Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 3 (2000-2001) - Review

Schultz, R. L., The Search for Quotation: Verbal Parallels in the Prophets (JSOTS 180; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999). Pp. 395. ISBN 1850754969

 Richard Schultz’s recent contribution to the JSOT Supplement series is a “thoroughly updated revision” of his 1989 Doctoral Dissertation at Yale University.  In this impressive volume Schultz offers a review of past research on quotations within the Old Testament prophetic corpus and a survey of quotation in non-prophetic materials before offering a new model and demonstrating his approach on five instances of prophetic quotation involving the book of Isaiah.  His work is a much-needed contribution to the field of intertextuality, not only providing a balanced evaluation of the history of research, but also venturing a new model with practical examples. 

Schultz begins with a thorough review of the study of inner-biblical quotation with particular focus on prophetic quotation.  He wisely notes persistent problems throughout the history of research: identifying the quotation, assessing the nature of the borrowing, and determining the direction of borrowing.  He also notes the various ways in which prophetic quotation has been used by scholars whether that was to date literature, to establish the original text, or to expose prophetic schools, but wisely focuses attention on two basic theories as to why these quotations were used by the writers of ancient prophetic books.  Most have pointed to the purpose of reinterpretation, that is, the quotations were part of a reinterpretation by a later speaker/writer of an older prophetic speech.  He separates the various proponents of this purpose into three basic camps: anthological style (Robert et al.), proto-midrash (Seeligmann, Bloch et al.), and reinterpretation (Müller, Day, Lau, Fishbane, et al.).  Others have pointed to the purpose of authority, that is, the quotations were used to enhance one’s authority. 

 In the second part of the volume Schultz turns his attention to the use of quotation in non-prophetic materials to evaluate any general trends in the use of quotation.  He surveys literature in the Ancient Near East (Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Ugaritic), Early Judaism (Sirach, Qumran), Proverbial Sayings (Old Testament), Western Literature.  Although careful to note the difficulty of establishing general conclusions due to the limited number of examples consulted and differences between those examples chosen, Schultz courageously offers several conclusions about quotation in the comparative material.  First, “introductory formulae occur in all types of literature” (211).  Second, “a quotation…will be marked in some way, either overtly by a deictic particle or shift in person or number, or simply by a sufficient number of repeated key words and syntactical relationships so that the quoted text is recognizable” (211).  Third, “divergences between the quoted text and the quoting text” (212) may be explained by divergences in textual sources, memory lapses, lack of concern for accuracy, and especially by the need for adaptation to new literary contexts and purposes.  Fourth, “the frequency with which quotation is employed may be a function of an individual author’s style” (212), but genre can play in role in this frequency.  Fifth, “the sources of quotation may be a matter of the author’s taste”, some authors have a predilection to certain sources over others (213).  Sixth, “all quotation involves interpretation since recontextualization inherently changes the meaning of the words quoted” (213).  Seventh, “quotation must be carefully distinguished from non-quotation not simply in terms of its function but even more so in terms of its form” (214).  One must be wary of merely repeated language which is found in abundance in all genres and can be traced to proverbial sayings, formulaic expressions which reflect the limited resources of a language’s linguistic store.

With both the survey of research and the review of comparative material in view, Schultz offers a new model for detecting and interpreting prophetic quotation.  First he provides criteria for identifying quotations. Rather than setting an arbitrary minimum of words, Schultz finds it more useful to seek both “verbal and syntactical correspondence” (223).  Thus the appearance of phrases is a more accurate indication of quotation than several individual words.  In addition, Schultz also encourages attention to “contextual awareness”(224).  By this he means that one should take into account the larger context of the material being quoted.

Second, Schultz offers a twofold analysis of prophetic quotation.  The first step is diachronic: an “examination of historical factors which may have produced or influenced the use of quotation” (229).  This involves an evaluation of the original setting of the quotation as well as the new setting.  He acknowledges the difficulty of determining the direction of influence, but argues that “responsible exegesis” demands that one take a position on the direction of influence, for without this conclusion little can be said with regard to its purpose.  This diachronic stage “focuses on a text’s function and meaning at the various stages which precede its final form as incorporated within a larger work as well as the external historico-sociological influences, sometimes inferred or reconstructed, which helped shape its development” (232).  This stage is to be followed by a synchronic stage which “looks at a text as a part of a literary work, as a ‘functional whole’” (232).  This stage shifts “the attention from the question of who quoted whom, when, and for what reason (author-centred) to the question of how such repeated language functions within texts, to examine its literary workings (reader-centred)” (232-233).  This synchronic stage of analysis involves determining the “function and meaning of quotation within the canonical prophetic books” as well as the “nature of quotation as a rhetorical device and its resultant effect on the reading process” (233). 

With this new model in hand, Schultz then proceeds to five examples of prophetic quotation connected with the book of Isaiah (Is 11:6-9//65:25; Is 8:15//28:13; 40:3,10; 57:14//62:10-11; Is 2:2-4//Mic 4:1-3; Is 15-16//Jer 48).  These examples reveal examples of internal (within a single prophetic book) and external (between two prophetic books) parallels.  In this section Schultz is faithful to the methodology laid out in the previous chapter.  This is followed by a superb review of the course and results of the study as well as a healthy evaluation of future directions for research. 

Schultz’s book is a significant contribution to the Old Testament guild. In an era of increasingly particularised studies of ancient texts, he has considered a topic that ranges across a considerable portion of the Hebrew Bible as well as ancient and contemporary literature.  Some will find lapses in bibliography within their area of specialisation, but this should not inhibit acceptance of his work.    The importance of traditio-historical approaches in past critical study of the Hebrew Bible and the increasing significance of literary and canonical approaches in present critical study reminds us of the important role of intertextuality in interpretation.  Schultz offers an extended discussion and evaluation of past work and a balanced model for future work in this area.   He shows us that diachronic and synchronic approaches are not necessarily in opposition and in synergistic partnership can provide a fuller perspective on the ancient text both in its development as well as its final message.   With one more “quotation” we will allow Schultz to have the final word as he encourages a balanced approach:

It is evident that one's approach to verbal parallels is incomplete if one simply seeks to identify and list them, even if one proceeds to explain the direction of dependence and suggest a date at which a specific parallel was incorporated into its present literary context.  It is necessary also to evaluate the meaning and significance of the verbal parallel (333-334).

 Mark Boda, Regina, SK, Canada