Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 10 (2010) - Review

Boda, Mark and Michael Floyd (eds.), Tradition in Transition: Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 in the Trajectory of Hebrew Theology (LHBOTS, 475; London: T & T Clark, 2008). Pp. xv+384. Hardcover. US$ 145.00, ISBN 978-0-567-02651-4.

In recent research the books of Haggai and Zechariah are moving increasingly into the center of scholarly interest. At the beginning of the last century scholars often despised the value of these books and regarded the prophets Haggai and Zechariah as mere epigones of the classical, preexilic prophets. Since then, however, scholarship has reached a new consensus that these books are important documents providing illuminative insights into the historical and political situation of early Persian Yehud and the theological discourse of that time.

An important field of current research on the books of Haggai and Zechariah are the intertextual relationships of these books. It has long been recognized that the books of Haggai and Zechariah are consciously alluding to older prophetic scriptures, applying the message of the older prophets to the new circumstances of the early postexilic period. It is a matter of debate, however, to which degree the books of Haggai and Zechariah are dependent on these older prophetic scriptures and how one should understand the intricacies of the intertextual relationships.

The recent volume Tradition in Transition: Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 in the Trajectory of Hebrew Theology, edited by Mark Boda and Michael Floyd, comprises thirteen essays focusing on different aspects of the tradition-historical connections between the books of Haggai and Zechariah and the older prophetic tradition as well as on the reinterpretation of these books within the subsequent textual history. Additionally, at the end of the volume, four scholars (Willem A. M. Beuken, Rex Mason, David L. Petersen, and Janet E. Tollington), all of whom fostered investigation of the books of Haggai and Zechariah in the last four decades with their important contributions, respond to the essays from their individual perspectives.

The first two essays of the volume are concerned with different aspects of the prophetic message documented in the book of Haggai. In his essay “Tradition, Continuity and Covenant in the Book of Haggai: An Alternative Voice from Early Persian Yehud” John Kessler deals with the question of why the catastrophe of 587 does not play an important role in the book of Haggai, which contrasts with its significance in other prophetic scriptures. He argues that Haggai minimizes the previous disaster in order to present a theology of hope based on a functioning relationship between Yhwh and his people. In the subsequent contribution, “Time and Tradition in the book of Haggai” Frank Y. Patrick focuses on the oft discussed verse Hag 1:2, according to which the people say that the time to rebuild the temple has not yet come. Patrick proposes that this verse should be understood against the background of the older prophetic expectations. Thus, according to Hag 1:2 the time to rebuild the temple has not yet come because the foreign powers are not yet overthrown and the agricultural situation of the people has not yet changed.

The next essay “The King in Haggai–Zechariah 1–8 and the Book of the Twelve” from Paul L. Redditt presents a tradition- and redaction-historical approach concerning the different oracles about the king in the Book of the Twelve. According to Redditt the exilic Book of the Four comprising the books of Hosea, Amos, Micah, and Zephaniah is characterized by its negative attitude towards kingship (Hos 13:11; Amos 6:5; Mic 1:14; 4:9–10; 6:16; Zeph 1:8). This Book of the Four underwent a “pro-Davidic recension” (Hos 3:5*; Amos 9:11–15; most of Mic 4-5; Zeph 3:14–20 et al.), which drew upon Hag 2:20–23; Zech 4:6–10*; 6:12. Finally, the redactor of Zech 9–14 tempered the optimism of the “pro-Davidic recension” with critical words against the Davidides.

