O que era, afinal, um profeta em Israel?

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Algumas considerações incômodas nos colocam um desafio.

Considerando que:

. os livros redigidos sob o nome dos profetas podem conter apenas algumas poucas palavras proféticas reais

. a reconstrução da tradição oral a partir de textos literários pode não ser de fato confiável

. a imagem de um profeta nos textos deuteronomistas difere bastante da imagem presente nos textos do cronista

. o título “profeta” pode ser um título ex post factum [atribuído posteriormente]

. a distinção entre profetas verdadeiros e falsos só pode ser possível ex eventu [depois dos acontecimentos]

. a designação dos profetas clássicos como profetas verdadeiros pode ser atribuída aos editores deuteronomistas e não à consciência profética como tal

Pergunta-se:

O que era, então, um profeta em Israel?

 

A estas considerações, outras podem ser acrescentadas, como:

. os profetas ocupavam algum cargo na sociedade?

. como devem ser avaliadas as palavras proféticas sobre questões sociais, econômicas e políticas?

. qual foi o verdadeiro papel dessas figuras na formação da religião israelita?

. em que sentido eles devem ser considerados únicos?

. podemos realmente falar de círculos proféticos e de discípulos de um profeta se o locus classicus para essas suposições não é genuíno?

. por que os redatores deuteronomistas, cuja teologia é tão citada para corroborar palavras proféticas, se calam sobre profetas como Amós, Oseias e Miqueias?

Essas questões históricas não podem ser respondidas efetivamente, a menos que se tenha uma ideia clara das sociedades em que os profetas viveram e nas quais os textos proféticos foram produzidos. Mas o modelo histórico-crítico dominante não pode realmente fornecer as respostas para essas perguntas, porque não possui as ferramentas necessárias para tal.

Talvez seja por essa razão que uma fuga pelos fundos, e não uma saída pela porta da frente, tenha sido aplicada ao problema.

Ou seja, os estudiosos tenderam a fugir do problema socioantropológico, concentrando-se cada vez mais no produto acabado, no texto final, no texto canônico, alegando ser impossível chegar ao profeta real para além dos livros proféticos existentes.

 

Outras questões precisam ser colocadas para que as anteriores possam ser respondidas.

Questões que têm a ver com as forças sociais que produziram as pessoas que mais tarde ficaram conhecidas como profetas e com a natureza ideológica de seus pronunciamentos.

Como:

. como era a sociedade israelita dos séculos 8, 7 e 6?

. qual modelo social descreveria melhor as estruturas sociais dessa época?

. quais eram as condições materiais das pessoas que viviam naquela época?

. o que exatamente levava um profeta a realizar uma intervenção?

. quem era o público dos profetas?

. de quais camadas sociais vinham os profetas?

. havia alguma instituição social que poderia ser classificada como profética?

. quais eram as bases ideológicas dos profetas e da profecia?

. quem foram os redatores e leitores dos livros proféticos?

Como estas perguntas estão voltadas para o estudo das estruturas sociais daquele tempo, os modelos socioantropológicos são os mais adequados para a pesquisa do mundo profético, dos profetas e dos livros proféticos.

 

p. 11-13:

For instance, if the texts published under the prophets’ names contain very few real »prophetic words«, if the reconstruction of »oral tradition« from literary texts is not really reliable, if the picture of a »prophet« in Deuteronomistic texts differs fairly substantially from that in Chronistic texts, if »prophet« really is an ex post factum title, if the distinction between »true« and »false« prophets was only possible ex eventu and if the designation of the »classical prophets« as »true prophets« is to be ascribed toFRITZ, V. et al. (eds.) Prophet und Prophetenbuch: Festschrift für Otto Kaiser zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, [1989] 2012 Deuteronomistic editors and not to prophetic consciousness as such, what then was a prophet? Did the »prophets« occupy any office in society? How are the »prophetic words« regarding social, economic and political issues to be evaluated? What was the real role of those figures in the shaping of Israelite religion? In what sense are they to be regarded as unique«? And can we really speak of »prophetic circles« and of a prophet’s »disciples« if the locus classicus for these assumptions is not »genuine«? Why would the Deuteronomists, whose theology so extensively »called in« corroborating prophetic words, keep silent about prophets like Amos, Hosea and Micah?

These historical questions cannot be answered effectively unless one has a clear idea of the societies in which the »prophets« lived and in which the prophetic texts had been produced. But the dominant model cannot really supply the answers to such questions, because it does not look at a phenomenon (such as prophecy) or at a text from the side of social realities. Even the concept of Sitz im Leben has far too narrow a scope to answer these questions.

It is perhaps for this reason that lateral, rather than vertical thought has been applied to the problem, that is, scholars tended to »side-step« the (socio-anthropological) problem by focussing more and more on the finished product, the »final/canonical text«. 42 The clearer it became that these questions threatened to invalidate the model of rationality the more that kind of question was made suspicious or labeled »unanswerable«. Perhaps these questions cannot be answered adequately by merely (or even primarily) focussing on the texts. Research in, for instance, the growth of the text of the Septuagint showed that the concept »final/canonical text« is a very problematic one, 43 and that one needs to have some idea of the religious communities in which texts were being edited to get a clearer picture of the processes involved in textual production. An »escape« into the »final« or »canonical text« thus neither enables us to answer the questions thrown up by the dominant model itself, nor to answer the question of prophetic authority.

Another pressing question is this: Given the fact that the prophets and their message have over decades been reinterpreted within, and therefore familiarized with, the framework of the typically Western thought categories of the dominant model, can their words and actions really still challenge the Western World?

p. 14-16:

What did the Israelite society of the 8th, 7th and 6th century look like? What societal model would best describe those societies? What were the material conditions under which people had to live? W h a t exactly prompted prophets to speak out? W h o made up their audiences? From which »layer« of society did they come? Was there a social institution such as »prophet«? If so, where did this office fit into the structure of society? If not, who were these prophets? What was the prophet’s position with regard to socio-economic and political hegemony/oppression/ideology, i.e. what made up their ideology? If they really were people from the »middle classes« who could read and write, can they then be viewed as »liberators« and »champions of the poor«? Or is such a view merely suggested to usby the liberal values of modern readers? W h o were the readers/makers of the »prophetic books«? Why were these figures pictured so differently by the Deuteronomists and the Chronist? Is there any ideological reason for this difference? W h o were »the Deuteronomists« and who was »the Chronist« and what were their respective positions in society? These questions have to do with the societal forces that “produced« the people who later became known as »prophets« and with the ideological nature of their pronouncements.

These questions also prompt other, critical, questions regarding the accepted view of Old Testament prophets. For instance: Was “prophecy« really a »unique« phenomenon? Was the prophets’ main concern really with theoretical religious issues such as monotheism, 58 and concepts such as the covenant? What are the social referents of words like justice, righteousness, sin, iniquity, etc. in the mouth of a prophet like Amos, or Isaiah, or Jeremiah?

Since the concern of these questions is with the relevant societies and (changing) societal structures of Old Testament times and with the everyday socio-economic life of those days, another strategy is called for to answer them. And the necessary strategies are being supplied by sociological and anthropological models.

Trechos de DEIST, F. E. The prophets: are we heading for a paradigm switch? In: FRITZ, V. et al. (eds.) Prophet und Prophetenbuch: Festschrift für Otto Kaiser zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, [1989] 2012, p. 1-18.

Ferdinand E. Deist (1944–1997) foi professor na Universidade da África do Sul (UNISA) e na Universidade de Stellenbosch, África do Sul.

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