On on all accountsThe title should indicate to perceptive readers that the book is not focusing on the historical prophets represented in the literature per se but in the words spoken by the prophets writings about the prophets shaping of material by scribal editors and derivations from the prophetic wordsteachings p 1 Hence the book doesn t get bogged down in detailed discussions of historicity transmission and redaction though it summarizes the issues fairly and doesn t try to negate the contributions of those types of studies Rather the final emphasis focuses on the message of the prophetic literature as encompassing and surpassing these considerationsI found it interesting that Petersen begins with a discussion of the prose forms of prophetic literature Many scholars start with the poetic forms because the assumption is the poetic forms are closer to the spoken speech of the prophets themselves Petersen discusses prose forms as 1 symbolic action reports prose descriptions of actions the prophet took in reality or in vision to set up particular messages from God 2 commissioning reports sections where the call of the prophet is described 3 vision reports accounts and explanations of visions the prophet has received 4 legends incidents surrounding miraculous events or holy objects which celebrate the lives of holy persons see also p 227 seem shaped to teach a lesson 5 historiographies citations designed to help the readerlistener understand what was going on in the world in which the prophet spoke 6 biographies accounts to demonstrate the relationship between the prophet s personal life and circumstances with the prophet s message and 7 divinatory chronicles narratives depicting how the prophet was reuired to discern God s will in a particular situation pp 20 25Discussion of prose forms is immediately followed with the expected discussion of poetic techniues such as parallelism repetition for the sake of clarity comparison or contrast pp 25 26 and figures of speech especially similes pp 27 28 He also deals succinctly with the idea of prophetic oracles by offering a list of representative samples eg lawsuit in Micah 12 7 or hymn in Habakkuk 32 15 p 29 He also uotes Robert Alter as listing three distinct styles of prophetic poetry accusation satire and admonitory warning of coming disaster p 32 Petersen builds on these examples by explaining how the prophetic literature is largely represented by collections of these different styles of literature p 33 This chapter alone makes it a marvelous introductory textbook but there s Petersen spends the bulk of the book in examining the literature associated with Isaiah Jeremiah and Ezekiel though he does deal with each prophet represented in the so called Book of the Twelve and with prophetic materials in the Deuteronomic History I particularly liked Petersen s observations on the literary structure of these poetic books First after discussion of various theories about the way the Book of Isaiah is structured he contends that Chapters 33 35 form something of a hinge or segue between two different portions of the book He calls it a diptych with Chapters 1 32 focusing on the problems of ZionJerusalem and after the segue Chapters 36 66 personifying Zion as an individual and demonstrating relationships and hope for the future p 62Second Petersen points out differences in both the size and ordering of materials in the Book of Jeremiah noting that the Greek LXX Septuagint version is shorter than that of the Hebrew text and that Jeremiah seems much irascible in the Hebrew text and of a normal prophet in the Greek p 102 Then he suggests a three part structure for the Hebrew text of Jeremiah 1 an aggregation of mostly poetic oracles with a bit of prose in Chapters 1 25 2 a collection of dominantly prose descriptions of Jeremiah poetic oracles with a bit of prose in Chapters 1 25 2 a collection of dominantly prose descriptions of
Jeremiah activities in Chapters 26 45 and 3 oracles against foreign nations pp activities in Chapters 26 45 and 3 oracles against foreign nations pp 103 In this way he pictures the book moving from indictment and judgment to hope and on to a
Significant Place In International Activities There Is place in international activities There is an insightful presentation of material on lament with care to show the relationship of lamentation to cultic worship For me the climax of this discussion was when he wrote Even as the deity administers punishment to the people God also grieves at their suffering The rhetoric of lament permits the deity to express such sentiments p 109Third Petersen takes on the challenge of Ezekiel I enjoyed Petersen s observation that much of the writing in Ezekiel should be described with the German word Kunstprosa meaning artful prose p 140 I also liked the way he scoped out the literary structure of the book around the three principle collections of vision reports 1 inaugural visions in Ezekiel 11 315 2 indictments and judgments in Ezekiel 8 11 and 3 visions of temple renewal in Ezekiel 40 48 p 141 The first section assures Israel that God is mobile not stuck in any given land or temple and serves as a vital message to a people in exile The second section points out why God s people deserved this punishment and how their idolatry caused God to withdraw from the temple The third section shows what could happen if God returned to the temple p 140 I particularly liked Petersen s point that the final vision reports did not contain the usual formulaic ending to a vision report He suggested that this left the book open ended regarding hope p 146Another good section was the portion on the Book of the Twelve the writings some describe as the minor prophets Petersen considers the focal message transmission of materials and redactionstructure of each book after he deals with some basic considerations After noting that the twelve collections of materials were seen together from at least 200 BCE onward p 169 he notices the coherence and consistency regarding the Day of the Lord pp 170 211 and observes the two different orderings of the books within the twelve between the LXX and the Hebrew as well as between the traditional canonical order and the probably chronological order pp 172 173 Unless a reader is predisposed to believe that the prophets named in these collections wrote every word associated with them themselves and within the scripture itself Baruch s relationship to Jeremiah would put this assumption in doubt The Prophetic Literature An Introduction will answer many uestions point one to new directions and pull disparate ideas together. Chi as well as the Hebrew texts that describe the work and words of Israel's earlier prophets eg Elijah and Elisha in 1 2 Kin. ,
