Praying The Tradition: The Origin And Use Of Tradition In Nehemiah 9 -- By: Mark J. Boda

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 48:1 (NA 1997)
Article: Praying The Tradition: The Origin And Use Of Tradition In Nehemiah 9
Author: Mark J. Boda


Praying The Tradition: The Origin And Use Of Tradition In Nehemiah 91

Mark J. Boda

The goal of this dissertation was to identify those who were responsible for the prayer in Nehemiah 9, and how they used the traditions of Israel.

An investigation of the Gattung to which Nehemiah 9 belonged laid the groundwork for a traditional historical evaluation of the composition. Nehemiah 9 was identified with a series of prayers which represent a transformation of the classical Hebrew Gattung of lament: Late Repentance Prayer (Ezra 9; Neh. 1, Dan. 9, Ps. 106). Besides a long list of shared forms and vocabulary, consistent themes were evident: covenant, land, law. The purpose of these compositions was to bring an end to the devastating effects of the fall of the state: an end to captivity, oppression or the sorry condition of Palestine. An activity that accompanied nearly all of these compositions was fasting. The emergence of a regular cycle of day(s) of fasting among the Mesopotamian and Palestinian exilic communities showed not only the importance of fasting in this period but also a setting for Late Repentance Prayer.

A traditio-historical evaluation of this Gattung revealed that Priestly/Ezekielian circles supplemented and superseded a Deuteronomistic foundation. Although there was ample evidence of Deuteronomistic vocabulary and concepts, there was a substantial number of Priestly/Ezekielian elements. The various representatives of the Gattung also revealed a consistent approach to the to the Pentateuch: synthesis of either legal or historical traditions.

By determining the formal and traditio-historical character of the Gattung this evaluation was able to identify more clearly the unique character of Nehemiah 9 in relation to its Gattung. The first step in the traditio-historical analysis of Nehemiah 9 was to determine the tradition boundaries of the composition. Between an introductory call to worship (9:5) and concluding request for help with confession (9:32-37), the prayer presents successive traditions guiding the reader from the creation of the wo...

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