RelSt 015 English Bible (Robert Kraft)
Notes for week #7 25-27 February 2003
Sarah Farkash and Jessica Wallin

-MINUTES: Dr. Kraft talks about minutes...shows the previous minutes to the class...we shouldn't use Roman numerals in the formal outline way

-SECOND PAPER: discussion of the paper then voting...paper doesn't have to be 5 pages, he prefers that it's shorter and more to the point

-paper on the "super" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) and the minor prophets (he sang his prophet song again)...the Pentateuch paper was easy so we're doing this one to get a better idea of what he wants in a tougher
paper...there are at least 2 Davis chapters to look at if you like

-new topic idea...what can we tell about their society from these writings? Rulers, outsiders, ethical conduct assumptions (little talk about the law here since obedience is a bigger deal...cultic law which is following rules
not big in these books, more about ethic law...this is similar to the New Testament)

-can also do this topic with Proverbs and Wisdom of Ben Sira (alsocalled Ecclesiasticus or Sirach)...about ideals being held up in male/female relations, business etc

-SECTIONS: Pentateuch is stories and laws...Joshua/Judges are conquest/settlement...Samuel/Kings were edited together as one work in four volumes so Kraft often bunches them together and then Chronicles covers the
same ground with a different perspective but they are all stories from Saul/David/Solomon and the North/South Kingdoms

-North Kingdom defeated by Assyria in 722/721 bce and the South was defeated by the Neo-Babylonians (led by Nebuchadnezzar in 587/586 bce)...exile for the South led to Ezra and Nehemiah (late 450s BCE)...then there's a huge gap in Biblical literature...finally we hit Maccabees in 168 BCE...then there's lots more
information working till the beginnings of Christianity

-RUTH and OTHER BOOKS: How does Ruth fit in (question in class)? Five of the writings in Jewish scripture are called "scrolls" or "megillot" (Hebrew word for scrolls)...Esther, Ruth, Daniel, Lamentations, and Song of Songs/Solomon are all scrolls used at special times in the synagogue liturgy

-Ruth -- remembered in the South because of her linkage to David, his lineage is traced to her. She is not an Israelite, but she married one, andthen he dies, and she stays with her mother-in-law until Boaz fulfills Levirite law (next of kin responsibility). Read on Shavuot

-Lamentations -- associated with Jeremiah because it talks of the fall of Jerusalem in 587/ "laments" the fall of the Temple and is read in sorrowful commemoration of that event

-Daniel -- Christians put this book with the prophets (although classical Judaism has it with the "writings") because the book is filled with prophecy/visions... the supposed setting is in 540-530 BCE in the transition from Neo-Babylonian to Persian rule in the Near East, although the final editing of Daniel probably came on the verge of the Maccabean revolt (168 BCE)

-Esther -- totally independent story...takes place in Persian period...Esther rises to role of favorite queen when old queen Vashti refuses to come to a party, and Esther saves the Jews from Haman (one of the King's noblemen who wanted to kill the Jews because Mordechai -- Esther's cousin and a Jew-didn't bow down to Haman)...told of deliverance and it's associated with Purim (which means "lots"...Haman cast lots to see what day he wanted to kill the Jews)...Kraft said someone should name their kid Vashti and we discussed that we knew people named Vashti...there are some accurate names of places/people in the story but not all was necessarily accurate...the King Xerxes/Ahashuerus was a real person...we read Esther as a story! Does it presuppose monogamy? Yes? -- why did he kick Vashti out instead of just demoting her... No! -- Esther was a part of a harem...Kraft repeats "Solomon had 300 porcupines/concubines" prickly situation joke...rules for following Purim are in Esther 9.18-32

-3rd Maccabees is like Esther -- tells how Jews in Alexandria are saved from drunken elephants, and refers to celebration of the delivery... it just isn't celebrated (or remembered) as a holiday any more

