Senior Fellow: April–September 2018
Research Project: Malachi—Questioning the Un-Questionable. Developing Tradition through Discussion
Part of Jewish scepticism is a specific culture of debate. Malachi represents an important step in the Second Temple Period between the literary production of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible literature and the further development of tradition through debate. Since the nineteenth century, it has been disputed whether the book is based on oral admonitions or rather a dialogical-didactic form of speech that must be compared to the didactics of the early Synagogue.
The commentators’ point of departure was the distinction between oral and written debate, ranking oral debate first. Today it seems that we need to go in the other direction, coming from literature to examine its influence on oral debates.
Following these lines, other aspects must be taken into account: Malachi places his argument on the horizon of protology and eschatology, in the perspective of the Torah of Moses and the final ratification of prophecy by Elijah. The thesis of the research project is that the Book of Malachi presents a debate with God himself, questioning the deepest ties between him and his people, and the awareness that this kind of debate will come to an end. However, it finally functioned as a model for further development of tradition by discussion – a specific culture of debate.
Corinna Körting is a professor of Old Testament studies and history of ancient Near Eastern religion at the Universität Hamburg.