Divine Wrath and the Conceptual Coherence of the Book of Nahum

TitleDivine Wrath and the Conceptual Coherence of the Book of Nahum
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsBecking, Bob
JournalScandinavian Journal of the Old Testament

In the recent scholarly discussion on the Book of Nahum two views stand juxtaposed: (1) The Book is a unity, written by a seventh century BCE prophet; (2) the Book as it stands is the outcome of a complex process of redaction implying a Persian period date for the final form. Starting from the final form of the book, it is concluded that, from the point of view of structural‐literary analysis, the book can be seen as unity. The redaction historical approach to the Book of Nahum assumes a distinction between lofty theological language in the hymn (Nah. 1,2–8) and the more realistic language expressing nationalistic feelings in the rest of the book. This distinction is the starting point for a literary‐critical division. However, an analysis of the theme “divine wrath” leads to the conviction that both parts of the book share a common ideology. “Wrath” in the Book of Nahum should be interpreted within the framework of covenant‐theology and as a provoked reaction. The Assyrians are depicted as the “enemies of God”. The doom that is predicted for them can be seen as God's response to their conduct. In this connection it should be observed that several allusions to ancient Near Eastern treaty clauses can be found in Nah. 2,4–3,19. This observation leads to the assumption that the relation between YHWH and the Assyrians is seen as some form of vassaldom. All these observations make a literary‐critical division less plausible. Finally, a seventh century BCE date for the composition of Nahum is proposed.