The Book of Ezekiel and its Influence. Edited by Henk Jan de Jonge and Johannes Tromp


Pp. xiii, 218 , Aldershot , Ashgate , 2007 , £50.00

The volume edited by de Jonge and Tromp contains thirteen essays by specialists in Ezekiel studies. Most of the chapters originated as papers presented at the Oxford-Leiden Joint Seminar for Biblical Studies which met at Leiden in 2004. This is a colloquium in which the Biblical sections of the Universities of Oxford and Leiden meet every other year. All papers were revised for inclusion in this volume. In an introduction the two editors give a very clear summary of each of the thirteen papers. The present volume intends to shed light on the Book of Ezekiel itself and on the effect it has had on later literary and artistic traditions. Recent research has recognised the literary coherence and thorough plan underlying the book's structure and composition. This raises the question as to whether its contents go back to the activity of an exilic prophet. In the opening chapter, without denying that Ezekiel once was a historical person and exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon, De Jong argues that Ezekiel as presented in the book is a literary construct, created by the author to fulfil two functions: as a watchman and as a model for the readers. In the second chapter, on the heavenly ascent narrative in Ezekiel chapters 40–42, Paul M. Joyce takes a different approach. In Ezekiel in general, he remarks, we have to take account of the marked homogeneity between the words of the prophet and material that may well be secondary. Chapters 40–42, datable to the first half of the sixth century BCE, seem to provide the earliest example of a ‘heavenly ascent’ narrative, a genre which was to become rather popular in Jewish literature, e/g. 1 Enoch 14:8–24, and in early Christian literature, e.g. 2 Cor 12:2 and Rev 21:10. There are papers on the Greek translation, on the influence of the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezek 37) on Christian theology, on the vision of God's throne (merkavah) (Ezekiel 1) and its later influence. A number of papers deal with the influence of Ezekiel on New Testament writings, e.g. Mark 4;32; Luke 10:12//Mat 10:15; 2 Cor 3:3 (‘on tablets, on human hearts’); 2 Cor 6:16–18; Eph 5:26 not likely referring to Ezek 16:9, and especially on the Book of Revelation, on ‘the hosts of Gog and Magog, countless as the sands of the sea’ (Rev 20:8). Rieuwerd Buitenwerf reconstructs the tradition that must have developed between Ezekiel 38–39, the starting-point of the tradition, and Rev 20:8. First, an abbreviated Hebrew version of Ezekiel 38–39 served as a prophecy announcing that Gog and (his people) Magog would attack Israel but would be punished by God. In a subsequent stage of the tradition, the prophecy came to be interpreted eschatologically. Gog and Magog became each a typical eschatological enemy who would attack the righteous at the end of time. Rev 20:8 does not go back to Ezekiel directly, but uses intermediate oral tradition, in which Gog and Magog had become individuals. The final chapter, by Christopher Rowland, is on Ezekiel's merkavah in the work of William Blake and Christian art.

There is an index of biblical references, an index of references to other sources and an index of modern authors cited.