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HE consensus of critical opinion still insists that emergent belief in the resurrection of the dead was a thing unattested in the literature of preexilic Israel. John Bright, a conservative among critics, says, "The idea of a resurrection begins to appear sporadically and tentatively in later Biblical literature, and by the second century was a well-established belief."1 H. H. Rowley admits resurrection may be in view in Job 19:26, 27 but only as "a momentary resurrection to witness his (Job's) vindication."2 Daniel 12:2 is taken by many to be the only verse anywhere in the Old Testament which deals with the resurrection of the body and it is attributed to the second century. As for immortality Rowley sees "no uniform or sure faith in the afterlife that is meaningful, but there are . . . Teachings out after such a faith"3 in certain Psalms. But now with the publication of The Anchor Bible, Vol. 16, the Jesuit Micheli Dahood with skillful use of the newer source materials, especially Ugaritic, proposes that the Psalms are full of expressions of hope for immortality and resurrection. Dahood studiously avoids references to the New Testament use of the Psalms. Some will lament this as a weakness but apparently one purpose of the author in so doing was to convince the reader that his conclusions are based solely on evidence from the world of the Old Testament. Some of Dahood's conclusions are interesting. For example,
John Bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1959), p. 438. a H. H. Rowley, The Faith of Israel (London: S. C. M. Press, 1956), p. 170. 3 Ibid., p. 175.



with reference to the dating of the Psalms he maintains that the old methods (still being used) of alleged literary dependence and historical allusions can no longer be considered valid because the psalmists and prophets were indebted to an ancient literary tradition that went deep into the second millennium. An examination of the vocabulary of Psalms 2 and 110, Dahood says, "reveals that virtually every word, image and parallelism are now reported in Bronze Age Canaanite texts."4 He therefore tentatively dates them to the tenth century. Here Dahood treats literary criticism in only a cursory fashion directing his attention to the interpretation of the Psalms with full use of the newer canons of Hebrew philology imposed by the Ras Shamra texts. We are reminded of W. F. Albright's statement that " . . . all future investigations of the Psalms must deal intensively with the Ugaritic texts.. . . Thorough knowledge of Ugaritic grammar, vocabulary and style is an absolute prerequisite for comparative research on the part of biblical scholars. Moreover, the significance of Ugaritic for historical Hebrew grammar, on which will increasingly rest our reconstruction of the literary history of Israel, cannot be overestimated. Ugaritic was only dialectically different from ancestral Hebrew in the generations immediately preceding the Israelite occupation of Canaan. Ugarit and Canaanite Palestine share a common literary tradition, which profoundly influenced Israel. For these reasons Gordon's Ugaritic Grammar is of greater lasting importance for Old Testament research than any dozen assorted recent commentaries taken together."5 That was written a quarter of a century ago and C. H. Gordon's Ugaritic Textbook (1965) is now four times the size of the Ugaritic Grammar (1940), and yet as Dahood observes, "most translations and commentators have continued to treat the Ras Shamra texts as, at best, only peripherally significant."6
* Eds. William F. Albright and David N. Freedman, The Anchor Bible, XVI (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1966), xxix. s Ibid., p. xvi. 6 Ibid.



This attitude is clearly set forth in the December 1966 issue of The Journal of Biblical Literature where in a review of The Anchor Bible, Vol. 16, D. A. Robertson of the Perkins School of Theology criticizes Dahood for giving possible rather than probable renderings.7 Whether one can agree with this criticism may depend on the criterion used as a basis for such a judgment. Dahood uses the nearest source materials to determine the idiom of Northwest Semitic poetry in Old Testament times. Some brainstorming in a prolegomenon such as this must be expected and Dahood admits that some of his proposals may not stand the test of scholarly scrutiny.8 Without implying blanket approval I feel Dahood's approach represents a giant step toward a better understanding of the Psalms. He has a high regard for the consonantal purity of the Massoretic Text making not more than a half dozen emendations in the first fifty psalms.9 According to the flyleaf in each volume The Anchor Bible is dedicated to "an effort to make available all the significant historical and linguistic knowledge which bears on the interpretation of the biblical record." The Anchor Bible, Vol. 16, is a masterful attempt to accomplish this objective and is therefore a veritable compendium of source materials for the student of the Hebrew Bible whether or not one agrees with every interpretation. That concepts of immortality and resurrection are present to any extended degree in the Psalter is called by Robertson one of Dahood's wild interpretations which should not be presented to the general public.10 The following statement in the Introduction was bound to draw fire: "Perhaps the most significant contribution to biblical theology that flows from the translations based on the new philological principles concerns the subject of resurrection and immortality. If the translations and exegesis propounded . . . bear up under criticism, then the treatment of these topics in standard biblical
? Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 85 (1966), p. 484. 8 The Anchor Bible, XVI, xlii. 9 Dahood sometimes divides consonants into words differently from the Massoretic Text but deplores the frequent deletion of entire words and phrases by the Biblica Hebraica (ibid., p. 23). 10 Ibid., p. 484.



