Religious Studies 015 English Bible (Robert Kraft)
Class Notes, week #8, 4-6 March 2003
By Bree Berman and Amanda M. Jones

*Micah and Isaiah
- many similarities, so we are studying them together
- there are some identical passages -- did one copy the other?
- they both lived in and focused on the southern kingdom

- the book is not entirely attributed to Isaiah, and is not all "prophetic"
- see the historical transitional section in 36-39 (2 Kings 19-20 !)
- one part (38.9-20) is even attributed to Hezekiah (king of Judah)

*Two distinct parts of the book of Isaiah
(1) Isaiah (1-39) 750-700 BCE
- largely negative
- condemns Jerusalem for lack of fidelity
- a later editor may have added to original text, because there are some glimpses of hope in overwhelmingly negative sections
(2) Deutero-Isaiah or Second Isaiah (40-66) After 586 BCE
- full of hope
- written after fall of Jerusalem (city is in ruins)

- doesn't have such an obvious problem of earlier and later sections
- both Isaiah and Micah begin with about the same phrase: "The word of Jehovah came to Isaiah/Micah"

*Close reading of Micah 1-2
- "RIV gattung" -- courtyard scene (accusations, nature as witnesses); see also Isaiah
- high places can mean both mountains and holy places of religious activity
- God comes down to judge - prompted by the transgressions of Jacob and the "sins of the house of Israel"
- speaks of both northern and southern kingdoms (1.5 Samaria & Jerusalem)
- locus of sinfulness is cities -- antiurbanism: cities tend to be viewed as centers of sin & transgression
- translation ambiguity -- hires v. wages v. temple gifts (perhaps refers to compensation given to temple prostitutes; 1.7)
- temple prostitutes -- influenced fertility by performing fertility rites -- feature of many religious groups
- Did Micah go streaking and screaming in the streets? We don't know, although he said he would (1.8)
- more translation ambiguity -- ostrich v. owl v. other screaming animal -- would these people have known of ostriches (1.8)?
- "don't tell our enemies that we're in trouble"; attempts to protect Israel's image (supposed to be God's people), also has a bit of political importance
- Micah 2.1 -- possible reference to sexual immorality, but the passage doesn't head in that direction otherwise
- woes among people being condemned
- in this time, there was great reverence for people's belongings and land holdings (property reverted to people after 7 years), and now those holdings have been taken away (2.2)
- people didn't want any more negative prophecies -- shooting Micah the messenger -- those prophets who prophesied bad things to come only survived because their prophecies came true; false prophecies = "good times, wine & beer (2.6-11)!"
- there is hope for the remnant, for the survival of the Jews after the devastation (2.12 -- possibly a later addition)

*Close reading of Isaiah 1-3
- Isaiah 1.1 "The vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz"
- author is defined by patriarchical lineage
- focuses on Southern Kingdom, although 1.7 could refer to N. Kingdom b/c of the state of affairs at the time (devastated by Assyrian army)
- YHWH says, 'I have brought up a people, and they have rebelled against me' "a brood of evildoers" (1.2-4)
- "So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard", or in so many words, 'Jerusalem is left isolated' (1.8)
- [a sukkah, pl. Sukkoth] booth is a temporary structure used at harvest time
- 1.9 uses reflective hypothetical language, while 1.10 converts to application to current audience (they are Sodom and Gomorrah)
- God criticizes those who put more effort into sacrificing than morality and social justice (1.11-17)
- God says he's tired of the sacrifices and they are rather meaningless because "your hands are full of blood" (1.15)
- call to ethical/socially-aware action as a solution to prevent demise
- if they don't become more moral people, they will be 'clobbered'
- orphans and widows are a primary focus for social justice (1.17)
- Eschatology -- Greek root for "end times"
- look to the past for model of justice
- projection of 'good ol' times' onto the future (1.26)
- Zion = Jerusalem (1.27)
- both good justice (rewards) and bad justice (punishment)
- Terebinth (or "oak") trees -- associated with idolatry (1.29)
- 2.2 another oracle, with its own opening line
- idolatrous places will be replaced with God's house [eschatological language]
- looking towards a time when people will look to Jerusalem and the word of God for redemption (glimpse of hope among negative passages)
- judgment upon riches of Jacob (1.5ff N. Kingdom language? Jacob usu. refers to Israel [northern kingdom])
- tower, ship, mountain images (2.13-17) -- all of these should bow down to YHWH
- daughters of Jerusalem are characterized as haughty women (3.16)
- their punishment will include baldness/damage to hair (3.17)
- God will take away their jewelry, clothes: sashes to ropes; sweet smells to smelliness; hair to baldness; robes to sackcloths; beauty to branded bodies (3.18-24)
- all their men will be killed in the war, and the women will be desolate (3.25 through 4.1)

