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Posts Tagged ‘Prophets’

For our Resource of the Month, Brian and I have opted to use biblicaltraining.org and its free access to seminary classes.  One nice aspect for me is the chance to listen to Douglas Stuart’s Old Testament Survey class, which was a favorite at Gordon-Conwell but one class I did not take.  I’ve enjoyed the lectures immensely, which give you a good idea of Stuart’s engaging personality and desire to show the relevance of the Old Testament to the life of the church.

As I was listening to his lecture on the Prophetical Books (lecture #23), he made a point about the dating of the Law and the Prophets that I did not know.  It was (is?) a fairly common assumption within the world of Old Testament liberal scholarship for years that since the prophets do not quote the Law, the Law must have not been written yet.  The thought is that the Law must have been written after the prophets, perhaps with the authors of the Law using the prophets as their guide.  After all, if the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant, wouldn’t they have quoted from the covenant itself in order to make their case?

But Stuart points out that while in our culture lawyers would point to specific laws and quibble over the precise interpretation of the actual wording to make their case, this was not the method used in the time of ancient Israel.  To make his point, he shows that other cultures in Mesopotamia did not quote their laws in court either.  Drawing on Driver and Miles’ study (I don’t know the exact date, but probably written 100 or so years ago), The Babylonian Laws, he notes how, for example, though Hammurabi’s Law Code (which existed before Moses’ Law) was placed in the center of every city, it was not quoted in trials in those very cities.

Thus, the argument that the prophets did not quote the Law in their accusations against Israel loses its foundation.  Stuart goes on to point out that the concept of “legal citation” didn’t really begin until the Roman period.  It is anachronistic (there’s your vocab word for the day) to argue that the prophets would have to refer to the Law if they needed to make their case.  Unfortunately, Stuart claims, there are still some scholars argue using “100-year old data.”

I commend this class to you, I’ve really enjoyed it.  Dr Stuart is an easy professor to listen to, and a true servant of the church.

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