Pot Pourri and Ezekiel's Loincloth. A Discussion of the Influences on Old Testament Prophecy

Michael Simpson



Israel was not alone in the religious world of the ancient Orient in having an important and influential prophetic movement. What did set her apart was the importance and lasting significance of those prophets and their messages. The character of Israelite prophecy was unique because it drew upon her unique conception of God. Prophecy was a revelation of the mind of Yahweh, the one transcendent, personal God. Prophets were preachers who predicted the immediate future as a consequence of a choice made before Yahweh in the present. The literal fulfilment of prophecies seems to have been less important in detail than the appropriate response to Yahweh in the face of the prediction. As such, the nature of prophecy was more in the way of forthtelling than foretelling, although it may be unsatisfactory to have one without the other.

Prophets in Israel, unlike their neighbours, were inspired men of devotion, conscious of divine call and revelation, as the lives of Elijah and Elisha, or the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah illustrate. The Mari texts speak of the presence there of mantic and ecstatic movements and Egyptian records mention Baru or seers, but none of these correspond precisely to the Israelite vocation. H. Mowvley remarks that the connections between Israelite and other prophecy are there, but at a superficial level only.

Israel has received prophets from the Exodus (Jer. 7:25), right until the period of Greek persecution during the second century (Daniel 7-12). Of the Origin of prophecy, there are numerous stories of ecstatic bands of preachers prophesying (1 Sam.9; Num. 11:25) although such prophecies have not been preserved. Numbers 11:25ff. has been considered by many scholars to be a later addition to the text, on the basis that ecstatic prophecy arose as a result of Canaanite influence, but the prophecy described does not necessarily need to have been ecstatic in the Canaanite sense, or in that of 1 Sam.10. In addition, there is no reason for Israelite religion not to have had an ecstatic element from an early period. Moreover, Jeremiah 7:25 clearly reveals knowledge of prophets dating from the Exodus, although primitive prophecy probably consisted more of the type of work done by official representatives and community leaders such as Moses and Aaron. Von Rad believes Israelite prophecy to have been influenced by Canaanite religion. W. Eichrodt thinks that it arose naturally from within the cult of Israel, and more recently J. Lindblom has proposed that Canaanite forms, amongst others, have been borrowed by Israel. It seems difficult to deny at least some correspondence between the people of Israel and the religion of Canaan's indigenous population. No one would want to suggest that the Hebrew people lived in a cultural vacuum.

A discussion of influences upon OT prophecy is important for at least three reasons. Firstly, it places their revelations in a cultural context; secondly, it demonstrates the extent of legitimate borrowing and development, and pejoratively, syncretism; thirdly, it is possible to evaluate the degree of originality of the message and the justification of its inclusion within the Scriptures. In the OT we meet with a wide range of influences. Thus the discourse categories will tend to overlap. The most important question to be asked is a simple one: what made the prophets' messages so important and enduring?

Historical and Political Elements

Prophets spoke from and into circumstances. No message came without a situation requiring it, and once a message was given the situation was changed completely. Von Rad speaks of the prophets in 1 & 2 Kings, especially Elijah and Elisha as 'creating history'. The young nation faced an internal struggle with paganism; Elijah's battle for supremacy on Mt Carmel with the prophets of Ba'al is a case in point (1 Kings 18:20-40). Elijah's role during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel came as a response to the increasingly syncretistic life of Israel. He is given no biographical introduction, and his first action is to pronounce a drought upon the kingdom (17:1). The text implies that King Ahab is the result of a long process of syncretism (16:29:34) and Elijah the prophet, Yahweh's response to it. As a historical figure is drawn in almost fairy-story proportions, but there can be no doubt that his existence is not fictitious. Von Rad observes that: "Such a figure cannot simple have been invented, and can only be explained by saying that the stories reflect a historical figure of well-nigh superhuman stature".[1]

In what sense do prophets 'create history'? It is important to bear in mind the theological role of the Deuteronomists in drawing spiritual lessons from the past. As a result of the disastrous sixth century exile the Deuteronomist writers gave their history a theological purpose, and so prophets like Elijah and Elisha appear as great architects of a nation's religion. Their role cannot be denied or minimised, but the essential elements of history that helped define messengers like Elijah and Elisha must be remembered. History aided the Deuteronomists in their understanding of the implications of the word of Yahweh, and we see that in their hands the relative importance of the original historical events and the prophet' messages has been swapped; the prophets shape history instead of history shaping the prophets. Such a method gives due weight to the intervention of Yahweh, but at the price of being understood only in hindsight.