theologies will need drastic revision. The mythological motif of the Elysian Fields that stands forth from the translations offered . . . is the clearest example of a theological verity finding expression in the idiom of mythological poetry; the opinion of Sigmund Mowinckel that 'neither Israel nor early Judaism knew of a faith in any resurrection nor is such a faith represented in the psalms' will not survive serious scrutiny."11 Along this line let us briefly review Dahood's handling of some relevant passages. He renders the crux interpretum, Psalm 16:9-11, as follows: 9. And so my heart rejoices, my liver leaps with joy, and my body dwells at ease, 10. Since you will not put me in Sheol, nor allow your devoted one to see the Pit. 11. You will make me know the path of life eternal, filling me with happiness before you, with pleasures at your right hand forever. Because of the peculiar Phoenician style and language the psalmist here is represented as a Canaanite convert to Yahwism who gives his profession of faith in verse two. "O Yahweh, you are my Lord, there is none above you." This is followed by an abjuration of the false Canaanite gods, the "holy ones" (q'dHm) and the "mighty ones" 'drm), typical epithets for Phoenician gods. Finally the psalmist enumerates the joys and blessings of the newly found faith with a final statement of the poet's belief in an afterlife of eternal happiness.12 Ignoring Acts 2 and 13 Dahood maintains that the psalmist expects to be assumed like Enoch or Elijah. This position of bodily assumption rather than bodily resurrection hinges on his translation of verse 10 as deliverance from death, not being "put in Sheol" nor "seeing the pit." The New Testament following the Septuagint uses diaphthora, "corruption," instead of "pit" and lays stress on the last line of verse nine, "My flesh will lie down in hope." The New Testament also uses the common meaning of lzab, "to forsake," rather than
11 12

Ibid., p. xxxvi. Ibid., pp. 87, 88.



the rarer meaning "to put." "I will not be forsaken in Sheol" nor "see corruption"; that is, though I die my body will not decompose. This, as the apostles knew, could be said only of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:34-38). Psalms 16, 49, and 73 are said to express the conviction that the psalmist will be assumed like Enoch and Elijah. Thus Dahood translates Psalm 73:24: Into your council you will lead me And with glory you will receive me. And Psalm 49:16: But God will ransom me from the hand of Sheol Will he surely snatch me. Being taken into the presence of God bodily is the thought in these verses; it is assumption rather than resurrection that Dahood gets from lqah, "to take," as it is used with reference to Enoch and Elijah. It is curious that Dahood sees no resurrection (though indeed eternal afterlife) in Psalm 16 despite the New Testament commentary; while in Psalm 17:15, which is not quoted in the New Testament, he finds both resurrection and final judgment. He renders Psalm 17:15: At my vindication I will gaze upon your face At the resurrection I will be saturated with your being. "At the resurrection," comments Dahood, " . . . seems to be the plain sense of b'hqs [in Psalm 17:15] when one compares it with the eschatological passages Isa xxvi 19, 'But your dead will live, their bodies will rise. Arise (haqsu) and sing, O you who dwell in the slime !' and Dan xii 2, 'And many of those who sleep in the land of slime will arise' (yqsu) . . .." Dahood maintains that "the archaic language throughout the psalm [17]. . . suggests that the Israelite belief in the beatific vision was very ancient indeed."13 The references to "dwelling in the house of the Lord all the
* Ibid., pp. 99, 100.



