Anselm C. HAGEDORN. Die Anderen im Spiegel: Israels Auseinandersetzung mit den Völkern in den Büchern Nahum, Zefanja, Obadja und Joel. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 414. Berlin: de Gruyter. 2011. Pp. 379. ISBN 978-3110228564. Reviewed by Nicholas R. WERSE, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.


Anselm Hagedorn’s published Habilitationsschrift Die Anderen im Spiegel explores the presentation of the nations in Nahum, Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Joel. After the expected introductory review of scholarship and a section defining ethnicity, Hagedorn devotes one chapter to each of these four prophetic texts. Each chapter includes an overview of the scholarship, Hagedorn’s translation illustrating his redactional stratification of the text, his literary critical analysis, and finally his assessment of the developing representation of the nations in the book’s composition history.

Hagedorn identifies three core songs concerning Nineveh in Nahum (Nah 2:2, 4-11; 3:1-3, 7aβ; 3:8-15*) which circulated anonymously along with the book’s composition layer (2:12-13; 3:4, 16-19*) prior to the destruction of Nineveh. Subsequent editors updated the text with exilic (1:11-14; 2:14; 3:5-7), post-exilic (2:1, 3), and Hellenistic era redactions (1:2-10). Hagedorn traces the developing representation of the “other” through each stage of the composition process. The earliest core of Nahum presents secular pronouncements against Nineveh as a concrete city under whose dominance Jerusalem had suffered political repression. After the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the oracles obtain a religious dimension presenting YHWH as the destroyer of foreign powers. The final additions expand the presentation of divine judgment against the “other” to include YHWH’s universal enemies.
Hagedorn isolates the earliest material for Zephaniah in the late 7th century BCE superscription (1:1), Day of YHWH proclamation (1:14b-16), and the oracles against the nations (2:4-6, 8-9*). This earliest literary composition received a subsequent expansion presented as the words of Zephaniah (1:4a, 8aβ-9, 10aα2-11, 12aβ-13; 2:1-3, 11-14; 3:1, 3-4, 9-10, 14-20), as well as Deuteronomistic supplements (1:4b-6; 3:2, 5). The failure to repent results in the identification of a righteous “remnant” within the people of God (2:7, 9b; 3:6-8, 11-13). Subsequent expansions develop the day of YHWH language (1:7b, 10aα1, 12aα, 14a) and universalize the judgment (1:2-3, 17-18, 3:8b).The distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous challenged the previously defined ethnic boundaries in the composition history of the book, which eventually allowed an opportunity for the nations to serve God.

Hagedorn identifies the earliest core of Obadiah’s oracle against Edom (vv. 1b*, 2-14*, 15b) as scribal-prophecy responding to the Edomite participation in the destruction of Jerusalem. The book of Obadiah reconceives Edom as a nation whose continued existence prevents Jerusalem’s restoration. This layer identifies the destruction of Jerusalem as the “day of distress” which does not mention Jerusalem’s guilt as the cause of the catastrophe. A later editor updated the text with vv. 1bα2β, 13a, 15a, 16-18, which applied themes found in Zeph 1:7, 14 and Joel 1:15; 3:5 to expand the oracle into a judgment of all nations. The final addition of vv.19-21 completed the oracle by developing the theme of “possession” from v.17b.

Hagedorn argues that earliest core of Joel (1:2-5, 8, 10-15a, 16-17aαb-20; 2:18-19a, 21-23* [without בראשון ], 24-25a, 26) was solely concerned with the locust plague and drought. The agricultural threats were not the result of Israel’s guilt nor invoked by YHWH. Rather, Hagedorn concludes that the core of Joel presents YHWH as a weather deity who restores the rain and crops. Hagedorn proposes, therefore, that the earliest version of Joel likely functioned as a liturgy providing thanks for the survival of the agricultural threat. Subsequent editorial updates reinterpret the disasters as the day of YHWH, the locusts as an approaching army, and YHWH as the true source of the disaster (1:6-7, 15b, 17aβγ, 2:1-14, 19b, 20, 25b). Subsequent redactions then expand and universalize the judgment into an international one (4:1-16), and expand the description of the YHWH community (3:1-5).

Many of the finer points of Hagedorn’s redaction critical reconstruction remain questionable. In Obadiah, for example, he follows the conventional redaction critical distinction between the particular Edomite judgment (1-14*, 15b) and the general international judgment (15a, 16-18). He deviates from this convention by associating v. 1bα2β and v. 13a with the international judgment of vv. 15a, 16-18. This proposal neglects that fact that v. 1bα2β draws upon Jer 49:14 in much the same way as Obad 2-6 draws upon Jer 49:9-10, 15-16. The first person plural entity in v. 1bα2β participates in the judgment against Edom as expected in vv.2-14, whereas in vv.15a, 16-17 judgment extends to the international community. Furthermore one must ask if the absence of the conjunctions in v.13a warrant its separation from the tightly paralleled phrases spanning vv.12-14.

Despite questions concerning many of these finer points in Hagedorn’s redaction critical reconstructions, his broader assessment of the developing representation of “the other” draws upon several commonly recognized redaction critical developments. As a result, one may dispute select aspects of his redaction critical reconstructions while still finding value in broader assessment of the nations in each text. Hagedorn argues that earlier representations of the nations tend to reflect a concrete historical relationship between Israel and her neighbors. Later redactions transform these national characters into ciphers for new meanings (e.g. Hagedorn’s argument that Nahum’s Nineveh becomes a cipher for Babylon during the exile). The scope of the judgment broadens into universal judgment in the Persian period. The subsequent distinction between the righteous and the wicked weakens the earlier ethnic differentiation between the people of Israel and the nations thus allowing for the possibility of a righteous foreigner.

Hagedorn notes similarities in the developing themes within these texts, yet argues the depiction of the nations progresses differently in each book. Although Hagedorn states that the focus of his study is on the nations and not the recent arguments for common editorial activity spanning the Twelve, he brings his findings into conversation with the recent composition models for the Twelve as a whole. Hagedorn challenges many of the arguments for some level of unifying editorial work spanning the Twelve. He recognizes some textual links between the individual books in the Twelve, but he finds them primarily limited to the edges of these books suggesting evidence of a late collection process rather than an extensive composition process. Hagedorn’s focus on the representation of the nations, therefore, supplies a valuable conversation partner to Jakob Wöhrle’s composition model for the Twelve which argues that several of these prophetic texts underwent a common composition history based in part on the representation of the nations. Hagedorn therefore sees the Twelve as an assembly of books with largely independent composition histories until a very late stage in the collection process. His study of the developing representation of the nations in Nahum, Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Joel, therefore, contributes to the continuing scholarly conversation concerning the nature of the literary relationships between the individual prophetic writings in the Twelve.