Making sense in Zephaniah: an intertextual reading
de Jong, John Hans
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The question this thesis answers is, “How does an intertextual reading contribute to interpreting the book of Zephaniah?” To answer this question the thesis examines the ways in which Zephaniah takes up other texts as it constructs its own message. After the introduction, chapters 2 to 4 address the theory of intertextuality, methodological issues in an intertextual reading of the OT in general, and historical-critical aspects of Zephaniah. Exegesis of Zephaniah constitutes the main body of the thesis (chapters 5-7), proceeding one pericope at a time in analysing the effect intertextual allusion and echo have on the signification of the text. This intertextual reading reveals that the first oracle, Zeph 1.2-3, is key to understanding the entire book of Zephaniah. Allusion to the creation-flood account in Genesis 1-9 carries into the text of Zephaniah the concept of representation. Just as humanity represented God in the primeval times and humanity’s failure resulted in universal judgment, in Zephaniah the failure of the people of God likewise results in universal judgment. This concept of representation enables the book of Zephaniah to be read as a cohesive text which makes sense from beginning to end. The relationship between Judah and the nations in Zephaniah is a difficulty which has led scholars to emending the text and/or attributing what appear to be logical inconsistencies to redactional adjustments to the original Zephaniah text. An intertextual reading provides a solution to this interpretive impasse. The thesis concludes that an intertextual reading makes a significant contribution to understanding the book of Zephaniah.