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Durham e-Theses
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The understanding of nature in the Old Testament: an investigation of some scholarly views

Addinall, P. (1979) The understanding of nature in the Old Testament: an investigation of some scholarly views. Masters thesis, Durham University.



In Part I section A examines J. Pedersen's exposition of the Hebrew view of nature in the context of his ideas concerning Israelite modes of thought. It is argued that Pedersen brings to his interpretation of the biblical text notions about ancient Israelite psychology and linguistic usage which destroy the intelligibility of the Old Testament for a modern reader, and which involve Pedersen himself in obscurities and grave inconsistencies. Section B examines W. Eichrodt's claim to have discovered two apparently mutually exclusive, but never the less reconcilable views of nature in the Old Testament. It is argued that this claim involves a contradiction. An extensive survey of biblical texts reveals the lack of evidence to support it. Sections C and D concern the belief of G. Von Rad and H. W. Robinson that ancient Israelites saw the natural world as pervaded by the direct activity of God. It is suggested that this belief arose out of a confused concept of causation and cannot be sustained by an appeal to the text. Section E examines two volumes by E. C. Rust, which raise problems of philosophy as well as biblical interpretation. Sections B, D and E also examine the problems raised by the concept of the miraculous for those scholars who see the divine preservation of the world as creation continua. Part II outlines and criticises scholarly interpretations of the Israelite classification of creatures into clean and unclean, followed by a consideration of the opinions of anthropologists concerning this and similar classifications in primitive societies and their symbolic significance. The problems of interpreting anthropological evidence are considered; and the work of Durkheim and his influence on the thought of Mary Douglas are examined. Douglas's work suggests that a fresh approach to the Old Testament view of nature may be necessary in the light of anthropological research.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Thesis Date:1979
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:24

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