The Present State Of Old Testament Studies -- By: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 18:2 (Spring 1975)
Article: The Present State Of Old Testament Studies
Author: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

The Present State Of Old Testament Studies

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.*

The discipline of Old Testament Studies with all of its supporting philological, archaeological, historical, and literary technicians is poised on the brink of a new era which contains, like many of the prophet’s messages, both a promise and a threat. While the previous three or four decades have dealt kindly with our discipline with an overwhelming harvest of exciting and profitable advances, we are currently also witnessing a quiet changing of the guard which may possess some ominous implications for a discipline flushed with recent successes. Such nestors of the field as William Foxwell Albright, H. H. Rowley, G. Ernest Wright, Martin Noth, Nelson Glueck, Roland de Vaux, E. J. Young, O. T. Allis, Paul Lapp, and James Muilenburg have completed their work.

What they accomplished in their lifetime can be called nothing short of an intellectual revolution. From the bondage of a Darwinian developmentalism and a Hegelian dialectical movement in history they, for the most part, moved the discipline to the exhilarating freedom of a new methodology for Biblical study which stressed the use of real data and tools instead of imaginary sources or unsupported broad hypotheses.

Internally, the Biblical text was given its fair chance to speak as one of the witnesses to the reality it professed to describe. Of course this text was subjected to those proper scrutinies derived from the sciences of textual criticism, morphology, syntax, lexicography, and form criticism.

But the gains made by these investigations were not without the immense advantages garnered from a multitude of external controls. Archaeology, especially with the results gathered from ceramic typology, stratigraphy, and epigraphy, was well in the vanguard setting the pace for Old Testament scholars to follow. In the area of textual study,1 new ground was broken with the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls materials and the Hebrew University project of Textus. For syntactical, lexicographical, and morphological advances, one may point to the staggering amount of evidence supplied by the Ugaritic documents. Some of the features found in Ugaritic and now observed in Biblical Hebrew are: a strikingly similar poetic structure, parallel pairs of words,2 the enclitic mem, the asseverative use of lamed, the meaning of the

*Professor of Semitic Languages and Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

prepositions beth and lamed as “from,” and the double-dut...

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