Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 11 (2011) - Review

Klein, Anja, Schriftauslegung im Ezechielbuch: Redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zu Ez 34–39 (BZAW, 391; Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008). Pages xiii +451. €109.95/US$154.00. ISBN 978-3-11-020858-0

Recent years have witnessed the appearance of a number of significant new monographs on Ezekiel (e.g., Crane, Konkel, Lyons, Rudnig, Schöpflin[1]), a wealth of scholarship to which we can add Anja Klein's Schriftauslegung im Ezechielbuch. This book is a slightly revised version of the author's dissertation submitted to the Theological faculty of Georg-August-Universität (Göttingen) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kratz in 2008. It should be stated from the outset that Klein's argument is both complex and wide ranging, and she presents it with an enviable logic and clarity.

In her first chapter, Klein introduces the “problem,” her methodology, and the state of critical scholarship on Ezekiel. Klein's objective is to discover the extent to which inner-biblical interpretation has contributed to the literary growth of the book (p. 1). Inner-biblical interpretation (Schriftauslegung) in Klein's model is a phenomenon of redaction and updating (Fortschreibung). The scholars to whom she is most indebted for her method are Kratz, Smend, Steck, and Zimmerli,[2] rather than the usual suspects in English scholarship: Fishbane and Levinson.[3] This highlights the redaction critical goals of the study. Inner-biblical interpretation, in this work, is a means to an end not an object of inquiry.

In chapter two, Klein undertakes a rigorous investigation of Ezekiel 34 as a test-case. The redaction-history of this chapter has been mapped in detail numerous times in German scholarship (e.g., Hossfeld, Pohlmann, Willems, Zimmerli[4]). Nonetheless, it is a particularly suitable test-case for Klein's study in that the chapter is largely built upon two precursor texts: Jer 23:1–8 and Leviticus 26 (vv. 4–6, 12–13, 20–22). Klein concludes that the chapter is composed of five redactional layers. The basic text, found in 34:1–10*, describes conditions in the land for returnees.[5] It shares many verbal parallels (Stichwortverbindungen) with Jer 23:1–8 and, to a lesser degree, with 36:1–11*. (Jer 23:1–8 is clearly older than Ezek 34:1–10*, inasmuch as Jeremiah 23 deals with last kings of Judah.) To this basic text were added a number of Fortschreibungen. Verses 11–15(16) announce salvation to the survivors of the 587 disaster who were scattered among other nations. Verse 23–24 introduce the return of the Davidic monarch as shepherd of the gathered people. The Fortschreibung in vv. 23–24 received a Fortschreibung of its own in 34:25–30, continuing the shepherd imagery and emphasizing the theme of Yhwh's power before the nations. This update was constructed, in part, out of themes and vocabulary taken from Lev 26:3–13. Finally, the chapter received a final update (34:17–22), reapplying the announcements of salvation to individuals rather than communities. Each of these layers, excepting the last, contains important verbal and thematic parallels to chapter 37: 34:1–10* // 37:1–14(19); 34:11–15(16)* // 37:20–24*; 34:23–24 // 37:24; 34:25–30 // 37:25–28. Klein concludes that Ezekiel 34, in its final redaction, was intended as a “prelude” to chs. 35–39, establishing its major themes, introducing its major arguments, and addressing the whole diaspora. Chapter 37, which originally stood after chs. 38–39, closed off the collection and reiterated its central points.

In chapters three and four, Klein coordinates her findings from her second chapter with the whole of Ezekiel 34–39. Ultimately, she uncovers eight layers of redaction. The first layer (Grundschicht) was addressed to the Golah. This layer endured two layers of systematic updating (Fortschreibungsschub). The whole collection was recast to address the diaspora, beginning in the fourth layer. This Diasporaorientierung included four strata of redaction. The final layer, 36:23bβ–33(38), is represented in the MT but absent in the best representative of the OG, Papyrus967. Klein's eight redactional layers can be characterized as follows:

1. The first layer is comprised of salvation oracles and addressed to exiles of the first golah. This includes 36:1–11* and 37:1–6* (also 25:1–26:6* and 43:2–5*), texts that take up judgments from the first part of the book, especially from ch. 6, and portray their reversal in the future.

