2021.05.07. Moore, WealthWarn

Michael S. Moore, WealthWarn: A Study of Socioeconomic Conflict in Hebrew Prophecy
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

1 comment:

  1. Michael S. Moore responds:

    Just read your review of my book WealthWarn in RBL, and thought it prudent to respond, at least nominally.

    (1) Methodology. WealthWarn is the second book in a survey of socioeconomic motifs in selected "great texts" of the ancient Near East. I just finished correcting the galleys to volume 3, WealthWise: A Study of Socioeconomic Conflict in Hebrew Wisdom, which should come out later this year. If you would permit me, please let me direct your attention to p.1 of WealthWarn, line 6-7: "Continuing the approach of the previous book in this series...."

    This previous book is WealthWatch: A Study of Socioeconomic Conflict in the Bible. On pp. 22-25 I lay out the goal of the project and the method(s) employed to reach it. Thus when you presume WealthWarn to be a "monograph," you fundamentally miscategorize it, like saying that George Lucas's The Empire Strikes Back is a stand-alone project. It's not. It's part of a much larger project. So is WealthWarn. Its purpose is to help colleagues like yourself write, as you put it in your review, "an in-depth study of these motifs in a clearly and carefully delimited textual corpus (such as the prophetic literature), carried out in critical dialogue with previous scholarship germane to the topic" (to which I would add, "with a clearer understanding of these motifs in their ANE context").

    Here's an encapsulation (WealthWatch, p. 22):

    "The following pages do not attempt to explain every text about money, nor do they try to analyze every factor responsible for the turmoil in contemporary socioeconomic theory. This book makes no attempt to examine the rationale behind every ancient Near Eastern ledger notation, nor does it try to investigate all the factors responsible for creating the ancient Near Eastern cultures responsible for giving the Bible its distinctive shape and substance. Instead, it merely attempts to identify the 'socioeconomic DNA' embedded in a representative sample of 'great texts,' then reconstruct from this analysis the literary-historical trajectory against which the primary socioeconomic conflict motifs animating the torah/pentateuch find position and meaning. Just as geneticists use DNA analysis to analyze the basic traits of a given organism, so also can the basic socioeconomic character of torah be made more understandable."

    I fully agree with you that my idea of "representative sample" may be different than yours, but I simply did not feel it necessary to restate my methodology over and over again in volumes 2 and 3.

    (2) Rationale. One of the reasons I am publishing this trilogy-series is because I find the phrases "carefully delimited textual corpus" and "previous scholarship germane to the topic" often to be scholarly code for "replow the same old ground previous Alttestamentlers have already plowed, making sure to privilege the Hebrew Bible over all other ANE texts." I sincerely hope you will not take offense when I say--as I repeat to all my students at the start of every class-- that "No, one does not have to read the literature of the ancient Near East to understand the Bible. But without at least attempting to understand the literary-historical context of this ANE library, the likelihood of misinterpretation is inevitable." After reading some of your work, I suspect you fully agree.

    But another reason for writing is that I find it irresponsible to live in the richest country on earth and NOT even attempt to engage these culturally-formative texts about the poverty-wealth polarity.

    I'm sure there's much more to say, but I'll stop here .... (If interested in exploring this further, please go to https://arcaneaz.com/vision/ ).

    Blessings on your work ... and thank you for reading mine.


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