The issue of the Canon...
The OT model of judging revelation: The "OT in the OT" phenomena--where
did the OT authors 'see' God's words
[Updated Mar 8, 1999 (only the tables, not the discussion)]
In this section I want to examine the phenomena of inner-biblical usage
in the OT. In other words, to what extent did later authors of the OT cite,
allude to, develop themes of earlier writers?
The issue here specifically is what literature--accessible to the later
writers in the OT was considered to be morally authoritative?
What issues could later writers draw the attention of their audiences to,
as being the word of the Lord?
A study of the phenomena of the OT in the OT will give us important
clues as to how authority was seen in the literature of the time.
There are a couple different aspects of this examination:
What are the kinds of 'citation' we find in the OT?
What do the patterns of usage suggest?
Do historical references "count" as implying authoritative 'status'?
What are the implications of tight 'verbal parallels'?
What are the implications of allusions?
What are the implications of the prophetic call to obey the Law?
How significant are actual citations/quotes?
What about the OTHER sources mentioned in the OT?
I have compiled a partial list of inner-OT references (500 or
so in count), in which one author/editor of the OT cited/alluded
to/knew of the work/words of another. [However, some of these are no doubt
simple knowledge of history or popular sayings, in which history was embedded.]
I have posted this in 4 different sorted lists, each of which is around
200k+ (although these are NOT very rigorous in wording/consistency--sorry):
[For those of your with Excel/Office97, I have also uploaded
the spreadsheet (102k) for you use--but note that I update this sheet
Sorted by Source of the reference
Sorted by Subject of the reference (e.g. "Exodus")
Sorted by the Passage that references the source
Sorted by "Type" of Reference, (sub-sort, "Citing
Sorted by "Type" of Reference, (sub-sort, "Source")
And, four summary tables from this material:
Historical Book's use of Historical Books/Data
Psalm's References to Historical Events
Prophets' use of Historical Books/Data
Prophets' use of earlier prophetic material
1. What are the kinds of 'citation' we find in the OT?
From the tables above, we can identify several different types of 'citation':
1. Citations that appear to be direct quotes of earlier works:
This looks like a citation of Genesis 50.25: And Joseph made the
sons of Israel swear an oath and said, "God will surely come to your aid,
and then you must carry my bones up from this place."
In Exodus 13.19 we read: Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because
Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, "God will
surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from
This looks like a citation of Obadiah 17: But on Mount Zion will
be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its
In Joel 2.32 we read: And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD
will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance,
as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
This looks like a citation/reference to Micah 3.12: Therefore because
of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap
of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.
In Jeremiah 26.17-19 we read: Some of the elders of the land stepped
forward and said to the entire assembly of people, "Micah of Moresheth
prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. He told all the people
of Judah, `This is what the LORD Almighty says: "`Zion will be plowed like
a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound
overgrown with thickets.' "Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in
Judah put him to death? Did not Hezekiah fear the LORD and seek his favor?
And did not the LORD relent, so that he did not bring the disaster he pronounced
against them? We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!"
This looks like a direct memory recall from Numbers 21.28-29: "Fire
went out from Heshbon, a blaze from the city of Sihon. It consumed Ar of
Moab, the citizens of Arnon's heights. Woe to you, O Moab! You are destroyed,
O people of Chemosh! He has given up his sons as fugitives and his daughters
as captives to Sihon king of the Amorites.
We have a special case in Jer 48.45-46: "In the shadow of Heshbon the
fugitives stand helpless, for a fire has gone out from Heshbon, a blaze
from the midst of Sihon; it burns the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of
the noisy boasters. Woe to you, O Moab! The people
of Chemosh are destroyed; your sons are taken into exile and your daughters
Which ITSELF is a quote from an unnamed 'poet collection' as verse 27
indicates: That is why the poets say: "Come to Heshbon and let it be
rebuilt; let Sihon's city be restored.
2. Citations that are fulfillment formula, indicating knowledge of prior
Which is a fulfillment citation from I Kings 11.29f: About that
time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh
met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out
in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and
tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces
for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `See,
I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes.
