The Theological Center of the Book of Hosea -- By: David B. Wyrtzen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 141:564 (Oct 1984)
Article: The Theological Center of the Book of Hosea
Author: David B. Wyrtzen


The Theological Center of the Book of Hosea

David B. Wyrtzen

[David B. Wyrtzen, Pastor, Midlothian Bible Church, Midlothian, Texas]

The attempt to find a unifying concept which gives meaning to the multitudinous details of Hosea’s prophecy at first seems difficult if not impossible. After the relatively ordered biographical material in chapters 1–3 the prophecies seem to become like randomly pasted magazine pictures on a piece of construction paper. Recognizing this difficulty Jerome’s opinion is frequently quoted, “Hosea is concise and speaks as it were in detached sayings.”1 Andersen and Freedman write, “The major literary problem encountered in [chaps.] 4–14 is its apparent incoherence. It is amorphous, on first sight.”2 Key words in these observations are “as it were” and “on first sight.” A comparison of the structural analyses of such modern critics as Wolff,3 Buss,4 Ward,5 Harper,6 Rudolph,7 and Andersen and Freedman8 indicates a basic agreement concerning the twofold division of the book (chaps. 1–3 and chaps. 4–14) and a good deal of agreement concerning even the subsections within these major sections. Thus the structure of Hosea should not be thought of as an amorphous collection of disconnected prophetic sayings.9

Accepting this overall structural unity, this article seeks to demonstrate that Hosea’s purpose is to present an intensely personal divine restorative confrontation with Israel. Nullifying the Mosaic Covenant because of Israel’s habitual disobedience, God will establish a New Covenant with them based on the gracious promises to the patriarchs and David. This inherent

unifying concept enables the interpreter to systematize the author’s theology around this unifying theme.

Five Judgment-Salvation Cycles

The unity of the entire book is demarcated by an introductory (1:1) and concluding formula (14:9). As already stated the twofold division—the largely biographical material concerning the L...

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