-PROPHETS: perspectives of the authors of Prophets (question) -- Baruch was scribe/secretary for Jeremiah... prophets are very similar (fall of Israel=sins of Israel, not the strength of Babylonia)...why so many of the same thing then? Issue of theodicy...trying to explain bad stuff as due to the Jews sinning, because the alternative would be to say that God was unjust or even chose another group to be his favored people and that would not sit well... these books speak of punishment and redemption over and over...trying to get people to get priorities clear (not riches but obedience) after the fall of the Temple and after the split of the kingdoms can see changes of viewpoint if you carefully read the Prophets...somehow this stuff was collected (whether selectively or just because that's all there was) and validated...we think Jeremiah was telling before the stuff happened (making him more of a real prophet)

-How are the prophets different? Clustered around certain crises

-Jeremiah was a real downer, but his stuff was right...he had to tell all kinds of bad news to the people so he wept over it and was mad at God...then much of his stuff came true so he's the one who's remembered, not the other prophets who were all happy and nice in their predictions...we know about Jeremiah before and after his prophesying of doom

-Ezekiel was hopeful in his messages, resurrection of people, regeneration

-Isaiah seems to have been written by at least two different authors living nearly 200 years apart because there are different assumptions about Jerusalem (as functioning or as destroyed) in the 1st and 2nd parts.

-Some of the minor prophets also lived during the exile and/or the return in the Persian Period -- they exhort to worship God appropriately and not to screw up like their ancestors

-comic relief in class...Kraft meant to say our "secular classroom" but he actually said "our sexual classroom"...ha ha ha

-EPHRAIM: some prophets speak of Ephraim being evil...why (question)?
Sometimes synonymous with North Israel and a symbol for evil...Ephraim and Manasseh are token evil names even though there may be no real reason for's like us calling someone a "commie" and meaning it to be bad even
though the charge might not actually be accurate; or calling someone a "Yankee" as a derogatory term, regardless of their geographical situation

-Dr. Kraft shows amusement over last week's note takers' spelling of Nostradamus...discussion of "predictions" of when the world will end

-we won't read 3rd Maccabees since it's not easily available on the web (not included in the Catholic Apocrypha, but in eastern Orthodoxy) was an Alexandrian rescue festival...not many Jews there now, he notes (under the current Islamic regieme)

-WISDOM LITERATURE: wisdom literature (question)? when you're being cynical you can say these books are called this because they just don't have another name...if you're feeling particularly deep then you can say that they reflect thinking about life and prayer so they're good stuff to have

-Types of wisdom: 1. abstract 2. practical 3. worshipful
-Proverbs -- practical teaching like in a schoolroom about sex and business and social inequities (male orientation)

-Ecclesiastes (Qohelet in Hebrew) -- philosophical and cynical wisdom about paying attention to real life and living it fully, under God

-Job-lots of abstract wisdom within God and Job's conversations (was Job there at creation?)...perhaps there's the science element to explain natural stuff happening around the writers

-Psalms-worshipful wisdom about prayer and praise

-you can even go so far as to include Philo's writings, the Wisdom of Solomon (poetic-abstract then interpretation of Exodus) in the "wisdom books"

-DATES: dates for wisdom books (question)? Sic et non (yes and no in Latin...he's just trying to make us aware of set phrases in various languages)...most we can't place

-Ben Sira wrote around 200 BCE because when it was later translated by his grandson, the grandson put like an intro into it talking about his grandpa and when he lived

-Proverbs-probably the time of Solomon for many of them...Solomon was wise and probably spouted off stuff like that a lot

-Ecclesiastes & Job -- no idea of time frame

-Psalms -- perhaps David's time for some since David was a musician


-SECOND PAPER: more topics -- chosen people, the absence of legal language (assumes you know the law...lots in Amos), when the prophets were written (in terms of which of the North and/or South Kingdoms had fallen), agricultural analogies, pastoral (sheep herding) analogies -- these agricultural and pastoral images tell us something about their life just like urban/strength/hunting analogies also do; can also write about the Exodus references in Prophets...or about otherworldly judgment (not many examples)...paper is due whenever you want can turn it in the 6th or you can turn it in after Spring Break

-TIME SCHEME: Exile-586/587 BCE...when the city falls to Nebuchadnezzar

-Pre-Exilic prophets -- go from the fall of North Israel (722) down to the can also say they go from Saul/David/Solomon (1000-921) down to the Exile (587/586 bce)

-there are prophets from both the North and South both before and after the can see the differences and therefore can tell time based on the stories...they're not totally chronological

