1. List three major forms of parallelism in Hebrew poetry. For BONUS points, cite an example of each type.
– Synonymous parallelism. Example:
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).
– Antithetic parallelism. Example:
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly” (Proverbs 15:2).
– Synthetic parallelism. Example:
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1).
2. List three kinds of “wisdom” to be found in the Wisdom tradition. For BONUS points, indicate their parallels in twenty-first century thought.
– Theological wisdom;
– Judicial wisdom;
– Practical wisdom.
3. What is the central message of the book of Esther (there are many acceptable ways of answering this!). For BONUS points, cite evidence that while God is not mentioned specifically in this book, faith in God is assumed.
God helps and supports his people even if it is not always evident to them. Example: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish” (Esther 4:14).
5. List three possible ways of interpreting the essential content of the Song of Songs.
– Sexual love between a man and a woman;
– Allegorical love between God and the Church;
– Allegorical love between God and the Virgin Mary as the Bride (Garrett, 2001).
6. Why might it have seemed appropriate for the book of Psalms to have five divisions?
The division can be explained by different time of their collection and usage in the religious services. The parts also belong to five eras in the worshiping tradition of the Israelites.
8. How are Wisdom and Folly personified in the Book of Proverbs?
They are personified as Lady Wisdom and Dame Folly, the female personifications are used.
1. Summarize the difference between the context and approach of the Prophetic tradition and that of the Wisdom tradition.
It is impossible to analyze the prophecies of the Bible apart from their historical context. The prophets played an important role in the political life of the state and in fact their function was to foreground the rule of the Israel kings with the heard words of God. The Wisdom tradition is based on the description of ethical norms and moral prescriptions. It does not pay attention even to the most significant historical events of the time and it is not connected with politics (Lucas, 2003).
2. Choose a prophet whose message seems especially pertinent to our day. Outline his basic message and suggest ways in which that message might be applied to contemporary settings (your essay will be strengthened by the use of specific citations and applications).
The message of the Book of Jeremiah is pertinent to our days. The contemporary life is full of different problems and even those people who do not starve or fight for their homes experience nervous breakdowns and lack of happiness in life. The Book of Jeremiah says that God is merciful to everyone and he stays with everyone regardless numerous failures. It is written: ”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11), which is absolutely relevant to depressed modern people.
3. Discuss the major issues dealt with in the book of Job, citing passages that seem to SUPPORT retribution theology and passages that seem to REFUTE that view. What solution, if any, does the book offer to explain the problem of evil? For BONUS points, explain why some parts of the book seem to support retribution theology while others oppose it.
The main idea of the retribution theology is that the person gets what he/she deserves. The book of Job offers a great number of examples that support this theory. For example: “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you will make it known to me” (Job 38:3). “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You, therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2). Such quotations show that God is almighty and he has not only the opportunity, but the power to do it. Though, there are some issues that show that God can not only punish, but also can understand human sufferings: “What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?” (Job 6:11). The problem of evil is explained in the words that show that Devil can not harm people unless God allows him to do it. Evil seems to be absolutely controlled by God in the Book of Job. It is possible to assume that some parts of the book seem to support retribution theology while others oppose it because the book was written by a man, and the human nature is not that simple to explain every moral dilemma in simple rule.
5. Cite passages from the Chronicler’s history and the Deuteronomic history to support the thesis that the Chronicler “sanitized” his account of David’s reign as King. For BONUS points, briefly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of such “revisionist history.”
The Chronicler sanitized David and made him a great warrior (1 Chr. 14; 18-20), a successful administrator: “And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God” (1 Chr. 22-29), and a repentant sinner: “David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands’.” (1Chr. 21). Such revisionist approach to history helps to renew and to revitalize the religious history of the Jews, to show how a group of slaves developed into the state. From one point of view, such idealization creates the history of the nation that can make people proud. From another point of view, it denies the biggest part of historical truth.
The role of women in the Hebrew Scriptures differs from one book to another. They are presented there as leaders, sinners, victims or mothers and wifes. For example, Deborah was a prophetess and judge, Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon and the wife of King David, which made her an important noble personality of that time. At the same time, Judith was a sinner, who seduced the king of Holofernes and when he fell asleep she killed him.
According to some passages, women belonged to the second class:
”Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-15).
”The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
The other passages emphasize the important role of women:
”She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26).
”She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20).
7. How might an understanding of the historical context aid us in the interpretation of the Book of Daniel? How is the message of this book like and unlike the core message of the Torah and/or Prophetic tradition?
The Book of Daniel describes more than a century in the history of wars of the Babylon Empire. The Neo-Babylonian Empire was created in 626 B.C. after the main city was freed by Nabopolassar from the control of Assyrians. That year the capital of the Assirians, Nineveh, was destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar was the son of Nabopolassar and ruled the Empire after his father’s death. The Babylonians control ed the ancient Near East at the time when Daniel was took as a captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Four successive rulers of Babylon were omitted in the Book of Daniel and the revelations touched only Belshazaar a hundred years later.
Historical context is important in interpreting the Book of Daniel. The core message of the Torah is to treat other people the way the person wants to be treated him/herself. The message of the Book of Daniel is that no matter how hard the life is, it is necessary to believe in God, to life a faithful life, and the victory will come. Without the detailed descriptions of the wars and sufferings during Babylonian domination in the ancient Near East, the message would not be that persuasive.
Garrett. D. A. (2001). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. The new American commentary, Vol. 14. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Lucas, E. C. (2003). A guide to the Psalms and wisdom literature. Exploring the Old Testament, Vol. 3. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.