Thursday, May 21, 2020

Polemical? Maybe not

So, to take Ps 29 as an example, if Frank Moore Cross and those who have followed him are right, that psalm was originally one for a weather god who was not YHWH; for Cross, it was Balu. Now, maybe Cross and company are wrong, but assuming they are correct for the moment (even if only for sake of argument), Israelite reception of this “Baalistic” text need not be polemical in nature. The replacement of one god’s name with another’s is not polemic per se. It is, instead, a matter of reattribution or replacement, redaction or revi sion. Polemic would seem to require more than that, and perhaps a lot more: it needs explicit and contrarian tone over against another subject, which, in this particular case, is another deity. Barring that, Ps 29 looks more like a famous song that has been covered by another group on a different album from the original recording by the initial artists, rather than a protracted argument against the previous band that serves the primary if not sole function of making the new band look altogether better, completely unique, and entirely sui generis.—Brent A. Strawn in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, pp. 144–45

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