Oks Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve To focus in on these books he says that he will basically look at each book through three different sets of lenses These lenses being historical and social context literary features and theological issues however in the chapters of the book he seems to add oracles as one set of lenses he chooses to pear through even though he does not seem to mention this in the Preface Once again I believe that Petersen explains very clearly what he intends to accomplish and then systematically does so Regarding the strengths of the book I would say that the thing that stands out most in my mind is that he really does offer a pretty balanced point of view on most of the topics He is obviously very well read and seems to reference other scholars opinions and views than he provides his own at times It seemed at places that he was in essence writing a synopsis of the views that are held on Old Testament prophecy rather than a book of his own insights which one might expect Although one could certainly argue that this is a weakness of the book I would say that this style offers some degree of credibility considering how many ideas of different scholars were presented The next greatest strength that I see in the book is the structured and consistent format that he used By breaking up the chapters into historical literary oracular and theological subheadings it made the book easier to anticipate and keep in context what was being discussed Further strengths of the book included his focus on other prophecies or prophets that were not contained in the books of the prophets per say The time that he spent on characters such as Moses Elisha and Elijah were some of the most interesting components to this writer The concepts of text criticism are new to this writer from the current class through which this reading has been assigned however from the information provided it seems clear that Petersen focused his time on Form Criticism but also Redaction Criticism as well I will put this in the camp of strengths for the author considering that he seems to be able to focus in on a criticism style that he wants to view the text through and then follow that plan As far as weaknesses are concerned it seems as though some of what I have considered here may be somewhat petty et this writer still assumes that it is pertinent to the effort in understanding the book as a whole First it appears as though from the title alone this book is written as an introduction to prophetic literature I think it would be difficult to say this is introductory material Unless the student has a thorough knowledge of the texts that are being addressed as well as the history of the writing I think someone could get lost very easily The intended audience is never truly identified as far as I can remember from the text therefore it seems confusing to understand who this material would be introductory to Not only is the material very scholarly which is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself it is written with a very high form of language Although this is not inherently bad this writer felt as though he would be served well by keeping a dictionary handy while reading Just a handful of the words that were used that in this writers opinion could have been defined clearly within the text or replaced by coherent words considering the introductory nature were Salient p xi prosaic p 28 Denkschrift p 78 obduracy p 78 jingoistic p 86 suffuses p 89 asseveration p 91 diptych p 104 pastiche p 124 cudgel p 134 coterminous p 215 and peripatetic p 227 This writer does not wish to plead ignorance in vocabulary however many of these words all of which I had to look up in the dictionary could have been replaced by words that the introductory student would understand Further weaknesses to be discussed in the text are this writers opinion and not very scholarly and should therefore most likely be thrown out however I will add them here for the purposes of this review As I read through the book I found myself writing nasty little statements in my book as though I was talking back to the author Throughout the text it seemed as though he used a lot of inflammatory language to make his points As examples the book of Jeremiah offers ambiguous evidence p 97 Never was there a less successful prophet p 121 Jeremiah 32 borders on being incoherent p 131 these may actually be true statements it was a real turn off to read these of comments throughout the book Considering these comments in conjunction with his constant view of authors borrowing form one another the potential inaccuracy of the authors and explanation of how texts were continually added to and changed for various reasons really gave me a negative view of the book overall I had to continually remind myself that he was not really writing a commentary on these prophetic books that put everything in context rather he was focusing on the language and literature of these works and drawing conclusions based upon that effort Regardless it is frustrating to read books like this when the concepts of inspiration and the supernatural aren t taken into consideration For this writer books that look at biblical literature from a well rounded perspective are easier to read and understand and provide better context for ministry Once again this probably isn t the scholarly analysis desired however it is my view of the book after my readings and reflection All in all the book is most likely useful if the POINT OF THE BOOK IS ONLY of the book is only introduce a serious bible student to the language and literature of the Bible alone however if the point of the book is to deepen the knowledge and understanding of the bible and how it is useful in ministry or application I doubt it is the best resource As one might gather from the title The Prophetic Literature An Introduction this volume was written to function as a textbook Indeed I purchased the book for three reasons a it was written by a scholar named David L Petersen whose work I have always admired b I was looking for a textbook for an upper division elective in Old Testament Prophets for a course I anticipated teaching and c it followed my predilection for paying close attention to rhetorical literary considerations in both the structure of the books being discussed and the individual compositions within The book surpassed my expectati. Kes into account the major advances in current research as he examines both the literature of the latter prophets Isaiah Mala. Book Review The Prophetic Literature An IntroductionBy David L Petersen This volume is intended to introduce biblical