Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 23:2 (June 1980) p. 143
The Prophets of Israel. By Leon J. Wood. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979, 405 pp., $11.95.
The Prophets of Israel is one of Leon Wood’s last major works before his untimely death in 1977. It is in the traditional format of introductions to the prophets discussing the date, background, authorship and nature of each prophetic book. An outline is given for each of the prophetic books as well. Almost one third of the volume (Part I) is devoted to the subject of “prophetism” in which the author considers the basic issues and problems associated with the phenomenon of prophecy in Israel.
The section on prophetism contains a helpful survey of prophecy in the ancient Near East entitled “Contemporary Prophets.” While the discussion is entirely dependent on secondary sources it is accurate and informative and contains a helpful refutation of alleged instances of divination in the OT. Wood has previously demonstrated his interest in the question of prophetic ecstasy in several articles. The chapter dealing with ecstasy is, perhaps for that reason, particularly strong. While an adequate response is given to most of the arguments for prophetic ecstasy, Wood does not interact with the three passages in which the root nb’ connotes the concept of raving (1 Sam 18:10; I Kgs 18:29; 22:10–12). He uses these contexts to admit the concept of emotionalism to his understanding of the root nb’, however, giving as his definition of prophesying “to speak fervently for God.” But the lack of a response to the implications of those passages for prophetic ecstasy leaves an unanswered question in the mind of the reader.
Wood sees the central mission of the prophet as reformation, not innovation. The task of the prophet was to call the people to conformity to the law. The fact that the law is not mentioned frequently in the prophets is explained as an attempt on the part of the prophets to avoid externalism in religion, for the legal observances could well have become an end in themselves. In this, Wood is in agreement with Eichrodt.
Wood demonstrates a familiarity with current liberal as well as conservative works on the prophetic material. Typical of his treatment of liberal thought is his discussion of the contention of A. Haldar and A. Johnson that the prophets were cultic functionaries. Wood points out that the prophets were often critical of the cult, pointing to such verses as Jer 6:20 and Amos 5:21–25 where sacrifice, as practiced in the prevailing cult, is roundl...
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