The fall of Samaria in 722 BCE, the exile of Judah into Babylon in 587/6, and the events in between, gave rise to most of the major and minor prophets. In the North, Micah warns sternly of the dangers of corruption (Mic.2:1-3:12), while Amos warns of coming judgement (Amos 3:9-12). In the South, Isaiah warns Hezekiah of similar dangers facing Jerusalem (Isa.36-39), and Jeremiah and Ezekiel preach very forcibly just before and during the exile, along with later Isaiah of Babylon. There has been some debate as to the redaction of Jeremiah by the Deuteronomists. Jeremiah, working during the reign of Josiah and the reforms following the discovery of the 'Book of the Law' (1 Kings 22:3ff.), was almost certainly well versed in the 'Book' that was later expanded into Deuteronomy, and probably used this as a source. Some of his passages are concerned with promises for the future after hard lessons have been learned, for example Jer.8:22ff. and 32:1ff. Jeremiah's core message is based upon such promises. Consequently there can be no need for a redaction of the actual prophecies themselves. Any redaction completed will have been light. The fall of the two kingdoms and the causes of this disaster are thus seen as crux events in the life of the people. They provide the main inspiration for the prophets, and fused the prophets' messages, the criteria by which Israel's response would be judged by Yahweh and history.

Some prophets enjoyed political positions and others did not. Isaiah's call (chapter 6) seems to imply an association with the Temple,[2] but the language used does not provide any real evidence. From his introduction in 2 Kings 19:1-7 he has connections with the official cult almost like those of Elijah. Elijah was part of a group of "prophets of Yahweh" (1 Kings 18:4, 22), so does Isaiah stand as a voluntary recluse from a priesthood? Soggin is convinced that Isaiah was a member of the ruling class due to the ease with which he was able to visit the king, but all this is speculative. Isa.28:7 links priest and prophet, so they must be two cultic offices in the mind of Isaiah. The degree of involvement with the institutions of Israel clearly influences the style of the message, although the position is fundamentally the same. David's seer Nathan could be indirect in condemning David for adultery (2 Sam. 1-14) and Isaiah was almost mellow in Isa.28:7-10, compared with the spleen vented by the independent shepherd Amos in Amos 5:21-27 & 6:10-17. Isaiah is consulted at a time of crisis, Nathan is merely doing his job as a court advisor, whereas the unsettling Amos is completely ignored and challenged outright. It is true that all prophets speak the same in substance, but the perspectives, and hence the flavour, is different due to the differing areas f social involvement.

Literary Influences Upon Prophecy

The collection of various traditions in the OT has resulted in a literary harmony of considerable complexity. As a collection that has taken hundreds of years to synthesise, and at each stage has been the immediate word of Yahweh to the nation, a large amount of redaction has taken place. The prophet's messages have not been ghost-written, however, they have been made to fit a new framework - several times in some cases. As this has developed, a rich infrastructure of the massages has been formed as Israel found herself challenged by God through those messages. It must be admitted that often the extent of redaction is greatly exaggerated by some critics. In the book of Jeremiah, the Deuteronomists are generally held to have exerted a strong influence. There is a definite Deuteronomy-like framework in Jeremiah's emphasis upon the internalising of the Law and the need for righteousness on the part of Israel (Jer.12:1-3; 7:21-28; 32:38-40); the lessons to be learnt from Israel's history (Jer.1:15-16; 5:3, 19), and the importance of the life events of the prophet as a proclamation of his message, as shown in the biographical anecdotes and accounts of Jeremiah's sufferings, in particular Jer.16:1-13. It is clear that Jeremiah's prophecies are put in a redacted literary context, but this is nothing more than a canonical organisation and interpretation of his message. The importance of the redaction of the book as a whole must not undercut the independence of Jeremiah's own use of the 'Book of the Law' as a source. Perhaps he and his secretary, Baruch, were part of the Deuteronomic 'circle'. In any event the book is an example of literary influence. It is likely that most of the prophets of that period have to a greater or lesser extent been 'Deuteronomised' (Amos, Micah, Isaiah, Ezekiel).

