«w w w.X tr e m CONTENTS eP ap er s.c om DIVINITY GCE Advanced Level and GCE Advanced Subsidiary Level Paper 9011/01 Prophets of the Old Testament ...»
8041 and 9011 Divinity November 2005
GCE Advanced Level and GCE Advanced Subsidiary Level
Paper 9011/01 Prophets of the Old Testament
Papers 8041/02 and 9011/02 The Four Gospels
Paper 9011/03 The Apostolic Age
This booklet contains reports written by Examiners on the work of candidates in certain papers. Its contents are primarily for the information of the subject teachers concerned.
8041 and 9011 Divinity November 2005
Comments on specific questions Section A Prophecy in general, and Pre-canonical Prophets Question 1 Consider the view that all prophets were cultic prophets.
This was the least popular question. A few candidates attempted it without appearing to know the meaning of the term ‘cultic’, which gave rise to some unfortunate claims. The most successful line followed was generally that which looked at the cultic connections of Samuel, Elijah, Nathan, and others, particularly the implications of the appearance of Amos at Bethel. Some useful comments were made in connection with the range of Samuel’s priestly and prophetic duties, and with Hosea’s connection with a woman who perhaps functioned as a temple prostitute.
Question 2 Discuss the view that Elijah was the most powerful of all the pre-canonical prophets.
Most candidates who attempted this question were able to offer a useful selection of examples to illustrate Elijah’s power: for example the contest with the Baal prophets on Carmel, the miracles associated with him, his ‘translation’ to heaven, and so on. The comparative aspect of the question was less well done, however, with several candidates making no attempt to look at the credentials of any other pre-canonical prophets.
Question 3 Examine the view that prophecy in Israel began with Samuel and not with Moses.
Responses to this question were generally competent. The case for Samuel was tied in well with the development of the monarchy, and with Samuel’s multi-part role as seer, politician, priest, etc. A few candidates used the diversity of Samuel’s role as a point for comparison with that of Moses, suggesting that in both cases, traditions have been built up around archetypal figures in order to extend their authority for later generations. To illustrate this, one or two referred to Numbers 11, where Moses’ role seems anachronistic. On the whole, Moses was judged to have had primacy, depending on the meaning of the phrase “in Israel”.
Question 4 ‘It is not possible to show that Israelite prophecy originated outside Israel.’ Discuss.
Some of the weakest answers looked simply at the role of Moses, and argued (for example) that Moses was an Israelite, so Israelite prophecy must have originated in Israel. Most candidates, however, did embark on a serious assessment of related prophetic traditions in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere. One generally agreed point was that the ethical tone of Israelite prophecy gave it its unique focus, and that this was definitely of internal origin.
Question 5 Discuss the part played by false prophets in ancient Israel.
Some candidates used this as an opportunity to discuss the differences between true and false prophets.
Although in part relevant to the question set, this approach tended to be rather limited, in that it was usually offered in expectation of the more precise question. Many made full use of the general nature of the question, however, and discussed false prophecy in a variety of contexts, for example Elijah’s contest with the Baal prophets; the story of Micaiah ben Imlah; Jeremiah’s warnings about false prophets, and so on. In connection with the Micaiah narrative concerning the spirit of lying prophecy, only a handful of answers were aware of the point that the lying spirit was controlled by Yahweh, and of the implications of that control for the nature of false prophecy.
Section B Pre-exilic Prophets, with special reference to Amos, Hosea, Isaiah of Jerusalem and Jeremiah Question 6 ‘Judgement and death do not figure in the final words of the Book of Amos.’ Does this prove that they could not have been written by him?
This was not a particularly popular question, but was well done by most who attempted it. The case for the editorial rearrangement of Amos was well known, for example the focus on hope rather than destruction; the inclusion of salvation oracle as opposed to doom oracle; and the general editing of prophetic books elsewhere. Most candidates also gave a fair assessment of the opposing view, referring to implications of hope elsewhere in the text of Amos, and to a possible change of heart by the prophet. Most concluded that the evidence was ambiguous: a good point.
Question 7 From Hosea 1-3, discuss different ways in which the prophet’s personal experience might be interpreted.
This was probably the most frequently answered question. Most answers were competent, although the weakest essays simply told the story of Hosea, Gomer and the children, and left it at that. The strongest answers gave a really excellent overview of the different ways of interpreting the material, both in an allegorical and in a real context. The illustration of the link between Gomer’s marriage relationship with Hosea and Israel’s covenant relationship with Yahweh was done well by nearly all who attempted the question.
Question 8 Examine the ways in which Isaiah of Jerusalem made use of the concept of God as the Sovereign Ruler.
