The Production of Prophecy: Constructing Prophecy and Prophets in Yehud. Edited by DIANA V. EDELMAN and EHUD BEN Zvi. London: EQUINOX, 2009. Pp. x + 235. $32.95 (paper). [Distributed by The David Brown Book Co., Oakville, Conn.]
This book is a volume of revised papers from the "Israel and the Production and Reception of Authoritative Books in the Persian and Hellenistic Periods" research program at the Annual Meetings of the European Association of Biblical Studies (EABS) from 2006-2007. The volume contains two essays by each of the editors (not counting the introduction), as well as contributions from six other scholars.
After an introduction that summarizes each of the articles and relates them to each other, the book opens with an article by Ben Zvi, "Towards an Integrative Study of the Production of Authoritative Books in Ancient Israel." By "integrative," Ben Zvi refers to his proposal for how post-exilic authoritative texts were produced (which has appeared in various ways in his numerous other publications). In his view, authoritative (proto-)biblical books were produced in Jerusalem itself, and the community of writers in this city was too small for there to be entire separate schools of thought or distinct literary traditions and movements that had nothing to do with each other; instead, they must have been constantly interacting. These writers did not work in isolation; they drew on common traditions and from each other's works (hence, "integrative").
The various ancient writers were aware of each other's difference, yet these were allowed to stand, as the differences existed beneath certain overarching beliefs that the community shared. Ben Zvi is not saying here that biblical books must be read only in the light of the others and not also on their own terms. Ben Zvi's "integrative" model works best if it was indeed the case that Persianera Jerusalem was the locus of most if not all of this literary production; the reader is tempted to ask why he places all these writers in Jerusalem at around the same time, rather than in Mesopotamia, or elsewhere. He addresses this question in his second contribution, "The Concept of Prophetic Books and Its Historical Setting." He supports his Jerusalem-localization proposal on the facts that much of the prophetic material is focused on Jerusalem and its temple, that there are very few references to life in Babylon, and that all of the prophets (except Ezekiel) are placed by the texts in Judah...