days" in Psalms 23:6 and 27:4 also speak to Dahood of this "beatific vision." Psalm 27:13 is even clearer to him: In the Victor14 do I trust, to behold the beauty of Yahweh in the land of life eternal. Though Daniel 12:2 is often given in the lexicons as the only place where fyayyim means eternal life, Dahood sees it in many other places and more than once refers to the Ugaritic antecedent in 2 Aqht VI 27-29:x* Ask for eternal life [fyym] And I will give it to you, Immortality [bl-mt] And I will bestow it on you. I will make you number years with Baal, With gods you will number months. Proverbs 12:28 uses 'al-mwet (no death) as the parallel of fyayylm (life). The Ugaritic bl-mt translated "immortality" above is an equivalent expression. The Revised Standard Version says the Hebrew is uncertain and proceeds to give a translation based on an emended text. However, Ewald, Bertheau, Franz Delitzsch, and even the Judeo-Arabist Saadia in the Middle Ages said 'al-mwet means "immortality." The Authorized Version translated it "no death." They have all been proved correct by the Ugaritic bl-mt as used in the above citation. Dahood translates the verse: In the path of virtue is eternal life, And the treading of her way is immortality. Marvin Pope in his recent article, "Marginalia to M. Dahood's Ugaritic Hebrew Philology,"16 objects to this translation on the basis that the synonymous parallelism goes against the larger context which consists of a series of couplets in antithetical parallelism and "therefore death not immortality is the proper antithesis."17 But is there here a larger
** Massoretic Text ll1 is taken to be leU\ The word IV, translated "Victor," is derived from the common Ugaritic-Phoenician root Vy, "to prevail." *s The Anchor Bible, XVI, 91, 170, etc. 16 Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 85 (1966), pp. 455-466. Ibid., p. 462.



context? Are not these proverbs a list of independent thoughts? Indeed it is typical of the proverbs to list antithetical sayings with one or two synonymous parallelisms sandwiched in.18 Pope states that fyayyim as eternal life is not justified by the parallelism of fpym and bl-mt in Ugaritic, because Aqhat's reply shows he did not believe immortality could be had by a mortal and he therefore accuses the goddess Anat of lying to him. The implication is that since the Ugaritic hero didn't believe humans could have immortality the writers of the Old Testament must share the same skepticism. The point is not what the Ugaritians believed but that they used the word fyym for eternal life whereas the Hebrew lexicons generally list only Daniel 12:2 as using tyayyim distinctively to denote eternal life because of its alleged Maccabean origin.19 Dahood looks on Psalm 1:5, 6 as future: And so the wicked shall not stand In the place of judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the just, But Yahweh shall safekeep the assembly of the just, While the assembly of the wicked shall perish. He argues from Ugaritic that derek20 can mean "assembly" and from Hebrew usage that miSpt can mean "place of
Proverbs 15:23 is unquestionably synonymous in the midst of a long list of antithetical statements. See Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 313. J Proverbs 15:24 puts jiayym and S'l in antithesis as follows: The path of life above belongs to the wise, Because he turns away from Sheol below. If Sheol here, as in some contexts, means only "grave," then frayyttn means only "this life." If Sheol can mean "netherworld," then fyayyvm can mean "life after death." Proverbs repeats the concept that mwet and $e'l involve more than the grave. So Proverbs 2:18, 19 parallels death with "the place of the shades" just as Proverbs 9:18 parallels se'l with "the place of the shades." Therefore "the path of life above" can mean eternal life above in heaven as contrasted with Sheol below where dwell the shades. 30 Dahood aligns derek with Ugaritic drkt, "dominion." derek commonly means "manner or custom" just as tniSpt means "justice" but also means "custom or way." His argument for derek as meaning "assembly" proceeds from miipt meaning "court of justice." In like manner he holds that derek, "dominion," can mean "place of dominion." On this basis



judgment/' Here the wicked shall not stand on Judgment Day while the Lord safekeeps (yda1) the assembly of the just. All this, says Dahood, assumes an advanced concept of resurrection and immortality. The New Testament employs the word ''paradise,'' a Persian root (II Corinthians 12:4, Revelation 2:7, Luke 23:43) which originally meant "a park" (Nehemiah 2:8, etc.), much as Dahood views the Old Testament use of the two words s'dqh and 'r. Psalm 5:9 is translated, "Lead me into your meadow . . . . " The word s'dqh, usually ''righteousness," is rendered "paradise" or "meadow" here and elsewhere as a poetic term similar to the Homeric use of the Elysian fields. That notions of abundance and luxuriance are resident in the root sdq seems clear. Students of Hebrew will call to mind Joel 2:23, "For he shall give to you the former rain in abundance [lis'dqh]." Similarly in Psalm 23:3 ma'g'l sedeq is taken as "luxuriant pastures" paralleling "green meadows" in verse 2.21 Thus the comfort of paradise is mentioned here in verses 2 and 3 and returned to again in verse 6, "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Dahood claims the eschatological context in Psalm 69:28, 29 makes "meadow" a better translation for s'dqh. He translates this passage: Add punishment to their punishment. Let them not enter your meadow, And let them not be enrolled among the just. Taking Psalm 143:10b-ll as a couplet Dahood also renders s'dqh "meadow": With your good spirit lead me into the level land, For your name's sake, O Yahweh, grant me life in your meadow. The Elysian field or paradise motif is considered strong in Psalm 36. Here Dahood develops it from the root 'wr whose
Dahood translates derek, "throne" in Psalm 110:7. He also notes that there is a synonymous parallelism in Psalm 1 between derek saddiqim (verse 6) and tadat saddqm (verse 5) and that lesah (verse 1), which can mean "council" as well as "counsel" (Psalm 14:6), is parallel with derek. 21 That ma*gal can mean "pasture" is conclusive from Psalm 65:12, 13: May your pastures drip with fatness May the meadows of the wilderness drip.



