By Ehud Ben Zvi
Famous historical-critical student Ehud Ben Zvi analyzes each verse of the ebook of Zephaniah, reconstructing the ancient context of its composition, settling on its authorship, and contemplating how its unique viewers might have interpreted its message.
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Extra info for A historical-critical study of the book of Zephaniah
The arguments brought on behalf of the idea that he prophesied before thereformationare basically: (a) The king is not mentioned in Zeph 1:4-9, and especially in v. , Josiah was a minor (cf. 2 Kgs 22: l). 75 (c) The harsh words of Zephaniah make sense if they were addressed to such a syncretistic community. If this picture is correct, then the message of Zephaniah may have prepared the ground for the reform. 76 If that is the case, then Zephaniah's message reflects the ideas of the group that welcomed and advanced the deuteronomic reform in Josiah's days.
Different versions of the list itself exist in different MSS, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and Ezekiel occur in all of them; Jeremiah, Joel and Amos in most of them. Whenever one of the latter is not mentioned, the names of either Nahum, Micah or Habakkuk occur. 18 They were preachers of repentance who called for the observance of the Torah, and heralds of a "Messianic" salvation yet to come as well. At the same time, Christian communities saw Zephaniah, and the other prophets as well, mainly as prophets of the Christ who had come.
J. M. P. Smith: 176. S. Sandmel, The Enjoyment of Scripture: the Law, the Prophets and the Writings (NY: Oxford University Press, 1972), 257. To be sure, he has even harsher words for Ezekiel, see p. 226. 40 Against this background, signs of change are already perceptible. 43 This trend suggests that the days of relative oblivion have just passed for the Book of Zephaniah. This work is another contribution to this trend. Although in both Christian and Jewish traditions, the Book of Zephaniah has been less quoted and less influential than other books in the Latter Prophets, it has always been considered a sacred book, and accordingly it has been studied and interpreted generation after generation.