Words of (in-)-evitable certitude? Reflections on the interpretation of Prophetic Oracles of Judgement

Moeller, Karl (2001) Words of (in-)-evitable certitude? Reflections on the interpretation of Prophetic Oracles of Judgement. In: Bartholomew, Craig, Greene, Colin and Moeller, Karl, (eds.) After Pentecost: language and biblical interpretation. Scripture and hermeneutics series, 2 . Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, US, pp. 352-386. Full text not available from this repository.

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Abstract

How are we supposed to read prophetic oracles of judgement? And what did the prophets think they were doing in conveying their message of divine punishment?2 Usually these questions are answered in one of the following ways. The prophets - and I am thinking here of the often so called 'classical prophets' of the eighth century BCE - are conceived either as harbingers of doom, whose task consisted simply, and solely, in announcing the inevitable punishment of God. Or their words are understood in a subjunctive sense as opening up for their audiences the possibility of 'becoming something other', as Jeffrey has put it. In this latter view, in which the interpretative focus has moved away 'from the determinism of the surface text to the open world of the text within',3 oracles of judgement are understood as warnings.

[1] Steiner once coined the phrase ' "evitable" certitude' in order to describe the relation of the genuine prophet - as opposed to that of the diviner - to the future. He notes that to the prophet 'the future is entirely present... in the literal presentness of his speech-act. But at the same moment... his enunciation of the future makes that future alterable' (Steiner, After Babel, 153).
[2] Houston posed this question a few years ago (cf. Houston, 'Prophets').
[3] Jeffrey, People, 40.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 9780310234128
Departments: Pre June 2020 Academic Departments and Services > Professional Services > Academic Quality & Development (AQD)
Additional Information: Chapter 17 within book.
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2011 15:58
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 11:10
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/764

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