But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I
have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe.
In 2 Chr 10.15 we read: So the king did not listen to the people, for
this turn of events was from God, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken
to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
Which is a reference to I Kings 13.1-2: By the word of the LORD
a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the
altar to make an offering. 2 He cried out against
the altar by the word of the LORD: "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD
says: `A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he
will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here,
and human bones will be burned on you.'"
In 2 Kings 23.16 we read: Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw
the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from
them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word
of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.
3. Citations that are references to DETAILED history, indicating some core
of literary works, or substantial and very faithful(!) oral tradition:
A simple glance at the tables above show the vast amount of detailed
information that is somehow 'remembered' over the course of several centuries!
Consider the level of some of the detail:
4. Citations that are specific in their reference to a principle of
The bronze serpent
The Amalekite treachery
Forty years in the desert
David played on harps
The other Cities of the Plain
The events at Gibeah
Admah and Zeboim
Living in tents
Jacob and the 'heel'
Oreb and Co.
Joshua at Gibeon
Dividing the Red Sea
Samuel's intervention for Israel
Origination in Mesopotamia
The contents and wording of the letters to the Transjordanian kings
Streams in the desert
Jordan dried up
YHWH dwelling between the cherubim
Testing at Meribah
Philistine praxis of 'not stepping on the threshold'
The Davidic covenant
The Golden Calf
The prophecy of Gen 49.10!
Striking the rock for water in the desert
In 2 Kings 17.12: They worshiped idols, though the LORD had said,
"You shall not do this."; referring to Ex 20.5: "You shall
not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or
on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to
them or worship them"
In Hosea 13.4: "But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me"; referring
to Ex 20.2-3: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me."
In Jer 17.22: Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work
on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers";
referring to Ex 20.9-10: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping
it holy.Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh
day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work,
neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant,
nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
In Jer 34.13: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made
a covenant with your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out
of the land of slavery. I said, `Every seventh year each of you
must free any fellow Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served
you six years, you must let him go free.' Your fathers, however, did not
listen to me or pay attention to me"; referring to Dt 15.12:
If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves
you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free.
In Joshua 14.9: "So on that day Moses swore to me, `The land on which
your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children
forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.'
", referring to Dt 1.36: "But because my servant Caleb has a different
spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he
went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
5. Citations that are specific in their reference to a principle of
covenant law, but without indicating a source:
Amos 2.8: "They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge.
", alluding to Ex 22.26f: "If you take your neighbor's cloak
as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only
covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries
out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. "
Hos 12.9: ""I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt; I
will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed feasts.
" alluding to Lev 23.40ff: "On the first day you are to take
choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars,
and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as
a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting
ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month.
Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to
live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites
live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'"
Mal 1.8: "When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong?
When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try
offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he
accept you?" says the LORD Almighty. " alluding to Dt 15.21:
"If an animal has a defect, is lame or blind, or has any serious flaw,
you must not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. "
6. Citations that are specific in their reference to a principle of
covenant law, and WITH indicating a source:
Mal 3.5: ""So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to
testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who
defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless,
and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.
" alludes to a number of verses in the Law: Dt 24, 27 (abuse of alien and
poor); Dt 5.17-21 (adultery etc.), Ex 22.21-24 (abuse of disadvantaged),
Lev 20 (occult).
I Chr 15.15: "And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on
their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of
the LORD. " referring to Num 7.9: "But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites,
because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which
they were responsible. "
2 Chr 24.6: "Therefore the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and
said to him, "Why haven't you required the Levites to bring in from Judah
and Jerusalem the tax imposed by Moses the servant of the LORD and by the
assembly of Israel for the Tent of the Testimony?" referring to
Ex 30.12,16: "When you take a census of the Israelites to count them,
each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted.
Then no plague will come on them when you number them...
Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the
service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites
before the LORD, making atonement for your lives."
