[...] the Alexandrian editors were making notes for other interested scholars, with no intention of producing any authoritative version of the text. Since the eventual standard versions of Homer emerged simply through popular usage without any scholarly guidance, Van Seters demonstrates that in this case at least ancient editors had little or nothing to do with the production of a textual final form.
Reviews of Books 539 squelching Zion. Even God’s attempts to reconcile with Zion in Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40–55), which glow with promise, and which many biblical scholars celebrate, she deems to fall woefully short. God never repents. One wonders whether Mandolfo’s approach of suspicion does justice to Second Isaiah, and, indeed, to such other prophetic books as Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Zechariah. Against Mandolfo’s assertions, God does in fact acknowledge Zion’s incomparable suffering in Second Isaiah (Isa. 51:19–20) and does voice sincere regret (Isa. 54:7–8). God is quite upfront about how nations such as Babylonia far exceeded their mandate in dispensing judgment (Isa. 40:2; 47:6; 51:22–23). Across the prophets one observes the same grim realism, fully aware of the unjust, excessive injury unavoidably attendant to the exercise of divine judgment within the constraints of history. Mandolfo appears to imagine God free from such limits. For good examples of prophetic grappling with the “overreaching” of God’s in- struments, see Isaiah 10:12–19; Habakkuk 1:13; and Jeremiah 12:12–14. God openly recognizes the problem at Zechariah 1:15, directing extreme anger at the attacking nations of 586 b.c.e., who “over- did the punishment” (njps), who went “far beyond my intentions” (nlt). Because Mandolfo appears to lack a concept of divine judgment as grace, she is unable to appreciate the people’s experience of defeat and exile as a necessary portal to becoming emotionally available, personal, and vulnerable before God, the requisite condition for realizing the truly mutual divine-human dialogue that she treasures. Canonical shaping of the prophetic books insists on an understanding al- ternative to that of Mandolfo, to wit, that divine judgment is in fact gracious, aimed at opening up space for genuine dialogue, reconciliation, and human transformation. A major factor in Mandolfo’s harsh appraisal of the God of the prophets is her insistence on iso- lating a literary trope—that of Yahweh as husband—as the subject of her ethical evaluation. Her focus of condemnation is, in fact, actually a ﬁguration deployed by the text, a god with a small g. The Scrip- tures are all too vulnerable to this line of criticism. They offer their literary trope solely as a means of conveying partial truths about a divine referent outside the text. Slippage between vehicle and tenor is rampant, and the divine “husband” of the Scriptures necessarily takes actions that no human spouse, no “particular subject,” ever should. A thoroughgoing anthropological rendering of this husband, such as that executed by Mandolfo, is misguided. Mandolfo is to be commended for her recovery of Daughter Zion’s perspective, especially as it is preserved in the book of Lamentations. The Scriptures have a truly polyphonic character, embracing a plethora of historically dissimilar traditions that all witness to the selfsame God. Within the sym- phony, Zion’s voice surely deserves individual attention and a respectful hearing. At the same time, many will question Mandolfo’s insistence on holding the God of the prophetic texts to a circum- scribed ethic of verbal, dialogic reciprocity. Her frustration that in the Scriptures YHWH too often cannot stop “playing god” (p. 88) appears to stem from an unrealistic expectation that the biblical text should be offering up an anthropologically fashioned deity that it simply in good conscience can never commend.
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