Stephen L. Cook-the Micah circle

According to Cook in his The Social Roots of Biblical Yahwism, the prophet Micah represents the Sinai theology.  But it is complicated in that there are some texts in Micah that reflect an appreciation for Zion theology.

The eighth-century prophet himself was an opponent of Jerusalem and the palace and temple there.  He preached against king Hezekiah’s policies.  He consigned Jerusalem to destruction.  The city would become a heap of ruins, a plowed field, the ridge of a forest (Micah 3:12). Jeremiah 26:18 tells us that this oracle came before the king had a change of heart.

Cook sees the oracles of the historical Micah all coming before Hezekiah’s reforms.  Isaiah and 2 Kings do not mention Micah in connection with the king’s repentance.  But after Hezekiah’s reforms, the circle of Micah’s followers came to appreciate the monarchy more than Micah himself had.  They accommodated Sinai theology to Zion theology without watering down Micah’s original oracles.  They added the passage in 4:1-5, which speaks of the future role of Zion.

The Micah circle may even have had a place at the court of the king late in Hezekiah’s reign.  They may have eventually had something to do with writing the Deuteronomic history.  (Because the Deuteronomic history does not mention Jeremiah, Cook thinks it must have been written before his ministry.)  At any rate Jeremiah 28 seems to point to the Micah circle still existing up until just before the exile.  Josiah’s reform could have given rise to followers of Micah even more positive about Zion and the house of David.  This is the time when they may have inserted Micah 4:6-8.

Much of this seems unprovable. But the main point–that the historical Micah was hostile to palace and temple and represented Sinai theology–seems to stand.  Cook’s placing the tradition within a chronology that takes the Hezekiah and Josiah reforms into account gives us a way to understand something that surely happened.  Over time there became less of a gap between the Zion and Sinai theologies.


About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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