Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The School Tradition of the Old TestamentThe Bampton Lectures for 1994$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

E. W. Heaton

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198263623

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0198263627.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 May 2020

Honest Doubters

Honest Doubters

(p.137) VII Honest Doubters
The School Tradition of the Old Testament

E. W. Heaton

Oxford University Press

The presuppositions of the comfortable outlook – ‘God’s in his heaven: All’s right with the world’ – had been questioned from time to time over the centuries, but Job and Ecclesiastes are the only major works in the Old Testament deliberately undertaken to articulate the doubt and debate then current in the Israeli schools. They are generally thought to come from the fifth or fourth and third centuries BC respectively, but there is no evidence to support the speculation that it was at this period that the age-old conflict between the theories of the theologians and the facts of life became more than usually acute. The two parts of the chapter look first at doubt, disaster, despair and pessimism in Job and then at the same attitudes in Ecclesiastes, and in doing so make comparisons between the two books. The Egyptian and Babylonian precedents to passages in Job suggest that its author is writing within a convention well established in the circles of schoolmen of the Ancient Near East, rather than presenting actual experiences, and the sustained protest of Job’s speeches challenges the two principal (and contradictory) dogmas that had become fossilized in the Israeli school tradition: ‘God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform’, and ‘God’s way in the world is not in the least mysterious and may be traced in the prosperity of the righteous and the suffering of the wicked’. Any interpretation of Ecclesiastes, who like Job was a literary stylist, must give due weight to the fact that he was a teacher, but the application of doleful description in the body of the work is discriminating, and probably represents his thought.

Keywords:   Ancient Near East school tradition, Bible, debate, despair, disaster, doubt, Ecclesiastes, Israeli school tradition, Job, literary style, Old Testament, pessimism

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .