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Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 236 Reviews extensive footnotes. While the detailed exegesis is excellent, Block's applications seem rather distant from the text of Ezekiel on occasion. Indexes of selected subjects (pp. 799-807), authors (pp. 808-817), Scripture references (pp. 818-866), extracanonical literature (pp. 867868 ), and selected Hebrew words and phrases (pp. 869-87) conclude Block's work. The indexes of authors, Scripture references and Hebrew words and phrases are the most comprehensive and helpful. The general subject index is rather spotty, with repetition of the names of authors in the case of rabbinical authorities. A number of format issues detract from Block's commentary. First, the fme excursuses scattered throughout the book are difficult to locate because they are not listed in the table of contents. Second, some key terminological discussions are hard to find without a knowledge of Hebrew. A more comprehensive English index or the addition of English translations beside the terms in the Hebrew index would help. Third, breaking the text into small units makes it demanding to locate and follow the translation. A complete text of Ezekiel, which would be expected with Block's emphasis on the rhetoric of Ezekiel, would help. However, none of these caveats takes away from the indisputable accomplishments of Block within the commentary itself ; they only serve to make a good commentary less user friendly. Kenneth D. Hutchens Victory Baptist Church DeKalb, IL 60115 khutch4852@aol.com A GOD OF VENGEANCE? UNDERSTANDING THE PSALMS OF DIVINE WRATH. By Erich Zenger. Linda M. Maloney, trans. Pp. xi + 104. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1996. Paper. This book addresses the moral and theological problems posed by liturgical use of the imprecatory psalms. Zenger writes from the context of the Catholic debate over reciting these psalms in the daily liturgy, but he also describes and quotes the wider Christian tendency to denounce these psalms as un-Christian and frequently to use such denunciations as the basis for anti-Semitic caricatures. Therefore, the book provides, through extensive quotations, a remarkable catalog of Christian opinions on psalmic use and misuse (including the practice of deploying Psalm 109 as a magical incantation against one's enemies!). So Zenger writes to sharpen awareness of Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 237 Reviews both the tradition of moral objections against the use and misuse of these psalms and also of the morally questionable status of that tradition itself. Zenger lays the basis for re-evaluating the liturgical worth of the imprecatory psalms through careful literary and historical analysis of Psalms 12, 44, 58, 83, 109, 137, and 139. Literary analysis shows that omitting offending verses often guts the poetic and even prayerful quality of these psalms: for example, excising the last three verses of Psalm 137 (which conclude with "Happy shall they be who take your children and smash them against the stones!") eliminates all traces of a prayer (p. 49). Historical context changes the significance of some of the most shocking lines. Thus because Psalm 137 is a "political psalm," Zenger interprets Babylon's children (v. 7) as the royal dynasty, so that the final image becomes a request for deliverance from political oppression (p. 50). The history of composition modifies the significance of some hymns even more. He argues that in Psalm 44, an original hymn of confidence in God's military support has been changed by the post-exilic addition of verses 10-27 to a lament about suffering for the sake of, not the all-powerful, but rather the all-merciful God (pp. 51-54). Sometimes readers may wonder if Zenger exonerates violent language too quickly, when, for example, on Psalm 139 he argues "Of course, this is not a struggle motivated by religious fanaticism" (p. 32). On the whole, however, he makes a strong case that the imprecatory psalms leave to God the response to violence and are thus "realized theodicy: They affirm God by surrendering the last word to God" (p. 79). He argues that Christian theology has forgotten that "judgment is for the sake of justice" (p. 64) and that Christian liturgy has therefore failed to provide for lament and accusation against God as a legitimate form of prayer. Zenger suggests...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 236-238
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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