Masters Degrees (Old Testament)

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Reading Song of Songs as wisdom literature: an interpretive approach integrating sexuality and spirituality
    (University of the Free State, 2014-06) Oosthuizen, Marlene; Snyman, S. D.
    English: This history of interpretation of Song of Songs clearly shows interpreters’ struggle to understand this blatantly sexual text in the midst of Holy Scripture. The widely divergent interpretations indicate how hermeneutical keys are constructed according to the context, theology, and/or sexual ideologies of the interpreters. In a society that was hostile towards the body and towards women, the Song of Songs was interpreted spiritually for centuries by means of allegory. According to this line of interpretation Song of Songs portrays the love relationship between God, as the male lover, and the church, synagogue, soul, or Mary as the female lover. In the wake of the Enlightenment, the literal meaning of the text moved sharply into focus and a new wave of sexual interpretations abounded ending in a vague, a-theological, appreciative approach for a text that seems to be nothing more than an anthology of secular love poems. The inability of interpreters to cross the dualistic spiritual/sexual divide is a reflection of a serious problem in society where people still view sexuality as secular and removed from the realm of spirituality. The traditional and contemporary lines of interpretations of Song of Songs are at an impasse – spiritual interpretations ignore the sexual content and sexual interpretations provide no theological meaning. This research project explored the possibility that Song of Songs can be read as part of the corpus of biblical wisdom literature corpus and by doing so, can contribute to the integration of sexuality and spirituality. A list of characteristics of wisdom literature was compiled by examining the views of prominent wisdom scholars. The list consists of three main divisions, namely: 1) general characteristics; 2) literary characteristics; and 3) characteristics of content. Literary characteristics are further divided into subsections exploring form, vocabulary, rhetoric, and metaphors. Content is explored in terms of Solomonic tradition, subject matter, cosmology, anthropology, and scepticism and critique. Eighteen characteristics are identified and formulated in question forms to test against the text of Song of Songs. When the list of wisdom characteristics was applied to Song of Songs, it was found that Song of Songs performed exceptionally well in most instances. It was concluded that it is justified to read Song of Songs as part of the canonical wisdom literature. 102 Reading Song of Songs as wisdom literature presents us with an opportunity to provide a frame of reference that can curb interpretational extremities. A wisdom reading of Song of Songs also offers a stable centre of theological focus. Teaching the Bible-reading communities to read Song of Songs as wisdom literature affords us the opportunity to empower people to experience a God-conscious sexuality and a deeply sensual spirituality.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Die Verheißung der Beschneidung des Herzens aus Dtn 30,6 und ihre Aufnahme und Weiterentwicklung in den späteren Propheten
    (University of the Free State, 2014-03-07) Rühle, Hans Ludwig; Snyman, Fanie S. D.; Soltau, Kay
    English: This paper starts off with the prophecy of the circumcision of the heart from Deut 30:6. It is based on the thesis that this prophecy is very important for the structure and essential for the message of Deuteronomy as well as for the later prophets. Admittedly, the prophecy of the circumcised heart does not appear in any later book of the Old Testament as it does in Deut 30. Therefore, this paper proves how other prophecies and phrases made by the prophets hint towards or build upon this one. By analyzing key words and main topics of chapter 30, the outstanding meaning of the circumcision of the heart is laid out in the beginning. The reason for the people’s steady failure and disobedience was its uncircumcised heart. The people wasn’t able to know the LORD and to obey his law. Through the prophecy of the circumcision of the heart, God points out that only he is able to change men and that he is the one to do it. Deut 30:11-14 foreshadows the way in which God intends to transform the hearts. He wants to put his words into them and lead them to love and obey him. Through this fundamental change of the human heart, God will renew the covenant his people broke by sinning. The key words and main topics of Deut 30 give a pattern which was used to analyze the prophets. It became evident that this pattern was used differently. Even though the various prophets focus on different themes, it can be seen clearly that the three Major Prophets, as well as the book of the twelve coincide in their basic statement about the transformation of heart. The most important consensuses are in the characterization of the circumcised and uncircumcised heart, the inability of the people to repent, the major role God plays in repentance and the renewal of the covenant as well as the essential connection between the change of heart, repentance, and renewal of the Covenant. The prophets also agree on the consequences of transformed hearts. Furthermore, it can be seen that some statements in Deuteronomy are concretized and expanded on by the later prophets. These expansions include the prophecy of the Messiah, of Jerusalem and Zion, the salvation if pagans, and the forgiveness of sins. Taking together all the elements of the prophecies in the various books makes it now possible to describe the circumcision of the heart by God extensively: The circumcision of the heart causes men to love God and obey his word. It is done by being cleansed from sins and through the word and Spirit of God, which form the human character in a new and lasting way from the inside. Through this, the circumcision is made the basis of the coming renewal of the covenant, which will lead to an everlasting and unbreakable covenant fellowship between God and his people and later even to the pagans. The purpose of the circumcision of the heart is the glorification of God. He glorifies himself because he is the only Savior of his people and because he saves by grace. The people is going to glorify God because it loves God through the circumcision of the heart and lives in accordance to his laws. This paper shows the essential meaning of Deuteronomy for the later prophets. The prophecy of the future grace of God, and in accordance to that his glorification in the world, can be seen as what connects all of these books.