Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Introduction to the Old Testament - Zechariah

Dillard, Raymond B. & Longman, Tremper III. "Zechariah."  An Introduction to the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1994. 427-436.

Zechariah, the longest of the minor prophets, is also a very obscure and difficult book.  Its contents and style have led to doubt about the date and authorship.  Yet Zechariah 9-14 is frequently cited in the Passion narratives.  Its influence seems second only to Ezekiel in the composition of Revelation.

Zechariah seems to fit into the beginning of the return from the Babylonian exile, with visions dating to 520/519 B.C.  Zechariah is a contemporary of Haggai and speaks to the same kind of social strife and hesitancy to concentrate on restoration of temple worship.  The first eight chapters concentrate on these issues, while chapters 9-14 seem to have imagery pointing to a more distant eschatological future.

Biblical scholarship has fought about the authorship and dating of the book.  There's a very telling statement in the Dillard and Longman about this type of scholarship on p. 430.  "If a modern author carefully arranges his material into various groups by subject or literary form, we ordinarily consider this to be evidence of an orderly mind at work and do not feel compelled to suggest the material must be from different individuals.  In the same way, if an ancient author separates material by literary form (vision, oracle), subject (immediate issues vs. distant), or other criteria (e.g., dated versus undated), this would seem from our Western vantage the actions of a rational, orderly person.  These items scarcely in themselves provide an argument for multiple authorship unless one implicitly adheres to a rather foolish notion that any one author will write only one kind of literature."

Zechariah's visions focus on the power of God to come and judge sin.  We see people in need of repentance, people in need of atonement, people who are not caring for repentance and forgiveness themselves, and the coming of a God who will judge sin and make atonement on behalf of his people. The messianic king will make a humble appearance, riding on a donkey, serving as the shepherd king, the smitten shepherd, betrayed by sinful man.  Yet this is the King who arises victorious to rule among men.
Dave Spotts
blogging at http://capnsaltyslongvoyage.blogspot.com and http://alex-kirk.blogspot.com

No comments: