', VT I, 1951
pp. 190ff.) and by Noth and Hertzberg in their commentaries on
Joshua, it is evidently unfamiliar to Dr. Bronner or is ignored in
the interests of her thesis.

Doubtless the Opposition of Elijah to the effort by Ahab to
accomodate Iiis Canaanite as well as Iiis Israelite subjects in-
volved a clash between Yahwism and Baalism, which has been
faithfully reproduced in the final arrangement of the traditions
of the period by the Deuteronomic Compiler towards the end of
the monarchy. Traditions of Elijah and Elisha on the other hand
had already crystallized at a date probably not long after the
death of both. Though the polemic againt Baalism was undoubt-
edly present, as in 1 Kings 18, the polemic against the dynasty
of Ahab in 1 Kings 20, 21, 22 belongs for the most part to a
prophetic polemic in support of charismatic leadership and is
directed against all kings of Israel from Jeroboam I, being
characterized by the language of prophetic denunciation and
threat of doom much more forceful and fresh than that of the
Deuteronomic Compiler. The stereotyped character of the
language of such passages, including the incident of Naboth's
vineyard, indicates a written source considerably earlier that
the end of the monarchy. Indeed most of the traditions of
Elijah and Elisha, whether historical narrative or hagiology
from the dervish circles (the 'sons of the prophets'), evinces a
freshness and vovacity which is certainly not that of the Deuteronomic
Compiler with the theological interest assumed by
Dr. Bronner. It is difficult to associate the trivial incidents of
Elisha's curse on the rude boys of Bethel (2 Kings 2.23-24), the
floating axe-head (2 Kings 6.1-7) and the story of the revival
of a dead man after contact with the bones of Elisha (2 Kings
13.20-21) with any sober theological work. They would sourely
not have been adduced by a Compiler unless they had formed
part of a well-defined tradition which had crystallized much

In a book of the limited compass of this work, which avoids
the complication of transliteration of Hebrew, of critical dis-
cussion of philological points and other controversial matter in
footnotes with the consequent bibliography much more extensive
than Dr. Bronner cites the proof-work ought to have
been carefully done. As it is there is much to offend, mis-spel-
lings, e.g. 'Pharoah' (p.5), 'angles' and 'angels' in the same sen-
tence (p.34), faulty English, e.g. 'time honoured' (p.17), 'Anath
dost battle' (p.47), and wrong word division, e.g. 'note asily'
(p.130) and obvious traces of German in 'spender of corn'
(pp. 11,80) and 'under the aristocrats' (p.88), and in bibliography
, e.g. I.L., for T.H.Robinson. Those are but a small
fraction of the errata at corrigenda.

There are interpretations of the Ras Shamra passages with
which few experts would agree. Thus the notion that Anat's
slaying of Mt as the corn is designed to promote the growth of
the new crop is far-fetched in view of the parallel rite in Lev 2.14,
which is certainly a rite of desacralization of the new crop.
In those texts, however, Dr. Bronner is almost always under the
aegis of higher authority, with less room for aberration.

In view of recent critical analysis of the Elijah-Elisha com-
plex, the questioning of the identity of 'the king of Israel' in
1 Kings 20 and 22 and possibly even c. 21, with Ahab and the
recognition of a prophetic source critical of the monarchy long

before the Deuteronomic compilation, the influence of which is
evident in 1 Kings 21, as well as the recognition of sources of
various character and worth such as historical narrative and
hagiology in the sections on Alijah and Elisha in Kings this
book may be described as reactinary, and so disappointing.
The citation of the Ras Shamra texts, though not always relevant
and often ovcrpressed, is to be welcomed as making tra-
ditional students of the Jewish Scriptures - whom perhaps
Dr. Bronner had maiuly in mind- more aware of the definite
Canaanite background of Israelite religion in general and of the
Elijah-Elisha episodesi n particular and as possibly stimulating
more serious interest in those texts, as far as concerns the sub-
ject-matter of the Old Testament the outstanding discovery of
our time. Those already familiär with those texts and their
significance for the Old Testament, however, will find little that
is original and much that is not strictly relevant to the thesis.

Aberdeen John Gray

Oudtestamentische Studien namens hct oudtestanipntiseli Werk-
gezelschap in Nederland uitgegeven door P.A.H. de Boer.
XV: The Priestly Code and seven other Studie». By J. G. Vink,
J.C.H. Lebram, Chr.H. W.Brekelmans, H. A.Brongers,
J. Schoneveld, N.A. van Uchelen, Nic.H.Ridderbos, M.J.
Mulder. V, 250 S. gr. 8°. - XVI: The Dramatization of Salvific
History in the Deuteronomic Schools. By J.N.M.Wijngaards.
VII, 132 S. gr. 8°. Leiden: Brill 1969. Lw. hfl. 72,-; u. Lw.
hfl. 24,-.

Der weitaus größte Teil des XV. Bandes wird von J. G. Vink,
The date and origin of Priestly Code in the Old Testament
(S. 1-144) eingenommen, während sich J.C.H.Lebram, Jakob
segnet Josephs Söhne. Darstellungen von Genesis XLVIII in
der Überlieferung und bei Rembrandt (S. 145-169, 1 Taf.);
Chr. W. Brekelmans, Some Translation Problems (S. 170-176);
H.A.Brongers, Der Zornesbecher (S.177-192); J.Schoneveld,
Ezekiel XIV 1-8 (S. 193-204); N.A. van Uchelen, trai »otk in
the Psalms (S. 205-212); Nie. H.Ridderbos, Die Theophanie in
Ps. L 1-6 (S.213-226) und M.J.Mulder, Huibert Duifhuis
(1531-1581) et l'exegese du Psaume LXXXIV 4 (S.227-250)
sich mit viel geringerem Raum begnügen müssen. Vinks Beitrag
, der in "I. The Priestly Code in critical scholarship", "II.
The Priestly Code in post-exilic history", "III. The Priestly
Code in the Book of Joshua", "IV. The Priestly Code in the
Pentateuch", "V. The Priestly Code in biblical theology" und
"General summary" gegliedert ist, nennt auf S. 17—18 drei
Fragen, nämlich 1) die der Ausdehnung des PC, 2) die der Rolle
des Kultus in ihm und 3) die eines göttlich gebotenen Programms
für die nächste Zukunft, und beantwortet sie auf
S. 143-144 dahin: "Josh. XVIII was a key text. It taught us
that the traditional 'face value' exegesis of priestly texts has
often led to an unsolvable dilemma. When, however, the aetio-
logical method was applied, we arrived at Solutions of a re-
markable coherence. The PC was found to present the character-
istics of its time of origin and of a very precise programmatic
purpose. Josh. XVIII 1 was proved to refer to a period long
after the settlement of two well-defined groups in Palestine, viz
to the later Persian Period. The cult turned out to be far less
Deuteronomic in character than it had been supposed since
Wellhausen. Josh. XXII suggested some sort of compromise in
the dispute around the cult in Yeb. The Code is more concerned
about the purity of cult, coneeived in a apotropaic spirit, than
with a unity of place. The Dispersion was aeeepted by the
priestly authors as a basic fact in Israel's existence; it made
Israel into a cultic Community throughout the then existing
world, with Palestine for its main point. After a critical analysis
of previous theories the notion of gerim in the PC was clari-
fied by means of Alt's exposition on the Samaritan leading
classes. Along this way we have gained an understanding why
so many customs of late Persian flavour were incorporated into
it; at the same time we are able to link up the PC with Ezra's
mission, held by us to have been in 398 B.C. The opinion of
Cazelles and Grelot was abundantly confirmed: this mission was