-p 220 in Davis -- prophets in roughly chronological order...there were 4 in the 8th century BCE (2 North, Amos & Hosea, and 2 South, Micah and Isaiah)

-these 4 before the 8th century talk about moving from prosperity to threats such as from the East, Assyrian empire, Nineveh, King Sargon (for the South as much as the just held out longer), God saves Hezekiah from Assyrian threat in the South...this is a lot like our time now (going from prosperity to threats of wars). Also talk of "corruption," wealth, Jeroboam II good example (Northern King)

-hermeneutical -- relating to interpretation...God is responsible vs. naturalism etc... assumptions are often used to "explain" things

-WHERE: geographical question and map of Northern and Southern kingdoms - point of the map was that Samaria and Jerusalem fairly near to one another, near N-S border

-Judah is depicted as stricter -- the Temple is there in Jerusalem

-Israel is viewed as less rigorous -- there was no one central place of worship

-KINGS/PROPHETS: the king stories are all in Samuels-Kings/Chronicles...also stories of prophets who don't have their own writings left behind (like Elijah during Ahab's rule -- Elijah prophesied that Jezebel would be dragged through the street and dogs would lick her came true)...some are funny...the prophecies are talked about as narratives

-God told Elijah that he had hidden many faithful prophets

-a distinction often is drawn b/w prophets who write and those who act (some cross over and do both like Ezekiel)

-RSV/NRSV COMMITTEE: what did his RSV committee do (question)? Talk about PC language and newly found they need to change language? Vote on it...Tobit in the NRSV is like in the Dead Sea Scrolls while in the RSV it's more like the Greek version from earlier...the RSV was done in 1946 and the NEw RSV was done in 1989...usually not doing changes as quickly but we have more so in the recent past because language has been changing a lot (what's acceptable and what's not...what's understandable and what's not) and because we recently accepted that women are tolerable (and we realized that words like "man" that formerly meant "humanity" have come to mean "male")

-DENOMINATIONS: Anglican (in England) = Episcopalian (in US), episcopos = bishop (who are the governing persons)...Presbyterians = presbyteros = elder (governed by elders)

- people jokingly wonder if "Shakespeare was on the committee" for KJV

-AMOS: We read passages from Amos -- opening is very historical, parallelism abounds

-Frequent opening line in prophecies: "Thus says YAHWEH"

-nature is sympathetically in mourning because things are rough during this time

-God was mad at groups for respective reasons i.e. over killing Gilead, harsh-handed and unjust control

-King Hazael of Damascus (city above N. kingdom) has wronged

-not legalistic - no specific knowledge of law - clearer in deuteronomist...Amos is much more focused on the idea that people should be generally good people...that's more important than following specific laws

-then Amos story moves to Gaza on the W. coast
-"3, 4 transgressions" repeated

-Amos's chapter 2 discussed in Davis

-oracles are like street-corner preachers, lots in Jeremiah. Jeremiah had a personal scribe (Baruch), King censored his work

-the chapters make a circuit of prophecies condemning surrounding peoples, then focus on Judah and Israel, refers to law when talking about these two...Davis cut and pasted a lot when covering this part, lost geographical and political stuff...Israel is picture of social injustice on many levels

-God says He made them prosper and He took them out of Egypt (the Exodus) to give them guilt (and Himself credit perhaps)

-triple parallelism in Amos 2:14

-Amos 3: pay attention to the signs that something is going on - nature frequently called upon, as if God is in the courtroom and nature is the jury, His confrontation with people--RIV gatung (way of presenting things)

-Amos gives lots of lion analogies because he's used to talking about lions (he's a shepherd), lots of negative stuff happening, N. Israel also called "House of Jacob" (which makes total sense since Jacob's name was changed to

-Amos emphasizes how they cannot escape from their fate

-ancient altar had horns on the corners- 3:14 fell off (so now there's no escape if you are bad...remember that like the cities of refuge, the people could cling to the horns of the altar to find refuge)

-Chapter 4 talks about wealthy women had it good, people lived in ivory houses. However, people's practices are being called artificial, sacrificing according to standard and all, but not living as generally good people

PROPHETS: Prophets don't usually focus on otherworldly judgment -- eschatology -- but on here and now

//end of week 7 notes//