Richard Hess is one of the most trusted scholars of the Old Testament. Earlier this week, I took a look at Mr. Hess’s overview of The Book of Malachi. Specifically, I reflected on Chapter 35 in Hess’s book “The Old Testament: A Historical, Theological, and Critical Introduction” (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. Print) and how his overview related to my current study of the interpretation of prophetic literature.
The last in a long line of foretelling prophets, his name is a Hebrew term that means “my messenger.” There is no doubt that Malachi was a messenger and was considered a mostly-anonymous prophet. He was a messenger with God’s message, and the important thing is the message’s content. During the time of Nehemiah and Ezra, Malachi’s ministry spread across Jerusalem.
Hess broke down Malachi’s readings in six different context areas: Premodern Readings, Higher Criticism, Literary Readings, Gender & Ideological Criticism, Ancient Near Eastern Context, and Canonical Context. I found that Hess’s overview of Literary Readings is most in line with what I am learning in my studies.
I saw a clear, uncommon prophetic oracle form called disputation as a connection between Hess’s overview and another book I am reading, “Invitation to Biblical Interpretation” (Kostenberger and Patterson, 2011). Kostenberger and Paterson refer to Ezekiel 18 and Amos 3:3–8 as excellent examples of disputation speech using this literary device’s most common declaration, discussion, and refutation elements. Kostenberger and Patterson also reference Malachi as being best known for using disputation as a prophetic literary device.
The six disputations in The Book of Malachi are:
· 1st DISPUTATION | God says he loves Israel — the people disagree — God responds by pointing out the fate of Edom/Esau. | Malachi 1:2–5
· 2nd DISPUTATION | God says he is father and master deserving honor — the priests dispute that they have dishonored God — God responds that they have offered polluted food and sickly animals upon the altar. They have corrupted his covenant with Levi. | Malachi 1:6–2:9
· 3rd DISPUTATION | Malachi says that we have one Father who created us — why do the people profane the covenant by being faithless to one another, and why does the Lord not accept their offerings by divorcing the wife of his youth. | Malachi 2:10–16
· 4TH DISPUTATION | The people have wearied the Lord — how we have wearied him — by claiming that God is indifferent to wickedness; the Lord will come and refine the sons of Levi and judge the impenitent | Malachi 2:17–3:5
· 5th DISPUTATION | YHWH does not change, but you must return to God — how shall we return — by not robbing God of the tithe; the promise of blessing. | Malachi 3:6–12
· 6th DISPUTATION | Their hard words against God — how have we spoken against God — by saying it is vain to serve God; the day of the Lord is coming when you will see distinguished the righteous from the wicked. | Malachi 3:13–4:3
The Book for Malahai is a prophetic summary conclusion to the Book of the Twelve. Keep seeking understanding! — #ToddCPittman