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Social World of the Hebrew Prophets [Hardcover]

By Victor H. Matthews (Author) & Victor H. Matthew (Author)
Our Price $ 21.21  
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Item Number 119625  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.05" Width: 6.13" Height: 0.58"
Weight:   0.79 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2002
Publisher   Hendrickson Publishers
ISBN  1565634179  
EAN  9781565634176  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Social World of the Hebrew Prophets is an introduction to the Hebrew Prophets and the social world of which they spoke. Matthews examines ancient Israel's prophets chronologically, providing sketches of their historical contexts. He explains pertinent aspects of historical geography, economic conditions, and social forces that influence a prophet's life and message. This analysis includes many of the images and metaphors a prophet used to communicate effectively. Thus, for example, the reader only skims the surface of a text without understanding what it meant to be a member of Tekoa's community of hill country farmers and herders, or what an exiled Levite from Anathoth experienced as a prophet in Jerusalem.

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More About Victor H. Matthews & Victor H. Matthew

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Victor H. Matthews is dean of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs and professor of religious studies at Missouri State University. He received his PhD from Brandeis University and has written numerous popular as well as scholarly articles. He is the author of "Manners and Customs in the Bible" and coauthor of "Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East" and "The Social World of Ancient Israel."

Victor H. Matthews currently resides in the state of Missouri.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
very good  Sep 16, 2008
Every Victor H. Matthews book is worth reading. What sets him apart is the fact that he is a real teacher, not just a scholar. This is one author who uses every interpretive tool in reading the Bible - culture, language, literature, archaeology, and canon - but he always takes the nonexpert along for the ride. Here he deals with all the Bible prophets, and explains the historical circumstances of each, and how the original audiences undertood what they heard or read. He has a new book coming out in October, 2008 called "More Than Meets The Ear" in which he will explain all the cultural nuances of Old Testament conversations.
So much more can be said!  Jan 4, 2005
Matthews's book is primarily a discussion of the historical times of the biblical prophets. Unlike similar books, Matthews begins with a brief but interesting outline of historical geography, which surprisingly is not integrated into the book. After a summary of the nature of Hebrew prophets the rest of the book moves through the canon from Moses to the post-exilic period. The book includes brief highlights of key topics and a glossary of key terms highlighted in the text. Both are great ideas but neither are strong features. Often the accentuated topics are no more than a list of related verses on the same issue or a parallel from ancient Near Eastern literature while glossary definitions are so brief they appear disconnected from the text.

Less emphasis upon the social world is found than expected by the title. The book provides a discussion of the basic message and the historical situation of each prophet with some emphasis upon well-known social concerns (justice) but far less on topics like international tensions, class struggles, or economic backgrounds.

One strength of Matthews is his handling of symbolism, which comes out in his discussion of Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard, (84-88), the symbolic use of clothing (93), and the city gate, (120). But over all, the book provides neither a strong discussion of the prophets nor their social setting.
Weak on Delivery  Aug 18, 2003
The promising title of Victor Matthew's book leads this reader to disappointment. There has been a good deal of sociological and social-world research on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the last 25 years; precious little of it shows up in this book on the Israelite and Judean prophets.

After the requisite introductory materials on the definition of "prophet" and the like, the book settles in to offer primarily thematic treatment of the individual prophetic books, with occasional light excursions into history, historical geography, archaeology and the prominently-promised social world of these writers and rhetors of ancient Israel. Social world topics include very brief treatments of cognitive dissonance theory, the "egalitarian" ideal found in many prophetic books, and a somewhat more developed treatment of "enacted prophecy."

The topical treatment prevails. The Isaiah chapter, for example, offers section-headings like "Isaiah's Call," "Oracles of Warning," "Political Message," and "The Remnant." The "Oracles of Warning" section does contain a helpful discussion of the geographical and agricultural background to the famous "Song of the Vineyard" (Is a 5:1-7). This is one of the more interesting sections of the book.

Often the treatment is quite brief: Haggai and Zechariah together get four pages; Joel gets about 2.

The book seems to be intended for the lay-level or freshmen-level audience, but the title probably finds little appeal within that audience. Theologically, the book seeks a middle ground between historical-critical skepticism and conservative Protestant faith.


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