2013.12.15. Frolov, Judges

Serge Frolov, Judges
Reviewed by Kenneth Way

1 comment:

  1. Serge Frolov27 March, 2014

    I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Way for reviewing my commentary. At the same time, I would like to correct a number of explicit or implicit misrepresentations of the book’s content in the review.

    1) According to the review, “[r]ecurrent formulae are richly supplied in Judges, and Frolov identifies five of these from 2:11-13:1 (relating to apostasy, oppression, crying out, deliverance, and quiet land). But, strangely, he excludes the ‘no king’ refrain… from this list.” The implication here is that I ignore the formulaic pattern in question for no apparent reason. That would indeed be “strange,” but actually that is not the case: I explain why these formulae qualify neither as indicators that Judges is a self-contained literary unit (pp. 16, 20) nor as markers of the text’s internal structure (p. 231). Of course, these explanations do not have to be accepted, but I believe fairness demands their existence to be acknowledged.

    2) The review claims that “Frolov repeatedly equates the third formula (crying out) with repentance.” My position is substantially more nuanced. As discussed in an earlier publication (S. Frolov, The Turn of the Cycle: 1 Samuel 1-8 in Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004), p. 46 n. 31), I do believe that the third stage of a typical Judges cycle constitutes repentance if only because crying out to Yhwh reverses the “abandonment” or “forgetting” of the deity on the first stage (Judg 2:12, 13; 3:7; 10:6; cf. also 1 Sam 12:9). At the same time, I emphasize that in the Midianite and Ammonite cycles (respectively, Judges 6:1-10:5 and 10:6-12:15) the people do not repent sincerely because initially they cry to Yhwh while still worshipping other gods (pp. 185, 190-191, 219), and that in the last cycle, starting in Judges 13, there is no repentance at all (p. 235-236, 271). I even allow for the possibility that Israel’s repentance was never genuine (pp. 190-191), although it would be more in line with multiple deterioration trajectories traceable in the book for the trend to set in gradually, after several rounds of apostasy.

    3) Way writes that I “dismiss” symmetric reconstructions of the literary structure of canonical Judges. This formulation creates an impression that I simply brush them aside; in fact, I spend almost three pages of close print (pp. 25-27) to argue, on multiple counts, why exactly such reconstructions do not work. Again, my arguments may be refutable but the review’s readers deserve to know that they exist. Neither is my rejection of a symmetric structure in Judg 3:7 – 16:31 based, pace the review, solely upon a single questionable parallel that Gooding draws between Othniel and Samson. I plainly state (p. 27) that Gooding’s attempt to hang two rungs of such a structure (Judg 1:1-2:5/Judges 19-21; Judg 3:7-11/Judges 13-16) on a single mention of Othniel’s marriage (Judg 1:12-15) is but one example of the lengths to which the champions of symmetric reconstructions – including Way who apparently sees nothing wrong with Gooding’s procedure – are forced to go in buttressing them.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.