The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the "Editor" in Biblical Criticism by ProQuest


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									                                      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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