A few candidates treated this as a re-run of a question about the relationship between Isaiah’s call vision and the rest of his life. Most of the material offered in this respect was of course relevant, although it gave a rather narrow focus by comparison with those who (as with Question 5) took advantage of the more general nature of the question. Candidates who knew something about the involvement of Isaiah with the political dramas associated with Ahaz and Hezekiah made good use of this material. Comment on the Davidic shoot/stump also received good treatment.
Question 9 ‘With Jeremiah, we see more of his personality than we do of any other prophet.’ Discuss.
Some Centres had clearly worked very hard on questions of this nature, with the effect that some essays were superb, showing sensitivity in treatment of the material, and good critical ability. In particular, candidates referred to the uncertainty engendered in Jeremiah’s life by his unpopular political judgements, and especially by his own personal distrust seen in the depth of his ‘Confessions’ to Yahweh. One or two candidates were aware of the possible cultic background of the Confessions, and made the point that if the material did have such a background, then it is not as personal as most have assumed.
Section C Question 10 (a) When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or daughter as an offering, any one who practises divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11) This was a popular extract, although weaker answers produced sometimes two sides of unnecessary illustration of the nature of unacceptable religious practices (modern as well as ancient). Most candidates were able to give the immediate context of the passage, however, and most offered useful comment about the relationship between ‘true’ prophecy and Mosaic Yahwism.
(b) Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. (1 Samuel 3:1) This extract tended to be popular because of the well-known narrative of Samuel’s call, which many candidates retold in unnecessary detail. Comment on the infrequency of vision was often good, linked usually to setting the scene for the appearance of Samuel; also to the imminent war with the Philistines. Some linked it in an interesting way to the inadequacy of Eli’s sons.
(c) Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed to Samuel: “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the affliction of my people, because their cry has come to me.” (1 Samuel 9:15-16) Candidates knew the general background of this text in the choice of Saul as king, and gave good detail concerning Saul’s unusual characteristics and the nature of the Philistine military threat.
Very few commented on the title, ‘nagid/prince’. Some referred to the similarity of the motif of the affliction of the Hebrew slaves, and most made useful comments about Samuel’s role as a seer.
(d) In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” (2 Samuel 7:7) This was not a particularly popular question, but was done well by most who attempted it. The context was identified correctly as the narrative explaining why David was not chosen to build the Temple. Candidates referred to a variety of ideas, such as the role of Nathan as a court prophet;
the comparison with the era of the judges; and the play on the various meanings of “house”, for example as ‘palace’, ‘temple’, ‘dynasty’.
(e) And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” (1 Kings 22:8) Previous extracts from this narrative have invariably produced some excellent answers, and this particular text was equally productive. Some candidates had a good knowledge of the background in the Syrian/Aramean war, and the military alliance between Syria and Israel against Assyria.
Candidates could really choose their own point of focus. For others, this was the court inquiry before battle, the conversation with Micaiah, and the outcome of the battle.
Candidates correctly identified this oracle as part of Amos’ indictment of other nations, which states that the same standards are to be applied to Israel as to her neighbours. Extended comment generally referred to the help given to Israel during the time of the Exodus (which would no longer be forthcoming) and to the identity of the Nazirites. There were very few weak answers.
Very few candidates were aware of the general context of the Syro-Ephraimite War, or that “them” in verse 5 refers to Ephraim and Judah, whose love is described as transient as “morning cloud”, or evaporating dew. Most commented extensively (and well) on “steadfast love”, although weaker responses tended simply to lapse into the story of Hosea and Gomer.
(h) Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence aliens devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens.
And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, Like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. (Isaiah 1:7-8) This was the least popular extract. Comment on it would therefore be inappropriate.
(i) In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but they could not conquer it. When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” his heart and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. (Isaiah 7:1-2) This also received very little attention. The few who answered it were for the most part aware that it comes from the section where Isaiah deals with the Syro-Ephraimite War.
Several candidates answered this question, although much of the comment was very general, amounting often to little more than extended reference to Israel’s guilt. The best answers commented on the context of the passage within the prophet’s call narrative, and his reminder of the reciprocal nature of the early relationship between Israel and God, contrasted with present apostasy.
(k) Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:16) As part of the general invective by Jeremiah against the false prophets, this was a fairly popular ‘gobbet’, although weaker answers simply listed the attributes of false prophets. Most tended to make general references to Jeremiah’s dealings with the likes of Hananiah. The best responses generally looked at the specific nature of Jeremiah’s complaints, for example his insistence that false prophets have not stood in God’s council to hear his word, which is why they proclaim the visions of their own minds. The result, ultimately, would be invasion and deportation.