Review of Sweeney, Marvin A. “Habakkuk.”

Sweeney, Marvin A.  “Habakkuk.”  In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992. 3:2-5. [Israel/Solomon/Liturgy]

This article discusses at some length the issues of Habakkuk’s origin, background, the text and versions, literary genre, and the message. Sweeney concludes that there is little scholarly consensus on any of these matters.  He does speak of the book in relationship to the temple on three matters, again debated and tenuous.  “Many scholars” argue that Habakkuk was a temple “cult prophet.”  They do so on the basis of “liturgical forms found in the book.”  Jeremias notes parallels between the Habakkuk’s watch station in 2:1 and “those of the postexilic Levites and priests in the Temple in Nehemiah 13:30; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 8:14; 35:2 and Isaiah 21:8.  Second, “a number of scholars see the book as a liturgical or cultic composition … or a prophetic imitation of a cultic liturgy.”  This is particularly true in chapter 3 sometimes known as the prayer or “psalm” of Habakkuk, where some see it as a “cultic song of lament sung as part of the temple liturgy while others see it as a song of victory and triumph over the forces of cosmic chaos.  Finally, some scholars find the cult as the unifying theme of the book.  “This argument is based on the correspondence of the vocabulary of Habakkuk 1, 2 and 3 with cultic psalms or the association of the genres of lament/complaint and response in Habakkuk 1-2 with the liturgical character of Habakkuk 3.”

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