Restoring the Right Relationship

Restoring the Right Relationship

Mark A O’Brien
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Restoring the Right Relationship
    Book Description:

    A leading biblical scholar, Hans Heinrich Schmid, believes that righteousness, or the right order of the world, is 'the fundamental problem of our human existence'. It is a key theme in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament's theology of creation and salvation, along with associated themes such as justice, steadfast love/loyalty, truth/ fidelity, compassion/mercy, sin and disorder/chaos. A number of studies of righteousness have been undertaken but most have tended to focus on Israel's call to be righteous, as voiced in particular in the Prophetic Books and the Psalter. In contrast, this book focuses on divine righteousness as the basis for all other notions of righteousness, as this is outlined in the foundational teaching or revelation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament— namely, the Torah or Pentateuch. It then undertakes a study of how righteousness in the Prophetic Books, the Psalter and the Book of Job relates to this foundational teaching.

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-99-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    As the title indicates, this book is about the righteousness of God and its importance for the HBOT’s understanding of the human condition. To propose that righteousness is a central component of HBOT theology is not new. No less a figure than Gerhard von Rad holds that

    There is absolutely no concept in the Old Testament with so central a significance for all relationships of human life as that oftsdqh. It is the standard not only for man’s relationship to God but also his relationship to his fellows.¹

    Another leading commentator, Hans Heinrich Schmid, argues that the ‘righteousness of...

  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. 15-17)
  7. Part One Divine Righteousness in the Torah/Pentateuch
    • 1 Deuteronomy 32
      (pp. 21-33)

      The first text in the Torah that will be analysed is the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:1–43. There are two good reasons for this. One is the already noted fact that 32:4 is the only Torah text that proclaims God is just in all his ways, righteous and upright. This claim applies not just to all that God says and does in the Torah but to all that God will say and do in the future. Another reason is that the song is located at a strategic point in the Torah and exercises an important function in relation...

    • 2 Book of Genesis
      (pp. 35-51)

      As is now widely recognised, the book of Genesis commences with two accounts of creation reflecting different authors or traditions; one is the stately Genesis 1:1–2:4a, commonly attributed to priestly circles, the other is the dramatic story of the man and woman in 2:4b–3:24.¹ Nevertheless there is good evidence to show that they have been combined with a definite purpose in mind. The first concludes with the statement, ‘These are the generations (toledoth) of the heavens and the earth when they were created’ (2:4a). The subsequent narrative traces thetoledothof human beings from the first couple in...

    • 3 Book of Exodus
      (pp. 53-87)

      The story of the ‘exodus’ shares a number of features with the flood story and the more general story plot of the battle against evil (in Booker’s terminology ‘overcoming the monster’).¹ Evil and chaos envelop a key component of God’s creation (Israel) and threaten to destroy it.² God delivers Israel by wielding the forces of creation in an ordered/righteous way (cf the Pharaoh’s acknowledgement in 9:27). Moses plays an analogous role to Noah in the flood, the one who is loyal to God and mediates salvation for the people. The threat to God’s purpose in creation is definitively removed when...

    • 4 Books of Leviticus and Numbers
      (pp. 89-103)

      It has long been recognised that the book of Leviticus is priestly literature, that it was most likely put together in the post–exilic period, and that it was incorporated into the emerging Torah at a late stage. This tended to create an impression that it is of lesser importance than other parts of the Torah. More recent focus on the present text has resulted in something of a reversal; a growing tendency to see it as a key piece within the Torah, even its centerpiece.¹ It provides instructions that are central for the relationship between God and Israel, between...

    • 5 Book of Deuteronomy
      (pp. 105-117)

      The book of Deuteronomy is now generally linked by critical scholarship to the reform of king Josiah in the late seventh century BCE (cf 2 Kgs 22–23). It is thought the decline of Assyria provided ‘ deuteronomic reformers’ with an opportunity to promote the exclusive worship of Israel’s God via a policy of centralised worship in the Jerusalem temple and an accompanying reform of law. To enhance its authority the work was attributed to Moses, the great leader of hoary antiquity. According to Martin Noth, this reform became the prologue and interpretative key to Israel’s first major historical work...

  8. Part Two Divine Righteousness in the Former Prophets/Historical Books
    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 119-120)

      The Torah concludes with Israel poised to enter the promised land and live there according to God’s law. The chosen people and their land will become a sign of the order that God has in store for all humanity and creation. The ‘Former Prophets’ tells the story of Israel from its entry into the land until its exile from the land (cf 2 Kgs 17; 25).¹ Granted that this is the continuation of the Torah’s storyline one would expect the interpretative criteria employed in the earlier story would also be employed here. That is, Israel’s initial success and ultimate failure...

    • 1 In the Books of Joshua and Judges
      (pp. 121-135)

      The terms ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’ do not occur in the book of Joshua and, after reading its stories of the conquest, one could be forgiven for concluding ‘with good reason’. To a modern reader the divine command to utterly destroy another nation smacks of ‘ ethnic cleansing’ or genocide. Nevertheless, if one takes the literary and theological context of the larger Hebrew Bible/Old Testament into account, as well as its ANE context, some appreciation can be gained of the presence of such stories and their contribution to the theology of divine righteousness.

      There can be little doubt that one of...