Another category to be considered is that of the distinction between oral and writing prophets. The pre-classical prophets such as Nathan and Elijah did not commit their prophecies to writing. Consequently the utterances were passed on as part of the tradition narratives until redactors fused the various strands. The prophecies are an integral part of the stories as wholes. Prophets before c.750 BCE were preachers, addressing issues as they arose. Later a transition occurred in which the written prophecy of the particular prophet replaced the oral. Literary activity increased in both volume and importance. The transition is clearly outlined in Isa. 30:8-15 and Jer.36. Writing thus served future generations, showing retrospectively the judgements of prophecy. It was given a timeless quality in which, as Von Rad argues, the connection between the words and their immediate contemporaries was severed. Speaking of Isaiah 31 as a written prophecy he says that:

What gives the passages its great interest is that it shows how in certain circumstances the prophet broke the connection between his words and their original hearers, and, without the slightest alteration, carried the message over to apply to hearers and listeners of a more distant future.[3]

As well as the act of writing, the various literary forms used by the prophets are significant. It is interesting to observe the increasing importance of the prophets as divinely inspired authors as well as preachers. In the oral tradition the most commonly used formula is that of the 'messenger'. The prophet, in the accounts we have of his call (Jer. 1; Isa. 6; Amos 3:3-8 for example) becomes Yahweh's ambassador. The actual prophecy begins with an announcement, and is often prefaced by an exhortation (Amos 5:14-17), or a diatribe (Isa.29:15-24). The prophecy itself is, strictly speaking, the divine word, and the prefix an introduction that directs the attention of the hearer. However, it is a very basic formula that defies simple categorisation, and perhaps is more to do with the prophet's own conception of his role, rather than with the words he uses. Von Rad noted that it is so widely used in this sense that it is almost meaningless to point it out each time. As well as this particular formula, other borrowings were made. Amos 3 shows how a wisdom saying (v.3) can be incorporated within the messenger formula; there is a prefix, vv.1-2, and the word of Yahweh in vv.10ff. Different forms were used within the same basic structure. We see the use of liturgy in Isa.41:10ff.; 42:10; the lament of 1:21; songs in 5:1ff, cultic imagery in Amos 4:4; legal reference in Hos. 12:2. The corporate gathering to the cultus referred to in Deut. 4:26 are echoed in Jer. 6:19. All such forms shape the message and theology of the prophets. Most importantly they show the prophets themselves not to be indifferent to the world of their day, but reformers closely involved with Israelite society. Standing in the tradition of Israel's religious forms and theology, their aim was to radicalise. In being influenced themselves, they attempted to bring Yahweh's influence to bear upon contemporary life.

Isaiah's message is an example of collection and reinterpretation. The message does not change fundamentally, but its context and application have as a result of the collection by the Deuteronomists definitely changed. Isaiah 1-39 was probably written by Isaiah himself, but it is unlikely that he arranged them into the book that we have today. Chapters 1-12 are substantially a book of prophetic collected oracles, and in this respect they are similar to the collection of Psalms. Chapters 28-35 consist of a group of oracles referring to the events of 701 BCE when Assyria was breathing down Israel's neck. Chapters 13-23 contain oracles about foreign nations and signs of redaction during the sixth century exile, for example the references to a return (14:3ff.) and the overthrow of Babylon by the Medo-Persians (13:17ff.). Chapters 24-27 are an apocalypse of Yahweh's ultimate judgement, and chapters 36-39 form a historical appendix reproducing the story of Isaiah in 2 Kings 18:13, 17 - 20:19. The collection of Isa. 1-39 is in some ways speculative and proceeds from textual references rather than known facts, but it is reasonable and aids our understanding of the relevance of the new canonical and theological context of the book. Concerning the later addition of chapters 40-55 and later still, 56-66, the balance of argument is unquestionably in favour of such an analysis. The message of the prophet, given, collected and contextualised takes on an exciting dimension. What is said through a prophet once is relevant to the human condition in toto.