The subsequent nine essays of the volume deal with different tradition-historical concerns of the book of Zechariah. D. Nathan Phinney, in his essay “Life Writing in Ezekiel and First Zechariah,” argues that the prophet Zechariah shaped his book as an autobiography, a concept he adopted from the book of Ezekiel. The contribution of Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, “Zechariah's Spies and Ezekiel's Cherubim,” puts forward the suggestion that the depiction of horses and riders in the book of Zechariah is influenced by the Ezekielian picture of the cherubim. In his essay “‘The Whole Earth Remains at Peace’ (Zechariah 1:11): The Problem and an Intertextual Clue,” Al Wolters argues against the common assumption that the mention of a situation of peace in Zech 1:11 simply mirrors the situation of the early Persian period because the time around 519 was not a time of peace. Zechariah 1:11 is rather to be read against the background of Isa 14:7, meaning that Zech 1:11 promises that the peace and freedom from the Babylonian empire predicted in Isa 14 are about to come. The subsequent essay from Michael R. Stead, “Sustained Allusions in Zechariah 1–2,” illustrates how the book of Zechariah is characterized by multiple scattered references to other texts. The book of Zechariah, for example, takes up and inverts the judgment descriptions of Lam 2, and it also alludes to the oracles of salvation in Isa 54 in order to announce that restoration is at hand. In his essay “Hoy, Hoy: The Prophetic Origins of the Babylonian Tradition in Zechariah 2:10–17” Mark J. Boda describes how Zech 2:10–17 draws upon several prophetic traditions such as Isa 12–14; Jer 25, 50–51; Ezek 38–39 thus bringing to mind the prediction of the fall of the Babylonian empire and the hope for restoration mentioned in these texts. In so doing, Zech 2:10–17 shows that the punishment of Babylon expected by the earlier prophets has come true in the time of the prophet Zechariah and now, as a result, demands a response by God's people. In the subsequent essay, “Zechariah and the Satan Tradition in the Hebrew Bible,” Dominic Rudman deals with the biblical records of Satan in Zech 3; Job 1–2 and 1 Chr 21. According to Rudman all these passages portray Satan as a negative figure displaying hostility toward Israel. Thus, against the common view, Rudman concludes that it is not possible to trace a trajectory for the development of a Satan tradition in the Hebrew Bible. The contribution of Michael H. Floyd, “Traces of Tradition in Zechariah 1–8: A Case-Study,” deals with the assumption often made in biblical scholarship that the Old Testament literature derives from different schools taking up and reinterpreting orally transmitted traditions. Based on former studies, especially from David Carr and Ehud Ben Zvi, Floyd instead proposes that oral and scribal transmission went hand in hand and that the Old Testament scriptures stem from a small group of literati so that it is not possible to distinguish between different schools. In his essay “Sin and Atonement in Zechariah╩╝s Night Visions” Holger Delkurt presents his argument that the book of Zechariah takes up the older prophetic tradition in order to demonstrate the heavy weight of Israel's sin, which needs to be taken away by God (Zech 5:5–11). Johannes Schnocks, in his contribution “An Ephah between Earth and Heaven: Reading Zechariah 5:5–11,” argues that the woman in the ephah can not, as is often presumed, be taken as a foreign goddess but rather should be understood as personified iniquity, which is exiled in order to enable a new beginning.

The last two essays of the volume are concerned with the textual tradition of the book of Zechariah. Marvin Sweeney, in his essay “Targum Jonathan's Reading of Zechariah 3: A Gateway for the Palace,” shows how the Targum Jonathan version of Zech 3 rewrote this text in order to expose the reasons for the accusation of the high priest Joshua mentioned in this oracle. Finally, in “The Greek Text of Zechariah: A Document from Maccabean Jerusalem?” Thomas Pola argues that the Greek translation of the Book of the Twelve was made in Jerusalem during the time of the Maccabees. This can be supported, for example, by the mention of the name “Judas” in the LXX version of Zech 14:14 and the depiction of Judah as a “torch of fire” and thus as an instrument of God's universal judgment in the LXX version of Zech 12:6.

In their concluding responses to these essays Willem A. M. Beuken, Rex Mason, David L. Petersen, and Janet E. Tollington mainly point to important methodological issues. According to their views the essays of the volume give illustrative insights into the intertextual relationships of the books of Haggai and Zechariah. Based on these insights future research should especially address the questions of the direction of intertextual relationships and how to distinguish between conscious and unconscious intertextual relationships.

No doubt: Mark Boda and Michael Floyd have edited a very insightful volume on the tradition-historical backgrounds of the books of Haggai and Zechariah. All essays are at a very high standard, deal with important questions, and come to well-founded conclusions. Instructive also are the responses of some outstanding scholars at the end with which the volume provides a discussion of current research in itself. It is true that further research will have to deal more carefully with the phenomenon of intertextuality, clarifying how to identify conscious intertextual relationships and the direction of such intertextual relationships in more detail. The present volume is an important step on the way to this goal in biblical scholarship.

Jakob Wöhrle, University of Münster