2. The second layer announces judgment against foreign nations, and the imminent return of the “whole house of Israel,” identified with all Babylonian exiles. To this layer, Klein assigns 35:1–12*; 36:8b; 37:11–13a* (also 33:23–29*).

3. The third layer of redaction, from the early Persian period, describes the condition of returnees in the land: 37:13b–14*; 34:1–10*; 37:15–19*.

4. The fourth layer begins a process of redaction that redirects the collection toward the whole diaspora and announces salvation to all who were scattered: 34:11–15*(16); 35:10*; 36:12–15; 37:20–23* (also chs. 40–48).

5. In the fifth redactional layer, the shepherd is introduced and the theme of Yhwh's power before the nations is highlighted: 34:23–24*; 34:25–30*(31); 36:16–22(23a); 37:24, 25–28*; 38:1–9*; 39:1–5; 39:23–29*.

6. The sixth layer is an anti-idol polemic, found in 36:18*; 37:23* (also 33:25–27*)

7. The seventh layer is represented by a pair of late Forschreibungen in chs. 34 and 37 and by the insertion of the completed Gog pericope: 34:17–22; 37:2, 7–10*; chs. 38–39.

8. The final Hellenistic layer of redaction included insertion of the oracle of transformation in 36:23b β–32(38) and the reorganization of the chapters. Up to this point, the chapters had been arranged in the order: 34:1–36:23b α, 37, 38–39 (as reflected in Papyrus967). Only at this point was the MT order of chapters instituted.

Klein carefully maps each layer to determine the sequence in which the text-segments were added, which I have not indicated here. She also goes to great lengths to establish the literary precursors of each supplement, whether from Ezekiel or from elsewhere in the HB, and to explicate how each develops or reconfigures the book's theology.

In a study of such complexity, any reader will identify numerous minor points of disagreement or dissatisfaction that do not detract from the author's thesis. For this reviewer, there are two issues that are central to the author's thesis and methodology, which invite further probing.

First, Klein's redactional model is based upon the principle of Fortschreibung. A literary deposit of oracles was successively updated by supplementation in order to reapply it to new contexts and constituencies. Thus each “layer” of redaction, though uniform in context and audience, is actually comprised of a series of updates, and thus lacks homogeneity. Klein has extended this principle even to literary features like images and arguments. Thus, even when there is no internal indication that a different historical context or audience is in view, a change in imagery or argument is enough, for Klein, to indicate a new hand at work. In certain cases, this is argued even without confirmation by surface features of the text (pronouns without antecedents, inexplicable shifts in person or number, Wiederaufnahme, etc.). So, for example, in Ezekiel 34 the verbal linkages to Jer 23:1–8 extend through 34:16 and the shepherd imagery continues even further. Klein, though, assigns 34:1–10* to her third layer of redaction and 34:11–15*(16) to her fourth layer, based largely upon a change in imagery. Verses 11–16 introduce exodus imagery that is not apparent in vv. 1–10 (e.g., v. 13). This approach significantly complicates her results and, to my eye, underestimates the literary potential of the redactors.