2 Chr 25.4: Yet he did not put their sons to death, but acted in accordance
with what is written in the Law, in the Book of Moses, where the LORD commanded:
"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put
to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins." Referring
to Dt 24.16: "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children,
nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own
Ezra 9.1ff: "After these things had been done, the leaders came to me
and said, "The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites,
have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their
detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites,
Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken
some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have
mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and
officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness." Referring to
Dt 7.3: "Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to
their sons or take their daughters for your sons"
Jer 3.1: ""If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries
another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely
defiled? " referring to Dt 24.1-4:"If a man marries a woman
who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about
her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends
her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife
of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate
of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,
then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again
after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the
LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as
an inheritance. "
7. Shared themes (especially among the prophets):
Is 1.12-15: When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of
you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations
-- I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your
appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary
of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide
my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your
hands are full of blood" and Micah 6.6-8: "With what shall I come
before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before
him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased
with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer
my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of
my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD
require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with
your God. ", drawing upon Amos 5.21ff: "I hate, I despise
your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you
bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though
you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your
harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing
8. Actual shared words and specific phrases:
2 Chr 16.9: For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish
thing, and from now on you will be at war.", drawing upon/related
to Zech 4.10: "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice
when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. "(These seven are
the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)"
There is a staggering amount of this, and too many to cite the verses
here (refer to the lists above). It will suffice to simply list some of
the phrases/verbal forms here:
Indeed, the thematic and linguistic links between the prophets are
quite substantial. Consider the comments of just three scholars on the
"blessed feet with good news"
"build city with bloodshed"
"Dry up the sea"
"Earth full of knowledge of YHWH"
"everlasting covenant" (flood images)
"exhaust themselves for nothing" etc.
"eyes of the lord range"
"floodgates of the heavens"
"Holy one of Israel"
"Lord roars f/Zion; thunders f/Jerus. "
"Mighty One of Israel"
"mountains drip new wine"
"Rock of Israel"
"saw that it was good"
"Sing to the LORD a new song"
"stripped and naked"
"swords and plowshares"
"Who knows? Maybe God will relent…"
"Woe, Day Is near"
a word-play on 'supplant' and 'Jacob;
Abraham the 'friend of God'
Brother kills brother in field (Cain/Abel)
Denial of being 'professional' prophet
echoes of Ideal Davidic king
Exodus image: "out in haste"
God's desire to relent from judgment
Israel as a Vine
Jacob as 'supplanter' (word-play)
Man as 'dust'
No more invasion
Oracles against Edom
reversal of creation
reversal: "paid double"
seeking the Lord
First, Patterson (EBC, "Joel") in discussing the prophet Joel:
"An intensive investigation of Joel shows over four dozen instances
of linguistic formulas and special lexical emphases that Joel has in common
with the other eighth-century prophets. Likewise a comparison of Joel's
use of theological terminology with that of these prophets reveals numerous
places in every section of his prophecy where his viewpoint is in harmony
with the prevailing message and outlook of that era."
Then, Hobart Freeman (An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets,
Moody:1968, p.233), in discussing Zephaniah:
"However, like other prophets he shows affinity with his predecessors,
sometimes employing their language, not out of poverty of idea indicating
a 'decline' in prophecy during this period; the fundamental doctrines of
judgement and salvation common to all prophets are brought to focus in
Zephaniah. The doctrines of purifying judgement upon Israel and retributive
judgement upon the nations of the world seen in Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah,
Micah and Nahum become the central theme in Zephaniah. He uses isolated
expressions and striking words from his predecessors and applies them to
his own purpose under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
Indeed, the verbal links between Nahum and Isaiah, for example, as so considerable
that the possibility of actual literary dependence is accepted by many!
So, Armerding (EBC, "Nahum", p454):
"In view of the precision, uniqueness, and frequency of these correspondences,
it seems evident, then, that Nahum's relationship to Isaiah 51-52 extends
beyond participation in a common stock of prophetic imagery and motif to
one of specific literary interdependence."
And again (p.456):
"These interrelationships indicate that in Nahum we have an outstanding
example of OT prophetic interpretation and application within the OT itself."
(The implications of this will be discussed below, when I can...)
2. What do the patterns of usage suggest?
To Be Continued (hopefully)...
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