    • 2 In the Books of Samuel
      (pp. 137-156)

      The opening verse of 1 Samuel clearly echoes Judges 17:1 and 19:1 (a certain man from the hill country of Ephraim) prompting the question; are we in for more tales of woe? Initially this indeed looks to be the case; there is division within the family of Elkanah and a less than adequate proposal to resolve it. The fertile Peninnah provokes the barren Hannah (1:6, a verse that is not in the LXX) while Elkanah assumes that what will ease Hannah’s distress is complete devotion to him (1:8, ‘Am I not worth more to you than ten sons’?). Another example...

    • 3 In the Books of Kings
      (pp. 157-170)

      The story of Israel under the prophets and kings reaches another important stage in the succession of Solomon. A key text is David’s farewell speech to Solomon in 1 Kings 2:1–9 which is in two parts; vv 1–4 are about Solomon’s loyalty to God while vv 5–9 are about Solomon’s loyalty to David. An understanding of the relationship between the two is important for the story of Solomon and the subsequent story of the Davidic dynasty.

      1 Kings 2:1–4 assures Solomon of blessing and prosperity as long as he remains loyal to God ‘as it is...

  9. Part Three Divine Righteousness in the Latter Prophets
    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 171-175)

      Although a distinct section of the HBOT, the ‘Latter Prophets’ or ‘Writing Prophets’ are an integral part of the ongoing story of Israel and of the larger story of humanity and creation that begins in Genesis 1. Most of the books commence with a superscription that locates the particular prophet at a certain point in the storyline. For example, Isaiah 1:1 refers to the vision that Isaiah saw ‘in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah kings of Judah’. Some books of the twelve ‘minor prophets’ lack this kind of superscription but can nevertheless be located along the storyline...

    • 1 Book of Isaiah
      (pp. 177-204)

      As is well known, modern historical critical analysis claims that Isaiah

      is in fact three books in one: there is a ‘First-Isaiah’ in chapters 1–39

      that contains prophecies of the eighth century BCE prophet Isaiah (cf

      the superscription in 1:1) as well as later material; there is a ‘Second

      Isaiah in chapters 40–55 thought to be the work of one or more

      authors during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE; and

      there is ‘Third-Isaiah’ in chapters 56–66, attributed to a group in the

      post-exilic period. This theory is based more on the a a a...

    • 2 Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel
      (pp. 205-213)

      The occurrences of righteousness in the book of Jeremiah deal with three key relationships. One is between God and the people, the relevant texts being Jeremiah 3:11 (verb); 51:10 (noun); 4:2 (noun in a unique combination with truth [’emet] and justice); and 9:24 (MT 9:23) (noun in another unique combination with steadfast love [khesedh] and justice).² The second is between God and the Davidic king; being combined with justice as a word pair in 22:3, 13, 15; 23:5; 33:15. The third is between God and the prophet (11:20; 12:1; 20:12).³ In the prophecies of restoration

      a a a a a...

    • 3 Book of the Twelve Prophets
      (pp. 215-225)

      As noted in the introduction to this chapter, the MT and LXX list the first six of the twelve so–called ‘minor prophets’ in different order. For the purposes of this brief survey, the MT order will be followed: it is the one given in most English translations. The book of the twelve intensifies the question of the relationship between unity and diversity in the HBOT: it is one book but within it are twelve books each attributed to a different prophet. Recent scholarship has explored thematic and structural evidence of connections between the books, applying appropriate methodologies, both diachronic...

  10. Part Four Divine Righteousness in the Writings
    • [Part Four Introduction]
      (pp. 227-229)

      As noted in the general introduction to the book my analysis of divine righteousness in the Writings section of the Hebrew canon (Wisdom Literature of the Greek canon) focuses on the book of Psalms (or Psalter) and the book of Job. There are several reasons for this. An immediate and obvious one is that a study such as this cannot hope to cover every base and so a selection needs to be made. I hope the following reasons justify the selection made, at least to some degree.

      The Psalter provides fertile ground for reflection on divine righteousness for a number...

    • 1 The Psalter
      (pp. 231-247)

      The one hundred and fifty psalms of the Psalter are divided into five books (Psalms 1–41; 42–72; 73–89; 90–106; 107–150), perhaps in imitation of the Pentateuch.¹ Some relationship between the one and the five is indicated not only by the fact that the five are parts of a larger book but also because each book ends with a doxology of praise. Does this signal that the overall purpose of the Psalter is the praise of God and to urge its users to join in that praise? As well as this, within the five books there...

    • 2 Book of Job
      (pp. 249-263)

      David Clines, who recently completed a massive three–volume commentary on Job, thinks most readers would see ‘the major question’ of the book as the problem of (innocent) suffering. However Clines himself thinks that it is the ‘moral order of the world, of the principles on which it is governed’ by the divinity.¹ The two views are in fact related because the reality of innocent suffering questions in what sense, or whether in any sense, God’s governance of creation can be called just. The argument or arguments that seek to defend the righteousness/justice of God in the face of such...

  11. Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 265-272)

    Like most investigations this one began ‘in medias res’, that is, within an already established context of scholarly analysis of righteousness and associated terminology. As pointed out in the Preface recent studies of the termtsedeq/tsedaqahfavour the view that it refers primarily to right order in relationships; the judicial or legal usage of the terminology is an application of this more basic meaning. Although the term is employed in relation to the covenant with Israel, Schmid and others argue that this operates within the larger context of biblical creation theology. Creation and salvation are not separate entities in the...

  12. Bibliography of Works Cited
    (pp. 273-291)
  13. Indices
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 329-329)