Reconceiving the Paradigms of Old Testament Theology in the Post-Shoah Period1

in Biblical Interpretation
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Abstract

This paper examines the changed situation in the field of Christian Old Testament theology in the aftermath of the Shoah or Holocaust. It begins by pointing to the paradigm shift now taking place in the field as it moves from Enlightenment epistemological paradigms of historical objectivity and universality to postmodern paradigms that emphasize the subjectivity of the interpreter and the validity of particularistic truth claims in a pluralistic world. It points to the dominance of Protestant theology and theologians in the field during the Enlightenment and the impact that Protestant Christianity had in presenting its own subjective theological views of the Old Testament as objective and universal, often with anti-Jewish overtones. With the emergence of Jews and other previously marginalized groups in the field of biblical studies since the end of World War II, the time has come to recognize that Jews are legitimate theological interpreters of the Bible and that the specific concerns of Judaism and the Jewish people are valid topics for theological reflection in the field of Christian Old Testament theology. This new situation has tremendous implications for the theological interpretation of biblical writings in that issues and writings that were previously overlooked, ignored, or rejected must come to the forefront. Two examples, the book of Amos and the book of Esther, demonstrate the potential for such change. Recognition of Amos' particular national identity as a Judean points to his partisan nature as an advocate of a vassal state of Judah that is subject to the control of the northern kingdom of Israel. The absence of G-d in the book of Esther points to the human responsibility to take action when confronted with evil. Altogether, this points to the possibility of more comprehensive theological reading of the Hebrew Bible.

Reconceiving the Paradigms of Old Testament Theology in the Post-Shoah Period1

in Biblical Interpretation

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