Impulse And Design In The Book Of Haggai -- By: Duane L. Christensen

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 35:4 (Dec 1992)
Article: Impulse And Design In The Book Of Haggai
Author: Duane L. Christensen


Impulse And Design In The Book Of Haggai

Duane L. Christensen*

Comparison between the Hebrew texts of Haggai as edited by O. Procksch in BHK (1937) and K. Elliger in BHS (1970) is revealing, as D. L. Petersen has noted.1 Procksch saw the book as entirely a prose work, whereas Elliger set forth more than half of the book in poetic form (Hag 1:3–11, 15; 2:3–9, 14–19, 20–23). Most of the citations of Haggai in P. R. Ackroyd’s seminal discussion are also in the stichic form of Hebrew poetry.2 In some respects the situation parallels changes in scholarly perception of the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible in general during the modern period of critical scholarship. Though two hundred years ago relatively few translations or commentaries saw much poetry in the prophetic literature, today large sections, particularly in Isaiah and Jeremiah, are recognized almost universally as poetic in form. Increasingly, more and more of the rest of the Hebrew Bible is being read as poetry as well.3

In recent years J. C. de Moor and I have concluded, on independent grounds, that the books of Ruth and Jonah are in fact narrative poems in their entirety.4 Such a conclusion does not deny the fact that the Song of Jonah in Jonah 2 is clearly a different genre from the rest of that book. It rather raises new questions about how we define poetry in the literature of ancient Israel. Poetry includes a broad range of genres, from lyric to narrative. For de Moor and his associates the quest to define the basic elements of Hebrew poetry has led to an ongoing research project at the Kampen School of Theology in the Netherlands that is expanding our knowledge of both Biblical and Canaanite poetry at all levels of analysis.5 As a result the line between so-called prose and poetry in the ancient Near East is much less clear today than it was a few years ago.

* Duane Christensen is acting dean of academic affairs at Christian Witness Theological Seminary, 1525 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707.

My own research has led me into interdisciplinary study of music and language in antiquity.6 We have long kn...

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