Prophecy and Foreign Nations


In the course of the last decades, research in the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible has undergone a major change: The phenomenon of the prophetic book as a literary genre sui generis has drawn more and more attention – regarding both its so-called final form and its literary history. In this context, especially for those interested in diachronic research, the comparison with the extra-biblical Ancient Near Eastern prophecies has become an important issue not least for the questions of the origins of the prophetic books and the emergence of a theologically reasoned prophecy of doom. Thus, it has been especially the interrelation between salvation prophecy and a theology of judgment that has become the focus of scholarly attention. Compared with that, the oracles concerning foreign nations have passed a little bit from view, even though they take up a large part of the Biblical prophetic tradition. Therefore, in a recent publication on the topic (Holt et al. [eds.], Concerning the Nations, 2015), Martin Sweeney regards it as a worthy task to try an “attempt at stimulating research on the Oracles concerning the Nations” (xvii). The proposed research unit wants to contribute to this field of research and intends to approach the current discussion of the literary history of the prophetic books from this angle. The leading questions are:

  • What is the literary and theological interrelation of the oracles concerning foreign nations with the Ancient Near Eastern salvation prophecy on the one hand and the Israelite prophecy of doom on the other?

  • Was there a fixed genre of “prophecy concerning foreign nations”, and if so, where was its Sitz im Leben?

  • How can the intertextual relationship between the respective passages of the several Biblical books be determined?

  • Which processes of re-reading and actualising of tradition finally lead to a kind of uniform prophetic image which is reflected by the so-called tripartite eschatological pattern of the prophetic books?


Prophecy, Redaction Criticism, Intertextuality, Foreign Nations, Ancient Near East



Uwe Becker
Hannes Bezzel
Matthijs de Jong

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