Seeking the Favor of God

Volume 1: The Origins of Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism


The emergence of penitential prayer represents a significant formal shift in the prayer tradition of Israel. The essays collected in this volume investigate the beginnings of penitential prayer literature in the Hebrew Bible in the Babylonian and Persian periods. The contributors offer a fresh look at various aspects of the shift from communal lament to penitential prayer as well as the relationship between them, in the process applying new approaches and methodologies to such questions as the meaning and importance of confession to penitential prayer and the necessity of penitential prayer as a prequel to repentance. The contributors are Samuel Balentine, Richard J. Bautch, Mark J. Boda, Michael Duggan, Judith Gärtner, Katherine M. Hayes, Jay C. Hogewood, William Morrow, Dalit Rom-Shiloni, and Rodney A. Werline.
Seeking the Favor of God includes three volumes covering the origins, development and impact of penitential prayer in Second Temple Judaism.

Paperback edition available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Biographical Note

Mark J. Boda is Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College, and Professor, Faculty of Theology, McMaster University. He coedited Repentance in Christian Theology (Liturgical/Michael Glazier) and authored Praying the Tradition: The Origin and Use of Tradition in Nehemiah 9 (de Gruyter). Daniel K. Falk is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Ancient Judaism at the University of Oregon and author of Parabiblical Texts (T&T Clark) and Daily, Sabbath, and Festival Prayers in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Brill). Rodney A. Werline is author of Pray Like This (Continuum) and Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism: The Development of a Religious Institution (Scholars Press).

Table of contents

“I Was Ready To Be Sought Out By Those Who Did Not Ask,” Samuel Balentine Form Criticism in Transition: Penitential Prayer and Lament, Sitz im Leben and Form, Mark J. Boda Socio-Ideological Setting or Settings for Penitential Prayers?, Dalit Rom-Shiloni The Speech Act of Confession: Priestly Performative Utterance in Leviticus 16 and Ezra 9–10, Jay C. Hogewood Lament Regained in Trito-Isaiah’s Penitential Prayer, Richard J. Bautch The Affirmation of Divine Righteousness in Early Penitential Prayers: A Sign of Judaism’s Entry into the Axial Age, William Morrow “…why do you let us stray from your paths...” (Isa 63:17): The concept of guilt in the communal lament Isa 63:7–64:11, Judith Gärtner When None Repents, Earth Laments: The Chorus of Lament in Jeremiah and Joel, Katherine M. Hayes Penitential Prayer within Its Literary Settings, Michael Duggan Confession as Theological Expression: Ideological Origins of Penitential Prayer, Mark J. Boda Afterword, Samuel Balentine