Second, Klein's primary interest in redaction criticism affects her investigation of the inner-biblical evidence. She tends to move toward the previous conclusions of German scholarship rather than probing for new connections or testing current suggestions rigorously. So, for example, many critics have suggested that the Gog oracles, especially in 38:1–9 and 39:1–8, are dependent upon the ‘Foe from the North’ tradition as expressed in Jeremiah 4–6 and 46–49. The appearance of צפון in Ezekiel 38–39 and in Jeremiah 6 and 46 is particularly suggestive (Jer 6:22; 46:10; Ezek 38:6, 15; 39:2). Klein offers a lengthy treatment of Jeremiah's ‘Foe from the North’ in Ezekiel 38–39 (pp. 132–39). There are, however, strong links between Ezekiel 38–39 and Isa 14:4b–21, which Klein overlooks. In addition to many verbal links (including ירכתי צפון; Isa 14:13) there are several thematic and argumentative parallels between Isaiah 14 and the Gog oracles that do not appear in Jeremiah: a foreign oppressor devises a plan to elevate himself above God (Isa 14:13–14 // Ezek 38:10). Having tyrannized the whole earth (Isa 14:6–12, 16, 21b), and left its cities in ruins (Isa 14:17 // Ezek 38:8, 12), he is slain and left unburied on the battlefield (Isa 14:19–20 // Ezek 39:4–5). Klein notes a relationship between the Gog Oracles and Isaiah 14 in passing (p. 292), but she does not explore its potential or significance. Several comparable examples could also be noted.

These criticisms should not detract from the fact that this is an important and remarkably rich study. Klein has done much more than enhance our understanding of Ezekiel 34–39. She has clearly demonstrated the necessity to take full account of inner-biblical evidence when undertaking redaction-critical investigation. What's more, there is a wealth of creative insights within its pages, a feast of ideas for every reader, regardless of whether one is interested in redaction, inner-biblical interpretation, prophetic literature, or biblical theology.

William A. Tooman, University of St. Andrews

[1] Ashley S. Crane, Israel's Restoration: A Textual-Comparative Exploration of Ezekiel 36–39 (VTSup, 122; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008); Michael Konkel, Architektonik des Heiligen: Studien zur zweiten Tempelvision Ezechiels (BBB, 129; Bondenheim: Philo, 2001); Michael A. Lyons, From Law to Prophecy: Ezekiel's Use of the Holiness Code (LHBOTS, 507; London and New York: T & T Clark, 2009); Thilo Alexander Rudnig, Heilig und Profan: Redaktionskritische Studien zu Ez 40–48 (BZAW, 287; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000); Karin Schöpflin, Theologie als Biographie im Ezechielbuch: ein Beitrag zur Konzeption alttestamentlicher Prophetie (FAT, 36; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002). reference

[2] E.g., Reinhard Kratz, “Redaktionsgeschichte/Redaktionskritik. I. Altes Testament,” TRE 28:367–78; K. Schmid, “Innerbiblische Schriftauslegung. aspekte der Forschungsgeschichte,” in Schriftauslegung in der Schrift, edited by R. Kratz (BZAW 300; Berlin and New York, 2000), 1–22; Odil Hannes Steck, “Prophetische Prophetenauslegung,” in Die Prophetenbücher und ihr theologisches Zeugnis: Wege der Nachfrage und Fährten zur Antwort, edited by O. H. Steck (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1996), 127–204; Walther Zimmerli, “Das Phänomen der 'Fortschreibung' im Buch Ezechiel,” in Prophecy: Essays Presented to Georg Fohrer on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, 6 September 1980, edited by J. A. Emerton (BZAW 150; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1980), 174–91. reference

[3] Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985); Bernard M. Levinson, Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); idem, Legal Revision and Religious Renewal in Ancient Israel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). reference

[4] Frank Lothar Hossfeld, Untersuchungen zu Komposition und Theologie des Ezechielbuches (FB, 20; Würzburg: Echter, 1977); Karl-Friedrich Pohlmann, Ezechielstudien: Zur Redactiongeschichte des Buches und zur Frage nach den älteste Texten (BZAW, 202; Berlin: Walther de Gruyter, 1992); Bernd Willems, Die sogenannte Hirtenallegorie Ez 34. Studien zum Bild das Hirten im Alten Testament (BBET, 19; Frankfurt, Bern and New York: Peter Lang, 1984); Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, II. Teilband (BKAT, 13/2; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1969), ET: Ezekiel 2: A Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25–48 (Herm; trans. Ronald E. Clements; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983). reference

[5] Klein interprets the “shepherds” in 34.1–10* as foreign rulers, because she assigns the pericope to the early Persian period. reference