prophetic literature With this clear beginning statement of the Preface David Petersen sets out his plan to introduce the serious bible student to the Bible from a literary point of view From the title alone one may conclude that the book is about the literature of Old Testament prophecy rather than the prophets themselves It is his desire therefore to introduce the reader to the intricacies of the literature especially as it relates to literary manifestations including prose and poetry not necessarily the truth contained therein Petersen begins his work with a rather lengthy introduction From the first paragraph Petersen makes it clear to the reader that from his analysis of prophetic literature many problems exist As we will see throughout the text Petersen outlines many areas that cause him and certain other scholars who engage in such form criticism difficulty To assist the reader in understanding the context of the book Petersen defines prophetic literature as literature that attests to or grows out of the activity of Israel s prophets p 4 From this seemingly simple definition complexity is offered as Petersen explains that prophetic literature in his view is not just the prophecies themselves but any writings about the prophet by which the prophecy came whether written by himself or another poetry or prose Petersen goes on to explain in detail how the reader should view a prophet of Old Testament literature as well as the diversity in titles and roles that are found throughout Regardless of the diversity Petersen sees the one element common to all prophets p 7 in their functionality This functionality being in their role as intermediaries between the human and divine p 7 Beyond these pivotal definitions Petersen spends time on the historical setting of prophetic literature He explains that these intermediaries began their work at the time that Israel adopted statehood as its form of government p 8 and concluded their work around the time that Judah was destroyed Staying true to what appears to be form criticism Petersen goes on to elucidate on the social setting of Old Testament prophecy He explains that a common message for prophecy revolved around the fair treatment of those who in that time were most likely incapable of protecting themselvesRounding out his introduction Petersen deals with the Problems with Prophecy Prophetic Literature in the Ancient Near East Literary Perspectives and many other topics that he believes sets the stage to discuss introduce the prophetic Literature of the Old Testament It would behoove us to overview at least Petersen s thoughts on literary perspectives since this seems to be a major focus throughout the book Although Petersen seems disappointed with categorizing prophetic literature into prose stories and poetry speeches he apparently finds the need to do so despite the challenges To help break down prophetic literature into these two units or genres Petersen defines prose accounts through seven separate but identifiable categories and poetry speech by its rules and features To Petersen it is certainly important to know how the literature is built in order to fully understand it Lastly in his introduction Petersen reviews Theological and Ethical Issues as it relates to the literature that was created by or about Old Testament prophets Simply put Petersen explains that prophetic literature was not
created to be simply history rather it was created with theological intent With the introduction behindto be simply history rather it was created with theological intent With the introduction behind Petersen takes most of the rest of the book to delve into the Books of Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel and the twelve minor prophets as a single unit With the three Major Prophets Petersen unfolds the literature from a historical literary oracular and theological perspective As he turns to the minor prophets he pulls them together as a unit in the Book of the twelve Although he gives brief discussion of each book individually he is able to describe how these books can be and have been seen as one Throughout the chapters on both major and minor prophets petersen uses references from other scholars prophets Petersen uses references from other scholars explain different perspectives on the literature however he also provides his own insights when it seems pertinent to do so Once again one focus that is uite apparent throughout the text of this prophetic language is the discussion of prose and poetry Petersen also seems to compare and contrast certain features of one prophet from another uite often Petersen concludes his book outside of the Epilogue with a discussion of prophetic literature that is not contained in the prophetic books as book outside of the Epilogue with a discussion of prophetic literature that is not contained in the prophetic books as has previously been described This chapter discusses prophets and prophetic language that occurs throughout the Hebrew Bible Here he discusses in detail Moses who acted as a prophet as well as others such as Abraham Aaron Miriam Elijah and Elisha Petersen does draw some lines in the sand on whether or not some of these individuals should be considered prophets considering the typical understanding of who a prophet is regardless he draws some interesting conclusions about these individuals and even some non Israelite prophets as well Petersen provides many scholarly opinions on why this prophetic literature exists and how it came to be Throughout this review only a brief overview has been provided on what the book discusses It seems appropriate then to ask whether or not the author accomplished the task he set out to accomplish as well as the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the book itself Opinions of the book itself aside for the time being I would say that the author accomplished what he set out to do In his Preface he outlined that his intent was to introduce biblical prophetic literature without focus on chronology or history of prophecy or prophetic literature He explains further in the Preface that the first chapter would be devoted to the nature of prophetic literature definitions of important terms the concept of prophecy as a diverse phenomenon and the genre of literature as in the forms of either poetry or prose It is uite an undertaking to address each of these concepts in a single chapter however Petersen seems to give somewhat concise backing for each of the topics Further into the Preface Petersen explains that he will focus on four major biblical bo. Respected scholar David Petersen provides a systematic and comprehensive introduction to the prophetic literature Petersen ta.