After the Babylonian Exile the rise of apocalyptic literature changed the face of Israelite prophecy. It is difficult to define precisely, but its key features are distinct from classical prophecy. Apocalyptic is concentrates more on eschatology and is a more self-conscious literary development than the other forms. The question to be asked is whether or not the style was borrowed from elsewhere and changed the message of the prophets. Also, it is essential to discover whether classical prophecy and apocalyptic must be interpreted in terms of one or the other. H.H. Rowley describes apocalyptic as the 'child' of prophecy. It is easy to see the change in interest from older to newer. For most of the period following the exile Israel and Judah were vassal states with populations scattered across the world, unable to make a response to Yahweh as they had previously. Apocalyptic took over because it looked to a future restoration of the ancient nation of Israel. It was the only way in which prophecy for the Hebrews or Jews could survive. Traces of apocalyptic are found in Deutero and Trito-Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah and others, culminating with Daniel. Von Rad believes that Persian religion and the wisdom traditions following the sixth century were the dominating influences. Accordingly the style of religion is also the same, and thus the heilgeschichte[4] of Israel is transformed into determinism. He describes apocalyptic prophecy as an accumulation of Irano-Chaldean syncretism. However, Von Rad has made the mistake of seeing similarities in some of the use of symbolism and style, and assuming the same meaning for each. P.D. Hanson has shown that apocalyptic prophecy is a native development of Judaism arising from its Canaanite background, and that post-exilic prophecy has simply acquired a new form. There is scanty knowledge of Persian religion from the 4th century onwards, and it is clear that the pessimism and determinism of other forms of apocalyptic do not accord with the Israelite'Jewish optimism, with its emphasis on the importance of free response to Yahweh. Von Rad does not take account of prophecy's habit of reinterpreting its own style and content, nor does he note the early emphases on eschatology in the Davidic tradition or the tension between cosmic and material, vision and reality in Yahwhism. Apocalyptic has its seeds in Israelite religion of which it is not some much an influence as a product.

Theological and Religious Influences on Prophecy

If the prophets were not attached to the cultic institution we can know that there cannot have been much influence from that quarter beyond the borrowing of selected linguistic forms. Even if the prophets were in some way connected we are still given many indications of their lack of patience with what they saw as empty ritual and hypocrisy. Thus their relative independence from the cult is assured here. What we can be certain about is what we read is not an example of someone going through the motions, but, as far as religious practice goes, something entirely new. Amongst the principle elements of Israelite religion, prophecy is an impulse that radicalises and reforms it (Jer.31:31), but in its use of theological traditions the question of originality is less straightforward.

Broadly speaking, Israel saw himself as part of a covenant relationship with Yahweh (Gen.15; Exod. 19:3-6; Jer. 31:31). All the other traditions of themes are subsumed within this category, since it is a general term with specific frames of reference: the covenant of circumcision; the Abrahamic covenant; the Davidic covenant, etc. Violation of this relationship is what prompts the prophets to speak although the term 'covenant' is, of course, not always used. On its own the term would be too general. Traditions outlined in the classical prophets are in harmony with the traditions within the Deuteronomic History. Although the traditions were collected comparatively late, their presence within Israel, by definition, is nevertheless ancient. The definitive shape given by the Deuteronomists to their history suggests that they did the same to the prophets. Attempting to probe too deeply into Deuteronomic redaction is complex and tends to raise more problems that it solves. These redactors were more general than particular.

The Israelites' interpretation of the election tradition is given an ironic rebuke in Amos 3:2: "You alone have I intimately known of all the families of the earth; that is why I shall punish you for all your wrongdoings". Election brings with it heavy responsibilities. Hosea speaks of the end of election altogether. Israel persists in ignoring God, and God will leave her alone (5:3ff.). The concept of election had given way to pride and pseudo-confidence in which Israel has been mistaken in assuming that God can be taken for granted. However, God's persistent love in maintaining his part of the covenant is reflected strongly in 11:8f. Election is not salvific, but purposive (Isa.42); Israel may get this wrong, but the prophets remind them of true election and God's unremitting grace in perpetuating the opportunity for restoration.

The traditions of the Exodus and of Zion are fused at some stage in Israel's development. The Exodus, as an event, acquires crucial theological meaning and application, especially in the light of the Exile and the destruction of Jerusalem (Deut. 1:29; 8:2; 29:24; Isa. 40:3; Jer. 7:22ff.; Amos 5:25).

The literal Exodus and return to the Promised Land is interpreted as a return to and restoration of the nation, focusing on Zion, the city of God. The traditions were part of Israel's liturgy (Psalm 46, 48, 76). Nathan's revelation to David in 2 Sam.7 constitutes another element, the role of the messianic leader in the fulfilment of the traditions. This is picked up by Isaiah in 10:27-34; 11:1-16. Isaiah is closer to the more comfortable sentiment of 2 Sam.7 and the certainty of restoration, in contrast to the stern and gloomy Amos and the pleading Hosea. The differences in style reflect the differences in circumstances; Amos and Hosea speak harshly to the complacent nation, whereas this part of Isaiah speaks to an oppressed people in exile. Traditions are interpreted and applied, not simply blandly restated.