Side note: Sirach (Greek spelling of Sira) = Wisdom of Joshua [Jesus] Ben Sira = Ecclesiasticus -- similar critiques of women

*Snippets from Isaiah 40-66
-"deutero-Isaiah", complete change of pace from the narrative of prior chapters
- Ch 40-66 become the primary section of the Jewish Bible for Christians
- many quotations taken from this section, esp. as related to Jesus' coming(s) and related eschatology
- Jerusalem has been destroyed -- looking towards redemption (40.1-2)
- note parallelism in 40.3
"the voice of one crying[:] (possible colon here)
in the wilderness[,]
prepare the way of the Lord[;]
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God."
- different in NT Gospels -- "a voice crying in the wilderness" (Mark 1.3, etc.)
- the NT has sometimes influenced the editors of Isaiah in this passage (40.3)
- 44.26-28 references to later times -- proves editing after the fact; this section of Isaiah was written after fall of Jerusalem
- Persian king Cyrus depicted as God's "messiah/annointed," chosen for specific task (45.1)

Class Notes, 6 March 2003

We'll be moving towards wisdom literature, non-prophetic books and apocrypha, then NT

*Prophets review: 2 more themes for papers
-explaining judgment, punishment (cause/effect)
-God's chosen people

*Hermeneutics ~> gr. Interpretation, either from one language to another, or expounding upon meaning within the same language. Related to semiotics

*Allegorical ~> a non-literal way of interpreting, to make sense of seemingly =93wrong=94 information (ex. Methuselah living for 969 years). A radical form of hermeneutics in that it looks for "other" meanings beyond the obvious
- Prof. Kraft: many things that are taken allegorically now may be either irrelevant, folkloric, or resulting from corrupted text; most likely the latter. Still, people have taken the corruption & view it as inerrant; how do we deal with that? How did this happen?
- there are any number of reasons why biblical numbers do what they do. The most likely is that they were embellished to glorify history, not unlike stories of Egyptian kings living thousands of years!

*The Book of Job*
-challenges the cause & effect point of view (bad deeds > punishment)
- however, "curse God and die" (Job's wife) suggests that this is still relevant, as cursing God may be expected to cause death

-scholars think that the 1st & last chapters were added later, by a different author/editor as a framework. The poetic structure is more archaic (as is generally the case with poetry). The main difference is style, even the speech of Eliphaz seems a bit out of place.

*Excursus: The Fall of Satan -- Isaiah & Ezekiel passages*

- The possibility that the development of Satan came from Persian influences (Zoroastrianism) isn=92t as clear-cut as previously thought. Persian sources are just as muddy as Jewish ones; possibly the influence was the other way around.

- Gen 6.1-4 as summary of traditions found also in other biblical and extracanonical literature. It captures the idea of forces of light vs. forces of darkness, angelic beings doing "bad things"
- In some traditions, the "Nephilim" die & their spirits become demons (see also 1 Enoch on the fallen hosts, or "watchers")

-Is. 14: 12-17- "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning" (note "Satan" or the "Accuser" as a son of God in Job; morning star is called "Lucifer" in Latin [lucis (light) ferre (to bear, bring)], and "Phosphoros" in Greek ["light bearer"]) the daystar, refers to Venus, one of the brightest stars in the sky and usually seen in the morning
-passage could refer to king of Babylon, or some other pompous ruler
-14.13ff seems to be getting away from a mere ruler, refers to some greater self-glorified subject

-Ezekiel 28 uses similar language for the downfall of the king of Tyre, applied to Satan as well.

//end of week #8 notes//