common meaning ' "light" has obscured the rarer root meaning "field." Thus Psalm 36:10 says: Truly with you is the fountain of life, In your field we shall see the light. Isaiah 26:19 is much smoother with this meaning: Your dead shall live, their bodies will rise; Those who dwell in the dust will awake and sing for joy: For your dew is the dew of the fields ['rt] But the land of the Shades will be parched. The familiar terms "the light of life" and "the land of the living" are shown to be two ways of saying the same thing. So Psalm 56:14 reads, " . . . to walk before God in the field of life [b''r hbayylm]"22 and Psalm 116:9, "I shall walk before the Lord in the fields of life [be'rst hfyayylm]." Also Psalm 97:11 is translated: A sown field awaits the just ['r zarai lassaddq] And happiness the upright in heart.23 These illustrations are sufficient to show Dahood's approach. Without attempting a complete critique, the following observations are offered to help those who hold a high view of Scripture to evaluate this material. Theological verity must find expression in terms that are available in the language used. The Old Testament employs the same Northwest Semitic idiom common to the mythology of Canaanite poetry. Though the Hebrews in the Old Testament were expressing an emphatic reaction to polytheism it must be borne in mind that they were not literary iconoclasts as were the Jews of a later date. Many graphic phrases, especially those which expressed the highly personal nature of the deity, were used to enhance Hebrew monotheism. That the Lord is called "the rider on the clouds" (Psalm
Cf. Job 33:30. The Revised Standard Version, "that he might see the light of life," puts the meaning "see" into 'tor, which it cannot bear. The translation with Dahood is: To turn back his soul from the pit, That he might be resplendent in the field of life. T h e Authorized Version has the anomalous "light is*sown." The Revised Standard Version follows the versions reading "light dawns" with a footnote saying the Hebrew reads "is sown."



68:5), a frequently used epithet for Baal, may suggest an early date but not necessarily a primitive stage of Hebrew religion. It marks a time of religious vitality and verbal fluency. It would have been impossible in the Maccabean period when Hebrew was wooden and Hebrew scholars were given to the use of anti-anthropomorphisms. The poet of Psalm 68 expressed God's control over nature in artful poetic idiom without necessarily a thought of the polytheistic usage. The Canaanite substratum was a readily available vehicle through which the prophets and poets could communicate the truth whether of the character of their only God or theological verities such as immortality and resurrection. Though the idiom was freely used it was not carelessly used so that only theologically acceptable concepts were communicated. For example the common Semitic word Ut, meaning * 'goddess," was rejected by all Old Testament writers of all periods. Female deities like Asherah were referred to by the proper names given to their images but were never called goddesses. That certain valid theological concepts are not late in human history still does not answer the question of when and where they originated. According to the Bible man originally had a true concept of deity which after the fall he distorted. But some of God's truth was and is always mingled in all religions. The polytheistic antecedents to the Old Testament had one truth emphatically in common with biblical revelation, namely, the personality of deity. Likewise a distorted concept of immortality antedates the Bible in written records of the Egyptians and Babylonians and some notion of resurrection from the dead was a part of Sumerian mythology. Ancient law codes often provide for reprobate practices like bestiality, and here and there may be found some higher principles such as care for the widow and orphan; however, the Decalogue of Moses is a crowning glory and a completely unique expression in the ancient world. Although the Old Testament was in one sense a product of its time, its own claim to be the product of the Holy Spirit of God shines forth in its just reaction to the vile practices and beliefs of surrounding religions, withal not rejecting those elements which were part of that vestige of truth still remaining in a corrupt world. Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.

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