Jeremiah uses the metaphor of harlotry in graphic terms in Jer.3:1-5, and develops the theme of a new covenant in 31:31 to illustrate the ethical vacuum and what is required to fill it. The language of 'coming back' after divorce, coupled with the desert simile gives the Exodus tradition a new twist. It is possible to see careful conscious filtering of older traditions and the rigour with which they are applied to the new context.

Another important tradition is that of the 'Day of Yahweh', in which Israel is vindicated, her enemies destroyed and Yahweh's righteous judgement implemented. H. Mowvley points out the lack of clear detail concerning the origin of the tradition. It may come from the 'Holy Wars' of history, when Yahweh defeated the enemies of the Israelites, or perhaps as a result of cultic practices and beliefs in the purging, judging fire of Yahweh. Whatever the origin, the tradition itself is eschatological. Obadiah 15ff. expresses the hopes engendered by the tradition. Amos 5:18 and Ezekiel 38:19ff. express the judgement of Yahweh upon friends and enemies on the 'Day', and Hos.2:18-20 expresses the optimism and fervent hope shared by all those who look forward to it with the right frame of mind. It is a day of contrasts.

Law, or Torah, is a strong element in the prophets' teaching. R.E. Clements writes that the Torah and all it stands for is the background to the overlapping perspectives of the prophets. It is central to Jeremiah's message. Amos is full of vitriol against those in the nation who practice social abuses. Habbakuk asks why the wicked prosper at the expense of the righteous. Most of the prophets use the example of an adulterous wife to illustrate Israel's caprice, Hosea in particular. The Law is the outworking of a right relationship with Yahweh; it demonstrates the extent of his love and righteousness rather than constituting a dead body of rules to be slavishly obeyed. It is used by the prophets as both a measuring standard and a spur to righteous relationship.

The tradition of Creation told is Genesis is also used to great effect in Isaiah 40-55, using some additional Babylonian and Persian symbolism of redemption from the waters of Chaos (Gen.1:2; Isa.43:2), for example in passages such as Isa .44:24-28; 45:9-13. God is still creative. There is a question of external theological influence with relation to whether or not Israel borrowed creation myths from Babylon and used them herself. It seems likely that she did, although it is the symbolism and not the cosmology of which we find traces of in Genesis and the Prophets. Israel saw an all-powerful, transcendent God at the helm of creation, to which there was a definite beginning in space and time. In contrast, Babylonian myths saw the cycle of chaos and creation as eternal. The tradition is an example of a prophet making more radical a well-known concept and thereby allowing the word of Yahweh to be creative on its own terms.

It is interesting to observe the general trend in the reworking of older traditions to refer to an eschatological hope. The Covenant, Exodus, Zion, Law, Holy Wars and Creation are all theologised and removed from their immediate context to become a timeless theme and made to point to the future. What is obvious is Israel's concept of God and her concept of history, both of which tell us something about the character of God from a useful philosophical perspective. God intervened in history and his acts are a means by which he can be known on a personal level. History worked towards a goal, and while there was no idea of a Neoplatonic 'providence' or determinism as such, the completion and fulfilment of the historical process lay in the hands of Yahweh. Israel saw a personal God with a history and a future, at least as far as they were concerned. This is what led to the theologising and hisoricizing of those traditions.

The Prophet's Inspiration

In a discussion of the various influences on prophecy, the prophet's inspiration is arguably the most important, since it impinges upon the actual motivation of the prophet, and in religion this is what interests us the most. His inspiration is the peg upon which all other theological and literary tools are hung.

"As far as we can see the prophets of the eighth and seventh centuries received their call through God's direct and very personal address to them and this created a totally new situation for the man concerned",[5] writes Von Rad. The inspiration of the prophet is an event proceeding from the initiative of Yahweh. In many cases it meets with reluctance on the part of the prophets themselves (Jer.1; Isa.6), but it is the beginning of intense dialogue with Yahweh and changes the prophets for good.

