The intricate relationship between politics and religion in the Hebrew bible : the prophet Amos as a case study

Wax, Kevin Patrick (2013-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Politics, in modern society, has become intimately associated with poor governance, fraud and corruption, social decay, abuse of power, indifference to the plight of the poor, squandering of critical resources and self-enrichment. This situation has been further aggravated by the debate that religion and politics should be kept separate at all costs. The demand for social justice in marginalised communities has increased dramatically over the last few decades. The escalation of human conflict, poverty, social inequality and corrupt practices across the globe over recent years, demands a radical reassessment of how the human race engages politically, socially and economically with each other. Hebrew classical prophets such as Hosea, Amos, Isaiah and Micah have through their messages of condemnation, indictment, punishment and hope confronted the serious political and social challenges that prevailed during and subsequent to their time. They demonstrated immense bravery against the established order of the day as they proclaimed Yahweh’s gross displeasure and divine judgement for the manner in which those in power had treated the poor. Amos, in particular, has captivated scholars over many decades as they dissected every emotion, historical context, social structure, biblical tradition and literary convention in order to understand his message. This study is an attempt to re-evaluate the critical balance between politics and religion as demonstrated in the divine mandate provided to kings, centuries ago in the ancient Near East, to rule in a just and righteous manner. An examination of the role and function of the prophets, their relationship with the political and religious structures of the day as well as an exegetical study of selected Amos texts has been undertaken to determine how this social imbalance was addressed by the prophets. A general hypothesis is advanced to restore this intricate balance between modern politics and religion. The study further enables a theological re-evaluation of how this balance could possibly be pursued as a potential catalyst for its overall social restoration.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die politiek, in die hedendaagse samelewing, word nou geassosieer met swak regering, bedrog en korrupsie, sosiale verrotting, misbruik van mag, onverskilligheid teenoor die ellende van die armes, verkwisting van kritiese hulpbronne en selfverryking. Hierdie situasie word verder vererger as gevolg van ‘n debat wat daarop aandring dat die politiek en die godsdiens ten alle koste apart gehou moet word. Die aandrang vir sosiale geregtigheid in verarmde gemeenskappe het dramaties toegeneem oor die laaste dekades. Die progressiewe toename in menslike konflik, armoede, sosiale ongelykheid en omkopery wêreldwyd, die onlangse jare, vereis ‘n radikale herevaluering oor hoe die mensdom met mekaar oor die weg kom polities, sosiaal en ekonomies. Die Bybels-Hebreeuse profete soos Hosea, Amos, Jesaja en Miga het met hulle boodskappe van aanklag, straf en hoop die ernstige politieke en sosiale uitdagings wat gedurende hulle tyd geheers het gekonfronteer. Hulle het ongekende dapperheid gedemonstreer teen die destydse owerhede en so Jahwe se intense ontevredenheid en goddelike oordeel verwoord teenoor die swak behandeling van die armes. Amos, in die besonder, het geleerdes oor die dekades bekoor en elke emosie, historiese agtergrond, sosiale struktuur, tradisie en literêre konvensie is benut in ‘n poging om sy boodskap te verstaan. Hierdie studie is ‘n poging om die sensitiewe balans tussen die politiek en die godsdiens te her-evalueer in die lig van die beginsel van regverdige regering as goddelike mandaat wat reeds eeue gelede aan konings van die ou Nabye Ooste opgedra is. ‘n Ondersoek na die rol en funksie van die profete, hul verhouding met die politieke en godsdienstige strukture van hulle tyd, sowel as ‘n eksegetiese studie van geselekteerde Amos tekste word onderneem om te bepaal hoe hierdie sosiale onewewigtigheid hanteer is. ‘n Algemene hipotese word aan die hand gedoen om die ingewikkelde balans tussen die moderne politiek en godsdiens te herstel. Die studie kan verder van waarde wees deurdat dit ‘n teologiese herbesinning bied wat kan dien as ‘n moontlike katalisator vir algehele sosiale restorasie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85694
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