Biblical Motifs. Origins and Transformations by Alexander Altmann (ed.)

By Alexander Altmann (ed.)

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The Divine Warrior 21 The psalm is an antiphonal liturgy used in the autumn festival. The portion of the Psalm in verses 6(7)-10, at least, has its origins in the procession of the Ark to the sanctuary at its founding, celebrated annually in the cult of Solomon and perhaps even of David. On this there can be little disagreement. But how are we to understand its archaic phrases? The prosodie form is intriguing: after a verse introducing the strophe, we have a series of so-called tricóla, four in number, with elaborate repetitive parallelism.

This point will be further considered at a later stage. Second, little support can be derived from our sources for the attempted presentation of desert life as a social ideal and of the desert period as an ideal period in the conceptual framework of the Biblical writers. The representatives of the Bedouin in Biblical typology are Ishmael and, to a certain degree, Esau. Neither of them, by any stretch of imagination, can be presented as the Biblical writers' ideal type. Wresting a precarious livelihood from the desert as hunters (Genesis 21:20; compare 25:27), being dispersed over vast arid areas (Genesis 25:18), and being in daily combat with others dependent on the same meager resources (Genesis 16:12; compare 27:22) certainly was not the vision of the early Israelite.

In Israel, myth and history always stood in a strong tension, myth serving primarily to give a cosmic dimension and transcendent meaning to the historical, rarely functioning to dissolve history. In this sense the members of the history-ofredemption school are surely right in arguing that the historical modes of religious expression and cultic celebration are the distinctive and the normative in Israel. II To illustrate the generalized comments above, I have chosen to discuss some of the transformations of the motif of the Divine Warrior, the Day of Yahweh, and related themes.

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