Early prophets seem to have been called as professional intercessors (1 Sam. 12:19,23; 2 Kings 19:1ff.) and the charismatics only appeared in an emergency. This was more of an official position than that of the freelance radicals, such as the writers Amos, Isaiah and Micah., all roughly contemporaries. Von Rad notes that with the stress of the major prophets on the 'call', its importance is such that a new literary genre is created. The stylisation of the accounts demonstrates the intensity of purpose, and its key feature is a strong inner compulsion. Elisha was told to follow the spirit of Yahweh (2 Kings 2:7-18) and people like Amos and Jeremiah testify to the burning passion of the message they carried (Jer. 20:7; Amos 3:8). Of all the influences upon the prophets this is the strongest and the one from which all the others take their lead.

Revelation was not mystical and internal, but external to the prophet. It was the perception of an event, the 'coming' of the word of Yahweh (1 Sam. 3:4ff.). Consciousness was not ecstatic, but intensified and concentrated. The prophet, on a superior level, became aware of himself and his surroundings. Indeed it is this heightened awareness that is at the heart of revelation; an equipping for office in which the will of Yahweh was the essential element. All of this was to do with the prophets commissioning. The manner of reception constituted the basic framework of his message. The grandeur of Isaiah (e.g. chapter 6), the retiring nature of Jeremiah (chapter 1), the power and imaginative qualities of Ezekiel (1:4ff.). Experiences such as these reveal more of the understanding of Yahweh's self-disclosure as conscious mental events rather than bizarre ecstasy.

How free or responsible was the prophet in all this? It is a common misconception that he was some unthinking scroll onto which were scribbled the doodlings of Yahweh. There is considerable internal struggle given in the accounts of the calls. Isaiah volunteers his services (Isa.6:8) and Jeremiah complains bitterly about his circumstances (Jer. 20:7,14). Did not Jonah attempt to run away from his vocation? Whether historical or not, the story makes the same point. Degrees of freedom can be seen in the complex literary arrangement of the prophecies. Prophets chose forms appropriate to the messages they wished to convey. Ezekiel used the death of his wife as an example of the disaster about to befall Judah. The messenger formula could be prefaced by a diatribe or exhortation, depending on its suitability to the message as a whole (Amos 5:3; Isa.5:8ff.). In fact, the awesome responsibility lies in the knowledge that it involves the activity of the will of Yahweh and "...the prophet is thus one who puts the will of Yahweh into effect; Yahweh thereafter commits himself to stand by the decision of his ambassador".[6]

The basic pattern is all about the prophet's voluntary surrendering of his will to the burden of his call, and bearing the responsibility of his message and office in a fully conscious and therefore free, way.

Could the prophet have refused his calling? Jeremiah's despair calls for repentance (15:19), and yet Amos speaks of an irresistible urge (Amos 3:3-8). Logically it would seem that the prophet could make an intellectual decision to refuse, although what such an action would have done to his relationship to Yahweh is another matter.

Conclusion and Implications

The striking fact remains, however, thatthe way by which she came to make her most important statements about theproperties of the divine word was not that of remaining uncritically bound to these primitive elements, but that of exercising her most concentrated reflection; and that what is said, for example in the prophets, about the 'magical' power of the divine word occurs in the context of and closest association with a very advanced and even positively revolutionary view of the spiritual world.[7]

Here Von Rad hits the nail on the head concerning the dominating influence on the prophets; that of their perception and experience of the word of Yahweh. It is a galvanising force, in which Yahweh's initiative makes every possible use of the prophets and their circumstances. Indeed, the prophets were influenced by their culture in many ways concerning style and expression of themes, but the inspiration of Yahweh formed the core of their message. Prophet and God co-operate in the unfolding revelation of God in history, a simple theme expressed in a rich and complex matrix. Prophecy is about interaction, Yahweh and man communicating. It must be read with this perspective in mind, and the meaning of the message stands out firmly from the canonical text. An appreciation of the historical, theological and literary textures that constitute the prophecies are made an integral part of knowing what a message meant and what it means. The importance and application of a message rests on the centrality of Yahweh's inspiration, and, of course. But then, that's the Bible for you.

© 1992 Michael Simpson

[Note that this is an undergraduate student essay and should therefore not be quoted directly as a source in other essays.]


[1] G. von Rad,Old Testament Theology, Vol. 2. Oliver & Boyd, 1968, p.15.

[2] Some speak of him as related to the royal family. He certainly had ready access to the Court, though he wasn't a 'chaplain to the King', like Nathan. - Lecturer's note.

[3] von Rad, p.43.

[4] A German theological term meaning 'history of Salvation'.

[5] Reference missing in original

[6] von Rad, p.76.

[7] von Rad, p.87.